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Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

For some, escaping the daily grind means getting their adrenaline pumping on a rugged mountainside or 50 feet below the ocean surface. Others search for snowy peaks and alpine lakes simply for a change of scenery. Using a mix of expert advice and traveler opinion, U.S. News has created a list of some of America's most exciting spots for a thrilling walk on the wild side. Be sure to cast your vote below to play a role in determining next year's ranking.

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#1 Grand Canyon

#1 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: The Grand Canyon boasts an array of adrenaline-pumping activities – most notably hiking and whitewater rafting on the Colorado River. To avoid the crowds, check out the hiking routes on the North Rim; chances are you won't see anyone along the Kaibab Trail. Read More »

Grand Canyon at sunset
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#2 Yellowstone

#2 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: When Lewis and Clark first spoke of Yellowstone's natural beauty, no one believed them. But today, those who catch sight of the area's geothermic wonders (like Old Faithful and the Mammoth Hot Springs) can attest to the explorers' description. Read More »

Inspiration Point
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#3 Yosemite

#3 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Yosemite National Park features mountains, meadows, massive sequoia trees and plenty of waterfalls – all just a quick drive from San Francisco. Opportunities to hike, bike and horseback ride draw outdoor enthusiasts from across the country. Read More »

Colors of Yosemite
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#4 Kauai

#4 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Alongside Bora Bora and Rarotonga, Kauai is one of the world's best islands for thrill-seekers. Filled with acres of misty rainforests, plummeting waterfalls and oceanside cliffs, the island's opportunities for adventure are enough to excite even the most jaded visitor. Read More »

Lighthouse at Sunset
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#5 Jackson Hole

#5 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Jackson Hole offers adventure year-round. In winter and early spring, ski resorts boast plenty of powder. In the warmer months, kayaking or hiking in Grand Teton National Park is a must. And in the fall, visit the National Elk Refuge to hear the bugle calls of its residents. Read More »

Jackson Hole Ranch
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#6 Lake Tahoe

#6 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Lake Tahoe's beauty is impossible to ignore. The picturesque peaks offer some of the best skiing in the country, while the crystal clear lake is ideal for swimming and boating. For an even bigger thrill, try your luck at the casinos in nearby Reno. Read More »

Lake Tahoe
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#7 Hawaii - The Big Island

#7 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: The largest of Hawaii's islands boasts plenty of jungle to trek and not one, but five volcanoes (some of which are still active). You can snorkel and kayak off the island's coast or hike through Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and the Hakalau Forest. Read More »

Hawaii - The Big Island
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#8 Acadia National Park

#8 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: There is ample opportunity for adventure in Maine's forested wilderness. If you're considering Acadia for your next family trip, note that the park's rocky trails can be challenging for little legs. But both you and the kids will get a kick out of watching the park's harbor seals. Read More »

Beehive Trail Overlooking 'The Bowl'
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#9 Maui

#9 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Like its sister islands, Maui offers a myriad of activities to get your blood pumping, from sea kayaking to volcano hiking. But this is just the beginning: Head to Maui's northeast coast to admire roaring waterfalls, belching blowholes and jagged peaks. Read More »

Hula Dancing
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#10 Sedona

#10 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: You'll need to pack a sturdy pair of shoes for your trip to Sedona. The town's striking red rocks are best seen on foot from one of the 100-plus hiking paths. Not sure where to start? Kick off your trip at The Hike House, where staff can help you pick a trail that suits your skill level. Read More »

Sedona Hike
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#11 Anchorage

#11 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Anchorage showcases Mother Nature's adventurous side with the craggy cliffs of Chugach State Park beckoning to hikers, rock climbers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Families can get the kiddos in on the action by hitting the more novice Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Read More »

The city of Anchorage
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#12 Juneau

#12 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: If you're an adventure junkie, you shouldn't miss out on America's "Last Frontier." Take a boat trip through Tracy Arm Fjord to see crumbling glaciers and swimming seals, or head to breathtaking (literally, it's an exhausting hike) Mendenhall Glacier. Read More »

A Nature Lover's Paradise
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#13 Adirondacks

#13 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: This mountainous park in upstate New York has plenty to offer thrill-seekers. Test the powder on Whiteface, navigate the area's waters in a canoe or feed your need for speed on the bobsled runs at the Olympic Sports Complex. Read More »

A Seat with a View
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#14 Boulder

#14 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: Two words: The Flatirons. These steep rock slats are synonymous with Boulder. If you brave a hike, be sure to bring sturdy footwear. Other heart-pumping adventures adrenaline junkies can enjoy: kayaking, biking, horseback riding or hiking Eldorado Canyon State Park. Read More »

A Symbol of Boulder
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#15 Outer Banks

#15 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Why go: The Outer Banks attracts anglers far and wide with its bounty of  tuna, marlin and sailfish. But if fishing isn't your idea of a good time, the area's high winds fuel great windsurfing and sailing expeditions. Or, take a hike along the sandy dunes of Jockey's Ridge State Park. Read More »

Outer Bank beaches
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