March Active/Adventure Travel Guide

Scuba diver swimming with whale sharks
Scuba diver swimming with whale sharks (Comstock)

Ski the White Mountain National Forest, NH
Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine has struck fear in many an East Coast skier, but only the supremely skilled—or foolhardy—brave the gully’s steep walls for a chance at its powder stashes. Instead, consider New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, which has ski trails for all manner of skiers, from cross-country newbies to alpine aficionados. Start Nordic with the Beaver Brook ski trails on Route 3 between Franconia Notch and Twin Mountain before going alpine at one of the forest’s four permitted ski areas: Waterville Valley, Attitash, Bear Peak, or Wildcat. Then, when you’ve drummed up courage and the weather conditions permit, tackle the famed Beast of the East that is Tuckerman.

Heli-Ski the Chugach Range, AK
Alaska’s modern-day fortune-seekers are far less concerned with precious metals as they are with that ever elusive untracked powder snow. In the late 1990s, Olympians Tommy Moe and Jeremy Nobis and guide Mike Overcast found the powder equivalent of gold in Alaska’s pristine Tordrillo Mountains. Now, as Chugach Powder Guides, they take guests to their find, where they recently opened a 5,200-square-foot lodge next to Judd Lake, and lead them on ski trips that can include first descents and as much as 24,000 feet of vertical in a day.

Dive with Whale Sharks, Belize
Whale sharks can approach 60 feet in length, but despite their gargantuan proportions, they’re docile as dachshunds. They also happen to be surprisingly hard to spot, even with their venerable status as the planet’s largest fish. But your chances of seeing them are notably higher when you head to the Gladden Cut, an area off Placencia, Belize, where the behemoths migrate between March and April to feed on snapper spawns. Post-dive, decompress with fly fishing, snorkeling, or good old beach bumming off Belize’s coast.

Bike the Tour of California Route, CA
Top cycling teams like Discovery, T-Mobile, and CSC complete the 650-mile Tour of California each May, but adding an extra day or two is perfectly permissible, if not advisable, for ambitious but not sponsored cyclists. And March promises to be a nice time of year for your race preview ride. By day, follow in the tire tracks of riders like Ivan Basso and Tom Danielson as you pass by the redwoods, wine estates, orchards, beaches, and seaside cliffs between San Francisco and Long Beach. By night, wine, dine, and crash in towns like Sausalito, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Clarita.

Ice Climb in Ouray, CO
Ouray becomes the U.S. metropolis of ice climbing each January, attracting thousands of ice climbers and gaping onlookers for the annual ice festival. But come March, the crowds have cleared and the sunlight glints off the ice for much longer. Spend a few of those long days with San Juan Mountain Guides in the world’s first park dedicated solely to ice climbing, the Ouray Ice Park, which features dozens of ice climbs maintained by a system of hoses. Post-climb, hit the town’s public hot springs or the more secluded Orvis Hot Springs (clothing optional) several miles down the road in Ridgway.

Go Backpacking in Big Bend National Park, TX
Spring brings wildflowers and balmy temps to Texas’ Big Bend National Park, but it also brings spring break crowds. Enjoy the sunshine in seclusion by heading into the backcountry. Beginner backpackers tromp the 30-mile Outer Mountain Loop, which climbs and descends through stark desert and piñon-juniper forests, while experienced desert hikers can tackle the remote Mesa de Anguila area.

Hike and Surf in Morocco
Morocco may be only a hop from the grand cities of Spain, but it is a world away in terms of weather, culture, and landscape. Escape the late-winter blues by hiking and rock climbing the arid foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Then follow the range as it plunges onto the white-sand beaches of the Atlantic, which host a fledgling surf scene, fueled by consistent waves and pleasant temperatures between December and April.

Canoe and Camp in Biscayne National Park, FL
Biscayne National Park lies within miles of the frenzied metropolis of Miami, but it’s a natural, bustling city unto itself. The best way to negotiate its mangrove mazes is by canoe, which visitors can rent at the park’s Convoy Point. Sneak up the park’s lagoons and creeks to discover crabs, crocs, manatees, rays, and herons. When evening descends, take a ferry out to Boca Chita Key or Elliott Key, which features a grove of tropical hardwoods, to camp for the night.

Mountain Bike and Snorkel on Molokai, HI
While spring breakers pound brews and dance ‘till dawn on Oahu, escape to the quieter island of Molokai; it’s only about 26 miles away but feels like another solar system. The island was once the home of a sprawling pineapple ranch, now an upscale resort property called Molokai Ranch, and options for all manner of seclusion seekers abound. Head to the west side of the island for wide beaches or the east side for lush valleys, trails through highland forests, and beaches prime for snorkeling.

A Menu of Adventures in Tasmania, Australia
New Zealand hogs the South Pacific limelight when it comes to adventure sports, but Tasmania packs in some surprising punch for its size. The adventure menu in this isle south of Australia's mainland is as long and varied as a good New York diner’s, particularly between January and April, usually the driest months of the year. Choose between hiking around clear-blue Wineglass Bay, cycling along country roads, surfing Clifton Beach, climbing Organ Pipes near Hobart, diving the east coast, and kayaking Bathurst Harbor in Southwest National Park.


Published: 15 Feb 2007 | Last Updated: 11 Feb 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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