Happy Hoofers Service trundles history buffs and nostalgia lovers through Virginia City on a half-hour horse-drawn carriage tour of the famed silver and gold mining town. Cart along your three roommates or the rest of your barbershop quartet as you clip-clop through the Victorian-era burg renowned for its mansions, opera house, and red-light district identifiable by the crimson-hued sun perched directly in the middle of the street.
To Action Whitewater Adventures' guides, setting is everything. During their full-day excursions, guides and groups mounted in rafts battle Class III and IV rapids just to make their way to a gourmet deli lunch set against the backdrop of the lush Lotus River Valley. Of course, they might argue the fun part is getting there.
They lead excursions down both the South and Middle Forks of the American River, some of the most popular rafting waters in the nation. On the South Fork, they conduct the "Chili Bar" run, a trip that covers up to 21 miles favored for its rough-and-tumble class III rapids and stellar countryside. The Middle Fork provides even rougher-and-tumbler Class IV rapids, the 18-mile journey punctuated by clear-flowing stretches populated by trout and adorable baby Poseidons.
Breezes swirl down a corridor made by trees standing up to 100 feet and perched atop levees, which form the banks of the 200-year-old Bear River. Above rustling branches and the calls of nearby eagles, the hum of an engine cuts through the tranquil air. Dave Jewell of Blue Sky Powered Paragliding takes thrill-seekers—some as old as 80 years of age—soaring up to 500 feet above rolling, farm-dappled country and between Bear River's banks on propeller-powered parachutes. Though currently surveying Californian skies, Dave has led flights and organized clubs in Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, Germany, and France, and he continues to draw on knowledge of flight mechanics from extensive Air Force parachute training. Today, Dave takes off from 24 acres of campground, where a paragliding club meets occasionally to heckle poorly shaped clouds.
A sweeping bonfire pit, rustic picnic tables, and grassy swathes for RVs welcome campers waiting their turn to fly. Dave also mans a parachute and equipment shop where he conducts repairs and reanimates the corpses of dead kites. Dave insists that he never tires of his sport, as the weather and surrounding terrain are always changing, making his higher-altitude experiences "terrifying without being terrifying.” With a small wingspan, the motorized parachutes can also approach wildlife more closely than other aircraft; on one flight Dave found himself flanked by two bald eagles, beating their powerful wings just 20 feet away.
Velocab’s emission-free vehicles—extended-frame bicycles encased in a car-style body—transport up to three riders or hooky-playing scooters for all manner of occasion. In addition to performing utilitarian tasks, such as giving cab rides or delivering goods, drivers can also be commissioned for services such as history tours, pub crawls, and shuttles to and from baseball games.
Grand Tahoe Charters' small-group tours lead passengers on intimate sightseeing ventures with the jagged mountains peeking on in the distance and Lake Tahoe's calm blue waters as the setting. On each trip, the crew captains the 36-foot mahogany Wild Goose II, which harkens back to the early 20th century when wooden boats were the main vessels on the scenic lake. The ship carries up to 12 passengers at a time, assuring that tours don't become overcrowded or that a baseball game could break out. While sailing, deck seating puts guest in the breeze under the sun or stars, or inside in the heated cabin. With many available cruises, such as the West Shore Dinner Cruise and the Sunset Cocktail Cruise along the Incline shoreline, Grand Tahoe Charters aims to entertain guests while showing them the many facets of Tahoe's natural splendor.
Adrift Tahoe transforms Lake Tahoe into one giant playground, all the way from its sandy shores out into its glistening waters. In the morning?with the sun rising over the Sierra Nevada mountains?standup-paddleboard instructors lead groups out on tours of the lake, floating atop serene waters and along tree-lined banks. Similar journeys happen midday, at sunset, and at night, when the stars guide paddlers across the water and the moon looks on enviously, wishing it had water of its own.
Other members of Adrift Tahoe's team lead paddleboard fitness, while more still stay on the shore to teach yoga. Beyond these guided activities, Adrift Tahoe sells and rents aquatic gear, including paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes.