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Body + Mind

Lying By A Pool Not For You? These Are The USA's Best Active Holidays

If lying by a pool or walking around museums sounds boring, the growing trend for more adrenaline-raising adventures could be for you.

Including llama-assisted trekking in Yellowstone National Park and surfing the waves on Hawaii’s iconic Waikiki beach, these are CF’s favourite active holiday ideas in the USA.

Surfing, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

Surfing destinations don’t come much dreamier than Hawaii – after all, it’s considered the birthplace of the sport – and you’re spoilt for choice on this island paradise. Beaches in Hawaii offer suitable waves for those wanting to learn to surf and for those more confident on a board. Beginners should flock to Waikiki Beach, the original home of the ‘Waikiki beach boys’ who helped popularise the activity with tourists in the 90s. Here you’ll find warm waters, calm-enough waves, and a host of leading surf schools (Stokes Croft and Kahu Surf School are good options) with friendly instructors who have had their surfing knowledge passed down through the generations. Plus, after riding the waves, there’s perhaps nowhere better than the Hawaiian sands to indulge in some well-earned R&R on the beach.

Llama Trekking, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Wildland Trekking has a host of active adventures up its sleeves, but you can understand why its llama-assisted treks in Yellowstone are one of the most popular. The Bechler River trek is a particular highlight with a tough but rewarding multi-day walking-and-camping route. It guarantees stunning geysers including the largest in the park, Lonestar Geyser; beautiful waterfalls; and even hot springs to bathe in after a full day of exercise. Throughout it all you’ll be helped by your furry llama friends, who will carry your packs so you can hike unimpeded (and also enjoy how cute they look in your pictures!). It’s a five to six day trip that is sure to get your blood pumping, and the friendly guides are extremely knowledgeable about the local area – so you’ll come away having learned a thing or two as well.

Mountain Biking, White Rim Trail, Utah

If cycling is how you get your kicks, Utah’s 100-mile White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park should be considered a bucket-list holiday destination. On the Escape Adventures four-day ride, you’ll get the opportunity to explore the iconic desert, enjoying an awe-inspiring route dotted with cacti and with majestic mountainous views. Adrenaline junkies call the landscape a ‘natural rollercoaster’ but, while the cycling is strenuous and it’s a true ‘out in nature’ camping experience, this is a tour that comes highly recommended not just for the picturesque, memorable ride. The food is (almost) as highly rated as the views, there’s a support truck on hand if your legs do get a bit tired, and there’s plenty of modern amenities to help you rest easy every night.

Whitewater Rafting, The Grand Canyon, Arizona

There’s hardly a more iconic canyon in the USA than the Grand Canyon itself, and for thrill-seekers, whitewater rafting through the twists and turns of the Colorado River offers an exhilarating step up from the concept of helicopter tours (or just a few minutes of attempting to peer over the edge). Far more than an hour-long joy ride, leading companies including Wilderness River Adventures offer full tour experiences lasting at least a few days so you can see vast stretches of the area. It also means that alongside plenty of heart-racing wild rapids (and more leisurely turns), you get the opportunity to camp out in the National Park. Keep an eye out for the eagles and other wildlife that call the region home, while your guide provides the opportunity to learn more about the great canyon’s astronomy, geology and folklore too.

Ranch-Based Horse Riding, The 'Wild West'

Whether you are an experienced rider, or a beginner intrigued by the lifestyle of a classic ‘Wild West’ cowboy, a ranch-based stay offers a real choose-your-own adventure for horse lovers. Organisations such as Ranch Rider make finding the right location easy, with popular outposts in Texas, Montana, and New Mexico among many others. The company also organises the ranches on its books into categories, to help you find the best one for you. These range from working ranches where you’ll get involved in all aspects of a working farm, to resort ranches that provide a more luxurious experience, with plenty of broader activities such as tennis, golf, and spa treatments. For families, there are also ranches that focus on giving a taste of ‘western life’ for all ages, with rodeo trips, square dances, and barbecues.

Skiing, Colorado

For keen skiers looking for a snowy adrenaline hit, North America’s mountainous peaks offer a host of alpine delights, with Aspen Snowmass a luxurious destination of choice for both born-and-bred Americans and those travelling from further afield. Snowmass is the most expansive of the area’s four mountains, with slopes for all abilities, and some of the best après ski dining opportunities as well. An impressive 95 per cent of the accommodation in the area is ski-in, ski-out, including the Viceroy Snowmass, which is the perfect place to soothe post-slope muscles in its brilliant spa. Don’t overlook the area in the summer either. With miles of challenging hiking and biking trails, Aspen Snowmass has a full summer programme of activities too, including excellent dining and entertainment for the whole family. Proof that ski resorts aren’t just for the winter.

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