The view from a mountaintop is always worth it and it always inspires us. But the strange thing is, the view from the top always seems to obscure the actual, physical toil it took to get there. Inevitably, we find ourselves lacing up our hiking boots again or putting our cycling shoes back on to climb yet another peak, seemingly oblivious to the incredible challenges ahead. Of course, climb a mountain – including the world’s most iconic ranges – with Backroads and the joy multiplies: logistics, gear, route-planning, lunch stops and guides will all be taken care of so that you can focus simply on finding your stride or cadence and achieving your best day, whatever that means for you.
The high desert is one of those places always worth visiting, particularly in the spring. Seemingly barren at first glance, it's the small springtime pops of paintbrush red, prickly pear pink, penstemon magenta and cliffrose white that draw our attention. These blossoms help us understand that the desert is not just a giant sandbox, but rather a colorful landscape teeming with life.
Backroads has long embraced the philosophy that, after a day spent biking or hiking in off-the-beaten-path corners of a new and beautiful region of the world, an outstanding meal is the perfect way to immerse ourselves even further in the local cuisine and culture. For this reason, our guests in Europe and the United States enjoy exquisite meals at over 30 Michelin-starred restaurants, including California's Madrona Manor, Italy's Ristorante Villa Crespi, Spain's Marqués de Riscal and France's Auberge de l'Ill.
Sitting on the vibrant red rocking chair on the porch of my hotel room at Kennicott Glacier Lodge, I listened. The early morning calls of birds waking the world and the creaks and groans of the shrinking Root Glacier just a stone’s throw from me dominated the otherwise quiet scene. It seemed to me as if this morning show of song and silence was for me and me alone. Any other sound that was occurring in the surrounding expanse of the park’s 13.2 million acres was muffled by the ripening raspberry bushes, trembling aspen groves and deep blue glacial ice.
Hearing the gasps escape the mouth of a Backroads guest as they lay eyes on the iconic summit of Half Dome or the impossibly beautiful Yosemite Falls for the first time never gets old. Although I’ve been visiting and leading trips in Yosemite for many years now, I recently had a “first time” experience that allowed me to see this majestic place with fresh eyes. Just by chance, I had the opportunity to bike the Tioga Pass road to the high country with no traffic. Surrounded by conifers and glowing granite mountains and without a single worry, I realized how fortunate I am to be a part of the Yosemite experience with so many Backroads guests.
Yellowstone in the winter takes on an entirely different façade. You wander through the main attractions and it's quiet. You watch the breath of bison erupt from their snouts as they exhale in the freezing weather. The steam rises from the potholes as you listen to the gurgling of the geysers. Red foxes scamper along the roadside, their color popping against the white background. Sights reveal themselves that seem otherworldly. Each time I found myself touring the snowy roads of Yellowstone, I became lost in the beauty of the park.
As a Backroads leader. I rely on books to help connect me more deeply to the social and natural histories I encounter along my hikes and bike rides, which makes each step or pedal stroke feel that much more meaningful. For anyone heading into the open skies west of the Mississippi this summer, here are five terrific reads that will enhance your travel experience.
Everybody loves a great hotel. And we all love that moment of discovery: walking into an elegant lobby or stepping into our luxurious room with a view out the window that reminds us we're somewhere special--whether it's a sweeping seascape or a snowcapped mountain peak. I've been fortunate to stay at some truly amazing hotels while leading trips for Backroads, and here are seven that stand out.
Set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the world's most remote island chain, Hawaii is a melting pot of different cultures from around the world. With its rich cultural heritage and diversity, you may hear myriad languages being spoken here. Learning some key phrases in Hawaiian (or Hawaiian pidgin) is a fun way to prepare for your trip to this island paradise!
With National Bike to Work Day on May 19th, it's not really about the route, it's about the notion: Who needs a car anyway? Whether you do it every day or once a year, pedaling to work is worth celebrating. If your commute isn't scenic, then allow your mind to drift to one of our Top 10 friendliest bike regions in the world.