18 North American Outdoor Adventures for Travelers in 2018

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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

Gliding over New Mexico in a hot air balloon is a thrilling way to see the destination from a new perspective. Although you can find hot air balloon rides in various cities, the main operators offer flights in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Both sunrise and sunset flights are a great way to spent a couple of romantic hours with your significant other or enjoy a new experience with your family. There is a high concentration of balloonists in New Mexico because of its ideal weather and climate for hot air ballooning, and because Albuquerque is the setting for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, drawing hundreds of balloonist and tens of thousands of spectators each October. There is perhaps no better time to do a balloon flight than during the Balloon Fiesta as you can join hundreds of other balloons in the air at one time. You can book a balloon flight during the Balloon Fiesta, either from the official balloon company operator that leaves from the festival field or from another vendor who will leave from a nearby location.

Swimming with Manatee, Crystal River, Florida

Lori of Travlinmad

The Sunshine State of Florida is a great place to be during the cold winter months in the US, but parts of the state can still get downright chilly – even freezing. Every December through March thousands of West Indian manatees migrate into the natural springs around Citrus County in central Florida, to avoid hypothermia as the Gulf of Mexico cools down. The warm spring water in the famous Three Sisters Springs and other springs around it remain a constant 72 degrees (F) and offer a refuge for the manatees to stay safe and warm. One of the most popular ways to see the protected species is to float alongside them in the water as they swim or play. And because of heavy regulation and oversight, the “no touch, passive observation” model is strictly adhered to with manatee tours, making the experience eco-friendly and even more amazing. Once a playful manatee rubs up against you or nibbles on your drawstring, you’ll fall in love forever.

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!

Photo Credit: James St. John

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

Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island. Also known as the Garden Isle, we think it’s easily the most spectacular place in Hawaii. But because seventy percent of Kauai is inaccessible by land, the only way to fully appreciate its striking beauty is by air.Your best choice is to take a helicopter ride around the island. A helicopter can take you right up close to Kauai’s rugged coastline, and deep down into its canyons. For some extra adventure, we chose to fly with the doors off. This was a lot of fun and a great choice! Plus without the glare and reflections from the windows getting in our way, we took much better photos.This flight was the highlight of our Hawaiian holiday. We made a complete circuit of the island, flying over the Wailua river, past gushing waterfalls, through Waimea canyon, along the wild North Shore, and across Waialeale Crater. But by far the most memorable part was flying along the Na Pali Coast, with it’s towering cathedral-like cliffs, hidden sea caves, and cascading waterfalls.Our flight lasted a full hour, but we barely noticed, we were so engrossed in our surroundings. If you visit Kauai you absolutely have to do this trip!

Multi-Sport Advenutre in Kanab, Utah

Robin of LETgo: Life.Education.Travel

Kanab, Utah is a small town of around 5000 people just north of the Arizona border. Although it is frequently used as a hub to explore the national parks, there are less well-known treasures that can quickly become the highlight of any trip to the area. The weather is nearly perfect in the late summer/early fall with warm days and cool nights. It is technically off-season, so accommodations are easy to find and affordable. Even better is a visit this time of year allows you to explore the stunning landscapes without being surrounded by droves of tourists. Highlights of the area included sandboarding at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes (you can rent boards at the ranger’s station); 2500 feet of ziplines that allow you to fly 350 feet above the ground while surrounded by gorgeous pink cliffs; catching a glimpse of a California Condor (one of the rarest birds in the world) near their reintroduction site in the Vermillion Cliffs; and exploring the mesmerizing slot canyons. Kanab, UT truly offers adventures that you will remember for a lifetime. Get there quickly, before everyone else finds out how awesome it is!

Photo Credit: Stan Reed at LifeEducationTravel.org

Snorkling with Samon, British Colombia, Canada

Lisa of The Hot Flash Packer

The last two months of summer provide a chance to do something unique in the Campbell River of Vancouver Island, BC – snorkeling with salmon. Destiny River Adventures runs this unique rafting and snorkeling trip. First, you squeeze into a provided wet suit and set off in an old school bus to the river. After a short paddle and an option to jump off a rock to get wet in the cold river, you get the first chance to swim with pink salmon. After another raft ride, you’re in the water again for about 45 minutes. This time you’re shooting down the rapids as chinook salmon dart by. These fish are amazingly large and fast. It’s impossible to swim down this river – you really need to “go with the flow.” If you’re lucky, you might spot something other than fish. On my trip, I spotted something large and black off my left side. I raised my head and realized there was a bear fishing for salmon on the banks of the river! Towards the end of the swim, as I approached the estuary of the river and the sea, a friendly seal swam by. A great end to an exciting ride on the Campbell River.

What is going to be your list for 2018 North American Outdoor Adventures?

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