10 Adventure Destinations in the Americas that you’ve probably never heard of
So you’ve heard of Lima in Peru, but have you heard of its more adventurous sister city Huaráz? And you know about Yosemite National Park but have you come across the frothfest that is Mammoth Lakes and its incredible mountainous scenery?
There’s so much to explore in the Americas but why not try out some lesser known locations for a journey that’s all yours to lay claim to.
1. Huaráz, Peru
Sitting at an altitude of 3,100m with a picturesque backdrop of the Cordillera Blanca lies Huaráz, Peru’s outdoor adventure metropolis. Nestled in the valley Callejón de Huaylas, the city of approximately 150,000 people is the capital of Áncash province. Blessed with abundant and beautiful natural surroundings, Huaraz is also littered with archaeological sites and is home to a kaleidoscope of living cultures.
In a single day visitors can see the city, however most use it as a base to explore the historical sites in the region and to travel through the Huascaran National Park. This national park is often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Peru’ as it’s home to the highest tropical mountain range in the world with snow-capped peaks, glaciers, azure lagoons and the highest peak of Peru, Huascaran Mountain. A myriad of adventure activities are on offer here, including trekking, mountain biking, camping, rock climbing and mountaineering.
2. Sedona, Arizona
Already seen Arizona’s most famous landmark, the Grand Canyon? Head to the iconic Sedona – surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, including four wilderness areas and two state parks, this destination is built for adventure. Located two hours north of Phoenix, Sedona is considered sacred by Native Americans, and many travellers come here seeking spiritual enlightenment and healing.
For those adventure seekers, you can hike or cycle through Red Rock Country, with trails looping through a maze of stone towers, visit ancient cliff dwellings or simply marvel at the famous rock formations and vortices. There are many ways to explore this area, whether on the ground by horseback ride, a jeep tour, or from the air in a helicopter or hot air balloon. At the end of a long day exploring, pitch your tent amongst the sycamores and enjoy the dazzling night sky at one of several campgrounds in Oak Creek Canyon, a spectacular gorge with streams and waterfalls located between red rock walls.
3. Mammoth Lakes, California
Majestic in scale and awesome in its natural beauty, the year-round destination of Mammoth Lakes is a breathtaking one; from the size of the mountains to the expanse of the valleys, the incredible number of crystal clear mountain lakes and the endless opportunities for adventure just outside your door, and all just a 2 hour flight from LAX. In the wintertime, enjoy panoramic views as you ski or snowboard from the 11,000 foot summit of the massive Mammoth Mountain, which offers more than 150 trails and 400 inches of snow a season.
The area enjoys one of the longest seasons in the USA, and lifts are usually transporting happy visitors to the slopes well into June. Mammoth Lakes’ travel offering extends to the summer season, where you can enjoy the mountain scenery and spot wildlife from a canoe on June Lake or Lake Mary, or choose one of the area’s numerous hiking trails – some of which lead into the famous Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail. Mammoth Lakes is considered a gateway to California’s natural wonders, with day trips to destinations such as Yosemite National Park also within easy reach.
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4. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Having won the World Tourism Awards prize for the best Adventure Destination in 2016, it’s no wonder that Chile’s most acclaimed National Park, Torres del Paine, features on our list. Located in the southern throws of Patagonia, the park was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and is home to golden grasslands, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests, soaring mountains, azure glaciers and wildlife.
An ideal destination for adventure travel in the Americas, Torres del Paine has an array of activities on offer including trekking, rock climbing, horse riding, kayaking and camping to name a few. All-inclusive accommodation and activity programs come highly recommended.
5. Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Usher the name Costa Rica and pristine forests, brilliant shades of green and exotic wildlife come to the mind of most. Renowned throughout the globe for its ecotourism practices, Costa Rica is also an adventurist’s playground. A highlight for first-time travellers to the country would have to be the Arenal Volcano, a 1600m cylindrical tower of ash, rock and lava.
Trekking through the Arenal Volcano National Park unveils the region’s biologically diverse rainforest, while canopy tours, waterfall rappelling, mountain biking and rafting will satisfy those who seek an adventure to the beat of a more active drum. For those who’d prefer to take a more gentle approach, sitting back to enjoy the vistas of Arenal and then soaking in one of the many hot springs of the area should not be missed.
6. Channel Islands, California
Just 32 kilometres and a 90-minute ferry ride across the Santa Barbara Channel from mainland California, lies the “Galapagos of North America”, The Channel Islands National Park. With thousands of years of isolation from the main land of California, the National Park’s five islands are an oceanic island chain. This isolation coupled with a unique ocean environment, provides a sanctuary for over 100 endemic plants and genetically unique wildlife. No lodging, stores or restaurants can be found here.
Rather, the islands are a place to let your sense of adventure run wild while connecting with nature. A plethora of adventure activities are on offer to take in the unique surrounds of the islands, including hiking, snorkelling, kayaking, camping, diving and boating. Spectacular hiking opportunities are offered through the many trails that transverse the islands. Kelp forests, volcanic sea caves and coves provide world class kayaking, diving and snorkelling day trips. Stay The nearby and sun-drenched city of Santa Barbara, also known as the American Riviera, provides an easy access point to the Islands.
With breathtaking cliff views, a vibrant arts community, delicious restaurants and even an urban wine trail, basing yourself here for the ultimate Channel Islands adventure and beyond couldn’t be better. Santa Barbara local companies, including Channel Islands Outfitters and Santa Barbara Adventure Company offer day trips with activities as well as camping trips to the park.
7. The Alaska Highway, Canada
The world-famous Alaska Highway, one of North America’s most scenic drives, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2017. Canada’s Yukon Territory is preparing to welcome Aussie road trippers for this iconic driving holiday. The historic Alaska Highway winds through eight Yukon communities, including the capital city of Whitehorse, and travels from Watson Lake, gateway to the Yukon and home to the world-famous Sign Post Forest to Beaver Creek, Canada’s most westerly community.
It ends in Delta Junction, Alaska. Along the way, the route travels through some of the North’s most iconic destinations, including UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kluane National Park, home to Canada’s tallest mountain (Mt. Logan, 5920m) and the world’s largest, non-polar icefield.
8. Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska’s capital city, Anchorage, is just a short drive from spectacular hiking spots, ski areas, national parks and of course abundant wildlife. Moose munch through the city, while close by you can watch bears fishing by the falls, or take a cruise to get up close with whales, puffins and otters. Bird enthusiasts have plenty to see, with millions flocking to Anchorage on annual migrations.
For those wanting to explore Alaska’s famous glaciers, there are 60 within 50 miles of Anchorage. Spend the day exploring the glaciers of Prince William Sound, float in front of Portage Glacier on a cruise, or kayak through glacial lakes in the Chugach Mountains. While in Anchorage, make sure to take a side trip to Denali National Park and Reserve, home to North America’s tallest mountain, the 20,310 ft high Denali. This area is around a 5 hour drive from Anchorage, so allow a couple of days.
9. Bariloche, Argentina
The summer and winter wonderland of Bariloche, Argentina is the principle destination of South America’s Lakes District. With vistas and peaks comparable with the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, the region has gained immense popularity with adventure activities springing up left, right and centre.
Excellent snow coverage draws skiers and snowboarders the world over, while summer going adventure enthusiasts gets their adrenaline and nature hit through multi-day hikes, river rafting, kitesurfing, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback tours.
10. San Diego, California
San Diego may be known as a relaxing, kick-off-your-shoes beach destination but the locals have a passion for sports and recreation that runs as deep as the Pacific. Adventure is a year-round pursuit in San Diego, and this SoCal city’s great outdoors beckons fun seekers, adrenaline junkies and everyone in between.
Whether you’re looking for a heart-pounding mountain biking excursion, an active surf lesson or even an exhilarating high-flying glide above the cliffs, there’s always something exciting and thrilling to watch, do and discover in San Diego .Water enthusiasts surf, snorkel, scuba dive, SUP and sail along San Diego’s sparkling coastline, whilst nature lovers mountain bike and hike in the Cuyamaca Mountains. What are you waiting for?
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