Though a pilot mans each of Hot Air Expeditions balloon flights, the excursions are really guided by Mother Nature. The colorful balloons simply follow the wind, hovering above the cacti and coyote that call the Sonoran desert home before gently climbing breezes to give passengers a full view of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Groups can take morning flights year-round or afternoon flights from November through March, both of which offer spectacular photo opportunities, as well as time-sensitive challenges to any still-life painters on board.
The mutable nature of the flights mean they last anywhere from 45–90 minutes, after which, passengers will enjoy sparkling beverages and catered snacks, such as pastries. Each guest is awarded an official flight certificate as a memento of their aerial journey before boarding a courtesy van that returns them to the launch point. Though the actual flights last up to 90 minutes, groups should allow up to four hours for the entire trip.
As the sun rises and illuminates the jagged Sonoran Desert with rose-colored light, colorful hot-air balloons rise into the sky right along with it. This scene occurs seven days a week from September to May during Tucson Balloon Rides' one-hour sunrise floats. Soaring with the morning's easy wind currents, FAA-certified pilot Kevin Wilbur ferries passengers for 10 to 15 miles at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 feet over the cacti forests of Saguaro National Park West and the shrub-covered flatlands of Avra Valley. While gliding over the Tucson Mountains, he also points out important sites as well as deer, foxes, and coyotes. After a gentle touchdown, Captain Kevin and guests enjoy a champagne toast and brunch. If the voyage inspires anyone to become a hot-air-balloon pilot or a cloud, he can also help them earn their private or commercial pilot license with his training program.
No one knows where Dr. Vantas lost his way. Once an esteemed doctor at the vanguard of electroshock therapy for the mentally insane, the physician let his psychiatric hospital become a madhouse, prompting rumors of Vantas using inhumane experiments on patients. Those who enter his territory risk falling prey to its deranged denizens and the quack’s extremely cold stethoscope. This is the spine-tingling, horror-film narrative that plays out to visitors as they creep through The Asylum, a haunted site modeled after an 1870s-style mental institution and one third of of The Crypt Haunted Attractions’ three-piece tribute to fear.
The next stop is the The Crypt, a vault filled with the living dead that beckons intrepid guests to descend into it. Tiptoeing through the chamber's darkened corridors, voyagers must stay poised as they strafe around staggering corpses groaning about their hunger for brains or the lack of legroom in their casket. Anchoring the evening of fright is the Chaos Maze, the new lawless labyrinth that requires cunning, agility, and fearlessness to make it through unscathed.
The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, Olympic National Park, Yosemite National Park?these are some of the US's most beautiful destinations. But they're more than just pretty landscapes. Each is a giant playground that groups can explore for days on end thanks to Just Roughin' It Adventure Company. At sunrise, those who entrust their time to Just Roughin' It's guides might wake up to find themselves in the heart of a canyon, surrounded by the old-growth giants of a dense forest, or overlooking a stately mountain chain covered in white caps.
Because that's what Just Roughin' It trades in: adventure. For every sabbatical from the everyday, the wilderness guides handle all the logistics, booking trips and assembling bags of food and answers to troll riddles. They don't cut corners, either. When groups arrive for their multi-day treks, each adventurer straps on roughly $1,000 worth of backpacking and adventure gear, from trekking poles to sleeping bags.
Adventures don't always require multiple days in a canyon, though. Just Roughin' It's team also leads SUP tours on Arizona lakes and day hikes deep into the Grand Canyon's red rocks. Or, they can simply rent customers gear, such as inflatable kayaks, and let them chart their own course.
The seasoned trekkers at Take a Hike Arizona garnish the pristine Sonoran Desert with paisley pastiches of footprints as they lead wayfarers on personalized voyages through twisting trails and clandestine canyons. Expand your appreciation for the complex eco-system of this picturesque wilderness during an exhilarating half-day expedition that lasts 2–4 hours. The excursion can be customized into a leisurely, moderate, or challenging hike, depending on your level of experience or possession of an ephemeral quality that grizzled newspaper editors call “moxie.” In addition to possessing expert knowledge about local botanical and animal life, each tour guide is a rubber-stamped practitioner of first aid and CPR. Preadolescent amblers 12 and under are free with a paying adult, receive a complimentary disposable camera, and will be treated to games such as "desert bingo," an interactive game to keep kids engaged in the hike. Bottled water, snacks, ponchos (if necessary), and the use of backpacks and trekking poles are provided, so there is no need to bring tupperware containers of water or socks filled with emergency fondue.
Lake Pleasant Nautical Adventures? staff helps its customers explore 10,000 acres of water surrounded by the rolling foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The company's three-person Yamaha jet skis speed across the water's surface, sending blasts of mist and churned water into the faces of tailgating pelicans. Nearby, 200-horsepower speedboats create rushes of adrenaline as they tow wakeboards, tubes, and water skis. Pontoon boats take up to 10 passengers on floating picnics and fishing trips, and tours let customers experience the lake without having to learn its fish community?s complicated traffic laws.