The 2004 American Adventure Almanac

Don't miss out: Make plans now to experience the classic rites of summer

The rugged route of the White Rim Road     Photo: Dennis Coello

You don't need a passport to have some of the Western Hemisphere's greatest adventures. Problem is, neither does anyone else. Whether on your own or with a guide, here's expert advice on beating the crowds en route to a once-in-a-lifetime American adventure.

Mountain-Bike the White Rim Trail, Utah

The Trip: A four-day tour past a 100-mile parade of sandstone spires in Canyonlands National Park.
The Plan: This popular route along an old jeep trail isn't technical; the tough part is scoring a coveted campsite. Call the Park Service now for remaining fall dates ($30 per trip; 435-259-4351, www.nps.gov/cany) or go with Rim Tours ($695 for four days; 800-626-7335, www.rimtours.com).
Crux Move: On private trips, volunteer to drive the sag wagon on day two. You'll skip the gnarly ascent of Murphy Hogback Hill.
Epic Factor: 5 (on a scale from 1 to 10). The 1,000-foot climbs make you feel like you've earned your dunk in the Green River. But after you cool off, the low mileage (25 per day) leaves time for hikes to explore ancient pueblo granaries and hidden slot canyons.

Paddle the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

The Trip: A voyage through your pick of 1,000 portage-linked lakes scattered across a million acres of northern Minnesota. Despite its fame as America's most popular wilderness, you're still likely to encounter moose, black bear—or both.
The Plan: The most beloved of the 60-plus entry points can get crowded, but even in the peak of summer you can find open permits if you're willing to shove off from a lesser-known, harder-to-reach entry point, like Trout Lake, in the western La Croix district. Check with the Forest Service for availability (permit, $10 per adult and $5 per kid; reservation fee, $12; www.bwcaw.org). Once you're in, you can stay as long as you want.
Crux Move: You'll have to work at balancing a week's worth of food, bass bait, and bug juice in your tippy canoe. And get to camp early—if your planned spot is filled you may have to hunt for another one, by moonlight.
Epic Factor: 7. The challenge is in the portages. They're measured in rods—320 to a mile. Keep that in mind when studying your must-have Fisher maps (www.fishermapsmn.com).

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