Whitewater Challengers' certified guides steer paddlers as young as 5 across the skipping surf of the Poconos’ Lehigh River Gorge, the Black River Canyon, and the Adirondacks’ Hudson, Moose, and Salmon rivers. In the rafting industry since 1975, the guides have collectively traveled more than 16 million miles of rapids. They chart courses that satisfy a range of experience levels, from beginning jaunts down gentle rapids to advanced battles through coursing foam and wicked currents.
The crew’s ultimate goal is to make rafting a fun adventure, which means that they take care of the business end, providing all safety equipment, transportation to launch points, and lessons for novices. When not on the water, the outdoors-loving crew also organizes mountain-biking and camping trips in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
An FAA-approved helicopter-flight tour operator, North Andover Flight Academy employs five licensed instructors with combined flight and teaching experience that numbers in the thousands of hours. Fledgling aviators can begin their aeronautical journeys at Lawrence and Marlboro Airports, which serve as home bases for services that range from tours and photography flights to full pilot-certification courses and agricultural applications. The team commands a fleet of six Robinson helicopters, including one R44 and five R22s, and keeps Robinson factory-trained mechanics on staff to ensure their safe operation and to ice down their blades after particularly vigorous training flights.
Rivers Northeast Adventures offers a deluge of summer activities along tranquil and feisty rivers in the picturesque Vermont countryside. The three-hour self-guided kayak trip lets riders glide along the currents of the Connecticut River or paddle around a nearby lake while gazing at the area's dense foliage and vast number of barges that carry sacks of rice. Adventurers are shuttled to and from their watery destinations and supplied with single or tandem kayaks, gear, and a quick intro to kayak navigation. Half-day whitewater-rafting trips on Sumners Falls or in the White River afford family-friendly or adrenaline-surging swells that entertain more effectively than watching a child tickle a horse. The Sumners Falls run sprints over Class III rapids and ends in a stomach-twisting drop, and the White River bounces between Class II rapids and stretches of flat water perfect for swimming. During the summer, bring along a friend or Mediterranean oarsman for a half-day float, captained by a seasoned, friendly guide.
Mount Sunapee, hosting snow bunnies for more than 60 years, sprawls before gliding greenhorns as professional instructors lead ski or snowboard newbies toward downhill proficiency with a full schedule of daily lessons. During two-hour beginners’ sessions, students strap into provided gear, including skis or specially designed learning boards that are easier to handle than traditional snowboards made of live, rabid huskies. Groups then trudge out to the slopes, where instructors demonstrate introductory techniques and help snow-pounding protégés cultivate a well-balanced understanding of the fundamentals of their chosen downhill medium.
Rock of Ages is named after its signature rock: granite, one of the most ancient types of stone on earth. In the company's quarries, which scatter the globe, workers extract high-quality granite, raw material that craftsmen then carve into structures from mausoleums to monuments.
Smith Quarry in Vermont doubles as an educational center. During quarry tours, groups see the stonecutters in action, wielding sandblasters and cranes capable of lifting 250 tons—equivalent to 450,000 pints of ice cream or 487,000 pints of ice cream with all the nuts picked out. There's even an outdoor granite bowling lane, which visitors can try for free, as well as on-site sculptures working with diamond-tipped saws and laser equipment.
On an airplane, there are windows, roaring engines, and strangers trying to make small talk. But imagine if all that was gone. Imagine if it was just you, the wind, and the miracle of flight. That's the experience afforded by Green Mountain Ballooning, which floats passengers high above Vermont's rolling hillsides, sparkling rivers, and sleepy towns. Some days, when conditions are right, rides soar to thousands of feet in the air. They also dip low enough for passengers to converse with people on the ground, or snag a package from their mailman. Eventually, flights drift back to earth, where a celebratory champagne toast awaits.