August Active/Adventure Travel Guide
|GLACIAL PACE: The surreal, varied landscape of Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park (Digital Visions)|
Trek in Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park & Preserve, AK
The Wrangell, Saint Elias, and Chugach ranges collide in eastern Alaska to form an adventurer's nirvana, comprised of North America's largest collection of glaciers and peaks over 16,000 feet. The Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park is so large and unexplored that many peaks and passes remain unnamed. Fly into the park from McCarthy for a guided tour with Trek Alaska (907.350.3710; www.trekalaska.com). August is optimal for exploring the alpine tundra, glaciers, and passes: the mosquitoes have left, blueberries abound, and the snows hold off until September.
Canoe the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN
Craving solitude? Get lost in the 1.3-million-acre Boundary Waters in northeastern Minnesota. With some 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 2,000 campsites, it's typical to never see another soul in this watery wilderness. Fire grates and latrines are not part of this pristine experience, but fishing for brook, brown, lake, and rainbow trout and gliding across lakes in search of moose and bear are certainly on the Boundary Waters' adventure menu.
Climb the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, WY
Though the Cirque of the Towers in western Wyoming has plenty of routes accessible to beginners, the adventure quotient is elevated just by the scenery alone: 13,000-foot peaks, dozens of glaciers, raging streams, and towering granite faces. Hike about nine miles to the base of the cirque, where you can camp amid alpine lakes and climb classics like the 5.9 northeast face of Pingora.
Raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, AZ
Rafting the Grand Canyon may seem too obvious for a seasoned adventure traveler, but there's a reason why thousands of people float this stretch of the Colorado every year: It leaves them speechless. Tick off this must-do at least once in your wanderings. The sculpted 4,000-foot walls, rollicking rapids, and cobalt summer skies live up to the moniker: grand.
Hike Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park, ME
Ninety-five degrees is Baxter State Park's all-time record high temperature, meaning that this park, north of Bangor, Maine, is generally a sure-fire respite from the rest of the steamy east coast. Bag Mount Katahdin in one big day, traveling along an airy ridge to the summit. The peak is the end point of the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail and, in August, is often the site of jubilant thru-hikers who have just finished their foot-powered journey from Georgia.
Bike the Black Hills, SD
Forests, wildflower meadows, and canyons all conspire to make South Dakota's Black Hills a mountain biker's haven. All levels of cyclists can handle the rolling hills, dirt roads, and scenic converted railroad bridges of the 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail, which runs between Edgemont and Deadwood. For those who like their holidays with a taste of challenge, the 111-mile singletrack Centennial Trail runs through more rugged backcountry between Wind Cave National Park and Sturgis.
Kiteboard off Cape Hatteras, NC
With strong, consistent breezes and miles of waist-deep water, Cape Hatteras' Pamlico Sound is a kiteboarding Mecca. No wonder the world's largest kite school, Real Kiteboarding (866-REAL-KITE; www.realkiteboarding.com), opened its doors on the sound's beaches. In three days, learners go from flying a trainer kite on land to skimming the bayand, if you're precocious, catching feet of air off waves. Spend several hours each day at flight school, then nurse your aching muscles on the Outer Banks' expanses of white sand.
Ski Portillo, Chile
Portillo is skiing's equivalent to a cruise shiponly with way more adrenaline than joining octogenarians in a conga line. Tucked in a remote alpine valley, surrounded by some of the Andes' tallest peaks, and offering minimal accommodations, Portillo is secluded, self-sufficient, and all about skiing. Picture wide-open alpine faces and bowls doused with some 24 feet of snow every year and shared by a few hundred thoroughly smug skiers.
Climb Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Everest may not be within most of our means nor desires, but standing atop a continent is doable and can be enjoyable. Climb Kilimanjaro via the less traveled Western Breach Route, a challenging but non-technical path up Africa's loftiest peak. The route climbs through the Barranco Valley's waterfalls, near the Arrow Glacier, and across rocky ridgelines to the summit. After the summit, watch wildlife in Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.
Hike along Lake Baikal, Russia
There's no better locale for self-imposed exile than Russia's Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world, located in southeast Siberia. Like the Galapagos, it was isolated for millennia and evolved a unique freshwater ecosystem. Hike along the lakeshores, passing through old fishing villages, traversing craggy mountains, ogling views, and keeping an eye out for unusual species like the nerpa, an endemic freshwater seal.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication