11 Budget-Wise Adventure Travel Destinations
Adventure travel conjures the image of safaris, wild animals, and far-flung destinations, all of which require oodles of money to experience. But as the world becomes smaller, the possibilities of affordable adventure travel become ever more feasible. Cheapism.com waded through online news clips, magazine articles, and blogs to identify locales where frugal adventurer travelers will find excitement in the great outdoors.
Step into Iceland and feel as though you're part of a Nordic epic. Full of hot springs, glaciers, volcanoes, and stunning waterfalls, Iceland offers adventurous travelers some of the most astounding natural sights in the world. WOW Air, a budget Icelandic airline, is offering flights from Boston to Reykjavik for as low as $320 round trip. Flights are also available from Washington, D.C.
Located in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park was one of the first areas in the world to be declared a national park. Full of hiking trails, camp grounds, hot springs, and stunning views, Banff offers a little bit of adventure for all manner of adventure seekers. Reserve an on-site camping spot for as little as $15.70.
Shell out $35 and ride a zip line over live alligators in Florida. The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine maintains two zip-line trails that cross above these water-loving reptiles. The course trails also double as obstacle courses, ensuring a wild time for one and all. The zip-line fee includes a tour of the farm.
According to data from Skyscanner, a travel aggregator site, Nicaragua is shaping up as the next Costa Rica in terms of tourist appeal. Airfare to the country is relatively inexpensive, on-the-ground costs are low, and the area is still free of commercial excess. Notable adventure destinations include hiking the active Concepcion Volcano or trekking through the jungle. For optimal ticket prices, Skyscanner says the week of September 21 is the best time to travel to Nicaragua.
The Adirondack Mountains, located in northeastern New York State, are a perfect summer getaway from the big city. The state park that encompasses the mountains is a wilderness area spanning more than six million acres. It's crisscrossed by hiking trails (the vast majority are free) and dotted with camp sites, lakes, and streams. After a few nature-filled days, visit the historical Fort Ticonderoga near Lake Champlain.
The Outer Banks in North Carolina are a series of islands offering an ideal blend of rest and adventure. Vacationers seeking a beautiful and serene natural getaway can relax on the white sandy beaches, where access is free. Those craving adventure will find water sports, horseback riding, and hang gliding. Be sure to save time for Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Maine's Acadia National Park offers adventure travel in unspoiled natural beauty. The first national park in the eastern United States, Acadia has something for nearly everyone, from scenic trails along the edges of precipices to beaches full of seashells and wetlands and marshes teeming with wildlife and rare plants. A seven-day vehicular pass costs $20, and use of the campgrounds costs $20 a night.
Badlands National Park in southwestern South Dakota offers a total escape from everyday life. The surrounding country is so rugged and otherworldly that it was used as the set for the film "Starship Troopers." Take in the scenic beauty and then hike through grasslands, which sometimes afford sightings of wild buffalo herds. For a change of pace, drive over to Mount Rushmore, about 85 miles west. The park charges $15 for a seven-day vehicle pass and nightly camping at Sage Creek Campground is free.
Along the Georgian coast are a string of state and national wildlife reserves, including Blackbeard Island, Wolf Island, and Harris Neck. To fully explore the refuges, rent a two-person kayak from Southeast Adventure in Brunswick, Ga. The boat costs $75 the first day and $25 each additional day. Entrance into the wildlife reserves is free.
Zion National Park in Utah is one of the country's better-kept national park secrets. It boasts miles of trails, sites for canyoneering and climbing, and opportunities for bird watching and horseback riding. Embark on a multi-day hike by reserving lodging in a string of campgrounds throughout the park. Zion sells a $25 seven-day vehicle pass and charges $3 a night per person to pitch a tent at the Watchman campground.
Set along Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada, the 80-mile Tahoe Rim Trail is one of the most astounding mountain biking locations in the country, according to National Geographic. The International Mountain Bicycling Association named a portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail between Tahoe Meadows and Spooner Summit an "epic," meaning it is the epitome of what mountain biking has to offer. Bike rentals start at $45 a day. The trail is also open to hikers, no fee attached.