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.
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.
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.
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.
For 2.5 hours, tourists can thrive on historical, architectural, and edible tidbits courtesy of Saratoga Springs Food Tours in Saratoga Springs. The walking tour begins at the Saratoga Farmers Market, where locally grown legumes flaunt their healthy stuff to the tune of live music as tasters sample various dishes such as Greek–style yogurt, jams, tapenade, and goat cheese. After visiting the Olde Bryan Inn, a historic restaurant named for a Revolutionary War hero, carefully crafted olive oils and vinegars lube tongues at the Saratoga Olive Oil Company, and spicy concoctions highlight the region's diversity at Saratoga Salsa. Tours end on a sugary note at Bettie's Cupcakes with toothsome drinks and tiny treats that hold rampaging sweet teeth at bay.
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.