The other day a couple of emails from my friends in the travel industry landed in my inbox—a welcome relief from the deluge of hair restoration and debt relief ads—which reminded me that spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to start plotting warm-weather adventures. Here are a few guided trips to get you in the mood for summer—while someone else does the organizing.
Moab-based outfitter Western Spirit Cycling may be best known for its classic multiday routes like the Kokopelli Trail and Colorado singletrack—both burly enough to brag about—but it also caters to the kid crowd, too, organizing half a dozen family trips each summer that blend backcountry camping and riding with quality time in the National Parks. Western Spirit’s rental fleet—from bike trailers, trail-along-bikes, and 20” and 24” mountain bikes—opens up a ton of territory for families with children as young as three, and because they staff their trips with an extra guide, you can ride longer distances while the kids chill (under adult supervision, natch) in camp.
A five-day Grand Tetons trip is the perfect intro to mountain biking, thanks to a backcountry route that follows old railroad grades and forest roads, through wildflower meadows and along trout-fishing creeks and rivers lined with swimming holes. Wildlife is the prime distraction for tiny legs, with ample chances to spot moose, elk, bald eagles, and osprey in Harriman State Park.
To see the Grand Canyon sans crowds, check out WS’s five-day South Rim trip, which winds along the Arizona Trail through ponderosa forest on the edge of the Grand Canyon; a hike into the canyon breaks up the riding, which ranges from 10 to 20 miles a day along mostly level dirt roads and trails. And farther west, take in 350-year-old behemoths from the bike saddle on five-day spin through Redwoods National Park, with stints on smooth, coastal singletrack and side-trips through the Stout and Lady Bird Johnson old-growth groves. For older kids ages 8-14, the Black Hills ride through South Dakota sports a lakeside camp each night, rolling, low-altitude singletrack, and plenty of swimming.
Whitewater outfitter O.A.R.S has made a name for itself on family-friendly, Class III rivers like the Rogue, the Lower Salmon, the Green through Gates of Lodore. But its five-day family multisport trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons throws sea kayaking into the mix. Kids as young as seven can paddle tandems across Jackson and Yellowstone lakes, hike to geysers, fly fish, and raft on the Snake. Also on the wish list: eight days in Peru hiking, rafting the Class III Urubumba, zip-lining through the jungle, and exploring the ruins at Machu Picchu.
Canadian Mountain Holidays just buzzed me with news of a new mother-daughter heli-hiking trip out of the high-style Bobbie Burns Lodge in British Columbia. The trip is probably best for teens or tweens, with three days of guided trekking to glaciers, meadows, and ridges of the Purcell Mountains, and bonus zip-lining and scrambling along the via ferrata, a system of iron ladders modeled on those in the Dolomites. They also run a 6-day lodge-to-lodge trek for the whole family from the Bobbie Burns Lodge to Bugaboo Lodge, along Grizzly Ridge. And with mountain guides assigned specifically to the kids, you can hike at your own pace while they stop and dawdle in the wildflowers.