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.
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.
River guides outfit each participant with a tube and life jacket before shuttling them to the Upper Hudson River, where they take in scenic views of the Adirondacks and float on water 2 to 3 feet deep that boasts an average temperature of 72 degrees. As the weather warms, the park shifts its focus to its four downhill tubing slides. To add more excitement, the company's crew revamped the colorful slides with snow-like surfaces that create increased speeds. This spirit for adventure echoes at nearby Lower Hudson Gorge, where Tubby Tubes' rafts and tubes explore the flat waters and tree-lined banks.
Owner and pilot Todd J. Monahan remembers chasing hot air balloons across the sky as a land-locked child. After attending extensive training and FAA-approved safety seminars, he finally caught up to them, founding SunKiss Ballooning and enlisting the expertise of his brother Scott as well as a cast of experienced pilots and crewmembers. Citing safety as a priority, SunKiss' captains stay up to date on the latest in balloon technology, and they escort passengers through the sky in nine vessels, each rated to carry different gross weights and repel different-sized Mothras.
When the founders of Adirondack River Outfitters first took their raft to the shores of Moose River, they didn't know it was widely renowned as one of the wildest, most intense waterway in the region. The spirited New Yorkers were just looking for adventure, fun, and a means to explore their homeland's natural beauty. After falling in love with the river's tumultuous rapids and scenic surrounding wilderness, the trailblazers began honing their rafting skills with regular trips, eventually bringing their friends and family along for the ride.
More than three decades later, the group of adventurous guides continues to lead tours down Moose River. The guides, however, have since expanded their inventory of trips to include three other major New York rivers, each characterized by unique classes of rapids and magnificent rural backdrops. A cheerful bunch, the guides always end trips with a homemade barbecue, along with thrilling stories, good-hearted jokes, and impressive recitations of the first 34 digits of pi.