11 Extraordinary Outdoor Travel Experiences to Try This Year
Say Namaste in a Forest
Tree pose is even better when you're surrounded by, well, trees. Take a yoga class outdoors or sign up for a retreat at places like Wild Rice Retreat (Bayfield, Wisconsin, shown), In Your Element Forest Yoga (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Soul Farm (Amboy, Illinois).
Not that kind of mushroom. Wild, edible 'shrooms can be found throughout the Midwest, but it takes an expert to identify and safely indulge in them. In Minneapolis, the Gentleman Forager leads seasonal classes as well as overnight expeditions for those with mycological motivations.
Brave the Rapids
Step aside, Colorado. Book thrilling rafting trips with Kosir's in Wisconsin (Peshtigo or Menominee rivers); Swiftwater Adventures (St. Louis River) or Hard Water Sports (Kettle River) in Minnesota; or Vermillion River Rafting in Illinois (Vermilion River).
Sleep in a Treehouse
Pull up Airbnb and filter by "tree house," and you'll find all types of treetop escapes (like the TreeLoft at BaseCamp in Missouri). Though most of those are individual rentals, the Midwest also has a few tree house resorts. Our picks: Hocking Hills Treehouse Cabins (South Bloomingville, Ohio, shown), Tree Vistas (Ionia, Michigan) and The Mohicans (Glenmont, Ohio).
Camp in a Floating Tent
Yes, you read that right. At Float Troy in Troy, Ohio, you can sleep in the middle of the Great Miami River. You'll kayak to and from your anchored tent, which sleeps four. Floating firepits add to the ambience, while gentle waves rock you to sleep.
Channel your inner cave dweller on a spelunking trip in Corydon, Indiana. With Indiana Caverns' Deep Darkness adventure, you'll spend three hours squeezing, wriggling and splashing through the state's longest cave system.
Paddle by Moonlight
Imagine dipping your paddle into black water, breaking the reflection of the moon. Peace transcends city life on a nighttime kayak trip. Wateriders' Moonlight Tours, shown, begin after dark, guided by Chicago's lights. In Detroit, the full moon sets the schedule for Detroit River Sports' tours—where kayaks come decked with twinkle lights.
Howl Like a Wolf
Minnesota is home to the largest wolf population in the Lower 48. At the International Wolf Center in Ely, observe wolves in their natural habitats and learn about efforts to protect these beautiful creatures.
Drive a Camper Van
Beep beep! Test out #vanlife on a camper van road trip to visit state and national parks. Most park campgrounds allow vans. Pick from three size options at Aclipse Campervans, a women-owned business in Cincinnati.
See the Milky Way
There's nothing quite like cresting a ridge and seeing North Dakota's badlands stretched out before you, then zooming on two wheels down a winding trail into a juniper and cedar forest. Dakota Cyclery, based in Medora, leads mountain biking tours for both beginners and experts on the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail.
Mountain Bike on a Cliff
Ponder the cosmos at über-dark places like Headlands International Dark Sky Park (Mackinaw City, Michigan), Whiterock Conservancy (Coon Rapids, Iowa), Badlands National Park (South Dakota), Merritt Reservoir (southwest of Valentine, Nebraska) or Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Strong City, Kansas).
Related: 14 Great Midwest Bike Trails