7 Places in America that Have Mastered the Art of Three Sports in a Day
For most of us, the changing of the seasons means putting away our kayaks and mountain bikes and dusting off our skis and ice tools, or vice versa. But in a few magical places around the country, it really is possible to have it all. Here, we’ve compiled seven multi-sport itineraries around the United States, so you can get after three sports in the span of single day.
1. Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has gained a reputation as an adventure headquarters, and it’s easy to see why. During the summer, climbers, bikers, and paddlers flock to the city. In winter, though, the multi-sport opportunities really ramp up (not to mention that you’ll have some of the best spots to yourself).
Start your day off with a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike to Moore Cove Falls. Snap a photo from viewing platform, and then head down the rocks to get behind the falls for another unique photo opp. Take the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway back to town, where you can enjoy some of Asheville’s world-class mountain biking. The 6.2-mile SORBA Beginner’s Loop is a great introduction, with some manageable technical features, while more advanced riders have their choice of the area’s notoriously techy trails, many of which are open only for bikes from October until April. (The nearly 10-mile Kitsuma Trail is a local favorite!) Finish out the day on a run at one of the Asheville area’s ski resorts, like the Cataloochee Ski Area, 40 miles west of town. It’s ideal for the multi-sport enthusiast, as it offers night skiing on its 50 acres of terrain, giving you a chance to extend the adventure. Best of all, if your quads are burning after a couple of laps, get in touch with your inner kid and enjoy the tubing park.
2. Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is famous for its high concentration of superhuman athletes, so it’s no surprise that this outdoorsy paradise in the foothills of the Colorado Front Range truly delivers when it comes to multiple sports in a day. Colorado’s huge range in elevations plus abundant sunshine means the trails are often snowy in the mountains but totally dry in town, so you won’t have to drive far to get the goods.
Head up Boulder Canyon to the little town of Nederland, where the Sourdough Trail snakes along the eastern side of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Cross-country ski or snowshoe Sourdough (up to 13 miles each way), then head back to Boulder and bag one of the iconic Flatirons. To maximize time, pick a route on the First, Second, or Third, where you can knock out climbs ranging from 5.2 to 5.6 in short order. Top off the day with a lung-busting trail run up to the Royal Arch in the Chautauqua Park system, which shares a trailhead (and the views!) with the Flatirons.
3. Moab, Utah
You never forget your first visit to canyon country. Towering red walls, otherworldly arch formations, world-famous climbing and mountain biking: Moab has it all. In fact, despite its desert climate, southwest Utah even offers access to prime ski touring terrain.
In the summer, the La Sal Mountains offer a respite from the brutal heat, and in winter, they’re home to some of the best backcountry skiing in the state. Start the day with a tour in the Corkscrew Glades or Haystack Mountain (with unbeatable views of the canyons), then head back to Highway 128, also known as the River Road. In the spring, paddle a kayak down the "Moab Daily," as the locals call this popular, family-friendly run down the Colorado River. In the winter, when the water’s too low to paddle, you can ride SR-128 on a road bike. Both the river and the road will get you to Potash Road, home to tons of moderate to difficult trad and sport climbing routes.
4. Reno, Nevada
Reno doesn’t just offer access to some of America’s most famous gambling—the Biggest Little City in the World is just a stone’s throw from half a dozen fantastic ski areas and some of Lake Tahoe’s finest backcountry.
Take in expansive views of the lake with runs at one of the Tahoe area’s world-famous resorts (like Heavenly), then head just 35 miles down the road to Sugarloaf. This colossal granite tower bakes in the sun all winter, so it’s a beloved cold weather climbing spot for both sport and trad climbers with a wide range of abilities. Round out the day by paddling at Sparks Marina, nestled just north in the town of the same name. Sparks offers year-round SUP rentals and lessons, weather permitting, and is the perfect nightcap for a day spent on snow, rock, and, waves.
5. Bend, Oregon
Once home to frontiersman and lumberjacks, Bend is now home to plenty of modern-day outdoorsmen and women, and for good reason. Wedged between the Cascade Range and the Deschutes River, Bend is the hub for a smorgasbord of year-round outdoor activity.
To maximize your day, head just down the road to Smith Rock State Park, where you’ll find more than 800 sport and trad routes ranging in grades from 5.6 to 5.14a. Climb a few pitches, then hang up your rack and head into town (by car or, if you’re up for the extra mileage, by bike) to Phil’s Trail System. Unless the trails are covered in snow and unrideable, you’ll find the best of Bend’s mountain biking here. Pump a few laps before making your way to Mount Bachelor, where you can get in some downhill or Nordic skiing. Pro tip: Plan the skiing portion for last—lift tickets are discounted between 12 and 4 pm.
6. Seattle, Washington
Few cities have a skyline more recognizable than Seattle. With its far-out Space Needle and 14,409-foot Mount Rainier as a scenic backdrop, the Emerald City is easy to pick out of a lineup. It’s also the perfect launching point for a Pacific Northwest adventure.
Get an early start to your day in Seattle, because you’re going to have quite a bit of driving to do. First stop: the Ballard neighborhood’s Golden Gardens Park, where you can sea kayak or canoe along the coast in Puget Sound. If you don’t have a kayak, head over to Lake Union instead, where you can rent a boat and paddle around the freshwater lake. Take in the awe-inspiring views of the Olympic Mountains, then head east toward Snoqualmie Pass. The I-90 Corridor is chockful of phenomenal snowshoeing trails, like the trail to Alaska Lake—it has something for both newbie snowshoers and those with more experience. After your excursion in the snow, keep going on I-90 east for about an hour and a half to Vantage, where you can take on some seriously sandbagged sport climbs at sunset.
7. Girdwood, Alaska
Just down the road from the relative metropolis of Anchorage, Girdwood is so much more than a tiny ski town. Locals and tourists alike regularly drive along the Turnagain Arm on the Seward Highway (one of them of the most scenic in North America, but also one of the most dangerous) to check out Girdwood’s phenomenal powder, which is second only to its breathtaking views.
Spring is the best time to plan a multi-sport trip to Girdwood. Ski isothermal snow either at the Alyeska Resort or in the Alaskan backcountry at Turnagain Pass, then head back to Bird Creek, a prime location for fishing salmon. Check with locals about where the salmon are running during your visit, and be sure to get your permits in order before heading out. Top off the day with a hike up the Bird Ridge Trail. It’s tough and steep (like 3,400 feet in 2.5 miles steep), but it’s generally snow-free(ish) in the spring, and you’ll have magnificent views of the surrounding landscape. For something a little easier, hike over to the Byron Glacier. It’s a less than a mile from the parking area to the constantly-changing glacier. Bring a headlamp: you’ll want to spend all afternoon exploring the cavernous ice formations.
Remember, for a city to have mastered 3 sports in a day, that also means you could encounter a wide variety of weather. Be sure to check out Marmot’s new Featherless Insulated jackets to make sure you’re ready for any weather your adventure throws at you!
Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.