Published: April 2009
Top 10 American Adventures—in Video!
Text by Andrea Minarcek; Rankings by Robert Earle Howells, Jim Gorman, and the editors

For our 10th anniversary issue (April/May 2009, on newsstands now) we drew on a decade of experience to find the 50 best adventure trips—in our own spectacular backyard. Heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, pedaling, and paddling excursions across the country made the list, but these ten epic trips took top honors. Check out the videos—and start planning now for a summer staycation in the states!

10. Our Freshwater Ocean: Wreck-diving Lake Superior, Minnesota

The waters off of Grand Portage, Minnesota, near Isle Royale National Park, are packed with epic shipwrecks on par with anything you’d find out by Fiji. And they’re in far better shape: Saltwater sites are far more eroded, usually with coral and sponges littering their surface, while fresh-water wrecks stay pristine.

Need more inspiration? Experience a Lake Superior wreck-dive firsthand with this footage of a 2008 scuba trip to the Madeira site:

A Superior Dive (The Madeira "Wreckumentary") from Mark Parolini on Vimeo.
Read more about this trip here >>

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9. The Trailblazing West: Hiking the Sierra High Route, California

The 195-mile Sierra High Route traverses some of the country’s most rugged terrain between Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks. And it doesn’t take the easy way. The High Route is famous for tackling the wind-whipped jagged peaks head-on. You’ll earn bragging rights to last a lifetime.

Need more inspiration? Check out this footage of our 2007 Adventurer of the Year Andrew Skurka hiking the High Route:

Read more about this trip here >>

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8. Endless Summer Continues: Surfing the Lost Coast, California

Yep, we found it. The Lost Coast stretches across 80 miles of rugged Cali shore, between Fort Bragg and Eureka, lined with dramatic cliffs and soaring coastal redwoods. You might even share the waves with migrating gray whales. Drive to the end of Shelter Cove Road, accessible from the fishing village of Shelter Cove, then head south from the boat ramp.

Need more inspiration? These shots of surfing the Lost Coast—in Humboldt County, Cali—should do it:

Read more about this trip here >>

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7. The Tour de Heartland: Biking RAGBRAI, Iowa

Every year on the third Sunday of July, 10,000 riders line up on Iowa’s western border for a weeklong trek across the state so fun that even Lance had to come out and join in the fun…

Need more inspiration? Watch Lance Armstrong and John Edwards ride a leg of the ’07 outing here:
Read more about this trip here >>

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6. Where the Beasts Take Refuge: Exploring ANWR, Alaska

Each June, hundreds of thousands of caribou sweep across the coastal plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in one of the world’s largest migrations. Trek to the Kongakut River and watch the show alongside grizzlies and bald eagles.

Need more inspiration? Catch a glimpse of the mighty beasts of ANWR in this video.

Read more about this trip here >>

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5. Transcendent Wilderness: Canoeing the Adirondacks, New York

Adirondack Park’s one-million-acre swath of black-water streams and humpbacked mountains is home to one of the most wildlife-laden paddling routes in the Lower 48. Watch for moose, fishers, and coyotes. Put in at the north end of Little Tupper Lake and plan on four days to paddle the circuit clockwise.

Need more inspiration? The quiet beauty of Adirondack Park is on full display here:

Read more about this trip here >>

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4. America’s Everest: Climbing Mount Rainier, Washington

It’s not the size of the dog but the bite that counts. The same could be said of Mount Rainier, which, at 14,410 feet, ranks as only the 22nd highest peak in the nation. But add in technical climbing, glaciers, ice cliffs, and avalanches, and you’ve got one of the toughest—and most coveted—summits to bag in the world.

Need more inspiration? Get a base-to-summit look with this 2002 footage:

Read more about this trip here >>

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3. Our Grandest River Trip: Rowing down the Grand Canyon, Arizona

To really feel the Colorado’s rapids in your bones, a typical raft just won’t cut it. Tackle the Grand Canyon the way it was meant to be done—just like John Wesley Powell—in a traditional dory. Its rigid, narrow prow is designed for maximum thrills-per-minute.

Need more inspiration? Ride along the Grand’s Hermit Rapid in a dory here:
Read more about this trip here >>

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2. The First National Park All to Yourself: Kayaking Lake Yellowstone, Wyoming

The Thorofare region of Yellowstone—where the park’s namesake river meets its namesake lake—is like an American version of Africa’s Okavango Delta, a crossroads of bison, grizzlies, wolves elk, moose, bald eagles, ospreys, sandhill cranes, and swans. Paddle into the river off of Yellowstone Lake’s Southeast Arm.

Need more inspiration? Paddle along with O.A.R.S.—ranked as one of our Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth (read their profile)—on their Yellowstone Lake kayaking trip:

Yellowstone Lake Kayaking Video - OARS - Click here for more blooper videos
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1. Border-to-Border on Two Wheels: Biking the Continental Divide Trail, multistate

Peddle the country’s Rocky Mountain spine on the world’s longest mountain bike route—2,490 miles all the way from the Canadian border near Eureka, Montana, to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells, New Mexico. You’ll climb the equivalent of seven Everests (200,000 feet) through alpine meadows and scrub desert. Plan on two weeks for breakneck-speed biking or two months for easy riding.

Need more inspiration? Get a feel for the ride with this clip, filmed directly on top of the Continental Divide through the Great Basin area of Wyoming: Read about this trip here >>

Do you have an idea for an ADVENTURE Top Ten list? Let us know by posting it in the Comments section below.