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Cool NW getaways with something extra

While easy-going road trips are a great way to relax and experience the sights of the Pacific Northwest, there is another experience waiting out there for those who want just a bit more from their vacation or getaway. The adventure trip allows you to combine new sights and sounds with new experiences, some of them a little bit on the edge.

There are many such adventure trips available in the Northwest if you just look for them. Here are five examples of trips that you'll long remember:

River rafting

North Central Washington is loaded with adventure activities and one of them is rafting down the scenic Wenatchee River. These day trips are fun for all ages.

Rafting a Class 3 river like the Wenatchee can be quite a thrill ride, but it's just the right level of excitement for someone who enjoys a little speed and action but may not be adventurous enough to try more challenging rapids.

Osprey Rafting offers a Main Event tour that gives you a total of 15 river miles with plenty of whitewater along the way. This trip takes rafters down the river from Leavenworth to Cashmere, which is about a four-hour adventure.

The trip ends with a barbecue beach party at Huck's Landing, a spot on the river that Osprey Rafting has set aside for clients to enjoy meals and great river-front scenery.

Because of abundant waterflow, this trip lasts all season long, usually starting in April and continuing into the fall.

For more information, please or phone 509-548-6800.

Fire lookouts

The state of Oregon has 17 fire lookouts that you can book for an overnight stay. You may recall pictures of these lookouts -- towers built in the wilderness with unsurpassed views of forests and virgin terrain. After all, the whole reason these were built was to be able to spot fires in some of the most remote places in the Northwest.

You can book these fire lookouts online, although you need to do it far in advance -- as far as six months out. You can also try reserving midweek, which is more likely to open up. Most of the towers allow renters to book dates in the spring, summer and fall.

Accommodations can be Spartan and don't expect a luxury resort on the top of those stilts. But the views are worth it. You'll be sleeping right in the tower where you can look out and see miles and miles of Pacific Northwest scenery in every direction.

For more information on booking a night in a fire lookout, go to It's suggested that you be ready to book at 7 a.m. in the morning when new openings come available.

Biking the San Juans

Here's a way to enjoy Northwest scenery and stay in shape at the same time -- biking your way through the San Juan Islands. Terratrek tours offers inn-to-inn biking trips through the San Juans in which you bike by day and stay in local inns at night.

The majestic San Juan Islands are ideal for biking with beautiful winding hills, rolling pastures and seaside views. There is also amazing wildlife such as bald eagles soaring overhead and deer roaming the valleys and foothills.

Your Terratrek tour will take you on inn-to-inn bike trips that can last between two and six days. You can pedal through evergreen forests, incredibly beautiful meadows and enjoy the rural setting of farms and waterfront villages.

Sea life also plays an important part in your bicycle excursion through the San Juans. You can either sea kayak or take a whale-watching cruise on one of the tour days.

Best of all, no biking experience is necessary. The tour operators will show you everything you need to know.

For more information, please visit or phone 888-441-2433.

Columbia and Snake River cruises

There's nothing quite like viewing our gorgeous Northwest scenery from the water. And one great way to do that is to hop on board one of the small ships that explore the Columbia and Snake rivers. These vessels are designed specifically for rivers and close-to-shore sightseeing.

The Sea Bird takes passengers on a seven-day river cruise and, along the way, you'll be able to explore the Palouse River and spectacular Hells Canyon. Lewis and Clark Wildlife Refuge is also on the itinerary and, leaving from Portland, you'll have ports of call in such Oregon cities as Astoria, Hood River and the Dalles. You'll also stop in Clarkston, Washington where you will disembark.

The Sea Bird accommodates 62 guests in 31 outside cabins. Passengers compare the experience to that of a large private yacht, where you get to know your fellow passengers.

With modern kayaks and Zodiacs on board, you can be off the ship and out exploring within a moment's notice, exploring beaches, sandy dunes and forests.

For more information, please visit or phone 1-800-344-6118.

Sea kayaking


If you've always wanted to try sea kayaking but do it in a way that minimizes any risk, then a two-day sea kayaking tour to James Island is the perfect option for you. This guided trip takes you from Lopez Island in the San Juans to James Island, about 2.5 miles away.

The trip is great for all ages and is an especially good trip for beginners who have always wanted to try the kayaking/camping experience. No previous paddling or camping experience is necessary, and it's ideal for kids over six when accompanied by a parent.

The equipment is all provided which includes fiberglass touring sea kayaks, paddles, dry packs, tents and everything you need to set up camp -- including a well-stocked outfitter kitchen for your meals.

You meet up with your guides on Lopez Island and, once you get your instructions and training, you'll head off to James Island State Park, about a two or three-hour paddle.

There are lots of activities and exploration both days on the island, including clamming and a scavenger hunt. You return to Lopez the next afternoon.

For more information, please visit or phone 425-883-9039.