July Active/Adventure Travel Guide

Mountain Bike Crested Butte, CO
Some Crested Butte old timers claim that mountain biking was born in this tiny, remote nook of southwestern Colorado—and it’s not a tough argument to sell. The trails in these parts meander through Ansel Adams-worthy scenery like craggy peaks, thick forests, and, in July, wildflower meadows that resemble an exploded paint box. Pick up fuel at Camp 4 Coffee, a skier and biker gathering spot, before taking off on singletrack trails like Deadman’s Gulch, Teocalli Ridge, and Trail 403.

Kayak the San Juan Islands, WA
Orcas abound off the San Juan Islands, where kayaking is virtually the de facto mode of transportation during the summer. Around this Puget Sound archipelago, kayakers can spot Mount Baker to the east while exploring rugged shorelines for whales, harbor seals, bald eagles, and waterfowl. The small hamlets with eccentric art galleries and vistas from Lopez, San Juan, Orcas, and Shaw islands are worth a docking or two.

Mountain Bike, Hike, or Gallop the Maah Daah Hey Trail, ND
It took more than 30 years to plan and build the Maah Daah Hey Trail, which stretches through the Little Missouri National Grasslands and connects the southern and northern sections of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. But these 97 miles of singletrack were worth the wait. The trail, open to hikers, equestrians, and bikers, runs through some of North Dakota’s best scenery—rolling hills, wide prairie, and badlands—as it follows the Little Missouri River valley.

Hike the Poconos, PA
Between state parks, state forests, and the Delaware Water National Recreation Area, the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania can claim a glut of adventure-worthy forests—and are a prime respite from midsummer mid-Atlantic heat. Hike about six miles through birches and blueberry bushes to the top of Camelback Mountain in Big Pocono State Park. On a very clear day, you’ll see the Catskills more than 80 miles to the northeast. Post-hike, the area’s ubiquitous lakes and ponds beckon for a dip.

Explore Caves in Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
Surveyors have documented about 360 miles of caves in Mammoth’s underground limestone labyrinth, but they estimate that the karst system extends beyond 1,000 miles. Contemplate the possibilities for exploration on one of more than a dozen cave tours, ranging from the Historic Tour, in which visitors explore large passages and learn about cave history, to the Wild Cave Tour, in which the more adventurous crouch and shimmy through passages as narrow as nine inches.

Road Bike Nova Scotia or Newfoundland
The ferry ride between Bar Harbor, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is well worth the sometimes turbulent three hours. In comparison to bustling Bar Harbor, the Canadian isle feels like pure solitude. Nova Scotia’s tight roads are tailor-made for two-wheeled travel. They wind through highlands, over dykes, past rocky coastline, and through historic towns like Lunenberg, an 18th-century seafaring town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss the 30-plus-foot tides, the highest in the world, in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Hike, Fish, and Soak in Hot Springs in Iceland
Lava, glaciers, and hot springs are only a few of the unusual features that characterize Iceland’s starkly beautiful landscape. Happily, the isle is crisscrossed with hiking trails, and in the depths of summer near the Arctic Circle, it’s no biggie if you forget the headlamp. When in Iceland, don’t skip the Blue Lagoon, a giant geothermal hot spring, and a night out in the capital city of Reykjavik, renowned for its buzzing nightlife and music scene.

Ski New Zealand
Forget summer. New Zealand is an ideal respite from the heat, with winter in full swing in July, and the four main ski areas humming with activity. Try Turoa, which is located on the southern side of Mount Ruapehu, a volcano with a steaming crater lake a third of a mile from the top of the highest lift. Or head to Mount Hutt, rumored to have the lightest, driest powder in the country. Slosh it all down at night with some fine New Zealand cabs and merlots.

Dive in Tahiti
With 80-degree weather year-round, azure waters, and lush, mountainous interiors, convincing your pals to head to Tahiti and its neighboring islands probably won’t involve arm twisting. In July, however, you have even more reason to go: Tahitians and other French Polynesians gather in the capital, Papeete, for the Heiva i Tahiti festival, a flamboyant, colorful month-long celebration of dancing, drumming, and singing. Scuba dive all day to see manta rays and black-tipped sharks, then ogle the equally colorful headdresses, garlands, and swirling skirts of Heiva’s dancers.

Climb in Japan
July marks the start of climbing season on Japan’s Mount Fuji and a good time to head to the mountainous country, but there’s more for the vertically inclined than just this iconic peak. Late July also marks the end of rain at Mount Ogawa, the hub of Japan’s rock climbing scene, with some 1,000 granite sport climbs. Camp at the climbing area, then sample some of the country’s ubiquitous hot springs.

Published: 3 Apr 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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