Between overcrowded hiking trails and neverending lift lines, getting outdoors these days doesn’t always feel like a getaway.
National parks alone are seeing over 330 million visitors per year, making that whole “get off the beaten path” thing more of a challenge than ever.
Our solution? Up your adventure skills. If you’re looking to go skinning in the backcountry, ride that scrambler through the wide-open desert or venture off in search of remote waves, these experiences will have you ready to get off the grid for real.
And you’ll probably be first in line.
For those who want to take to the hills, Arc’teryx runs a series of multi-day courses throughout the year that are more like full-blown festivals. They cover a variety of disciplines in unique destinations with their Climbing Academy in Squamish, Alpine Academy in Chamonix and Backcountry Academy in Jackson Hole. Each one offers beginner to advanced clinics that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere, like Intro to Highlining or Advanced Splitboarding (with pro rider Joey Vosburgh). Evenings are filled with lectures from professional athletes, film screenings and live music.
Triumph Motorcycles Adventure Riding Experience
Located in the rolling Brecon Beacons of South Wales, you’ll learn how to take your iron steed across multi-terrain environments, including woodlands, hills, rocks and gravel. As one would expect, you get to ride world-class machines (choose from a Triumph Tiger or Bonneville Street Scrambler) while receiving expert guidance focused on everything from basic handling to maneuvering over extreme obstacles.
Nantahala Outdoor Center Paddling School
Hands down the best place to learn how to navigate rapids, Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC will turn you into a river rat in no time. Whitewater kayaking courses go up to Class III+ rapids on the Nantahala River, but you’ll also find canoeing, rafting and wilderness survival classes at their 500-acre campus, the epicenter of adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Based in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula (the gold standard for surf safaris), this all-inclusive resort boasts empty beaches, consistent breaks and coaching for all levels. In between surf sessions, chill out with ocean views and jungle surroundings while enjoying the farm-to-table cuisine and deluxe accommodations.
Keystone Mountain Bike Academy
Home to one of the biggest bike parks in the country, Keystone’s clinics and private lessons are the perfect entry point to the world of downhill riding. The Colorado-based school has terrain for all abilities, with technical rock gardens, drops and high-speed features to push your limits to the next level.
Outlaw Jeep Adventures
Usually, anything that involves the word “tour” is a turnoff, but when it entails getting behind the wheel of a custom-built Jeep and tearing it up through Moab’s backcountry, well, we’re game. The U-Drive Tours with Outlaw Jeep Adventures are a white-knuckle experience as you learn off-roading on the fly, following their guides through the steep climbs and descents of Hell’s Revenge, one of Utah’s most famous trails.
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Boulder Outdoor Survival School
Utah’s Survival School has been teaching people how to not die in the wilderness for over 50 years, with courses in skills such as shelter construction, friction fire making and navigation. In their signature Field Course, you’ll learn to survive in the wild with just a poncho, blanket and knife for 7-28 days. No previous outdoor skills are required, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
CMH Heli Powder Intro
As the world’s first and largest heli-skiing operation, CMH boasts access to over 3 million acres of untouched terrain in British Columbia. Their Powder Intro program is the gateway for first-time heli-skiers looking to take their skills into the backcountry. You’ll be hard pressed to find any crowds, as groups max out at 10 guests and two guides, meaning you’re pretty much guaranteed the best skiing of your life. Oh, and their lodges aren’t too bad either, with cozy bars, rooftop hot tubs and full spas, so you can do some serious après after getting your powder fix.
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Sage Lodge Ultimate Fly Fishing Escape
For aspiring anglers, Sage Lodge offers a four-day fly fishing package in Montana’s Paradise Valley, where you can experience the Wild West’s version of luxury. Located right on the Yellowstone River, it’s a legitimate Mecca for fishermen. You’ll find a casting pond stocked with rainbow trout right outside the lodge, where you can hone your skills before heading out with the guides. With access to spring-fed creeks, as well as private lakes and ponds, there’s opportunity to learn about several different types of flies, techniques and styles.
Main image: CMH