After learning to fly in college, Arizona native Rob Norberg flew to Alaska, where he spent 20 years traversing mountains, streams, and valleys as a fishing guide and seaplane pilot. But the Arizona climate eventually beckoned him back. Norberg now leads tours five times a day in his Cessna Caravan seaplane, carrying passengers high above sights including the Salt River Canyon, Roosevelt Dam, and Tonto Indian Ruins and providing passengers with thought-provoking facts and history. His nine-passenger plane ensures a window seat for each passenger, and comes equipped with personal headsets so they can each listen to the plane's adorable heartbeat.
After you hike a 10-mile descent through Hualapai Canyon—past the Supai Village and breathtaking ancient geological formations—you arrive at Havasu Falls. Follow the sound of the water and you’ll find the falls, where rapids cascade 100 feet to a dazzlingly blue-green, travertine pool below. It’s one of the world's most remote and beautiful swimming holes, and Pygmy Guides’ backpacking guides, who are medically trained as wilderness first responders or wilderness EMTs, lead groups there regularly.
Havasu Falls is just one of many destinations that you can explore with Pygmy Guides, a company that was founded by people who have spent more than 10 years living in and exploring Grand Canyon National Park. They lead groups to hike below the rim to see ancient rock art, hidden fossils, and california condors, walking in the footsteps of horse thieves on the Tanner Trail or along routes on the Bright Angel Trail once tread by ancestral Pueblo peoples. At Dripping Springs, water drips from the roof of a sandstone alcove so you can dilute Gatorade that tastes too sweet.
Sightseers who prefer the comfort of a plush SUV can see the canyon's expansive vistas through high-powered telescopes during day tours. Each all-inclusive trip includes park fees and gourmet meals and is limited to small groups for comfort and convenience.
It begins with a flurry of activity. Balloon operators prepare for lift-off, checking equipment and tossing ropes as spectators wander the grounds, observing the action. And then it reaches a new level: dozens of balloons take flight at once, filling the crisp December dawn sky with brilliant blues, purples, oranges, and reds that rival the colors around them. The Arizona Balloon Classic's orbs then set off on an aerial hare-and-hound race, drawing cheers from below as onlookers snap pictures.
For one weekend each year, visitors gather on the grounds to snap pictures and watch the balloons inflate and lift-off outside the Gilbert Civic Center for the Classic––a three-day festival celebrating hot-air balloon flight and culture. But the fun doesn't end with the descent to earth. After sunset the tethered balloons begin to glow, lighting up for the DESERT GLOWS portion of the festivities. Attendees browse exhibits and feast on treats from a variety of vendors, and children play in the Family Fun Zone. Last, on Saturday evening, sparks give balloons a run for their money, springing through the sky in a stunning fireworks display.
Holloway Travel Outfitters, an independent family-owned business, has been easing the travels of world-wanderers with high-end luggage, travel apparel, and accessories since 1978. A petite Rick Steves Civita travel bag ($17.95) discretely holds passports, and a Travelon carry-safe anti-theft backpack ($59.95) protects effects from would-be pilferers with a heavy-duty metal wire strap that thwarts cut-and-run attempts and a leash that locks the bag to secure chairs or tables. Country skippers entrust garments to the clutches of an Eagle Creek Crossroads Duffel ($148.50), featuring rolling wheels to keep shoulders free for impromptu airport piggyback races. During business trips, a Samsonite classic toploader briefcase ($59.95), forged from durable ballistic nylon, keeps businesspersons ready for business, smartly stashing important documents, laptops, and emergency stashes of silly string for enlivening flagging meetings.
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.
On Saturday, October 26, shoppers browse the wares of the more than 40 vendors gathered at the FALLiday BOOtique while their children trick-or-treat at each table. The vendors represent a variety of small businesses in the area, including Indulgence's by Christina, which perfumes rooms with plug-in warmers and 80 fragrances, Stunning by Design, which adorns necks with handmade scarves, A Little Bit of Princess, which makes girls feel special with fun jewelry, and Madame Butterfly Creations. The event also features a few big-name vendors, such as The Pampered Chef.
After grabbing their candy and the one lone pack of raisins that always seems to turn up, kids can get their faces painted by The Face Fairy. Their parents can also get tested to become bone-marrow donors and save lives with the help of Be the Match.