With the weather slowly but surely warming up around (most of) the country, people are reminded that spring getaways are just around the corner. Those who love the thrill of adventure and the lure of the outdoors are in for a thrilling season.
Springtime is not all about going to parks and festivals to marvel blooming flowers and admire nature’s colors. The dream of enjoying the outdoors without the aid of gloves and parkas is about to come true.
Top adventure travel companies have compiled their 5 must-see recommendations for the best spots in the world to enjoy spring’s bounty.
“Ireland in the spring is one of Europe’s great secrets,” says Barbara Banks, director of marketing and new trip development for Wilderness Travel. “The flowers and warm weather come early to the island thanks to the warm Gulf Stream, and April and May can be the absolute sunniest months, with cloudless days perfect for hiking.”
Wilderness Travel offers two spring trips to Ireland, including Spirit of Ireland and Hidden Treasures of Ireland’s West Coast. Hike the mountains and coasts of southwestern Ireland and see the Skellig Michael monastery famously featured in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Or hike the rugged west coast of Ireland from the Cliffs of Moher to the Aran Islands.
Utah’s National Parks
Austin Adventures Founder and President Dan Austin recommends Utah’s national parks as an ideal spring adventure getaway for both adults and families. Spring is a great time to visit before the weather heats up, as summer temperatures can top 100 degrees in some parts of Utah.
Utah is known for its “Mighty 5” National Parks, which include Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef. Bryce Canyon can still be cold in spring, sometimes with snowflakes falling into April, so May is an ideal time to visit its out-of-this-world “hoo doo” formations.
Austin Adventures offers both adult and family trips to Utah this spring and summer, which include stays at some the park’s classic lodges that can be hard to book without planning years in advance. Trips include Utah Hiking: Bryce Canyon and Zion, Utah Family: Bryce Canyon and Zion, Utah Mighty Five National Parks, and Women Only: Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion.
Napa Valley, California
It’s still Cabernet season through April in Napa Valley, California, and spring weather is the perfect time to enjoy the area’s beautiful rolling hills and outdoor scenery from a hot air balloon or by biking, hiking or kayaking. Spring is also usually a slower pace for visitors, with lodging rates a bit lower and top restaurant reservations easier to secure.
The October 2017 wildfires burned less than 14 percent of the total of acreage in Napa County. “Because the October wildfires burned predominantly in the forested hillsides, the well-known Napa Valley floor, located between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail, saw little to no impact,” says Clay Gregory, president and CEO for Visit Napa Valley. “The best way for wine enthusiasts to help our community recover is to visit and support our hotels, restaurants and tasting rooms.”
Santa Rosa-based Getaway Adventures offers adventurous multi-day and day trips throughout Sonoma and Napa counties. Visitors can choose to bike to wineries or breweries, hike various landscapes, kayak the Russian River, Sonoma coast or Napa River, or even do yoga alongside the magnificent redwoods on the company’s trips.
A few trip options include Sonoma on a Bike (6-day tour), Napa on a Bike (6-day tour), Calistoga Sip ‘n Cycle (single day bike trip to wineries), Pints ‘n Pedals (single day bike trip to breweries), Yoga, Hike & Bubbly (yoga among the redwoods), and Russian River Kayak Tour.
Banks also recommends Slovenia as a top spring adventure destination. On the adventure travel company’s Hiking in Slovenia trip, Wilderness Travel takes guests on hikes through alpine landscapes full of meadows, limestone peaks and waterfalls in Logarska Dolina National Park, as well as takes them by gondola across beautiful Lake Bled. “Experience Europe’s hidden gem when the fields are lush with wildflowers,” says Banks.
Grand Canyon and Havasupai Falls, Arizona
The milder spring weather makes for a great opportunity to explore the Grand Canyon and lesser-known Havasupai Falls, one of Austin’s favorites, as well. Summer temperatures can climb high in Arizona, so hiking in spring’s cooler 60-degree temps is ideal. Plus, there are fewer crowds.
Austin Adventures offers several adventures to the area during spring, which alongside the company’s expert guides, allow travelers to trek along narrow side canyons, through underwater grottos and past gardens of ferns and watercress. They'll also gain access to amazing overlooks of the Grand Canyon accessible only by foot. The trips also include searching for fossils, exploring a historic mine and relaxing in the mineral-rich waters of a natural pool.