summer trips
A LEG UP: Bombing the San Juans by bike (San Juan Huts)

Ultimate Summer

The heart-pumping, cliff-jumping, sun-baked, waterlogged guide to warm-weather diversions. From midnight picnics to placid lake getaways, 50 things you must accomplish before Labor Day.

summer trips


Hanalei Bay
Kauai, Hawaii
Head for Kauai’s Hanalei Bay for a healthy dose of languid living and the ultimate summer vibe—year-round. Big-wave king Titus Kinimaka owns and teaches at the island’s first surf institution, the Hawaiian School of Surfing, and no matter your skill level, there’s always something to learn from wave-riding royalty. When you’re sun-fried, head for shore and grab some kind grind at the Bar Acuda tapas bar, opened last October, then crash in luxury at one of the Princeville Hotel’s opulent ocean-view rooms. Titus Kinimaka’s Hawaiian School of Surfing: 90-minute lesson, $65; 808-652-1116. Bar Acuda: 808-826-7081. Princeville Resort: doubles from $495; 808-826-9644,


Memphis, Tennessee
From May 18 to 20, Memphis goes hog wild for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. 901-525-4611,


U.S. National Whitewater Center Charlotte, North Carolina
Ten-time U.S. national champion kayaker and mechanical engineer Scott Shipley wants to introduce America’s whitewater community to the Gong Show. Not the seventies series that made American Idol look like the Metropolitan Opera, but the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s version: a new adjustable wave that, with the flick of a switch, can flush wavehogs into flatwater by morphing a one-foot soft curl into a nearly vertical six-foot beast. Charlotte’s $35 million course—the world’s largest man-made water feature—is set to open in June and will serve as the Olympic training center for the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Team, though there are plenty of pools for beginners to learn to roll, too.


Wind River Range
Lander, Wyoming
This summer, skip Yosemite Valley’s queued-up classics and standing-room-only campsites and savor isolated sweeps of granite in central Wyoming’s Wind River Range. The Cirque of the Towers, a valley of sharp, toothy, high-altitude spires, offers a host of climbing options, including the northeast face of Pingora, a moderate route of granite cracks and dihedrals. For real seclusion, head east of the Cirque to the Haystack area, with inspiring routes up Haystack and Steeple peaks and lakeside campsites with nary a human in sight.


Beach Volleyball
Chicago, Illinois
Check the attitude in Southern California and spike yourself into a game of beach volleyball along Chicago’s North Avenue Beach. With 40-plus city courts to choose from, there’s plenty to dig. For tips from the pros, check out the Association of Volleyball Professionals’ tour when it hits Chicago, July 20–23.


Southern California Coast
When San Diego’s Pacific waters start warming up in May, massive California halibut move inshore to feed on baitfish—your cue to move offshore and jab yourself lunch. These flat bottom-dwellers can get big—the record catch exceeded 72 pounds—but a more modest 15-pounder is good eating for days. Slice it into steaks, wrap it in foil with onion, cilantro, and salt, and grill it on the beach. “Point, shoot, and eat,” says Guy Skinner, owner of JBL Spearguns, in the city of Orange.


Gardiner, Montana
The food chain gets interactive on the Yellowstone Association Institute’s four-day Wolf Base Camp course, where you launch out from a central backcountry base camp to spy on the noble canids. June 1–4; $400; 307-344-2294,


La Seigneurie du Triton
de l’Islet, Quebec
Cast your fly for a two-pound brook trout on one of 12 private lakes spread over 15 wooded, boat-accessible square miles. All-inclusive stays from $113; 877-393-0557,


Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
With summertime water temps of 80 degrees, more than four miles of sand, and the 11,000-student-strong University of North Carolina at Wilmington ten minutes away, Wrightsville Beach is this summer’s hot spot. Look for surf pumped up by hurricane swells and southern belles touching up their tans. Sweetwater Surf Shop has everything you need for a day on the beach. 910-256-3821,


Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Alaska
While Congress slugs out the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, take matters into your own hands with the Sierra Club’s first ANWR service trip, a 12-day wilderness hike and backcountry-and-cleanup expedition. After collecting and transporting debris (such as metal roofing and insulation materials) from a cabin once used for illegal hunting to a plane-friendly pickup spot, you’ll spend a week following caribou trails along river corridors and sharing open tussock tundra with bears, moose, and wolves. June 6–17; $2,365; 415-977-5522, www.sierraclub.orgoutingsnational


summer trips
SOLAR EXPRESS: The Coast Starlight skirts the Pacific


Miami, Florida
“Salsa is better than sex,” says professional dancer Edie the Salsa Freak. “You can have 20 love affairs in one night.” At Edie’s salsa boot camps, held on weekends throughout the summer, you’ll learn the underarm turn and the copa. Then hit Bongos Cuban Café after dark for the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Lessons from $55; 305-588-9130,


Portland, Oregon
You’re not seeing double: There really are 50,000 people gulping grog at the Oregon Brewers Festival. From July 27 to 30, Portland’s libation congregation will top up at the Oregon Craft Beer Week, showcasing more than 20 styles of suds from 72 breweries. 503-778-5917,


Imperial Beach, California
Building sandcastles is no longer child’s play: 300,000 spectators are expected to turn out for the 26th annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, July 21–23, when 40 teams will compete for $21,000 in cash prizes. 619-424-6663,


Vancouver Island
British Columbia
With 25 miles of empty and sometimes world-class surf on Nootka Island, just off Vancouver Island, the only territorial locals you’ll have to worry about are the black bears. Pioneer a new break during the day; at night, dream of uncharted barrels in Tatchu Adventures’ Ewok-village-style tree house. Seven-day packages from $1,645; 888-895-2011,


Dawson City, Yukon
What better day to stay up late than the summer solstice? And what better place to do it than sleepy Dawson City, where the summer sun almost never sets? From the top of 2,953-foot Midnight Dome, savor the rugged mountain vista and a late-night picnic before the sun briefly dips below the horizon at around midnight. 867-993-5575,


Coast Starlight

Los Angeles to Seattle
Explore the West Coast on Amtrak’s L.A.-to-Seattle Coast Starlight. The two-dayone-night, 1,389-mile train trip passes snow-covered mountains, dense forests, and long stretches of Pacific coastline. $89–$1,011 each way; 800-872-7245,


. . . And stick with it from Memorial Day to Labor Day. May we suggest the Shoalfinder, served first at Foxy’s restaurant, in upstate New York. Don’t operate your boat after knocking back a few of these—many a crapulous mariner has bottomed out on the St. Lawrence River’s myriad shoals. The recipe, courtesy of resident mixologist Nicole Claudia:
• One shot vodka
• One shot rum
• One shot peach schnapps
• Equal parts orange, cranberry, and pineapple juices
• Quick stir


Continental Divide, Colorado
There was a time when an American road trip meant traveling into the unknown—your only guide was the ribbon of dirt winding around the next bend. To relive the experience, try wheeling across Colorado along the spine of the Rockies. The best road is the doubletrack along, of all things, Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which meanders back and forth across the Continental Divide for 500-odd miles between Wyoming—just north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado—and Chama, New Mexico. The route uses rarely traveled, unpaved county, state, BLM, and Forest Service roads that will lead you over 11,000-foot-high passes into remote alpine valleys filled with aspen groves and crystal-clear streams. Granted, you’ll hit some pavement along the way—roughly 200 miles of it—but these patches are quick exceptions to the rule. Best time to go: late June—after the snow has melted off the passes—to early September. Sections 3 and 4 of Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which are updated yearly, list mileage, road surfaces, road grades, campsites, and services. $22 for both;


Hot Springs, South Dakota
Twenty-six thousand years ago, a hungry mammoth fell into a sinkhole and died; later, others accidentally followed suit. Fast-forward to 2006, when the Earthwatch Institute spends summers excavating these mammoths. With the help of volunteers, the group has found 53 of the goliaths over 23 seasons. During July’s two-week course you’ll dig out ten-foot mammoth tusks, as well as the remains of Ice Age wolves and giant short-faced bears trapped in the pits. If only mousetraps worked so well. $2,395; 800-776-0188,


Lake Shuswap
British Columbia
You don’t have to play for the Minnesota Vikings to have a good time on a boat. On Lake Shuswap, you’ll spenda week swimming in 70-degree water, fishing for salmon and rainbow trout, and exploring more than 600 milesof shoreline. Waterway Houseboat Vacations’ 75-foot floating villa, the Genesis 75, sleeps 20 and comes equipped with king-size beds, two barbecues, wireless Internet, and a hot tub and fireplace. Stripper pole not included. From $8,257; 877-928-3792,



San Francisco Bay, California
Forget windsurfing—get kiteboard savvy, as 10,000 Americans have in the past three years, with San Francisco Bay’s Kite Wind Surf. Two-day intro course from $350; 510-522-9463,


Grand Staircase–Escalante, Utah
Load up a mild-mannered ruminant and head for the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument with Red Rock ‘n Llamas. Five-day trips from $900; 877-955-2627,


Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster
South Freeport, Maine
On a busy day, this 36-year-old seaside lobster mecca serves up 3,000 pounds of Maine’s most famous crustacean (along with other favorites like fried mussels and strawberry rhubarb pie), fresh from Casco Bay. Crack, peel, and indulge. 207-865-3535


Books are an endless source of inspiration, as well as a good way to pass a steamy summer afternoon. Start here:”Take off your shoes for a while, unzip your fly, piss hearty, dig your toes in the hot sand, feel that raw and rugged earth, split a couple of big toenails, draw blood. . . I entreat you, get out of those [automobiles], get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like men! like women! like human beings! and walk—walk—WALK upon our sweet and blessed land!”
—Edward Abbey,

Desert Solitaire, 1968


Timbers Bar
Moonlight Basin, Montana
Moonlight Basin—which became America’s first new destination ski resort in 20 years when it opened for the 2003–04 season—has a secret summer life. After a day of fly-fishing for trout on the Madison, swap stories over a Wolfpack Ale at the Timbers Bar, tucked into a corner of the Moonlight Lodge. 406-995-7777,


Salt Lake City, Utah
Air travel takes on a whole new meaning 20 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport at Point of the Mountain, ground zero for U.S. paragliding. Cloud 9 Soaring Center can certify you to fly in a week, thanks to drive-up hillside access and 300 flyable days per year. $975; 801-576-6460,


If you plan to be on the water this summer, it’s important to know how to properly rock—or better yet, tip—the boat. The way to swamp a canoe is to never do it while actually on a trip in the wilderness. If this should accidentally occur, you’re in for a world of pain, complete with soaking packs, missing paddles, and soggy misery. Instead, save the drama for the day you paddle back to base camp, where you can empty the packs onto dry land and light the sauna. Then paddle the canoe back out to the middle of the lake, grip the gunwales, and rock the barge until you and the boat go over. This is (a) a blast and (b) the best way to clean a few weeks’ worth of accumulated mud and fish guts from the inside of your boat. As for sailing, the worst way to capsize a 16-foot Hobie Cat is to catch the tip of your hull on a wave and pitch the boat bow over stern, sending you like an asteroid into the choppy water. This (a) is hard to right and (b) hurts like hell—especially if you’ve hit the mast on the way over.


Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
An American classic: six days, 105 miles, and more than 100 Class II–IV rapids. River Odysseys West: trips from $1,645; 800-451-6034,

#29 GO WILD!

Tupper Lake, New York
Get intimate with the Adirondack Park’s ecosystem at the Wild Center, the park’s new $25 million museum set to open July 4, complete with an indoor river and waterfall, a wetlands exhibit, and a 30-foot-tall, 18-foot-wide glacial wall. $14; 866-765-7800,


Maine Island Trail, Maine
Mother Nature must have smiled smugly when she minced the Maine coast into 2,000 islands. Explore this rough-hewn shore by paddling a kayak along the Maine Island Trail, a 350-mile water byway that leads from the manicured coast of Kennebunkport to the 12-foot tides of Machias Bay. The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) provides access to more than 115 island and mainland campsites. For a two-day taste, start in Stonington, a lobster-fishing village west of Acadia National Park, and hire a guide and kayak at Old Quarry Ocean Adven-tures. Less than three hours at the helm will reveal dozens of microscopic islands, etched with granite cliffs, spruce woods, and berry patches. $45 annual MITA membership gives you access to the campsites; 207-761-8225, Old Quarry Ocean Adventures: $285 for a two-day trip; 207-367-8977,


summer trips
MOVE 'EM OUT: Driving cattle at Triple Creek Ranch (Bitterroot Range)

summer trips

summer trips A LEG UP: Bombing the San Juans by bike


Fort Worth, Texas
Celebrate Independence Day with 30,000 of your closest country kin at the 33rd annual Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic, in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Last year’s lineup, handpicked by Willie, included Bob Dylan and the Doobie Brothers, as well as the man in braids himself. Festivities cap off with a lengthy fireworks display at midnight that will fill you with patriotic glee. From $40; 817-624-7117,


Mount Washington Hill Climb
Gorham, New Hampshire
Does cycling attract masochists? Consider this: Every August, 600 riders enter the Volkswagen Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb, a race in Gorham, New Hampshire, that makes L’Alpe d’Huez look like a bunny slope. Climbing 4,727 feet over 7.6 miles, racers crawl up the mountain at four miles per hour, facing 22 percent grades, often coupled with freezing temperatures and 50-mile-per-hour winds. Race entry usually closes in February. Depend-ing on your desire for suffering, however, spectating might be the best option. 603-466-3988,


Your Own Roof
“Solar water heating is the most accessible solar technology to the masses,” says renewable-energy engineer Robert Del Mar, of Solar Design Associates, in Harvard, Massachusetts. And with the help of 2005’s Energy Policy Act, it pays even more to go green. In January 2006, the federal government began offering a tax credit of up to $2,000 or 30 percent of the cost of a solar setup (whichever is greater). While a complete photovoltaic conversion of your home could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, solar water-heating systems run about $3,000 and pay for themselves in roughly five years.


Darby, Montana
Saddle up for five days of cowboy living at Triple Creek Ranch, in Montana’s Bitterroot Range. And don’t worry about sleeping mats and campfires come sundown—you’ll be staying in one of the Luxury Cabins, outfitted with a fireplace and private outdoor hot tub. Four nights, $3,800 per couple, all-inclusive; 406-821-4600,


Nantucket, Massachusetts
While Nantucket may now have more yachts named Daddy’s Money than it ever had sperm whales, it’s still the perfect place to master a surfcast or learn the finer points of lobstering. After supping at Topper’s, the Wauwinet Inn’s renowned eatery, retreat to one of 35 guest rooms and cottages. Open May–October; guest rooms from $460; 800-426-8718,


Seattle, Washington
Soak up the aquatic vibe at Seattle Seafair, a monthlong summer festival. The highlight: hydroplanes thundering down Lake Washington at 200 miles per hour. Events from July 1 to August 6; about $30 for a two-day race pass; 206-728-0123,


Calgary, Alberta
Break out the cowboy boots and Stetson for “the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” at the Calgary Stampede. July 7–16; rodeo tickets from $23; 800-661-1767,


Ouray to Telluride, Colorado
Some people will climb a mountain in Colorado’s San Juan Range this summer; others will run up one. On September 9, more than 1,250 trail runners will pound the 17.1-mile Imogene Pass Run, which begins with a ten-mile, 5,300-vertical-foot ascent from Ouray to the 13,114-foot pass. From there it’s all downhill to the town of Telluride. Registration opens June 1; 970-728-0251,


Las Vegas, Nevada
So your buddy is into blackjack and showgirls and you like climbing and mountain biking. The compromise? Vegas, baby, Vegas. Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa, a $925 million, 850-room epicenter of bacchanalia, is set to open in April 2006 just five miles from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Doubles from $170;


Twin Falls, Idaho
For $1,000, Miles Daisher will throw you off a bridge. Join the Ace of BASE for a five-day jump course held throughout the summer, where you’ll learn how to pack a chute, study wind conditions, scope hazardous objects, and, most important, land a jumpsafely. Cost includes equipment and instruction. 530-414-0499,



Deep River, Connecticut
Journey back to the summers of yesteryear with a weekend trip to Deep River, Connecticut, home of the largest Fife & Drum Ancient Muster Parade, July 15. After the festivities, beat the midday heat with a soft-serve cone from Main Street Sweet Shoppe. 860-526-9012, www.moxiecomp.comdram


New Hope, Pennsylvania
Catch the real summertime blues at Solebury Orchards, where in July and August you can pick a dozen varieties of blueberries about an hour from downtown Philadelphia. The tannins in blueberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to cells in the body (goodbye, gum disease), so dig in to that blueberry pie—your dentist will thank you. $3.59 per pound; 215-297-8079,


White Mountains, New Hampshire
It’s not an endorphin-induced hallucination: When you hike into one of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Huts after a hard day on the trail, you’ll find a hut crew already cooking your dinner. In summer, seven of these eight 100-year-old high-mountain huts are full service. If you can’t hit all the huts on the weeklong 60-mile route, spend a long weekend hiking to Greenleaf and Galehead. Starting in Franconia Notch, a lung-pummeling three-mile, 2,750-foot climb leads to the wind-generator-topped Greenleaf bunker, which purrs with the transfer of wind to watts. The hut affords expansive views of New Hampshire’s formidable 4,000-footers, including Cannon and the Kinsman mountains. After summiting the 5,249-foot Lafayette, head east to the system’s most remote outpost, Galehead Hut, nestled in the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area a full day’s hike away. Huts are full service from June 1 until mid-September (higher huts) or mid-October (lower huts). From $85; 603-466-2727, www.outdoors.orglodginghuts


Chicago, Illinois
The upside to the fact that Lollapalooza doesn’t travel the country anymore is that it has packed a summer’s worth of great music into two sunny Chicago days. August 4–6;


Ben & Jerry’s Factory
Waterbury, Vermont
Gorge yourself on Dublin Mudslide—Irish cream liqueur ice cream with chocolate chip cookies and a coffee fudge swirl—or any of the 30 or so other flavors at the Ben & Jerry’s factory, just north of Waterbury. A 30-minute guided tour ends in the FlavoRoom, where the real fun begins. Entry, $3; 866-258-6877;


Hood River, Oregon
Make a splash at the third annual Jump Fest, held at Koberg Beach, Oregon. Leaps range from foot-high puddle jumps to 80-foot plummets; stick to lower elevations unless you want to get familiar with the inner workings of the local emergency room. August 4–6;


Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pick up some Native American artwork and jewelry, Navajo fry bread, and a bowl of green chile stew at the 85th annual Santa Fe Indian Market. August 19–20; 505-983-5220, www.swaia.orgmarket.php


Boundary Waters
Ely, Minnesota
After a long day paddling island-studded Ensign Lake, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, dock at base camp for five-star dining on Piragis’s seven-day Gourmet Canoe Trip. Master chef Bernard Hermann, knighted by the French government for culinary excellence, fixes feasts like braised pork stew with orange and lemon, and fish with baby shrimp étouffée, while pastry chef Pam Freeman follows with crêpes suzette and caramel rice pudding. Freeze-dried camp dinners will never taste quite the same. September 9–15; $1,500; 800-223-6565,


Gulf of Mexico, Texas
The best diving in the lower 48 is in . . . Texas? Roughly 110 miles southeast of Galveston is Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, a pair of coral reefs between 65 and 145 feet deep, where hammerheads, manta rays, and whale sharks feed. Sea Sports Scuba: two-day live-aboard trips from $365; 281-970-0941,


Durango, Colorado, to Moab, Utah
Want a bike tour without the knee-grinding weight of overloaded panniers? The San Juan Hut System lets you ride free and easy. On the newly added Durango–Moab route, a 215-mile, weeklong jaunt, you ride from the cool, coniferous forests of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to eastern Utah’s sandstone slickrock—with little more than the hydration pack on your back. $553 per person for groups of up to eight; 970-626-3033,

Additional reporting by Ki Bassett, Charles Bethea, Grant Davis, Aaron Gulley, Melinda Mahaffey, Stephanie Pearson, Kate Siber, and Jason Stevenson

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
Filed to:
Lead Photo: San Juan Huts