• Mountain destinations offer a way to beat the summer heat

    2014-05-15

    As refreshing as the heat is at the beginning of summer, too much of it may have you wishing for a cold front. Fortunately for adventure travel fans, it's also a great time to visit the mountains. Warmer weather makes them less treacherous than they are during winter, but they still offer an escape from the scorched conditions elsewhere in the U.S. Summer can also draw out some of the flora and fauna that goes missing in the colder months.

    Pacific peak
    Mt. Rainier is the fifth-tallest mountain in the U.S. and experienced mountaineers often climb its forbidding peaks in winter to prepare for even tougher trips, according to USA Today Travel. Some of the challenge melts away in the summer, bringing a larger audience to the slopes. The mountain offers hundreds of miles of trails for climbers of any level. And if the trek leaves you exhausted, you can get to Seattle to recuperate with a good cup of coffee in under two hours.

    Into the wild
    If Mt. Rainier isn't enough of a challenge, Mt. McKinley may be more your speed. To climb the highest peak in North America, at 20,320 according to the National Park Service, visitors must first register with Denali National Park and Preserve, where the peak is located. Registrants must wait 60 days before taking on the climb so that park rangers can speak to them. The rangers suggest routes based on climber's experience and also provide tips for how to stay safe and get the most out of the trip. If that makes it sound too intimidating, the park can also provide a guide to make the experience a bit easier. Denali is also a great destination for wildlife watchers, as the park is known as one of the world's best spots to see wild wolves.

    Become a Skywalker
    For those who want a more protected view of the mountains, a trip across the northern border may be the answer. The newly opened Glacier Skywalk at Jasper National Park offers a mountain experience not found anywhere else. A walkway on the edge of a cliff leads visitors to a glass-bottomed observation platform 918 feet from the ground, according to its operator's website. When you want to get your feet back on the ground, visit the nearby Columbia Icefield. Walking the field offers views of the Rockies' lakes, waterfalls and meadows.

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