Seize the Summer! 10 Incredible Trips Our Editors Are Taking. from Outside tzemke

We are ready for summer. We’ve got our lightweight tents and Tevas out, spend our free time examining trail maps, and have been outdoors soaking up the longer days in preparation for all sorts of adventures. Where are we going this summer? Some of us have plans to escape to tropical Caribbean ports and the high peaks of South America, while others are simply road-tripping one county or one state over for a long weekend escape.

Haven’t nailed down the specifics of your summer vacation yet? It doesn’t have to be spendy, and you can go with friends, family, or solo. Just pick a place that will offer a sense of wonder, a disconnect from your routine, preferably in nature, which has been shown to improve everything from our psyches to our relationships and even heal heartbreak. Here are the trips we’ve booked.

Northern New Mexico

Black Rock Hot Springs, located 13 miles northwest of Taos, New Mexico, on the west side of the Rio Grande, is a peaceful way to spend a summer morning. (Photo: Courtesy Tasha Zemke)

When the heat hits the country with full force in July, my husband and I will head from our home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, up north to cooler climes near Taos. We’re eager to stay at Hotel Luna Mystica, which isn’t a hotel at all but a grouping of vintage Airstreams all decorated differently. We’ve rented Castor, built in 1972, our best friends have rented the adjacent Pollux, from 1967, and we’ll share a deck. Each trailer has a queen bed, a full kitchen, a bathroom, and views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The hiking around Taos is incredible, too, with trails in nearly every direction.

From Luna Mystica, you can walk to the Taos Mesa Brewery’s mothership location, which has a stage and live music many summer nights. Early in the mornings we’ll drive the quick 13 miles to the Black Rock Hot Springs on the Rio Grande; my husband will fly-fish from the wide banks while I soak and enjoy the July traffic through the canyon: dragonflies, swallows, kayakers, hawks, and bright-yellow butterflies.

One day we want to tour the nearby Earthships, self-sufficient off-grid homes that look like futuristic dwellings. I’m fascinated by their modern sustainability efforts but also love their incorporation of beautiful, unique design elements—walls made of used tires and earth or accents of recycled glass bottles that glimmer colorfully in the sun. —Tasha Zemke, Outside managing editor

Ten Sleep Canyon, Wyoming

At some point over the winter, I decided I sucked at climbing. As I dragged my feet out of the gym, devoid of stoke and prepared to suck again the next day, I had no idea how to cure my melodramatic self-diagnosis. But that changed two months ago when I started climbing with the ShayrdAir, a mentor program in the Denver area led by big-wall athlete Jordan Cannon. A dozen of my peers and I have attended clinics, trainings, lectures, and meet-ups to define and achieve our climbing goals, and it all culminates in a final trip in June to Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

Why Ten Sleep? This tiny cowboy town in the north-central reaches of the state happens to be the base camp of a massive limestone canyon 15 miles away with more than a thousand sport routes for climbers of every skill level. One of last year’s mentees called it “Shelf Road on steroids”—a reference to a popular Front Range climbing mecca—and noted how the population of the local campground, when filled with climbers, seems bigger than the actual town itself. —Holly Humphries, National Park Trips digital content producer

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia, one of the Caribbean’s Windward Islands, has gorgeous blue waters, thriving coral reefs, and the wow factor of the Pitons—which, though tall, are not the nation’s tallest peaks. (Photo: Paul Baggaley/Getty)

My fiancé and I are taking our honeymoon this summer on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, best known for two mountains called the Pitons—Gros Piton and Petit Piton. While we’re eager to lounge on the white-sand beaches, snorkel, eat jerk chicken and breadfruit, and enjoy a mud bath at Sulphur Springs, in the dormant Soufrière volcano, we’re most looking forward to guided hikes. I’m especially excited to tackle the Gros Piton Trail (see Gaia GPS map below), which is three miles round-trip, with a little more than 1,800 feet of elevation gain.

We’ve been told this is challenging, but the view from the top of the island and the sea is said to be spectacular. Plus, I plan to set my alarm for an early-morning run just as the sun rises over the sea. —Mallory Arnold, Run associate editor

Machu Picchu, Peru

Yes, llamas do make the trek to Machu Picchu to haul gear. There are also about two dozen llamas that wander the historic Inca site. (Photo: Westend61/Getty)

I’m an editor at Backpacker, and the biggest hiking goal of my life has always been Machu Picchu. I first learned about the ruins in Peru in my middle school history class, and the combination of hiking and Indigenous history intrigued me. A trip to South America seemed like a long shot, but I kept dreaming. Flash forward to the end of May: my college friends and I are going international on our annual reunion trekking trip. We’ll fly into Cuzco and spend two days acclimatizing to the altitude—a little more than 11,000 feet—while touring the city before hitting the Inca Trail with Llama Path, a sustainable-tourism company.

For four days we’ll hike between 7,218 and 13,780 feet before ending at the famous Inca site. With porters carrying our belongings and chefs cooking our meals, this is going to be a lot more glamorous than my usual excursions to the backcountry. I can’t wait. But there’s a more personal reason why this trip is particularly meaningful to me: I recently learned that a suspicious mole was actually stage-one melanoma and was sidelined for weeks in between procedures. I can’t imagine a better place to celebrate being cancer-free. — Emma Veidt, Backpacker associate editor

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Mount Alice is a 13,305-foot peak accessed via Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park. Anyone exploring the park’s backcountry should come prepared with navigation knowledge as well as proper clothing. This photo was taken in September. (Photo: Courtesy James Dziezynski)

My theme for the summer is: Stay local, but get far, far away. From our home in Boulder, Colorado, my wife and I can drive to Rocky Mountain National Park in less than two hours, and we’ve exploited that proximity to visit many of the park’s peaks, lakes, and trails. Not surprisingly, popular spots are often packed with other nature lovers. So this year we’re taking advantage of a little-used type of wilderness permit to escape the crowds. We’ve reserved long weekends in four of Rocky’s 23 cross-country zones, remote areas without developed trails or campsites, where we’ll likely see more elk and moose than people.

Hidden in some of the park’s most rugged terrain, typically at elevations of 9,000 to 11,000 feet, these zones require expert navigation skills and total self-reliance. Expect rangers at the backcountry desk to quiz you on bear safety, Leave No Trace ethics, orienteering know-how, and prior wilderness experience before issuing your permit, and expect challenging bushwhacking through dense forest. But the reward is worth the effort: the crisp, star-filled nights, high-country wildflowers, and Alaska-worthy solitude will make you feel much farther from civilization than you actually are.

Fair warning: the park provides scant information about the zones, and trip reports are few and far between. Your best bet is to download the Gaia GPS app and subscribe to the Premium edition so you can access detailed topo maps for offline use (there’s typically no cell reception in these zones). Study the terrain closely before you go, and don’t expect to cover more than one mile per hour. —Jonathan Dorn, Outside, Inc., chief entertainment officer


Staubbach Falls, one of 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, drops nearly a thousand feet, making it the third-tallest in Switzerland. (Photo: Jorg Greuel/Getty)

When I realized I’d be spending my 30th birthday in Europe, I only had two nonnegotiables: Alpine hiking and cheese. Switzerland, specifically the Lauterbrunnen Valley, perfectly fit that bill. My husband and I are planning to spend four nights in the central Jungfrau region: one in a village hotel at each end of the valley, and two at the remote Berghotel Obersteinberg, an off-grid hut that’s only accessible by foot through forests and wildflower-filled pastures. (See Gaia GPS map to the hut below.) Reservations can only be made by phone, a charming and slightly confusing experience that secured us a bed in a private room, breakfast, and dinner for two days for about $106 per person per night.

We’ll fill our days ascending the area’s many trails in the shadow of imposing peaks, past some of the valley’s 72 waterfalls, and our evenings eating hearty meals, including Obersteinberg’s homemade cheese. I’m crossing my fingers that raclette is served–my favorite Swiss dish, it consists of melted cheese scraped over potatoes–but if not, I’ll indulge back in town with a celebratory pot of fondue.

We’re traveling to Switzerland by car but will leave it parked in Interlaken to take advantage of the valley’s excellent public transportation (think: trains, trams, and gondolas), as many of the hamlets are otherwise inaccessible. —Mikaela Ruland, National Park Trips editor in chief

Victoria, British Columbia

Transient orcas swim the waters around Vancouver Island and have been spotted in Victoria’s Inner Harbour hunting seals. (Photo: Rand McMeins/Getty)

Last year my husband and I became rooftop-tent converts in Iceland. I’ve pitched and slept in backpacking tents my whole life, and I never thought I’d be into a roof rig until our European rental experience went right. We realized it can take us two minutes, instead of twenty, to set up or break down camp. Plus, memory foam is so much comfier than the ground, and our gear stays a helluva lot more organized inside the vehicle.

So we scored an open-box deal on a Roofnest, and this summer we’re taking it for a spin from New Mexico up through the Pacific Northwest to Canada. We’ll hit campsites near Olympic National Park along the way, before ferrying to Victoria, British Columbia, to hang out at an oceanside apartment along a 70-mile bike path for six weeks. We’re stoked to beat the heat, enjoy the nearness of open water, and work from a place that’s new to us both where we can trail-run through the backcountry.

On our way home, we’ll swing through Banff, in Alberta, then Glacier National Park, in Montana—two bucket-list areas I’ve been dying to check out. The best part? My husband is the king of finding last-minute camping reservations, so I barely had to lift a finger to map it all out. —Patty Hodapp, Outside Online interim digital director

Paris and Annecy, France

Cut through by canals and the Thiou River, Annecy is known as the Venice of France. It’s also a recreational hub, with lakeside biking, paragliding from the surrounding Alps, hiking, boating, and canyoneering in nearby Angon Canyon. (Photo: Stephanie Hager/HagerPhoto/Getty)

I’m heading to Paris for the Summer Games! I’ve been a huge fan of the Olympics for as long as I can remember, and about a year ago I haphazardly put my name on an email list for the ticket lottery. I didn’t put much thought into the idea of actually attending, until I beat out thousands of other eager fans (a process that saw me awake at 3 A.M., repeatedly refreshing my browser) to secure two tickets to men’s rowing in late July.

This will be my third time to the French capital, so after the event concludes and I’ve gotten my fill of Olympic pride, I plan to head southeast to Annecy, a town on the French-Swiss border, for a long weekend in the fresh Alpine air. I’ll brave the frigid temperatures of Lake Annecy, stroll Jardins de ’Europe, and of course do some hiking. Routes to the Citadel of Lake Annecy and the Parmelan Plateau have already caught my eye, but like most things, there’s something to be said for going in with half a plan and figuring out the rest later. —Jamie Aranoff, Ski digital editor

British Columbia’s West Coast Trail

The 48-mile West Coast Trail, which follows the Pacific, is challenging and wild. Permits are required, July and August are considered the best months to tackle it, and most hikers complete it in about a week. (Photo: Kaitlyn McLachlan/500px/Getty)

Ever since writer Scott Yorko pitched me this story on the deadly history of Canada’s West Coast Trail (see Gaia GPS map below) a number of years ago, I’ve wanted to see the area’s storied shipwrecks, beaches, and wildlife for myself. Yorko wrote not only of the dramatic rescue attempts that led to this 48-mile path’s construction along British Columbia’s rugged coast but also of sandy campsites, verdant rainforest walks, tide pools brimming with sea life, and a floating crab shack that caters to hungry hikers.

In June, I’ll finally experience the trail for myself. I’m prepared for slow miles through boot-sucking mud, rickety wooden ladders, cable cars, and changing tides. With any luck, my partner and I will spot sea lions, whales, and otters; bears, cougars, and wolves are also known to wander the shore. The salty air and marine views should be a welcome departure from the alpine hikes I usually gravitate toward in the summer, and I couldn’t be more excited. —Zoe Gates, Backpacker senior editor

The Andes, Chile

Skiing down to Lago del Inca is one of the highlights of a trip to Portillo, Chile. Olympic training camps have been held at the ski resort, but its slopes are also beginner-friendly. (Photo: Jakob Schiller)

In 2013, I spent five months living in southern Chile. But that was before I was a skier. In the intervening decade, I’ve spent 100 days on snow almost every year. I rarely travel away from my home in the eastern Sierra to ski these days, but my ultimate dream trip is a ski trip to Chile and Argentina. This is the year that becomes a reality. In August, when the austral winter is in full swing, my fiancée and I will fly from Los Angeles to Santiago and enjoy the change of scenery while sipping pisco sours, sightseeing at the Pablo Neruda museum, and checking out the mountaintop zoo. The following day we’ll take a bus to Portillo, a resort nestled among the Andes that’s famous for runs that empty out at Laguna del Inca, for three days on the slopes, and after that, we’ll travel southeast to Las Leñas, in Argentina, for a final two days of skiing above wine country. I never much cared for summer anyway. —Jake Stern, Outside Online digital editor

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