The Most Thrilling Way to Experience America's Newest National Park
Home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia is the United States' newest national park. Established originally as a national river in 1978, the area was redesignated in 2020 as a park and has been a hallowed spot for locals for generations. The recent designation invites travelers to visit, explore and discover this slice of heaven. The national park has also received distinguished mentions by National Geographic, Frommer's, TIME, and AFAR, all of which label the New River Gorge a must-visit destination.
Easily accessible by Route 19 and I-64, it is one of West Virginia's most photographed areas. The iconic steel arch bridge was once the longest in the world and welcomes travelers to this cherished region. Widely known as the second oldest river in the world, the New River cuts through extensive geological formations that make way for diverse flora and fauna. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons call this park home, and you'll often spot a few along your travels. Hiking trails here take you to spectacular overlooks and through remnants of old coal mining towns.
Celebrate Bridge Day this October
Each year, the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve hosts Bridge Day, the nation's premier extreme sports event, where nearly 150,000 spectators watch as 350 BASE jumpers parachute 876 feet into the Gorge's stunning fall colors. Bridge Day is West Virginia's largest single-day festival and one of the largest extreme sports events in the world. Held annually on the third Saturday in October on the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, this is the only day each year that spectators can walk across the fifth-longest steel-arch bridge in the world as daredevils take the plunge into one of the oldest rivers in the world and an area recognized by TIME as One of the World's Greatest Places.
For festival-goers, the day is filled with excitement, delicious bites from local food vendors and the opportunity to walk the catwalk underneath the New River Gorge Bridge or zipline off it. Watching the jumpers is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some of the BASE jumpers make the jump even more exciting by being launched out of the "human catapult" while wearing flashy costumes. All the while, rappellers ascend and descend from the catwalk.
Win a thrilling BASE jump experience
This year, the West Virginia Department of Tourism is holding a contest to award one thrill-seeker the opportunity to tandem BASE jump from the New River Gorge Bridge this fall. The winner of the contest will receive a free trip to West Virginia and the opportunity of a lifetime as a part of Bridge Day festivities in the nation's newest national park. Daredevils from all over the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to sign up here before September 30th for the chance to win.
Last year, 350 BASE jumpers from 39 states and four countries took part in this event. Some are experienced jumpers who leap solo, while others are new to the sport and go tandem with an experienced jumper. Much like a tandem skydive, jumpers are harnessed to the experienced Tandem BASE instructor. The winner of the contest will jump with Sean Chuma, who has completed more BASE jumps than anyone else in the world. Chuma has over 4,000 skydives and 7,400 BASE jumps, and also runs a world-renowned school, called I-D BASE, that teaches experienced skydivers how to BASE jump.
"Bridge Day is one of the world's top extreme-sports events, and we are thrilled to offer one lucky daredevil the opportunity to join us and literally fly with some of the world's most spectacular fall foliage as a backdrop," said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. "Whether you're adventurous enough to parachute nearly 900 feet or you'd prefer a nice casual stroll across the bridge to soak in the fall colors while enjoying the festivities, Bridge Day is an experience you'll never forget."
Backroads recently announced the launch of Women's Adventures, a new offer exclusively for women travelers. Set in some of the world's most beautiful places, these new vacations feature some of the company's most popular Walking & Hiking itineraries in bucket-list destinations. While the all-women trips will naturally have a different dynamic than other Backroads' trips, they will offer the same commitment to excellence, flexible itineraries and exceptional Trip Leaders for which the company is known. "As part of the Hale family business, I've been lucky enough to take many Backroads trips, several of them with women only to destinations like Argentina, Vietnam/Cambodia and the California Wine Country," said Liz Hale, Backroads' Director of Community Partnerships. "There's nothing like traveling with a group of women. The shared experience on and off the trail, the sense of adventure, the deep connections and conversations, easy laughter and the joy of sisterhood that forms and strengthens as we create new lifelong memories.” Women seeking outdoor and cultural travel experiences in combination with stylish creature comforts—whether traveling solo or with female friends or family members—has been a growing trend over the years. Backroads has seen an increase in select travel dates becoming all-women trips, often as Private Trips. These Walking & Hiking tours are crafted to offer travelers an unfiltered and genuine connection to the culture, landscapes, people and natural beauty of the region they are exploring. With over 30 years of experience designing and leading Walking & Hiking trips across the globe, launching Women's Adventures that feature some of the company's top hiking itineraries is an exciting evolution of the Backroads trip collection. “There's a special magic and connection that often happens when women gather,” said Backroads Executive Vice President, Avery Hale Smith. “I've experienced this firsthand on the girls trips I've participated in over the years, and we've heard it repeatedly from guests who have traveled privately on all-women Backroads trips. We're excited to offer women the opportunity to connect, learn and be immersed in the local culture and community while discovering these amazing destinations together.” While the trips include locations from all over the world, there are several North American-based itineraries, including the selected trips below, that are more accessible and budget-friendly when adding in the costs of flights or other transportation. Banff to Yoho (Alberta, Canada) A 6-day getaway to the soaring peaks and emerald lakes of Banff, Lake Louise & Yoho National Park. Book here. Hike scenic trails in three Canadian national parks with dramatic vistas, beautiful lakes and lush landscapesWalk through evergreen forests and flowering meadows to sensational glaciers, magnificent waterfalls and towering peaksAdmire mountain reflections on Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, then hike to famous Plain of Six Glaciers TeahouseLook for mountain goats, pikas and marmots—perhaps come face-to-face with one of them! Palm Springs & Joshua Tree (California) Desert vegetation in Joshua Tree, California by Ben Karpinski - Unsplash A 4-day trip to this national park wonderland of rocks and desert oases. Book here. Hike Joshua Tree National Park's remarkable landscape strewn with gigantic boulders and shady palm oases Marvel at the desert's distinctive beauty—from Joshua trees to unique wildlife like roadrunners and desert bighorn sheep Admire the mid-century architecture and old Hollywood glamour of Palm Springs’ Las Palmas neighborhoodHike a section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail, taking in impressive views of San Gorgonio Mountain Yosemite (California) A waterfall in Yosemite National Park by Mick Haupt - Unsplash A 6-day excursion to explore this iconic national park's dramatic half dome and waterfalls. Book here. Experience spectacular hikes to alpine meadows, waterfalls and jaw-dropping panoramas Gaze skyward on a walk through a grove of giant sequoias, Yosemite's ancient trees Explore the endless trails of Tuolumne Meadows, a glacier-carved area over two miles long Discover the impressive rock formations for which Yosemite is known, including world-famous Half Dome Crate Lake & Cascades (Oregon) Crater Lake by Steven Coffey - Unsplash A 6-day adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Book here. Delight in Oregon's varied geology as you adventure on foot to the edge of the world-famous Crater LakeExplore the vibrant city of Bend, Oregon's lively and picturesque hub of outdoor adventure and craft brewingHike amid the grandeur of Oregon's Central Cascades, including a section of the famed Pacific Crest TrailAdmire Crater Lake's breathtakingly clear sapphire waters from some of the very best vantage points Sedona (Arizona) The red rocks of Sedona, Arizona by Edmundo Mendez, Jr - Unsplash A 4-day getaway to explore the red rocks and desert magic of Arizona. Book here. Hike among jagged peaks and vast canyons, and along trails blossoming with cacti, manzanita and agave plantsMarvel at the ever-changing colors of the landscape as the sun passes through the day, leaving behind a dazzling indigo sky full of starsWander in and out of art galleries and shops filled with jewelry and crafts made by local artists at Sedona’s Tlaquepaque villageRelish Southwestern cuisine and luxuriate in our quiet abode surrounded by red mesas and rugged cliffs Yellowstone & Tetons (Wyoming) Sunlight illuminates the peaks of the Teton mountain range by Toan Chu - Unsplash A 6-day trip to discover the geology, wildlife and peaks of these national parks. Book here. Observe the famous bubbling and churning geologic features of Yellowstone—including Old Faithful, of course Hike through gorgeous valley landscapes while gazing up to catch sight of the spectacular Teton peaks Photograph the wondrous Yellowstone wildlife you're bound to encounter—from elk to eagles and bison to bears Raft the Snake River with expert river runners, enjoying the views and abundant wildlife sightings —For more Women's Walking & Hiking trip itineraries, head to Backroads Women's Adventures.
From north to south and from coast to coast, America is packed with diverse landscapes that are worth exploring for every type of traveler. Each state has its own culture and landmarks that make them unique. Courtesy of musement Outdoor enthusiasts have a plethora of places to choose from. National parks and outdoor attractions make up almost one third of the most popular attractions in the United States. From the greats like The Grand Canyon (Arizona) and the urban oasis Central Park (New York) to lesser-known gems like Blackwater Falls State Park (West Virginia) or the Gulf Islands National Seashore (Mississippi) and its beaches, you can get a taste of cultural activities while enjoying Mother Nature. Hersheypark: Hershey, Pennsylvania - Istock/ gsheldon Thrill seekers and families with young ones will be glad to see that ten states across the country have amusement/theme parks as their number one attraction. Snap pictures with Mickey and your favorite Disney characters at Walt Disney World (Florida) or Disneyland Park (California). Otherwise, you can escape to the east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Virginia). Got a craving for chocolate? Head to Hersheypark (Pennsylvania) and see what the hype is all about. The Alamo - San Antonio, Texas History buffs will be able to turn the clocks back at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (Michigan) where they can witness some of America’s most historical items, discover what life was like in the 1830s at The Alamo (Texas), or jump on board the World War II battleship turned museum at the USS Alabama (Alabama). Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta,Georgia - Istock/Gau Souza Animal lovers across the states have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best zoos and aquariums. From Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Nebraska) and its one-of-a-kind exhibits to the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium (Georgia), one of the largest in the world, to the west coast’s Oregon Zoo, the United States offers plenty to admire. Research done by Musement, the digital discovery and booking platform for travel activities and experiences around the world. To see the full list of all 50 attractions click here.
Leaf peeping is a great way to explore Fort Collins, Colorado, and the surrounding Northern Colorado area during its most beautiful season: autumn. Fort Collins proximity to the Cache la Poudre River canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park makes it a leaf-peeping magnet, and the perfect basecamp for fall adventures to Lory State Park, the Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park and more. While the peak season for fall foliage typically runs from the last week in September to the second week of October, experts anticipate the leaves will peak slightly early this year, perhaps closer to mid-September. Here are five affordable fall adventures in Fort Collins: 1 - Take a Hike Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky While there are myriad hikes in and around Fort Collins, one stands out as perfect for a sunny fall day paired with a picnic lunch. Greyrock Trail is a 7.1-mile moderate-to-strenuous loop hike that is gorgeous in the fall (and a bit quieter), with sweeping views of Greyrock Mountain and the Poudre Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Comanche Peak Wilderness Area. 2 - Drop a line Horsetooth Reservoir Between the Cache La Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins offers paradise found for fishermen and fisherwomen. The Poudre is perfect for fly-fishing, though there are a few spots where you can bait fish. At Horsetooth, try your hand catching smallmouth bass or walleye from the shore or a boat. Fort Collins also has 15 Natural Areas that allow fishing, including Riverbend Ponds, a popular fishing spot with easy access from the trailheads. It’s one of two Natural Areas where gizzard shad (part of the herring family of fish) are found. 3 - Road trip to Red Feather Lakes Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Red Feather Lakes, located an hour drive northwest of Fort Collins, is a secluded, hidden gem that’s less populated than many Colorado outdoor destinations. Surrounded by 612,000 acres of Roosevelt National Forest, the Red Feathers Lakes area is a year-round outdoor playground, but fall is stunning. Hike or fish in one of the eight lakes in the area, four of which are open for public fishing. You may also fish in the nearby Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River and the area’s best spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Nearby Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch offers lodging, fishing, horseback riding and more. 4 - Attend a festival Pumpkins on Parade - Courtesy of Caramie Petrowsky Festival season doesn’t slow down come fall in the Fort; here are three to check out. Tour de Corgi (Oct. 7) brings a sea of cute corgis in costume to one of the most quirky festivals in town. Pumpkins on Parade (Oct. Date TBD) is a fun-for-all-ages celebration at The Gardens on Spring Creek complete with hundreds of locally grown pumpkins and fun and festive activities for the whole family (tickets are $10 for adults/children 12+; $5 for children 5-11 and free for under age 4). Korean Festival (Oct. 17) Dance, music, Tae-kwon-do performances, and games to celebrate Korean culture. 5 - Celebrate the harvest There is no shortage of local pumpkin patches and farms offering all sorts of fall fun: The Bartel’s Farm – Stop in for a huge selection of pumpkins, corn mazes, and hayrides. The Farm at Lee Martinez Park – Visit the farm animals and take a hayride. There’s also a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect future jack-o-lantern. Northern Colorado Corn Maze – Jack Lantern’s Corn Maze is a Colorado favorite. Something from the Farm – This family-owned farm features an organic pumpkin patch, hay bale maze, hayrides, a pumpkin catapult, and more. Fritzler Farm Park – Located in nearby LaSalle, attractions at the farm include a corn maze, pumpkin patch, pedal go-carts, barrel train, pumpkin cannons, slide mountain, and more. Spooky’s Pumpkin Patch — Choose from a variety of pumpkins, gourds, carving kits, and even straw bales and corn stalks for your fall decorating needs at this patch, located on South College Avenue. Colorado native Caramie Petrowsky is a former daily newspaper arts and entertainment editor who loves exploring new places with her husband and their two children. As a CSU alum, Fort Collins holds an especially dear place in her heart.
Solo travel has been on the rise this past decade. According to research by Kayak, searches for single-traveler flights are 36% higher for 2023 travel than for 2022 travel. Escape from the distractions of everyday life and opt for a transformative, renewing experience in the wilderness. The three great options below all offer plenty of seclusion, adventure, and incredible encounters with wildlife and nature. Embark on a Wilderness Cruise in Alaska Embark on a journey of discovery in Alaska, Vancouver Island, or Desolation Sound while reveling in the freedom of solo exploration. Small group adventures are an alluring option for solo travelers seeking to explore in the company of likeminded people, but expedition cruises often require a single supplement to pay for the high level of experience they offer. Boutique wilderness cruise company Maple Leaf Adventures has pioneered safari-like trips in Alaska and British Columbia since 1986, with small group exploration at its core. Ships carry either 8, 12 or 24 guests and when ashore, guests are usually in groups of about 12 people. Some of their upcoming expeditions this season include the Alaska Supervoyage (August 6-17 aboard Swell), Alaska Supervoyage with Canadian Geographic (July 26-Aug 6, aboard Swell), Whales & Wild Isles (July 23-31 and August 3-11, aboard Cascadia), and Desolation Sound & Fjords of BC (October 17-24, aboard Cascadia). The nature of this style of travel eliminates the barriers a solo traveler may face on larger ships; compared to bigger boats, guests do not feel overwhelmed by hordes of strangers . Guiding crew are essentially “built-in” solo travelers to share the journey with guests—their expertise and warmth are as much a part of the trip as the place, wildlife and ship. Hike to a Backcountry Hut in Colorado The sunlight breaks through clouds in Colorado's San Juan Mountains by Kody Goodson - Unsplash In the San Juan Mountains just outside of Silverton, Colorado, travelers can hike or snowshoe to a unique lodging experience. The OPUS Hut is a full-service, European-style backcountry lodge with solar-powered lighting, indoor composting toilets, in-floor solar-thermal heating, and healthy, natural food served up daily. In the summer months, one can drive to within just a quarter mile of the hut, but in the winter the road closes and it’s a 3.5 mile hike. This, cozy lodge features two wood stoves, a large dining area with seating for 20, and a small reclining area by the fire. While the hut is certainly off the beaten path, it still has plenty of little luxuries like outlets for charging devices, filtered drinking water, hot and cold tap water, as well as beer, wine and a limited selection of spirits are available from their bar. Meals are prepared with quality natural, organic and when possible, locally grown products. This summer, the hut is also trialing a new full bedding service by providing sheets, pillows, pillowcases and a duvet—which means visitors don't need to bring a sleeping bag liner or any other bedding in their packs. However, this is trial run, and may not continue in the future; be sure to double-check before your booking, or else you might be sleeping a little less comfortably. Further north in the high peaks of Leadville, those seeking a unique off-grid overnight experience can sleep sustainably at the Weston Pass Hut, set at 11,950 feet. While this hut is technically accessible by vehicle, get the full experience by hiking, skiing, or biking to this remote escape. Hikes from this high perch look out to the tops of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges, including Colorado’s two highest peaks, showcasing Mother Earth’s splendor. The hut itself complements the surrounding natural beauty, as it was built with locally harvested and milled beams and an earth-covered, naturally insulated tundra roof. Stargaze in the Adirondacks The Milk Way galaxy rises over the Adirondacks by Kurt Von - Unsplash The Adirondacks, located within a day’s drive for 25% of the entire North American population, is home to hundreds of New York state-owned campgrounds where visitors can pitch a tent, park an RV, swim in one of the cool lakes, fish along the shore, and explore the area’s mountains, trails, and attractions. At night, campers can enjoy the region’s extreme darkness to easily admire the nighttime sky - offering billions of stars under which to sleep. The Hamilton County region, in particular, is known for its wilderness and the “big” experiences that it offers to visitors. The area’s wide-open nighttime sky provides a 180-degree view of the Milky Way, billions of stars, planets and sometimes satellites, all twinkling against an ink-black background. In fact, the Adirondack sky is a prime Eastern stargazing zone, with very little light pollution, relatively low humidity, and elevation—all important factors for viewing the stars. Hamilton County’s billion-star camping options include riverfront and lakefront sites, perfect for daytime swimming, fishing and lounging. Many offer restroom facilities, showers and easy access to local attractions. Who needs a 5-star resort when you can have a beautiful, remote, adventure-filled, billion-star hotel? This summer, last-minute camping under the stars is possible, as campsites are still available; many for less than $20 per night. It has also recently been announced by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation that two campgrounds in the region (Moffit Beach and Lewey Lake campgrounds) have extended their seasons until October 9th.