OPEN SEASON: One hundred ninety-six previously restricted Himalayan peaks—including 20 that have yet to be officially summited—are now accessible thanks to recent changes in India's bureaucracy. Obtaining military clearance, a process that used to take over six months, is no longer necessary, and permits can be issued in a matter of weeks. They're not cheap, however—$1,500 to $5,000 per trip—and there's no Kathmandu-like hub for launching expeditions. "But sometimes that's even better," says Gordon Janow, director of programs for Seattle-based outfitter Alpine Ascents. When getting there requires ingenuity, only true adventurers go to the trouble. Janow, who returns to the Himalayas in October, can't wait: "It's like a whole new world has opened up for climbers." For more info, contact the Indian Mountaineering Federation (011-91-92-688-3412).
FIRE ISLANDS: Montserrat's Soufrière Hills flexed their pyroclastic muscle again in March—sorry news for beachcombers, but great news for lovers of lava flows and eerie postapocalyptic landscapes. There are three hotels within the island's "safe zone," but you can also arrange to stay in a private residence through the Montserrat Tourist Bureau (011-663-691-2230). Also recommended for volcanic views: Réunion Island, located 500 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Réunion's Piton de la Fournaise last erupted in 1998, but glowing lava showers are visible day and night, and camping is permitted at the volcano's rim. Réunion tourism contacts are available online at www.atta.com/coi.
MO' BETTER MOAB: Fat-tire guide Lee Bridgers, aka The Sandman, gave his adopted hometown a little too much tough love in Moab, the latest in the Mountain Bike America series from Globe Pequot Press. Shortly after the guidebook was published in April, Bridgers found himself trashed (by a rival guide) in the local paper, eighty-sixed from a local cantina, and called a "hillbilly creep" via e-mail. What'd he write? He criticized the Moab Fat Tire Festival for not being more protective of the desert floor, and he offered cautionary notes about local restaurants. (Sample entry: "Watch out. Montezuma's revenge happens here.") Mostly, Bridgers praises Moab, and he's set down some great dope on more than 40 major trails. He's shy about talking up his own favorite route, Behind the Rocks. But he's not bashful about where cyclists go for a bit of sex in the afternoon (Hurrah Pass), his favorite post-ride victuals (Center Café), and the best place to stay if you really must sleep with your bike (The Hotel Off Center, 435-259-4244).
—COMPILED BY CLAIRE MARTIN AND BRAD WIENERS
Good Morning, Vietnam
If you're planning to travel to Vietnam, be sure to bookmark www.worldadventures.com. The site, operated by the Boulder, Colorado–based outfitter of the same name, offers discounts on lodging (40 percent off rooms at Hanoi's De Syloia Hotel) and directions to lesser-known attractions like Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam (where you can track the Javan rhinoceros beneath a 120-foot jungle canopy) and the 3,000 limestone and dolomite islands in the northeastern port of Halong Bay. Halong is ripe for paddling, and Hanoi-based Buffalo Tours (011-84-4-8828-0702; www.buffalotours.com) leads a five-day sea-kayaking trip there for only $290. This summer, World Adventures will expand its listings to include other Southeast Asian countries.
Knobby Dude Ranch
Stay at 800-acre La Garita Creek Ranch, tucked beside Rio Grande National Forest in southern Colorado, for about $500 less than at most Colorado ranches. Fly-fish for trout, mountain-bike aspen-lined singletrack, or rock climb the pocketed volcanic tuff of Penitente Canyon. By night, two-step under the stars and fill up on BBQ ribs. Six nights at La Garita (719-754-2533; www.lagarita.com) run $894.