By Sherry Ott
One of the best things about the US is that incredible diversity across the country. You don’t have to go far to find a new geology, landscape, culture, and climate. And if it’s adventure you crave, no matter how quirky, America has it; from odd roadside attractions to mountains, to beaches, to dessert and even icy lakes. To give you ideas for your next American adventure, here’s a few that I’ve experienced ranging from traditional to adrenaline pumping, to odd. America has it all! (photo: VISITPHILADELPHIA)
Hut to Hut Hiking and Skiing in Colorado
Take off on a multi day adventure through the Rocky Mountains. And thanks to a whole series of mountain huts run by the 10th Division Mountain Huts, you won’t even have to carry camping gear. The hut system consists of 34 backcountry huts connected by 350 miles of suggested routes/trails. Some have running water/plumbing and some don’t, but they all have beds. You can rent a bed in a hut through the 10th Mountain Division website and then share the communal areas such as kitchen and living space with other hikers/skiers. Plan a hiking/skiing adventure and stay in different huts along the way as you pass through spectacular scenery in winter or summer. And if you feel more comfortable having a guide with you, you can hire an Aspen Alpine Guide to help you set up the trip, guide you on backcountry skiing or hiking, teach you about the area and environment, and they’ll even bring food and cook for you!
More Info: 10th Mountain Division Huts – http://www.huts.org/index.php
Aspen Alpine Guides – http://www.aspenalpine.com/
Harry Gates Hut near Aspen Colorado
‘Bike’ Down a Volcano in Maui Hawaii
No, even though I was on a bicycle, I didn’t bike down Haleakala Mountain in Maui – I braked down Haleakala mountain. There is very little peddling required when coasting down a 10,000 ft. mountain formed from a shield volcano. However my hands did get a workout as they squeezed the brakes all the way down. I took the Haleakala Express Tour via the Haleakala Bike Company. This unassisted morning ride – it was a perfect opportunity to do it your way – take as much time as you wanted and brake down the mountain. Stop and take pictures, have a coffee, stop for lunch and do what you want. Not only did it have spectacular views, but it was also a ride that ignited your senses. You started above the clouds and consequently rode through a number of clouds too. Due to the altitude and the descent, you experienced the change in temperature against your skin, and eventually when you got low enough the road wound through fragrant eucalyptus forests. Eventually you coast back on down to the town of Haiku where you started, turn in your bikes, and look back up at the mountain to marvel had how far you and your braking hand had come.
More Info: Haleakala Bike Company – http://www.bikemaui.com/Haleakala-express-tour.php
Ready to ride the brakes to the bottom of Haleakala!
Buffalo Safari in South Dakota
We may not have elephants roaming freely in the US, but we have something even better – buffalo. Take an ‘American safari’ through Custer State Park in South Dakota which has herds of buffalo roaming the park freely in the prairie areas. We took off early in the morning and I strapped all of my cameras around my neck in the hopes of maybe seeing a buffalo. It didn’t take long to spot one, a huge male buffalo was slowly walking across the grassland. After watching it lumber along I was pretty satisfied with our sighting – my goal was met. We continued on and went around the corner and to my surprise there was the rest of the herd – about 100 of them roaming freely along the road. . They were slowly on the move and we, along with a long backup of other cars, were in their way. I’ve never seen anything like it before, we were literally caught up in rush hour traffic, but the traffic had hoofs and was larger than most sedan size cars. And don’t just expect to see buffalo, you’ll see deer, prairie dogs, and plenty of birds on this American safari.
More Info: Custer State Park – http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/
Get caught in morning rush hour traffic at Custer State Park
Ride in an Indy Car in Indiana
Instead of simply watching the famous Indy 500, you can ride in your very own Indy car around the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Reach speeds of 200 mph as you ride as a passenger around IMS. Experience the Gforce while getting a feel for just how cramped those Indy cars are. This isn’t a cheap adventure, but it sure is a once in a lifetime adventure! After your Indy car ride your Indianapolis adventure can continue along their Cultural Trail, an 8 mile trail biking and walking trail connecting all six of Indy’s Cultural Districts. From Mass Ave to White River State Park and Fountain Square. As a visitor the best way to experience the trail is by utilizing the city bikeshare. Rent a bike for a day or for an hour and get around the whole city while enjoying parks and public art along the way at a bit slower pace than an Indy car.
Speed around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway like a pro!
Take a plunge in Minnesota
On a recent trip to Minnesota I was able to experience one of the things that makes Minnesotans great – their love of the cold weather. I admire people who live in the Northern US; they have winter 5 months of the year; yet they don’t hibernate, they embrace it. Even if it means jumping into an ice-cold lake. Each winter at Great Bear Lake in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, a square is cut in the ice, not for fishing, but for people!. Then people step from the warming tent and line up on the ice and plunge one by one. Some approach it with apprehension, some with gusto. Most all use the opportunity to dress up as if it were Halloween. Some of the costumes were outrageous, skimpy, and not very buoyant! Young and old participated, and no one chickened out.
2016 Date will occur in mid to late January – More info here – http://www.plungemn.org/events/white-bear-lake/
Do you think you could take the plunge in White Bear Lake Minnesota?
Eat 72 oz.of Steak in Texas
If you are looking for an eating adventure, then head towards Amarillo Texas and look for the giant Las Vegas style cowboy sign; and be sure to go hungry. Stop at the Big Texan along Route 66 and try to make history by eating a 72oz steak in XX minutes. And we aren’t just talking the steak – you also have to finish the entire meal including sides. When you order the 72oz steak prepare to be the center of attention as you’ll get seated at the best table in the house, elevated up on a pedestal in the middle of the restaurant. This way everyone gets to watch you take on the eating adventure and cheer you on as you devour that last big bite. After all, Texas is all about being big.
More Info: Big Texan – http://bigtexan.com/
Take a big appetite with you to the Big Texan in Amarillo, TX
Hike Through Wall Street in Utah
No, not THAT Wall Street, the Wall Street hike in Bryce Canyon. This is a simple day hike that certainly makes you feel small as you hike among the steep orange colored slot canyon. It is actually reminiscent of walking through the skyscrapers of NYC. This is a great way to see the uniqueness of the hoodoos In Bryce National Park in Utah from a different perspective. The Wall Street section is a small part of the overall Navajo Trail that is graded medium difficulty.
More Info: Bryce National Park Wall Street Hike – http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/navajotrail.htm
Hike among the giants of Wall Street in Utah.
Sherry Ott is a contributor for InsureMyTrip.