Best Summer Vacation Destinations for Outdoor Enthusiasts

With Summer 2019 just around the proverbial corner, many families are investing time and energy now researching the attractiveness and viability of potential summer vacation spots. Living in Southern California, where the local culture loves to indulge in outdoor or activity-based trips that reflect the California naturalist ethos, I have been able to venture outside the staid, predictable summer vacation ideas of my youth and embrace the diverse, rich array of suggestions emanating from my community. The following four, summer vacation destinations offer an idyllic setting for the avid outdoorsman to engage in a myriad of restorative and rejuvenating outdoor pursuits:

 

1.) Moab, Utah

  • Moab, Utah is the apotheosis of what any outdoor enthusiast would envision as a utopia for outdoor recreation. Situated among beautiful red rock-imbued mesas and buttes, the city is a magnet and base for mountain bikers, off-roaders, kayakers and rafters, hikers, and backpackers who can explore nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails radiate out of Moab into deep canyon fissures, sand dunes, mountains, and ancient sea beds including the world-famous Slickrock Trail. Whitewater rafting and kayaking is readily available along the Colorado River with several challenging gradients of rapids inspiring a mixture of exhilaration, fear, and high adrenaline. My favorite stretch of rafting in Moab is Westwater Canyon as well as Cataract Canyon in the Canyonlands. Hiking among the silent sentinels of arches at Arches National Park is an awe-inspiring reminder of nature’s artistry over millennia. Provided you are willing to accept significant tourist visitation during summer (especially from Europe and Asia), Moab is the perfect summer vacation hotspot to indulge your outdoor fitness interests.

2.) Glacier National Park, Montana

  • While Glacier National Park is not as nationally recognized as its more overcrowded southern neighbor, Yellowstone National Park, it offers many of the same outdoor recreation inducements for a memorable summer vacation with a menagerie of hiking and mountain biking trails, fly fishing, rock climbing, and sailing . Nearly every visitor to Glacier partakes in at least one hike within park boundaries to experience the majestic vistas and bountiful waterfalls that appear at any given point among the park’s nearly 700 miles of trails. Hardened hikers can explore the Continental Divide Trail or Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and pitch a tent or set up camp along several stretches of each trail, provided you purchase a camping permit before arrival at the park. When my family hiked Glacier several years ago, there was a random June storm that left a few inches of snow on the high passes of the Continental Divide Trail, so be sure to check the local weather forecast before embarking on your chosen Glacier National Park hike. The lively streams of the park are perfectly suited for fly fishing, with bull trout and bass among the species of fish indigenous to the area. If you have ever seen the movie, “A River Runs Through It,” (set in the state of Montana no less), you will understand the holistic serenity and calm that fly fishing can bring to the expert and novice alike.

3.)  Hawaii

  • One of the most popular and enduring summer vacation destinations to imbibe your outdoor spirit is Hawaii with its ample surfing, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking adventures awaiting the outdoor enthusiast. The vast majority of visitors to the Hawaiian Islands spend their vacation time in the most-populous island, Oahu, and the tourist mecca of Honolulu. For those visitors with little experience in surfing, Waikiki Beach and other nearby beaches are optimal for the beginning surfer to develop and harness the requisite skills. Of course, the more advanced and expert surfers make the solemn pilgrimage to the Surf Mecca known as the North Shore of Oahu, with the unrelenting swells and big waves of legend awaiting the intrepid and risk-taker. A riveting tapestry of marine life can be admired snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, just outside of Honolulu. Shark’s Cove along the North Shore was one of my favorite Oahu destinations for snorkeling. If you are island-hopping and land in Maui, don’t miss the world-renowned Molokai Crater and its postcard-perfect waters teeming with a rich ecosystem of marine life.

4.) Telluride, Colorado

  • One of the best kept secrets in North America, the historic, former mining town of Telluride, Colorado, conjures up one immediate thought: Could God have created a more “complete” summer vacation destination for the outdoor, activity-based tourist? Situated in a glacial box canyon ringed by 14,000 ft mountain peaks, Telluride offers a little bit of everything for the athletically-inclined naturalist. Over 35 hiking trails ring the perimeter of the community, ranging from easy to advanced. Because the town sits at a daunting elevation of nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, it is highly recommended to “ease” your way into any trip to Telluride and not immediately over-exert yourself physically with any outdoor activity of choice (unless you want to develop high altitude sickness!). After spending a couple days in the thin air of the community, my husband and i trekked on the famed, Mount Sneffels Highline Trail, a 13-14 mile loop above the town of Telluride that climbs over 4,000 feet and crisscrosses multiple glacial basins, conifer forests, and moonscape tundra with mesmerizing views of pristine, alpine lakes and sheer mountain peaks. Along the course of the hike, we were rewarded with plenty of wildlife viewing including mountain goats, foxes, and elk. If mountain biking is your preferred mode for an adrenaline rush, be sure to traverse the 40 mile long Telluride Mountain Run that rings the town and offers breathtaking scenery.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast like I am and are stumped about where to go for your 2019 Summer Vacation destination, take a chance on Moab, Utah, Glacier National Park, Hawaii, or Telluride, Colorado. All four vacation destinations are replete with bountiful opportunities for any avid practitioner of outdoor activities to enjoy and come home with memories that will last a lifetime.