6 Under the Radar Adventure Destinations in The United States
Does urbanization have you down? Sick of the modern world and looking for an escape to get away? Well drop that phone and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
North America still has some of the most well preserved, wild places left in the world. We’ve detailed some of our favorite adventure destinations below to get you started on where to travel.
The Upper Columbia River Watershed near Joseph
Adventure Basecamp: Joseph, OR
Top Activities: White water rafting, steelhead fly fishing, hiking
For the river rats, there may not be a more legendary place in the USA than the Columbia River watershed. This is particularly true in the cold water canyons and high desert landscape of the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers.
The Columbia River drains a massive area a far north as Alberta and British Columbia and as far south as Nevada. The area around Joseph, OR, including the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers, is a major artery in the vast network of tributaries that make up the Columbia River basin.
These rivers are legendary for their white water opportunities. As these rivers wind through epic, prehistoric canyons and vistas you’re treated to exhilarating white water rapids. These waters are good for all abilities and ages, making this a great adventure destination to experience the best Northern America has to offer for white water rafting.
This area, particularly the Grande Ronde, offers some of the best fly fishing for summer run steelhead in the world. Unlike the winter run steelhead west of the Cascade Mountains, these high desert rivers of the Columbia offer the excitement of catching a fish from the ocean in a beautiful mountain range hundreds of miles from the sea!
Add in the nearby Wallowa mountains and the backpacking opportunities they afford, Joseph, OR is a world class adventure destination.
Arches and Canyonland National Parks
Adventure Basecamp: Moab, UT
Top Activities: Hiking, canyoneering, mountain biking, rafting
The Moab, UT area of Eastern Utah houses 2 of the most breathtaking national parks in North America: Arches and Canyonland National Parks. These parks are known for their high desert environment and absolutely stunning geographic features. Said by some to look like Mars, Moab’s iconic red rock landscape should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Canyonland is Utah’s largest national park and features deep red canyons carved out by the mighty colorado river over millennia. The most popular area is Island in the Sky, a 1500 foot mesa that affords many epic views. There are also hundreds of miles of hiking trails throughout the sea of canyons to experience the wilderness backcountry. Just be careful, the vast network of canyons are easy to get lost in! This adventure destination is not for the faint of heart!
Arches National Park is known for its standalone sandstone formations. The area is a beautiful place to drive through and take in the wonder of the geology. Some standout formations include:
- Balanced rock
- The windows
- Double arch
- Tunnel arch
The Olympic Peninsula
Adventure Basecamp: Port Angeles, WA
Top Activities: Hiking, surfing, steelhead fly fishing
Centered around the Olympic mountain range, the state’s 2nd-highest range, the peninsula is home to a legendary group of temperate rainforests. With such a large mountain range next to the open seas of the Pacific Ocean, the area does receive a lot of rain every year. In turn, this also creates some of the region’s premier winter steelhead fishing opportunities.
The hiking, particularly in the Hurricane Ridge section of Olympic National Park, offers incredible views of the range. The area’s many beaches, including Shi Shi Beach and Third Beach, offer beach camping and surfing opportunities without the crowds.
There really is nowhere like the Olympic Peninsula in the United States.
The Florida Everglades
Adventure Basecamp: Everglades City, FL
Top Activities: Birding, paddling, fishing, hiking
Though Florida is not often thought of as an adventure mecca, the Everglades are solidly one of the most unique natural areas in North America. The diversity of wildlife, flora, and fauna make this large wilderness area (Everglades National Park is the 3rd largest National Park in the United States) one of the most wild places in the country and a top adventure destination.
While the alligators and crocodiles may scare some people off, the area boasts some of the best paddling around. One of our favorite multi-day trips in the country is a multi-day paddle through the Everglades backcountry!
Other popular activities include bird watching over 360 different types of birds native to the area, fishing the emerald waters, and hiking through trails to experience the lush wilderness of the Florida Everglades.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Adventure Basecamp: Duluth, MN
Top Activities: Paddling, fishing, hiking
One of the most treasured areas of the country, and one of the least known pristine natural areas, is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness area in Minnesota. This area butts up against Lake Superior and is very close to the Canadian border.
This over 1 million acre wilderness area was formed by glaciers, leaving a massive network of interconnected lakes and streams. The entire area is connected through both streams and portages, which are trails cleared for you to carry your canoe or kayak to another lake.
This is one of the last areas of the country, particularly in the midwest, that is as remote as it is. You can truly take off at a canoe launch and not see another soul except the many deer, moose, beaver, bears, timberwolves, and loons until you return to the boat launch upon your return.
Adventure Basecamp: Whitefish, MT
Top Activities: Skiing, trout fishing, hiking, paddling
Centered around the city of Whitefish and Glacier National Park, Northwestern Montana has truly turned into a mecca of the outdoor world.
This year-round adventure zone is known for Glacier National Park above all else. This park, bordering on Canada, is known for its glacially carved mountains, mountain lakes, and unique wildlife, including wolves and mountain goats. It is one of the best places in the United States to backpack.
Other notable areas include Whitefish Mountain Resort, which offers some of the best skiing in the state and a top winter adventure destination. Flathead Lake and the many rivers in the area offer incredible fishing, rafting, and water sport opportunities.
Experience the best of the American natural landscape with Winding Waters River Expeditions
There is no better place to enjoy the high-desert landscape mixed with the fresh, clean, cool water of the Pacific Northwest than by embarking on a fishing or white water rafting trip down the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers.
At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we offer a range of trips for all ages, experience levels, and trip lengths. Everyone should be able to enjoy these pristine rivers, and we have developed trips that make this possible.