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For the ninth consecutive year, rock climbers of all levels will gather for clinics, climbing and, of course, the clinking of pint glasses at the Red Rock Rendezvous, a three-day event that’s gearing up to be the country’s largest climbing festival of 2012.
Registration for the festival, which takes place from March 30-April 1 at Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, one of the country’s premier climbing destinations, is limited to the first 1,000 registrants. About 400 spots are still available, according to event coordinator Phil Bridgers.
On tap for the weekend: all types of clinics for newbies and skilled climbers, from bouldering to rescue and even trail running; rubbing elbows with some of the top names in climbing (including Lisa Rands and Peter Croft); and plenty of Belgian beer each night. Read more
If summiting Half Dome is on your adventure travel bucket list, but you’ve been thwarted by the permit system enacted in 2010 – and, more specifically, the legions of scalpers that hijacked the works last season – there’s hope for the year ahead.
A new lottery system was recently announced to obtain permits for hiking the iconic granite formation in Yosemite National Park. Park officials hope the lottery system will curb the frustrating problem of people grabbing large numbers of Half Dome permits and then jacking up the minimal price by fourfold or more.
Climbing enthusiasts have yet another reason to consider the South for their next adventure: a 140-foot climbing wall in Historic Banning Mills Adventure Park (about 45 minutes west of Atlanta) that was recently certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s tallest freestanding climbing wall.
The 14-story structure, which received its Guinness certification on December 10, is the newest addition to the nonprofit adventure park. The professionally designed wall, which required about six months of construction, offers challenging routes (all belayed, no free climbing) for climbers of all skill levels, with nine lanes, including two 95-foot rappel walls, four overhangs, a traversing overhang, and a chimney. Read more
Last year, a record number of tourists – 4,047,880 to be exact – visited Yosemite National Park in California. But as they come and go, there’s a lucky community who call this 747,956-acre outdoor paradise home. In the high season, approximately 3,000 employees of the National Park Service and Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts (or DNC), which is the contracted concessionaire for the park, live on park grounds in various housing complexes. Among them is Lisa Cesaro, public relations manager for DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite. Cesaro, a transplant from Southern California who has lived in Yosemite Valley for a little more than a year, shares what it’s like to be a resident of a place so cherished by outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, as well as some top travel tips for an optimized visit. Read more
The sport of climbing has gained remarkable momentum as of late, with young stars like Chris Sharma and Alex Honnold sparking unprecedented participation, especially among wide-eyed newbies. If you’re among them (I sure am, after being mesmerized watching climbers scale Yosemite’s world-renowned El Capitan), then why not take your next trip to new heights by visiting one of these great climbing towns?
The following destinations are great picks for climbing enthusiasts of all levels, whether you’re an aspiring novice or expert rock hound.
This fall, travel to beautiful Zion National Park in Southern Utah, a natural sanctuary with over 146,000 acres of cliffs, canyons and diverse plant and animal life. Stay at the historic Zion Lodge during the month of November for $140 per night, plus breakfast for two; this offer saves you 25% off the regular autumn rates. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Zion Lodge is located directly inside the park and boasts 75 hotel rooms and 6 deluxe suites, plus 40 private cabins within walking distance of the Lodge. The 4-star Red Rock Grill offers outstanding American fare and spectacular views of the park, and there is also on-site shopping and a café. Zion National Park is renowned for its sightseeing and hiking, and guests particularly enjoy the colorful fall foliage and crisp temperatures during November. Other popular activities include rock-climbing, cycling and horseback riding. Don’t delay, because this amazing sale will sell out fast!
THE VALUE: Save 25% on fall rates plus receive free daily breakfast for two.
THE CATCH: These rates do not apply from November 24-26, and prices are slightly higher on weekends.
THE DETAILS: The “Fall into Great Prices” rates can be booked online with Zion Lodge using the promotional code FALL, or by calling 888-297-2757. Sale subject to availability at time of booking.
Attention, hikers, mountain bikers, and nature lovers: Mark your calendars for September 24, National Public Lands Day. You’ll be joining more than 170,000 volunteers doing upkeep and improvements at more than 2,000 sites across the country – think of it as physical goodwill for all those trails you’ve slogged up in your hiking boots or bombed down on your mountain bike.
It’s as simple as locating a volunteer project in your area and signing up. If you want to make a mini volunteer-vacation out of it, stay the night (or the whole weekend) in a campground or at an on-site lodge (though expect popular spots like Yosemite National Park to fill up early). For your time, you’ll get a voucher to return for free.
If you have yet to experience Costa Rica, the Central American country that’s one of the most world’s most enviable outdoor adventure playgrounds, here’s a can’t-miss deal to consider: a four-day, three-night package that includes hotel, transport within the country, most meals, and adrenaline-packed activities such as canyoneering, zip lining, rafting and horseback riding – all for just $599 (based on double occupancy).
That stellar price represents a savings of 33 percent offered by the outfitter, Tropical Adventures, along with its re-launch. The nonprofit organization, which was founded by Scott Pralinsky, an American adventure travel enthusiast who’s called Costa Rica his home since 2004, also has received plenty of praise for its authentic, volunteer-based programs, including a nod from National Geographic Adventure magazine as a Top 100 Volunteer Vacation in 2009.
Every spring, hundreds of hikers tackle the Appalachian Trail, which stretches 2,175 miles from Georgia to Maine. Those who make it the entire length are called thru-hikers, and they usually complete their expedition in five to seven months.
Not Asheville-based hiker, ultra-marathoner, and author Jennifer Pharr Davis, who, starting in Maine next week, will attempt to break her own women’s record for an assisted thru-hike on the AT, which currently stands at 57 days, 8 hours and 35 minutes. (Just five men have finished faster.)
Supported by her husband, Brew, and several friends, Pharr Davis expects to set off from Maine next week, depending on the weather forecast, and average 46 miles a day before wrapping up in Springer Mountain, GA, sometime in early August.
In honor of Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month in June, I spoke to 28-year-old Pharr Davis – who, after logging close to 9,000 miles hiking and backpacking on six continents, could be the poster girl for both – about her upcoming adventure. (You can follow her journey at www.blueridgehikingco.com.)
Callaway Gardens, a resort about 60 miles south of Atlanta, markets itself as a place where families can enjoy quality time together while getting back to nature. That’s all good, but its wholesome reputation had me slightly skeptical that the property’s new TreeTop Adventure, a combination ropes course and zip line nestled high in the trees that opened in mid-May, would be, well, bland enough for Mom, Dad, Junior, and maybe even Grandma.
So, just a few minutes into the experience, my inner adventure snob is more than impressed. Guides call these 24 aerial challenges, some of which are about 30 feet high, “games” – but then, so would Jason Bourne. For mere mortals, they’re no joke: suspended logs, bridges, and even a series of more than a dozen narrow swings to navigate, one by one, the latter of which was so tricky for me I prayed mightily for the security of my safety clips and harness.
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