Classic American Adventures That Are Worth Bragging About

While brag­ging isn’t the main rea­son you get out­side and push your­self, you can’t deny it feels pret­ty good rev­el­ing in your accom­plish­ments to close friends and fam­i­ly (or any­one that will lis­ten). All across the coun­try, the nat­ur­al land­scape con­fig­ures some per­fect phys­i­cal chal­lenges that could leave you bruised, bush­whacked and pos­si­bly regret­ting once boast­ful intentions.

grand canyonHik­ing: Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, Grand Canyon Nation­al Park
Going from Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) involves just over 40 miles of trekking, with sig­nif­i­cant ele­va­tion change along the way. Typ­i­cal­ly start­ing on the south rim, day hik­ers can take either the South Kaibab Trail or Bright Angel Trail down into the canyon where they con­verge at the Phan­tom Ranch Ranger Sta­tion. From there, the North Kaibab trail gets you to the north rim, where you then can repeat the whole process to get back to the start.

Obtain­ing this sought-after adven­ture achieve­ment should only be done with a deep under­stand­ing of your own phys­i­cal abil­i­ties and fac­tors like ele­va­tion, expo­sure, and dehy­dra­tion. Per­mits are not required if you can do it with­out spend­ing the night, but it is heav­i­ly advised to con­tact the Park Ser­vice to be sure you’re not only abid­ing by park rules, but also so you’re account­ed for as you make your way on this ambi­tious adventure.

Appalachian trailHik­ing: The Triple Crown of Hiking
While com­plet­ing any one of the three most promi­nent long-dis­tance Nation­al Scenic Hik­ing Trails (the Appalachi­an Trail, the Con­ti­nen­tal Divide Trail, the Pacif­ic Crest Trail), is wor­thy of some brag­ging rights, to real­ly get the most boast­ing for your buck, com­plete all three and obtain the cov­et­ed Triple Crown of Hik­ing. Each trail takes a few months to com­plete on their own, mean­ing that to obtain the Triple Crown you’re look­ing at near­ly a year and a half of liv­ing and trav­el­ing by trail.

While that does sound pret­ty nice in respect to nor­mal day jobs and oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties, it is no easy task com­plet­ing the ardu­ous jour­ney of one long-dis­tance hike, let alone three of them. While there’s an unof­fi­cial aspect of sim­ply claim­ing to have com­plet­ed the Triple Crown, the Amer­i­can Long Dis­tance Hik­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (West) can offi­cial­ly com­mem­o­rate the expe­ri­ence with a plaque and per­son­al­ized poster to serve as a sym­bol and visu­al brag­ging cue for your achievement.

leadville 100Bik­ing: Com­plet­ing the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Colorado
The Leadville Trail 100 MTB is an awe-inspir­ing endurance event that tests the best adven­ture ath­letes across the world. Tak­ing place exclu­sive­ly in the Rocky Moun­tains of Col­orado and the San Isabel Nation­al For­est, the Leadville 100 MTB starts above 10,000 feet and climbs a total of 12,000+ feet with­in the out and back course. The only thing that makes the it a lit­tle eas­i­er is the amaz­ing Rocky Moun­tain view that lines the entire way—plus the extreme­ly grat­i­fy­ing feel­ing of cross­ing the fin­ish line after a gru­el­ing 100 miles. For those with­out moun­tain bikes, the coun­ter­part Leadville Trail 100 Run is an equal­ly arse-kick­ing adven­ture worth brag­ging about.

birkieSki­ing: Cross-Coun­try Ski­ing the Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er, Wisconsin
Serv­ing as North America’s largest cross-coun­try ski race, the Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er tra­vers­es 55 kilo­me­ters from Hay­ward to Cable, Wis­con­sin, pass­ing by much the of the scenic wood­lands and win­ter beau­ty that define this Mid­west­ern State. The Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er is a well-orga­nized and high­ly antic­i­pat­ed event that occurs each Feb­ru­ary. Despite the com­mon bone-chill­ing tem­per­a­tures, thou­sands of peo­ple show up each year to watch and par­tic­i­pate in the race. But just because a lot of ath­letes show up to the start­ing line, it doesn’t mean that the Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er is an easy task to accom­plish; expe­ri­ence with snow trav­el and win­ter endurance will be key to com­plet­ing the Birkie in a safe and rea­son­able time frame.

horseshoe hellRock Climb­ing: 24 Hours of Horse­shoe Hell, Arkansas
No bet­ter exam­ple of climb­ing cama­raderie can be found out­side of the 24 Hours of Horse­shoe Hell at the Horse­shoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas, not to men­tion it being one of the most dif­fi­cult rock climb­ing chal­lenges found in the country.

Horse­shoe Canyon Ranch is a sand­stone mec­ca of sport climb­ing routes for all lev­els of climber, and each Sep­tem­ber hun­dreds of climbers grab their gear and head to this pre­miere des­ti­na­tion for the chal­lenge that is 24 Hour of Horse­shoe Hell. Dur­ing this annu­al event and four-day cel­e­bra­tion, teams of two have 24 hours to clean­ly ascend the most routes they can. If you hap­pen to win this con­test, you sure­ly have rea­son to brag, but even just par­tic­i­pat­ing is an extreme accom­plish­ment worth hav­ing some­one buy you a beer.

cherry creekKayak­ing: Cher­ry Creek, California
The waters of the Upper Cher­ry Creek in Cal­i­for­nia, in prox­im­i­ty to Yosemite Nation­al Park and Tuolumne City, are not suit­ed for first-time boaters. The rapids and dan­gers of this Class V+ water sys­tem is noth­ing to mess around in with­out the prop­er expe­ri­ence. Serv­ing as a trib­u­tary for the Tuolumne Riv­er, Cher­ry Creek is trig­gered by snowmelt and is reg­u­lat­ed by a near­by pow­er­house and reser­voirs to make this quick-mov­ing water acces­si­ble, with most runs tak­ing place between mid-July and into the fall.

To make the 8‑mile run safe­ly down Cher­ry Creek, you need to have a per­fect­ed roll, expe­ri­ence pick­ing lines, and ide­al­ly some­one to give you some beta on the water. Com­mer­cial out­fits and guides do run the riv­er as well, which can give you a lit­tle extra help obtain­ing per­mits and orga­niz­ing shut­tles, as well as some­one with expe­ri­ence to lead the way. Once you’ve crushed this Cal­i­for­nia creek in the Sier­ras though, and you could be ready for just about any pad­dle chal­lenge out there.

denaliMoun­taineer­ing: Sum­mit­ing Denali, Alaska
For­mer­ly known as Mount McKin­ley, Denali is the high­est peak in North Amer­i­ca stand­ing at just over 20,000 feet. The first offi­cial ascent of the moun­tain occurred in 1913, but it wasn’t until 1953 when the West But­tress route opened up did this moun­tain become acces­si­ble to more people.

These days if you want to tack­le the typ­i­cal 17 to 21 days it takes to get up and down the moun­tain, you are wel­come to either go at as a pri­vate expe­di­tion with the cor­rect per­mits, or uti­lize a guide ser­vice that can help with some of the logis­tics. Either route you choose, it takes a healthy com­bi­na­tion of expe­ri­ence, sta­mi­na and men­tal for­ti­tude to even con­sid­er Denali a viable option. Climb­ing Denali deserves its brag­ging rights for good reason.