Published: August 2008Instant Adventures

Mountain States

Check out the season's best weekend trips near you.

Text by Contributing Editor Robert Earle Howells
Fly Fishing: Multisport the Rockies

Aspen Expeditions caters to this year’s undecided voters by bundling a quartet of outings in its four-day Four Mountain Adventures ($1,295, including lunches; aspenexpeditions.com). Get a running start by tandem paragliding from the top of Aspen Mountain for an eagle’s-eye view of the Continental Divide. Then cast a fly for rainbows and cutthroats on the Roaring Fork River. Independence Pass’s sticky granite is the venue for rock climbing; depending on your experience, you’ll be schooled or guided. Finally, raft or kayak the Arkansas River, the popular vote for best whitewater run in America.

Climbing: Climb Lamoille Canyon

Nevada’s Ruby Mountains are spectacularly unsung—so much so that climbers in Lamoille Canyon often find themselves alone, save for the odd bighorn sheep, on some of the best rock in the West. The glacially carved gorge, 25 miles south of Elko, has over 160 routes and is a tabula rasa for many more. Thomas Canyon Campground in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest has sites in the thick of it ($13; www.fs.fed.us/r4/htnf). Reward a first ascent with the best ribs in northeastern Nevada (that’s saying something) at Pine Lodge Dinner House, seven miles away in Lamoille.

Mountain Biking: Ride Brian Head

Mountain biking in Utah doesn’t begin and end in Moab. Farther south, the cool, cedar-forested slopes of Brian Head constitute one of the country’s great fat-tire paradises. Unlike most ski hills, which these days are all about bomb-down freeriding, Brian Head Mountain Bike Park is laced with good old-fashioned cross-country singletrack (brianhead.com). By using the ski lift ($24) and the park’s shuttle service ($18), you can connect with more than 200 miles of trails all over the mountain. Great rides include the 11-mile Lowder Pond Loop, which winds past lakes and meadows, and seven-mile Thunder Mountain, which snakes beneath limestone cliffs and through red-rock hoodoos that rival Bryce Canyon’s. If you have five days, join one of Western Spirit’s Brian Head Singletrack camping trips ($1,025; westernspirit.com). Otherwise, the park can set you up with a bike ($35) and steer you to cycling base camps—aka condo rentals ($79).

Climbing: Expose Yourself in the Burns Range

Acrophobic? Get over any fear of extreme high-altitude exposure on Canadian Mountain Holidays’ High-Flying Heli-Adventure. You’ll not only get to rappel remote crags and traverse a glacier, you’ll navigate CMH’s new via ferrata network. Italian for "iron way," via ferrata is an Alpine tradition making inroads into North America: a network of rungs and wiggly bridges that provides bombproof protection on sheer ridges. "It puts you into situations that normally require a lot of technical climbing," says Tim Nokes of Banff, who sampled the via ferrata last summer. "It’s a combination of security and tremendous exposure." A highlight is a 200-foot-long suspended footbridge with planks a foot or so apart and a 2,000-foot drop-off on either side. (Don’t worry: You’re clipped in to a steel cable). CMH meets guests in Banff and choppers them to Bobby Burns Lodge in southeast BC for three days of hiking, climbing, and hanging out at the fly-in luxury lodge ($2,340; canadianmountainholidays.com).

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