Before taking lessons in a one-room schoolhouse, a visitor hops aboard a stagecoach, interviews a worker at a uranium mine, examines authentic adobe pottery, and heads inside a saloon. Such is the scene at Museum of the West, one of the three campuses of the Museum of Western Colorado where curators eschew the notion of “look, but don’t touch.” From the interactive labs at the Dinosaur Journey Museum to the live demonstrations of early 20th-century life at the Cross Orchards Historic Site—whose buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places—the staff encourages its guests to get up close and personal with the region’s past.
Nostalgia Ballooning puts heads in the clouds, accompanied by licensed pilots soaring giant, kaleidoscopically colored hot air balloons. Packages include private and group voyages over mountainous landscapes and include memorable touches such as champagne toasts. For those left enthralled with the skies, Nostalgia Ballooning also offers introductory piloting lessons, prepping the airborne for a life amid the birds.
The small South African town of Prince Albert may seem like an unlikely member of the culinary vanguard, but its arid farmland—known as the Great Karoo—supports an unusually vast array of plant species that flavor the local fare. The owners of Bergwater Vineyards, the region's only winery, prepare palates with a vino tasting before a gourmet picnic lunch. Visits to the Weltevrede Fig Farm and Prince Albert Olives teach tasters how to make jam, press oil, and create authentic crop circles. Between jaunts, the African Relish houses sojourners in luxurious quarters amid a fully functional cooking school, where aspiring cooks learn to spin regional specialties such as Karoo lamb and venison dishes.
Stretching out in a valley before dusty golden mountains, Garfield Estates Vineyard & Winery's 11 acres are home to five flourishing grape varietals that grow fat and sugary on the vine. Every aspect of wine production takes place on site, from harvesting and crushing the grapes to fermentation and bottling. The final result is a portfolio of wines that includes a 2011 estate syrah, a 2012 ice wine, and a 2016 varietal that only lives in dreams. Visitors can sip samples of these wines at the tasting room, which is situated in the restored hay loft of an old barn.
The licensed trailblazers at Adrift Adventures have safely guided adventurers on boat, horseback, and jeep tours of Canyonlands National Park and the surrounding areas for 33 years. The half-day river excursion draws paddlers down the Colorado River through an august landscape along rapids suitable for rookies and swashbucklers alike. Two daily departure times afford rafters different takes on the area's natural beauty. Birds and fish rub sleep from their eyes and amid river and canyon panoramas as morning excursionists cast off at 8:30 a.m., returning about four hours later. The afternoon ride provides rays for sun-fueled eye feasting and lunch for carb-fueled mouth feasting, embarking at 11:15 a.m. and returning about five hours later to a planet of sentient apes.
The professional guides at Red River Adventures expose adventurous individuals to the rugged and untamed splendor of Utah's rocks, rivers, and canyons with trips designed for all skill levels. The Fisher Towers whitewater-rafting trips pair smaller, intimate groups of four to six paddlers (40 lbs. or more) with a licensed Utah river guide for a 14-mile adventure along Onion Creek, Professor Creek, Cloudburst, and Ida Gulch. Before provoking the Class III wrath of Poseidon, the guides will review safety procedures and outfit swashbucklers with U.S. Coast Guard–approved lifejackets. From the safety of the river-faring craft, paddlers absorb a soaring view of the Fisher Towers, as well as canyon walls that line the waterway and enable time-bending communication with ancient yodelers.