2009 Travel Awards

Mar 23, 2009
Outside Magazine
Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island    Photo: Weststock

Dollars and sense: Shop Online

Think of as for active travel. The site launches in May as the world's largest adventure search engine, cataloging more than 100,000 trips from outfitters all over the globe. Just plug in your destination and vacation dates, then compare hundreds of itineraries and prices.

Paddle Hudson Bay
8 DAYS, $3,500
The locals in Hudson Bay aren't used to human visitors. "In 2007, a client was minding her business in her kayak when a 30-pound baby beluga whale jumped in her lap," says Wally Daudrich, owner of Manitoba's Lazy Bear Lodge, which will host paddlers on this Explorers' Corner expedition. The trip starts with a floatplane ride from Churchill to the South Knife River. From there, paddle a sea kayak alongside Explorers' Corner founder Olaf Malver for three days, sifting through mild whitewater chutes to the mouth of Hudson Bay. You'll know you've arrived when belugas start nuzzling the boat. The next five days are spent here, paddling with the whales and eating caribou steak at the Lazy Bear. Departures in July and August; CASH TIP: Ask about the August trip, when the price falls $500 thanks to lower local airfares.

Bike Glacier and the Canadian Rockies
9 DAYS, FROM $3,700
Four national parks, two countries, endless high-alpine relief, and a menagerie of outsize wildlife. That's what you'll encounter on Backroads' new 480-mile cycling trip, from West Glacier, Montana, to Jasper, Alberta. Twenty or so guests will spend nights in digs like Glacier National Park's Many Glacier Hotel—rustic western luxury at its finest. But it's the riding that shines. The trip starts on Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile asphalt snake charting an improbable course through the heart of Glacier National Park. With its expansive vistas, Going-to-the-Sun is a worthy bucket-list item for most cyclists, but on this trip the road is just the beginning. After crossing Glacier, guests pedal between 40 and 60 miles per day through Waterton Lakes, Jasper, and Banff national parks, while a support van totes gear. On the way, riders trace the Continental Divide and coast along the 143-mile Icefields Parkway, where three major river systems—and lots of elk and grizzlies—meet. Four trips between July and September; CASH TIP: Go with a partner and you'll save the $890 additional fee Backroads charges single riders.

Nelsen Lodge
In ten years, Revelstoke Mountain Resort will be the world's best ski destination. The place opened in December 2007 with one gondola and a quad accessing 1,500 acres. The master plan calls for 20 lifts, 10,000 acres, and 6,000 vertical feet—the most in North America. But there's no need to wait. The month-old, modern Nelsen Lodge is just 60 feet from the gondola and offers post-slope relief in the form of a massive outdoor hot tub. Bonus: Glass walls offer views of the Selkirk and Monashee ranges. Thanks to an opening special that lasts through May, doubles start at $200;

Black Rock Resort
This three-month-old, 133-suite lodge rests on a rock promontory jutting over Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The location makes it prime real estate for three things: surfing Long Beach in summer (board rentals, Ucluelet's Inner Rhythm Surf Co., 877-393-7873); curling up by the fire to watch the jaw-dropping storms that roll through in winter; and hiking into temperate rainforest on the eight-mile Wild Pacific Trail in any season. Doubles from $175;