Partnered with a ground crew predominately made up of fellow pilots, Dick Guisto, Mike Florio, and Vinnie Melling harness their commercial-pilot expertise for each Aerostat Promotions flight. After a half-hour of balloon inflation and preparation, up to four guests join their pilot at sunrise or 2.5 hours before sunset for an hour-long flight that affords aerial views of the Pioneer Valley’s breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and residential homes. Meanwhile, a chase team tracks the balloon from terra firma as it traverses approximately 10 miles of sky. Once visitors and their pilot rendezvous with the team, balloons are packed into a truck or twisted into to-scale elephant balloon animals before the group shares a champagne toast and appetizers.
Internal Network Group’s Fly Fishing Adventures introduces anglers to the Farmington River. On half- and full-day fly-fishing trips, guides and their charges wade through its tree-lined waters, casting for trout, which run rampant in the river. The guides boast intimate knowledge of the fish’s favorite gathering spots and help their fishing adventurers capture them with ease. Fly Fishing Adventures also serves the community at large by donating a portion of its profits to the Disabled American Veterans organization.
For more than a century, the Berkshire Museum has blended history, science, and art into a cohesive whole, drawing inspiration from both the Smithsonian and the American Museum for Natural Science. The museum is packed with wonders ranging from Wally—the fiberglass stegosaurus who guards the museum’s entry—to the John James Audubon display, an impassioned tribute to the very ornithology that prompted Audubon to pen The Birds of America. Other, more playful displays unveil additional wonders, including Alexander Calder's collection of wooden push and pull toys. And inside the vast, salty aquarium, a teeming collection of clownfish, blind cave tetra, and puffer fish swim merrily side-by-side, thankful that they've yet to be cast as members of some trite, underwater calypso band.
Crab Apple Whitewater sends adventure seekers on river-bound thrill rides daily from early April through mid-October using inflatable kayaks for Class I–II rapids and larger group rafts for Class II–IV rapids. Crab Apple Whitewater charts routes through the Berkshire Mountains on rivers such as the Deerfield, making use of natural flows and daily dam releases in order to control the challenge for kayakers and rafters of all skill levels. Trips are consistent due to dam control, but vary based on interpretations of fortunes found in the guide’s tea leaves the night before. All adventurers strap on provided helmets and life jackets and attend a safety lecture prior to casting off.
An outdoorsman since birth and G. Loomis–endorsed guide, GSOutfitting's owner, Eric Gass, grew up hunting and fishing the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Eric returned to guiding and now fishes and hunts with his faithful gordon setter, Duncan, by his side.
Eric leads fly-fishing trips aboard his 13.5-foot Aire drift raft, as well as local hunting trips for turkey and grouse. GSOutfitting also trains gun dogs and companion dogs, ensuring every hunter will have a loyal sidekick during the season.
The fastidiously maintained slopes of Maple Ski Ridge beckon outdoor adventurers throughout the snowy season, readying skiers and snowboarders with lessons, equipment rentals, and day and season passes. On the lodge's four hills, instructors from the Schenectady Ski School guide budding snow pilots of all ages through the basics of skiing, snowboarding, and snowman combat, and the Burton Learn to Ride system assists new snowboarders in mastering downhill skills with specialized equipment. Inside a comfortable lodge, a crackling fire warms extremities and light fare and hot cocoa warm insides as outside, skiers sail down full-sized hills, try their hands at stunts on the terrain park, or glide up and down bunny hills courtesy of a surface tow. The lodge's dedicated staff supplements any meager precipitation with snow machines and bags full of frozen marshmallows, and all slopes undergo daily maintenance.