Celebrating 1 year of blogging and 100 posts with the Greatest Adventures in America!
Continued from Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 1
#6 Climb Mt Rainier, Washington
|Mt Rainier, Contiguous America's Mt Everest|
There's no doubt that Mt Rainier is America's most sought-after mountain. Although not the tallest mountain in the country, it is the tallest free standing mountain and volcano which is so massive that it can create its own weather systems. Given its height of 14,411ft, its topographical isolation, and its proximity to the ocean in the Northwest, it is the snowiest place on Earth! Mt Rainier also has some of America's largest glaciers which become the headwaters of several rivers.
(Navigating the upper icefields and crevass danger)
It takes time and experience to get to the point where you can climb Mt Rainier even up the "easiest route"- Disappointment Cleaver. Scores of people attempt Rainier all year long and even experienced climbers get skunked. This is why it is important to be both confident your abilities as a climber and confident in your ability to make good judgements- 60 people have died for various reasons in the last 30 years. However climbing Rainier still remains an incredible adventure and challenge in glacial navigation and climbing skill.
|The Black Hills of South Dakota from Harney Peak|
#7 Visit the Black Hills of South Dakota
Many people talk about or have heard of the Black Hills of South Dakota but due to their isolation from any major metropolitan area, only climbers and cross-country road trippers really experience this highly unique mountain range. These mountains are located in the extreme western part of South Dakota and are home to the infamous Mt Rushmore Monuments. Unfortunately most people only see the monument and skip out on the hundreds of hiking opportunites and thousands of rock climbing routes that may only have one or two ascents! The Black Hills also contain the second and fourth largest caves on Earth.
|Free roaming Bison in Wind Cave National Park|
If you plan on visiting the Black Hills, you must visit Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park. They are located less than an hour from each other and the park service offers cave tours and spelunking adventures. The hiking trail in Wind Cave NP are also completely empty of people but full of wildlife. I saw heards of bison, white-tail deer, wild turkeys and all sorts of life on a four mile hike! South Dakota's High Point, Harney Peak and Custer State Park is also an excellent location for more hiking and exploring. Lastly, this is a rock-climbing mecca. Solid rock and technical routes are abundant. Some local climbers told me that they commonly will climb a route and find out that it was only a second or third ascent! Routes are actively being pioneered. I've written a couple posts about the glory that is in the Black Hills-
|Exploring Caves in Washington|
#8 Spelunk the Pacific Northwest
Often much of the attention given towards caving and spelunking is focused on the Southeastern states- Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri are prime locations. However the Pacific Northwestern states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho contain some of the longest caves in the country. Lava tubes are the type of cave that is often seen in this part of the country and they are characterized as beeing long, narrow and don't involve a huge amount of technicality. Also, permits are hardly ever needed. Prime locations for spelunking are
There are so many caves in the Northwest that some of them have never been formally mapped. Of course, be extra careful to observe the practices of Leave No Trace!
|Driving to Maine from California, somewhere in Utah|
#9 Drive Across the Country
One of the nice things about having a really, really big country is that its generated the concept of a cross country road trip! Ever since the formation of the national highway system and Route 66, Americans and visitors have toured across the country for adventure and new perspective on this land. I drove from California to Maine in the earlier part of this year and it was positively one of the greatest experiences of my life. I felt a stronger sense of patriotism after that month-long driving trip and I gained new insights on my homeland. Also, I met all sorts of locals and international visitors along the way!
|Through the Rockies!|
There are several schools of thought on which is the best route and it really depends on what kind of road trip you want to do. Are you looking for hiking and wilderness? Try a Northern Route through Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Are you a history buff? You might appreciate a trip on I-10 through the heart of Native American History in the Southwest to the heart of Civil War History in the South. So my suggestion is to tailor your road trip to your interests. Of course, don't ever forget that there is something beautiful and exciting in every state- don't skip out on one!
My Road Trip from Maine to California
#10 Hike the Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire
|Sunset upon the Presidential Mountains, New Hampshire|
Perhaps its been overstated on too many websites, but the Presidential Traverse is the rite of passage in Appalachian Day Hiking. Its also the ultimate test in how much you can endure huge elevation gains and losses in a day while hiking on joint-destroying trails. Nevertheless this challenge brings out thousands of people every summer and winter who are willing to attempt this test. The presidential traverse is a 17 mile long trek that starts at route 2 in the North and ends Crawford Notch State Park. Along the way, you will experience 7 summits and some 6,700ft of elevation gain. This is not to mention the elevation loss which is just as hard! And to top it off, unless you're unfamiliar with the White Mountains, this happens to get some of the worst and wildest weather in America! It can snow at any time in the year and the route is mostly above tree-line. To some this sounds like hell, to others, its a fun filled weekend with a soreness filled Monday. It does make my Top 10 list though!
|No shortage of great views!|
In case one presidential traverse doesn't do it for you, you can always do it twice
Alright we are 10 adventures into my top American Adventures... Keep following for more!
Best Outdoor Adventures in America: Part 3
Read. Plan. Get Out There!