With Labor Day only a few weeks away and new ski movie premiers coming up fast, there isn’t much time to experience new adventures before summer ends. Days are getting shorter and the first scrub oaks are already giving up and turning red in the mountains. Where did all that time go?
We’re happy this means pow days are on the way, but we’re not ready to let go of summer yet. We want at least one more big experience before summer ends.
Here are some of the adventures we’re daydreaming about having before the snow flies.
1. Gawk at Glacier National Park
The only thing bigger than the grizzlies in Glacier National Park are the views. As summer winds down, so does your chance to explore the park without winter gear—it gets cold up there early. The park holds over 700 miles of trails, making it a paradise for hikers and backpackers. The Highline Loop is a must-hike 11.8-mile trail that’ll take you through towering mountain passes and along trails frequented by mountain goats. Remember, they always have the right away.
Schedule a massage for when you get home, your neck is going to be sore from looking up.
2. Mountain Bike the Tahoe Flume Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail in California wraps around Lake Tahoe and is filled with 165 miles of awe-inspiring views. Only part of the trail is open to mountain biking, and the Flume Trail connects you to one of the best sections. You’ll need a shuttle to ride this 21.5-mile loop and the late summer weather is prime to make this a ride you’ll tell someone else’s grandkids about.
3. Hike Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park
One of the most beautiful and exposed hikes in the world, Angel’s Landing isn’t a hike you want to do in the dead of July’s 118-degree days. It’s easier to get dizzy and fall off a 1,000 foot cliff when the sun is beating down on you. That’s what makes early September one of the best times to tackle this vertigo-inducing adventure.
At only 5 miles, this hike can take 3-6 hours due to the strenuous 1,488 feet of elevation gain and technical sections. Even though September begins to cool off, the desert days are still hot, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
4. Chase Waterfalls in Ricketts Glen
When you read about outdoor places to adventure, it’s usually about the faraway magical west, but there are gems to explore on the east coast. Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania is one that gets ignored by many. With over 13,000 acres of park permeated with 26 miles of trails, Ricketts Glen holds 22 named waterfalls and a number of unnamed ones. The highest waterfall in the park, Ganoga Falls, stands at 94 feet.
The Falls Trail, a 7.2-mile loop is the most rewarding adventure in the park. Be ready for steep, slippery, and rocky terrain. Know where you’re going and pay attention or you could easily find yourself lost in the wild beauty of Pennsylvania.
5. Vision Quest in Badlands National Park
Filled with bison and other-worldly rock formations, Badlands National Park in South Dakota is the perfect place for a final summer vision quest. And we say that with sincerity, this is holy country to the native tribes that have lived here for over 11,000 years and it’s filled with inspirational marvels of nature. A week in the backcountry here will change you.
The 64,144-acre Badlands Wilderness is the ideal place to go backpacking without seeing anyone other than who you bring with you. You can still encounter 100-degree days in August, so plan for early September to get the best experience.
6. Surf Trip On the Pacific Coast Highway
The hallowed Highway 1 runs the coast all the way from San Francisco to San Diego and is the perfect backbone for a late-summer surf trip. To find less-crowded roads and beaches, make sure your route passes through Big Sur. This gorgeous part of the coast inspired writers like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson and the rugged coastline hides some magical breaks. The ocean here demands respect and whether you stay for a day or week, it’s worth a stop on your Pacific Coast Highway adventure.
Do you have any adventures planned for the end of summer?
We’d love to hear about them.