The Ultimate Adventure Travel Bucket List

Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park, Kimberley Region, Western Australia, Australia. Sunset scenic view
Photo: Francesco Riccardo Iacomino/Getty Images

Moving beyond planned itineraries, off the paved roads, and onto unchartered territory when traveling brings the most unique of experiences. Whether summiting a peak, navigating a rapid, or digging deep on a mountain bike ride into a remote valley, the extra push required of adventure travel is sometimes all that is needed to create a core travel memory.

Heli-Hiking the Canadian Rockies

Helihiking in British Columbia
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What do heli-ski companies do in the summer? Heli-hiking, of course. CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures claims the title of having "invented heli hiking over 40 years ago" and continues to offer guests exclusive access to the remote peaks, meadows, and glaciers in the most stunning parts of British Columbia from late June to late August. Each hiking group has its own guide and uses a CMH helicopter to move to three or four different areas per day.

Backcountry Skiing in Denali

Man skiing down slope in Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
Andrew Peacock/Getty Images/Canvan Images

Explore the epic, open terrain of Denali National Park with a private mountain experience at Sheldon Chalet. Providing on-site avalanche and glacier training, custom backcountry skis and skins, guides take guests into the 35-square-mile Don Sheldon Amphitheater on Ruth Glacier with untouched, pristine powder and skiable lines as far as the eye can see. When the day ends, return to Sheldon Chalet for a sauna, gourmet dinner, and the prospect of a northern lights display.

Tracking Golden Monkeys in Uganda

Golden monkey in the montane rainforest of Uganda
Michele D'Amico/Getty Images

Volcanoes Safari's Mt. Gahinga Lodge is located a short walk away from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, a unique place where both golden monkeys and mountain gorillas live together, hence its tagline "Were Gold Meets Silver." Led by a Ugandan Wildlife Authority ranger, prepare for a challenging hike into primary forest where beautiful golden monkeys, with their trademark golden orange backs, feast on bamboo shoots, and vault between the treetops.

Mountain Biking in Slovenia

Woman Mountain Biking On Footpath Near Ridge On Mount Nanos Above Vipava, Slovenia.
Christoph Oberschneider/EyeEm/Getty Images

Just half the size of Switzerland, Slovenia is the only country in Europe where the Alps, Mediterranean, and Pannonian Plain meet. While just as exciting to travel to in winter, one glance at Slovenia's turquoise blue mountain streams and lakes may convince you that summer is, indeed, the season to go. On my next trip to Slovenia, you'll find me joining SloTrips Unique Adventures on a counterclockwise biking circumnavigation of the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, passing the ski town of Kranjska Gora and climbing the stunning Vrsic Pass before a long descent into the storied Soca Valley.

Rafting the Royal Gorge in Colorado

Train and River Rafters in the Royal Gorge, Colorado
Doug Meek/Getty Images

The Royal Gorge is a deep and narrow canyon of the Arkansas River, located west of Cañon City, Colorado. Also known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas, The Royal Gorge offers some of the best whitewater adventure in the state and is peppered with exciting class III, IV, and V rapids, including Sunshine, Sledgehammer, and Boat Eater. These rapids are steep, technical, and double the gradient of other canyons along the Arkansas.

Trek The Kimberley in Western Australia

Bungle Bungles, Purnululu National Park, Kimberley Region, Western Australia, Australia. Sunset scenic view
Francesco Riccardo Iacomino/Getty Images

One of Australia's last frontiers, The Kimberley, in the northwestern region of Australia, is a land of remote and spectacular scenery made up of a large central sandstone range and an extensive limestone range formed from an ancient barrier reef. One of the most untouched corners of The Kimberley is El Questro, 700,000 acres of vast, mostly unexplored terrain of mountains, tidal flats, rainforests, natural hot springs, gorges, and spectacular waterfalls.

Kayaking Chiloé Island

Woman kayaking on Lake Cucao in Cucao Chiloe National Park
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

A remote and mystical island off the southwestern coast of Chile, exploring Chiloé is an adventure in itself. While staying at Tierra Chiloé, I launched a kayak from the Rilán peninsula, 10 miles from Chiloé's capitol city of Castro. Here you will navigate the archipelago's channels and fjords, paddling alongside penguins and dolphins, and past towns of palafitos — homes mounted on stilts above water — which populate the shoreline. The island also has a large collection of colorful, colonial-era wooden churches, 16 of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, all crafted as upside down ships, thanks to the seafaring builders of the time.

Polar Bear Close Encounters

Canada, Nunavut Territory, Repulse Bay, Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) walking on rocky shoreline along Hudson Bay
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Partnering with the World Wildlife Fund, Natural Habitat Adventure's motto is "Conservation Through Exploration." Every fall, as ice along the Hudson Bay begins to form, Natural Habitat's expert naturalists provide signature access to the polar bears of Churchill Wildlife Management Area in Manitoba, Canada. Guests are provided with an exclusive stay in The Tundra Lodge, a unique rolling hotel placed in an area of high-bear density, and its custom-built vehicles are designed for prime viewing and photography.

Ski or Hike Hut to Hut in the Italian Dolomites

Winter scenics with cross-country skiers in the Dolomites (European Alps, Alto Adige, Italy).
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Explore the Italian Alps in the most Italian way possible – days hiking its beautiful mountains with the reward of staying in mountain huts serving the best in food and wine at the end of each day. With guides from Dolomite Mountains, these multi-day ski or hiking adventures in the Cortina d'Ampezzo region include staying in these legendary rifugi, many of which are not accessible by car. My favorite among these is Rifugio Fuciade, which is not only in a beautiful setting but has an incredible wine cellar.

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