Rajaji National Park is about 24km from Rishikesh. Short day and sometimes night trips can be arranged with travel agencies. You can see a wide range of flora and fauna as well as spot wild animals like tigers, elephants and deers if you are lucky.
Kunjapuri is one of the nearest mountains to visit from Rishikesh. It is about 45 minutes drive up, or a 3-4 hours trek, or you can take a bus from the city area and then trek up for another hour or less. The view from the Kunjapuri Devi Temple is magnificent on a clear weather day, when you can see the surrounding mountains and valleys. This area is also home to the 5 star spa hotel Ananda In The Himalayas which is located in the estate of the former royal palace of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal.
Sri Neelkantha Mahadevi Temple
Sri Neelkantha Mahadevi Temple is about 32km drive from Rishikesh on a scenic route up Neelkanth Road. It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and serves as an important pilgrimage stop. There are private taxis that can be booked at the jeep stand round the corner from Laxman Jhula or go with a shared jeep at the same stand. The shared jeeps run only when they are full. A note for people with motion sickness - the sideway facing seats in these jeeps can get uncomfortable as the route is a winding 45 minutes ride up the mountain.
Haridwar is the city where the nearest main railway station from Rishikesh is located. Apart from serving as a rail travel point, it is also one of the holiest cities in India where the Khumba Mela takes place every 12 years. The main attraction here is the Har ki Pauri ghat, where the daily evening aarti takes place. There are several important temples and ashrams in Haridwar, although most of them may be significant only to Hindu devotees and not to the regular tourists. Haridwar is an hour's bus ride from the main Rishikesh city bus stand. Buses will end near the railway station and you will need to walk or take a cycle rickshaw to get to the ghat. Alternatively you can hire a private autorickshaw or ataxi directly from the stand near Ram Jhulaon the Muni ki Reti. These should take you directly to the Har ki Pauri ghat.
Vasishtha Cave is about 20km upstream along Badrinath Road. It is said that sage Vasishtha meditated here and it is possible for tourists to spend some quiet moments inside the small cave which has a shiva lingam. It is located in a small, peaceful and well maintained ashram right along the river. You will need to take a taxi here.
Neer Gaddu Waterfall
Neer Gaddu waterfall is about 5km upstream from Rishikesh along Badrinath Road. There is a 2km trek from the ticket booth to arrive at the fall. It is a popular place with both local and foreign tourists as it is said to be the easiest waterfall to reach amongst the others in the area.
Garud Chatti, Phool Chatti and Patna Waterfalls
These 3 waterfalls are located between 5-8km upstream from Laxman Jhula along Neelkanth Road (on the other side of the bank) and they all require some short treks from the main road to reach the falls. For safety reasons go with a guide or another person as the trekking routes can be slippery and they are located in remote areas. These are small falls but with beautiful and quiet surroundings, completely in the middle of nature. You can hire a taxi or a jeep from the Laxman Jhula jeep stand to take you up Neelkanth Road up to the entrance of the waterfall areas, or you could walk all the way along the main road upstream.
Trips further from Rishikesh and into the mountains
Mussoorie is a hill station town an hour up the mountain from Dehradhun city which is about another hour's bus ride from Rishikesh. It is a good escape from the heat during the hot months in Rishikesh. You can find hotels of all standards, including very good class ones, and all the common tourist amenities in Mussoorie. The town itself is not particularly interesting although it is popular with Indian tourists due to the all year round cooler weather. To reach Mussoorie, take a bus from Rishikesh city bus station to Dehradhun bus station and then take a second bus going up to Mussoorie. You can also book a taxi from Rishikesh.
Char Dham pilgrimage sites - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath
These 4 holy sites are located approximately 300km up the mountains from Rishikesh and are in high mountain areas above 3000m. They are Shakta (Yamunotri and Gangotri), Vaishnava (Badrinath) and Shaiva (Kedarnath) sites. Only Badrinath is directly reachable by vehicle while the other three temples require long treks from the main road to reach. Due to harsh mountain weather conditions, these areas are open only for 6-7 months of the year, around April till early November, depending on the weather. The villages and hotel facilities are mostly closed outside these months and the roads may be inaccessible due to snow. The highest pilgrimage season is usually in the month of May, June and July before the monsoon season starts. Do note that it is an important pilgrimage route and therefore often crowded with pilgrims during high season. The views from the mountains are breathtaking although the ride up can be a bit rough and winding; road conditions are not always the best either. There are public buses from Rishikesh city that will take you to these areas during season time, however it is best and most comfortable to hire a driver and a car from any of the travel agents in Rishikesh due to the long and winding drive up. Package tours and hotels can be arranged through them as well.
Devprayag is the town where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers meet to form the Ganges. It is about 70km from Rishikesh and the buses that run from Rishikesh to Badrinath during pilgrimage season pass through here. There are also buses from Rishikesh city to Devprayag only. It is possible to combine a quick visit here if you book a Char Dham trip.
Chopta is a beautiful area for trekking and it is often known as the mini Switzerland of India due to its magnificent views of the Himalayan mountain ranges and the rolling meadows. It is elevated above 2600m and about 250km drive from Rishikesh. The area is doted with temples and pilgrimage sites, ask your driver about this if you are interested to visit. The roads here are often inaccessible during winter months due to snow and it will be difficult to find accommodation for the night as most of the villagers move down from the mountain areas for the winter. Trekking trips can be arranged through any travel agents and it is possible to do drive tours without trekking as well.