Best Places to Go Horseback Riding

From the coast of Hawaii to the mountains of Chile, explore our list of best places to go horseback riding.

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Pacific Northwest Trail

Pacific Northwest Trail

The Pacific Northwest Trail spans 1,200 miles -- including 3 national parks and 7 national forests. To tackle this route, which runs through Montana, Idaho and Washington, you'll have to keep a pace of 20 miles per day. That'll get you to the trail's end in about 60 days.

Best times to hike:Year-round at lower elevations, summer and fall at higher elevations.
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Andy Porter, flickr   

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

The famed Appalachian Trail spans more than 2,180 miles. A thru-hike usually takes between 5 and 7 months, cutting through 14 states between Georgia and Maine. Along the way, enjoy views of pink rhododendrons along the trail’s Tennessee-North Carolina state line and in southwest Virginia, from late spring to early summer.

Best times to hike: Spring to fall.
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John Muir Trail

John Muir Trail

Naturalist John Muir loved this area of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Today, the trail named in his honor runs 211 miles, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney (the highest point on America’s mainland). Most hikers start their trek at Yosemite’s Happy Isles or Tuolumne Meadows.

Best times to hike: Generally July to September.
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Steve Dunleavy, flickr  

Hayduke Trail

Hayduke Trail

Uber-hiker Andrew Skurka calls Hayduke Trail “one of the finest ways to discover the Colorado Plateau … and get away from it all.” No wonder. The 800-mile trail running through Utah and Arizona covers the area’s big national parks: Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches.

Best times to hike: Spring and fall.
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Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

The massive Pacific Crest Trail covers more than 2,600 miles, from California, Oregon and Washington to British Columbia. The trail is among the “Big 3”: If you hike the Pacific Trail, as well as the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail, you’ll get the American Long Distance Hiking Association’s Triple Crown Award.

Best times to hike: Late April to late September.
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Marshmallow, flickr  

Sierra High Route

Sierra High Route

The Sierra High Route is one of pro hiker Andrew Skurka’s favorite trails. The 195-mile trail in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains offers amazing views of meadowlands, lake basins and mountain peaks. Keep a pace of roughly 20 miles per day, and you’ll complete the trail in a little over a week. Also, keep in mind logistical considerations.

Best time to hike: Depends on skill level.
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Arizona Trail

Arizona Trail

The 800-mile Arizona Trail runs north and south through the state, and showcases some of the region's most unspoiled terrain: ridges, mountains and wilderness areas that have remained untouched since Arizona became a territory in 1863. That remoteness also means hikers must stay current on Arizona Trail conditions.

Best times to hike: Year-round at lower elevations, summer and fall at higher elevations.
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Rick Hall, flickr  

Long Trail

Long Trail

Known simply as the Long Trail, this route runs 273 miles through Vermont -- the whole length of the state. The trail also happens to be America’s first long-distance hiking trail. Construction began in 1912 and continued for nearly 20 years. Today, hikers can enjoy short day hikes and extended treks (including to Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain).

Best times to hike: Late spring through late fall.
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dvs, flickr  

Continental Divide Trail

Continental Divide Trail

At 3,100 miles, the Continental Divide Trail is not for the faint of heart: Only about 25 people a year attempt to hike the entire trail, which runs between Mexico and Canada. Some areas can only be traveled by bushwacking, aka make-your-own-trails, and roadwalking.

Best times to hike: April to October.
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Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Everyone loves Superior: Hiker Andrew Skurka ranks the trail among his 10 favorite US hikes, Readers Digest ranks it among its top 5. The 275-mile footpath showcases scenic views -- boreal forests, rushing waterfalls and the 30-mile-long Sawtooth Mountains are among the attractions -- as well as 81 campsites for a little R&R.

Best times to hike: Late spring to early fall.
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Florida Trail

Florida Trail

Alligators are among the wild critters that hikers can encounter along the Florida Trail. The 1,400-mile trail starts at Big Cypress National Preserve (about 45 miles west of Miami) and ends in the Pensacola, FL, area. And if you see a gator along the way? Give it space, circling around its tail end so it doesn’t feel threatened.

Best times to hike: Year-round.
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B A Bowen Photography, flickr  

Colorado Trail

Colorado Trail

Hikers, horse riders and bicyclists, the Colorado Trail is calling your name. The 486-mile trail runs from the Denver area to Durango, CO, with some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery in between: wildlife (marmots, deer, sheep and more), as well as wildflowers, forests, lakes and streams ideal for fishing. A thru-hike generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete -- a feat accomplished by roughly 150 people per year.

Best times to hike: Primarily July and August.
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Kimon Berlin, flickr  

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

Gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal on the planet -- and the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument are one of their pit stops. The peak time to see these massive 44-foot-long, 33-ton creatures is mid-January; they’re also visible from mid- to late December through March. 960 1280

Randy McEoin, flickr  

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara, California

See the migration of the gray whales, as well as spot other marine life -- in fact, more than 27 types of whales and dolphins inhabit these waters at various times of year. The best times to go are February to early April for California grey whales; May to September for blue whales (the largest known animals to have ever existed), minke, humpback and, occasionally, right whales and orcas. 960 1280

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Monterey Bay, California

Monterey Bay, California

Enjoy year-round whale-watching in Monterey Bay. Running alongside California’s central coast, the bay sees humpback and blue whales from April to December, and gray whales from December to April. The coast also attracts killer whales, who hunt gray whales during their migration north. 960 1280

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Kodiak Island, Alaska

Kodiak Island, Alaska

In addition to these cute sea otters, Alaska’s Kodiak Island sees gray whales, in April. In June, minke, sei, fin and humpback whales also visit these waters -- with fins and humpbacks a common sight from June to November. Another great time to visit is April: That’s when the annual Whale Fest Kodiak, a 10-day-long festival, celebrates the return of Eastern Pacific gray whales to Alaskan waters. 960 1280

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San Juan Islands, Washington

San Juan Islands, Washington

Orcas love the San Juan Islands, off Washington State. Three pods, known as the “Southern Residents,” usually make their appearance from mid-April to early October. Gray, minke and humpback whales also visit these waters, as do seals, porpoises, sea lions and otters. 960 1280

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Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

See killer whales, as well as humpback and Pacific grey whales, on a whale-watching tour of Vancouver Island. An estimated 85 orcas live in the waters around southern Vancouver and the southern Gulf Islands. Meanwhile, some 20,000 Pacific grey whales make their annual migration route along Vancouver Island’s west coast. Whale-watching season runs from March to November. 960 1280

Tourism Victoria/Frank Leung  

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

December through March is a prime time to see humpback whales at Virginia Beach. Fin whales -- the second largest animals alive today (behind the blue whale) -- also migrate through the area during the winter. In warmer months, from June to early September, see bottlenose dolphins, which frequently travel through the Chesapeake Bay area. 960 1280

Xavier de Jaureguiberry, flickr   

Long Island, New York

Long Island, New York

July through Labor Day are prime times to go whale-watching off Long Island, NY. Fin, humpback, minke, sperm, North Atlantic right, blue and sei whales are drawn to these waters to feast on schools of herring, sand eels and marine crustaceans. Whale-watching trips often leave from the historic town of Montauk, on the tip of Long Island’s south shore. 960 1280

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Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey

Not to be outdone, New Jersey also sees whale action. Beginning in March, humpback and finback whales, mostly 4- and 5-year-old juveniles, circulate in the Cape May Peninsula, at the southern tip of New Jersey, and feast on the waters’ abundant baitfish. Whale sightings continue through December. 960 1280

Alan Kotok, flickr  

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

See one of the world’s most important whale habitats. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary spans 1,400 square miles of diverse marine ecosystems: Between 4,000 and 10,000 North Pacific humpback whales flock here each winter to bear and nurse their calves. 960 1280

Ryan Ozawa, flickr   

Coastal Waters off Florida

Coastal Waters off Florida

Sure, California and New England corner the market on whale-watching, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck in the Sunshine State. Your best bet is to take a dolphin cruise; you may just spot a North Atlantic right whale if you go between November and April. 960 1280

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission   

Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine

Enjoy a summer whale-watching expedition in Bar Harbor, ME. Beginning in mid-April, hungry finback, minke and right whales travel to the area’s cool waters -- just 20 miles off the Maine coast -- to feast on sand eels, plankton, copepods and fish. Come October, the whales head south for warmer waters. 960 1280

Maine Office of Tourism   

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Come spring, head to Provincetown, MA, where humpback, fin, minke and sei whales, as well as the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, frequent the waters off this coastal town through October. Another great spot for whale-watching is Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just 5 miles north of Provincetown. 960 1280

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10: Skydiving

10: Skydiving

We don't need to tell you what an amazingly scary experience skydiving is; if you're looking to inject your vacation with pure adrenaline, this is the extreme. The weather is Thailand is good 365 days a year, so that means there is jumping every single day. Strap yourself to a jumpmaster, and experience the thrill of a lifetime. 960 1280

Max Dereta / Getty Images  

9: Zip Lining

9: Zip Lining

From the sea to the sky, our next adventure takes you through the canopies of the Chiang Mai rainforests. You'll ride in your single-person swing and cruise a cable suspended through the 1500-year old Thai rainforest. Upgrade from a single swing to the complete adventure package offered by Flight of the Gibbon, and you can rock climb, mountain bike and stay in authentic Thai village home stays. 960 1280

Matthew Micah Wright / Getty Images  

8: Sea Kayaking

8: Sea Kayaking

Since you're having so much fun enjoying Thailand's scenery and wildlife, why not do a little to preserve it? And, of course, still have fun. Sea Canoe is an eco-friendly company that has operated in Southern Thailand for over 18 years. With offices in Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samuir, Sea Canoe can offer adventures in Khao Sok, Trang and Tarutao. Their staff is knowledgeable, and they offer a multitude of locations for kayaking adventures, ranging from a few hours to over six days. 960 1280

kapulya / Getty Images  

7: Snorkeling

7: Snorkeling

Dive into the marine life just off the coast of Thailand. Similan Diving Safaris offers a full range of diving programs that will teach you how to explore reefs or get lost in the blue during an open-water dive. Located in Phang-Nga, you'll peacefully roam the underwater beauty of Similan and Surin Marine National Islands. 960 1280

ygrek / Getty Images  

6: Mountain Biking

6: Mountain Biking

Give the elephants a break and hit the Thai wilderness on two wheels. Mountain biking is supremely popular in this country and there are many different tours from which to choose. M.T. Hill Tours offers rides lasting from a few hours to a full day, but one of their more interesting tours takes place at night. Explore the bustling Bangkok City on a three-hour bike tour; the ride ends relatively early, so you can hit the town once you've turned in your bike. Just promise us you'll change out of your bike shorts. 960 1280

Patrick Foto / Getty Images  

5: Whitewater Rafting

5: Whitewater Rafting

Relatively new to the Thai tourist market, whitewater rafting is quickly being added to many adventure trek itineraries. Rush the rapids in Southern Thailand's Phang Na province, and you're guaranteed an exhilarating ride. Book with Phuket Tours, and you'll score a visit to the Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary and an elephant ride through the jungle. 960 1280

surabky / Getty Images  

4: Waterfall Abseiling

4: Waterfall Abseiling

Number 7 is perfect for those who find regular rock climbing or repelling to be a bit mundane. Throw in the force of a waterfall, and now you're talking adventure. Many hotels and travel guides have programs that allow you to abseil, or repel, down Thailand's beautiful and powerful waterfalls. You'll feel your heart in your chest as you lean over the edge of a 35-foot waterfall and the ground slowly slips beneath your feet. Find out more about waterfall abseiling at Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai. 960 1280

JoyfulThailand / Getty Images  

3: Elephant Riding

3: Elephant Riding

Taking an elephant ride through local Thai villages and surrounding forests is an experience no visitor to Thailand should miss. The type and length of the ride can be catered specifically to you: a half-hour ride through a local village or a five-day trek through the jungles of Northern Thailand. Those with the endurance and the daring can even incorporate mountain biking and rafting into the trek. 960 1280

Frank Rothe / Getty Images  

2: Jungle Trekking

2: Jungle Trekking

Get intimate with the wilds of Thailand by hitting the unmarked trails. We recommend at least a three-day trek to see mountain ridges, rainforests and experience camping in the beautiful Thai wilderness. The folks at Active Thailand will provide an informed English-speaking guide who will pick you up at your Chiang Mai City hotel and arrange all your food and camping needs. You just need to bring dry socks, SPF and a sense of adventure. 960 1280

Kimberley Coole / Getty Images  

1: Caving

1: Caving

Get to the heart of Thailand by exploring ancient caves and tremendous caverns like those in the Pang Mapha District of the Mae Hong Son Province. Here you can venture underground and discover wildlife, history and geology. Expert guides, like those at Cave Lodge, will escort you through geologic labyrinths, vertical caves and collapsed caves. Combine your journey with forest hikes or rafting to see even more of the Thai landscape. 960 1280

Korawee Ratchapakdee / Getty Images  

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