Beginner's ice-climbing excursions, set amid Vermont's picturesque framework of frozen peaks and glacial waterfalls, equip students of all levels with the basic know-how for treading arctic landscapes. During each private, seven-hour session, one of Petra Cliffs' certified guides outfits scaling protégés with all necessary gear and equipment before leading troops out to the course. Easy to moderate terrain enables a fruitful learning environment, where groups work on fundamental techniques including belaying, rappelling, and primal screaming. Since lessons are private, students have the opportunity to dictate the day's instruction and focus on specific skills, ranging from elementary top-roped climbing to mimicking the mating call of feral zambonis.
Framed by the tree-spotted foothills of Vermont, Rocky Ridge Golf Club’s 18-hole course unfurls across a verdant expanse of rolling farmland. Throughout the course, elevated fairways and greens offer breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains, as well as a safe lookout from which golfers can detect rival armies of croquet players. Flower beds and rocky outcrops along short-grass corridors further accent the layout’s bucolic environs. Clubbers looking for lessons can seek out golf pro Ed Coleman, who roams the grounds in a zen state attained through 20 years of coaching experience and aromatherapy that uses the odor of freshly mowed fairways. Cozy, green-side seating and tables nestled in shaded porches await golfers for post-round relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant.
Though members of the McCullough family began conserving their 500 acres for recreation in 1978, the land’s story begins even earlier. In 1796, Thomas Chittenden—Vermont's first governor—built his estate on the current site of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, and his old stone house still remains. Today, Jim and Lucy McCullough use the historic home as a bed and breakfast, inviting visitors to relax in three guest rooms and a sunroom overlooking rolling meadows and coniferous forests. In a formal dining room, servers ferry plates of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the homestead and local farms; in the master parlor, a baby grand piano and fireplace pay homage to historic pastimes and confuse visiting time travelers.
Outside, a panorama of the Green Mountains and the Winooski River Valley spreads out to the east. To the west, the Adirondacks stand against the sky and Lake Champlain unfolds across the horizon. The surrounding hills, woodlands, and croplands boast more than 35 kilometers of trails, where park staffers set visitors loose to hike, cycle, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at different times throughout the year.
Staffers equip visitors for outdoor exploits in the park store, renting cycling and skiing apparel as well as Bear-to-English dictionaries. Furthering a mission to educate others in local wildlife, they also host events such as cross-country cyclocross races and group trail runs. During day camps, children and adults can learn to navigate trails on mountain bikes, middle- and high-school students can practice trail running, and kids 12 and younger can grow to appreciate ecological conservation practices and nature journaling.
Smugglers' Notch sprawls out over a triumvirate of mountains—its terrain varied for snowboarders and skiers of all skill levels. Among the trails, beginners can drift down gentle cruiser hills, and more advanced carvers can brave The Black Hole, which earned a triple black-diamond rating. Powdery trails wind through the woods, and two terrain parks are filled with ramps and rails for honing impressive feats of trickery and high fiving sparrows passing overhead. The signature peak of Smugglers' Notch, Madonna Mountain, tops out at 3,640 feet.
Sculpted through scenic mountainside terrain, Green Mountain National Golf Course spans 6,589 yards of arching fairways and multi-tiered greens. Engulfed by dense tree lines and rising mountain faces, the course's narrow fairways call for a cautious approach, and those boldly teeing off with a driver or 17th-century musket may end up hacking their second shot out of the woodsy rough. As golfers traverse the course, elevated tees, greens, and cresting fairways give way to panoramic views, letting golfers glimpse the contoured terrain and drink in ancient rock formations shaped by glaciers and the species of colossal paleontologists that ruled the continent prior to their extinction. A full-length driving range, short game practice area, and putting green fine tune players' club-wielding prowess, and a fully stocked pro shop offers up equipment and gear to help guests loop the links in style. Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,589 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 72.1 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 138 from the farthest tees * Five tee options
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.