Summer is halfway over. Which means if you haven’t already booked your swank San Francisco hotel, you’re probably up the proverbial creek this season. Fear not. If procrastination—or modest budgets—mean an out-of-state vacation is now out of the question, try one of these Colorado stand-ins that just might outshine Plan A.
Plan A: The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch, Wyoming (Elevation: 4,200 feet)
Plan B: Latigo Ranch, Kremmling (Elevation: 9,000 feet)
With all due respect to our northern neighbor, we’re really more “Home On The Mountain Range” kind of people; we prefer our ranches with a little elevation. Perched at 9,000 feet and surrounded on three sides by Arapaho and Routt national forests, the all-inclusive Latigo dude ranch is home to 80 horses, which guests ride at least twice a day while learning the basics of cattle herding. When you’re not in the saddle, you’ll shoot skeet, fish for trout, and wind down with line-dancing lessons in the main lodge after a family-style meal of, say, prime rib or Colorado lamb.
Plan A: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (8,981 feet long)
Plan B: Royal Gorge Bridge & Park (956 feet high)
California may have the second longest suspension bridge in the United States, but the Centennial State boasts the highest: The 1,260-foot-long Royal Gorge Bridge, which survived the 2013 fire that engulfed 90 percent of the park, sits close to 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River. Simply walking across the 87-year-old bridge is an adventure for most of us, but real daredevils can opt to fly, hands-free, a quarter-mile above the river on the year-old Royal Gorge Cloud Scraper by ZipRider.
Plan A: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Average August water temps: 83 degrees)
Plan B: Jackson Lake State Park (Average August water temps: 75 degrees)
The water at Myrtle Beach hovers between 80 and 83 degrees in the summer—just as it (almost) does at Jackson Lake State Park, near Fort Morgan. The park has the whole beach thing covered too: Two miles of sandy shore surround the 2,411-acre reservoir, with 52 tent sites near the water’s edge. No wonder novelist James Michener dubbed this overlooked spot “an oasis of the Plains.” And while there’s no surfing here, you can get your adrenaline rush by windsurfing, waterskiing, or riding a rented Jet Ski.
Plan A: Disney World, Orlando, Florida (Splash Mountain average wait time: 30 minutes)
Plan B: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (Cliffhanger average wait time: 5 minutes)
Splash Mountain looks meek when you compare it to a roller coaster that skirts the edge of an actual mountain. The Cliffhanger coaster in Glenwood Springs promises 80 seconds of fun as it plunges near the edge of Glenwood Canyon. But even it’s no match for the white-knuckle-inducing Giant Canyon Swing: The massive swing sends riders over the edge of the chasm with their feet dangling 1,300 feet above the Colorado River—an experience so terrifying that Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park owner Steve Beckley has ridden the swing only once. Perfect—that’s just one less person waiting in line.