Peace and tranquility miles above it all. That alone is a great reason to take a trip to the mountains. More privacy. Fresh air. Pristine grounds. And no matter what time of year it is, the mountains can offer great outdoor activities: winter sports like skiing and boarding, and spring fun like hiking, rock climbing, and hand gliding ... and the list goes on.
Most mountain ranges offer their own brand of skiing, resort, and bed-and-breakfast vacations. But the popular ones often offer a little something extra in the wilderness. And you can count on Hotwire to offer you the best travel deals for all kinds of mountain vacations, ski and resort packages, and more. Need some hints to kick off your mountain fun? Check out these tips.
More New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania urbanites, kids or no kids, travel to the Pocanos wilderness every year. For those looking for outdoor family activities, putt some balls at mini golf or slide down a refreshing chute of water at Pennsylvania's Shawnee Place Play & Water Park or CamelBeach. Those of the equestrian persuasion might enjoy some horseback riding at Deer Path Stables. They have trails and riding for beginners and novice riders. And they're open all year. If you're looking to tee off, you've come to the right place. There's a golf course for the novice up to the most-experienced player. Fernwood Resort, featuring an 18-hole par 71 golf course, is just one example.
White-water rafting is a bold yet refreshing activity for a sweltering day in the outdoors. Landers River Trips, located in Narrowsburg, NY, on the Delaware River, will get you looping and dropping through the waterfalls and canyons during the spring and summer. Those looking for something more peaceful could canoe or kayak, too. Looking for a little romance? Couples who prefer the quaint ambiance of a Poconos bed and breakfast will love the Bischwood Bed and Breakfast. History buffs will savor eating in the Presidential Dining Room, where Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Sikorsky once broke bread. A good bed and breakfast alternative is a spa vacation. Open April through October, the Deerfield Spa in the Poconos Mountains will begin relaxing, rejuvenating, and spiritually awakening you the moment you arrive.
The Smokey Mountains, also known as the Smokies, is one of the most pristine natural areas in the East. And there's no outdoor activity shortage. Take Cades Cove, a lush mountain valley surrounded on all sides by mountains. It's a must-see stop on a Smokies vacation. You'll find a pioneer museum, a 5-mile hike to Abrams Falls, abundant wildlife, campgrounds, bike rentals, spectacular foliage in autumn, and horseback riding. Get out of the car and into the wilderness. In the Smokies, you'll be up close with the wildflowers in spring, fantastic mountain vistas in winter, fall foliage in the autumn, and record-size trees in summer. And what's better at the end of a long hike than a stream or a waterfall? The tallest and probably most exciting is Ramsay Cascades.
In Tennessee, take Highway 321 east of Gatlinburg to the Greenbrier entrance to the park. Follow the signs to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead. Looking for something a little less strenuous? Consider an auto tour like the Cosby-Big Creek-Cataloochee Tour. This 11-mile tour passes historic schools, homes, and churches on the North Carolina side of the Smokey Mountain National Park. Snow sports are a popular winter vacation, but unlike other mountain ranges, it's a short season. You can ski at places like Cataloochee. And Ober Gatlinburg also has winter sports slopes, along with a big mall, a large skating rink, snack bars, a full-service lounge, a restaurant, and gift and clothing stores for the folks not so snow-inclined.
Ready for a "Rocky Mountain high" mountain wilderness experience? Also called the "Rockies," this western North American mountain range is known for beautiful scenery with lots of trees and big game. It's also known for rapidly changing weather, so it's best to wear layers all year round. People visit the Rockies for many recreational activities like hiking, hunting and camping. But the skiing is super.
Some of the more famous destinations are Telluride, Vail, Aspen in Colorado, Park City and Snowbird in Utah, Sun Valley in Idaho, and Lake Tahoe in California. A California treat: duck into a casino for an apres-ski break. But you can ski anywhere. There's gold in them there hills! Yes, you can pan for gold in the Rocky Mountain Gold Fields. Learn techniques for panning gold, tending a sluce box, running a gold dredge, and handling the concentrates. Prospecting has always been the best reason to go to the Rockies. Talk about a rich wilderness vacation!
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The Appalachians stretches through Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and North Carolina. And there's a lot to do and see in every state. The winter months see a lot a snow sports like skiing and boarding. West Virginia's premier location is Snowshoe, one of the East's best. Not only is it particularly beautiful, it's great for any ski level, child or adult. Choices in North Carolina include Beech Mountain, Cataloochee, and Hawksnest. Couples looking to snuggle safe away from the snow might enjoy the bed-and-breakfast charm found at the Tennessee Iron Mountain Inn. You'll stay in a log cabin in luxurious bedrooms and enjoy romantic breakfasts, afternoon refreshments, and the bottomless chocolate-chip cookie jar.
Appalachian springs and summers see plenty of action, too. The rolling hills of the Shenandoah National Park (season is from mid-to-late October when the fall foliage peaks) and the Blue Ridge Mountains are fine for younger or less-experienced hikers. Biking is also a favorite pastime, and there are plenty of trails and roads. Bike along the Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or on the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop. If you're in Winchester, Virginia, and it's time to wind down from all the activity, you'll find Dinosaur Land, where life-size recreations of the prehistoric critters are on display, and Route 11 Potato Chips--they offer a factory tour topped off with free samples at the end. History buffs in Tennessee might love the Museum of Appalachia, the nations' largest pioneer museum with about 30 buildings and half a million items. You'll find them 16 miles north of Knoxville in Norris. And how about a coal museum? Think about it: half our nation's energy still comes from coal so it's still one of this country's most important commodities. Learn more about coal and the Coal Creek Wars between labor and industry at the Coal Mine Museum in Lake City.
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So get ready for some mountain merriment. And remember, no matter where you choose to go or what you choose to do, you can be sure you'll have what you need to plan the perfect trip with Hotwire travel deals.