Western USA gives depth and beauty to the American wild. The landscapes here are stunners, from the high Rockies to the dramatic coastline, from the Great Plains' hypnotizing big-sky horizons to Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Some of America's most iconic animals animate the wild, including grizzlies, wolves, elk and bison. Elsewhere, surfers, kayakers and beachcombers flock to sunny beaches and the rocky, mood-filled stretches of Oregon and Washington coastlines. Red rocks, plunging gorges and prickly-pear deserts lure hikers, rafters and cyclists to the Southwest and Grand Canyon. Over in the Rockies, snow-capped peaks offer some world's-best hiking, skiing and climbing.
Fish tacos in San Diego, Sonoran dogs in Tucson, trout and bison in the Rockies, green and red chiles in New Mexico and wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest: regional specialties here are as diverse as the landscapes. One commonality? Chefs and travellers alike are focusing on fresh and locally grown food, a locavore trend that started in the West. Wine producers have embraced this eco-consciousness in an industry where Napa and Sonoma increasingly share the spotlight with Washington, Oregon and central California. And then there's the proliferation of microbreweries who understand that for people out West, small means beautiful.
While ROAM has traditionally championed remote and wild locales, Western cities in the USA do have an appeal and even distinct personalities. In California there's the hey-bro friendliness of San Diego, the silicon-meets-bohemian in San Francisco, and of course the wine sipping and spa pampering gives Napa and Sonoma a strangely compelling spoiled vibe. Rootsy vibes and outdoor fun pair in Colorado, Moab and Park City, while further north from Bend to Seattle, we get cutting-edge joins homegrown, often over a cup of joe. The classic western surf or mountain towns have an allure that attracts people from around the globe and ROAM brings out the best of them.
Bears larger than bison, national parks the size of nations, and glaciers bigger than other US states. The word ‘epic’ barely does Alaska justice.
The Call of the Wild
Pure, raw, unforgiving and humongous in scale, Alaska is a place that arouses basic instincts and ignites what Jack London termed the 'call of the wild.' Yet, unlike London and his gutsy, gold-rush companions, visitors today will have a far easier time penetrating the region's vast, feral wilderness. Few other places in the US allow you to scale an unclimbed mountain, walk where – quite possibly – no human foot has trodden before, or sally forth into a national park that gets fewer annual visitors than the International Space Station.
All Creatures Great and Small
Who needs zoos when you can get close-up views of brown bears snatching leaping salmon out of angry waterfalls or see curious moose posing majestically on national-park roadsides? Alaska is a land for wilderness purists who desire to observe big fauna in its natural habitat. This is no place for the timid. Hiking in unguarded backcountry might sometimes feel like being a guest in a very big food chain, but keep your wits about you, and the musk oxen, gray wolves, bears, caribou and other creatures great and small will quietly accept you into their domain.
Life on the Frontier
Space might be the final frontier, but for those without billions of dollars and their own space rocket, Alaska can provide a pretty gritty alternative. With scant phone coverage and a dearth of anything that passes for urban sophistication, this is a region for ‘doing’ rather than hanging out in coffee bars. This is the land of the bush pilot, crevasse-riddled glaciers and almost-virgin rivers. Whether you do a lodge-based adventure or one of ROAM’s incredible river expeditions, the rewards are immeasurable.