Sometimes a vacation is all about just hitting the beach with a margarita. Other times it’s going home to visit family or crossing the pond to Europe to discover different cultures and maybe a bit of personal identity. Then you have the vacations that I like – the kind that just turn the volume of ordinary life down below 1. Adventure capitals are places where the variety of outdoor action will constantly leave you breathless and wanting more. They are places of discovery and challenge, such as….
1: Utah: 60% of land in Utah is public land owned by the federal government. There are 5 national parks, several more national monuments, and acres upon acres of pristine desert wilderness where one can feel a million miles away and get in touch with nature in a way that is becoming increasingly difficult.
Famous places like Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park are great for sightseeing, but if you can bear not getting the perfect photo for your desk, hit Capitol Reef National Park, or Rainbow Bridge National Monument, where you’ll find far-less people and way more desert adventure opportunities like maneuvering through slot canyons or bouldering!
2: Belize: When most people think of Belize, they think of it as a country of resort towns, or they don’t think much about it at all. Belize is actually a very interesting country. Located in Central America on the Caribbean coast east of Guatemala, Belize is a polyglot country, with five recognized national languages including English, and a serious capacity for adventure tourism.
In Belize you can see active volcanos, pristine virgin rainforest, exotic jungle wildlife, and some of the best Mayan ruins in Central America. Belize is also a mecca for cavers, as the old lava tubes and limestone caverns rank among the best in the world. A round trip flight to the capital can cost as little as $320!
3: Alaska: Want to see the natural world in the way it was before humans took over the planet? Alaska is one of those places. Chock-a-block full of wildlife, containing 7 National Parks, and the only true Arctic landscape left in America. The possibilities are endless. Down in Southwestern Alaska, drop a boat or a kayak in the water and explore the mouths of majestic fjords to catch glimpses of all kinds of sea life.
You can go to Glacier Bay and see some of the best remaining glaciers in North America before climate change erases them, or go up north and look at caribou, reindeer, and wolf packs in their natural habitat. There are also numerous ski and snowboarding opportunities if you like a little adrenaline.
4: Colorado: One of the most valuable states in the union, renting a car and taking it in a loop around Colorado would allow you to pass through an incredible variety of terrain types, the Rocky Mountains, high desert, red sandstone boulder fields, the largest sand dunes in North America, pristine pine forest, and massive lakes where all manner of water sports exist.
The trip could be made all the more adventure-filled, as Colorado just legalized psychedelic mushrooms, which provide an incredibly joyous experience that is way better and healthier than a night of drinking. Towns like Crested Bute are famous for their skiing opportunities, and a night in Boulder will give you a huge list of exciting outdoor activities to pursue, from birdwatching or mountain biking.
5: Colombia: The most far flung of our locations, Colombia is rapidly gaining traction as one of the world’s great adventure capitals. With the Andes Mountains on her shoulder, and the Amazon at her feet,
Colombia is no slouch when it comes to incredible wildlife and natural splendor. Colombia has the highest coastal mountain range in the world, the largest number of native bird species of any country, flooded grass prairie where cowboys herd cattle and hunt anacondas, and 41 national parks preserving the rain-forested hills and pristine mountain paramo. While a trip to Colombia will require more funds than the other entries on the list, the Colombian peso, is one-third the value of the American dollar, so on the ground costs will be a lot lighter than in Denver for example.