Not sure where to go, or what kind of challenge to take on? We’ve got you covered. From now through October, go singletrack mountain biking along Continental Divide trails (the same ones that Lance Armstrong has thrashed), jump off a 12,000 feet mountain ridge as you paraglide into a box canyon, or make your way down the Colorado River on a paddleboard.
You don’t have to go halfway around the globe to pursue some serious adventure; many of these trips are closer than you think. The laid-back towns that normally champion your best winter vacations are also make ideal jumping off points for a warm weather adventure. Here are of our favorites.
Ever tried SUP’ing? This may be the “It” sport these days, but that’s because it’s fun and a full-body challenge all at once, which is why Olympic decathlete Trey Hardee calls it his favorite active-rest sport. Kodi Rafting in Frisco (Summit County) offers half-day, full-day, and overnight trips, in addition to a full-day SUP’ing trip for $156, which includes gear rental, transportation, and lunch.
Voted the No. 1 Hottest Spot to Cool Off by the Travel Channel, Colorado’s got you covered. Try Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting, which offers great buy-one-get-one-50%-off deals, or Raft Colorado for experienced rafting guides in Breck, Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, and Vail, too. For scenic floating or Class V challenges, Colorado outfitters can take you down the Arkansas River at the Royal Gorge, Eagle Creek, or the Colorado River.
Crested Butte, CO, is considered the birthplace of mountain biking, so Butte and Winter Park are stupendous destinations, like the famous Trail 401. Other favorite MB singletracks include Buffalo Creek (in Pine), an intermediate 14-miler; Monarch Crest, an advanced 32-miler in Salida; and 18 Roads, a 40-mile network of easy to expert routes in Fruita. Bonus: In towns like Telluride and Steamboat, the gondolas take you straight to the top (for free in Telluride)!
Go paragliding in Telluride. Nestled in a box canyon more than 8,500 feet above sea level, Telluride is the perfect setting for air sports. Telluride Airforce launches straight from Gold Hill at 12,250 feet and lands in town at 8,750 feet.
Mad River Boat Trips offer highly trained guides for everything from whitewater U-Paddle trips to serene rides. A classic 8-mile whitewater ride is $68, and just 10 bucks more gets you dinner afterward.
In Jackson Hole, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles rents top-of-the-line mountain bikes for just $30/day. For some of the best trails you’ve ever cycled, head to Teton Mountain Bike Tours for either a guided tour or a quick-n-easy MB or road bike rental for just $30 for 24 hours.
HANG-GLIDING & PARAGLIDING
Jackson Hole Free Flight Club recommends jumping right in with Jackson Hole Paragliding. Get instruction, get the best DIY route tips for $75 per session if you’ve got your own gear and get aerobatics and maneuvers training, or go tandem for $245 during peak season.
With more than 20 horseback outfitters in the area, it’s time to saddle up! And a favorite activity after riding but before the cold beer is a scenic ride along the Snake River or an ATV ride for some backcountry adventure that’s down and dirty! Dry RIdge Outfitters will take you out all day for $135 per person if you bring a friend.
KAYAKING & CANOEING
In Utah, take a guided “big water” trip through Canyonlands National Park with Adventure Bound for as little as $295 for two days, which includes an inflatable kayak, a tent, and a sleeping pad.
ROCK CLIMBING & CANYONEERING
WIth Zion National Park, Moab, and Wasatch Front, Utah is a craggers wet dream. Climbing and bordering outfitters and guides can be found from one end of the state to the other. Zion Rock & Mountain Guides, for example, can lead you through Bryce Canyon, Escalante/Grand Staircase, and Zion National Park: $204 for 4-hour intro to climbing or $190 for a full day of canyoneering instruction.
This fly-fishing hub has outfitters like All Seasons Adventures Fly Fishing, with gear rental and license for $170 each for a half day if you bring a friend.
Ride the gondola up to 8,000 feet and barrel down one of a variety of routes that cover more than 400 miles of well-connected trails. For must-ride classics, check out UtahMountainBiking.com to see details on Utah’s best, including Jardine Juniper, Northern Skyline, Wasatch Trail, and Mb rider’s face Blackhawk Loop.
Park City golf courses have cool, dry breezes all day long, with temperatures being perfect for golfing, even at 3 p.m. on a dog day of summer. Notable clubs include Park City Golf Club, which is $45 18-hole walking; Victory Ranch; and the Homestead Resort Golf Club.
CANOE & KAYAK
Vermont has more than 800 lakes and more than 212 miles of shoreline. Though Vermont doesn’t have as many rapids as out west, there is plenty of jet skiing, and water skiing to be done. Proof: Vermont Outdoor Guide Association maintains a site listing 18 outfitters, including Clearwater Sports, and Clyde River Recreation, which both offer kayak and canoe tours, or you can rent the gear and get right on the water. Clearwater: $59 for a sport kayak rental and a shuttle to Mad River or Winooksi River.
With courses like the private Vermont National Country Club, designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, the Green Mountain state has tons of premier public courses. The Stratton Golf Course in Southern Vermont is as little as $69 during peak season, and it also offers a renowned golf school-for one-, two-, or three-day sessions for four hours at a time, so you can go home with new skills.
Vermont looks even more gorgeous on horseback. Hit the trails, outfitted by one of the many horse stables, including Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm a three-hour ride is only $100-and Goosewing Ranch, which will get you saddled up and on the trail in no time.