Mainstream Adventures

When You Constantly Push Your Limits You Will Never Reach Them

This Unrivaled Canyon Hike Everyone Should Take At Least Once

It may not be the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but Hickory Canyons in Missouri can still make for a pretty neat day hike. As a bonus, it’s located just 16 miles from Farmington, where you can head after your hike to enjoy a bite to eat and drink in one of Missouri’s most underrated towns.

This picture is owned by Amanda Bosler

Hickory Canyons feature two hiking trails, both of which are relatively easy. The Allen Brohn Memorial Trail is a one-mile loop trail on the north side of Sprott Road.  There is also a short half-mile out and back trail located on the south side of Sprott Road.  Both trails descend into a heavily forested deep ravine featuring sandstone bluffs and rock outcroppings, wet weather creeks and seasonal waterfalls.

This picture is owned by Amanda Bosler

Hickory Canyon Natural Area is a botanically rich area and is home to 541 native vascular plant species and 152 bryophyte, not to mention a gorgeous waterfall.   During the winter months the waterfall freezes over, creating a stunning site.

This picture is owned by Doug Neidholdt

On the way to the Canyons, you’ll cross Hickory Creek.  Once you get to the Canyons, you’ll notice the Lamotte sandstone. This sandstone was formed from the sandy beaches of a shallow ocean that existed 500 million years ago.

This picture is owned by Tom Sims

The Glacial relics at Hickory Canyons include hay-scented fern, fir clubmoss and winterberry.  This natural area is quite the hidden gem in Missouri. As a matter of fact, some days you’ll find yourself as the only one on the trail, making it that much more enjoyable.

This picture is owned by Steve Cazzaniga

Ready to take a trip? Once you get to Farmington, go east on Highway 32 to Highway C. Go north about three miles on Highway C and turn left (south) onto Sprott Road (gravel). Head west on Sprott Road for about 1.75 miles until you reach the parking pull-offs for the trailheads.

Looking for Lodging?  Farmington is located just 16 miles away and has several great options available.  For more information on where to stay in the area click here.

After your hike, you can grab a bite to eat at 12 West Bar and Grill in Farmington.

This area is a hotbed for hiking and is loaded with beautiful sites. For more information on attractions in this area click here.




Enjoy An Unforgettable Adventure At Lake Red Rock

When most people think of Iowa outdoor’s they think of mile after magnificent mile of cornfields. But what they don’t think about is all the amazing destinations hiding within the states borders.  From the mysterious Maquoketa Caves State Park, to the rolling Loess Hills, to the amazing Ledges, of Ledges State Park, Iowa has a more diverse landscape than most people realize.

This Picture is owned by Helen P/Alltrails

Another one of Iowa’s  extraordinary attractions is Lake Red Rock!  The lake is the largest in the state with more than 15,000 acres of water!

Aside from soaking in the beauty of the lake, there is also 35,000 acres of beautiful wilderness surrounding the lake!  Elk Rock State Park, Cordova Park, and Roberts Creek Park are just a few of the places to explore along the lake shore.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association.

Another great place to explore is the Gladys Black Bird Refuge,this 32 acre refuge is a  prime habitat for bald eagles as well as neo-tropical migrants and other wildlife.  Lake Red Rock is one of Iowa’s best bird watching areas.  Depending on the time of year, you’ll see bald eagles, herons, egrets, pelicans, gulls, ducks and more.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association.

If you enjoy fishing, the lake is home to white bass, black bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, walleye, & many other kinds of fish.  Fishing is open year-round, with opportunities during the winter to ice fish in many of the bays or fish open water under the dam.  The lake is an ideal location for anglers of all skill levels, and is considered Iowa’s premier destination for crappie fishing.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association

Don’t Miss:  Cordova Park is home to Cordova Tower, an observation tower that stands a staggering 106 feet tall.  If you’re brave enough to climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views.

Logistics:  Located on the Des Moines River just 45 miles southeast and downriver from Des Moines, and a mere 16 miles from historical Pella.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association.

Best Time:  There is never a bad time to visit the lake, in the summer you can enjoy boating and swimming, in the winter there is ice fishing, and eagle watching.  I suggest visiting during the week, to avoid any crowds.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association.

Pit Stop:  Grab a bite to eat at the  Liberty Street Kitchen located along the Molengracht Canal in Pella.

This picture is owned by Liberty Street kitchen.

Lodging:  Horn’s Ferry Hideaway has two gorgeous cabins located about 50 yards from the banks of the Des Moines River, right below Red Rock Damn, and only a two minute drive from Iowa’s largest lake.  For more information click here.

Extended Play:  The impressive mile long bridge crosses the lake and is located on Iowa Highway 14.  This Iowa landmark is a site to be seen.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association.

Travel Smart:  Any lake of this size, can be extremely dangerous.  Plan your trip with care and caution.  During the summer don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray, and always wear a life jacket.

This picture is owned by the Red Rock Lake Association.

Bonus Adventure:  One of the most popular trails in the area is Volksweg Trail, connecting the town of Pella with Lake Red Rock.  Volksweg is a Dutch word, meaning “people’s path,” and it is a 14-mile paved trail perfect for hiking and biking.

For more information on the incredible area click here.

(Product Review) Paratus 3 Day Operators Pack by 3VGear

Just recently I came to the conclusion that this would be the last year for my current pack.  We had a lot of good memories together but it had seen better days, and was starting to  look pretty thin in a few spots.  I started looking around online, eventually coming across the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack.  The company behind the pack (3V Gear) claimed the pack to be the toughest and most versatile pack on the planet. This is exactly what I needed to hear.  With my crazy life of adventure, durability and versatility are the main things I look for.

Right away upon opening the package I could tell this pack was different than other packs I had used in the past.  Just the feel of it, I could tell that it was built to last.  The pack is built with heavy duty 600D PVC backed polyester, and all the seams are double stitched.  The padded drag handle also seemed reinforced, as well as all the other straps and clips.  This really appears to be a solid  well constructed pack all the way around.  While many packs on the market are durable, this one even comes with a lifetime warranty

While durability is a great quality to have in a pack, its versatility is also of equal importance.  I enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities, and I need a pack that can perform in a variety of different conditions.  This is where the pack really shines.  The Paratus tactical backpack makes long distance hiking or walking easy and comfortable, while the detachable deployment pack and MOLLE pouches allow you to ditch the larger pack for shorter adventures.  Military spec MOLLE adorns most of the bag allowing you limitless options for attachments and arrangements.   With all the different pouches and pockets on the pack, organization is a breeze.

The MOLLE compatible, 4-in-1 pack, features the main Paratus backpack, the Rapid Deployment Pack, and two Ally MOLLE Pouches. The modular design of this pack makes it extremely versatile and durable.  Side-release buckles and compression straps keep your load secure and make it easy to tighten the backpack. A molded EVA back panel aids with airflow against your back and gives the backpack additional structure. Padded shoulder and waist straps give comfort and support while keeping the backpack secure.

The Rapid Deployment Pack is fully MOLLE compatible and will attach to any MOLLE pack, vest or other gear. This compact pack has a convenient grab handle or it can be carried with the concealable waist/shoulder belt. Perfect for when you need to grab your kit and go or for 100 other possible uses, i.e. first aid kits, ammo bags, climbing harnesses, survival kits, or other emergency situations.

The pack has almost 2,500 cubic inches of storage space, which is perfect for transporting all your supplies, while rock climbing, hunting, or backpacking.

So far I have been very impressed with this pack, and I think its time to take it on a field test or two.  All to often great looking products fail when put to the test.  To test the durability of the pack I planned a 3 day out and back backpacking trip. I also plan to do some spelunking to see how the bag holds up while being drug across and over rocks.

I had a trip coming up to Shawnee National Forest and decided this would be a perfect opportunity to try out my new pack.  For a 3 day backpacking trip, I was going to have to pack a lot of gear, sleeping bag, hammock, extra clothing, a first aid kit, a life-straw, an extra pair of shoes, food, matches, etc etc .  I figured loading the pack to the extreme, will not only test its comfort, but will also test the seams and zippers as well.  I was really impressed with the storage space of the pack, but most of all I appreciated all the extra pockets and pouches it had.  Organization is key, and with this pack it was pretty easy.

Over the next 3 days, I saw some amazing sites, and breathtaking views in the Shawnee National Forest.  On the second night, I camped out below Jackson Falls, about half way thru the night it started to rain.  My hammock was water proof but I had no room in it for my new pack.  It sat in the rain for over an hour.  The next morning to my surprise, the contents inside where still dry.  Again, I was very impressed.

After the completion of this hike I wasn’t ready to head home yet, so I continued on to Maquoketa Caves State Park, to do some spelunking. During this portion of the field test, I had to drag the pack across rocky surfaces, thru tight passages, and wet crawl spaces.  Again the pack performed great!  Upon arriving back home I thoroughly inspected it, inside and out.  I saw no real sign of damage or excessive wear.  In fact after hosing it off, it looked as good as new.

My conclusion on the Paratus 3 Day Pack, is that its a very solid pack, and a great value as well.   Online the pack sells for $63.95. My last pack was double that, and so far this one has performed just as well.  3V Gear, refers to the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack, as the crown jewel of their line.  After my inspection, I would have to agree.  This is an extremely tough and versatile bag, at a great cost.

My likes for the Paratus 3-Day Operators Pack include:

Durability- This pack is built to last.

Cost- $63.95 is a great price for this pack.

Versatility- There are so many ways you can customize this pack.

Storage Space- There is over 2,000 cubic inches of storage space.

Weather Resistant- My second night on the trail, it poured and the pack kept my gear dry inside.

Organization-This pack has so many pockets, it makes organization easy.

Zippers-Heavy duty zippers, add to the durability of the pack.

My Dislikes for the Paratus 3-Day Operators Pack include:

Padding- The padding on the shoulder straps are a little thin.

Weight-The pack weighs almost 4.5 pounds.

To find more great products made by 3V Gear, visit their website by clicking here.

For The Adventure Of A Lifetime Visit Grafton Zipline

Many times on our quest to find the best adventures in the Midwest, we end up out in the middle of nowhere.  Surrounded by nothing but wilderness. While that type of trip is usually what I crave the most.  Every once in awhile it’s nice to go on an adventure, without sacrificing comfort.  This is the case with Grafton Zipline, who has partnered with Aerie’s Resort to provide guests with the best of both worlds.

Grafton Zipline is the premier zipline course in the Midwest, with 7 incredible lines totaling 2 miles in length. The ziplines range  from 300 feet to the longest line checking in at just over 1600 feet.  As is the case with any zipline course, it’s 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.

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 you’re looking for comfort, convenience, and the Best View in the Midwest, book your stay with Aerie’s.

Aerie’s Resort and Grafton Zipline is so much more than just a beautiful resort and Canopy tour.  There is also an amazing winery.  The winery at Aerie’s Resort is the perfect choice for award-winning wines, fine dining, and live entertainment.

The Terrace at Aerie’s Resort is a unique venue for weddings, banquets, conferences, and corporate events.  The banquet room is gorgeous and has wrap around windows with panoramic views. There is also a 4,400 square foot outdoor deck overlooking  the lush green hillsides and rolling rivers.  Memorable events deserve an unforgettable setting and at Aerie’s Terrace you and your guests will have the experience of a lifetime.

Some people visit for the heart pounding rush of the Grafton Ziplines, others come to enjoy the fine dining and live music, others plan their trip for the award winning selection of wines, while some just come for the breathtaking views surrounding the facility.  No matter what your reason is, we are sure you will have an amazing time at Aerie’s Resort and Winery, and Grafton Ziplines.

Grafton Zipline is located at 14 West Main Street, Grafton Illinois. For more information click here.

Start Your Day With Alpine Start Instant Coffee

Just recently I was approached by an energy drink company wanting to be featured on my page. At first I was pretty excited, to have my brand associated with such a large and mainstream company.  I thought having energy is exactly what one would need to complete the adventures we feature on our page. But after doing some research, I learned that, there are several health risks associated with energy drinks. With some consideration, I decided to pass on this opportunity. Still this raised the question, what is the best way to get energized while on adventure? I did some more research and found that there are several health benefits associated with drinking a daily cup of coffee.  Even still I wasn’t sure.  My primary concern was brewing.  Often when camping or backpacking, it just isn’t practical. After an online search I came across a small company from Boulder Colorado called Alpine Start.  There promise was simple, Instant Coffee That Actually Tastes Good.

I decided to give them a try, to see if they delivered what they promised.  Upon looking into the history of the company, I found that it was created by an avid rock climber.  The company was born out of a desire to make a great tasting, affordable instant coffee that you can take outside or on the go.

I decided to try 3 different flavors, the Original Blend, The Coconut Creamer Latte, and the Dirty Chai Latte.  These were offered in a bundle at a discounted price for buying all three.


Brewing:   The brewing process was really simple, open packet, pour into vessel, add water. Done! It doesn’t get much easier than that. You don’t even have to heat the water up first.

Taste:  When compared to freshly brewed coffee, it really doesn’t measure up.  However when instant coffee is your only option, it sure can taste good on a cool September morning.  I tried all three flavors with both cold and warm water, and prefer it brewed with cold water more than warm.    The Original Blend was my favorite of the 3, however this is just personal preference.

Likes:  There are several things I liked about Alpine Start, first the customer service i received was exceptional.  I ordered the coffee over a holiday weekend, so a delayed response would of been totally acceptable.  To my suprise the company emailed me back the very next day, and the product arrived just a couple days later.  Second the packets are so small, a box of 8 of these packets will only weigh you down 1.56 ounces and that includes the box!  When backpacking, every ounce counts.  Lastly, all three blends are dairy free, and feature 100% high altitude arabica beans.

Dislikes:  Really none,  the flavor wasn’t great, but it was more than acceptable.

Alpine Start is a term used by mountaineers, to describe beginning a climb before the sunrise. Alpine Start is also a nice option for anyone looking for a  good cup of coffee that’s easy to brew.

For more information on Alpine Start visit their website by clicking here.

Escape To Wilderness At Big Cedar Lodge

You’re probably already in love with all the breathtaking sights in and around Branson Missouri, and maybe you think you’ve seen all the amazing wonders the area has to offer.  However there is another amazing attraction you may not have seen yet.  The Big Cedar Lodge is a hidden gem in the area that definitely calls for a visit.

Branson is full of amazing views and incredible sites, but until you’ve seen the view from the Big Cedar Lodge, overlooking Table Rock Lake your missing out.

Often referred to as America’s Premier Wilderness Resort the lodge has  inviting accommodations, spectacular restaurants, two full-service marinas, four golf courses, a 50,000-square-foot activity center, unparalleled fishing and countless outdoor adventures, Big Cedar Lodge is a world-class resort where you and your family will make memories to last a lifetime.

Built to embrace the natural landscape of the beautiful Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar Lodge offers 302 private accommodations, including grand lodges, cozy cottages, private log cabins, and inviting camp-style units.

During your visit, enjoy a variety of activities and amenities included with your stay. From a state-of-the-art fitness center to numerous pools and hot tubs, the goal is to make your stay as unforgettable and fun-filled as possible.

Missouri is well known for having some of the most beautiful attractions, and natural wonders in the entire Midwest, and this resort  certainly adds to that reputation. The Big Cedar Lodge is ranked by Travel & Leisure Magazine as the #1 resort in the Midwest.

The Resort is spread out across more than 800 acres in the heart of Missouri’s ruggedly serene Ozark Mountains. It serves as the perfect vacation destination.

If you’re looking for the ultimate vacation resort, Big Cedar Lodge has everything you need and more. Offering four restaurants, five pools, two golf courses, a world-class spa, and endless activities. This is one destination you will never forget.

Big Cedar Lodge is located at 190 Top of the Rock Rd. in Ridgedale, MO. For more information on reservations, visit them online by clicking here. Or call them at 1-800-225-6343.  

Fun Mountain is the newest addition to Big Cedar Lodge and is great for kids of all ages.

Snowstar Ski Resort Is The Perfect Location For Your Next Winter Adventure

Snowstar Ski Resort  is a family-owned and operated year-round outdoor sports facility. Snowstar offers guests a wide range of fun activities including, skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing during the winter months. During the summer, guests can partake in a fantastic zipline adventure.

Snowstar has 600 ski rentals, 120 snowboards and 500 snow tubes to outfit Adventure seekers of all ages, and is conveniently located off on highway 92 in Andalusia, just a few miles west of the Quad Cities.

The winter park boasts 15 ski and snowboard trails, 11 snow tubing lanes, and a massive terrain park, for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.  It features 40-foot jumps, tubes, bars, rails, boxes, and even a staircase to navigate.

First time hitting the slopes?  Snowstar currently offers a wide range of classes from beginner to advanced.  Snowstar has some of the best instructors around.  Their experienced staff is highly trained and motivated to help you have the best time possible.

The Summit Lodge is a great place for all of your celebration needs! Perfect for class reunions, wedding receptions, graduation parties, holiday parties, or any other reason you can think of to get together.

Snow Star Ski Resort has long been known as the Quad Cities Premier winter sport destination, but now they are offering adventure all year round.   The Sky tour takes you on an unforgettable adventure as you fly 100 feet above the ground reaching speeds over 35 mph.  The dual zipline is one of the longest in the Midwest checking in at 1300 feet! The zip line gives riders a unique view of the park as they soar through the air, and is open year round.

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, this is one destination that has it all.  Snowstar Sports Complex is located at 9500 126th Street West, Andalusia, Il.  For more information click here.  Or call (800) 383-4002

To learn about Snowstar’s summer activities click here.

Horn’s Ferry Hideaway Is The Perfect Destination For Your Next Vacation

Looking for a relaxing vacation destination?  Look no further, Horn’s Ferry Hideaway is just what you’re looking for!

Horn’s Ferry Hideaway has two gorgeous cabins located about 50 yards from the banks of the Des Moines River, right below Red Rock Damn, and only a two minute drive from Iowa’s largest lake.

Lake Red Rock was created in 1969 by the Corps of Engineers as part of a flood control project. The lake is an ideal location for anglers of all skill levels, and is considered Iowa’s premier destination for crappie fishing.

Located just 7 miles from the scenic and lovely town of Pella, these cabins allow you to enjoy all of the relaxation of nature with all the sites and activities of the nearby town.

These charming studio cabins are located in a very secluded, wooded setting.  The property is located between a federally managed savanna refuge and the 32 acre Gladys Black Bald Eagle Refuge.  This makes the cabins an ideal location for winter bird watching.

Each cabin comes with a fully equipped kitchen, large jacuzzi tub, king size bed, fireplace/air conditioning, satellite tv with surround sound and so much more!    They have all of the modern conveniences you’ll want combined with the quiet you crave.  There is also a screened in porch looking into the eagle refuge, providing excellent viewing of wildlife that frequent the area.

Horn’s Ferry Hideaway provides comfortable, cozy cabins in a peaceful setting. Your perfect escape for rest, relaxation, and refreshment! The cabins are located at Address: 1136 198th Pl., Knoxville, IA.  For more information or to book your cabin click here.

The Fall Foliage In This State Park Will Be Breathtaking

One of most well kept State Parks in the Midwest. With well marked hiking trails, a beautiful campground, and sand beaches, next to both lakes, it’s easy to see why Governor Dodge is such a popular destination.

The park has nearly 40 miles of hiking, spread out on 10 different trails.  Many of them are open to cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.  To make it easier, many of the trails are looping, leading you right back to where you started.

This picture is owned by Christopher Breeden

One of the most popular trails is the Stephens’ Falls Trail, this is a 0.5-mile picturesque trail that takes hikers past Stephens’ Falls, rock outcroppings and lush ferns as you walk beside a refreshing stream. There is a scenic overlook along a paved trail above the falls. Stone steps and uneven terrain take you down to the falls and trail below. Parking for this trail is along the road near the trailhead.

Among the highlights at Governor Dodge State Park, are the two lakes.  Cox Hollow Lake and Twin Valley Lake. Swimming beaches are located on both lakes. With  shower houses located nearby. The beaches are open from 6am to 11pm.

The lakes also serve as a great location for fishing, with a population of Panfish, Bass, and Walleye found within.

This picture is owned by Lynsey Lauderdale

There is a concession stand located near the beach on Cox Hollow Lake.  The stand has canoe, kayak, and boat rentals.  As well as a nice selection of camping gear, gifts, clothing and food.  The concessions is operated by the Dodgeville Kiwanis Club, and is open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.  For more information, call the concession stand at 608-935-7501

This picture is owned by Rob McCartney

Like most Wisconsin State Parks, Governor Dodge is an excellent location for camping, with well over 250 campsites available during the summer months and several more open year round.

Governor Dodge State Parks is one of the most amazing parks I have been to, and is a perfect place to enjoy a summer day.

The park is located at 4175 State Highway 23 N Dodgeville, WI.  More information can be found by clicking here.


This Little Known Park In Iowa Is A Hidden Gem That You Must See To Believe

Palisades-Kepler State Park is one of Iowa’s most underrated state parks.  While other parks may get more attention, this one is brimming with natural beauty and is just waiting to be explored. It may be a little bit off the beaten path, but with a gorgeous beach, a cave, and miles of scenic hiking trails it’s well worth the drive.

This picture is owned by Staci Schiltz

Palisades-Kepler State Park is located along the Cedar River, and covers 840 acres of wilderness. The winding drive through the park reveals deep ravines, exposed rocks and an abundance of wildlife.

This picture is owned by Harry Ortiz

Palisades-Kepler State Park is also important for its prehistoric past. A molar tooth of a mammoth was once found here and the exposed rocks along the Cedar River are laden with fossils from millions of years ago. The park was also a popular place for Native Americans, as Indian mounds have been found within the park.

For the best in chiropractic care visit Robinson Family Wellness. For more information click here.

Palisades-Kepler is a wonderful place to hike, with six miles of trails, walkers can often see a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. Many species of trees, shrubs and flowers are also present along with innumerable species of songbirds.

This picture is owned by Linda Stohler-Enearl

The Cedar Cliff Trail will take you along the Cedar River and offers breathtaking views from high above. The trail provides great views of the exposed rocks along the Cedar River and are laden with fossils millions of years old.

This picture is owned by Linda Stohler-Enearl

The campground at Palisades-Kepler is a great place for a weekend outing or a two-week vacation. The campground has 44 campsites, 26 with electrical hookups, with modern shower and restroom facilities.

This picture is owned by Harry Ortiz

Palisades-Kepler also has four family cabins available for weekly rentals during the summer season and two day minimum rentals in the spring and fall. The cabins, which can accommodate up to four persons, feature a shower, restroom, stovetop and refrigerator. Cabin users must provide their own bedding, towels and other camping items.  The cabins are a great place for an economical family vacation.

This picture is owned by Ashley Foster

Palisades-Kepler State Park is absolutely beautiful, and the views within the park will win you over again and again.

This picture is owned by Ashley Foster

The park is located just  a few miles outside the scenic and charming town of Mt. Vernon, where you can catch a quick meal or visit the local shops.  Palisades-Kepler State Park is located at 700 Kepler Dr., Mt Vernon, IA.    To rent a cabin, call 1-877-IAPARKS.  For more information click here.

For even more adventure click here.

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