Best for adventure: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Okay, here’s the catch. There’s just one way to reach most Colorado River beaches in the canyon—and that’s by rafting down the river. Only then do you experience secluded beaches like Football and Owl Eye.
Many people, of course, consider the 3- to 18-day trips one of the high points of their lives. As for the beach experience, the water isn’t warm—figure anywhere from 48° to 60°—but given that Grand Canyon summer temps can rise to above 100°, it feels, says veteran outfitter Steve Hatch, “just great.”
Don’t miss: Well, the river rafting. Trips are often booked up far in advance, but in this recessionary year, you should be able to slip into one now through the end of the season in midfall.
Get there: All-inclusive river trips from $1,100 for four days; nps.gov/grca for a list of park-approved outfitters. –Peter Fish