Fresh Tracks

On the rise: a prime example of rafting in all its white-knuckled glory     Photo: Corbis

WHITEWATER RODEO'S MECHANICAL BULL
The explosion of WHITEWATER PLAYBOATING in the last five years has led to the construction of man-made rapids on rivers throughout the west. Design-ers say that adding boulders to roughly a half-mile stretch of river slows its course, providing a playground for KILLER RODEO MOVES. Three new Class II-III whitewater kayak courses (free to the general public) were completed in December: one on Colorado's Gunnison River in Gunnison, another on Colorado's North Saint Vrain near the town of Lyons, and a third on the North Platte River near Casper, Wyoming. Contact: Gunnison County administration office, 970-641-0248; Lyons Town Hall, 303-823-8250; Platte River Parkway Trust, 307-577-1206. CHOPPER POW NOW
Heli-decadence has migrated south of the border—the Canadian border, that is. SUN VALLEY HELI-SKI has been flying skiers and boarders into Idaho's Boulder, Pioneer, and Smoky mountains since 1966, but this winter it unveiled the SMOKEY MOUNTAIN LODGE, the only fly-in heli-skiing digs in the Lower 48. Forget roughing it: The remote two-story, five-bedroom lodge—a 20-minute flight from Baker Creek, near Ketchum—has radiant-heat cement floors and a huge river-rock fireplace, plus a resident chef who serves gourmet fare like roasted leg of lamb and steamy bread. The $4,000 all-inclusive, three-day, two-night package guarantees 30,000 vertical feet of skiing. Contact: Sun Valley Heli-Ski, 800-872-3108, www.svheli-ski.com.

DOCENTS NEED NOT APPLY
At the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC's new museum in Bayahibe, there are no recorded headset tours or entrance fees. A quarter-acre site in 12 feet of water off the island's east side, the new GUADALUPE UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGICAL PRESERVE showcases artifacts excavated from the Guadalupe, a Spanish ship that sank off the island in 1724. Step off Viva Dominicus beach and SNORKEL OR SCUBA DIVE about 100 yards from shore to view the six cannons, huge anchor, and ballast stones (sorry, no gold bullion). Contact: La Romana Hotel Association, 809-472-7859.

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