10 Best Family Adventure Trips
|August 5, 2015||Filled under International Travel, United States|
An hour outside of Calgary, Mount Yamnuska lies in the heart of the U-shaped Kananaskis Valley, surrounded by the jagged snowcapped peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Near the base of mighty Yamnuska, a sheer face of rock continually lures climbers from around the West, including my friend’s family of four. Led by a trustworthy guide on a recent trip, they threw on their harnesses, attached themselves to the belay and up they went. Their 15-year-old son, Jake, climbed up the face as swiftly as Spiderman. Yet, it was their 13 year-old-daughter, Melanie, who really impressed. She went up twice, doing the more challenging climb the second time!
When she rappelled back down, she cracked a huge smile and said, “You know, this is the first day I ever went rafting and the first day I ever went rock climbing.” Yes, and it was only day two of a six-day family adventure trip in the Canadian Rockies.
The finest family adventure trips escort you into a world of active travel you would probably never attempt on your own. I certainly don’t have a harness or whitewater raft hanging inside the walls of my garage. Yet, if you go beyond your comfort zone and try something new together as a family, the memories will last a lifetime. These adventures should get you started in the right direction:
1. Multisport Trip in the Canadian Rockies with Austin Adventures
Austin Adventures, formerly Austin Lehman Adventures, is known for its long list of family adventures around the globe. The Canadian Rockies, not far from its home base in Montana, is a great one to sample first. While Banff and Lake Louise are swelling with tourists in the summer months, the guides do an excellent job of steering families on hikes and bike rides far away from the masses. You’ll bike past turquoise-blue glacial lakes nestled in the high peaks, walk up a gorge where waterfalls tumble down, and view a fair share of bear, elk, and bighorn sheep.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of these historic vessels, so choose whatever’s available. Each boat has a story to tell. The Victory Chimes was built in 1900 in Bethel, Delaware, to carry lumber within Chesapeake Bay. Today, she’s the only remaining three-masted schooner on the East Coast. The 92-foot American Eagle was built in 1930 as part of the Gloucester fishing fleet. It was revamped in 1984 and, along with Victory Chimes, Lewis R. French, Stephen Taber, and Isaac H. Evans, is a National Historic Landmark. Captains let children hoist the sails every day, and even take the wheel to sail these big boys.3. Multisport Trip in Sardinia with Ciclismo Classico
Rent sea kayaks or paddleboards on Green Island, best known as the home to the classic Adirondack resort, the Sagamore, a large wedding cake of a hotel that’s been the lake’s premier address for over a century. Paddle in the morning when the water is calm, following the ducks under a small bridge. You’ll pass houses on Green Island that you’ll dream about owning, before hitting the docks of Sagamore and the open waters. In the middle of the lake sits the primitive looking Dome Island, a rounded forest of trees. Behind Dome is that magnificent view of uninterrupted forest forming a silhouette of mountains against the sky.6. Multisport in Costa Rica with Backroads
Over the course of the week, you can zip line across the cloud forest canopy, spotting toucans along the way; take a naturalist-led hike past the monkeys and sloths of the rainforest in Manuel Antonio National Park; kayak to a deserted beach; and soak your weary limbs in a hot tub as you stare in awe at Arenal Volcano. What Backroads fails to get across in their brochures is the seamless synchronicity of the activities involved, from one to the next. Not an easy feat in a country known for rutted roads and poor signage.7. Hiking in the California Redwoods
Covered in shaggy bark with trunks the size of a Dodge Ram, you look up and it’s impossible to see the tops of these trees piercing the blue skies. At the Drury-Chaney Grove, you can climb atop a fallen redwood, 15 feet above the ground, and walk a good 100 yards on that same tree. It’s mind-blowing. It’s hard not to feel dwarfed by these mega-sized giants rising from a carpet of ferns. In Myers Flat, drive your car through the roots of a redwood at the Drive-Thru Tree to take that iconic redwood photo. The redwood forest continues all the way north to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Stroll from the Visitors Center on the Cathedral Trees Trail and you’ll quickly be immersed in this primordial forest.8. Adventures in Oregon
Hood River, an hour’s drive from Portland, is best known by kiteboarders and windsurfers for the wind tunnel on the Columbia River Gorge. Another 90-minute drive and you’ll reach Maupin, the start of an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes River. Then it’s on to the outdoors hub of Bend to go on a mountain bike ride in the nearby forest. Top it off with a hike around the rim of Crater Lake National Park, where hopefully you booked a room at the Crater Lake Lodge. You’ve never seen water such a shade of vibrant blue, the result of sunlight pouring down on the deepest lake in America. California deserves the hype, but if you want to take your family out West, consider Oregon, a state with far less traffic at much more affordable prices.9. Horseback Riding in New Mexico
The only way to pierce this vast interior is by foot or on horseback. Tom Klumker, owner of San Francisco River Outfitters, has been leading pack-trips into this region for the past 30 years. In the saddle of a strong quarter horse, you’ll lope through large stretches of ponderosa pines and tall saguaros, some as high as sixty feet. In the nighttime, you can soothe your sore bum in a cool river. Horses, camping equipment, and hardy steak dinners that could satiate John Wayne are all included in the affordable price.10. Strathcona Park Lodge
The lodge is a complex of chalets and cabins fronting 30-mile long Campbell Lake and is only a 40-minute drive from the Pacific Ocean. Strathcona’s Family Adventure Weeks in July and August take full advantage of its glorious locale. Guests canoe, sea kayak, rock climb, go on naturalist-led hikes, try the high ropes course, and learn orienteering and survival skills. The highlight of the week is an overnight canoe and camping trip where kids learn about no-trace camping and wilderness ethics. Back at the lodge, there is no television reception — just you and your youngsters sitting on the stone deck, taking in the views and the crisp fresh air as you talk about the day.