5 Alternatives To Car Camping This Summer

car camping
Jason Jones, Flickr

If you’re the outdoorsy type, it’s hard not to enjoy car camping, as long as you find a destination and campground that are compatible with your interests and needs. Not that I’m speaking from experience, but … let’s just say the romantic, roughing-it weekend my ex and I had planned in southwestern Colorado a few years ago turned into pitching a tent in a trailer park populated by elderly snowbirds.

If you’re carless, or want something more adventurous/rigorous/off-beat, or safe for your bad back, I’ve got a few alternatives for your consideration. The good news is, the price points for these adventures ensure there’s at least one that will fit your budget. Depending upon where your travel plans are taking you, some regions even specialize in these types of camping trips. So get online, do some research and don’t forget the sunscreen. Happy Trails.

Hut trip
There are hut systems located all over North America (as well as in other alpine terrain worldwide); perhaps the most famous are Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Huts. Whether you’re a novice hiker or a backpacking machine, there’s a hut hike suited for you. Tip: book well in advance. You can sometimes find last-minute beds, but this type of trip really requires advance planning.

pack trip
Alan English CPA, Flickr

Pack trip
If mountains are your thing, get on a horse or mule and take a pack trip. The Sierras, Rocky Mountains, and Cascades in particular are known for their alpine scenery and well-regarded pack trains. Tip: there’s no reason you can’t do a pack trip if you’re a novice rider, but you need to choose the right outfitter and destination; many trips are for experienced riders (you can even bring your own horse sometimes).

Sea kayak
I love sea kayaking, but I’m too novice to attempt a big paddle on my own. When I was living in Seattle a couple of years ago, I found an outfitter who, for a reasonable price, took me on a private paddle out to one of the many deserted islets off of Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island. We camped, watched bald eagles, gorged on a Marionberry pie picked up en route, and what do you know? He taught me how to read a tide chart well enough to give me the confidence to try this type of mini-excursion by myself.

sea kayaking
UK Ministry of Defence, Flickr

Water taxi
Some coastal, riverfront, or lakeside destinations offer water taxis to get you to and from your campsite. Although Kauai no longer offers this service for return hikers coming off the famous Kalalau Trail, there are plenty of other exotic options. I once took a water taxi from Picton on the South Island of New Zealand, in order to embark on a two-day hike of the gorgeous Queen Charlotte Track. Bonus: a pod of dolphins kept pace with us the entire ride out.

Shuttle it
Sometimes, it’s just not practical or possible to do a backpacking or camping trip with a car. In a couple of weeks, for example, I’m going to do Colorado’s West Maroon Pass, which is a roughly 11-mile hike over the Elk Mountains, from Crested Butte to Aspen. Since I’m going it alone, I’m arranging for Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle to bring me back. This Gunnison Valley-based airport shuttle addition also offers summertime returns for hikers coming off the Pass. At $60 a seat (as long as they have more than one passenger), it’s worth the price to not have to sort out the logistics of a car swap or transport. Best of all, you can take a nap after all that walking.

Mammoth’s Tamarack Lodge Offers Discounted Fall Color Package

Experience the Sierra Mountains at Mammoth's Tamarack Lodge this Fall.Labor Day weekend always seems to mark the unofficial end of summer, even though the season doesn’t actually change for another three weeks. But we all know autumn is just around the corner and with it comes cooler temperatures, crisp air and the changing of the leaves.

This year Mammoth’s Tamarack Lodge is offering visitors a chance to experience the brilliant colors of fall in the Sierra Mountains at an unbelievably affordable price. The rustic lodge, which has been named one of the Top 10 lakeside resorts in North America, will offer rates starting at just $49 per person per night between September 4 and November 11. That’s the perfect time to witness the changing of the seasons for yourself.

This isn’t a bare bones lodge experience, however. Upon check-in visitors will be given a complimentary bottle of wine and continental breakfast service is available daily. They’ll also receive two hours of boat rental for free, as well as complimentary fishing rod rental too. Additionally, guests at Tamarack Lodge also have access to the resort’s adventure activities, which include guided hikes, bike tours, fishing clinics and more.

The calendar may still say its summer but fall will be here before we know it. It’s never too early to start planning your escape and there are few places better to be in the autumn than the Sierras.

Deep snow blamed for two ski deaths in the Sierra Mountains

Skiers hit the slopes after heavy snowsDeep snow is blamed for the death of two skiers, and injuries to another, in three separate accidents that took place in the Sierra Mountains this past weekend. That region was hit hard with a late-winter blizzard that resulted in as much as four feet of fresh powder in certain areas.

The first incident took place at the Castle Creek ski area on Sunday where 54-year-old Yiwei Hu fell through a hole in the snow and was unable to get out. The deep snow that he was skiing across was hollowed out by flowing water underneath which resulted in the unstable conditions. It is unclear how long Hu was in the hole, but authorities say he had already passed away before they arrived on the scene.

Snowboarder Kynan Stanners suffered a similar fate when he landed headfirst into deep snow at the China Peak Mountain Resort on Sunday. Apparently the 30-year-old was unable to extricate himself from the fresh powder and suffocated on the spot before anyone could come to his rescue.

Finally, Michael Dalzell was snowboarding at Kirkwood Mountain Resort on Saturday when he was swept up in a small avalanche. The man was treated for minor, non-life threatening injuries at a nearby hospital and was later released.

Typically when you hear about fatal skiing accidents it is because the people involved were being reckless or had ventured out of bounds. In each of these cases, however, the men were on designated runs at each of the resorts they were visiting at the time. The heavy snow just happened to make the conditions unexpectedly dangerous and as a result two people lost their lives. The lesson to be learned here is that we should never ski alone, as both of the deaths could have been prevented had they had companions with them on the slopes.