If your idea of a vacation is to indulge in adventure and activity trips that will set your adrenaline rushing, you will be spoilt for choices when you focus on the USA as your destination. The vastly diverse nation has a lot of variety on offer – from mountains and forests to alpine lakes, glaciers and more, which would suit almost anyone. Whether you are an adventure junkie or someone looking for travel experiences in the US that pack various levels of adventure and give you a kick, here are the top ten of the list worth considering:
- Enjoying Grand Canyon River Rafting
If the scenic beauty of Grand Canyon from the above has mesmerized you, get awed by its beauty from a different angle by rafting down the Colorado River. For many, Grand Canyon river rafting is the dream of a lifetime. Enjoy moments of pure thrill while navigating rapid stretches of white water, and absolute tranquility in pockets of calm water while experiencing a deep, soothing connection with nature. And in between the adrenaline rush, get to know the mighty Colorado River’s geology and history. Ideally, you should camp in the quiet of the canyon during this rafting trip with your fellow companions, and get some shut-eye in your sleeping bag under a natural blanket of beautiful, bright stars. In case you want to book yourself into nearby hotels, some options are the Canyon Plaza Resort, Red Feather Lodge, Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn, and The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon.
- Taking a road trip across the USA
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, a mile deep, and 18 miles wide. It’s often said that American highways are as long and deep as the majestic Grand Canyon. And there’s no better way than driving on these American highways to have an epic adventure. Get introduced to American road culture by taking the California State Route 1, or take Highway 61 (which is US Route 61 officially) while thinking about the legend of Robert Johnson (celebrated blues guitarist) meeting the devil at the crossroads of highways 49 and 61. US Route 20, US Route 30, and Route 66 are some other options worth exploring. And don’t forget to play some music to set the mood for your road trip. From Bob Dylan’s Highway 61, and the soundtrack of Easy Rider, to U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name, and Truckin by Grateful Dead, play some of the best road trip tracks to make the entire experience unforgettable.
- Visiting Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky
This may not be on your itinerary but visiting the longest known cave system of the world that’s located below central Kentucky’s hills is worth the effort. Several cave tours are on offer here, which will let you explore the mysteries of the underworld by taking you deep down into an enormous and magnificent world of stalagmites and stalactites. Apart from the cave tours, you can ride a horse, hike, bike, kayak and canoe, or enjoy a campfire program. You may either camp inside the park (at Mammoth Cave Campground, Houchin Ferry Campground, or Maple Springs Group Campground), or stay at the Lodge at Mammoth Cave. To satiate your sweet tooth, you can visit the Lodge’s Spelunkers Café & Ice Cream Parlor, while the best of Kentucky cuisine can be had at the Green River Grill.
- Go adventure sailing along Florida’s Gulf Coast
Board a coastal cruiser or a commodore and go sailing through the small islands off Fort Myers. Enjoy the amazing sea life (sea turtles, dolphins etc), take in the beauty of the tropical barrier islands that serve as hosts to frigate birds, pelicans, and gulls, and feel like a free spirit as the Gulf breezes blow over like a calming influence. Don’t miss the magical sunset off the coast of Fort Myers Beach. You may even help set the sails, or get a chance to take the wheel for some added fun.
- Enjoy fall foliage on the Appalachian Trail
Enjoying the magnificent colors of New England’s fall foliage is a romantic dream for many. But instead of rushing to reach the same scenic location and getting trapped in traffic jams with several cars and coaches trying to get ahead of others, you can go camping instead. Hike the Appalachian Trail to see the riot of colors from close quarters and camp out every night for an epic adventure. Ideally, take the 70km stretch between the White Mountains (of New Hampshire) and the Vermont border, as it’s especially celebrated for its magnificent fall foliage. Your eyes will enjoy feasting on dogwood leaves turning purple, maples that are completely aflame in crimson, and birch trees standing tall showcasing their burning gold hues.
- Drive across Going-to-the-Sun Road
Though this highway in Glacier National Park remains open only seasonally and you should check its status before coming here, it’s worth every dime. Spanning 50 miles, this engineering marvel will let you see gorgeous valleys, towering mountains, multihued wildflowers, and cascading waterfalls. Don’t miss the mesmerizing view all around at Logan Pass, which is the highest point of the road (6646 feet) where it crosses the Continental Divide. You may even get to see some wildlife such as bighorn sheep and mountain goats close to Logan Pass. Make sure to pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook that gives you the best chance to catch a glimpse of a glacier from the road. By 2030, Glacier National Park could be completely glacier-free, which makes taking this driving trip all the more important. You will get food and lodging options along the road at Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Rising Sun. If you are looking for campsites along the road (which should preferably be reserved in advance), your choices include the ones located at St. Mary, Fish Creek, Many Glacier, and Apgar.
- Sandboarding down the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado
Set your inner child free to experience the rush of joy while sandboarding (and perhaps, even sandsledding) Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes. Piled as high as up to 750 feet, these dunes are a part of the National Park and Preserve, Colorado. In summer, plan your adventure itinerary in early morning or evening to avoid a scorching sand surface (150 degree F) or thunderstorms. Though sand temperatures in spring and fall typically stay moderate throughout the day, try to avoid spring afternoons as they can be extremely windy.
- Take Grand Staircase-Escalante bike trip
See what lies at Utah’s diverse and enthralling geology by embarking on a bike trip that takes you through the unmatched scenic trails of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. From exploring secret canyons and hidden lakes to taking in the stunning mountain vistas, you will have an experience of a lifetime. You may even probably come across large herds of elk and some other rare wildlife during your biking tour.
- Dog sledding and sea kayaking in Alaska
Take a dog sled ride to go speeding down a glacier or through Alaskan forest, listen to some interesting stories from your guides’ first-hand, and cuddle the sled dogs. Once you have had your fill of this popular shore excursion, board a sea kayak to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness from close quarters while spotting a variety of wildlife – from humpback whales, dolphins, and sea otters to porpoises, and brown bears. In case your visit to Alaska coincides with the best time to watch the Northern Lights (September to late-April), you may even pack this marvelous natural phenomenon in your itinerary.
- Horseback riding tour in Yellowstone National Park
Take guided horse riding trips (for one to two hours) at Canyon and Tower-Roosevelt to take in Yellowstone’s spectacular mountain scenery in the true blue American style. You may even take a day ride or camp overnight in Yellowstone (there are 12 campgrounds with more than 2,000 sites). There are nine lodges in Yellowstone National Park with over 2,000 rooms that stay open from late spring through fall. However, in winter, just two – Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, and Old Faithful Snow Lodge, stay open. So, make sure to reserve your place in either of these two before coming here in winter.
Tips for international travelers
Before traveling to USA, find if you need ESTA or VISA. Most travelers coming to USA to enjoy these epic adventures must have their passports valid for 6 months at the least. But if you are a citizen of Canada, the UK, EU countries, or Australia, you can enter USA with a passport valid for your duration of stay. If your country is under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program), you won’t need a visa for your stay in the USA provided it’s for a maximum of 90 days. However, you would need to apply for ESTA and should have your VWP passport.
Before you come to USA, make sure to check ESTA Application Status. Usually, your ESTA authorization remains valid for multiple trips during a 2-year period (which starts from the date your application is approved) or until your passport expires, whichever happens first.