Not All Who Wander Are Lost: A Blog for Adventurous Women

Hawaii: Adventure Travel Style (psst… it’s not all about beaches)

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Oct 26, 2012 5:00:00 AM

Images and advertisements for Hawaiian Vacations often depict coconut milk sipping tourists lounging on beach chairs, with leis around their necks, and grass skirts hula dancing by. Those images are certainly not false and are quite enticing… but did you know that Hawaii is a lot more than luaus and lying ocean-side. How about experiencing rainforests, volcanoes, sea turtles, and black sand beaches adventure travel style? If that doesn’t get your travel bug buzzing how about a lava lake that is at a record high. For a glimpse of this natural wonder in action, click on the image below to see a video Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The volcano is erupting at two craters right now and is visible from the national park’s observation deck. The lava is 100 feet from spilling over and doesn’t show signs of calming. If lava begins to flow it will be a rare occurrence in modern history and s once in a lifetime experience for most.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is among the scenic spots we visit during our Exploring Hawaii’s Big Island trip February 3-10, 2013. The active travel on the island includes hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, snorkeling, and of course… relaxing.  For more information about the trip follow this link. There are a few spaces still open, so if you see volcanoes in your future, you can register for this trip here. If you have any questions, please call us at 877/439-4042 or contact us by email.


Topics: National Park trips, hiking trips, domestic destinations

4 Reasons to Visit Bryce and Zion National Parks

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Aug 7, 2012 5:00:00 AM

My first experience with women's adventure travel was in 2008 on AGC's Hiking in Bryce and Zion trip. As this annual trip approaches – I am reminded of that memorable experience. For a while prior to that trip I had browsed the AGC website and thought... someday... then that someday turned into a few years. And I finally decided to just do it – spoil myself, take a leap, and grow through a new experience. It was one of the most gratifying decisions I would make. There were a few reasons I chose Hiking in Bryce and Zion as my first trip with AGC, and a few more reasons why I will never regret that choice.

First, it made financial and logistical sense. It was a shorter trip – requesting 2 days off of work seemed a lot more realistic than 5 or more. My boss wasn't a fan of vacations – so the longer the time you took off, the longer he made you 'pay' for it. The trip started in Las Vegas – flights to there are reasonable and regularly scheduled. So, Vegas is easy to get to and even fun to just 'witness' the spectacle that it is for an afternoon or longer if that is your pleasure.

Second, we got to stay in Zion National Park! Often I had gazed at lodges within National Parks and thought – gosh it must be impossible to get into that place. I would have to make reservations almost a year in advance, and I like to plan ahead – but a year is a long time. It is true, you have to make reservations far in advance and that is exactly why its great to travel with a group like AGC. AGC secures reservations a year out – but you can often sign up for a trip like this within a more reasonable amount of time (3-4 months prior). And if you never have stayed in a National Park – it is as magical as you may imagine!

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Hoodoos on Peekaboo Trail – It's fun just to say "Hoodoos" and "Peekaboo" – let alone walking through a canyon rolling full of towering spires. Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. Your pictures will look like postcards.

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Angels Landing - Arguably Utah’s most talked-about hike — the aptly named Angels Landing is a five-mile round-trip climb of 1,488 feet from the Virgin River to the top of a cliff. This is a strenuous hike with steep drop-offs. While more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge, I recall fellow participants remarking that completing the trail was the highlight of the trip. Of course if heights are not your thing – you can continue on a less exposed and very enjoyable trail.

Whether or not these reasons resonate with you on some level – I hope you put Bryce and Zion on your “life list” and if you think women's adventure travel may suit you – read more about the trip here: Hiking Bryce and Zion National Parks There is still space available on our Fall 2013 trip – November 2-5, 2013.


Topics: active travel, womens travel, National Park trips, domestic destinations

Cheap Thrills for Adventure Vacations!

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Jun 28, 2012 5:00:00 AM

Senior PassWhile I was doing a little research for our active vacations – I stumbled upon quite a deal! For seniors (age 62 and older) the National Park Service offers a lifetime pass for only $10! An annual pass for non-seniors is $80 and one-time entrance fees to National Parks can range from $10-20 per person and/or per vehicle. The National Park Service has an extremely informative website with information about how to obtain a lifetime pass and Frequently Asked Questions (isn't it refreshing when websites are thorough and helpful). Appropriately titled, “America the Beautiful,” The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series, includes not only the $10 senior pass but also the:

  • Free Annual Pass for U.S. Military - Available to U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and also, Reserve and National Guard members.

  • Free Access Pass - For U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.

  • Free Volunteer Pass - For volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.

  • Annual Pass - $80 and available to everyone.

These can be a great gifts for a retiree, mom, dad, aunt, uncle or friend! One of the best parts is that a pass covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). So if you are under 62 but drive in with a senior pass holder – you can reap the benefits.

You can obtain a pass in person at a federal recreation site or through the mail using this application form. There are hundreds of federal recreation sites – there is likely one near you – so check out the list. If you still have questions (I did upon first read) check out the site's frequently asked questions link. It really isn't too good to be true to be 62!

Topics: trip preparation, National Park trips, domestic destinations

Celebrate Earth Day with Adventure Travel & Green Travel Tips

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Apr 19, 2012 7:40:00 AM

Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day! 2012 marks the 42nd Anniversary of the eco-friendly holiday. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, whose goal was to mobilize the globe and bring together environmental activists to promote awareness and education. Adventure travel is a great way to celebrate Earth Day. Be it hiking, kayaking, backpacking, or biking – all are great ways to appreciate the gift of nature. This Earth Day, consider spending it a National Park. In celebration of National Park Week, April 21-29, ALL 397 of your national parks offer free admission, all week long! When planning National Park trips or trips to any destination, consider these 10 green travel trips. They include unplugging all unused appliances when you leave for a trip, using a bandanna instead of a paper napkin, or purchasing reusable batteries for your camera or other battery-opEarth day resized 600erated items. Whether you venture off to a national park or observe earth day in your own neighborhood – small efforts can make a big difference. Here are a few more simple ideas:

Take a walk in your neighborhood and bring along a trash bag to pick up litter along they way.

Select a paperless option for your bank statement delivery or other bills.

Skip the disposable cup today. Drink coffee, soda, or water from something reusable.

How will you celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd)?

Topics: adventure travel, travel tips, National Park trips

Death in the outdoors: Ignorance, Thoughtlessness, and Choice

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jul 25, 2011 6:11:00 PM

Yesterday I had brunch with Laura Bly, a USAToday travel writer who wrote a very interesting blog article on several recent well-publicized National Park deaths, including the three people who were swept over Vernal Falls and two people who died in recent accidents in Hawaii. It's well worth reading.

As we discussed those incidents, we started recounting the times we had each donerock climbing in Joshua Tree things that could have gotten us in trouble - but didn't. I told her about the time in my 20s that I climbed Katahdin with a friend, both dressed in cotton. When we got to the plateau, it started to rain, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, and we continued anyway. My friend got hypothermic but I was fortunate to have just enough wits left to realize what was happening and to get us down the mountain. Then there was the time I was swimming in Costa Rica and got quite far from the beach when I suddenly realized I knew nothing about currents, sharks, rocks etc. Fortunately I was able to swim back but not until 10 minutes of thinking I wasn't getting anywhere at all. She recounted a trip to Glacier where she went hiking by herself in grizzly country without bear spray or bear bells and didn't even sing aloud. But we both admitted that sometimes we hiked by ourselves and didn't want to stop doing that, even though one of the cardinal rules is always hike with a buddy.

This represents the three ways someone can end up dead or injured in the outdoors. My near-hypothermia incident was simple ignorance - it was at the beginning of my outdoor career and I really didn't know better. The Glacier hiking and Costa Rica were thoughtlessness- we both knew better! But we each didn't think about it until we were in the middle of doing it and suddenly thought - what am I doing?!!

And then there is choice: knowing the potential risks, taking steps to minimize them (e.g. letting someone know where you're going and when to expect you back), making a decision that the benefits outweigh the risks, and then being willing to accept the consequences. It's this latter situation that we often face on trips. They are adventure trips, after all, and it is not possible (or even desirable) to remove all risk. Instead guides make decisions based on judgement, and that  judgement is based on years of experience. Instead we make decisions based on good judgement, and that good judgement is based on years of experience. Of course sometimes that experience is based on bad judgement - which is why we never have cotton on the packing list in the mountains!

P.S. You'll be happy to know we haven't lost anyone yet!

Topics: outdoors tips, safety, National Park trips

Six tips for great National Park trips

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jul 21, 2011 4:46:00 PM

We love National Park trips! Death Valley, Zion, Great Smokies, Grand Canyon, Acadia, Denali etc- we visit lots of them on our trips. But the great news is that you don't need to sign up for one of our trips to have an amazing time. Here are 6 tips to help you make the most of your next visit.

1. Stay in the Park you're visiting There may be "nicer" and less expensive lodging outside the park, but there is nothing like waking up to sunrise in a park or seeing it by a full mooon. If money is an issue, then camp. Most campgrounds have hot water and flush toilets, and you'll meet people from all over the country and the world in the wash house.

2. Do some research to discover the most popular trails and then some more research to find better, less crowded alternatives. Example: the Bright Angel trail in Grand Canyon National Park has some breath-taking views but it is also full of mule poop and people. You'll find equally stunning views and a lot less people on the Grandview Trail. Sometimes, though, the more popular trails are worth the crowds - Angels' Landing in Zion is something not to miss unless you're afraid of heights.

3. Go in the off season If you're not sure when the off season is too off (e.g all the trails are buried in snow or it's 120 degrees), call the park. But there are many parks where spring and fall travel are as good or better than summer, and usually less crowded- and sometimes less expensive.

4. Go to at least one ranger talk Whether it's an evening program or a daytime walk, ranger programs tend to be excellent. Over the years I've probably attended over 50 and I can count on one hand the number of disappointments. I've had my love of stargazing reawakened, my understanding of geology increased, my appreciation of human fortitude and endurance strengthened. And they're free! There is no better deal.

5. Spend some time looking at the National Park Service website for the park you're visiting. Start with and find your park there. The basic structure and material is the same for each park but most offer alot of information that will not only help you prepare for your visit, you'll go feeling much more informed. And the websites are getting better all the time. Yellowstone has a series of video podcasts you can download, all about 2-5 minutes, that are fascinating and will really enrich your visit.

6. Explore some of the urban parks and other units in the NPS I learned about the history of the mill girls, the course of the industrial revolution, and rode through a lock system on a barge at the Lowell National Historic Park in Lowell Massachusetts. In New Orleans I learned why no one was buried in the ground and why New Orleans is so much more than jazz and fabulous food.

If all of the vacations for the rest of your life were in National Parks, you would die a well-educated person with a broad perspective on the United States. And hey, you've already paid for the National Parks with your tax dollars.

Denali National Park

Topics: travel tips, National Park trips