Top Ten Places to Visit in the Americas
The Adventure Bucket List
The Western Hemisphere has been a bounty of adventure offerings dating back to the likes of such legends as Lewis and Clark and before them, the Vikings, Explorers, and Conquistadors that blazed the trails of the New World. Things are a bit easier these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the adventure of a lifetime. It’s time to start knocking off that bucket list and becoming the envy of your friends, family, and co-workers alike. As nothing captures the attentions of others at a Thanksgiving dinner or watercooler conversation, like the words Heli-skiing, Grizzly Bear, or Sea-Kayak. Bragging rights are great, but earning them is even better. So here just for you is our Campers and Gear Top Ten Adventure Bucket List for the Americas, now get packing!
Yellowstone National Park
What: The flagship of the National Park Service and the world’s first National Park, Yellowstone is over 2 million acres, with 77 species of mammals including Grizzlies, Wolves, and Elk, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish, 290 waterfalls, 10,000 thermal features including Old Faithful and 299 other geysers, as well as 1 lake, 9 visitor centers, and 12 campgrounds. World class hiking, fly fishing, snowmobiling, and wildlife viewing (which you can do without ever leaving your vehicle) abounds. This is the pinnacle of accessible nature and wilderness, which is why it ranks number 1 on the Americas bucket list.
When: The entrance opening times vary by condition, but generally speaking late spring is the best time to go to see active wildlife, raging waterfalls, and avoid the summer crowds.
Where: The best base is found at the west entrance, located at West Yellowstone, Montana.
Here is a helpful link to find great camping info:
http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/camping.htm#Camping – West Yellowstone
Grand Canyon National Park
What: The most famous Canyon in the world complete with majestic and unique geological features carved by water over time immemorial. 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide at places, and a mile deep. Its sheer immensity will drop your jaw all the way to the Colorado River. You can take in the view from numerous vantages, hike rim to rim, take river trips, and even ride down on top of a saddle. Permits for some excursions are necessary. You can do a one day rim to rim crossing without a permit, but be warned it is physically taxing, and there is no easy way back out if you become tired or injured.
When: The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with all visitor services offered, but reservations are recommended every season but winter, in which some facilities are closed.
Where: Located in the Northwest corner of Arizona. The South Rim, which has an airport and rail service, is an hour and a half from Flagstaff, AZ.
For developed campgrounds check out this helpful link: http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/cg-sr.htm
For information on backpacking and camping within the canyon use this link: http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm
Whistler, British Columbia
What: Canada’s favorite adventure destination for year round activities that include hiking trails, one of the best mountain biking parks, zip-lining, snowboarding, and yes even heli-skiing. All in all a great spot for one-upping your winter sports enthusiast friends. After a hard day of being dropped by helicopter into perfect powder you can relax at the spa. Who says a great adventure can’t have some luxury involved? Not us!
When: Summer for hiking, mountain biking, and zip-lining, and winter for snowboarding, skiing, and heli-skiing.
Where: Located in the Coast Mountain Range of British Columbia, it’s about a two and half hour drive along the scenic Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver, B.C.
Visit this helpful link for campground information: http://www.whistler.com/activities/camping/
Everglades National Park
What: The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Home to rare species such as the American crocodile, the manatee, and Florida panther. A World Heritage Site and wetland biosphere of unparalleled importance. With the unique flora and fauna it makes the perfect paddling destination for both canoeing and kayaking. For something a little faster paced, try an airboat ride and spot alligators along the way. It’s no secret that wetlands are disappearing and that the Everglades have a problem with invasive species, so cross this one off the bucket list as soon as you can. We are sad to admit, but this amazing and fragile place and its wildlife are in danger of disappearing.
When: Open 24/7, 365 days a year. Keep in mind though that it can be very hot and humid in the heart of the summer.
Where: South Florida with the main entrance being outside of Homestead, Florida.
Check out this helpful link for camping information: http://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/camping.htm
The Appalachian Trail
What: Ranging from Maine to Georgia, at 2,190 miles long the Appalachian Trail is the world’s longest footpath only hiking trail. It traverses 14 states and has over 3 million visitors a year. Hike the whole thing or just a portion, either way, you will see magnificent vistas and wildlife and cover lots of different terrains. This item of the bucket list will get you ready for number 6.
When: With over two thousand miles through 14 states, the when part is kind of up to you and depends on where you are starting and ending. Either way, it’s a legendary American adventure.
Where: The most challenging section runs through the State of Maine, but there are hundreds of places to begin or end your trip.
For planning information visit this site: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/
The Inca Trail
What: The Incan Empire was once the largest nation on Earth, and constructed over 20,000 kilometers of roads through the Andes mountain range from Colombia to Chile reaching altitudes of up to 5,000 meters. (See our article on high altitude camping) The “Classic” 4 day trek is 26 miles long, winds through majestic and varied terrain and ends beyond lesser known ruins at the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu where a well taken selfie will firmly cement your explorer status to your Facebook friends. To put things in perspective, the Andes Mountains are so majestic that they have an after dinner mint named for them. I think that says it all.
When: For climatological reasons, the best months to go are from April to October, with the months of June to August being high season. Avoid the other months due to it being the rainy season and keep in mind the trail is closed in February for maintenance.
Where: Cusco, Peru is the essential starting point. There are numerous guide companies on the internet.
Zion National Park
What: Utah’s first National Park. Hike the narrow slot canyons while taking in the pink, red, and cream colored sandstone cliffs. Breathtaking in beauty, inspiring in their wind and water carved form, and at times giving of a feeling of no return, these canyons will amaze you, and garner you a spot in the Campers and Gear Badass Hall of fame.
When: Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but beware of weather conditions, rains can mean flash floods and winter brings snow and Ice. So prepare before you go.
Where: Zion is located on State Route 9 in Springdale, Utah, approximately 160 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. And if you are into doing a double whammy, Bryce Canyon National Park is only 86 miles away.
For camping information visit: http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/campgrounds-in-zion.htm
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/Quetico Provincial Park
What: The Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Ontario promise not to disappoint even the most experienced of canoers. Solitude, majestic beauty, and encounters with moose, bear, otters, and beavers will all leave a lasting impression. If you are feeling ambitious, you can paddle all the way to the Hudson Bay.
When: Late spring, summer, and early fall are the best times to enjoy Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park.
Where: Located on the north shore of Lake Superior between the State of Minnesota and the Province of Ontario.
For campground information on the Canadian side go to: http://www.ontarioparks.com/park/quetico/camping
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
What: Chile’s finest Patagonian gem is the Torres del Paine National Park. This Andean Mountain Park is a trekker’s wonderland, complete with crystal clear lakes, deep fjords, granite spires, and ancient glaciers. When I hiked the Paine circuit, I was blown away by the beauty at this bottom of the world paradise. There are lakes where tinkling ice ebbs against the shore, glistening in the sunlight as it makes music. There are giant flightless birds called rheas, soaring Andean condors, guanacos (which are a cousin of the camel), and even endangered pumas to spot. Once you’ve earned a rest, you can drink your scotch with 10,000-year-old glacier ice. How’s that for bragging rights.
When: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is literally at the bottom of South America in windswept Patagonia. It’s best to go in the summer, but remember that the summer in the Southern Hemisphere is December to March. So plan accordingly.
Where: Located in Chile’s Patagonian region, the best way to get there is by flying from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas and then travel by bus to Puerto Natales. Lodging and Camping are plentiful but do some research and make reservations.
Polar Bear Capital of the World
What: Track Polar Bears in the Canadian tundra, see beluga whales surface from the icy waters, take in some of the best bird watching, hike, kayak, and experience the Northern Lights.
When: October and November are best for polar bear viewing, summer is best for kayaking the Hudson Bay and Churchill River and seeing the beluga whales as well as birdwatching. Winter is cold, but it’s also the best time to view the Northern Lights.
Where: Churchill, Manitoba is on the west shore of the Hudson Bay, about 110 Kilometers from the Manitoba/Nunavut Border. There is an airport if you don’t feel like making the drive from more southerly climes. There are lots of lodges and for campground information visit: http://www.travelmanitoba.com/where-to-stay/campgrounds-rv-parks/
Well that rounds out our Top Ten Adventure Bucket List for the Americas. If you cross all ten off of the list, it’s safe to say you are well on your way to living life at your highest level of excitement. A notable condition that may lead to writing an autobiography, doing paid motivational speaking engagements, or posing for painters and sculptors alike. So repeat after me, “I don’t always travel, but when I do, it’s always an adventure”.
Go get your interesting on.