The United States is as vast and varied as any country on Earth. It’s home to thriving hubs of outdoor activity from the deserts of Utah, to the mountains of Colorado, and up the stunning Pacific Coast from California to Washington. Although the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern states don’t receive as much fanfare, they too have pockets of beautiful landscapes and residents that couldn’t imagine living and playing anywhere else.
Most of our favorite outdoor adventures and wilderness can be found in the West. The geographical heart of the West is the Rocky Mountains, which run for more than 3,000 miles from New Mexico to British Columbia through Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The Sierra Nevada, home to some of the wildest scenery in the Lower 48, lie further to the west mostly in California. Among these swaths of mountainous terrain are some of the grandest scenery the U.S. has to offer and the best opportunities for getting outdoors from hiking and backpacking to skiing and fly fishing.
The Upper Midwest, once home of the great conservationist Aldo Leopold, is a stronghold of Scandinavian culture and a burgeoning hub for water sports, biking and cross-country skiing. Densely populated cities dominate the Eastern seaboard from Washington D.C. to Boston, but places like Upstate New York, Vermont and Maine provide a refuge of tranquil lakes, colorful forests, rolling hills and mountains. The southern U.S. stretches from Texas, the second largest state, to the Florida Keys and north to the Appalachians. A significant amount of the South’s outdoor activities are centered in North Carolina (see the Great Smoky Mountains and Outer Banks), but Kentucky and other lesser-known destinations are now on the map.
Two elephants in the room are the 49th and 50th states: Alaska and Hawaii, respectively. Alaska truly is one of the last frontiers and offers some of the biggest and most rugged wilderness on Earth. Wrangell-St. Elias, for example, a place not commonly known or visited, is the largest national park in the United States (it’s six times larger than Yellowstone and covers more land than the country of Switzerland!). Hawaii certainly has seen its fair share of development, but that doesn’t prevent it from being one of the world’s most scenic and pleasant warm-weather destinations.
Our United States Section covers many of the country’s prime outdoor areas, from individual state write-ups to hiking and other activities. You’ll see the list continue to grow, and feel free to reach out with ideas and suggestions. Enjoy your adventures!