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A Classic Road Trip from Utah to Arizona

Hit six classic national parks in a ten-day, 862-mile epic through the best canyons in the Southwest.

Packing List: Light hikers, mountain bike, extra camera memory cards 

Highlights: At the Grand Canyon, skip the crowded South Rim and drive to the 8,000-foot North Rim. Give yourself two nights and a full day to explore; be sure to hike seven miles down the North Kaibab Trail to Ribbon Falls.

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Once you cross into Utah, be on the lookout for the Thunder Mountain Trail, part of a 15-mile technical singletrack route with steep drops, tight switchbacks, and a 1,200-foot climb. At Mount Carmel Junction, head 24 miles west to Zion National Park, where the best way to escape ever present crowds is a three-day basic-canyoneering course ($550).

Head 80 miles to Bryce Canyon National Park and pitch a tent at 99-site North Campground ($15), which has a full-moon view of the eerie hoodoos. Fuel up with Pumpkin Jenchiladas at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, then hit the town of Torrey for the Saturday-morning Mesa farmers’ market for fresh peaches and apples before driving through Capitol Reef National Park’s canyons, domes, and arches. 

 

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Backcountry-camp in the Maze, the least accessible district of Canyonlands National Park ($30 permit), before driving on to Moab and its ever expanding network of mountain-biking trails—like Captain Ahab, a 4.3-mile rock-benched wonder accessible from the Amasa Back Trail. Hike to the Dead Horse Point State Park overlook to scout 5,819-foot Washer Woman Tower, a 5.10-plus traditional climb on the northern tip of Canyonlands. To explore Arches National Park, crash at Moab Under Canvas, a safari-style luxury camp complete with hot showers and made-to-order breakfast, ten miles north of town (from $89).

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A Superior Midwest Road Trip

Get your fill of Lake Superior views on this 550-mile, five-day tour through prime hiking and biking country.

Packing List: Sea kayak with spray skirt, 29er, flannel shirts

Highlights: Rest up for your tour with a waterfront suite at Duluth’s South Pier Inn (from $197). When you cross the Blatnik Bridge into Wisconsin, stop at Thirsty Pagan Brewing in Superior for a Derailed pizza and an India Pagan Ale.

In Bayfield, buy provisions—like smoked lake trout from Newago Fish Market—then launch your kayak (or take a full-day tour, $99) and explore the sea caves in 22-island Apostle Islands National Lake-shore.

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Once you reach Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, take a detour up 11-mile-long Black River Scenic Byway and hike to any of seven waterfalls before the road dead-ends at Lake Superior. Book a room at Eagle River Inn, near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula (from $99), and sip Knob Creek bourbon with your smoked spare ribs on the lakeside deck at adjoining Fitzgerald’s Restaurant.

Then head to Copper Harbor, which has some of the country’s best singletrack—the trails top out at 900 feet and roll through dense forest. Take a bike and have at it (rentals from $26). Drive down the sandy beach side of the Keweenaw Peninsula to the town of Marquette. Run the half-mile stairway up Sugarloaf Mountain, six miles north of town, then head to Black Rocks and take the 15-foot plunge into Lake Superior.

Pitch a tent lakeside at Twelvemile Beach Campground ($16) in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and get to hiking, fishing, and paddling along the park’s 40 miles of shoreline and in adjoining million-acre Hiawatha National Forest.

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/superior-living-map.jpg","size":"large","caption":"The route."}%}

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Southwestern Ghost Tour

Explore the biggest, starkest landscapes in the country on this 950-mile, ten-day adventure.

Packing list: Headlamps, plenty of water, Cormac McCarthy books on tape 

Highlights: Head 20 miles east from Las Cruces to hike around—or climb—1,800-foot Sugarloaf (a multipitch 5.6) in the Organ Mountains. Then drive northeast to the 275-square-mile gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument and camp under the stars at one of ten primitive sites ($3).

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Head southeast and explore the 119 known limestone caves of Carlsbad Caverns ($10) before driving on to Marathon, Texas, to splurge on a newly renovated room and a quail dinner at the Gage Hotel (from $109).

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From Lajitas, put in for a three-day guided paddle on the Rio Grande through the sheer 1,500-foot limestone walls of Santa Elena Canyon and Class IV Rock Slide Rapids ($475). Shuttle back to Lajitas and head west to Big Bend Ranch State Park to mountain-bike perhaps the most underutilized 238 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails in the nation.

Time the trip through the town 
of Marfa to camp out at the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love, headlined last year by M. Ward (September 25–28), then bomb through Davis to the McDonald Observatory for a final look at the Southwestern sky ($12).

Detour: Peel off at Artesia and drive 41 miles north to Roswell, the extraterrestrial capital of the universe, to visit the International UFO Museum. 

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/ghost-tour-map.jpg","size":"large","caption":"The route."}%}

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