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Here are all the gotta-get-it items for savvy outdoor fanatics this holiday season.
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Ed Viesturs. Then read about ten other incredible athletes.
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Adventure-approved excursions for right now.
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To get into character, actor Andy Serkis, aka King Kong, sought out some ideal coaches: the mountain gorillas of Rwanda.
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This Month's Stories
Big-Cat Biologist Alan Rabinowitz
Photo Gallery: Mongolia
Road Trip: Puerto Rico
Winter Weekend Getaways
Ski-Vacation Almanac


Adventure Videos
Paddling Croatia
Climbing Icebergs
Jaguars in Belize


Weekend Getaways: Base Camps on the Edge
From architectural masterpiece to log-cabin cozy—11 weekend hideouts near prime outdoor playgrounds   Text by Jim Gorman
Photo: Seth Peterson Cottage
HAUTE HIDEAWAY: The warm confines of Frank Lloyd Wright's Seth Peterson Cottage

CENTRAL 
The Wright Stuff, Wisconsin
The Seth Peterson Cottage ($225, two-night minimum; www.sethpeterson.org) is no ordinary shack in the woods: Frank Lloyd Wright designed this earthy yet elegant gem in 1958 as one of his last commissions. Booked solid during warmer months, cross-country skiers and snowshoers are given free rein in winter to ply the 20 miles (32 kilometers) of groomed XC trails in surrounding Mirror Lake State Park. If cooking in an architectural shrine seems sacrilegious, drive to the Del-Bar (+1 608 253 1861) in nearby Lake Delton, a 300-seat supper club specializing in custom-aged steaks that is an institution in its own right.
 
Trout Redoubt, Oklahoma
Trout, with their insistence on cold, clear, fast water, have about as much business being in Oklahoma as a Cornhusker fan at a Sooners game. Rainbows and browns find refuge, however, in the Mountain Fork River, which courses through the southeast corner of the state. Settle in to one of 47 cozy, pine-paneled cabins at Beavers Bend Resort Park ($53; www.beaversbend.com), then try your luck at fly-fishing. Beavers Bend Fly Shop, located at the park, instructs newcomers during guided, full-day trips on Lower Mountain Fork River ($225 for two; www.beaversbendflyshop.com).
 
Earn Your Sauterne, Minnesota
The definition of contentment: skiing Northwoods wilderness on silky XC trails, dining by candlelight on beer-battered walleye, and retiring to your cabin for a glass of wine by the fireplace. That pretty much sums up a winter day at the Gunflint Lodge ($359 for three nights, including meals, equipment, and trail pass; www.gunflint.com), adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in northern Minnesota. The lodge is plugged into the 124-mile (200-kilometer) Gunflint Trail Nordic System, one of the largest and most reliably snowy networks in the Midwest.
 
EAST
King of the Mountain, North Carolina
Scoot the overstuffed club chair close to the crackling fire. At Earthshine Mountain Lodge ($170, including meals; www.earthshinemtnlodge.com), atop Richland Ridge west of Brevard, winter is in full swing. The lodge is hewed from fragrant cedar logs; its ten rooms stocked with warm quilts. Start the day by feeding the resident donkey, goats, and chickens, then hike the six miles (ten kilometers) round-trip to the summit of Looking Glass Rock. At night, come down from the mountain and sup on dill-crusted trout at Hobnob Restaurant (www.hobnobrestaurant.com), in arty Brevard.
 
Flashback in the Backwoods, New York
Simple is better. That's the operating principle at Back To Basics Adirondack Wilderness Adventures ($85; www.gobacktothebasics.com), a collection of small cabins and a yurt, linked by a snowshoe and cross-country-skiing trail. Want heat? Stoke the wood-burning stove. Gotta go? Dash to the outdoor privy. Four-course dinners delivered hot to your doorstep ($12) chip the edge off of roughing it. When cabin fever strikes, ski downhill to Arctic Circle Ski Center ($10; +1 518 725 7699), where 39 trails crisscross dense forest.
 
Backdoor to the Everglades, Florida
Tempting as it is to while away the evening chatting on the screened-in front porch of the Ivey House Bed & Breakfast ($50; www.iveyhouse.com), in Everglades City, the night paddle into neighboring Everglades National Park shouldn't be missed. Headlamps reveal glowing eyes all around. Alligators grunt, frogs croak, and don't be surprised if a fish flops into your kayak. "It's creepy, in a good way," says Heidi Crowel, manager of Ivey House, which conveniently operates Everglades Rentals & Eco Adventures on the same premises. During the day, paddle the Turner River through the park's wide-open saw-grass prairie and mangrove tunnels. At this shotgun-style lodge, built circa 1928, the rooms are spare (no TV, no phone), the grits creamy, and the pool fringed in orchids.

ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Room and (Snow)Board, Arizona
Come December the White Mountains of eastern Arizona start to live up to their name. Snow piles up at Hidden Meadow Ranch ($500, all-inclusive; www.hiddenmeadow.com), a complex of ten luxury log cabins set in an enormous, 8,500-foot-high (2,591-meter-high) meadow. Miss Piggy, the ranch's snowcat, drops skiers and boarders at the top of Greens Peak ($100 a day), site of a ski resort abandoned in the sixties. There you can carve first tracks by simply traversing a bowl and picking your line for a thousand-foot (305-meter) descent.
 
Big Sky Meets Big Snow, Montana
Glide or shred? That's the daily conundrum at Lone Mountain Ranch ($2,083 for two, four-night minimum, including transfers and meals; www.lmranch.com), an assemblage of 24 swanky cabins tucked into groves of lodgepole pine, in Big Sky, south of Bozeman. Where cattle once grazed, cross-country skiers now work 50 miles (80 kilometers) of meticulously groomed trail backdropped by the unmistakable pyramidal spire of 11,166-foot (3,403-meter) Lone Mountain. Backcountry skiers can sign on for a guided tour of nearby Yellowstone National Park ($150). Downhill buffs are just a shuttle-bus ride away from two leading resorts: Big Sky and brand-new Moonlight Basin.
 
WEST
A Volcano of One's Own, Washington
After a storm has scrubbed the air, and dumped another two feet (half meter) of fresh powder, the view of Mount Rainier from High Hut (www.skimtta.com) positively dazzles. The 14,409-foot (4,392-kilometer) volcano appears close enough to touch. One of four rustic backcountry abodes operated by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association on the cusp of Rainier, High Hut is perched above open slopes, offering the best views and telemark skiing of the lot. The three huts and one yurt are all spare but clean, heated by propane or wood stoves, and—at a mere $5 per person a night—a veritable steal.
 
Tree Houses for Grown-Ups, Oregon
When sleeping in a queen-size bed suspended 35 feet (11 meters) up a tree, you'll know when the wind picks up. "Our tree houses move like ships," says Melody O'Donnell of Out 'n' About Treesort & Treehouse Institute ($110, including breakfast; www.treehouses.com), in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon. "Most people find it soothing, although some get 'treesick.'" Out 'n' About features nine tree houses, including Forestree, an abode reached solely by a swaying rope bridge. Climb down at sunup to hike the 6.6-mile (11- kilometer) Fall Creek Trail through old-growth forests to the summit of a 3,600-foot (1,097-meter) mountain.
 
Moon Over Dunes, California
Winter ushers in "American season" in Death Valley National Park, when the brain-addling heat of summer—and busloads of Europeans—subside. Make Stovepipe Wells Village ($103; www.stovepipewells.com) your base for exploring and be sure to request a room with a view of the hundred-foot (30-meter) crescent-shaped dunes out back. Nearby Mosaic Canyon offers a short scramble through a narrow passage of polished marble. The five-mile (eight-kilometer) hike from Golden Canyon to Zabriskie Point weaves through multihued badlands before reaching the otherwordly lookout. Return via Gower Gulch to complete the loop.


Photograph courtesy of the Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy





Pick up the December 2005/January 2006 issue for our annual coverage of the best of adventure, your guide to everything cool with 15 sports trends, 14 astonishing adventurers, and 45 gear picks that rock.








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