Mainstream Adventures

When You Constantly Push Your Limits You Will Never Reach Them

Exploring Wildcat Den State Park

 Wildcat Den State Park is one of the most beautiful state parks in all of Iowa.  Combining preserved historical structures with natural beauty, and a wonderful trail system.  The unique trail system winds through a variety of different terrain and covers more then 4 miles on 420 acres of rugged beauty.  With 75 foot high cliffs and amazing rock formations scattered throughout, its easy to see why Wildcat Den is a favorite spot for hikers and outdoors lovers alike.

With so much  natural beauty, its easy to forget about the two historical attractions.  the first is the pine creek grist mill, built in 1848.  This mill is listed on the national register of historic places, and is one of the best examples of mid 19th century mills left in the country.  The other historical attraction is located near the south entrance, and is an early 1900’s era, one room school house.  These two attractions offer a glimpse into the past and are perfectly preserved and open for viewing throughout the summer months.

Wildcat Den State Park is also a great location for your next camping and picnicking, the park has 28 campsites with non modern restrooms.  There is also two shelters and a wide variety of picnic settings throughout the park, many with picnic tables and mounted charcoal grills.

Don’t Miss:   The Pine Grist Mill and bridge.  If hiking is not your thing, you can still make your way over to the pine mill bridge.  It’s only a short walk from the parking lot, but the view is breathtaking!  This section of the park is one of the most photographed locations in the state.  A popular destination for prom and engagement photos.   There is also a waterfall located just behind the mill.

 Logistic’s:  From Highway 22 turn North on Wildcat Den Road, follow road for 1 mile to the park entrance.  1884 Wildcat Den Road, Muscatine.

Best Time:  It’s always a good time to visit Wildcat Den.  Although visiting during mild weather is my favorite time to visit.

Pit Stop:  The Buffalo Shores Parkway is located less then 8 miles from the park, and offers camping and fishing.  The parkway also features a long sandy beach perfect for swimming or relaxing on the Mississippi River.

Extended Play:  West Lake Park is only 14 miles away, and has rental cabins, fishing, camping, paddle-boat rentals, and a beach area to dip your toes in the water.

Travel Smart:  As always when hiking, remember to pack weather appropriate clothing and comfy shoes.  I also recommend bringing sandals or a water shoe, as there are several different opportunities to cool off by wading into the pine creek which runs throughout the park.  Remember to pack plenty of water for your trip, bug spray, and sunscreen may also be a good idea.

Exploring Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa Caves State Park:  This beautiful state park is one of the most popular in the entire state.  Located in Jackson County, sitting just Northwest of Maquoketa.  The park rests on more then 360 acres of rough, hilly terrain.  In 1991 111 acres on the east side of the park became listed as a historic district.   Maquoketa Caves State Park has more caves then any other park in the state.  The trail system, offers a beautiful hike, that links together the caves, rock formations, and scenic overlooks.

White settlers discovered the cave’s in 1834, after 2 hunters tracking a deer stumbled upon the dance hall cave.  Over the years various artifacts such as  pottery, tools and arrowheads made of stone, have been found in and around the park.   This indicates that the caves have been visited by humans for hundred’s maybe thousands of years.

The park features 16 accessible caves, which offer great caving  for experienced and inexperienced cavers alike.  The hiking trails are just over 6 miles in length, and are a great way to see the park.  There is also a campground with 29 campsites, 17 of which have electrical hookups.

Don’t Miss:  The dance hall cave,is the largest cave in the park.  Checking in at over 1000 feet in length, this cave is partially developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and has a paved walkway, along with a lighting system.  For the more adventurous park visitors, be sure to check out the Wye Cave, for some of the best spelunking in Iowa.

Logistic’s:  Located Northwest of Maquoketa, from Highway 61, take Y31 west till you turn right  onto 98th street, follow the winding road into Maquoketa Caves State Park.

Best Time:  From Memorial Day to Labor Day the park is pretty busy.  I suggest visiting during a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Pit Stop:  After all that hiking, your sure to have worked up an appetite.  Swing into Bluff Lake Catfish Pond for a delicious home cooked meal.  This charming restaurant sits on the waters edge, nestled between a dense forest and a beautiful rock bluff.  Time your trip right and you might catch a 25 foot waterfall flowing over the bluff into the lake as you enjoy your meal.

 

Travel Smart:   You are hiking and spelunking so comfortable shoes are a must.  This is a trip in which you might get a little muddy, so bringing a change of clothing may be a good idea.  In addition to clothing, you will want to pack cool drinking water, bug spray, sunscreen, and most importantly flashlights.

Dogwood Canyon Is An Adventure You Won’t Want To Miss

Dogwood Canyon  has been described as an outdoor wonderland just waiting to be explored.  This Midwestern paradise is spread out on more then 10,000 acres of ruggedly beautiful terrain.  The park has 4 waterfalls, 2 lakes, and a beautiful meandering stream, that winds its way through the canyon.

The 6.5 mile paved walking trail guides you past gorgeous limestone bluffs and tumbling waterfalls!  Beautiful rainbow trout swim in clear spring-fed waters, easily visible as you pass by. Native Ozark wildlife can be seen throughout the wilderness park as you walk or hike on the many trails available.

There are currently several different ways to explore Dogwood Canyon:  Hiking, Horseback riding, Segway Tours, Tram Tours, by Bicycle or by private tour.

A trip to Dogwood Canyon is as much educational as it is adventurous.  On the tram tour guests will learn the unique history of the land from knowledgeable guides. There are also fly fishing programs, and the education center is a great place to learn about the beauty of the Ozarks.

While  the area is surrounded with breathtaking natural beauty.  Some of the man made attractions are equally appealing. Dogwood Canyon  features a gorgeous  chapel, a covered bridge of Amish design, and one of the most amazing treehouses you will ever see.

The park is owned and managed by the Dogwood Canyon Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the canyon’s natural plant and wildlife environment.

 Don’t Miss: The private tour is an amazing way to view the park.  This is a two hour long guided tour, that takes visitors to parts of the park that very few have seen before.

Logistic’s:  2038 West State Hwy 86 Lampe, Missouri 65681

Best Time:  The fall is my favorite time to visit, the canyon is so beautiful with the fall foliage .  Plus the cooler temps make being outside more enjoyable.

Pit Stop:  Visit Cosmic Cavern, just 7 miles away from Dogwood Canyon.  Cosmic Cavern is one of Arkansas most beautiful natural attractions!

Extended Play:  Spend the night in a tree house at Branson Tree-House Adventures, located just 18 miles away.

Travel Smart:  With most outdoor activities, you need comfortable shoes, sunscreen and bug spray.  For this trip i also recommend a good camera.  There is so much beauty to be found in Dogwood Canyon, you will need a good camera.

For more information visit: http://dogwoodcanyon.org

Kayak the Current River

Kayak The Current River:  The current river is one of the most beautiful water trails in the Midwest.  With crystal clear water, towering bluffs, and several caves right on the water.

But its not just the spectacular views that make this float trip special.  Its also the rich history of the area. During your float trip you will pass several points of historical interest, including an old school house from the 1800’s. There is also two abandoned cabins. The Howell-Maggard Cabin built in the early 1800’s, which has ties to the legendary Jesse James.  The other cabin is below Pulltite Springs, and was built in the French style in which the logs are placed upright so as not to have to notch them.  This cabin was finished in 1913, and is still open for exploration today.

The Current River is spring fed and moves through stunning Ozark landscapes, with bluffs ranging in height from 12 feet to 200 feet. The water has a constant year round temperature of 58 degrees.  Which makes it one of only a few places, you can kayak in the middle of winter.

On the International Scale of River Difficulty, the Current River ranks as a Class 1 river, the easiest and safest rank. It is enjoyable for both beginners and experts. A float trip on the Current River is an experience you won’t forget.

Don’t Miss:  Allow yourself extra time to explore the area.  There are several hidden caves in the area, multiple fresh water springs, and even the ruins of an abandoned hospital hidden behind Welch Springs.

Logistic’s:  The Current River forms in the southeastern portion of the Ozarks of Missouri and flows southeasterly out of the Ozarks into northeastern Arkansas.  There are several great options to access the river.   The most scenic section, stretches from Cedar Grove to Round Springs, about 29 miles.

Best Time:  This is a great place to spend a hot summer day.  There are several springs to cool off in and the 58 degree water is especially refreshing on a hot day.

Pit Stop: Pack a picnic and take a break at  Medlock Springs.  The area  is  beautiful and features a cave and a gorgeous spring on the hillside.

Extended Play:  There are four named caves along the river, and five more hidden ones.  To add to your adventure try finding all nine.

Travel Smart:    Any time on the water, can be dangerous if you do not plan your trip properly.  Be sure to plan a start and finish time and location.  Share your plans with others.  This way others will know where to begin looking if you do not arrive as planned.  Pack life jackets, water and snacks.  There are several outfitters in the area that provide kayak rentals as well as shuttle service.  I highly suggest using one of these companies to help your trip run smoothly.

14 Trails In Illinois That Lead To Amazing Places!

If you ever need a little motivation to lace up your boots and go for a hike, here are 14 trails in Illinois that will provide all the motivation you need.  All these paths take you to unexpected wonders that will blow your mind

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve:  Located near Mount Vernon, this hike leads to a cave that is very unique.  Hikers take an easy 1.8-mile trek through Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve to see this natural formation.

Devils Prop Nature Preserve Photo owned by John Irvin

Hawk’s Cave Trails: This trail is just .7 miles and is one of the easiest trails to hike at Ferne Clyffe near Goreville. Along the way, you’ll pass wild flowers and wildlife as well as an impressive rock formation you won’t want to miss.

Hawks Cave Trail Photo owned by John Irvin

Panther Den Loop:  A 3.1-mile path through Panther Den Wilderness will take you past some amazing  rock formations riddled with caverns and canyons. As far as cave trails go, this is one of the best loop hikes in the state.

Panther Den Loop Photo owned by John Irvin

Salt Lick Point Trail:Part of the 600-acre Salt Lick Point Land and Water Reserve, this is one of the coolest cave trails in Illinois. You’ll find the cave along a 2.9-mile loop path near Valmeyer. Be sure to allow for extra time on this hike, there is so much to explore you could stay all day.

Salt Lick Point Trail Photo owned by John Irvin

Sentinel, Sunset, and Pine Trail:  Part of the Mississippi Palisades, this gorgeous  area is located near Savanna, and is one of the most photographed areas in the entire state.  The 3.2-mile loop trail takes hikers by the river, rock formations, and other scenic natural wonders that are all sure to stir your imagination.

Mississippi Palisades State Park Photo owned by Beth Dykman

Rock Cave Nature Preserve:  The trail at this preserve is 1.3 miles long and leads to a tiny little-known cave. Located near Altamont, the paths here are not well-marked and can often be muddy and overgrown. Bring good hiking shoes.

Rock Cave Nature Preserve Photo owned by John Irvin

Sand Cave:  Located near Ozark, this short hike is just 1.2 miles and is easily accessible for hikers of all ages. You can even have dogs and horses on this path of mind-blowing rock formations.

Sand Cave Photo owned by John Irvin

Saint Louis Canyon Trail: This trail system leads you to a waterfall, inside a beautiful canyon that is like something out of a fairy tale. It is located near  Utica and covers 2.1 miles of Starved Rock State Park.

St Louis Canyon Photo owned by Beth Dykman

Rim Rock Recreational Trail:  This is a  moderately difficult, 1.7-mile hike on this loop trail through the Shawnee National Forest leads around a huge rock formation and then descends to the valley floor. This is where hikers squeeze through “Fat Man’s Misery,” a steep decline past an old Indian wall that is very narrow but fun to see amongst the trees and bushes.

Rim Rock Trail Photo owned by John Irvin

Bork Falls:  Tucked away in the Shawnee National Forest, there is a trail leading to what might be the most beautiful waterfall in Illinois. It is part of the Illinois Ozarks and is a year round waterfall that pools into a swimming hole. Near the Ohio River, visitors can also enjoy the many  rock formations, towering trees, caves, and other seasonal waterfalls in the area.

Bork Falls Photo owned by John Irvin

Jackson Falls:  You wouldn’t expect Illinois to have so many, but waterfalls are a big part of what make it great. Nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, a five-mile trail with easy terrain leads to this beautifulwaterfall. Visitors are blown away by the stunning rock formations which water travels through and are also great for climbing.

Jackson Falls Photo owned by John Irvin

Cave-in-Rock State Park:  One of the most interesting attractions in Illinois is along the Ohio River. This cave was once used by bandits and pirates but is today enjoyed by nature lovers from all over the Midwest. The rock formation opens 55 feet at its widest, and visitors can explore all over the cave.

Cave In Rock State Park Photo owned by John Irvin

Ferne Clyffe State Park:  Southern Illinois is full of amazing  wonders and this park is no exception. The waterfall here doubles as a water slide due to the way the rocks lay as well as due to water smoothing them over many years. Rushing water falls down a hillside, and you just jump right in. Beware, though, that it can be very dangerous, but many do it anyway.

Ferne Clyffe Photo owned by John Irvin

Pomona Natural Bridge:  Found in the Shawnee National Forest, along a .3-mile trail is a bridge formed  from rock and natural erosion. At eight feet wide, it is safe to walk on, and the surrounding terrain is easy to explore. An additional attraction is a tiny cave located beneath the 90-foot bridge that is fun for the imagination of young and old alike.

Pomona Natural Bridge Photo owned by John Irvin

9 of America’s Best Ziplines

As humans we are constantly pushing the limits and testing ourselves.  As a result societal  norms are changing.  Once considered an extreme sport, done by adrenaline junkies,  Zip-lining is quietly becoming a popular  family activity.  This article will be a list of my top  9  favorite Zip Lining locations around the United States.

Grafton Zip-Line, Illinois:  

At Aerie’s Resort your treated to an incredible adventure with first class accommodations.   Whether you’re planning a romantic rendezvous for two, a fun retreat with friends, or a weekend adventure for the family, Aerie’s offers a variety of accommodations with something sure to fit your plans. If your looking for comfort, convenience, and the Best View in the Midwest, book your stay with Aerie’s. This beautiful resort is also home to Grafton Zipline, which has 9 incredible lines totaling 2 miles in length. The ziplines range in length from 300 feet to the longest line checking in at just over 1600 feet.  As is the case with any zipline course, its only as good as the views around it.  At Grafton Zipline you soar high above a lush forest  overlooking the confluence of the Illinois & Mississippi Rivers.

Louisville Mega Caverns, Kentucky:  Located deep underground the city of Louisville Kentucky, is the Louisville Mega Caverns.  This underground zip lining experience is consistently rated as the top tourist attraction in Kentucky.  Tours consist of a  2 ½ hour guided Adventure, that takes you into never before seen sections of the Cavern. This tour features six underground zip lines, which includes a dual racing line which is over 900 feet long,a bunny zip, a Zip to Hell, the Cross Canyon Zip, and the Lake Canyon Zip, as well as two amazing challenge bridges.  For more information call (877) 614-6342

Northwoods Zipline, Wisconsin:  Northwoods Zip Line Adventure Tours is your one-stop-shop for eco-adventure tourism.  You can expect a zip lining experience like no other! This 2 and a half hour guided tour has nine different zip lines ranging in height and difficulty as well as five awesome adventure bridges.  The course includes a zip line which flies 1000 feet over the stunning wilderness lake, as well as an epic side-by-side dual zip race and incredible viewing platforms. For more information call 844-947-7464

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, Ohio:  Listed as the “Best Zipline in America” by USA Today.  Hocking Hills Canopy Tours has been offering a world class zip experience for over 10 years.   Fast, fun, and exhilarating, this 2 1/2 to 3 hour spectacular adventure offers nature lovers and thrill seekers alike, ages 10 and up, the unique opportunity to zip through the treetops on a network of cables and adventure sky-bridges suspended high above the forest floor, overlooking a cave, rock cliffs, the Hocking River, and other flora and fauna!  For even more fun, try the Moonshine Tour which is only available on select full moons.  For more information call 740 385 9477

Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure, North Carolina:   ZipQuest is a world-class zipline tour and nature adventure in Fayetteville, North Carolina!  The waterfall expedition is the ultimate experience! You’ll explore nature like never before with 8 tree-to-tree ziplines, 3 suspension bridges, 3 spiral staircases and a spectacular view of Carver’s Falls. Zippers will experience the exhilaration of flying through the treetops of the most pristine forest in the area and viewing beautiful Carver’s Falls from many awe inspiring perspectives.   For more information call 910 488 8787

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours, Illinois:  Is  an entirely tree-based, eco-friendly zip line canopy tour, located on 83 wooded acres surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest .Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour consists of eight zip lines, the longest stretching more than 1,100 feet, which will zig-zag across the property’s bluffs and through the valley. The tour also includes 11 platforms high in the trees, three aerial suspension bridges, the longest stretching 180 feet, and two short ground hikes.A canopy tour is an exciting way to experience the flora, fauna, geology and history of the outdoors by safely traversing an established route of ziplines and aerial bridges between platforms built in the trees.  If your ready to have the time of your life.  Call: 1-855-386-9477

Zip Isle, Hawaii: With Zip Isle, guests can have incomparable family fun and adventures. You will experience the thrill of a lifetime but still have time to see the other unique features of the Big Island including views of the volcano, waterfalls, whales (in winter), the rain forest and other nearby wonders that await you.   They are open every day of the week, every week of the year for your enjoyment!  Non-zipping family members can stroll through the Rain forest Trail and watch you zip while they experience the beauty of the tropical landscape.  For more information call: 808 963 5427

 

Icy Strait Point, Alaska:  Alaska has some of the best mountain and glacier views in the world, what better way to take in these views then by zip line? The Icy Strait Point Zip Rider sends up to six riders at a time (side-by-side) across the length of 18 football fields for an unforgettable view of Icy Strait Point.  Exceeding speeds of 60 mph as you soar 300 feet above the rain forest below.   This hour and a half adventure takes place on top of  Hoonah Mountain.  For more information call 907 945 3141

Soaring Treetop Adventures, Colorado:  Located in beautiful Durango Colorado, Soaring Treetop Adventures has 24 unique zip lines spanning Alpine Forest and Animas River.   This all day adventure includes a  gourmet lunch served in the trees, an eco-tour, and transportation to and from the property via historic railroad, making for many adventures in one day!  Trip Advisor rates Soaring Treetop Adventures as the number 1 attraction in Colorado.  For more information call  970-769-2357

 

6 Great Hikes in Missouri You Don’t Want To Miss

Discovering new places is one of the best things about hiking.  See  Missouri’s magnificent wilderness by exploring one of the state’s many beautiful hiking trails. You can bring the kids along, too! Many hiking trails across the Show-Me State are easily accessible for small children and less-experienced hikers. From the Ozarks to beautiful bluffs, check out these six great hiking trails for families in Missouri!

1. OZARK GREEN WAY TRAILS

The Ozark Greenways are actually an award-winning network of trails, that are open to both hiking,  and biking.  This trail system covers over 70 miles with several access points along the way. Hikers can enjoy short easy nature walks, or enter the system in a more rugged or isolated area. Either way it’s a great way to spend some  time exploring the scenic foothills of the Ozarks.

2.  Hawn State Park

Hawn State Park is an exquisite park to explore, offering breathtaking views of glistening streams and blooming wildflowers. While there are several trail options available, the Overlook Trail serves as a great, short trek for children. The trail is paved and only 300 feet in length—taking about 10 minutes to explore. But it’s a great primer to the park.  If your looking for a more challenging hike,  consider exploring the moderately-rated, 3.75-mile long White Oaks Trail.

3. HAMBURG TRAIL AT WELDON SPRING CONSERVATION AREA

The Weldon Spring Conservation Area outside of St. Louis has four fantastic trails, and two of them, including the Hamburg, are suitable for both hiking and biking. Of the four, only the Hamburg, which runs parallel to the Missouri River in places, is rated as an easy hike. At just six miles in length, this trek is perfect for those just starting out hiking..

4. TRAIL THROUGH TIME AT PICKLE SPRINGS NATURAL AREA

The Pickle Springs Natural Area is not only one of Missouri’s hidden gems, its  also a designated  National Natural Landmark. The Trail Through Time is a two-mile walk that leads through geological, botanical, and zoological areas, showcasing the development of this landscape over centuries, even millennia, of time. This is an easy hike, but be sure to allow yourself plenty of time as its easy to get caught up looking at all the trails features!

5. MOSSY HILL TRAIL AT CUIVRE RIVER STATE PARK

While there aren’t any “easy” trails at Cuivre River State Park, the Mossy Hill Trail is something everyone in the family can enjoy. The loop trail is designated as moderate, and is just under a mile in length. Adventurer’s will walk through woodlands, with beautiful mosses, lichen, and wildflowers.Use caution on this trail when you’re walking, the area has roots that can be tripped over, some shifting rocks, and occasional slippery areas.

 

6. HA HA TONKA STATE PARK

Ha Ha Tonka is where nature and history come together to create one state park that should not be missed. Ha Ha Tonka State Park features a combination of trails and boardwalks that make it easy for visitors to experience this historic and geologic wonderland. In addition to the wooded areas and open rocky glades, you’re sure to enjoy the ruins of the turn of the century stone castle, the huge natural bridge, and a beautiful fresh water spring.   If you only take one hike this year, make sure its Ha Ha Tonka!

Midwest’s Best Adventures

The Midwest is a hot spot for adventure, so i compiled a state by state listing of some of my favorite locations/activities!  This is a great list to get started on and it only really starts to scratch the surface.  In the comments let me know what your favorite adventures are.

Iowa:  Canoeing the Upper Iowa River,  listed as one of the top 100 adventures in North America by National Geographic Magazine.  The river is lined with 300 foot tall towering bluffs, creating a majestic corridor for your down river float. From breathtaking views to, beautiful waterfalls, this is one float trip that you will never forget.  Honorable Mention:  Hike Maquoketa Caves State Park.

Illinois:  Hike the River to River trail in Shawnee National Forest.  From the Missouri River to the Ohio River, this 189 mile hike will take you past some of the most beautiful scenery the Midwest has to offer. Honorable Mention:  Starved Rock State Park, Garden of the Gods, or the views from atop the Mississippi Palisades State Park.

Kentucky:  Jump off a bridge with Vertigo Bungee.  One of only four locations to bungee jump in the entire country.   Vertigo Bungee is the most sought after bungee jump company in the country today.  At Vertigo Bungee they have jumpers  ranging in age  from 7 years old to 92 years old.   With an amazing staff and state of the art equipment, you are sure to have an amazing Adventure. Honorable Mention:  SUP Kentucky, Louisville Mega Caverns, or Cumberland Falls.

Missouri: In 2013 Marsan Canoe and Kayak Tours began offering one of the most amazing float trips available today. This experience is so rare, that I could not find any comparable trip in the entire United States. All tours are run by expert guides of great personality, who do an outstanding job both guiding the tour and providing an interesting/entertaining history of the mine.

Talking Rocks Cavern has been referred to as Missouri’s Most Beautiful Cave! Which is quite an honor considering there are over 7,300 known caves in the state.  However just one peek inside and its easy to see why it has earned this prestigious nickname.  Cave tours consists of an hour long walk taking visitors on a breathtaking vertical decent into a subterranean wonderland.

Branson Treehouse Adventures:  This is one of only a few places in America, where you can experience the great outdoors , and still be only minutes away from all the family entertainment and attractions of Branson Missouri.  One weekend here, and you will never want to leave.  These charming log cabins very in size and style, so weather your looking for a great location for your next family reunion,  an amazing vacation destination , or just a romantic get away with that special someone you’re sure to find exactly what your looking for at Branson Treehouse Adventures.

Wisconsin:  Kayak the Nameakon River,  with Jacks Canoe Rental.  Jack’s offers several trip options including a 250 mile float trip that will take you places very few have seen before. Honorable Mention:  Cave of the Mounds, Governor Dodge State Park, or ride on a Duck at Wisconsin Dells.

Indiana: Explore the  Marengo Cave,   Located in Marengo Indiana, this lesser known of the Midwest show caves sure packs a mighty punch with 6 different cave tours available.  Regardless of which tour you choose your sure to have an amazing experience.  This cave features several different types of mineral formations  from Helictites  to soda straws, from Stalactites, to  Cave Popcorn.  This cave really has it all.  Discovered in 1883, by children using only candles to navigate all the underground twists and turns.  Since that time Marengo Cave has had more then 3 million visitors explore its passageways.  Honorable Mention:  Hike Turkey Run State Park.

Ohio: Take a  nighttime zip-line tour at  Hocking Hills Zip-line Canopy Tours.  This world class zip-line is over a 1/4 mile in length and reaches speeds of 50 mph.  Founded in 2007, Hocking Hills Zip-line has been the winner of numerous awards and has been called the Best Zip-line in America by USA Today.  With several different adventures to choose from, they truly have something for everyone.

Tennessee:  For the best white water rafting experience in the Midwest, visit Ocoee Rafting in Ducktown Tennessee.  The Ocoee River is one of the most popular white water rafting destinations in America, and Ocoee Rafting has been providing legendary rafting trips for over 69 years.  Offering both a 5 mile and 10 mile float trip, this stretch of river boasts rapids rated at class III and IV, which make for an unforgettable rafting experience.

So here it is, my list of the Midwest’s Best Adventures!  Is there any place i left off?  What is your favorite Midwest Adventure?

How to Choose a Great Pocket Knife

This article was submitted by Lauren Thomas of reviews.com

Finding a great pocket knife

There’s no argument: a great pocket knife is an essential item on the packing list for camping trips, hiking excursions, and every adventure in between. But how can you find the best option for you when so many knife companies claim to have the sharpest blade and the comfiest grip? As it turns out, pocket knives are an extremely personal purchase, but the team at Reviews.com works to make it a little easier.

Pocket knives are tools, not weapons. Knives are highly specific to the job they’re assigned, meaning that a weapon-type knife is structured in a vastly different way than a pocket knife. Similarly, a pocket knife is very different from a multitool. It’s important to determine what function you’re hoping for first, as it will guide your search.

A traditional pocket knife will have a folding blade as opposed to a fixed blade, which serves a different purpose. The blade typically falls between 2.75 and 3.25 inches: smaller than that, and the knife is more of a glorified box-cutter. Larger than 3.25 inches, and it may be hard to conceal in your pocket for everyday carry.

Steel quality is important but personal. There is a lot of information out there about steel types, and which perform the best. Again, many companies claim to offer the sharpest, most durable blade, but these characteristics often have a tradeoff. Harder steel may hold an edge for longer, but this typically makes it harder to sharpen. A less hard steel may dull more quickly, but you can likely sharpen it at home. The “best” pocket knife will have a steel type that matches what you’re willing to contribute in terms of maintenance.

The handle should fit YOUR hand specifically. Before purchasing a knife, you should always test it in your hand for comfort and ease of opening and closing. Hand size and strength vary greatly person-to-person, so what’s best for someone else isn’t necessarily best for you. You can always visit your local knife specialty shop for more questions and to check out popular styles in person.

Extra features may or may not be helpful. As mentioned before, a true pocket knife is meant as a small blade, not a multitool. That’s not to say that knives with extra features are ineffective, rather you want to ensure that the other features don’t minimize the function of the blade. Sometimes adding other features means a smaller blade or a different shape that may not work as well.

You’ll also want to imagine what it will be like to carry your next potential knife. If you plan for everyday carry, are there any features of the handle that will be uncomfortable? Some find that knife grip clips dig into their legs while in a pocket, or even wear holes in their pants — so beware!

For more information about finding a great pocket knife, and to see which models Reviews.com recommends, check out their original article here: https://www.reviews.com/pocket-knife/

An Adventure Like No Other

Looking for an unforgettable Adventure, that is fun for the whole family? (ages 12 and up only) Look no further!  Marsan Canoe and Kayak Tours, has just what your looking for.  Weather your an adventure junkie like me, or its your first time in a  kayak( like was the case for my 12 year old daughter).  This is one Adventure you won’t want to miss!

Located deep in the heart of the Midwest, lies a one of a kind kayaking experience that you will never forget.   Operated by Marsan Canoe and Kayak Tours, this amazing Adventure takes you into the depths of the long forgotten PPG no.9 glass mine.

In 2013 Marsan Canoe and Kayak Tours began offering one of the most amazing float trips available today. This experience is so rare, that I could not find any comparable trip in the entire United States.

The 3 hour tour takes you up to 400 feet below ground, as you navigate your kayak through the flooded former sand mine.  On your tour you will pass such sights as the “Birth Canal,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Squeeze,” ” The Car Wash” and the “Townsend Center”which is the largest opening in the mine.

All tours are run by expert guides of great personality, who do an outstanding job both guiding the tour and providing an interesting/entertaining history of the mine.

As an experienced adventurer who has done and seen it all.  I have to say, my tour with Marsan through the Crystal City Underground is one that will stand out in my mind for years to come.

At Marsan Canoe and Kayak Tours, kayak season never ends.   They are open year round with a constant inside temperature of 61 degrees.

 Some dates will fill up fast, so make your reservation soon, this is one Adventure you wont want to miss!  To reserve your spot call (636) 208-5026  to find out more about this amazing kayak tour visit https://www.facebook.com/MarsanCanoeKayakTours/

I usually don’t do this, but on a personal note: It should be stated, no matter how much I write or how many pictures i share of this trip.  I just can’t do it justice.  Often I find myself awake at night thinking back on my time in the mine.  In my never ending world of Adventure, I try to make it a habit to never visit the same place twice.  With that said I feel I need to further explore the vast Crystal City Underground, and I’m sure sooner rather then later, my path will lead me back.

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