Introduce your young children to adventure travel. Here are five places to get started.
1. Appalachian Mountain Club, New England. Children 5 and older can participate in pond studies, GPS treasure hunts, forest ecology lessons, and tracking and watching wildlife. They're all activities of the Appalachian Mountain Club's summer family adventure camps. In beautiful outdoor settings in New Hampshire and Maine, the entire family learns outdoor skills and safety tips. They also can participate in flat-water canoeing, nature walks and a day hike to a backcountry hut. Sleep in a bunk room or private family quarters.
Contact: 603-466-2727; www.outdoors.org/adventure(underscore)camps.
2. Wild West train ride, Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. Add zest to a family train ride when you book Thunder Mountain Line's Wild West Train Robbery ride in southwest Idaho. As the story goes, a con man and his sidekicks set out to steal a chest of gold as it's transported on the rails. The U.S. Cavalry is aboard to protect it, but passengers young and old experience the adventure and suspense as the tale unfolds during the 3.5-hour round-trip excursion. Available on selected dates, July through November.
Contact: 208-331-1184; www.thundermountainline.com/wildwest11.htm.
3. Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, St. Lucia. Children younger than 6 and their family can choose from a range of easy adventures while staying at this Caribbean resort. Ride a banana boat, play on the floating trampoline or clamber on the inflatable climbing wall. Learn to snorkel or try a guided "snuba" experience, a kid-size first step toward learning to scuba. Sail on a catamaran, then visit a volcano or tour in a rain forest. Ask about family packages.
Contact: 1-877-522-0722; www.windjammer-landing.com.
4. Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyo. Park your family within exploring distance of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge. In this ideal Rocky Mountain setting, young nature lovers will enjoy float trips, horseback riding, wall climbing and majestic scenery. The resort's resident wildlife biologist is on hand to answer questions. The National Parks Explorer package makes the most of your time in the area.
Contact: 307-732-5000; www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole.
5. Costa Rican adventure. Explore the rain forest with your junior adventurers and look for monkeys, sloths, colorful birds and butterflies. Plan easy walks through national parks and kid-friendly rafting on the Rio Penas Blancas. Learn about volcanoes, explore tide pools and build sand castles at the beach. Sail and snorkel in the Gulf of Papagayo and watch for whales, dolphins, turtles and rays. Tours of various lengths are available from Adventures Within Reach.
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes is editor of FamilyTravel.com: lohayes@FamilyTravel.com
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Family travel five