America’s first national park lies on a giant volcano, so be ready—she could blow at any minute! Seriously, Yellowstone’s geysers and geothermal oddities make for some truly strange landscape. The astounding abundance of wildlife complements the scenery nicely.
Start exploring Yellowstone with vehicle tour of all the main attractions, then pick a few hiking trails. The majority of visitors never stray far from their cars, so you don’t have to travel far down the Bunsen Peak Trail to lose the crowds. The 2-mile path leads to the top of Bunsen Peak, where you can survey the valleys and peaks of the park.
Big Sky Brewing Co.’s beers, including the often-hyped Moose Drool, are available throughout the park and nearby towns (the beer comes from Missoula, however, three hours away). Fans of the old Spanish Peaks beers will be happy to know that brewer Todd Scott now works at Bozeman Brewing Co.
Breweries: Snake River Brewing Co., Jackson (www.snakeriverbrewing.com, 307-739-2337); Wolf Pack Brewing Co., West Yellowstone (406-646-7225); Bozeman Brewing Co. (www.bozemanbrewing.com, 406-585-9142); Madison River Brewing Co., Bozeman (406-388-0322)
Bouldering in Boulder
Given the spectacular array of bouldering sites around Boulder, CO, one might think the sport was named for the town. Bouldering, in case you didn’t know, actually describes a school of rock climbing in which no rope is used and climbs rarely exceed dangerous heights.
And given the spectacular array of beers in Boulder, and the fact that the Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association both call this town home, one might think good beer was invented here. It wasn’t, just in case you didn’t know.
So grab a pair of climbing shoes, get your buddies together, and choose from the Flatirons, Lyons/St. Vrain, Clear Creek, Boulder Canyon or the legendary Eldorado Canyon.
Afterwards, head down to Pearl Street, the main drag in Boulder, to recharge your engine. Alas, the Oasis Brewery closed its restaurant, but Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse serves up some mean Cajun.
Breweries: Avery Brewing Co. (www.averybrewing.com, 303-440-4324); Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery (303-546-0886); Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse (www.redfishbrewhouse.com, 303-440-4858); Boulder Beer Brewing Co. (www.boulderbeer.com, 303-444-8118); Southern Sun Pub and Brewery (303-543-0886).
Red Rocks and Red Ales
Red rock desert and forested peaks surround the college town of Flagstaff, AZ. The famous new-age nexus of Sedona lies not far away.
Start with a hike up Loy Canyon, in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. The 12-mile trip travels along classic desert scenery and rewards hikers with great vistas from the Mogollon Rim.
Wind down in the billiards room at the Beaver Street Brewery. The heavily German-influenced beers of Oak Creek Brewing Co. make the trip to Sedona worthwhile.
Breweries: Beaver Street Brewery (www.beaverstreetbrewery.com, 928-779-0079), Flagstaff Brewing Co. (www.flagbrew.com, 928-773-1442), Mogollan Brewing Co. (www.mogbrew.com, 928-773-8950), Oak Creek Brewing, Sedona (www.oakcreekbrew.com, 928-204-1300).
Way Up There
The beautiful, undeveloped shoreline of Lake Superior and its various coves and bays are worth the drive to the Upper Peninsula, known to locals as the “U.P.” The long tradition of brewing in the Great Lakes region has also taken hold here. Keweenaw Bay, for example, has some beautiful scenery and sits next to three breweries. How convenient.
Keweenaw Brewing Co. brewer David Lawrence suggested renting a kayak and paddling along the eastern shores, which tend to be sheltered from the wind.
Breweries: Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, Tahquamenon (906-492-3300); Lake Superior Brewing Co., Grand Maris (www.lakesuperiorbrewing.com, 906-494-2337); Jasper Ridge Brewery, Ishpeming (906-485-6017); Library Bar and Restaurant, Houghton (906-487-5882); Keweenaw Brewing Co., Houghton (www.keweenawbrewing.com, 906-482-5996); Red Jacket Brewing Co., Calumet (www.michiganhousecafe.com, 906-337-1910).
Fit for Presidents
The most rugged scenery in the Eastern United States can be found in the Presidential Range, a part of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. All that cool alpine water creates perfect conditions for trout—brookies, browns and rainbows. Grab a fishing license at North Country Angler (603-356-6000) and then head to the Swift River.
North Conway’s Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co. keeps eight beers on tap and has an inn right upstairs. While you’re in town, pick up a sixpack of Tuckerman Brewing Co.’s alt or pale ale. Their beers are bottle-conditioned using the German “krausening” method, in which a small amount of fermenting wort is added right before packaging.
Breweries: Moat Mountain Smoke House, North Conway (www.moatmountain.com, 603-356-6381); Tuckerman Brewing Co., Conway (www.tuckermanbrewing.com, 603-447-5400).
Bar Hopping and Whale Watching
Bar Harbor serves at the headquarters for whale watching in Maine, thanks to its proximity to the whale’s feeding grounds and another great treasure, Acadia National Park.
Whale cruises depart constantly from the small town, but land lubbers who don’t have their sea legs will find plenty of wildlife, from moose to seals, in the park. The ultimate Acadia hike can be found on the Acadia-St. Sauveur Mountains loop, which offers astounding views of the entire park and Somes Sound, the only fjord in the Lower 48.
Bar Harbor Brewing Co. offers tours and tastings at their facility, which sits walking distance from the Blackwoods Campground. If you’re around on a Saturday, The Atlantic Brewing Co. offers all-you-can-eat barbecue, ideally sampled from their patio.
Breweries: Atlantic Brewing Co. (www.atlanticbrewing.com, 207-288-2337); Bar Harbor Brewing Co. (www.barharborbrewing.com, 207-288-4592).
Beer, Southern Style
Tucked away in Southern Appalachia, Asheville boasts incredible architecture, a thriving arts scene and an eclectic variety of restaurants and breweries.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, runs right through town. Drive up the parkway to the Graveyard Fields and Shining Rock Wilderness to hike among Appalachian balds. These unique grassy areas feature wildflowers in the summer and views of colorful mountains in the fall.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, chow down on some Irish fare at Jack of the Wood, Green Man Brewing’s restaurant pub. Then take in a movie at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co.’s theater.
Breweries: Green Man Brewing (www.jackofthewood.com, 828-252-5445), Highland Brewing Co. (www.highlandbrewing.com, 828-255-8240), Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co. (www.ashevillepizza.com, 828-254-1281), French Broad Brewing Co. (www.frenchbroadbrewery.com, 828-277-0222), Pisgah Brewing Co. (www.pisgahbrewing.com, 828-582-2175).