Weekend Trip Ideas
Adventure Travel 2006:
The 25 Best Trips
In our annual tribute to adventure travel, we crown the 25 best new trips, the top ten destinations, and more.
Sea Kayaking Croatia
Expert photographer Peter McBride takes us on a sea kayaking tour of Croatia's Dalmatian Coast.
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New Digital Cameras
We've sorted through the
new contenders to match up the right digital camera for your shooting style.
See the digital cameras
Ski Like Bode: Preseason Workout
Tackle the slopes in Olympic form with Bode Miller's preseason workout.
Get the six exercises
Fall Weekend Getaways: Heat Seekers
A dozen frost-free destinations and not a turkey in the bunch
Text by Jim Gorman
||HOT TUB, COOL VIEW: Soothe climbing-weary tendons in the Valley View Hot Springs near Penitente Canyon, Colorado.
ROCKIES Climb to the Sunny Side, Colorado
Sun-drenched Penitente Canyon near Alamosa offers year-round climbing on bolted routes stretching 50 feet (15 meters). Grab generous handholds on How the West Was Won or dab finger pockets in the slab on May-B Nueve. Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center leads all-day guided climbs ($99; www.rmoc.com). Stay in Alamosa's Cottonwood Inn ($55; www.cottonwoodinn.com), and soak in the buff at nearby Valley View Hot Springs' Top Spring, surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Sangre de Cristos.
Spy High-Fliers in the Chiricahuas, Arizona
Cave Creek is the Rodeo Drive of birding: Star sightings come with the territory. Spot the prized elegant trogan, elusive Aztec thrush, and some 300 other winged wonders. Gossip with serious birders while staying at Cave Creek Ranch ($125;
www.cavecreekranch.com), and leg it out on a nine-mile (14-kilometer) round-trip hike to 7,975-foot (2,431-meter) Silver Peak for views of the Chiricahua Mountains. For more great hikes, including 3.3-mile (5-kilometer) Echo Canyon Trail, pay a visit to nearby Chiricahua National Monument.
Cycle the Gila Circuit, New Mexico
Matchless autumn weather and a peerless hard-top cycling route bolster Silver City's claim as one of the best small towns in America. The paved, 83-mile (134- kilometer) Gila Inner Loop, which runs through the pine-scented Pinos Altos Mountains, is about as close to wilderness as a "roadie" can get. Pack the panniers and stay the night near the halfway point in the Lake Roberts General Store's simple but cozy log cabin ($61; www.lakeroberts.com). For ride details, contact Gila Hike and Bike in Silver City (+1 505 388 3222).
Let Loose in Mojave, California
It's not easy to lose track of a 1.5-million-acre (6,070-square-kilometer) park, but Mojave National Preserve (www.nps.gov/moja) is an overlooked gem in California's vast park system. The preserve has the features of Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks—dunes, Joshua trees, and sparse desert beauty—minus any hint of crowding. A four-wheel-drive vehicle opens up possibilities for exploring the Mojave Road, an old Indian route. Or, hike to the top of Cima Dome, a granite batholith tufted with J-trees. At sunrise or sunset, duckwalk to the top of Kelso Dunes—700-foot (213-meter) monsters that yield 50-mile (80-kilometer) views in all directions.
Romp Around Morro Bay, California
The Pacific Ocean is a constant companion for mountain bikers at Montaña de Oro State Park near San Luis Obispo (www.parks.ca.gov). It's there at every turn, whether smashing into sea cliffs below the Bluff Trail or sparkling in a magnificent north-south sweep along high-rising Ridge Trail. Camp at Morro Bay State Park ($25), which has hot showers. Taco Temple (+1 805 772 4965), also in Morro Bay, makes a mean fish taco, while Mother's (www.motherstavern.com) in San Luis serves up local brews and live jazz.
Hike to Hell, Oregon and Idaho
Snow might dust the Seven Devils this time of year, but it's a different season 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) below on the banks of the Snake River. Warm, sunny days and welcome quiet—noisy jet boats abate in September—make autumn a great time to hike the Snake River Trail. Get a lift upstream to Pittsburg Landing with Beamers Hells Canyon Tours ($115; www.hellscanyontours.com), then hike six miles (ten kilometers) to McGaffee Cabin, a relic from the canyon's ranching days. The return hike to Dug Bar offers easy strolling past mountainous Class III rapids, sandbars primed for camping, and a historic ranch and museum.
Take a Mud Bath, Indiana
No matter the weather topside, the interior of Marengo Cave is a balmy 52ºF (11ºC). Balmy, that is, until you're soaked and coated in mud from slithering through tight passages and fording a thigh-high underground stream. Make a day of it by linking together the Waterfall Crawl and Underground Adventure tours ($47 per person, group of six required; www.wyandottecaves.com). Clean up at a historic but updated cabin alongside Patoka Lake ($115; www.patokalake.com). On Sunday, mountain bike the 24-mile (39-kilometer) German Ridge Trail in nearby Hoosier National Forest.
Beach it in Cajun Country, Louisiana
Hurricane Katrina died out just short of the Sabine River, leaving one of the South's most relaxing paddling runs intact. The river itself, which separates Louisiana from Texas, flows clear and steady from a dam upstream, so hard paddling is out of the question. And on the 29-mile (47-kilometer) section from Burr Ferry to Anacoco Bayou, big, bright white sandbars offer perfect spots for a campsite or an afternoon nap. Tack-A-Paw Expeditions in Leesville, Louisiana, rents canoes and runs shuttles ($100 for a two-day rental and shuttle; 800 256 9337).
Head for the Hills, Texas
The eight-mile-long (13-kilometer) gravel road leading to Colorado Bend State Park (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) is your first hint that this is not another crowded Hill Country park. Its remote location, cradled in a sweeping crook of the Colorado River, will help keep it that way. Take a ranger-led tour to the park's centerpiece, 60-foot (18-meter) Gorman Falls, or hike the one-mile Spicewood Springs Trail. At sundown, try the brisket at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in nearby Llano and pitch your tent at one of the park's four primitive campsites ($15).
Jump in a Spring, Alabama
When it comes to backpacking, great rewards don't always require great effort. Exhibit A: The pool tableflat Conecuh Trail along the Alabama-Florida border. On this 22.5-mile (36-kilometer) loop (really two loops linked by a connector trail), bugs are kept at bay by carnivorous pitcher plants and red cockaded woodpeckers. And water is everywhere: Bogs, cypress swamp, trickling streams, natural ponds, and deep, crystalline springs dot an emerald forest of longleaf pine and fragrant cedar. For maps, contact Conecuh National Forest
(+1 334 222 2555).
Castaway on a Desert Isle, Georgia
Tape the Georgia-Auburn game, because November is a surefire score at Cumberland Island National Seashore. "The water temperature is still warm, nights are cool, and the mosquitoes are gone. It's the best," says Mike Gowen, whose SouthEast Adventure Outfitters leads three-day, two-night paddling tours to the protected island ($350; www.southeastadventure.com). After a day cruising tidal flats to a campsite at the island's north end, hike 12 miles (19 kilometers) through forests of live oak to a stretch of white-sand beach with nary a time-share in sight.
Crash Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Now that Spike Lee, Harvey Weinstein, and other swells have shipped out, Martha's Vineyard yields to visitors with simpler tastes. Mountain bike the sandy roads and singletrack in Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, the 5,000-acre (20- square-kilometer) tract of pitch pine and scrub oak at the island's core. Then hop the little ferry to Chappaquiddick Island and beachcomb seven miles (11 kilometers) of coast between Wasque Point and Cape Pogue. At the far west end of the island, the Menemsha Hills Reservation Trail leads to Prospect Hill and views of the Elizabeth Islands. Lambert's Cove Inn ($195, including breakfast; www.lambertscoveinn.com) offers cushy accommodations in a parklike setting.
Photograph by Richard Durnan
Pick up the November 2005 issue for more great adventure travel ideas, news, and articles by award-winning writers.