Photos of Parks, Beaches, Ski Areas, Adventure Travel, and the Great Outdoors

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    Sleepytime Trail, Vail Back Bowls ski area, Vail, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Photos of beaches, parks, recreation areas, adventure travel, and natural settings in or near gay-popular destinations around the world. Many of the venues in this gallery are ideal for hiking, camping, boating, biking, skiing, and other outdoorsy pursuits.

    An open, meandering run that descends from the top of Vail Mountain's Buffalo's/Patrol Headquarters area and curves in a leisurely formation through the otherwise challenging terrain of the legendary Back Bowls, Sleepytime is the most direct way to reach Blue Sky Basin from the Frontside of the mountain. It's mild enough a run for even relatively inexperienced skiers, which means experts will generally bother with Sleepytime strictly as a means of getting from Point A to Point B. It is pretty, however. Here's a trail map of Vail.

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    Surfing in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Many companies and hotels give surfing and paddle-surfing lessons (and also rent a variety of boats and water crafts) along Waikiki Beach. Here's a group of participants testing their look at both surfing and paddle-surfing out in the waves near the Royal Hawaiian Resort on Waikiki. Honolulu has its own gay surf club, whose contact information is listed with GayHawaii.com's resource page.

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    Lazing on the beach in the French Riviera, Nice, France

    photo by Andrew Collins

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    With a small but vibrant gay club scene and a number of gay-friendly accommodations, the French Riviera city of Nice has miles of pebbly but picturesque beaches. Here's a look at the gay scene in Cannes, Nice, and elsewhere along the French Riviera.

    Nice is close to Cannes (famous for its film festival) and Monte Carlo, Monaco, and it's home to some first-rate museums, countless sidewalk cafes, a gorgeous farmers market, and block after block of fine shopping. For more on gay Provence, check out Gay-Provence.Org.

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    Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon, Utah

    photo by Andrew Collins

    One of four major national parks in stunning southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is arguably the most beautiful, and it's a must-see on any road trip through the Four Corners region of southern Utah, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. Although this part of the world has virtually no gay nightlife or GLBT "scene" to speak of, it is a highly popular touring area among the many gays and lesbians who vacation in the Southwest and Rockies. The park, just off of Hwy. 12 and east of U.S. 89, offers magnificent views of pointed hoodoos (spires), carved amphitheaters, and other mesmerizing geographical features. You'll find comfortable lodgelike accommodations in the park itself, at Bryce Canyon Lodge. There's also one very gay-friendly B&B that makes a good base for exploring the region, the Red Brick Inn of Panguitch, about an hour northwest of Bryce, in the small town of Panguitch.

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    Echo Point in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba, Australia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    For one of the most expansive southerly views of the Blue Mountains, and specifically the Jamison Valley, head to Echo Point in Katoomba (at the southern end of Echo Point Rd., just off Cliff Dr.). This large, stepped viewing platform, at an elevation of about 3,250 feet, affords unobstructed vistas of the entire area, including the famed Three Sisters rock formation (which you can see the very edge of here, on the left side of this photo). There's a visitor center and gift shop here as well as the trailhead for the Giant Staircase hiking trail, which threads through the Three Sisters as it wends down to the valley floor. Just a across the road from Echo Point is the gay-friendly Windradyne B&B, and there are a handful of spots to eat and stay within walking distance. Also, 10-minute walk west of here you can take the aerial tram across the valley to the Scenic World museum and railway.

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    Hot-Air Ballooning over the Rio Grande, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Gay-friendly Albuquerque is considered the hot-air ballooning capital of the world, and dozens of outfitters here (along with a few in other parts of New Mexico) offer early-morning (and sometimes sunset) rides of the stunning Rio Grande valley - the views of the city and the cloud-scraping Sandia Mountains are something else. The Duke City also hosts the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each fall - it's one of New Mexico's biggest draws.

    The fiesta takes place on the grounds of the state-of-the-art Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. A few reputable companies worth contacting if you're looking for a hot-air balloon ride of the area include Enchanted Winds, Rainbow Ryders, and Above and Beyond Affordable Balloon Rides.

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    Box Canyon ice climbing, Ouray, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Ouray, Colorado's famed Ice Park is situated just on the south end of downtown, conveniently within walking distance of several hotels, at the north end of the Uncompahgre River Gorge. In this 150-foot-deep canyon, ice-climbing enthusiasts can test their skills against a sheer ice wall (water is run down the sides of the canyon during the winter to create the thick layers of ice). Pictured here is a climber working from near the base of the canyon. If you're interested in trying ice-climbing yourself, consider booking a lesson with San Juan Mountain Guides

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    Black's Beach, north of La Jolla, San Diego, California

    photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the nation's iconic nude beaches, San Diego's majestically situated Black's Beach is also a favorite hangout of gay men and lesbians - clothed, partially clothed, scantilly clothed, unclothed, and all permutations thereof. This 2-miles stretch of soft sand lies at the base of 300-foot cliffs near University of California-San Diego, just north of La Jolla and about a 15- to 20-minute drive north of downtown San Diego.

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    The beach can be a tiny bit tricky to locate - here are directions from downtown, but also check out the location of the parking area via this aerial photo and map overlay at google maps. From downtown, take I-5 north to exit 28B, and head west (toward the ocean) on La Jolla Village Drive, which curves north and becomes North Torrey Pines Road. After less than a half-mile, note the signs for the glider port (pictured here) and make a left turn onto Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. Follow this to the end, driving onto the dirt...MORE road and following it north to the parking lot (beware all the bumps and potholes), where there are plenty of spaces. You'll almost always see a bunch of gay guys parked here checking out the scene and each other. Note that public sex and nudity is not sanctioned here or down on the beach, but this is a relatively unregulated beach, because of its seclusion, and it's safe to say that as long as you're not causing anybody any trouble, you will generally be left alone down on the beach.

    Be very careful around the cliffs on the edge of the parking area, as it's easy to lose your footing here, and a major slip could end tragically - it's a long way down. Stay away from the edge, obey the signs warning of unstable areas, and follow the established natural pathways that lead down to the beach. Step carefully and deliberately. Black's Beach is a stunning place to watch the sun set - bring a flashlight if you're planning to stay for this, as it's not easy feat climbing back up to the parking area in the dark. Yes, lots of warnings and precautions here (just to be on the safe side), but this is a splendid spot for beachlovers, naturists, and gay folks just wanting to be themselves out in the sun. Have fun!

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    Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Perhaps no natural feature defines southern Arizona, and Tucson in particular, more famously than the towering, forklike, slow-growing saguaro cactus, for which Saguaro National Park (520-733-5153) is named. This 91,500-acre park is divided into two section, which bracket the city of Tucson on the east and west (they're about 30 miles, or a one-hour drive, apart from one another). Scenic loop roads and many miles of hiking trails wind through each section, although most of Saguaro National Park is designated wilderness. There's also a paved bike trail in the eastern section, and a gravel bike path in the western one. Each of the two park districts also contains a visitor center, with information about not only these curious-looking, captivating plants but also the hundreds of other flora that thrive in this harsh yet stunningly beautiful desert environment.

    If your curious about saguaro cacti, which grows unbelievably slowly and doesn't produce any branches until it's at...MORE least 50 years old, check out the exhibits in the visitor centers as well as the park's online Saguaro Cactus Question & Answer Guide. Also useful is the official park map, which shows detailed overviews of both the eastern Rincon Mountain District and western Tucson Mountain District of this popular park. Both sections offer plenty to see and do, and because they're rather far apart, it's best to allow at least a full day to explore each section.

    If you have only a couple of hours, pick the section nearest to where you're spending time in Tucson and plan to stop by the visitor center, drive part or all of the loop drive, and perhaps stop for a short hike. Both sections are similarly interesting and beautiful - the western Tuscon Mountain District is perhaps best regarded for its dramatic sunsets, while the eastern Rincon Mountain District offers the best light in the morning.

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    Manuel Antonio National Park white-face monkey, Quepos, Costa Rica

    photo by Andrew Collins

    A white-face monkey lounging in the forest behind the beach near Manuel Antonio National Park.

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    Penguin Island, Zapallar, Chile

    photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the great day-trips worth making from the increasingly gay-popular city of Santiago, Chile or its nearby and quite smart seaside beach resort of Vina del Mar is up the coast to the charming little town of Zapallar. From this vantage point, along the beach south of Zapallar in the village of Cachagua, you can see Penguin Island, a national penguin preserve - yes, those little specks pictured on the rocks, against the sunset, are Humboldt penguins.

    While you're out this way, you can also cut a bit inland for a hike at the rugged La Campana National Park, which has trails leading up to waterfalls and sweeping overlooks. In the small town of Zapallar, there's outstanding dining at the seafood restaurant not far away called El Chiringuito, which serves terrific shellfish (including the locally famous dish, razor clams) and has wonderful views overlooking the water. This is a great trip if you're looking for a fun adventure that's not too far from Santiago - you can...MORE rent a car and make the journey yourself, or Santiago Adventures (tel. 802-904-6798 in the United States, or 56-2-244-2750 in Chile) is a highly reliable tour company that offers regular excursions out to Zapallar, the penguin preserve, and La Campana National Park.

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    Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee, North Carolina

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Asheville is an excellent base for exploring the dramatic, mountainous coountryside of western North Carolina, including the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, which cuts through the east side of Asheville, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, whose North Carolina (Cherokee) entrance lies about an hour west of Asheville via I-40, U.S. 19, and U.S. 441.

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    Telluride Ski Resort, Telluride, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Home to Telluride Gay Ski Week during the last week of February and first week of March, breathtaking Telluride Ski Resort rises sharply above the historic village for which it is named. This challenging mountain with 84 runs and a 3,500-foot vertical drop (highest point is 12,255 feet) is one of western Colorado's world-class facilities. And it's in a laid-back, upscale, gay-friendly town with a number of stellar restaurants, inns, and shops. During Gay Ski Week, accommodations are at the cushy Mountain Lodge resort. Telluride buzzes with activity all winterlong but is also a beautiful spot for hiking, fishing, and camping during the summer months - visit the Telluride Tourism Board's website for more information.

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    Barcelonetta Beach gay section, Barcelona, Spain

    photo by Andrew Collins

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    One of a few excellent gay beaches in the bustling and sophisticated Spanish city of Barcelona, the beach at Barceloneta can be easily walked to from the Barceloneta metro stop, or by walking south (heading to the right) from the Olympic Port/Marina Village area. You can also take an aerial tram to the beach from Parc de Montjuic. The beachfront here is typically packed with hot guys and women, and there are several lively cafes and mainstream though gay-friendly bars along the beachfront here. For more on the city's popular gay beaches, check out the online Gay Beaches guide at GayBarcelona4u.com

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    Ogunquit River, Ogunquit, Maine

    photo by Andrew Collins

    The view of the Ogunquit River, looking north from the Beach Street bridge, leading from Ogunquit's Village Center (with its shops and restaurants) to the parking area by the ocean. Here you're looking north, toward the area of beach that has the most popular gay and lesbian following.

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    Glacier Trekking on Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Among the myriad outdoors activities available in the progressive, gay-friendly city of Juneau, visiting a glacier tops the list. The simplest way to do this is to drive out to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, which sits just 10 miles north of downtown and contains some excellent exhibits on this hulking glacier, which you can view from a nearby observation area. You can hike right on the glacier by booking a helicopter trip through Northstar Trekking. A chopper lifts passengers and a guide up to Mendenhall Glacier, first circling over the massive Juneau Icefield (which covers some 1,500 square miles, extending from Juneau well into British Columbia), then depositing everybody onto the glacier. Next your guide straps crampons (ice spikes) onto your shoes and leads you on a hike over the ice, with its eerie blue pools and streams. For a truly intensive glacier experience, opt for an all-day hike with Above & Beyond Alaska, whose friendly and knowledgeable guides will lead you...MORE up a trail alongside Mendenhall Glacier, and then out onto the ice itself. The company also offers ice-climbing, rock-climbing, whale-watching charters, and water-taxi services. There's really no better way to understand the glacial process, which carved out much of North America during the last Ice Age, than to hike across one of these huge floes of ice - it's an unforgettable experience. Both Above & Beyond Alaska and Northstar Trekking are safe, well-respected, and gay-friendly companies. For tourism information on Juneau, check out the Travel Juneau website.

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    Bell Rock hiking area, Sedona, Arizona

    photo by Andrew Collins

    If you only have time for a short hike during your visit to Sedona, consider scrambling up at least part of the way to one of the regon's most notable and accessible red-rock landmarks, Bell Rock, which is just off Highway 179 between the older Uptown section of downtown Sedona and the community of Oak Creek, to the south.

    Bell Rock is popular because it's easy to reach the trailhead, and it affords stunning views of the red-rock-strewn landscape in every direction. To get here, drive about 5 miles south to this parking area along Highway 179. From here a well-marked trail leads to the base of Bell Rock, from which numerous trails encircle the formation, lead up toward the peak (only very experienced climbers can hike at the top, but you can get about a good way up without any rock-climbing equipment), or lead to nearby formations, including the massive Courthouse Butte.

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    Haystack Rock and beachfront, Cannon Beach, Oregon

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Cannon Beach is a popular vacation community on the Oregon coast about a 90-minute drive west of Portland, and roughly a 45-minute drive down the coast from the artsy town of Astoria, Oregon.

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    Tabacon Hot Springs, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Part of the luxe, gay-friendly Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort that lies in the shadows of Costa Rica's gregariously active Arenal Volcano, the lava-heated hot springs at Tabacon's spa are a soothing and relaxing place to spend an afternoon, hopping from pool to pool. You can finish all this with a hot-stone treatment or mud wrap in the spa, or by having lunch in the spa's open-air restaurant overlooking the pool and, beyond that, the lush rain forest.

    You can partake of the spa and hot springs as an overnight guest at the swish resort (it's on Hwy. 142 between the town of La Fortuna and Lake Arenal, tel. 877-277-8291 in the U.S. or Canada, or 506-2519-1940 directly), or you can purchase a day pass to swim and relax in the springs. Tabacon's clientele is largely straight couples from North America and Europe, but the resort is very welcoming toward gay and lesbian visitors. And even if you don't stay on property, it's really a must to visit the springs if...MORE you're traveling to this popular part of the country, which is on the border of the Guanacaste and Alajuela provinces.

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    Blackcomb Mountain ski area, Whistler, British Columbia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the highest skiable sections of Blackcomb Mountain, the 7th Heaven Express leads to three favorite intermediate runs (Upper and Lower Cloud Nine, Upper and Lower Panorama, and Hugh's Heaven) as well as an easy (Green Line) trail that switchbacks down to Rendezvous ski area and lodge. From Rendezvous, you can access this chair via the easy, narrow 7th Avenue trail. This is one of the best spots on the mountain for shutterbugs - the views are stunning.

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    Red Rock State Park, Sedona, Arizona

    photo by Andrew Collins

    an excellent spot for hiking, picnicking, and photography, Sedona's Red Rock State Park (off Red Rock Loop Rd., 928-282-6907) opened in 1991 and offers some of the best views of the stunning region. Pictured here in the distance, Cathedral Rock rises above a meadow.

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    Pines gay beach, Fire Island, New York

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Sunbathers congregate on the sand in The Pines, on Fire Island. This stretch of surf leads west-southwest to Cherry Grove, which has a similarly popular beachfront - together, these are two of the leading gay beaches in the country.

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    Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    photo by Andrew Collins

    The most visible and dramatic defining geographical feature of Albuquerque, the Sandia mountain range is actually part of the Sandia-Manzano Mountains, and this singularly huge, jagged ridge rises to 10,678 feet above sea level (and about a mile above Albuquerque, which has an elevation of 5,200 feet). The range, pictured here following a night of snow, is named for the watermelon hue cast over the mountains at sunset (sandia is the Spanish word for watermelon). This photo is taken from Forest Road 333, just off Tramway Rd., which leads to the Juan Tabo Basin Picnic Area. The most interesting way to explore the Sandia is to ride to the top on the Sandia Peak Tramway - the base of the tram is near this spot. Those are radio, TV, and other antennae atop the mountain, if you're wondering.

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    Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, California

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Avila Beach, just outside San Luis Obispo.

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    Los Muertos gay beach, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Adjacent to the popular Zona Romantica neighborhood of old Puerto Vallarta, an area rife with gay-friendly hotels, restaurants, and bars, you'll find gay-popular Los Muertos Beach, just outside the Blue Chairs gay resort. It's pretty easy to find - just look for the shirtless, muscle-bound men and a smaller number of lesbians, sunbathing along the section of blue chairs as well as a neighboring strip of green chairs, which are outside the Ritmos Beach Restuarant.

    In the background, note the beautiful new Playa Los Muertos Pier, which was unveiled in January 2013. Several gay party cruises depart from the end of the pier, as do water taxis to Yelapa, Boca de Tomatlan, and others areas around the bay.

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    Hippie Hollow Park gay section, at Lake Travis, Austin, Texas

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Hippie Hollow Park is Austin's definitive gay beach, set along the rocky and scenic shores of Lake Travis. This is a fine place for (clothing-optional) sunbathing, mingling with friends or making new ones, or boating around the lake. You can take a break from the action at the nearby Oasis Restaurant, which sits high on a bluff overlooking all the action.

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    English Bay Beach Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Vancouver has a couple of beaches with a strong gay following, two that are right in the West End (close to the Davie Street Gay Village) - Sunset Beach and, pictured here, English Bay Beach (aka First Beach). Another option, over near the Univ. of British Columbia within the boundary of Pacific Spirit Regional Park, is the quite famous and rather hard to reach Wreck Beach - this is a clothing-optional stretch of sand that has a predominantly gay section (found to the left as you approach).

    Again, the West End beaches do not permit nudity and really aren't all that cruisy, at least in an explicit sense - although from English Bay Beach you can walk north along the Stanley Park Seawall and you'll eventually reach a wooded area near the Second Beach outdoor pool. English Bay Beach is located along Beach Avenue, right around the intersection with Davie Street. This is a stunning spot to watch the boats out on the Strait of Georgia - ideally, grab a light to-go meal from one of the...MORE many restaurants along nearby Denman Street (it's a hotbed of ethnic eateries), or an iced latte from the gay-popular coffeehouse, Delany's.

    From English Bay Beach, you can easily stroll along the seawall into Stanley Park. You could follow Beach Avenue south several blocks to reach the other notable (and very gay-popular) beach in the West End, Sunset Beach Park, which is right where Jervis and Bute streets intersect with Beach Avenue. Right by this beach, you'll also find another facility that's well-frequented by local gays and lesbians, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre - home to an Olympic-size natatorium.

    If you decide to explore the gay section of Wreck Beach, keep in mind that a little effort is required both to reach and find this secluded stretch of sand where nudity is permitted - even encouraged. It's part of 763-hectare Pacific Spirit Regional Park, and you can access from the Wreck Beach Trail Loop, accessed from the Welcome totem pole at the UBC Museum of Anthropology - here's a good map of the area and how to reach it, along with parking directions.

    It's the more southerly section (to your left, as you hike down to the beach) that has the main gay following - basically, the area south of the North Arm Breakwater, and accessed via the rather steep trail (it has stairs) marked as Trail No. 7. Another good resource on this entire park is the Wreck Beach Preservation Society.

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    Cheesman Park, Denver, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    A look at Denver's splendidly verdant Cheesman Park, during a warm sunny day in early September. The park is the site of Denver's annual Gay Pride celebration, with the parade starting from the park.

    Here's a look at Cheesman Park in winter, covered with snow, along with some additional information about the park and its location.

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    Cape Cod National Seashore, Truro, Massachusetts

    photo by Andrew Collins

    High dunes separate the beach from the ocean at Cape Cod National Seashore in Truro, the community just southeast of Provincetown. You'll find fewer crowds at the Truro sections of the seashore as well as some of the most dramatic scenery.

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    Out Kayaking GLBT kayaking club, Portland, Oregon

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Outdoorsy Portland has its own gay kayaking club, Out Kayaking, which is run by avid outdoorsman Kyle Sheeley, pictured here paddling in Scappoose Bay, just 25 miles north of Portland near Sauvie Island and the Columbia River. Out Kayaking has about 200 members and plans one or two group paddles each month. Guests and visiting out-of-towners are welcome to participate.

    A few kayaking outfitters in the area offer rental discounts in conjunction with these trips, including Scappoose Bay Kayaking, which helped with the trip pictured. Other gay-friendly outfitters you might look to for kayak rentals, instruction, and guidance include Aldercreek and Portland State University Rentals in downtown Portland, Adventure Without Limits in the suburb of Forest Grove, and Ridgefield Kayak Rentals, just across the border in Washington along the Columbia River.

    Gay sports clubs have become increasingly popular around the country, and in addition to Out Kayaking, Portland has a more general GLBT sports...MORE and recreation club, Adventure Group, which has been going strong since 1986. There are similar clubs in Seattle (OutVentures), Vancouver, and other big cities - the national group Out Sports has links to many of them.

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    Queen's Surf gay beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

    photo by Andrew Collins

    By far the most popular gay beach in Hawaii, and one of the most scenic and well-known in the world, Queen's Surf Beach is a relatively secluded stretch of sand in the heart of Waikiki, but along a section with no direct hotel frontage - this accounts for the fact there's more privacy and fewer families here than to the north or south. The beach here draws a mostly gay-male crowd, although certainly not exclusively so, as plenty of lesbians and straights seeking seclusion tan their hides here, too.

    Queen's Surf is easy to reach - it's just a short walk along the beachfront south of where Kapaluhu Avenue intersects with Kalakaua Avenue at the beach (not far from Hula's gay bar). The approximate street address is 2715 Kalakaua Ave., across from Honolulu Zoo and the northwest edge of Kapiolani Park, and just north of Waikiki Aquarium. There's a small covered pavilion along the grassy area behind the beach that has restrooms and a snack bar, and plenty of GLBT folks...MORE also lie along this grassy section. A bit farther northwest along the beach, you'll also find a nice-size volleyball court

    There's no nudity along here, and it's far too centralized to qualify as cruisy in any racy way, but that's not to say this isn't an excellent spot to mingle, make new friends, and find out what's on during the evening. As the day progresses and the sun sets, many of the beachgoers here walk over to nearby Hula's gay bar for some post-beach socializing and hobnobbing. It's a very congenial scene, not particularly attitude-y or stuffy. All shapes and sizes congregate here, including plenty of tourists just working on their tans.

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    Manuel Antonio National Park gay beach, Quepos, Costa Rica

    photo by Andrew Collins

    The beach beside Manuel Antonio National Park.

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    La Luz Trail in the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    photo by Andrew Collins

    With a trailhead (pictured here) that begins at the Juan Tabo Basin Picnic Area off Tramway Road in northeast Albuquerque, the La Luz Trail climbs some 3,400 feet to the soaring peak of the Sandia Mountains. This is a challenging but rewarding hike of nearly 9 miles, and it takes the better part of the day to manage it all the way to the top. One option, after enjoying some food at High Finance restaurant at the top, is to take the Sandia Peak Tram back down to the bottom. The base of the tram, however, is nearly 4 miles from the base the La Luz trailhead (here's a map), so a little planning is advised - either go with friends and park one car at the tram base and one at the trail base, or arrange for somebody to give you a ride between the tram base and the trailhead.

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    Cloud 9 Ski Trail, in the Blue Sky Basin, Vail, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Here's a look at Cloud 9, a narrow intermediate trail that winds down through the evergreens from Belle's Camp at Blue Sky Basin, eventually merging with The Star and Grand Review intermediate runs as well as carrying traffic from a number of short, fairly steep expert trails. Cloud 9 leads you back down to the Skyline Express Lift, which will take you back up to Belle's Camp, or to the Pete's Express, which will take you up to Blue Sky Basin's other peak, Grand Review. You can also follow Cloud 9 all the way down to the Tea Cup Express Lift, which will carry you out of Blue Sky Basin and up to the top of Vail Mountain, where you can head back to the resort village via the Frontside trails or return back down through the Back Bowls. Here's a trail map of Vail - scroll down to the bottom for Blue Sky Basin.

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    Gay Beach, Ogunquit, Maine

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Ogunquit is fringed by more than 3 miles of sandy shoreline, some of it directly facing the ocean, and some of it (as pictured here) facing a more protected tidal river. The beach here draws all walks of life, from families and hetero couples to gay folks, and you can access the beach right from the center of Ogunquit (off of Beach Street - you'll find pay parking lots at end of street). The Ogunquit Trolley also makes stops here. The predominantly gay section (aka "g section") of beach at Ogunquit is to the north, past the volleyball area, where on warm summer days, and especially weekends, you're apt to discover hordes of gay men and lesbians. At this section, you can choose to lie facing the ocean, or you can take some stairs down toward the calmer river area. Ogunquit's gay section is neither nude nor overtly cruisy, although it's not unheard to see bathers strip down to nearly nothing, and guys definitely do meet one another in this area.

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    Monon Trail, Indianapolis, Indiana

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Extending 10.5 miles north from downtown Indianapolis and the gay-popular Mass Ave Arts District through Broad Ripple Village and up to 96th Street, the Monon Trail is a classic rails-to-trails project. Bikers, bladers, walkers, and joggers utilize this scenic paved pathway (pictured here is a section that crosses the White River in Broad Ripple Village). The trail will eventually link to downtown's comprehensive Cultural Trail.

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    Race Point Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, Massachusetts

    photo by Andrew Collins

    You'll find miles of soft, golden sand at Race Point Beach, the popular sunbathing and beachcombing spot on the north side of Provincetown at Cape Cod National Seashore.

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    The Back Bowls ski area, Vail, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    A view peering into Vail's legendary Back Bowls, a 6-mile-wide, 2,800-acre playground totally six bowls in all - it's a generally uncrowded part of Vail, dominated by a few dozen mostly expert runs along with a few intermediates: Sleepytime, Poppyfields, and Silk Road, which are designed mostly to carry skiers to the bottom of the Back Bowls, where they can access the secluded terrain of Blue Sky Basin.

    Here's a trail map of Vail.

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    Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California

    photo by Andrew Collins

    The Golden Gate Bridge, which spans San Francisco Bay, facing south from the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Recreation Area. This is a popular place to go biking from San Francisco (you travel right across the bridge and up into the hills on the other side that make up the Marin Headlands). If you're driving up the coast from San Francisco toward Point Reyes National Seashore or Bodega Bay, this is also a wonderful stop for a photo, a quick ramble, or a picnic. You can rent bikes in San Francisco at a number of places, one of the best and most conveniently located being Avenue Cyclery, on the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District.

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    Airport Mesa overlook hiking area, Sedona, Arizona

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Airport Mesa, where Sedona's small airport is located, has some of the vantage points for gaining a full view of the region and its stunning red-rock formations. There's a 3.5-mile loop trail on the mesa that takes in many of Sedona's most distinctive rock formations, such as Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock, and Capitol Butte. The parking area is along Airport Road - here's an aerial view.

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    Crescent Beach, near Old Harbor, Block Island, Rhode Island

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Block Island, the genial and wonderfully pristine land mass off the coast of Rhode Island, has been a wonderful spot for a low-keyed yet sophisticated beach vacation for generations. There's virtually no gay following here, even compared with the relatively mainstream Martha's Vineyard, but this is a progressive, liberal-minded community that's very welcoming toward gay and lesbian visitors nonetheless - perfect if you're seeking peace and quiet, stunning maritime vistas, and secluded beaches (this photo depicts Crescent Beach, which is fringed by Corn Neck Rd., just north of Old Harbor's clutch of shops and restaurants as well as the main ferry terminal). For tourist information on the island, visit the Block Island Chamber of Commerce website. Block Island is an easy day-trip, by ferry, from such gay-popular Rhode Island cities as Providence and Newport, and it's prime tourism season is May through October (with July and August the busiest). If you do make it...MORE out for the day, be sure to drop by Eli's (on Chapel St., 401-466-5230, a fantastic restaurant serving creative contemporary American chow.

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    Angles and Fusion Gay Catamaran Cruises, Honolulu, Hawaii

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Catamaran cruises are a favorite way to tour the waters off Waikiki. Honolulu's leading gay bar Hula's, offers all-gay catamaran cruises. The Hula's cruise takes place on Saturdays at 2 pm - just call either bar for details. Nude sunbathing is permitted onboard, and mai tai cocktails are served. These excursions are a great way to meet fellow GLBT visitors to Honolulu.

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    Red Rocks Park, Denver, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Just a 20-mile drive west of downtown Denver, rugged and picturesque Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre (4600 Humboldt St., 303-295-4444‎) is one of the most alluring - and popular - attractions in the region. The stunning landscape was once a gathering spot of Ute Indians, and by the late 19th century had been named Garden of the Angels, and then later Garden of the Titans. Today the park and its dramatic red sandstone boulders are a favorite hiking venue, and home to an dramatic open-air amphitheater that stages top-name concerts.

    Concerts have, in fact, been a part of the Red Rocks legacy for more than a century - an early owner of the property produced concerts here as early as 1906. In the 1920s, the Denver Parks Department purchased the property, and soon enlisted the considerable manpower of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) - part of the WPA New Deal program - to building the elegantly simple yet visually mesmerizing concert venue that Red Rocks is today. In recent years, Red...MORE Rocks has hosted some of the most important rock acts in the world, plus plenty of shows with a strong gay following (i.e., the True Colors Tour with Cyndi Lauper, the B-52s, Rosie O'Donnell, Carson Kressley, etc.), REM, Abba, the Bee Gees, Tori Amos, the Dresden Dolls, Margaret Cho, Debbie Harry, Erasure, Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls - the list goes on and on.

    All year, you can hike at the park - there's a simple 1.4-mile Trading Post Loop that's especially scenic.

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    Alyeska Ski Resort (near Anchorage), Girdwood, Alaska

    photo by Andrew Collins

    About 40 miles southeast of Anchorage on the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, the small, outdoorsy village of Girdwood is home to one of the state's most luxury ski and sports resorts, the Alyeska Resort, along with a number of vacation rentals and a few B&Bs. It's a tiny town, perfect for a weekend getaway from Anchorage, or as a stopover en route to the Kenai Peninsula and towns like Whittier or Seward. The nearest gay scene of any kind is back up in Anchorage, but this is a welcoming, laid-back community, and the Alyeska Resort is quite gay-friendly - it's the best spot in town for dining as well as a great ski area and a popular spot for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and other summertime adventures.

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    Fort Lauderdale gay beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Fort Lauderdale's most popular gay beach lies where Terramar Street meets the ocean (about midway between Sunrise and Las Olas boulevards), directly across Highway A1A from the Atlantic Hotel. From the Atlantic's rooms (as pictured in this photo), guests have a clear view of this gay-popular stretch of Fort Lauderdale Beach, which attracts many of the guests from the nearby gay resorts, such as the Royal Palms, Villa Venice, Alcazar, Cheston House, Elysium, and several others. This is a section of Fort Lauderdale beachfront that the city has done a fantastic job revitalizing and cleaning up in recent years, and it's now one of the most attractive beachfronts in the state.

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    Ouray Hot Springs Park, Ouray, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Although little Ouray was established as a silver- and gold-mining town, it's the area's geothermal hot springs that have helped turn it into a small but thriving tourist destination. You'll find hot springs throughout region, but the most famous and easily visited are at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Park (U.S. 550 at the north end of downtown, 970-325-7073), located just off Main Street (U.S. 550) at the north edge of downtown. Here the public is welcome to swim, soak, and frolic in a huge outdoor pool where the waters hovers around 100 degrees.

    The town pool is great on a few counts - from it you can not only rejuvenate tired muscles, you can also soak up the views of the mesmerizing San Juan mountains that surround Ouray. Also, the springs here have no sulfur in them, and so are basically odorless. The pool is divided for lap swimming and diving, and there's also water volleyball and a slide - this tends to keep the kids in one section, leaving other areas for...MORE adults who'd rather not be part of the splashing. Most days the pools aren't overly crowded, although weekends tend to be the worst - arrive early afternoon or on weekdays if you'd rather avoid the crowds (hours are generally from late morning until 9 pm - check the site for exact schedule). Daily admission is $10, and that includes access to the adjacent fitness center. You can also book a massage treatment at the pool's spa facility.

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    Shenandoah National Park, Luray, Virginia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    A long, winding linear park in central Virginia's scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park was established in 1935 and offers some of the most spectacular views in the southeast, plus wonderful opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. The park is accessed along 105-mile Skyline Drive, a winding park road with numerous turnouts for taking pictures and embarking on short hikes. The park also has camping and hotel accommodations, a restaurant, and two visitors centers. A good place to orient yourself is Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center and Big Meadows Lodge - the latter has overnight accommodations and a restaurant serving very tasty home-style regional American food. About 10 miles north, there's a larger complex of hotel rooms as well as another well-reputed restaurant, the Pollock Dining Room, at Skyland Resort, an area that also affords magnificent views of the Shenandoah River Valley to the west, and Virginia's Piedmont region to the east....MORE Aramark, which operates the park lodges, is very gay-friendly and enthusiastically welcomes GLBT visitors.

    The northern entrance to the park is just 70 miles west of Washington, DC, and the southern entrance lies 25 miles west of Charlottesville

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    Juan Tabo Basin Picnic Area and La Luz Trailhead, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the prettiest spots in Albuquerque for a view of the region, and of the Sandia Mountains which rise above the city to the east, the Juan Tabo Basin Picnic Area is part of Cibola National Forest. Pictured here following a light snowfall (yes, Albuquerque actually receives about a foot of snow per year, a little less than Washington, DC), the Juan Tabo Basin is also the trailead for the strenuous La Luz Trail, which climbs more than 3,000 feet over 8 miles to Sandia Peak.

    Although it feels remote and far removed from the city, this area is easy to reach - just follow Tramway Rd. from either I-25 or I-40, the same way you'd reach the base of the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Turn east onto Forest Rd. 333 and follow signs up to the basin parking area. Note that there's a daily fee of $3 per vehicle.

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    Mountain Road beach, Laguna Beach, California

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Laguna Beach contains one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Southern California, most of it easily accessed down side streets or stairwells at various points along South Coast Highway. Although gays and lesbian have long frequented just about any part of the beach in Laguna, including the centrally located Main Beach section opposite the village's commercial center, two sections have had the strongest gay following, West Street and Mountain Road Beach (pictured here). The latter stretch of beach, accessed from Mountain Road or Cress Street and located behind the former Coast Inn/Boom Boom Room complex and the nearby Surf and Sand Hotel, actually draws a mix of people, gay and straight, locals and tourists. Since the Coast Inn closed in 2007, it's become a bit less of a focal point for gay visitors.

    About 2.5 miles along South Coast Highway you'll find what's typically the most gay-popular beach in Laguna, West Street Beach (at S. Coast Hwy. and West St.),...MORE which is adjacent to Thousand Steps Beach and Aliso Creek Beach. If you follow the path down to the beach from West Street, turn right when you reach the sand, and walk a bit north to reach the area that draws most of the GLBT sun bunnies.

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    White Rock Lake beach, Dallas, Texas

    photo by Andrew Collins

    A popular recreation area for residents of Dallas, and a favorite spot of gay and lesbian sunbathers, White Rock Lake (off of Hwy. 2 and Hwy. 78, northeast of downtown, 972-622-7283) lies several miles northeast of downtown and comprises a number of points of interest, including a dog park, boathouse, beaches and jogging trails, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. There's not a gay section per se (and police are quite vigilant about public nudity and sexual activity - it's unwise to even think about it), but the lake just has something of a "family" following, and you'll often see gay folks walking and playing with dogs at the dog park at the north end of the lake. Note that there's no swimming or motorized craft permitted in the lake; however, kayaking and sailing are popular. And biking, in-line skating, jogging, and walking are popular activities along the lake's lovely shoreline.

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    Kitsilano Beach Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Fringing the north edge of Vancouver's lively Kitsilano neighborhood, which is just across from the Davie Street gay neighborhood via the Burrard Street Bridge, Kitsilano Beach Park (Arbutus St. and McNicoll Ave., 604-873-7000) is a beautiful spot to admire the Georgia Strait in the distance, and Stanley Park, English Bay, and the downtown skyline just to the north. At the park you'll also find a heated outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, and the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. At one end of the park, you'll also find the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

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    12th Street gay beach, Miami Beach, Florida

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Miami Beach has a pair of gay beaches, one of them a good-ways up north at 10800 Collins Avenue, called Haulover Beach, which is a haul from South Beach but popular because you're allowed to tan in the buff here. The other, with a much more central location for South Beach visitors, is the 12th Street Beach, which is just off Ocean Drive, across the street from the Palace Restaurant and Bar and beyond the grassy landscaped area. Nudity is not permitted here, but that doesn't stop the many sexy sunbathers here from wearing the skimpiest possible swimsuits and g-strings.

    The photo here actually looks north from a point slightly north of the main gay beach area (it was taken from up around 14th Street and Ocean Drive), but this gives a good idea of just how lovely the sand is at the South Beach gay section - a broad, beautiful, sugary-white expanse of sand fronting the lovely Atlantic surf.

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    Clackamas River, Oregon City, Oregon

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Set atop a dramatic bluff overlooking the Clackamas River in Oregon City, which is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Portland, the Stone Cliff Inn is a warm and friendly log-cabin-style building with a great restaurant serving affordable, huge portions of tasty American fare. This is a popular spot with folks who've taken whitewater rafting tours along the Upper Clackamas River - several excellent outfitters offer these tours. Baby-back ribs, huge burgers, blackened-halibut sandwiches, and marionberry French toast (at brunch) are among the favorite dishes.

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    Cherry Grove gay beach, Fire Island, New York

    photo by Andrew Collins

    The beautiful clothing-optional beach at Cherry Grove runs along the southern fringe of the Cherry Grove community and is separated from the beach at Fire Island Pines by a less-crowded swath of sand backed by the so-called "Meat Rack" forest. As with the beach at the Pines, the Cherry Grove beach draws a mostly gay crowd, although this section tends to see more of a mix of lesbians and gay men. It's also bordered by a fun restaurant and bar, Jumping Jacks.

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    Whistler Mountain Ski Area, Whistler, British Columbia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    The largest mid-mountain lodge and dining venue among Whistler and Blackcomb's ski areas, the Roundhouse Lodge is on Whistler Mountain and features three different food courts serving a wide range of fare as well as a full-service restaurant, Steeps Grill. Just outside the lodge you'll find the Whistler terminal for the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. You can also reach the Roundhouse Lodge via the Whistler Village Gondola and Emerald Express and Big Red Express lifts.

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    Beachfront in Cannes, France

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Famous for its Cannes Film Festival, the small city of Cannes is a social fixture of the French Riviera, and a must-see for visitors to the south of France. A great way to pass time here, whether or not there's a film festival in town, is to relax at one of the numerous cafes along the golden-sand beach - most of the beachfront restaurants require that you eat there and spend a certain amount of money for access, but it's well worth it to enjoy the scenery. None of these spots along the beach is famously gay, but the whole town is quite friendly and progressive. Here's a look at the gay scene in Cannes, Nice, and elsewhere along the French Riviera.

    This snazzy town abundant with chic cafes, ritzy restaurants, and luxe hotels also has a small but burgeoning gay-nightlife scene, with a handful of gay bars. La Croisette and Le Boulevard du Midi are the top thoroughfares for shopping and dining. Noteworthy gay bars in Cannes include Le Zanzibar, Le Hype (at 52 blvd Jean-Jaures),...MORE and the outstanding Le Marais restaurant and bar. The town is a short train from Nice and its picturesque beaches and lively clubs and flourishing gay scene.

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    Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu, Hawaii

    photo by Andrew Collins

    A view of the southeast side of Diamond Head State Monument volcanic crater (a very popular hiking venue), as well as Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park at the base of the crater, looking northwest from Doris Duke's former estate, Shangri-La, which is now a center for Islamic Art opened to the public. This is also the splendid view many residents of Honolulu's Waialae-Kahala neighborhood enjoy, as well as guests at the Kahala Resort. The stretch of sand you see in the very distance, where the coast bends around Diamond Head, is the gay-popular Diamond Head Beach.

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    Vail Mountain ski area, Vail, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    For one of the best all-around views of Vail Mountain, take Mountaintop Express Lift or Northwoods Express Lift up the Frontside (easily reached from either the Vail Village or Golden Peak areas). At the top, you'll be at Vail Mountain's highest elevation (11,250 feet), and the mountain's Patrol Headquarters/Buffalo's area. From here you can take mostly green and blue trails down the Frontside, or blue and black trails down into the Back Bowls, for access to the more secluded (and beautiful) Blue Sky Basin. The photo here is looking east from the Patrol Headquarters area across Headwall Ridge, with the Sleepytime intermediate trail curving off to the right into the Back Bowls.

    If you're an intermediate skier looking to get away from the crowds as quickly as possible and seek out some wonderfully scenic and remote terrain, get yourself up to this point (marked "Buffalo's") on the trail map, and then work your way down the Back Bowl's serpentine...MORE Sleepytime run, traversing at the base over to Skyline Express Lift. This whisks you up to Belle's Camp, one of the two main peaks at Blue Sky Basin (the other being the top of Pete's Express Lift - this is actually the highest elevation in all of Vail's ski terrain, at 11,570 feet).

    Here's a trail map of Vail Mountain.

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    Herring Cove Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, Massachusetts

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Bikes lined up along the street, near salt marshes in the Herring Cove section of Cape Cod National Seashore, which forms the western and northern border of Provincetown.

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    Pu'u 'Ualaka's State Wayside Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Majestic views aren't especially hard to come by in Honolulu, what with the soaring vistas enjoyed from the trail up to Diamond Head, and some fine vantage points had from different hotel high-rises throughout Waikiki. But few places in the city offer a more dazzling perspective on Honolulu, Waikiki, and Diamond Head than the viewing platform at Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside, which is just a 10-minute drive from downtown off Round Top Drive. This is the spot in Honolulu to watch both sunrise and sunset.

    The park opens at 7 each morning and closes at 6:45 pm (it's open till 7:45 pm from late spring through Labor Day). There are restrooms here but no other facilities, and temperatures at the park are generally a good 10 degrees cooler than in town. You get here by taking north from downtown (you can access it from S. Beretania Street) and following it up the hill until you reach Round Top Drive. Take a left onto Round Top, and just follow it as it winds its way up the...MORE hill - you'll eventually come to signs for the parking area for Pu'u 'Ualaka'a. From the parking area, it's just a quick little stroll to a viewing platform (pictured here) that takes in pretty much the entire city, from Pearl Harbor and the airport to the west all the way across downtown and over to Diamond Head and beyond to the east. It's a quite romantic perch to wind down a day of exploring the city.

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    Kayaking in Scappoose Bay, near Sauvie Island, Portland, Oregon

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Scappoose Bay, a gentle and meandering body of water about 25 miles northwest of Portland near the Columbia River, is one of several spots in the region where Out Kayaking - the community's GLBT kayaking club - organizes group kayaking adventures. You can rent kayaks here at Scappoose Bay Kayaking.

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    Blue Sky Basin ski area, opposite the Back Bowls, Vail, Colorado

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Blue Sky Basin is a backcountry-like section of Vail that was added during a somewhat controversial 2000 expansion. The opening of this 600-acre parcel that's characterized mostly by unfettered meadows and narrow, evergreen-studded chutes incurred the ire of some environmentalists, but over time, it's become a favorite terrain for expert and intermediate skiers attempting the dodge the significant crowds of Vail's Frontside. The minimally developed Blue Sky Basin is served by three high-speed lifts, the main two being Skyline Express and Pete's Express. At the top of Skyline, you'll find Belle's Camp, a scenic picnic area and warming hut.

    Here's a trail map of Vail - scroll down for Blue Sky Basin's section.

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    Tybee Island beach, near Savannah, Georgia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    It's just a 20- to 25-minute drive to Tybee Island, Savannah's beach community, which generally feels distinctly more family-oriented and less gay-popular than the city itself. With that in mind, it's worth coming out here, especially on a warm day, to walk or lie on the beach, tour Fort Pulaski National Monument, or grab a bite to eat. You won't find a gay beach, per se, but it's definitely a gay-friendly beach town, and there are a couple of GLBT-friendly vacation rentals here as well. Note the several worthwhile dining options, too, including Sundae Cafe and the famously dive-y and fun Crab Shack

    To reach Tybee Island, just head east on any main thoroughfare out of Savannah, eventually joining U.S. 80, which leads right onto Tybee Island.

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    Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, British Columbia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the area's most celebrated and visited attractions, Capilano Suspension Bridge (3735 Capilano Rd., North Vancouver, 604-985-7474) is actually the most famous part of an entire 27-acre nature park and First Nations cultural center in North Vancouver, about a 15- to 20-minute drive north of downtown. The bridge itself, built originally in 1889 and stretching 450 feet across the Capilano River gorge, is definitely a must - just go slowly if you're nervous about heights, as the river roars 230 feet below.

    You'll find several other things to see and do within this rainforest park, however. The First Nations Cultural Center traces the heritage of B.C.'s indigenous Kia'palano people - you can watch artisans working in traditional crafts throughout the day, and also learn from the series of totem poles set throughout the park, depicting Kia'palano stories. Guided nature tours discuss the flora and fauna of B.C.'s coastal rainforests, or you can explore the on...MORE your own; signage explains what you're seeing. Once you walk across the bridge, be sure to spend time amid the Treetops Adventure, a series of suspension walkways connecting the canopies of Douglas fir trees throughout the park - some of these bridges are 100 feet above the forest floor.

    Other attractions include a trading post, which - even by the standards of typical gift shops - carries an impressive inventory of Canadian crafts, artwork, books, nature-themed gifts, and souvenirs. And three eateries offer everything from casual snacks to, at the seasonal (spring through fall) Bridge House Restaurant, sophisticated lunches.

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    Creekside ski area, Whistler, British Columbia

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Whistler Resort comprises three different ski areas set over two side-by-side mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. The most secluded and least crowded of these is Creekside, which lies on the other side of Whistler Mountain from Whistler Village. This area has some amazing terrain (it's the site of most of the 2010 Olympics ski events), and it's accessible via the Creekside Gondola, pictured here. Right near the base, there's a lift-ticket office and ski and snowboard rental facility. You can also buy tickets online.

    With a little effort, using Creekside Gondola you can access any part of Whistler as well as Blackcomb mountains, but the Blackcomb runs are pretty far away, which is the one disadvantage of staying in Creekside. To reach Blackcomb, you'd take the Creekside Gondola to Raven's Nest Midstation, and then the Big Red Express to Roundhouse Lodge area and the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which then whisks you across the Blackcomb. Again, it takes a little effort, but...MORE the views are spectacular. The advantage to Creekside is the relative proximity to the hallowed expert terrain off The Peak chair (to get here, take Big Red Express and ski down Headwall (intermediate) and over to Peak. From the top of the Peak Chair, all of the terrain is black except for the very popular, beautiful, and long Upper Peak to Creek run, a winding intermediate run that you can take all the way down to Creekside (taking the Lower Peak to Creek fork). Here's a trail map of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

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    Hawaii Volcanoe National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Probably no activity more excites and delights visitors to the Big Island than viewing the graphic results of the some 70 million years of volcanism that have shaped the landscape. Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (main entrance off Hwy. 11 about 100 miles south of Kailua-Kona and 30 miles southwest of Hilo, 808-985-6000) is the perfect way to learn about this geological history and also view a pair of the most active volcanoes in the world. And if you have time, it's also worth planning down Hwy. 130 (Kaimu-Chain of Craters Rd.) to get relatively close to where hot flowing lava enters the sea - an area called the East Rift Zone. If your time is a bit more limited or you simply want an amazing aerial view, consider booking a helicopter tour of the volcanic activity with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, which has regular "Circle of Fire" excursions that fly right over Kilauea Volcano, which has been spewing lava and steam continuously since 1983.

    By car, even if you're...MORE not staying near the park (there are accommodations and services in the nearby town of Volcano), it's possible to visit and gain a cursory overview of the park in one fairly long day. Just drive down and visit the Kilauea Visitor Center, drive Crater Rim Drive (parts of which are often closed because of volcanic activity), hike some of the shorter trails (such as Devastation Trail) and the Thurston Lava Tube, visit the Jaggar Museum, and view the Halema'uma'u Crater, which is pictured here - from the summit of Kilauea - and is still releasing plumes of volcanic ash and noxious fumes (that's why parts of the road are often closed - it's critical that visitors not enter one of these dangerous ash clouds).

    In a very long day, there's even time to make it down to Hwy. 130 to explore the most dramatic lava flows - if you plan to visit both the main park area around Kilauea and drive down to the coast, consider making a full loop around the island, using Hwy. 11 for most of the way and crossing the upper mid-section of the Big Island via scenic Saddle Road.

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    Sunset Gay Beach, St. Petersburg, Florida

    photo by Andrew Collins

    St. Petersburg's best gay beach, known locally as Sunset Beach or Treasure Island Beach, is at the southern tip of Treasure Island, one the scenic barrier islands that extends along the Gulf of Mexico. This area has long been popular with GLBT sunbathers - it's also fairly close to the artsy community of Gulfport, which has a number of gay-popular restaurants, galleries, bars, and boutiques. Here are detailed directions for finding this slightly hard-to-find beach.

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    Sedona's red rocks, from Airport Mesa

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Sedona's red rock landscape has enchanted thousands of visitors, including many gays and lesbians, over the years. This view is from the Airport Mesa Overlook.

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    Fort Lauderdale gay beach at end of Terramar Street at Hwy. A1A

    photo by Andrew Collins

    Viewed here from a suite balcony at the posh Atlantic Hotel, the gay beach in Fort Lauderdale at the end of Terramar Street is one of the prettiest stretches of sand in South Florida and a popular sunbathing and swimming spot for guys staying at the many clothing-optional men's resorts nearby. The beach is just off Highway A1A, about midway between Sunrise Boulevard and Las Olas Boulevard.