Published: September 2008
Mountain States
Check out the season's best weekend trips near you.
Text by Contributing Editor Robert Earle Howells
ARIZONA
Hiking: Hike Into This Magazine

You saw its sexy visage on the cover of the June/July issue of Adventure: the Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls. Yes, the 100-foot cascade really is that foxy. Even better, a great ten-mile hike (pictured) drops you 2,100 feet to view the cataract and three other nearby waterfalls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Havasu is the most photographed, but Mooney Falls is the tallest (200 feet). Navajo Falls "is like a water park," says Ray Hendricks, whose Just Roughin’ It Adventure Co. leads tours ($825 for three days; justroughinit.com). Beaver Falls, meanwhile, is the most secluded. Whether you go DIY or with a group, you can set up in the tribe’s shady canyon-bottom campground, spend a few days amid the water parks, then hike out with a lighter pack ($17, plus $35 entrance fee; havasupaitribe.com).

ALBERTA
Zorbing + Zip Lining: Visit Gravity Central

Things keep going downhill at the Canada Olympic Park just outside Calgary, site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The summer adventure center’s latest gravity-friendly thrill is "zorbing"—the dubious art of climbing into a ten-foot transparent ball (anyone remember The Prisoner?) and rolling down the mountain in a sort of continuous endo ($30; canadaolympicpark.ca). Or you can harness up to the world’s fastest zip line—beefy guys hit 86 mph on the 1,640-foot cable span, which drops 328 feet, and need a parachute to slow down ($49). It supposedly emulates the feeling of ski jumping but mainly feels like sliding down a cable really fast. If that’s not enough passive activity, take a dry ride on the luge run ($6). But if you can handle burning a calorie or two, check out the center’s brand-new mountain bike complex, which has groomed trails for all levels, plus a skills center with jumps and drops ($25). When night falls, proceed half an hour west toward Banff to Rafter Six Ranch, one of the world’s largest log structures, and look forward to some serious Alberta beef ($189; raftersix.com). They slow-cook top round for seven long hours in a charcoal oven, from which it emerges medium rare and saturated with smoke.

WYOMING
Hiking: Llama-Pack Sweetwater Canyon

Sweetwater is a gem of a western Wyoming canyon between the Wind River Range and the Red Desert, an arid sandstone chasm carved by the Sweetwater River. The problem is, you may never find it amid a confusing maze of tracks on wild Bureau of Land Management terrain. "You could approach it and not even know it’s there," says Scott Woodruff, a guide at Lander Llama Company. "I’d direct you to the trailhead, but, well, there’s no trailhead." Woodruff, however, knows right where the canyon lies and says September is a great month to venture in. His friendly ruminants haul your gear to a luxe base camp, and from there it’s a matter of day hiking, fishing for browns and cutthroats, and relaxing in splendid solitude. The only company you’re likely to have is the wild variety: lots of elk and antelope, some moose, mule deer, and one of the highest densities of hawks and eagles anywhere ($630 for three days; wyominghiking.com).

COLORADO
Paddling: Paddle a New Whitewater Park

The Colorado always flows high through Glenwood Springs, but thanks to a new million-dollar whitewater park, paddlers are guaranteed a standing wave in the heart of town almost any day of the year. "Super sick" is how kayakers are extolling Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park’s main feature, an eight-foot-high crest that disappears only when swallowed up by spring runoff (when there are plenty of other whitewater thrills anyway). It’s a brilliant venue for anyone’s arsenal of playboating tricks, be they spins, blunts, or McNasties. The park also comprises learning pools, random eddies (great for fly-fishing), and a training/competition run (glenwoodwhitewaterpark.org). If you want to let someone else do the work for a day, book a rafting trip through nearby Glenwood Canyon ($75; coloradowhitewaterrafting.com). For a room with a brew, check out the Hotel Denver, home to Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company ($149; thehoteldenver.com).