Boulder, Utah Survival School
Published: July 2009
City slickers in search of both a wilderness adventure and a crash course in outdoorsmanship should sign up for a four-day field trip with Boulder Outdoor Survival School (303/444-9779; www.boss-inc.com; $495, June 18-21 and August 20-23) in Boulder, Utah (population 180). Camp out in the open desert—between Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—and learn skills that draw from ancient Pueblo culture, such as how to select a proper campsite, construct a shelter, make a fire without matches, or find and purify water. Other "primitive" skills include animal tracking and flint-knapping (turning rocks into cutting tools), as well as nature observation and lessons in desert ecology. BRING ALONG The ability to unplug: no stoves, cell phones, or radios are allowed. Also, be willing to share in all cooking duties and to really sleep under the stars—this is a strictly tent-free zone.
The San Juan Hut System (Ridgway, Colo.; 970/626-3033; www.sanjuanhuts.com; $475, including lodging and meals) consists of six wooden cabins along the 206-mile bike path between Telluride, Colorado, and Moab, Utah. The entire trip takes a week, but you can fashion a long weekend itinerary on the trails from either starting point.
In the mid-1800s Port Townsend, Washington, was a booming seaport with grandiose Victorian mansions all over the fashionable "uptown" quarter. Nowadays, the town—surrounded by water on three sides—is a perfect place for dipping an oar. PT Outdoors (888/754-8598; www.ptoutdoors.com; half day $45; daylong $76) leads kayak tours around Discovery Bay and to Protection Island, a National Wildlife Refuge that's home to elephant seals, sea lions, and bald eagles.
The Allegheny Front Trail circles the forests and wetlands of the Black Moshannon State Park in central Pennsylvania (814/765-0821; www.dcnr.state.pa.us), providing a 40-mile hiking route through rough terrain. The ridges just south of Route 504 offer the best views.