Man riding horse on ranch
The Ranch at Rock Creek tops out at 75 guests, attracting the likes of Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton—and anyone else who wants celebrity treatment.Courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek

Uniquely American Adventures You’ll Want to Book Right Now

After more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, a restless nation seeks to get outside and stretch its legs again. Adventure is back and travelers are eager to find one-of-a-kind experiences. And where are these amazing destinations? Well, we’ve found six of them right here in the U.S.A. These are the kind of American adventures you’ll remember for the rest of your life. What’s the best time to visit? Right damn now!

Woman in striped bikini diving among sunken ship
When Spiegel Grove was scuttled in 2002, it came to rest on its side. But a 2005 hurricane pushed it upright, to the delight of divers. Courtesy of Visit Florida

1. Dive a Shipwreck

Key Largo
Florida

The Keys are famous for gorgeous, high-visibility diving, but Key Largo has spiked its waters with extra bling to ensure an unforgettable experience. Like shipwrecks? Coral reefs here have snagged them since the 1700s, and in 2002, the 510-foot Navy transport ship Spiegel Grove was sunk intentionally, presenting a ghostly, hulking visage starting
at a depth of about 80 feet. Or dive Molasses and Elbow reefs for huge coral heads and swarms of colorful marine life, including moray eels and barracuda.

Bragging rights: No dive trip is complete without snapping 
a selfie with the Christ of the Abyss statue, aka Underwater Jesus.

Clawfoot tub with chandelier above
Luxury suite bathroom at The Ranch at Rock Creek Courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek

2. Ride Big Sky Country

The Ranch at Rock Creek
Montana

There are dude ranches, and then there are whoa, dude ranches. Yes, you can ride horses until your butt’s raw across 6,600 acres in a pristine, rolling western Montana valley. Hell, you can even learn roping and other cowpoke skills at the on-site rodeo. Meanwhile, though, the rest of your crew might opt for fly-fishing, zip-lining, sapphire mining, archery, or yoga.

Bragging rights: A ranch since the 1850s, the property now is operated by hotelier Relais & Chateaux, meaning “grub” is Dungeness crab and wagyu beef bavette and your “bunkhouse” is anything from a tricked-out Conestoga to a luxury suite.

These major river paddling trips offer big fun with low-stress.

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Two bright yellow kayaks near sea caves
Copper and iron color the sandstone shoreline of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Intrepid kayakers can also access several sea caves. Courtesy Image

3. Paddle a Great Lake

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Michigan

If all you know about Lake Superior is from “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” set the GPS for the town of Munising on the Upper Peninsula’s southern shore and prepare to have preconceptions scrambled. Launch 
a sea kayak from Pictured Rocks Kayaking’s ferry-style boat, and paddle clear aqua-green waters up close to towering, arching shoreline sandstone formations with local names like Chapel Rock, Rainbow Cave, and Miners Castle.

Bragging rights: For a change of equally awesome scenery, hike the shore’s east end to the Grand Sable Banks and Dunes, left dramatically perched 300 feet above Superior by the last ice age.

Shack Up Inn
Shack Up Inn Austin Britt

4. Road-Trip the Blues

Highway 61
Mississippi

Kickoff your Americana trek at the
 mythical start of the Mississippi Delta, the lobby fountain of the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. Then aim south across the state line on Highway 61, marinating in John Lee Hooker tunes and local hot tamales. Ponder which rural intersection is the “crossroads” where proto-bluesman Robert Johnson infamously traded his soul for guitar prowess. Wind up in Clarksdale, home to no-joke, hard-drinking juke joints Red’s Lounge and Ground Zero.

Bragging rights: Lay your throbbing head at nearby Shack Up Inn, offering a choice of barely refurbished shotgun shacks or rooms in a former cotton gin.

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Men and women whitewater rafting
You might want to pocket the phone and hold on for this one. And, yes, you’re going to get very, very wet. Courtesy of Western River Expeditions

5. Surf Cataract Canyon

Colorado River
Utah

OK, it’s not really surfing, but nothing gets on top of the Colorado River’s Class III and IV whitewater south of Moab quite like Western River Expeditions’ sturdy J-Rig rafts. When not thrashing through rapids dubbed Little Niagara and Satan’s Gut, glide calmer waters sandwiched between the region’s famous red rock canyon walls and explore ancient Native American ruins. And at camp each night, refuel on steaks and salmon whipped up by the crew. (Excursions of two or four days are available.)

Bragging rights: For big whitewater, straddle a pontoon at the raft’s bow. And then hold the hell on!

Train caboose in woods
Though many old trains in West Virginia hauled coal, the Durbin Rocket primarily supplied logging camps and brought back lumber. Courtesy of Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad

6. Camp in a Caboose

The Durbin Rocket
West Virginia

If you’re a rail buff, it’s a thrill just to
 hop a 100-year-old steam locomotive that belches cinders while climbing (and climbing) from the tiny town of Durbin, WV, into the Monongahela National Forest. But it’s also the only train in the country that will uncouple its camping-outfitted caboose at the literal end of the line. The engineer will wave as he chugs off and leaves you miles away from civilization (and cell service) for one to three nights.

Bragging rights: Before the engine returns, while away the hours hiking and fishing the beautiful Greenbrier River. Don’t forget bear spray.

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