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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's surface. Others search for snowy peaks and alpine lakes simply for a change of scenery. Using expert advice and traveler votes, 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 help determine next year's ranking. 

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#1 Grand Canyon

#1 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 35 photos
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#2 Yellowstone

#2 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 32 photos
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#3 Yosemite

#3 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 »

Glacier Point View 29 photos
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#4 Jackson Hole

#4 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 16 photos
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#5 Lake Tahoe

#5 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 kayaking, canoeing and boating. For an even bigger thrill, try your luck at the casinos in nearby Reno. Read More »

Lake Tahoe View 41 photos
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#6 Hawaii - The Big Island

#6 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 18 photos
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#7 Acadia National Park

#7 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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' View 23 photos
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#8 Anchorage

#8 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 19 photos
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#9 Telluride

#9 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Telluride was a flyover, mining town until 1972 when the first ski lift was installed. The town then began its transformation into a mecca of outdoor adventure. In the winter, the available activities are limited to snow sports. As spring begins though, Telluride’s options expand to include everything from hang gliding to mountain climbing to kayaking. Read More »

Main Street View 20 photos
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#10 Adirondacks

#10 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 20 photos
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#11 Juneau

#11 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 18 photos
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#12 Sedona

#12 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 »

View 19 photos
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#13 Big Sur

#13 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

Located between San Francisco and LA, Big Sur is the longest scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous U.S. Home of the famous U.S. Highway 1, this California treasure attracts roughly the same number of visitors as Yosemite. Strict regulations have limited the number of commercial options available for adventurers, but hikers and view-junkies will be right at home here. Read More »

Big Sur View 19 photos
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#14 Boulder

#14 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

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 View 20 photos
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#15 The Finger Lakes

#15 in Best Adventure Vacations in the USA

You would be forgiven for assuming that only 10 bodies of water make up the Finger Lakes, but there are actually 11 lakes in this Central New York region. Winter explorers can snowshoe, cross-country ski or snowmobile across the multitude of state parks that dot this destination. Warmer weather allows for boating, fishing, kayaking and other watersports, as well as viewing the area’s numerous waterfalls. Read More »

Finger Lakes View 23 photos
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