When planning a road trip across America most folks will definitely hit Vegas, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, New York City and Hollywood; but for those of you looking for something a little less touristy, somewhere the locals go, check out these great adventures.
Kayak Lake Yellowstone in Wyoming
Earth’s hottest show and Yellowstone’s awesome natural phenomena — all just beyond the bow of your boat. The endless shores of Yellowstone Lake, the continent’s largest mountain lake, have steamed and simmered in a geothermal flux for thousands of years deep in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, a western U.S. adventure paradise. Steamy geysers gush at water’s edge, mud pots bubble and hot springs sear, and all are easy to spot from the unique perspective of your sturdy, stable sea kayak. Enjoy a rarely-seen view of the volcanic forces that helped forge the American Rockies.
Check out O.A.R.S. if you’re looking for a great operator to guide you around.
Canoeing the lakes of the Adirondacks in New York
Adirondack National Park consists of six million acres that are a unique combination of one-half public and one-half private land. There are several designated wilderness areas and many wild forest areas that are very attractive to paddlers. The terrain is hilly and sometimes mountainous, yet the base is level enough to provide ideal canoeing waters. The scenery is superb, and mountain day hikes are possible from your paddling route.
Upstate New York will give you a whole new appreciation for the state, too many people stay in the city and never experience all the wonderful outdoors that New York has to offer.
Check out these great self-guided day trips from Canoe Outfitters.
Wreck-diving in Lake Superior in Minnesota
(Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)
We know what you’re thinking – diving? Minnesota? Isn’t that in the middle of America? Believe it or not Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and in one or two of those you’ll find some pretty awesome wrecks to explore.
For example, The Ely, a 200ft wooden schooner, sank during a storm in 1896 and lies just inside the breakwater of Two Harbors. The protected location and shallow depth (25ft) makes it a great dive for Lake Superior novices and wetsuit divers.
Check out Scuba Center in Eagan for some more info on Great Lakes Diving.
The Maine Island Trail
The National Geographic Adventure editors call this Trail “The East’s top kayaking destination,” enough said? It’s America’s first water trail created, protected and enjoyed by people who love the coast of Maine. Whether your exploration involves several nights of camping with close friends or simply a lunchtime family picnic, there is a whole world of opportunity available and countless adventures to be had on the Trail.
Learn more by visiting the Maine Island Trail Association website.
Petrified Forest National Park
Trees that turned to stone more than 200 million years ago are the focal point of this very unusual park, but they're not the only attractions. Your visit will begin with a drive through a picturesque swath of the Painted Desert -- a rainbow-striped terrain of eroded hills and expansive grassland. Be sure to stop at the visitor center to see the fossils of prehistoric reptiles that roamed this region when it was a tropical river basin.
The National Park Service even created a virtual tour so you can have a look around before deciding to stop by. For more info visit the Petrified Forest National Park’s website.
Havasu Falls, Arizona
We know you’ve seen the pictures – those giant waterfalls falling into crystal clear ponds from huge heights. The pictures are well known but not many have actually seen the falls in person. The reason? You have to hike 8 miles through the hot Arizona desert to get there! It’s hot hot hot so plan on hiking at dawn or dusk and be wary of the pack mules that come barreling around corners.
Visit the Havasupai Tribe’s website to learn more about how to get to the falls and what to bring with you.
Mojave National Preserve, California
(photo courtesy of chazzlayne / Flickr.com)
If you ask someone what lies halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, you're likely to get a blank look and a one-word answer: nothing. It's that widely held belief that has kept the Mojave National Preserve such a fabulously untrampled place to explore.
Singing sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and carpets of wildflowers are all found at this 1.6 million acre park. A visit to its canyons, mountains and mesas will reveal long-abandoned mines, homesteads, and rock-walled military outposts. Located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Mojave provides serenity and solitude from the crowds of major metropolitan areas.
Learn more at the NPS’ site for the Mojave National Preserve.
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