The High Atlas region is made for outdoor adventures—the perfect antidote to the concentration and animation of Marrakesh. You can hang glide, ski, hot-air balloon, quad bike, and ride mules, but perhaps best of all, you can walk. And if trekking in the snowy mountain ranges for days on end with only Berber women and their mules for friends isn't your thing, you can always wimp out and drive.
But the truth is, there's nothing wimpy about it. The roads career around bends for miles on end, carving their way through the rock. You and your fellow passengers will "ooh" and "aah" at every vista and every new combination of snow and sun. Stretching from the ocean to the desert, the mountain scenery is utterly compelling.
The High Atlas Mountains rise as a natural fortress between the fertile Haouz Plain around Marrakesh and the deserts of the south. Trapping moisture that blows in from the Atlantic, the mountains pass this bounty along to the land and to the thin rivers that vanish into the southern desert. To reach the mountains, even today's travelers must go through one of the routes guarded by age-old passes: Tizi-n-Test in the west or Tizi-n-Tichka in the east. They benefit from some glorious spots to stay, and the chance to take a quiet look at some intriguing relics of Moroccan history.