2017 is almost over. It is time to begin planning your 2018 outdoor adventures. I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their recommendations for a 2018 outdoor adventure. I had a tremendous response and had to break up the responses by region. Keep a look out of my other 2018 region adventure lists. Here are 18 travel bloggers recommendations for North American Outdoor Adventures in 2018.
Ice Sailing in Michigan
Rosalie of Rosalie Goes
During the winter months, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula truly transforms into a snowy wonderland. The vast landscape becomes even more wild, with an average snowfall of more than two hundred inches and temperatures that regularly dip into sub zeros deterring all but the hardiest adventurers.
One of the most unique sports played during the winter there is ice sailing. The tradition of ice sailing dates back to the Dutch explorers, who used it as a way of navigating and transporting goods through frozen waterways. Today, each boat is extremely light weight, carrying just one person each, and zips across frozen lakes at speeds reaching 60 mph.
You can enjoy ice sailing all through the winter months, although the most coveted ice is the snowless black ice found around November and December. If the weather dips low enough, you can even go sailing over the Great Lakes. You can also find high quality rentals through the Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club, which is open October-May and regularly organises racing events at short notice.
Boating down La Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Talek of Travels with Talek
La Cueva del Indio translates into The Indian’s cave. This is part of a 45km interconnected system of caves found just north of the town of Viñales in Cuba’s westernmost province of Pinar del Rio, about three and a half hours west of Havana. An underground river flows through these caves and local guides take tourists on boat rides on the river. As you enter the mouth of the cave your eyes adjust to the darkness and you begin to appreciate the vast expanse of the cave’s interior. After about 100 meters you reach the river where boats await. The boat trip on the inky black river water is disappointingly short but the sights along the way are fascinating; stalagmites and stalactites cling to the cave walls often forming fanciful shapes of snakes and native Indians. As the trip ends the boat drifts towards the mouth of the cave revealing the blazing tropical brightness of the outside world.
The hotel staff or hosts at the local casa particular you may be lodging at can advise how to get to the Cueva del Indio. If you go in peak season – winter in Cuba – you will probably have to wait in a queue but it is well worth it. Truly a unique experience.
Hot Air Ballooning in New Mexico
Jessica of Independent Travel Cats
Swimming with Manatee, Crystal River, Florida
Lori of Travlinmad
Exploring Lava Tubes, Oregon
Michelle of Roam Redmond
Oregon is a state with a vast range of natural wonders. One of the most unusual and underrated places to explore are the lava tubes in Central Oregon‘s high desert. These winding underground caves are left from ancient volcanic lava flows, and there are thousands in the area. The longest continuous lava tube, which extends a mile long, can be found at Newberry Volcanic Monument.
Plan to spend about an hour and half exploring the lava tube, and be sure to bring sturdy shoes and warm clothes. A flashlight or headlamp is highly recommended to find your way through the striking underground geologic formations and catch a glimpse of the hibernating bats!
Hiking the Wave in Arizona
Val of Wandering Wheatleys
“The Wave” is a stunning rock formation that is located in a protected area in northern Arizona called Coyote Buttes North. Only 20 people are allowed access the area each day to protect and preserve the amazing landscape. The entire Coyote Buttes area is full of brightly colored swirling orange sandstone, but this particular small area, referred to as The Wave is famous as the rock comes together perfectly to resemble an ocean wave.
You can enter an online lottery to attempt to win 1 of the 10 coveted permits 4 months in advance or show up to the BLM office to try your luck at the daily in-person drawing for the other 10 permits. Once you’ve scored a permit it’s a 3-mile hike to reach the famous spot over rough, rocky terrain.
Many people have seen photos of The Wave as it has been featured on television commercials, art galleries, and especially on Instagram, but only a few actually get the opportunity to visit it in-person. And competition is fierce! Many people put their name in for the online lottery every month for years before winning and one person tried their luck at the in-person lottery 38 days in a row before finally scoring a permit!
Fly in a Seaplane over Vancouver, British Columbia
Kelsey of Kelsey Social
Even if you’re a frequent commercial flyer, I’m sure this activity will still thrill you! (Well, as long as you’re not scared of flying.) One of my favorite experiences this year was a seaplane tour over Vancouver, British Columbia. Even though it wasn’t my first time in a seaplane, it was still a memorable experience. The rush of taking off and landing on the water will excite even the seasoned traveler. And because the smaller planes fly at a lower elevation, you’re able to clearly see the city, mountains, or coastline beneath you.
For my seaplane tour over Vancouver, I chose to fly in a smaller Cessna propeller plane. A 30-minute scenic flight over Vancouver cost $179 per person or $129/person for a group of 3+.
Hiking the Volcano in Maui, Hawaii
Mimi of The Atlas Heart
When most people think of Maui, they think of great beaches, luaus, waterfalls, and maybe the Road to Hana. One of my favorite unique experiences on the island, however, is hiking Haleakalā Volcano.
Located in the middle of Maui, Haleakalā volcano stands at over 10,000 feet and is the largest dormant volcano in the world.
Some people just take a bus tour to the top to watch the sunrise or sunset, but if you’re up for the adventure, there’s no better way to experience it than by biking or hiking it.
I hiked the volcano as a free tour through the hostel I was staying at, and spent about six hours hiking 12 miles through the crater, on one of the popular trails that leaves from the visitor’s center.
After our hike we were whisked away in vans to the summit to watch the sunset above the clouds. It’s still one of the most breathtaking sunsets I’ve witnessed in my life, and it was well worth the journey to get there.
The hostel I did the tour through was called Banana Bungalow, but there are plenty of other tour companies around the island. And many people do the hike on their own.
Flightseeing in Kluane National Park, Yukon, Canada
Kati of Queensland & Beyond
To experience nature in all its majestic splendour, head into Canada’s far north: the Yukon. A place that still feels raw and wild, breathtaking and beautiful all at once.
Kluane National Park is right at the doorstep of the Alaska Highway. With the Saint Elias Mountain Range as “backdrop”, 17 of Canada’s highest peaks, glacial rivers running wild, and a large grizzly bear population, it’s a wilderness of extremes and an outdoor lover’s paradise. Being so far north, this is where you find massive icefields all year round.
If you’ve made it this far, taking a scenic flight over Kluane National Park is really a must-do. Various companies offer anything from one to three hour flights but only Icefield Discovery is allowed to land in Kluane, right there on the world’s largest non-polar icefield. And this is what makes this flightseeing experience one of a kind.
Landing on an icefield at some 3,000 m surrounded by utter silence and where you’re the only people for miles and miles will make you speechless. A thousand grand words wouldn’t be enough to capture the raw beauty, stunning silence and imposing mountain peaks of this enormous national park. Experiencing it all from a tiny ski plane is beyond incredible!
Stargazing in Death Valley National Park, California
Niki of Chasing Departures
Death Valley National Park is a dark spot in terms of light pollution in the US and the stars there are nothing short of amazing! The park offers several off the beaten path campgrounds at varying elevations from -146 feet to well over 8,000 feet. Whichever campground or elevation you choose, the stars will be abundant.
When you look up you will be able to see an arm of the Milky Way stretching across the sky. Other notable things you will be able to see are the Big Dipper, the North Star, the International Space Station (if you are really looking for it), and other satellites orbiting the Earth. You will also be able to see the orange glow of Las Vegas on the eastern horizon, but it doesn’t affect the stars straight up.
Make sure to keep your tent zipped up tight! One of the girls in the group I was with left her feet hang out overnight and woke up with a scorpion crushed beneath her sleeping bag.
Take the tent fly off before you go to sleep so you can see the stars better. The odds of being caught in the rain in Death Valley is basically non-existent.
Hiking up Nevado de Toluca in Mexico
Isabella of Boundless Roads
Isabella of Boundless RoadsThe Nevado de Toluca is the 4th highest pick in Mexico (4690mt) and it’s located approximately at 135 km from Mexico City. It was decreed a National Park in 1936 primarily to protect the volcano which forms nearly the entire surface of the park. Its Nahuatl name Xinantecatl means naked lord as a reference to the fact that the top of the volcano is above the tree line, with only rock and grassland. It has long been extinct and has a large crater in which there are two shallow lakes: The lake of the Moon and the Lake of the sun. The tour I took was an easy one, with not much of a walk compared with others that I have taken, Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro, but I guarantee it was just as hard. My issue was that the tour includes a car ride up to 4000 mt already, from where you start walking, which means that my body doesn’t have the time to acclimatize to the altitude and I could feel that. Every step I took was a huge effort, in my respiration more than my legs, which were trained enough. What made me uncomfortable was that everybody else seemed quite ok with that. But I made it and once I arrived on top of the crater, at a point called “EL Campanario”, with the full view of the 2 lakes and the surrounding moon-like landscape, I realized that it was all worth it.
Hiking to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Mary of The Lifelong Adventures
There is no better way to truly appreciate the size and grandeur of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona than to hike from its rim all the way down to the Colorado River at the bottom. At nearly one mile deep, the Grand Canyon can be hard to comprehend when standing on the rim looking out into open space. The opposite side is barely visible in the distance and it is not possible to see the bottom in most places. Instead, throw on a backpack and head down the 7.1 mile (11.4 km) South Kaibab Trail from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch at the very bottom. The South Kaibab Trail is steep and exposed with sweeping views of the canyon during most of the descent. The campground at the bottom is next to a small river and the ranch offers cold drinks and snacks. All incredibly welcome after hours hiking in the desert heat! Head back to the top of the South Rim via the 9.9 mile (15.9 km) Bright Angel Trail. This trail follows a ravine up to a plateau mid-way up. It then ascends via a series of switchbacks carved out of the almost sheer canyon wall.
Wild bear viewing in Lake Clark National Park Alaska
Lina & David of Divergent Travelers
Situated in one of the more remote parts of Alaska is Lake Clark National Park. People come from all around the world to camp and view wild brown bears in their natural environment. Imagine this, sitting in the non-restricted wildlife viewing platform, on the ground, with nothing between you and an 800 pound wild brown bear. Nothing can really explain the feeling you get when these large creatures stare you in eyes.
It’s a magical experience and a normal day staying at Bear Camp allows you to see 50 or more wild brown bears across 4 different viewing areas. This is not a get your Instagram shot and be done moment, it’s true wildlife viewing. A visit to Bear Camp will teach you how the bears live and interact in the wild while participating in proper wildlife viewing and wildlife conservation.
Bear Camp is set up for 16 guests with glamping type accommodation. This camp allows wild bears to become used to movements of humans without disbursing their day-to-day activities. Camping and wild bear viewing at Bear Camp in Lake Clark National Park is a world’s Top 100 Travel Adventureand is a National Geographic trip of a lifetime. Outside magazine voted it one of America’s best adventures. If you are looking for a unique wildlife experience in Alaska viewing wild bears and remote camping in Lake Clark National Park needs to be on your adventure travel list.
Ice Skating on Lake Louise, Canada
Maya of Travel with the Smile
What do you do when you have ice and snow for almost half a year? You ski, ice skate, cross-country ski and just embrace the cold and have fun. That is what we do in Canada every year.
In November, lakes are starting to freeze and soon the ice is so thick and solid you can skate on it. Our favourite place to go is Banff National Park. Skating on a big lake surrounded by mountains is surprisingly calming at any temperature.
Part of the famous Lake Louise (pictured) is maintained for ice hockey and another part for skating which is decorated during the winter festival with an ice castle. Lesser known lakes popular for ice skating or playing ice hockey are Johnson Lake and Lake Minnewanka. The ice can be crystal clear almost like a glass. Best time to go would be December when the ice is solid enough and it’s not covered by the snow. And if you’re lucky enough, you might even ice skate under the northern lights.
Driving the Denali Road, Alaska
Jennifer of Made all the Difference
Fall is a special time in Alaska. The leaves start to turn and the animals are in a hurry with their winter prep. Fall is when tourism starts to wind down to Denali National Park. From all of the summer and most of the fall, access to Denali National Park is limited to the part buses. The last four day of the season, the road opens to 1,600 very lucky personal vehicles. These 1,600 vehicles have all won the lottery. The Denali Road Lottery is held every June with entries in May for those 1,600 permits. In 2016, there were over 12,000 entries for those 1,600 permits. They are highly coveted because the permit gives you 18 hours to spend in Denali National Park without worrying about a bus schedule.
The permit gives you time to hike several of the short trails as well as watch the sunset behind Denali (Mount McKinley). I drove the road with an amazing girl dressed in a banana suit that I had met in Crater Lake National Park just two months before this trip.
Door off Helicopter Ride over Kauai, Hawaii
Cindy of Free Two Roam
Multi-Sport Advenutre in Kanab, Utah
Robin of LETgo: Life.Education.Travel
Snorkling with Samon, British Colombia, Canada
Lisa of The Hot Flash Packer
What is going to be your list for 2018 North American Outdoor Adventures?