Never has land met sea in a more dramatic fashion than at Acadia National Park -- the result of a glacial ice sheet that tore through the area some 20,000 years ago. The picturesque valleys, majestic mountains and tranquil lakes have captivated individuals for centuries. Located on 49,600 acres, the park is a great place for visitors to bike the historic carriage road system, built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.; eat local favorites like popovers and lobster; and escape it all by camping on some of the park’s remote islands.
Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast of Los Angeles, is home to some of the best kayaking on the West Coast. Rich with marine life and boasting the much-photographed Arch Rock, Anacapa is the perfect day trip or overnighter for the city dweller looking to get into some rough water. It’s a cliff island, so beware of winds, currents and fog.
Colorado has Aspen, one of the most famous skiing destinations on the planet. It also has Sand Dunes National Park, one of the only sandboarding and sandsledding destinations on the planet. Slalom down the granular slopes like some diabolical combination of Jean-Claude Killy and Lawrence of Arabia. Hit the dunes early in the morning or late in the evening, lest you roast in the 150° midday heat. And don’t forget the lip balm.
Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park boasts rock formations that will set a climber’s mouth to watering. The 415-square-mile park is a full-service climbing destination, featuring opportunities for scaling rock, wall, ice and snow. Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak are favorites of local and international climbers. Whether you are an experienced sport climber or a beginning boulderer, be safe and leave no trace of your visit.
Extreme Adventures in our National Parks 10 Photos