©istockphoto/brytta

If it’s not yet, a long vis­it to Alas­ka belongs on your buck­et list. But how to see it and where to go? While lots of vis­i­tors opt for cruise tours via the Inside Pas­sage, this route is only a frac­tion of what Alas­ka has to offer. If you’re feel­ing intre­pid, con­sid­er tra­vers­ing the state over­land via one of these famous routes and get a new view on Alaska’s bog­gling 663,300 square miles (or what por­tion of it you have time to explore).

Alas­ka Cana­da Highway
Built dur­ing WWII, the Alas­ka Cana­da High­way con­nects Daw­son Creek, British Colom­bia to Delta Junc­tion, Alas­ka. Its 1,387-mile length guides dri­vers through forests of black spruce, past aus­tere tun­dra, around snow-glazed moun­tains, and by fields of wild­flow­ers. Its north­ern end enters Beringia, where evi­dence sug­gests some of the ear­li­est New-World human set­tle­ments were established.

This dri­ve not only gives you a feel for the grandeur, geol­o­gy, and his­to­ry of Alas­ka, it’s also become quite a safe, reli­able route. Acces­si­ble year-round, it’s a per­fect intro­duc­tion to Alaska’s beauty.

George Parks Highway
Vis­it­ing Denali Nation­al Park via the Parks High­way should be a pri­or­i­ty. More than 6 mil­lion acres of wilder­ness, crowned by the tallest peak in Alas­ka, Denali Nation­al Park’s beau­ty is almost incom­pre­hen­si­ble. And high­way access is pret­ty straight­for­ward. Bonus: it’s total­ly paved and open dur­ing all sea­sons. The route runs 362 miles, link­ing Anchor­age to Fairbanks.

If you decide to make a win­ter vis­it, you’re more like­ly to be reward­ed with views of Denali, which is vis­i­ble only about one in three days dur­ing the summer.

Denali High­way
Before the com­ple­tion of the Parks High­way in the ear­ly 1970s, the Denali High­way, con­nect­ing Pax­son to Cantwell was your lone route into the nation­al park. These days, it’s a sea­son­al, par­tial­ly unpaved option for dri­vers who like plot­ting a slight­ly adven­tur­ous course. It’s acclaimed by Men’s Jour­nal as one of America’s most thrilling roads and as a top 10 dri­ve for “dri­vers’ dri­ve” by Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Traveler.

Some rental com­pa­nies place restric­tions on des­ig­nat­ed routes, so plan accord­ing­ly if you’ll be rent­ing your ride.

Seward High­way
The Seward High­way, a 127-mile stretch from Anchor­age to Seward, is one of the best visu­al feasts you’ll ever expe­ri­ence, with prime pic­ture-tak­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties of water­falls, moun­tain views, and steely blue water­scapes. Take this paved, year-round road all the way to Seward, locat­ed on the Kenai Penin­su­la, where you can fish, camp, and watch glac­i­ers calv­ing out in the bay.

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Pho­to by @kyleoutside

Dal­ton Highway
This one’s for the road war­riors. Dal­ton High­way is 75% unpaved and has plen­ty of steep grades (as well as intense truck traf­fic). Although it’s open year-round, tourists unused to intense con­di­tions should plan to tack­le this road dur­ing best pos­si­ble con­di­tions: dur­ing late spring or sum­mer. If the dri­ving is a lit­tle too white-knuck­le and you still want the expe­ri­ence, tours are avail­able. If you’ll be rent­ing a vehi­cle, check to make sure the com­pa­ny allows its vehi­cles to be dri­ven on this wild road.

Gen­er­al Road Advice
You’ll want to make sure that your vehi­cle is up to the chal­lenge of the Alaskan high­ways. Even the best of these roads take a long year­ly pum­mel­ing from intense weath­er and some lead through total iso­la­tion. If you’ll be tack­ling a tough one, think 4‑wheel dri­ve SUV or RV. Keep in mind that Alaska’s fuel prices tend to run high, so account for that cost in your trav­el budget.

Statewide, you’ll have the best con­di­tions for dri­ving between May and Sep­tem­ber. The length of your trip will depend on the num­ber of places you plan to see. Use this mileage chart to find the dis­tance between your intend­ed route stops.

©istockphoto/Natalia Bratslavsky

 

The Trip of a Lifetime
Reach­ing Alas­ka is a quest in itself. Get­ting around once you’re there can be a thrilling and chal­leng­ing expe­ri­ence. Remote wilds, high gas prices, the very real fear of run­ning into a moose—Alaska offers plen­ty of excitement.

So grab your paper-bound road atlas (who knows if the GPS will work out here) and get going.

It’s a great big world out there and there’s no end to the num­ber of adven­tures to be had. While some exploits def­i­nite­ly require a group (white-water raft­ing, any­one?) oth­ers can be had all by your lone­some. And it can be hard to tell which adven­tures are best tack­led alone. There’s def­i­nite­ly no rea­son you can’t wan­der the PCT all on your own, but these are the ques­tions you should ask your­self before solo adven­ture traveling.

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Are you equipped?
No mat­ter want kind of escapade you’re about to embark on, this is a cru­cial one. From hik­ing to moun­tain climb­ing to kayak­ing the Ama­zon, you need to seri­ous­ly con­sid­er your own out­door capa­bil­i­ties. How adept are you in the wild? Are you able to han­dle any prob­lems that arrive with aplomb, expe­ri­ence, and knowledge?

Sure, throw­ing a pack togeth­er and head­ing off into the wilder­ness sounds like a lot of fun. And a 3‑month trek with­out any pre­vi­ous out­door expe­ri­ence sounds great on paper. But in real­i­ty, it’s most­ly a great way to wind up dead. If you’re about to head out on your first extend­ed trip, have a friend or two in place who actu­al­ly know what they’re doing to help keep you on track. Once they’ve shown the ropes the first time around you can con­sid­er tack­ling the world alone on your own after that.

Are you an introvert? 
One of the biggest ques­tions you need to ask your­self is how com­fort­able you are with only your­self as com­pa­ny. Intro­verts often leap at the chance to spend a few days, weeks or even months to them­selves. Extro­verts, on the oth­er hand, tend to go stir-crazy with no one around to bounce their thoughts around.

If you’re the type who enjoys hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions, the lone­li­ness you’ll encounter on the trail could be crip­pling if you choose to go it alone. On the oth­er hand, even intro­verts need human com­pan­ion­ship every once in a while. Know your thresh­old for how long you can spend on your own.

How awe­some are your friends?
Addi­tion­al­ly, we all have those friends that, while we love them uncon­di­tion­al­ly, we can real­ly only stand to be in their pres­ence for a few hours before we want to run away scream­ing. Don’t take that friend with you on a group adventure.

In fact, you should prob­a­bly do a men­tal run­down on your entire cir­cle of friends and esti­mate how long you could spend with them before it comes to blows. If your friends are all intro­verts you’ll prob­a­bly be ready to dis­pense of each other’s com­pa­ny after a day or two on the trail. Do you have a friend whose mouth doesn’t seem to have an off but­ton? You prob­a­bly don’t want to take him/her either.

Do you need a safe­ty net?
The best part of tak­ing a group trip is the built-in safe­ty net your friends pro­vide. If some­thing hor­ri­ble goes down, heav­en for­bid, hope­ful­ly, one of your bud­dies will have enough wits about him to ensure you stay safe and get the help you need. When alpine climb­ing, for instance, if an avalanche occurs and you get buried you’ll feel a lit­tle bet­ter know­ing your friend might be able to get help while you wait.

Do you want to test yourself?
Solo adven­ture trav­el­ing is a fan­tas­tic way to test what you’re real­ly made of.

There’s always dan­ger when you head out from the com­forts of your home. But there’s no sense in hold­ing back entire­ly. If you tru­ly want to know what you’re able to accom­plish, maybe you need to head out solo and see what kind of trou­ble you can han­dle. It’s quite a thrill to han­dle things on your own if all goes south. How­ev­er, we’ll say again, always research and pre­pare as best you can ahead of time.

Above all, solo­ing it or going with friends is a per­son­al and often sit­u­a­tion­al choice; there’s no sol­id right answer here. Con­sid­er your lim­its, your desires, and your abil­i­ties. After that, decide on the right course of action for each trip you take. Even­tu­al­ly, you’re prob­a­bly going to want both expe­ri­ences under your belt.

We want­ed to take a moment and hon­or the many thou­sands of our mem­bers that have trav­elled with us along the way, whether it’s sup­port­ing the best brands in the out­door indus­try or explor­ing the world on extra­or­di­nary human-pow­ered adven­tures. We, more than ever, are com­mit­ted to con­tin­ue to offer com­pelling oppor­tu­ni­ties for adven­ture trav­el where you can explore, make a dif­fer­ence, and have ball.

In that spir­it, here’s a lit­tle more about WHY we do what we do.rafting

OUR PURPOSE AND PASSION IS TO:

INCREASE THE WELL-BEING OF THE PLANET AND INHABITANTS BY INSPIRING HUMAN POWERED ADVENTURE. It’s our com­pa­ny’s mis­sion, we are com­mit­ted to help­ing you get out and explore: from your back­yard, to the far­thest cor­ners of our amaz­ing plan­et. We believe in human-pow­ered adven­ture. Trekking, cycling, kayak­ing, hik­ing, raft­ing, skiing—so many ways to con­nect, prac­tice a craft, try some­thing new. Ulti­mate­ly, explore and feel alive.

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MAKE ADVENTURE TRAVEL MORE AFFORDABLE. Let’s face it, adven­ture trav­el is often way over­priced. The aver­age price per day of our com­peti­tors is often $350+. Our aver­age price per day is around $150 or less. We believe that amaz­ing adven­tures should be avail­able to all. It’s not about being the cheap­est, it’s about offer­ing great val­ue. We are com­mit­ted to nego­ti­at­ing the best pos­si­ble rates for you in order to low­er the finan­cial bar­ri­er to GO. New lux­u­ry is authen­tic­i­ty and access, not thread count and stars.

SUPPORT LOCAL ECONOMIES. Often in mass tourism, as much as 90% of trip costs go to a cor­po­ra­tion oper­at­ing out­side the coun­try vis­it­ed. Adven­ture trav­el is the inverse, and we work hard to ensure that the lion’s share of trip costs go direct­ly to the local economies and peo­ple we visit.

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BE A FORCE FOR GOOD. We can vote with our dol­lars and sup­port: sus­tain­abil­i­ty, con­ser­va­tion and the idea of help­ing great places to vis­it also be great places to live. By work­ing with small­er, local oper­a­tors, we ensure that the mon­ey is going to local peo­ple and com­pa­nies, who are on the front lines of pro­tect­ing nature, cul­ture, and place.

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LASTLY,

Because, Awe­some. This is not our job, it’s our voca­tion. We are part of a glob­al tribe that believes that we need mean­ing­ful trav­el expe­ri­ences more than ever and the con­text that we gain from our expe­ri­ences makes our lives and that of those around us richer.

Join us. It is with­in your reach. For in the end, the only regret we will have, is hav­ing not gone.

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“And if trav­el is like love, it is, in the end, most­ly because it’s a height­ened state of aware­ness, in which we are mind­ful, recep­tive, undimmed by famil­iar­i­ty and ready to be trans­formed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, nev­er real­ly end.” Pico Iyer


To take a Clymb Adven­ture, check out our Adven­ture Trav­el page here. 

Imag­ine zip­ping around a com­pact bike-friend­ly city with a huge 12,643-foot moun­tain shad­ow­ing you; cof­fee, farm-fresh food and beer-fill­ing sta­tions just min­utes apart. No, you’re not in Col­orado; you’re in the North­ern Ari­zona town of Flagstaff.

Long known to adven­tur­ers as a road-trip pit­stop or the clos­est air­port to Grand Canyon Nation­al Park, Flagstaff has def­i­nite­ly evolved into an out­doors des­ti­na­tion in its own right. Con­sid­er spend­ing 48 hours here to sam­ple the best of what the area has to offer. Then come back and make it a week.

What to do:

Trails
Humphrey’s Peak (Kachi­na Peaks Wilder­ness Area) has a 10-mile round-trip trail to the 12,643 ft. sum­mit, start­ing from Ari­zona Snow­bowl ski resort 14.5 miles north­west of down­town Flagstaff. A lit­tle flat­ter than Humphrey’s Peak is the Ari­zona Trail. It’s an amaz­ing trail with sev­er­al options in the area depend­ing on your pre­ferred distance.

Road Bik­ing
You could eas­i­ly bike from one end of the city to the oth­er on a com­bi­na­tion of trails and bike lanes. Many of the most pop­u­lar din­ing spots and busi­ness­es offer bike park­ing. Some even offer a dis­count for cus­tomers who arrive on non-motor­ized 2‑wheels. Here are some places to rent road, cruis­er or moun­tain bikes: Flagstaff Bicy­cle Rev­o­lu­tion, AZ Ped­al Tours, or Flagstaff Nordic Center.

Moun­tain Biking
The Flagstaff Nordic Cen­ter offers moun­tain bike rentals and coor­di­nates with a shut­tle ser­vice com­pa­ny to get you out to trail­heads. Sun­set Trail, just north of down­town, is the launch site for an 8‑mile round trip sin­gle-track chal­lenge from Schultz Pass to the sum­mit of Mount Elden. It’s at times steep and tech­ni­cal, and at oth­ers, fast and smooth with knock­out views.

Rock Climb­ing
Flagstaff Climb­ing offers day pass­es at both their climb­ing gym loca­tions, Down­town Crag and Main Street Boul­ders. The two gyms encom­pass 9,000 square feet of top rope, lead climb­ing and boul­der­ing ter­rain. They can also tip you off to where to go outdoors.

Cav­ing
Head north on For­est Roads 245, 171 and 171B (closed in win­ter) to the Lava Riv­er Tube Cave. The cli­mate inside is a steady 42 degree Fahren­heit year-round, but you’ll need head­lamps and flash­lights, warm clothing/jackets and your own water. The road gates open in late-April, depend­ing on snow/mud conditions.

Adven­ture Course
Flagstaff Extreme Adven­ture Course is an ele­vat­ed obsta­cle course set in tall Pon­derosa pines out by Fort Tuthill Coun­ty Park. The course includes rope swings, scram­bling walls, hang­ing nets, wob­bly bridges and sus­pend­ed “sur­pris­es.”

Disc Golf
Head out to Thor­pe Park and Con­ti­nen­tal Park (Sports Com­plex E Old Wal­nut Canyon Rd) or to Ari­zona Snow­bowl Disc Golf course locat­ed at an ele­va­tion of 9,500 feet. The course starts and fin­ish­es at the Agas­siz Lodge, with a prac­tice bas­ket just out­side the lodge. The course is free, but there’s a dona­tion box on the way to the first hole.

Yoga
Need to stretch? Check out The Yoga Expe­ri­ence. Locat­ed in down­town Flagstaff, their drop-in class­es com­bine ele­ments from the Anusara, Ash­tan­ga, Iyen­gar, Kun­dali­ni, Vinyasa Flow, and YOGAMAZÉ traditions.

Where to do it:

Wal­nut Canyon Nation­al Monument
Just east of Flagstaff, you can lit­er­al­ly step back in time, hik­ing among ancient pueb­los and cliff dwellings tucked into the walls just below Wal­nut Canyon’s Rim. It’s less than 90 min­utes to take in the major sites here. Between Memo­r­i­al Day and Labor Day, by reser­va­tion only, you can get in on back­coun­try hikes that vis­it some of the more remote cliff dwellings. The 3‑hour stren­u­ous Sat­ur­day Ledge Hike starts at 10am.

Pet­ri­fied For­est Nation­al Monument
Long day­light hours with some time left to explore? This is one of the few places in the world where you can see Late Tri­as­sic peri­od fos­sils and gor­geous pet­ri­fied wood. Locat­ed near Hol­brook, go hike the Red Basin Trail to view 200-mil­lion-year-old clam beds, along with rock spires, hoodoos, and petroglyphs—in Red Basin on an 8.5‑mile loop.

Grand Falls
Spring is the best time to see this pre­quel to the Grand Canyon on the Lit­tle Col­orado Riv­er. Locat­ed about an hour north­east of Flagstaff on the Nava­jo Nation just out­side Leupp, the 185 ft. water­fall looks enor­mous when it’s sea­son­al­ly flow­ing. The area is still worth see­ing even if the falls are dried up. Unless you have a 4WD or are on a moun­tain bike, though, plan to hike the last half-mile to the over­look and down to the base of the falls.

Wupat­ki Nation­al Monument
Wupat­ki Pueblo is the largest with­in this com­plex. A self-guid­ed trail begins behind the vis­i­tor cen­ter. This is a great alter­na­tive to the Pet­ri­fied For­est if ruined pueb­los are more your thing than fos­sils or falls.

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Sure, you’ve always dreamed of vis­it­ing exot­ic lands over­seas, but have you real­ly thought this through? While over­seas trav­el is fun and reward­ing, there are a few things to con­sid­er before mak­ing those final plans.

The Trav­el Itself
We can’t all trav­el in pri­vate Lear­jets, but there are still ways to make your trip even more com­fort­able than you think. There is not only first-class seat­ing avail­able to any­one will­ing to pay the price, but busi­ness class is anoth­er option. Not as fan­cy or expen­sive as first class, but cer­tain­ly more com­fort­able than coach, you may want to con­sid­er pay­ing more for this upgrade. Some air­lines such as British Air­ways and Vir­gin afford a lit­tle more com­fort in coach on inter­na­tion­al flights than region­al car­ri­ers and usu­al­ly offer real meals and unlim­it­ed movies. The new wave of dis­count air­lines such as Spir­it, Fron­tier and Ryan Air in Europe will save you a bun­dle but you do give up some of the com­fort. If you’re going to sleep the whole way any­way, do you real­ly need free movies?

Con­ver­sa­tion­al­ly Challenged
That’s the best way to put the fact that a lot of Amer­i­cans are not bilin­gual. Going to cer­tain coun­tries like Eng­land and Aus­tralia means you will have no lan­guage prob­lems. Going to far-flung lands that don’t claim Eng­lish as their pri­ma­ry lan­guage might be a bit tougher. If you are con­ver­sa­tion­al­ly chal­lenged or worse yet, not very patient, you may strug­gle in some regions but Eng­lish is still very promi­nent in most coun­tries. If you take the trou­ble to learn a few phras­es or at least just a greet­ing or two in the local lin­go, along with the words for “Please” and “Thank you” you will have a much eas­i­er time. A smile goes a long way every­where and just show­ing you are at least attempt­ing to speak their lan­guage will usu­al­ly afford you a lot more consideration.

Mon­ey, Mon­ey, Money
When decid­ing on where to vis­it, you may want to con­sid­er the exchange rates. Right now the dol­lar is strong near­ly every­where, so many parts of the world are more afford­able than ever. Europe has seen a change in the U.S Dol­lar to the Euro exchange so it is more afford­able there than in the recent past. Some cred­it cards such as Dis­cov­er, for exam­ple, have been drop­ping their fees for over­seas charges, mak­ing them even more affordable.

Food for Thought
Some of us are picky eaters. I can­not eat seafood, so that lim­its me on my choic­es when vis­it­ing the most coastal places. I’ve nev­er had trou­ble find­ing some­thing good to eat; I just feel I have missed out on a lot of the local spe­cial­ties. Of course, there are always options. In Jamaica, I get to gorge myself on Jerk Chick­en and Pork. In this day there’s always a McDonald’s or even a Ken­tucky Fried Chick­en out­let some­where near­by but don’t be the tourist who sticks to their com­fort zone too much. Try­ing dif­fer­ent food in far-away lands is one of the joys of inter­na­tion­al travel.

The Weath­er is Delight­ful or Dreadful
If you can’t han­dle the heat and/or humid­i­ty, you should be care­ful of where you go or at least when you go there. Many pop­u­lar trav­el des­ti­na­tions, oth­er than the Arc­tic or Antarc­tic regions, can get very hot in the sum­mer. That’s why May and Octo­ber are great months to trav­el to places that get a bit warm. Humid­i­ty can be sti­fling, espe­cial­ly to those of us not used to it. On the oth­er hand, you are trav­el­ing so expe­ri­enc­ing a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent cli­mate makes for part of the fun. If the heat and humid­i­ty are tough on you, make sure you’re on or near the beach or have a pool avail­able. If the cold bites all the way to your bones but you want to ski in Europe, go in March or April when the days are warmer. There is always a way to make any cli­mate bear­able, you just have to plan it right.

Safe­ty First
While dan­ger lurks in every cor­ner of the world, that doesn’t mean you can’t be and feel safe wher­ev­er you are. The U.S. State Depart­ment issues trav­el warn­ings for hotspots around the world and you should heed them. They pro­vide great insight as to the lev­el of dan­ger, but also what areas of indi­vid­ual coun­tries you should avoid. Some regions have hotspots of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty that should not pre­clude you from vis­it­ing oth­er safer areas of the same coun­try. Cer­tain parts of Mex­i­co, for exam­ple, have been list­ed as too dan­ger­ous to vis­it while oth­er areas such as the Mayan Riv­iera area of Can­cun and Playa del Car­men are per­fect­ly safe for all tourists. Let’s be hon­est, there are prob­a­bly parts of your home­town you wouldn’t rec­om­mend vis­it­ing, so use your head, don’t go where you have no busi­ness being and you will be fine.

©istockphoto/RossHelenThe sun, surf, scenery and fas­ci­nat­ing wildlife that com­pris­es Tener­ife make it a favorite des­ti­na­tion of Euro­pean trav­el­ers. The adven­ture oppor­tu­ni­ties on the island also make it a one-stop buck­et list des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple across the globe who like to play hard in the outdoors.

The Island of Eter­nal Spring
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tener­ife is locat­ed on a Span­ish arch­i­pel­ago off the south­west coast of Moroc­co and just west of West­ern Sahara. Tener­ife is wide­ly known as the For­tu­nate Isle or the Island of Eter­nal Spring; it catch­es an aver­age of eight hours a day of sun­shine through the year but is rarely oppres­sive­ly hot. The north of the island has slight­ly low­er tem­per­a­tures and occa­sion­al rain­fall in win­ter, but that’s also why it has a more trop­i­cal look than the desert south. Over­all, how­ev­er, tem­per­a­tures across the island fluc­tu­ate between 60 to 65 degrees Fahren­heit in win­ter, and 75 to 86 in summer.

This means that there is lit­er­al­ly no bad time to vis­it this sub­trop­i­cal par­adise. Flights are under 13 hours direct from New York, or under 4 hours from Lon­don. Be aware that while flights do tend to run cheap­er in the win­ter, that’s also when hotel demand and prices are at their high­est. In terms of weath­er, out­door adven­tur­ers will find Sep­tem­ber one of the most reli­able and least expen­sive months to visit.

©istockphoto/RAUL GARCIA GARCIADom­i­nat­ed by a Volcano
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tener­ife is bor­dered by mul­ti-col­ored beach­es (from soft gold to black vol­canic sand) and sand dunes, all dom­i­nat­ed by a 12,198-foot stra­to­vol­cano, Mt. Tei­de. Numer­ous pris­tine beach­es pro­vide habi­tats for sea tur­tles and entrance to more than 60 not­ed div­ing sites. The vol­cano’s summit—rising 24,000 feet from the ocean floor, it is the world’s third tallest volcano—towers over the mid­dle-south­west­ern half of the island, and serves as the cen­ter­piece of adven­tur­er for hik­ers, bik­ers and trail runners.

Trails, Cav­erns, Moun­tains, and Beach­es Galore
Beyond the beach­es and cav­erns, wind­surfers and kayak­ers explore Tenerife’s wild and pre­cip­i­tous coast­line. Cyclists tack­le long, wind­ing climbs and thrill-a-minute down­hills on roads or trails, north, and south.

The tem­per­ate weath­er is wide­ly known in cycling cir­cles, draw­ing road rac­ers to Tener­ife to train. Since all roads lead to the high­est point—the Nation­al Park vis­i­tor cen­ter at about 10,000 feet)—you can ride up Mt. Tei­de with a five to sev­en per­cent grade over the course of 36 miles, com­bin­ing both the upper and low­er slope in four to six hours (assum­ing you’re in train­ing shape). In fact, Mt. Tei­de serves as a high-alti­tude train­ing ground for many Tour de France con­tenders, includ­ing Bradley Wig­gins and Chris Froome, who count on its sta­ble spring weath­er and thin air to aid their train­ing and campaigns.

The moun­tain is also a holy grail to hik­ers who come to Tener­ife. But many also come to see and pho­to­graph the drag­on trees and ancient lau­rel forests. A Canary Island leg­end alleges that when drag­ons died, they became drag­on trees (Dra­cae­na dra­co), which are said to be one of the longest sur­viv­ing trees on the plan­et, capa­ble of with­stand­ing a wide diver­si­ty of cli­mate and weath­er. These liv­ing fos­sils, along with the lau­rel, are the flo­ra trea­sures of these islands. Hik­ers will not want to miss the 1,000-year-old drag­on tree in Icod de Los Vinos (it mea­sures 65 feet at the base and 56 feet tall) or the ancient lau­rel forests that fill in the spaces between the deep, knife-edge ridges, peaks and slopes around the Ana­ga Moun­tains in the north­east­ern part of the island.

©istockphoto/Fabian WentzelEnd­less Sights
Tener­ife trav­el­ers will also not want to miss Los Gigantes—the epony­mous giant cliffs—on the island’s west coast. Take a break and ride the cable car to the sum­mit of Mt. Tei­de for 360-degree views of the island, or slip into the lava-hewn rock pools of Garachico for a soak. Also con­sid­er a vis­it to La Lagu­na, a UNESCO World Her­itage Cen­tre site, with its fas­ci­nat­ing archi­tec­ture span­ning four centuries.

Aside from spec­tac­u­lar out­door adven­ture oppor­tu­ni­ties, the island has a vibrant, long-endur­ing cul­tur­al his­to­ry, world-class gas­tron­o­my (some say the world’s best and most pris­tine seafood), and a wide vari­ety of lodg­ing options includ­ing camp­grounds, Airbn­b’s, stu­dio apart­ments and 5‑star hotels.

And if you want to real­ly relax after a week of adven­ture, don’t miss the exquis­ite Playa Del Duque, on the Cos­ta Ade­je in south­ern Tener­ife. Kick back on a clean, vast beach, take a stroll or enjoy some tra­di­tion­al tapas at one of the restau­rants and cafés along the ele­gant prom­e­nade that fronts the length of the sand. The beach has a full range of facil­i­ties from chang­ing rooms to show­ers, ice-cream kiosks, and sunshades.

Tener­ife lit­er­al­ly has it all, all year round.

You’re read­ing The Clym­b’s Trav­el Jour­nal, an insid­er look at our Epic Patag­o­nia Adven­ture to Torre del Paine Nation­al Park, where our very own Michelle Mas­sara will be offer­ing you insight into what our trips are like, what makes Patag­o­nia so epic, and what you might need to take with you on this human-pow­ered adven­ture. To take this trip, you can find it here on our website. 

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Bio
Michelle Mas­sara is the Pro­duc­tion Lead for the Clymb Adven­tures. Her roots are in Buf­fa­lo, NY, but she’s called many places home, from Alas­ka to Tahoe to Port­land. When she’s not out explor­ing around Mt. Hood with her Bernese Moun­tain Dog, Sum­mit, she can like­ly be found perus­ing the streets of Portland.

Why Patag­o­nia?
Patag­o­nia has always appealed to me, its vivid turquoise lakes and icon­ic land­scapes caught my atten­tion, and I’ve always want­ed to expe­ri­ence them in an authen­tic way. The Clym­b’s Epic Patag­o­nia Adven­ture was the per­fect way to take in all that this amaz­ing place has to offer.

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Pack­ing Essentials?
Sacred Socks. These are your end of the day socks, the socks you slip into after 12 miles of sweaty hik­ing through rugged terrain.
Day Pack. For day hikes, some will repur­pose their big back­pack pack, and that’s fine, but the con­ve­nience of a small, pack­able day pack for the essen­tial items — water bot­tle, cam­era, jack­et — was perfect.

What did you wish you had?
A Kin­dle. I brought one book with me (because I was con­scious of weight) and fin­ished it before we even arrived at the park. Trav­el from San­ti­a­go to Patag­o­nia takes a whole day and there’s a good amount of down time at the refu­gios- espe­cial­ly in the evenings, so there were plen­ty of times where I des­per­ate­ly wished I had brought a Kindle.

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Trip Itin­er­ary
Day 1
Arrived in San­ti­a­go around 7am after a long flight. After a well-deserved nap at the B&B I spent the rest of the day explor­ing the main tourist attrac­tions in the city.

Day 2 
Depart­ed for Chile’s famous Maipo Val­ley for a day of wine tast­ing. We vis­it­ed a fam­i­ly-owned organ­ic vine­yard and were treat­ed to home­made empanadas and Pas­tel de Choclo, a tra­di­tion­al Chilean meal.

Day 3
Trav­el by plane and bus to Tor­res del Paine Nation­al Park. I took in the wildlife from the bus win­dows, excit­ed to see gua­na­cos, con­dors, rhea, and oth­er unfa­mil­iar ani­mals. As we approached the park, I caught my first glimpse of the epic Cordillera Paine, com­plete with the awe-inspir­ing towers.

Day 4
Began our hike to the Tow­ers through rocky ter­rain and over crys­tal clear glacial rivers. The tran­si­tion from lenga for­est to high alpine was a stun­ning tran­si­tion between diverse ecosys­tems. We end­ed the hike with lunch next to the emer­ald lake at the foot of the towers.

Day 5
Today we trekked for the first time with the full weight of our packs. My favorite moment of the day was as we approached Lake Nor­den­skjold for the first time. Being the tail end of the sea­son, the brush and veg­e­ta­tion were turn­ing red and brown, cre­at­ing a greater con­trast for the vibrant blue water.

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Day 6
We left Los Cuer­nos and hiked through old-growth for­est to an impres­sive view­point of the French Val­ley. This day hike through the French Val­ley was per­son­al­ly the biggest high­light of the trip for me. The views con­tin­u­ous­ly got bet­ter as we climbed over boul­ders and across streams to get to our des­ti­na­tion, which once there, pro­vid­ed a panoram­ic view of the Cer­ro Hoja and Cer­ro Máscara.

Day 7
The hike from Refu­gio Paine Grande to Refu­gio Grey had strong winds, luck­i­ly behind us and not against us. As we hiked we looked for pumas and enjoyed the beau­ty of Pehoé Lake and Grey Lake as we passed on our approach to Grey Glacier.

Day 8
The addi­tion­al day at Refu­gio Grey was nice, as it allowed us to sleep in and plan a half-day activ­i­ty. I took a leisure­ly hike toward Cam­pa­men­to Paso with two oth­ers and Ser­gio, who lead us as we fol­lowed along the side of the glac­i­er. We crossed two sus­pen­sion bridges with the glac­i­er as our back­drop and stopped at a few look­outs for pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ties. We returned to the lodge and relaxed in Adiron­dack chairs on the front porch while soak­ing up the sun.

Day 9
Our final half-day in the park we hiked back to the lake at Refu­gio Paine Grande and took a cata­ma­ran to Pehoé to exit the park. From there, we took a bus up to Puer­to Natales and enjoyed the most deli­cious farewell din­ner at a quaint seafood place near the ocean. And wine. So much wine.

Day 10
The last bit of trav­el was the bus ride to Pun­ta Are­nas fol­lowed by the flight back to San­ti­a­go for a final evening in the city. Our group met for one more din­ner togeth­er as we exchanged con­tact infor­ma­tion and planned our next adventures.

Day 11
This final day is set aside for depar­tures, though I chose to stay in San­ti­a­go for an addi­tion­al 2 days to explore, which I high­ly recommend.

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Who were your trav­el buddies?
I trav­eled solo, then joined a group of 3 oth­er Clymb mem­bers. All were east coast­ers, around the same age, and we con­nect­ed nice­ly to form a small and tight-knit fam­i­ly for the dura­tion of the trip.

Trip High­lights?
The hike to the Tow­ers was so extra­or­di­nary because of the diverse ecosys­tems we passed through along the way. The French Val­ley was jaw drop­ping, we stum­bled over boul­ders and rivers to a remark­able view of mas­sive moun­tains ahead and tiny lakes below, all the while hear­ing the rum­ble of avalanch­es up above. Depart­ing Grey Glac­i­er we walked over a sus­pen­sion bridge that was about 120ft off the ground with the face of the glac­i­er as our backdrop.IMG_0756 (1)

What Made This Trip So Special?
Patag­o­nia lies under the radar of pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions. The hard to access Tor­res del Paine is com­plete with wild and rugged ter­rain that is every bit remote as you imag­ine it.

What was the cra­zi­est thing that happened?
On Day 5, as we were pass­ing Lake Nor­den­skjold, we ran into John Gar­den­er, the man who found­ed the cir­cuit trail back in 1976, which includes the W route, the very trail that we were trekking on. I would have walked right past him and nev­er known, but luck­i­ly our guide, Ser­gio, was ecsta­t­ic at our encounter and made intro­duc­tions to the group. It was pret­ty neat.

Where Do You Want To Go Next?
I’d like to trek to Ever­est Base Camp. Nepal has such a unique and heart­en­ing cul­ture, it would be a tru­ly unique expe­ri­ence to hike in the foot­steps of some of the most prodi­gious alpine climbers.

My trip was made pos­si­ble in part through One­seed Expeditions.
One­seed leads expe­di­tions all around the globe and has been rec­og­nizes as a leader in social­ly mind­ful trav­el. In addi­tion to offer­ing trav­el expe­ri­ences all over the plan­et, One­seed’s mis­sion also revolves around pro­vid­ing micro-loans to local entre­pre­neurs and they give 10% of there total rev­enue to local busi­ness­es in need of capital.

My guide,Ser­gio Nuñez, is actu­ally the Region­al Direc­tor of Latin Amer­ica Trav­el for One­seed. Ser­gio grew up close to Tor­res del Paine and has guid­ed in the park for almost 20 years. It had been a few years since he’d last vis­ited, so I could tell he was expe­ri­enc­ing Torre Del Paine’s beau­ty all over again. He clear­ly has a deep-root­ed love for Patag­o­nia and it was real­ly spe­cial to wit­ness and see that come through in his guiding.

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Pho­tog­ra­phy pro­vid­ed by Michelle Massara

Our 30s are often thought to be the slow­ing down years. The time when we leave behind our youth­ful exu­ber­ance, propen­si­ty to take risks and start focus­ing more on set­tling down and start­ing a fam­i­ly. For those who weren’t for­tu­nate enough to start explor­ing over­seas in their 20s, the mind­set that trav­el­ing just isn’t an option for them starts to take shape.

That’s a load of crap. Your 30s actu­al­ly might be the best time of your life to start trav­el­ing, and here’s why.

You’ve got your stuff together.
They say that our 30s is the decade when we final­ly start feel­ing a sense of true con­fi­dence in our­selves. We care less about what oth­ers think of us, we’ve (most­ly) got our careers fig­ured out and we’re mak­ing way more mon­ey than we did in our 20s, and they’re kind of right. For those rea­sons alone it’s a great time to start trav­el­ing since you’ll be able to real­ly afford it and appre­ci­ate what you’re expe­ri­enc­ing on a whole dif­fer­ent lev­el at this point in your life.

You can afford it.
As we men­tioned above, peo­ple tend to have a sta­ble career some­where in their 30s and more mon­ey com­ing in. That means you’ve got more you can spend on trav­el. Instead of pur­chas­ing an expen­sive house, use that mon­ey explor­ing new places.

You’ll appre­ci­ate it more.
Let’s be hon­est, when we’re in our 20s most of the things we enjoy revolve around drink­ing and we tend to take that habit with us over­seas. Your 30s are when the need to drink takes a back­seat to the need to expe­ri­ence life a lit­tle more ful­ly. Instead of rock­ing out until 3 am in Ams­ter­dam, in your 30s you’ll prob­a­bly enjoy a few more sun­sets and be more prone to go on that cycling tour in France than you were at 23.

You devel­op real relationships.
The best part of being 30 is that you’ve reached the point where you can gen­er­al­ly tell a real friend from a fake. Rather than rack­ing up bar bud­dies over­seas, you’ll spend more time hav­ing gen­uine con­ver­sa­tions about life with peo­ple and you’ll form long-last­ing friend­ships. Gone will be the one-night stands with name­less faces and in their place, you’ll find actu­al friend­ships with peo­ple who’ve lived an entire­ly dif­fer­ent life from you that’ll help you grow as a human being.

You just don’t care anymore.
Our 20s are a time of con­stant com­pe­ti­tion to stay on top of things and to impress those around us. We com­pete for dates and for jobs and always feel like we have to be putting our best foot for­ward. By the time 30 rolls around, we just gen­uine­ly don’t give a $#!t. That’s a great atti­tude to have while trav­el­ing, you’ll find, because pre­cious time won’t be spent over­com­pen­sat­ing for inse­cu­ri­ties and can be put to bet­ter use, like sleep­ing in even though you’re only in Paris for three days.

You’ve devel­oped mad skills.
Whether you’ve found skills in con­vers­ing with strangers or sim­ply pack­ing a suit­case, you’re bound to be bet­ter at every­thing you kind of sucked at in your 20s, which will make trav­el­ing so much eas­i­er. You’ll pack with effi­cien­cy, know bet­ter than to expect every­one to cater to you and you prob­a­bly speak at least a sec­ond lan­guage or more by now. This also means you won’t sweat the small stuff when things go wrong, as they inevitably will, and will be able to han­dle any sit­u­a­tion with­out call­ing home to mom­my and dad­dy to help you fix it.

You’ll take smarter risks.
Risk-tak­ing doesn’t com­plete­ly end when you hit your fourth decade, but the types of risks you’re will­ing to take actu­al­ly make sense now. You’ll play it safer as you trav­el and not put your­self in sit­u­a­tions where things could go hor­ri­bly wrong just for the sake of being a daredevil.

You’re still young.
Guess what? You’re 30, not dead. You’ve still got a ton of ener­gy, a healthy body and plen­ty of years ahead of you. Long hikes along for­eign trails are still read­i­ly doable and you can go sky­div­ing, swim with dol­phins and even race cars in strange countries.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/iwana/Canada’s province of Que­bec (bet­ter known as la belle province) may be best known for its urban oases of Mon­tre­al and Que­bec City, but there’s plen­ty of adven­ture to be had too.

The Charlevoix region is a hot spot for those who love the great out­doors. With the Saint Lawrence Riv­er on one side and the Lau­rent­ian Moun­tains on the oth­er, the land­scape lends itself to activ­i­ties a plein air.

Rent a car in Que­bec City and head north­west towards the for­est, fjords and fun times.

Canyon­ing
If you’ve nev­er heard of canyon­ing, you’re for­giv­en; it’s a rel­a­tive­ly new sport that hasn’t gone main­stream quite yet. The premise is sim­ple: slip on a wet suit, slap on a har­ness, tie your­self in, rap­pel down and feel the rush—literally and metaphorically.

Canyon­ing is equal parts adren­a­line and sheer beau­ty. Although most peo­ple have had chances to appre­ci­ate a water­fall from a dis­tance, few have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to actu­al­ly stand inside of one. The sheer quan­ti­ty of water, the pow­er of the falls and the boom­ing sounds will give you a whole new appre­ci­a­tion for Moth­er Nature. Whether you choose a half day intro course, a mul­ti-day canyon­ing trek or a win­ter­time ice canyon­ing adven­ture, chances are good you’ll come out hooked. And a lit­tle wet.

Sea Kayak­ing with Whales
The mighty Saint Lawrence Riv­er is a force to be reck­oned with, and there’s no bet­ter way to expe­ri­ence it than in a sea kayak float­ing on the water’s surface.

The area’s unique geol­o­gy means that the riv­er drops off steep and fast, cre­at­ing prime con­di­tions for whales to swim super close to shore. Trans­la­tion: you don’t have to pad­dle for hours for a chance at a face-to-face adven­ture with a bel­u­ga. Or a minke whale. Or even a blue whale.

©istockphoto/pchouiHik­ing
When peo­ple think of epic hikes in Cana­da, Que­bec isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the first place that comes to mind, but truth­ful­ly, it’s one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Rolling green moun­tains, dense forests and rush­ing rivers cre­ate the per­fect back­drop for a trek in the great outdoors.

Options are plen­ti­ful: the Mes­tachi­bo Trail, part of the Trans Cana­da Trail, is a 12.5 km hike (or 25 km if you choose to do it return)—that’s just shy of 8 miles, or 16 miles return—that takes you up and down cliffs and bluffs, across sus­pen­sion bridges and through the lush woods. It makes for a great day hike that show­cas­es the region’s stun­ning features.

If you’re look­ing for some­thing a bit longer, look no fur­ther than the Tra­versee de Charlevoix. This 105 km trail (65 miles) takes you through the hin­ter­land of Charlevoix. Camp­ing isn’t per­mit­ted along the trail, but a super cool hut sys­tem (com­plete with stoves and cook­ing gear) means you’ll sleep and eat like a king the entire time.

Via Fer­re­ta
A few dif­fer­ent provin­cial parks in the Charlevoix area offer Via Fer­re­ta cours­es. Think of an obsta­cle course built right into nature: rap­pelling down rock, cross­ing sus­pen­sion bridges with super spaced out planks, zip lin­ing, the works. The adven­ture lev­el is high, but the activ­i­ty is safe and suit­able for kids 10 and up. It’s a great way to instill a love of out­door fun in the younger generation.

Ski­ing
Some of the best ski­ing on the East Coast can be found in the Lau­rent­ian Moun­tains of Charlevoix. Le Mas­sif is prob­a­bly the best-known ski area, and it’s the per­fect place to get your fix of snow in the win­ter months. It fea­tures the high­est ver­ti­cal (2,526 feet, to be exact) east of the Cana­di­an Rock­ies. With more than 400 acres of ski­able ter­rain, odds are good you won’t get bored. There’s also snow­shoe­ing and cross-coun­try ski­ing at the resort.

Dog Sled­ding
There’s no bet­ter place to take part in the quin­tes­sen­tial­ly Cana­di­an activ­i­ty of dog sled­ding than Charlevoix. If you’re a dog lover, a dog sled­ding trek just might be one of the most mem­o­rable expe­ri­ences of your life. These dogs work seri­ous­ly hard, but they also have extreme­ly love­able per­son­al­i­ties. Bun­dle up, and head out for a few hours—or bet­ter yet, go out for a few days and learn to mush your own sled. It’s an adven­ture you’ll nev­er forget.

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©istockphoto/WildnerdpixFor pad­dling enthu­si­asts, Queti­co Provin­cial Park is almost too good to be true. Stretch­ing across 460,000 hectares in north­west Ontario just north of the Min­neso­ta bor­der, Queti­co is equal­ly suit­ed for a month-long canoe expe­di­tion as it is for a week­end on the water. With more than 2,000 lakes to explore, you’d have trou­ble tack­ling the entire park in the course of your life­time, but it’s fun to try anyway.

Get (Way) Out There
The beau­ty of Queti­co is that there is no set path that you need to take. Drop your canoe at one of six entry points and, from there, choose your own adventure.

Some lakes are busier than oth­ers, but if you’re will­ing to make a few short portages, odds are good you’ll pass sev­er­al days with­out see­ing anoth­er soul. Now that’s solitude.

©istockphoto/WildnerdpixWild, Wild North­west­ern Ontario
A true wilder­ness park, don’t expect to be cod­dled at Queti­co. Camp­sites aren’t indi­cat­ed on maps, nor are there signs point­ing the way on the land. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for easy land­ings that lead to clear­ings in the bush, which would be your campsites.

There are no bivys or met­al fire pits, though many camp­sites fea­ture prim­i­tive fire­places made out of rocks. No need to make reser­va­tions ahead of time; just pad­dle up to one of 2,000 camp­sites hid­den in the park and stake your claim. Once you’ve had a lit­tle prac­tice, you’ll have no prob­lem locat­ing them.

Fish Your Heart Out
Pick up a license and bring your gear, as Queti­co Provin­cial Park is home to some excel­lent fish­ing. Play your cards right and you could have dif­fer­ent fish for din­ner just about every sin­gle night (wall­eye, pike, lake trout, the list goes on). The park only per­mits bar­b­less hooks and arti­fi­cial bait, so come prepared.

Peace and Quiet
Motor­boats aren’t allowed in Queti­co Provin­cial Park, so don’t wor­ry about wak­ing up to the obnox­ious purr of a Sea-Doo. Anoth­er great bonus of being a motor-free zone: the water is pris­tine. Don’t be sur­prised if you see a local dip­ping a cup in the lake and drink­ing straight out of it.

©istockphoto/WildnerdpixWatch for Moose
Keep your eyes on the shore­line, and you may be reward­ed with a moose sight­ing. Moose pre­fer marshy areas, and your odds of see­ing them are best around dusk and dawn, which makes the per­fect excuse to get mov­ing in the morn­ing. Watch out for oth­er wildlife, too, such as black bears, bald eagles and wolves.

What to Bring
Regard­less of how long you’re plan­ning on stay­ing in the park, you need to pick a per­mit from a ranger office. Invest in a good map, too, and make sure it indi­cates the loca­tions of the portages; they aren’t marked on the land.

There are numer­ous reg­u­la­tions in place that help keep Queti­co in its spec­tac­u­lar nat­ur­al state. Your group can’t exceed 9 peo­ple, and most cans and bot­tles are for­bid­den. Famil­iar­ize your­self with the rules and do your part to keep Queti­co wild. Pack it in, pack it out, goes with­out saying.

Get Orga­nized
If you’re trav­el­ing to Queti­co, con­sid­er rent­ing your gear instead of lug­ging it with you. Local out­fit­ters like Camp Queti­co or Queti­co North can pro­vide you with every­thing you need. You can also book a local guide to show you the ropes; they know every­thing from the best camp­sites to the least mud­dy portages, to the prime loca­tion to catch a huge lake trout. It’s a wor­thy invest­ment, espe­cial­ly if it’s your first time in the park.

©istockphoto/deimagineRaise your hand if you’ve ever tried to pack your entire life into a sin­gle suit­case. Long-term trav­el­ers will know what we’re talk­ing about. For­get walk-in clos­ets and draw­ers stuffed to the brim with clothes; every­thing you need for sev­er­al months on the road can be tidi­ly fold­ed into one bag. Seriously.

Pack­ing for a long-term trip requires a shift in atti­tude. Think back-to-basics, clean and sim­ple pieces, and def­i­nite­ly less is more. Here are some tips on how to pack effi­cient­ly for those extra long adventures.

Know What You’re In For
To build your wardrobe for the next sev­er­al months, you’ll need to do some research regard­ing your des­ti­na­tions. Know what the weath­er is right now, but also what it will look like a few weeks down the road when you’re still there. Con­sid­er how cli­mates will vary in the dif­fer­ent regions or coun­tries you’ll be vis­it­ing. This will help you deter­mine whether you can stick to light and flowy sum­mer clothes, or if you’ll need to pack some seri­ous lay­ers as well to get you through the cold.

Don’t for­get to look up local cus­toms so that you can actu­al­ly wear every­thing you pack. There’s no space to waste when you’re pack­ing for a long-term trip.

For­get (Most) Cos­met­ics and Accessories
You’re going to need more than those trav­el-sized cos­met­ics to get you through your time on the road, but don’t even think about wast­ing pre­cious suit­case space on that stuff. Sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, shav­ing cream, soap and just about every beau­ty sup­ply you can think of can be picked up along the way or at your final destination.

The same thing goes with acces­sories. Leave bulky hats and scarves at home and instead, pick up new ones on your trip. Bonus: it’ll dou­ble as a souvenir.

Think Easy
Choose clothes that are easy to care for, that don’t wrin­kle eas­i­ly, that can be washed with­out fuss and that is durable enough to wear day in, day out. Leave finicky, high-main­te­nance pieces at home.

When in doubt, stick to dark­er shades and col­ors. They hide a lit­tle extra wear and tear bet­ter than light clothes, giv­ing you a bonus day or two before you have to make a trip to the laundromat.

Con­sid­er Renting
There’s noth­ing worse than pack­ing bulky items that you know you’ll only end up using a few times on your trip. Con­sid­er what you might be able to rent at your des­ti­na­tion of choice. For instance, many ski resorts rent out snow­suits, or ocean-side resort towns will lease out wet­suits for you to use.

Pack Your Bags…Then Unpack Half
Here’s a good exer­cise: take out every­thing you want to bring on your trip, and lay it out on your bed. Got it? Good. Now take half of the stuff and put it back.

It sounds extreme, but trust us: you don’t need as many clothes as you think you will. Yes, one bathing suit is plen­ty. No, you’ll nev­er end up wear­ing those adorable-but-imprac­ti­cal stilettos.

Leave Some Space
If your suit­case doesn’t zip up with com­plete ease, it means you’ve still got work to do. Trav­el­ing with an over­filled suit­case is a pain, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you have to sort through your bag at cus­toms or if you’re over the weight lim­it. Save your­self the has­sle by leav­ing some extra space.

This serves anoth­er pur­pose, too: you’ll have extra space for bring­ing home one-of-a-kind sou­venirs that you’ve picked up on your trav­els. It’s a win-win.

The Adven­ture Gem of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca: How to Max­i­mize Your Vis­it to Lake Atitlán

This past autumn, the Clymb Adven­ture pro­gram fea­tured an eco-trip to Guatemala that turned into the ide­al girls’ week­end: the per­fect bal­ance between adven­ture and relax­ation. The des­ti­na­tion was beau­ti­ful Lake Ati­tlán, nes­tled in the Sier­ra Madre moun­tain range in south­west­ern Guatemala. Sur­round­ed by three vol­ca­noes and sev­er­al charm­ing towns — each of which boasts lots of cul­ture set against a breath­tak­ing nat­ur­al back­drop, and many of which are acces­si­ble only by boat — mak­ing it the per­fect seclud­ed locale. Lake Ati­tlá­na hand­ful of places that allow for out­door thrill seek­ing and phys­i­cal chal­lenges, yet still offer plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to relax with a local brew and soak up the sun before a massage. 

Jen Seiser Photo 10

Hike Vol­cano San Pedro

While not the tallest or the most active of Guatemala’s vol­ca­noes, San Pedro makes for a chal­leng­ing day hike. The trip is about three hours up and two hours down and takes you through vary­ing ter­rain. The trek begins with a hike or tuk-tuk ride up to the trail­head and imme­di­ate­ly spills hik­ers deep into dense cof­fee groves. The cof­fee tran­si­tions into avo­ca­do trees and then into rows of corn­stalks. This is sur­pris­ing trail­side fau­na, but it’s reflec­tive of how Guatemalans use the land: as the town of San Pedro grows, fam­i­lies own pri­vate land high­er and high­er up the slope, which they use to resource their dai­ly needs. Along the way, hik­ers pass local men car­ry­ing large bun­dles of fire­wood on their backs. The trail even­tu­al­ly becomes more wood­ed and even cloudy as the alti­tude increas­es. And near the top of the vol­cano, hik­ers are met by stun­ning views of the lake and sur­round­ing vil­lages below.

Jen Seiser Photo 8

Take a Wild Ride

The trip from Guatemala City to Lake Ati­tlán is a thrilling one. The coun­try is known for its fan­tas­ti­cal­ly dec­o­rat­ed “Chick­en Bus­es,” which run the unkempt roads con­fi­dent­ly. Nav­i­gat­ing these windy moun­tain­ous roads as the local cul­ture whizzes by is quite an adven­ture, but for first timers, tak­ing the bus or hir­ing a dri­ver is prob­a­bly a safer choice. To con­tin­ue the adven­ture on wheels, hail a tuk tuk near Vol­cano San Pedro for anoth­er excit­ing ride. The streets are steep, but the pre­car­i­ous open-aired vehi­cles seem to hang in there, mak­ing the trip up to San Pedro Volcano’s trail­head much easier. 

Sip Cof­fee + Eat Tortillas

Eat­ing is good in Guatemala! Sip the local beer, Gal­lo, accom­pa­nied with food that feels close to the peo­ple. Many meals in Guatemala include hand-made corn tor­tillas. Their farm-to-table sto­ry is very easy to wit­ness along the jour­ney. The corn grows in the rich, steep soil of Vol­cano San Pedro and is very vis­i­ble along hikes. While perus­ing the local mar­ket at Chichi­cas­te­na­go, ladies mash and pat fresh tor­tillas to grill and sell street side. This local sta­ple leads to many meals of que­sadil­las, eggs with tor­tillas, and gua­camole with corn chips. Gua­camole is anoth­er treat that feels very fresh here. After hik­ing through acres upon acres of avo­ca­do trees grow­ing vol­cano-side it’s easy to enjoy this sat­is­fy­ing dish. Oth­er culi­nary high­lights include the fresh roma toma­toes, which are worked into many dish­es, along with the tasty picos and ranchero sauces.

Relax at an Eco-Resort

The eco-resorts sur­round­ing Lake Ati­tlán are local, small, and quaint. The hall­mark of a great accom­mo­da­tion is that it becomes more than a place to sleep. The Lagu­na Eco-Lodge tru­ly enhanced the expe­ri­ence in Lake Ati­t­lan and served as the home base for explor­ing and activ­i­ties. The Lagu­na Eco Lodge offered a hot tub, fresh water pool, mas­sage ther­a­py and a beau­ti­ful deck for yoga. Hav­ing a lodge that includ­ed trans­porta­tion to and from the main port was essen­tial in being able to coor­di­nate day trips to Chichi­cas­te­nan­go and near­by cities. Many offer nat­ur­al and veg­e­tar­i­an menus with a suf­fi­cient selec­tion of refresh­ments to unwind with after a full day. 

Jen Seiser Photo 2

Kayak or Dive in Lake Atitlan

If the weath­er coop­er­ates, this is the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for hop­ping in a kayak. With the vol­ca­noes and moun­tains sur­round­ing the lake, the per­spec­tive from the lake is quite breath­tak­ing. Be sure to cruise along the shore­line to check out the impres­sive homes and hotels built right into the rocky cliffs. Being on the water also allows for oppor­tu­ni­ties to observe local fish­er­man trolling for minia­ture perch and black bass. Scu­ba div­ing is anoth­er option in this very deep fresh­wa­ter lake. 

Jen Seiser Photo 4

Get Col­or­ful in Chichicastenago

Upon arrival, plan to take advan­tage of using a full day for an excur­sion to Chichi­cas­te­nan­go. This is a local mar­ket only open on Thurs­day and Sun­day. Chichi­cas­te­nan­go is a high­light of the trip, full of local peo­ple pur­chas­ing flow­ers, fruits, tex­tiles and oth­er hand-made crafts. While here indulge in the hand-woven bags and cloth­ing. There is also a beau­ti­ful assort­ment of hand carved masks, fig­urines, and jew­el­ry. If vis­it­ing off-sea­son, this mar­ket can feel quite untouched by tourists. While here, stop into Hotel San­to Tomas to enjoy the gor­geous gar­dens and a Guatemalan lunch.

Jen Seiser Photo 6

Get Crafty in San Juan

As a great fol­low-up to hik­ing Vol­cano San Pedro con­tin­ue your jour­ney by foot to near­by San Juan La Lagu­na. This is the spot to learn about local crafts and cul­ture. Do not miss the demon­stra­tion of how nat­ur­al dyed organ­ic cot­ton is made and woven at Casa Flor Ixca­co. Anoth­er great place to check out in town is the small urban farm, stop in to hear about Organ­ic and Nat­ur­al Med­i­cine. Anoth­er pop­u­lar activ­i­ty in San Juan is tours on local cof­fee grow­ing and pro­duc­tion. This small town is worth a stop on the water taxi even if you do not choose to hike there. From the water taxi, check out the beau­ti­ful views of the piers and boats along the waterline. 

Guatemala was nev­er top of my list as a vaca­tion des­ti­na­tion, how­ev­er the Clym­b’s Adven­ture pack­age made the oppor­tu­ni­ty too invit­ing to pass up. Add this won­der­ful spot to your list if you’re look­ing for the best that Cen­tral Amer­i­ca has to offer, all in one place.


For more infor­ma­tion on when this adven­ture will be avail­able, or for any oth­er ques­tions about Clymb Adven­tures, please con­tact adventures.support@theclymb.com

You may have come to San Luis Obispo County (SLO CAL) for the adventure, but you’ll want to stay for the moments in between. With plenty of room to wander, the seemingly-endless possibilities will make for an unforgettable experience.

F r e e   T o   R o a m
Along­side all of the adven­ture offer­ings, this area is also a bustling hub for food, cul­ture, and much more. We’ve put togeth­er an insid­er guide for those moments in between your morn­ing hike and your sun­set surf.

Start your day in the town of San Luis Obis­po by bik­ing to one of the many local cof­fee shops. Grab a lat­te, hang out, or walk through SLO’s his­toric down­town before head­ing out for the day’s adven­ture, you’ll leave know­ing why this town was recent­ly named one of “America’s Hap­pi­est Cities.”

The 240-year-old creek­side  Mis­sion San Luis Obis­po de Tolosa that SLO is built around is a promi­nent land­mark, and seeps cul­ture into the sur­round­ing area. The span­ish-style white-washed build­ings and tow­er­ing cam­phor trees that line the road­ways make for a pic­turesque scene in the his­toric streets. 


The same great weath­er is large­ly respon­si­ble for the coun­ty’s live­ly food scene. The deep agri­cul­tur­al roots are evi­dent in the vast open spaces with graz­ing cat­tle, road-side farms, and award-win­ning winer­ies that blan­ket the region. Start your tour up in Paso Rob­les – the coun­ty’s bur­geon­ing wine hub which rivaled Napa Val­ley in wine pro­duc­tion last year –and spend your day ram­bling down the 101.

From there, cruise on down to Tem­ple­ton, where his­toric store­fronts are brim­ming with fresh cui­sine and local liba­tions. Keep mov­ing south to the Avi­la Val­ley Barn, a region­al hotspot. Their farm­stand offers a boun­ty of fruits and veg­eta­bles grown on the prop­er­ty and there is always a line for their fresh-baked pies. After you’ve eat­en your fill, head out for a stroll at the near-by Bob Jones Trail, which runs through the val­ley to the coast, mak­ing for a relax­ing jaunt any­time of the day.

The Vil­lage of Arroyo Grande is a must-see if you find your­self roam­ing a lit­tle fur­ther south. With roost­ers wan­der­ing the streets that are lined with local­ly owned shops and restau­rants, you’ll find your­self steeped in small-town charm. No mat­ter where the road takes you, there’s almost cer­tain­ly some­thing fresh await­ing your arrival. Take it from us, you won’t want to miss your chance to take advan­tage of the local flavors.

We can’t think of a bet­ter way to end a day of adven­tur­ing than with a stop by the Madon­na Inn. The flashy inte­ri­or and sig­na­ture pink is a sight worth see­ing. Grab a piece of their famous cake and spend the evening plan­ning tomorrow’s escapades.

G e
t ti n g    T h e r e
Now with direct flights from Den­ver, San Fran­cis­co, Seat­tle, and more, get­ting to SLO CAL is eas­i­er than ever. Come stay and hang out, we dare you to get bored in this explorer’s paradise.


easter island

His­to­ri­an and writer Wal­lace Steg­n­er once described Amer­i­ca’s nation­al parks as the “best idea we ever had,” and few out­door enthu­si­asts would dis­agree with him. The con­cept of pro­tect­ing our most beau­ti­ful out­door places for future gen­er­a­tions was cer­tain­ly a nov­el idea back in 1872 when the U.S. made Yel­low­stone the first nation­al park in the entire world. Since then, that same idea has spread across the globe. While most of those parks are locat­ed in places that are rel­a­tive­ly acces­si­ble by the gen­er­al pub­lic, there are some that are so remote that few peo­ple ever vis­it them at all. Those parks are tru­ly pris­tine envi­ron­ments that remain most­ly untram­meled by out­siders. Get­ting to these loca­tions requires an adven­ture­some spir­it and a bit of ded­i­ca­tion, but the pay­off can be an iso­lat­ed wilder­ness all to your­self. With that in mind, here are eight of the most remote nation­al parks in the world.


gates of the arctic

Gates of the Arc­tic Nation­al Park (Alas­ka)
Locat­ed in north­ern Alas­ka – entire­ly above the Arc­tic Cir­cle – the Gates of the Arc­tic Nation­al Park is the epit­o­me of remote. This vast sprawl­ing land­scape is the sec­ond largest park in the U.S., cov­er­ing near­ly 8.5 mil­lion acres, yet it con­tains no roads or trails of any kind. Access is gained via bush plane, but high winds and heavy snows can delay trav­el, even at the height of sum­mer. As a result, Gates of the Arc­tic sees rough­ly 10,000 vis­i­tors in any giv­en year, far below the 3 mil­lion+ that make their way to Yel­low­stone on an annu­al basis. Those who do make the trip are treat­ed to a rare wilder­ness, where vast herds of rein­deer still migrate across the land­scape as they have for thou­sands of years.


easter island

Rapa Nui Nation­al Park (East­er Island)
Locat­ed in the South Pacif­ic, some 2000 miles off the coast of Chile – and 1300 miles from its near­est inhab­it­ed neigh­bor – East­er Island is the most remote inhab­it­ed place on the plan­et. It is also home to Rapa Nui Nation­al Park, a pre­serve that con­tains more than 880 stone stat­ues known as “moai,” the mas­sive carved heads that the island is so famous for. With a per­ma­nent set­tle­ment of just 4000 inhab­i­tants, flights to the island remain infre­quent, and sup­ply ships even more so. Still, East­er Island has seen an increase in tourism in recent years, so while it is remote, you are like­ly to encounter oth­ers who have come to see the moai while you are there as well.


lake turkana

Cen­tral Island Nation­al Park (Kenya)
Just get­ting to Cen­tral Island Nation­al Park, locat­ed at the cen­ter of Lake Turkana in Kenya, is quite an adven­ture. Trav­el­ers must first trav­el more than 500 miles by 4x4 vehi­cle just to reach the shores of the lake itself. Then, it is anoth­er 4.5 miles by boat to actu­al­ly land on the island, which is a vol­canic land­scape pocked with over a dozen craters and cones.  Three of those craters have formed small lakes, the largest of which are more than a half-mile across, and plunges to a depth of over 260 feet. Tem­per­a­tures in the park rou­tine­ly climb to more than 120ºF, which when com­bined with its remote loca­tion, helps to keep the num­ber of vis­i­tors to a min­i­mum. Cen­tral Island is said to be home to the largest pop­u­la­tion of Nile croc­o­diles on the plan­et, although zebras, giraffes, and var­i­ous species of gazelles reside there too.


tibet

Qomolang­ma Nation­al Park (Tibet)
Qomolang­ma Nation­al Park holds the dis­tinc­tion of being the high­est in the world, thanks to the fact that Mt. Ever­est falls inside its bor­ders. The park, which cov­ers more than 22,370 square miles, was cre­at­ed on the Himalayan Plateau in Tibet and is the first pre­serve in the world to be com­plete­ly man­aged and main­tained by local vol­un­teers. Because of its high alti­tude set­ting, the park is not fre­quent­ly vis­it­ed by tourists, although climbers and trekkers are some­what com­mon in the region, most notably in the spring and fall. In addi­tion to Ever­est, two oth­er 8000-meter peaks – Lhotse and Makalu – fall inside the park, along with dozens of oth­er major Himalayan Peaks. As you can imag­ine, vis­i­tors should accli­mate prop­er­ly before vis­it­ing Qomolang­ma, as the thin air can often catch peo­ple off guard. With an aver­age alti­tude inside the park ris­ing above 4500 meters or rough­ly 14,769 feet, it can actu­al­ly be dan­ger­ous to hike there before your body is ready.


pulu keeling

Pulu Keel­ing Nation­al Park (Aus­tralia)
Aus­trali­a’s Pulu Keel­ing Nation­al Park is anoth­er des­ti­na­tion that requires a fair bit of trav­el just to get there. The tiny island sits in the Indi­an Ocean, some 1200 miles off of Oz’s west coast. Vis­i­tors are required to catch a flight out of Perth to the Cocos Islands, then hop on a boat for a 1.5‑hour ride that deposits them just off­shore. Because the coral reefs that sur­round the island are endan­gered and pro­tect­ed, trav­el­ers must swim the last length of the jour­ney onto the beach­es them­selves. Once on the island, they must be accom­pa­nied by an offi­cial guide at all times, and although the park is just .46 square miles in size, it still holds an impor­tant nat­ur­al dis­tinc­tion. Pulu Keel­ing is the breed­ing ground for a large num­ber of sea birds and marine tur­tles, which is why it was made a nation­al park back in 1986.


Quttinirpaaq

Qut­tinir­paaq Nation­al Park (Cana­da)
Locat­ed on a remote cor­ner of Canada’s Ellesmere Island, Qut­tinir­paaq Nation­al Park is the sec­ond most norther­ly park in the entire world, behind only North­east Green­land Nation­al Park, which is incred­i­bly remote as well. The land­scapes in Qut­tinir­paaq are dom­i­nat­ed by a polar desert, which means there is a lot of rock and ice, and not much in the way of veg­e­ta­tion. Wildlife is sparse as well, although small herds of cari­bou, along with muskox, and the arc­tic fox can some­times be spot­ted there. The park has almost no facil­i­ties beyond a sim­ple ranger sta­tion, although there are a cou­ple of back­pack­ing routes that extend through the wilder­ness for about 60 miles each. Access to the park is grant­ed via air­plane only, and a one-way flight will set you back about $15,000. If you can afford that, it is best to vis­it dur­ing the brief sum­mer, as the prox­im­i­ty of the park to the North Pole, makes for some exceed­ing­ly long and cold winters.


panama

Dar­i­an Nation­al Park (Pana­ma)
Strad­dling the bor­der between two con­ti­nents, Dar­i­an Nation­al Park is one of the wildest and rugged places on the plan­et. The dense jun­gle spreads out along the south­east­ern cor­ner of Pana­ma and extends across the bor­der into Colom­bia. The trop­i­cal forests are so thick, that it is dif­fi­cult for trav­el­ers to pass into the jun­gle at all, although access points in both Cana and Pirre Sta­tion do give vis­i­tors a chance to go deep­er into the for­est. The park is a favorite amongst bird watch­ers, and mon­keys, sloths, and tapirs also call it home. Two indige­nous tribes still live inside Dar­i­an Nation­al Park, con­tin­u­ing a way of life that has gone most­ly untouched by the mod­ern world for hun­dreds of years. There are also cer­tain sec­tions of the park that remain havens for drug smug­glers, which add an entire­ly dif­fer­ent lev­el of dan­ger for those who wan­der too far off the beat­en path. This park is an incred­i­bly diverse bios­phere, with much to offer those who vis­it, but it is also not a place for the faint of heart.


isle royale

Isle Royale Nation­al Park (Michi­gan)
Locat­ed at the heart of Lake Supe­ri­or, just off the coast of Michi­gan, Isle Royale Nation­al Park is anoth­er remote, hid­den gem. Access to the park is obtained via fer­ry or float plane, which deliv­er vis­i­tors to a pris­tine wilder­ness near­ly untouched by man. Isle Royale is home to a siz­able pop­u­la­tion of both moose and wolves, how­ev­er, so vis­i­tors need to be aware of that before arrival. A 40-mile long back­pack­ing trail runs the length of the island and is a pop­u­lar route for hik­ers, who gen­er­al­ly spend 4–5 days cov­er­ing its length. Kayak­ing, snor­kel­ing, and scu­ba div­ing are also pop­u­lar activ­i­ties in the cool, clear waters just off­shore. Isle Royale is tra­di­tion­al­ly amongst the least vis­it­ed parks in the U.S. sys­tem, so it is gen­er­al­ly not crowd­ed, even dur­ing the warmer sum­mer months.

Ecuador

In the film Butch Cas­sidy and the Sun­dance Kid, Cas­sidy was onto some­thing when he said, “Kid, next time I say, ‘Let’s go some­place like Bolivia,’ let’s GO some­place like Bolivia.” South America’s misty moun­tains, desert dream­scapes, impos­si­bly blue waters, and wild jun­gles still haunt the adven­tur­ous among us, espe­cial­ly since the region is slid­ing into spring right when the north­ern hemisphere’s set­tling into deep freeze. Ready to book a tick­et for way south of the bor­der? Here’s our adven­ture buck­et list.


Ecuador

Moun­tain Bik­ing Ecuador’s the Avenue of Volcanoes
If the thought of freerid­ing vol­canic ash and hard­ened lava down a Volcano’s shoul­der doesn’t get your blood pump­ing, the views of Lake Quilotoa’s crater full of emer­ald water and the hulk­ing chain of vol­ca­noes from Chimb­o­ra­zo to Cotopaxi should do it. Ecuador boasts one of the high­est per­cent­ages of pro­tect­ed lands, one of the world’s high­est active vol­ca­noes, and friend­ly locals, too. If wildlife is your thing, book a flight out to the Gala­pa­gos while you’re there, too, and kayak along­side tor­tois­es and more types of birds than you can imag­ine pos­si­ble in one place.


Patagonia

Trekking Tor­res del Paine Nation­al Park, Chilean Patagonia
To behold in per­son the strik­ing spires of Tor­res del Paine might be enough to moti­vate a five-day trek. But they’re far from the only rea­son to hike in the park. Patagonia’s laud­ed as one of the most untouched, uncon­t­a­m­i­nat­ed places on Earth, and a tour of its glow­ing blue glac­i­ers, cerulean alpine lakes, water­falls, and pris­tine forests doesn’t dis­ap­point. Stay in a hos­pitable Refu­gio if camp­ing isn’t your thing. And if you’re a climber, be sure to vis­it the alpine Mec­ca of El Chalten.


Brazil

Pad­dling Brazil’s Bay of Paraty
The Bay of Paraty’s crys­talline green-blue water feels as good as it looks. Calm, warm cur­rents wel­come begin­ning pad­dlers, and plen­ty of shops rent stand-up pad­dle­boards and sea kayaks. Islands dot the bay, call­ing for explo­ration, and live­ly under­wa­ter ecosys­tems await swim­mers, snorkel­ers, and divers, as well. Plus the town of Paraty’s charm­ing cob­ble­stone streets, his­toric church­es, and roman­tic restau­rants eas­i­ly fill up rest-days when surf­ing or bask­ing on the beach is just too much to handle.


Peru

Trekking to Machu Picchu
Trekking through Peru’s green vel­vet Andes can only be topped by step­ping through the Sun Gate at Machu Pic­chu as the first rays of day­light peek above the misty Peru­vian Andes onto the Incan ruins nes­tled into the moun­tain­top. The pop­u­lar Inca Trail winds up to Machu Pic­chu along the Urubam­ba Riv­er, one of the Amazon’s head­wa­ters, and stops by oth­er ruins along the way. Trekking it requires a per­mit and guide—but a vari­ety of oth­er trails offer less crowd­ed options. And after a few days of moun­tain trekking, the dream­i­ly land­scaped nat­ur­al hot springs at San­ta Tere­sa are paradise.


Chile

Ski­ing Por­tillo, Chile
If you dream of pow­der, even in the heat of sum­mer, you need to get down to Por­tillo. The old­est ski cen­ter in South Amer­i­ca, it’s also one of the purest ski des­ti­na­tions you can vis­it. Just 100 miles from San­ti­a­go, but 9,450 feet above sea lev­el, Por­tillo is pri­vate and pris­tine. No Guc­ci shops. No McDon­ald’s restau­rants. Just 2,500 feet of lift-ser­viced Andean per­fec­tion look­ing down on the gem-like blue-green Lagu­na del Inca. Por­tillo feels remote, but cer­tain­ly not unciv­i­lized. Frothy pis­co sours at the Por­tillo Bar and seduc­tive hot tubs pam­per skiers at day’s end.


Bolivia

Tour the Salar de Uyu­ni, Bolivia.
South­west­ern Bolivia might just trump the rest of the con­ti­nent for Pin­ter­est-wor­thy vaca­tion pho­tos. And pur­su­ing shots of the famous­ly pris­tine salt flats, blue-sky-mir­ror­ing lakes, and rich­ly col­ored Sal­vador Dali Desert is a wor­thy adven­ture all in itself. But if you lean toward masochism, load up a bicy­cle with camp­ing gear and as much water as you can car­ry to brave the lunar land­scape and infa­mous winds on a tour past the vibrant Lagu­na Col­orado and Lagu­na Verde, and through the rich­ly col­ored Sal­vador Dali Desert from Uyu­ni to San Pedro de Ata­ca­ma. Or hire a guide to take you out for a four-day Land Cruis­er tour.

20061107174226

The Nation­al Park Ser­vice has con­ve­nient­ly pro­vid­ed us with yet anoth­er excuse for enjoy­ing the great out­doors in 2013 by offi­cial­ly announc­ing its list of fee-free days for the year ahead. Over the course of the next 12 months, the NPS has des­ig­nat­ed 13 days to be a part of the fee-free pro­gram, grant­i­ng access to more than 2000 nation­al parks, forests, wildlife refuges and oth­er fed­er­al lands at no charge.  Con­tin­ue read­ing