Outdoors

The Red River Gorge is an absolute paradise for the adventurer looking for stunning natural beauty that’s a little more under the radar. With over 25 trails, hikers of all levels are certain to find a route that suits their desired difficulty. But no matter which trail you choose, you can be sure you’re in for an incredible immersion into a landscape that changes spectacularly as you move through each of its layers. With its breathtaking verdancy, stunning sandstone arches, and majestic cliffs and dips, the Red River Gorge consumes you with its sublimity, making it a true treasure of the south. Here are the trails you absolutely must traverse!
Double Arch/Auxier Ridge loop
Difficulty: Moderate

red river gorge

Flickr photo via Chris

This hike begins with a gravel road, but don’t be fooled: it’s only a warm-up. The path will raise and narrow and soon you’ll be working for your stunning vistas from unique arches. Expect to be surrounded by lush vegetation that changes dramatically with your elevation and to cross several creeks as canopies loom over you and light trickles through them breathtakingly.

Indian Staircase and Indian Arch Loop
Difficulty: Advanced

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Flickr photo via Karen Roussel

This unmarked trail is for the experienced and confidant hiker only. Yet as difficult as this trail is, it is infinitely more rewarding. As you scramble up the steep sandstone cliff that makes up Indian Staircase, you will thank the “footholes” worn into the rock by years and years of foot travel! (Although legend has it that Native Americans etched these holes in order to meet at the height of the cliff!). Allow at least half a day to enjoy this strenuous 5-mile trail that offers extraordinary views of the deep canyons and winding paths of the gorge.

Natural Bridge via Laurel Ridge Trail
Difficult: Easy

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Flickr photo via hspauldi

Seven different trails and a skylift can lead you to the beauteous wonder, Natural bridge, and for good reason! Natural Bridge is a must-see vision of unspoiled, natural beauty. We like the Laurel Ridge Trail because it features an undemanding walk around the cliffs and will lead you past hauntingly beautiful staircases (Devil’s Gulch Stairway and Needle’s Eye Stairway) and to an extraordinary view at the dead end, Lover’s Leap.

After all that hiking, head on over to Miguel’s Pizza about five minutes away from the gorge where you can literally put everything on your pizza from chickpeas to kielb. Service is quick, pizza is delicious, and everyone there is just as sweaty and bug-bitten as you.

Have you visited the Red River Gorge?

When people think of Vail, Colorado, they are likely to think of snowy mountains and incredible ski runs. While it is true that Vail has one of the best and largest ski areas in the world, making it a great tourist destination in the winter, there are also tons of things to do in this charming small town during the warmer months.

Beautiful mountains are just the beginning of what Vail has to offer during the summer. The wildflowers start to bloom, dotting the mountain with pretty colors such as red, purple, pink. A mixture of green surrounds you with lush grass, vibrant aspen trees and tall pine trees. Even though the wonderful mountain scenery is worth the trip itself, the activities on and around the mountain are what make it an exciting adventure for the summer.

Vail Mountain offers different activities for all types of people ranging from thrill-seeking outdoors fans to families with little kids. Take the gondola to the top of Vail Mountain to see amazing views and join in some fun activities. At the top, there is an adventure club that offers trampolines for kids, obstacle courses, horseback riding and more. There is also a nice restaurant to find some air-conditioning and great food, or a grill to enjoy the sunshine and some BBQ.

From the top, you can also find a range of hiking trails to explore including Eagle’s Loop, which is a short circle around the ridge. There are also a ton of other hiking trails that do not start where the gondola drops you off. For example, Booth creek is a gorgeous trail leading to two amazing waterfalls. For a list of hiking trails in Vail, head here.

vail mountain colorado

 

Flickr photo via Jeff Dzadon

For those seeking a little bit more of an adventure, the mountain is criss-crossed with mountain biking trails and there are lots of tours for all different levels of biking. For example, Hank’s Hideaway is a single track that provides a little bit of a challenge but is also enjoyable. Check out the rest of the trails here.

The adventure doesn’t stop with the mountains. Get your adrenaline flowing with a trip down the Colorado River. Vail and the towns surrounding it offer tons of rafting trips during the summer with high and low levels of difficulty. Some levels are better for families and first time rafters while others are for more advance and experienced groups.

colorado river

 

Flickr photo via Bill Gracey

After an exhilarating day on the mountain, walk the cute streets of Vail village or check out the farmer’s market. The cobblestone streets are fun to wander and are scattered with fountains that children often run through. Stop by the best candy shop in town, Fuzzywigs, grab a bag of candy and find a shady spot to relax and people watch.

Don’t forget about this magical mountain town when planning out your vacation. Summer/fall in Vail makes for a great adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Have you visited Vail, Colorado in the summer?

Step back in time and into another world by visiting the breathtaking Incan civilization Machu Picchu. Sitting in the Peruvian Andes in Cusco, Peru, this hidden old ruin is the perfect place to go for an adventure of a life time.

Machu Picchu means “old peak” and is considered the biggest tourist attraction in South America. It was first discovered by a Yale lecturer named Hiram Bingham, although many farmers and locals had known about it before. The location of the city was actually kept a secret during the Incan rule as a defense mechanism. The steep mountains and deep valleys helped keep out threatening enemies. The site is also surrounded on three sides by cliffs dropping directly into the Urubamba River 1,480 feet below. The valleys that surround Machu Picchu have been cultivated over the past thousands of years by local people, imitating the way their Incan ancestors used to work with the land.

hiking machu picchu

 

Flickr photo via Guillén Pérez

The trail to hike to Machu Picchu takes four days. The best time to plan a trip is in May when it is less crowded and, if possible, during a full moon because the four day trek starts very early in the morning and it would be nice to hike with moonlight. In June through September, the busy months, there are flocks of tourists on the trail and it taints the experience a little bit. It is also best to avoid traveling there in the rainy season.

To hike the trail to the old Incan Ruins, you must hire a guide. This prevents the landmark, trails and nature from being destroyed along the way by reckless travelers. You can book a guide out of Lima or Cusco who will take a bus with you to the Andes in order to start the hike. The guides will provide tents and food to eat, and you provide your own gear.

The Inca trail goes along the Urubamba River as well as past other ruins on the way to the main UNESCO heritage site, Machu Picchu. Be prepared for long days, camping at night, and some of the most breathtaking views. Hiking to Machu Picchu is the adventure of a lifetime.

Are you planning on hiking Machu Picchu?

The United States is filled with natural wonders that are sometimes overlooked are hidden. Everyone has heard about the beauty of the Grand Canyon, but America’s outdoor adventures don’t stop there. This large country has so much to explore, see and do. Check out the following five places to add to your travel bucket list.

  1. Yellowstone National Park:

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Flickr photo via Phae

Yellowstone is located mostly in Wyoming, but spreads into parts of Idaho and Montana as well. It is the oldest national park in the United States and was the first idea and project for setting aside and protecting natural resources. The park is almost 3,500 square miles of pure beauty. It exists on top of a volcanic hot spot and has deep canyons, lush rivers, hot springs, geysers, and dense forests. There is no end to the amount of exploring and hiking that can be done. One of the most visited places within the park is the Old Faithful Geyser.

camp grounded

Most days, I check my smart phone as much as I drink water, and sometimes even more. Considering that the last time I went running I was severely dehydrated, it might be time to reevaluate. Like most millennials, I’ve never known a world where the Internet didn’t exist.

Today, I see kids as young as 2-years-old knowing how to use a iPad. My nephew could probably navigate Google Maps better than I could. Even though I’ve grown accustomed to waking up and checking my Instagram and Facebook, there are some days where I wish I didn’t know what was happening to everyone around me because I saw a Facebook status.

What if we went back to the simpler days where we wrote notes on college ruled paper or knew where our friends were by seeing their bicycle parked out in front of their house?

One such camp for adults, Camp Grounded, aims to go back to those simpler times. Camp Grounded is a three-day, adult summer camp based out of California (another camp recently opened up in North Carolina). When campers arrive, they are required to check-in anything that links them to the outside world.

The first 250 campers gathered in Navarro, California in 2013. After checking anything that needed charging at the door, campers took on nicknames and surrounded themselves with over 80 acres of nature.

According to Fidget Wigglesworth (Levi Felix), camp director, Camp Grounded is a social experiment aimed at reevaluating society’s relationship with digital technologies. Felix is one of the brains behind Digital Detox, an Oakland-based group responsible for the camp. For the past few years Digital Detox has been throwing get-off-the-grid retreats near San Francisco, but decided to unleash Camp Grounded as their biggest undertaking.

Not only are digital devices off limits at Camp Grounded, but so are conversations that begin with the dreaded, “so what do you do for a living,” or “how old are you?” Instead of focusing on titles and careers, campers are urged to connect over individual characteristics and memories they’ve made in the outdoors.

Set in the woods, the camp provides over 50 workshops and activities including yoga, capture the flag, hiking, face-painting, a talent show, campfires and stargazing. Learning how to successfully use a typewriter is also included in camp activities.

As their website says, the best way to reconnect is to disconnect. If interested, the next camp is scheduled for Hendersonville, NC from Aug. 27 – 30.

Would you plan a trip to Camp Grounded?

 

 

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Getting away for the weekend, or week, is a great way to beat up the daily grind of summer where paid days off are far and few between. But some weekends you have a birthday party or wedding to attend and can only afford a few hours of adventure.

When that happens, sneak outside to try a few new, unique summer games. Who knows, you may discover you should have tried your feet at soccer in grade school that one day.

FootGolf

summer games

 

Flickr photo via Brian Roberts

Originating from the Netherlands, footgolf has recently kicked-off in the United States and other countries. Set up the same as regular golf, footgolf is played with regular size soccer balls on the fairways. Players aim to get a hole-in-one into the 21 inch diameter holes near the regular holes on the golf course. Word of advice, stretch your shins prior, I may or may not have been sore for a few days.

Bubble Soccer

 

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Flickr photo via John Loo

Also known as Loopyball in Germany, bubble soccer (or bubble football for those across the pond) started off as a joke between Henrick Elvestad and Johan Gold, hosts of the Norwegian comedy sports show Golden Goal. After posting a funny video of them playing on YouTube, the game quickly spread across Europe. The game is a cross between soccer and zorbing and the objective consists of scoring into the net while knocking your opponent down while trying. For those ill-balanced, you may want to stick to practicing your coordination before hitting the pitch.

Kayak Polo

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Flickr photo via PSYGMON 7

While this one requires more gear, and access to a lake, if you ever get the chance to try your hand at kayak polo, I highly recommend it. Also known as canoe polo, kayak polo combines canoeing and ball handling skills where those who love challenging their fitness will definitely fall in love with. Each team has five players and aim to score against their opponents using teamwork and balance. The ball can be thrown by hand, flicked with the paddle or passed between players. Many cities have underground leagues and provide kayaks and equipment for a fee.

Grab your best friend and head out for an exercise induced getaway next weekend. A cold one never tasted so good after running (or paddling) around in the sun all afternoon.

Have you tried any of these summer games this season?

New York City is a fantastic place to live and to visit. With so much to do, it’s tough to be bored, but sometimes the non-stop energy and the humid streets can be too much. Sure, there are beautiful parks and squares to hangout in and relax, not to mention Central Park and Sheep Meadow where hundreds of people flock to play frisbee, picnic and get some sun. But if you are looking for a more active way to soak in some sun and fresh air, check out the two New York hiking trails below for ideas on where to go to recharge. These are a few of the closer and easier options (of the many!) to leave the city and get some exercise!

Breakneck Ridge Hike:

new york hiking

 

Flickr photo via Michael Rutkowski

Looking for a good work out and a great view? Breakneck is a strenuous climb lasting about 3 to 3.5 hours. To get to the trailhead, you can take the Metro North Hudson line from Grand Central to the Cold Spring Station and walk North on route 9D. Attempt this hike with good footwear, water and snacks because it’s a tough one. There are points on the trail where you will have to use both your hands and feet to propel yourself up the mountain. If you want to avoid some of the harder climbs, look for a spray painted X for an alternate route. Don’t stop though, the view is worth the trek!

Anthony’s Nose Hike:

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Flickr photo via WhatsAllThisThen

If Breakneck seems a little too intense, then try out Anthony’s Nose. This hike is still a good work out, but you don’t have to climb on your hands and knees. Instead, it starts off steep and then evens out a little bit and the view of the Hudson is incredible. Take the Metro-North Hudson line to Manitou Station just like Breakneck. Follow signs south to route 9D and turn right. Keep walking until you run into white blazes on the left leading you up the mountain. This one might be easier to drive to. Different sites offer different trails, check out the two below!

Do you know of any great New York hiking trails outside of the City?

 

When you think you have seen just about everything, the world shows an incredible thing made purely by nature. Australia’s Lake Hillier it isn’t the only pink lake in the world, but it is definitely the world’s most popular and talked about.

The lake’s color is best seen from air, like in a helicopter, but even when you are close to it, or in it, you can still see how pink the water really is, but in a much more saline way, as it is water after all. From above, it’s also possible to see the forest that surrounds it making the pink water pop up with an even better contrast.

lake hillier

 

Image via Longing For Sleep 

Contrary to popular believe, Lake Hillier is completely safe to swim, and don’t worry, when you get out of it, you won’t be painted pink, even if you stay in it for hours!

Located at the edge of the Middle Island in Australia, Lake Hillier is really salty and is often compared to the Dead Sea salt levels, and because of that, some of the local villagers actually go there to harvest its salt, so don’t be surprised if you see this happening when you are visiting.

According to scientists, the water pink color derives from Duinella salina, a kind of red colored algae that thrives in salty water. This algae was proven to be Lake Retba’s reason of coloring, so scientists believe Lake Hillier’s color derives from the same algae.

Have you ever been to Lake Hillier?

white sands new mexico

Luckily I was in a rental car — otherwise my car would probably still have white sand in it.

I visited White Sands, located 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, New Mexico, during my first business trip as a corporate journalist. Driving into the park, I didn’t know what to expect. I paid the park fee and followed a long, curvy road, bumping my way for a few miles before everything in my view turned white.

All around me was miles and miles of white, pristine, beautiful hills of sand. I parked and ran up the nearest hill, slipping every two steps on the grainy sand. Standing at the top, I became speechless – it was magnificent.

Children were laughing and making sand angels, couple was saying I do, her dress blending perfectly into the surroundings, and there were many others just soaking in this natural wonder.

white sands new mexico

 

Flickr photo via glennia

The White Sands rise from the heart of the Tularosa Basin. The sand, also known as gypsum sand, engulfs 275 miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. The White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of the field.

Explorers of all ages have sunk their toes into the white sand since 1898 – easily, without burning their feet since gypsum does not readily convert the sun’s energy into heat. In 1933, President Hoover declared the dunefield a national monument, helping it become what it is today.

Besides making sand angels and sledding, there are five marked trails that allow visitors to explore by foot: Alkali Flats Trail, Backcountry Camping Loop, Interlude Boardwalk, Dune Life Nature Trail and Playa Trail. Hikers are encouraged to explore, but rangers also offer tours, typically during the summer months.

It is warned to be extra careful when hiking. The park lies completely within the White Sands Missile Range, and tests occur about twice a week. On the northernmost boundary of the Missile Range, the Trinity Site can be found, where the first atom bomb was detonated.

I will never forget the feeling of pure joy that overcame me when this hidden gem came into view, turning my world white. Don’t let the missile range scare you – you might get sand everywhere and anywhere, but it’s a wonder of the world that won’t disappoint.

Have you visited the White Sands?

Are you planning a trip to Los Angeles and want to do something other than eating and partying? Then, here is a list of fun outdoor activities you can do alone or with friends that don’t necessarily include food and you can even help you shape up in the process.

The Culver City Stairs

outdoor activities

Flickr photo via Daniel Pouliot

Located in Culver City, this fun and innovative exercise not only will tone your body, but it’s a fun thing to do with friends, and of course, considering you are going up, when you get there you will get a really amazing view of the city to enjoy while you rehydrate and rest a little before going back down the stairs again.

Malibu Grotto Trail Hike

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Photo via Meg Fog

Located in Malibu, this hike is perfect for a nature lover who will be able to enjoy beautiful scenery every step of the way. On this trail you will be able to see the incredible views from the mountains, a trickling creek and a lush forest. At the beginning of the trail you will also find a camping and picnic area to enjoy with your friends after the hike.

Pan Pacific Park

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If you love to exercise and have been doing that for a while now and are getting bored of the same old routine, at Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax District, there’s many different things to do. For instance, there’s a ¾ mile path with stairs, inclines and declines so you will never get bored. There are also soccer and baseball fields and a lap pool.

Santa Monica Pier

outdoor activities santa monica pier

Flickr photo via Neil Kremer

If you miss being a kid in a playground, this will be perfect for you! Located at the foot of Colorado Avenue, there are ring swings, parallel bars and uneven bars. All of it so you can have the good old times fun and exercise while toning your body.

What are some of your favorite outdoor activities to do in Los Angeles?

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