Published: June/July 2008
Mountain States
Check out the season's best weekend trips near you.
Text by Christopher Percy Collier
Photography: Attend the Other Olympics

Consider the Teva Mountain Games a politics-free—though not crowd-free—version of the hubbub in Beijing. The TMG lures the world's top mountain sports athletes (think kayaking, biking, climbing, and fishing) and some 30,000 fans to Vail. But you can leapfrog the spiky-haired masses by entering the Teva Games Photo Competition, which grants contenders press credentials for 58 hours, allowing up-close access to venues and athletes (June 5-8; $50; Among the must-see events: the Citizen Bouldering Competition, the first World Cup climbing event to be held in the United States in 20 years; the Dagger Steep Creek Championship, which big-plunge expert Tao Berman won last year; and the fly-fishing qualifier, a single-fly event that tests casting accuracy and draws thousands to the banks of Gore Creek. But don't forget to snap a few frames while you watch. A Jimmy Chin-quality shot could win you the competition and $2,500. "The real question asked by photo judges," says organizer Joel Heath: "Did you capture the adventure lifestyle?"

Hiking: Make Like Sacagawea

Time may be running out for unprotected sections of the Lolo Trail, the famous high-mountain path in the Bitterroots that Lewis and Clark deemed the hardest part of their entire journey. Preservationists in Missoula recently put the Lolo on their "10 Most Endangered" list as gated communities threaten wilderness views. To see the trail's best before suburbia arrives, enlist Lewis and Clark Trail Adventures, which leads a backpacking and backroads driving combo ($655 for three days; The highlight: an eight-mile charge up from Wendover Ridge (3,500-foot elevation gain) amid Douglas fir and lodgepole pine to your campsite. On this grueling leg of the expedition, the Corps of Discovery resorted to eating horse meat. Mercifully, your better sourced provisions (roast beef and corn bread) will cook in a Dutch oven. The trip ends with an ascent of Sherman Peak. "That's where Lewis and Clark saw the prairie and knew they'd made it," says guide Jim Wenderoth. "The journal entry about this day reads: 'The men were much revived.' "

Wagon Rides: Wagoneer the Tetons

A 4x4 isn't the only way to navigate the gloriously unimproved logging roads inside Bridger-Teton National Forest. Prospectors did it in covered wagons, and now you can too. Wagons West, an outfit that combines multiday horse-drawn wagon rides with trail hikes, sets the clock back a few hundred years—but with a modification or two. "We don't have big wooden wheels like the old ones—those will jar the fillings out of your teeth," says trip coordinator Marilyn Dahle. "Ours have rubber tires and suspension." Spend days rolling along in the shadow of the Teton Range accompanied by elk, moose, deer, and coyotes. In the Mount Leidy Highlands, some 9,000 feet above sea level, the team will stop long enough for you to hike the south fork of Spread Creek. You'll know it's time to head back to camp when the dinner bell clangs, summoning you to the chuck wagon for cowboy potatoes, roast beef, and cherry cheesecake ($415 for two days;