The best American adventures for 2017
From epic American scenery to alternative foodie fixes, get a load of these USA getaways
Published: Tuesday 21st February 2017
Summertime in Utah
Adventure seekers may think they need to head to Utah’s National Parks (and with good reason), but beyond the big names of Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion, there are 43 remote state parks – which demand a visit just as much as the big guns. Whatever your style there’s something to suit: try rock climbing in Snow Canyon, which has 16 miles of hiking trails and is a mish-mash of red rock landscapes and lava caves.
Wannabe geocachers should try the aquamarine Bear Lake, which sits high up in the rocky mountains on the Utah-Idaho border, and is a hotspot for boating and the hi-tech hunting trend of geocaching.
For a bird’s-eye appreciation of the scale of the state’s landscapes it has to be Flight Park, which is known as one of the finest training sites for hang gliding and paragliding. Hop in, strap up and join a pilot on a tour of the sky.
Boston & Maine
You might know Boston for baseball, chowder and Irish pubs, but if a couple of days of big-city life have you craving some adventure, check out the coastal city’s vibrant fishing culture.
If your kind of thing is getting up at the crack of dawn to jump on a boat, wind and surf whipping up into your face and a steely-eyed determination in your eyes, there are plenty of companies that charter fishing boats for individuals up to small parties. Scour the coastline for striped bass, bluefish and more, or for something a little further afield, make the schlep to the seaside city of Portland, Maine by car or train from Boston (a couple of hours), where you can join a boat trip and get up-close and personal with Maine’s unrivalled lobster population.
The best of Alaska
For jaw-dropping beauty and a boatload of wildlife, the unconquered state of Alaska has all that – and more – rolled into one rugged trip. An organised tour is a good way to make sure you see the best bits, maximising your time and not worrying about logistics.
Try G Adventures’ Highlights of Alaska package – a 15-day tour that’ll have you trying fresh seafood in Anchorage, halibut fishing, spotting whales and seabirds in the Kenai fjords, hiking and rafting the Denali National Park and checking out an array of glaciers (climbing them, walking over them, y’know). It’s a place to find yourself wowed by your unfamiliar surroundings.
Austin and Big Bend National Park, Texas
Nothing says road trip like a sun-scorched desert highway and a RGV cruising into the sunset. But start your Texan adventure in Austin, namely at Wavegarden, America’s first land-locked surf park, which operates with a system of super-techy machines.
Riding horses? It’s time to ride some waves here instead. Next, hop in your RV and cruise down to Big Bend National Park and state park, a region of the Chihuahuan Desert that’s tucked into a curve of the Rio Grand river, right on the Mexican border.
The dry, open desert and jagged mountains are a hiker’s paradise, with more than 200 miles of trails that can suit a day-long jaunt of a multi-week slog.
Float trips down the Rio Grande are a must, with the chance to spot Mexican black bears and a colimi warbler (it’s a bird – and you can only see it in this part of the US, so take your binoculars). Get your stargazing game on as well, because this is one of the best parts of the world in which to try it.
How: America as You Like It offers 14-night RV holidays to Texas based on £1,185pp based on four sharing, including flights. americaasyoulikeit.com
Virginia and Maryland
Okay, so this one's a little different, but hear us out... On any trip to the States you’re bound to eat well. If not, well, something’s gone horribly wrong. Head to Virginia and Maryland, on the east coast, and you can have a foodie adventure that goes beyond food trucks, burger bars and ribs (although we love ’em).
Take Maryland’s ice cream trail, for example, which includes stops at nine countryside family-owned farms, which is a great way to indulge in the region’s ‘cow to cone’ philosophy and get your fill of new flavours. The state’s creamy, icy industry dates back to the mid 18th century, and they even claim to be the birthplace of the stuff.You heard it here first, Italy.
In neighbouring Virginia (easy to do in one trip) it’s all about the oyster trail, taking in the state’s seven different oyster regions, where the seafood takes on a range of flavours due to the salinity levels of the water they’re harvested in. Some of the creeks are no more than a mile apart, but still the flavours vary wildly, from salty or buttery to sweet (yes, sweet!), depending on where you try them. And we suggest that you definitely try them all.
Key West and Dry Tortugas Sailing, Florida
The most isolated and least visited national park doesn’t come with a single mountain, forest, lake or bear. Instead you’ll find vast sweeps of gleaming white beach, sea turtles and thousands of colourful fish. Obviously you know it’s the Dry Tortugas Islands, which sit at America’s south-eastern tip in the Florida Keys. And the best way to appreciate this water, no shit, is by water.
So try Intrepid Travel’s new six-night expedition sailing through these tropical archipelagos, snorkelling in the Marquesas Keys, drinking in Key West and checking out the historical Fort Jefferson.
When you’re not doing all that, you’ll be trying your hand at sailing in one of the most sublime settings for it, while kipping in a cabin and generally living the yachtie lifestyle (cold beers on deck come as standard).
How: Seven days from £854pp with some meals, excluding flights, intrepidtravel.com