May Active/Adventure Travel Guide

Colorado River
GENTLY DECEIVING: The Colorado River flows calmly through this section of Canyonlands National Park before a stretch of rapids en route to Lake Powell. (courtesy, NPS)

Raft through Canyonlands National Park, UT
Arguably the best rollercoaster ride in the country can be found in May on the Colorado River and its famous stretch of 30-plus rapids between Canyonlands National Park and Lake Powell. Float down the Green and the Colorado rivers for up to six days with Red River Adventures (877.259.4046;, gazing upon the area's crimson buttes and mesas and riding its screamingest whitewater. After the epic, retire to Moab, where balmy breezes and dry trails lure mountain bikers, climbers, and hikers out of their wintry shells.

Road Bike between Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA
Napa and Sonoma are classic wine-tasting destinations, but Paso Robles more recently perked oenophiles' taste buds with its rich cabernets, merlots, and syrah. The climate, with wild swings between warm days and cool evenings, is perfect for producing varietals with intense character; it also makes for ideal biking conditions in late spring. Explore the back roads of Paso Robles, just off the Pacific coast, while taking in the vineyard-laden hills—and plenty of vintages.

Mountain Bike the Syllamo Trails in the Ozarks, AR
Situated in Arkansas' Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, the 50 miles of the four intertwining singletrack loops of the Syllamo Trails can be biked in one long epic or in bite-sized tastes. The terrain choices are varied enough to please both Joe beginner and Suzy ripper with technical rock drops, twisty rolling tracks through the forest, and fast descents.

Hike in the Berkshires, MA
In May, Western Massachusetts' Berkshires sleepily emerge from winter and prepare for an onslaught of summer visitors. Enjoy the lingering blooms while hiking in solitude through forests of ferns, flowers, and pines. The Appalachian and Mohawk trails run through the Berkshires, and numerous state parks, state forests, and land-trust reserves maintain trails. If paths are dry, trying ascending Mount Everett, one of the Berkshires' tallest peaks, which affords wide views of the pastoral hills.

Sail, Kayak, and Fish Delaware Bay, DE
A mere sliver of land between the New Jersey shore and the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware is often overlooked. But this slim state is a trove of watery adventures easily accessible from big eastern cities like Washington, D.C. Catch tuna and marlin on a sport-fishing charter, sail along the coast, or kayak among cypress stands. Just don't miss the tidal salt marshes of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In May, the tulips and spring wildflowers bloom, ducklings are born, and migrating shorebirds arrive in droves.

Bike the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, NM
A circumnavigation of New Mexico's tallest mountain, 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, on the 84-mile Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway leads through valleys of ponderosa pine, spruce, and aspen, and the tall mountains of the Carson National Forest. Start in the funky, artsy burg of Taos and stop to admire mountain streams, the Taos Pueblo with its plaza and old Native American adobe homes, and the ruins of Elizabethtown, the former county seat-turned-ghost town.

Kayak and Snorkel the Mediterranean Coast, Turkey
May marks the start of summer on the balmy Mediterranean coast of Turkey, where citrus orchards scent the air and the only traffic is generally a herd of passing goats. Tour the rocky shoreline, where the Toros Mountains meet the coast, by kayak or on a traditional gullet, a wooden sailboat. Through glittering blue seas, you may happen upon tiny coves, clear and secluded snorkel spots, ancient Roman ruins, and medieval villages.

Climb Limestone Pinnacles in Yangshuo, China
The cruise down the Li River from the Chinese city of Guilin to the burg of Yangshuo offers a glimpse into rural Chinese life. Watch as locals fish with cormorants in a landscape of brilliant-green rice paddies and mist-ensconced limestone karsts. Most visitors skip town in 15 minutes, but those who stay discover that this is also China's hub of adventure sports. Mountain bike along rice paddies and past water buffalo to Moon Hill, where climbs, some of the 300 in the area, offer unparalleled views of the karsts and patchwork farmland below.

Explore Nature Reserves in Jordan
Journeys to the Middle East are sometimes advisedly discouraged, but savvy travelers are discovering that Jordan, a primarily peace-loving country, is a little-known exception. The country has begun to promote ecotourism and has started to open ecolodges with the help of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. Hike two new hiking trails through oaks, carobs, and pistachio trees in the Ajloun Nature Reserve in the highlands, and then skip to the Azraq Wetlands Reserve, an unusual oasis of bird life in the semi-arid eastern desert.

Scuba Dive off Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Located just off the northwest coast of Africa, the Canaries are perfectly positioned for pleasant weather year-round. In May, you'll just miss the winter and spring-break crowds while exploring the wrecks, caves, and reefs off Gran Canaria for damselfish, moray eels, and sting rays. Decompress on the Canaries' abundance of white, sandy beaches or head to Tenerife to try climbing 6,725-foot Pico del Teide, Spain's tallest peak.

Published: 23 Mar 2007 | Last Updated: 7 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »