Boomers trade beach chairs for sheer rock faces, other challenging natural wonders
You’ve seen the sights, relaxed on cruise ships, and endured a number of cross-country road trips. Now it’s time for some real fun. Adventure travel – which means raising your adrenaline and partaking in activities outside of your comfort zone while on vacation – is one of today’s top travel trends for baby boomers. Check out these action-packed adventures that will leave your neighbors’ museum-heavy itineraries in the dust. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into before you book (Translation: Know the fitness level and chutzpah required).
If a safari is on your bucket-list, Louisville -based Natural Habitat Adventures has you covered. The leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism runs multiple African safari itineraries. Marketing and sustainability manager Emily Deemer recommends their Secluded Botswana Safari, a trip away from the tourist crowds that typically includes elephant, antelope, giraffe and buffalo sightings. “It’s one of our most popular African safaris for baby boomers,” she says. Spotting big game is thrilling, and the luxury bush camps aren’t too bad either.
Trips run from April through November and start at $9,895 per person. Advance reservations are recommended. NatHab.com
Admit it: You’ve always had a little urban cowboy (or cowgirl) in you. Try your hand at Western life at Shawnee’s North Fork Ranch, a real deal dude ranch that combines away-from-it-all activities in not-exactly-roughing-it accommodations (think massages and hot tubs). With horses for every level of rider, multi-sport adventures and world-class, Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing, you’ll never be bored. The perfect spot to make all of your John Wayne dreams come true.
Seven-day weekly packages are $2,250 per person and include lodging, meals and all ranch activities. NorthForkRanch.com
If you’re not afraid of heights – or are ready to get rid of your fear – rock climbing is an exhilarating way to get a bird’s eye view of some phenomenal scenery. Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides leads multi-day rock climbing trips throughout Boulder’s legendary canyons. They’ll teach you to climb if you’re new to the sport or take you on more advanced routes if you’re an experienced climber.
Trips run spring through fall; two- to three-day trips. ColoradoWildernessRidesandGuides.com
The Wildland Trekking Co. leads backpacking trips through Rocky Mountain National Park that span a variety of fitness levels. For boomers, owner Scott Cundy recommends the Thunder Lake trip, filled with waterfalls, lakes, meadows and dramatic alpine peaks. Trekkers camp out in the same spot for three nights and hike into one of the less-visited cirques in RMNP without having to lug around heavy, cumbersome backpacks.
Thunder Lake backpacking trips run from June-September and cost $1,010 per person. Best to book at least 30 days in advance. WildlandTrekking.com
Discover areas of the Grand Canyon National Park that are accessible only via river. Depending on the trip you choose, you can relax down class I and II rapids or have a rip-roaring time bouncing down class III’s and IV’s. Western River Expeditions leads three-, four-, six- or seven-day rafting vacations down one of the prettiest stretches of river in the world.
Trips run from April-September and start at $1,425 per person for three-day trips. Best to book one year in advance. WesternRiver.com
Worried about being shown up by the 20-something Adonis rowing next to you? Travel with similar-aged people on ROW Adventures’ active trips exclusively for the 50+ crowd. Their Missouri River canoe trip combines flat water canoeing, camping, hiking and jaw-dropping White Hills cliffs scenery as you trace the steps of Lewis and Clark. You know you’ll be in good hands with ROW; Travel + Leisure magazine rated them the World’s Best Tour Operator.
Trips run from mid-June through Sept. 1 and start at $1,075 per person for four-day trips. Advance reservations are recommended. ROWAdventures.com
It’s never too late to learn to dive, and you don’t even need an ocean in which to do it. Denver Divers teaches SCUBA courses close to home and then, once you’ve got the hang of it, join them on one of their diving excursions to tropical locales like Cabo, Fiji and Dominica. Don’t think you’ll be the oldest one in the pool, either – some of their instructors never took the plunge until their baby boomer years themselves.
Try SCUBA intro class $30; trips are year-round and start at $1,650 per person. Advance reservations are recommended. DenverDivers.com
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