The Best U.S. Towns for Outdoor Lovers

We hold this truth to be self evident: from mountain climbing to hiking, kayaking to cherry picking, there are plenty of incredible experiences awaiting outdoor lovers in the U.S.

The country’s diverse landscape ensures that whether you’re in the Northeast, Southwest, Alaska, or pretty much anywhere in between, there’s something amazing to do in the great outdoors. Ready to explore? Here are some of the best U.S. towns for outdoor lovers.

Asheville, North Carolina

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It’s been said that Asheville is an energy vortex for creatives. However, it undoubtedly holds magnetism for nature lovers as well. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is right along the route of the famed Appalachian Trail, running from Maine to Georgia.

Whether you’re hiking a portion of the trail at the area’s famed Blue Ridge Parkway hiking system, kayaking or tubing along the French Broad River, or just enjoying an open-air drum circle on Friday night downtown, there’s plenty to do outside in this charming Southern city.

Bend, Oregon

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How can you enjoy the great outdoors in Bend? Let us count the ways. Located along the Deschutes River, it’s a delightful destination for kayaking, rafting, and canoeing. For hikers and mountain bikers, there are plenty of spots to explore, including Smith Rock State Park, Black Butte, and nearby Deschutes National Forest.

Worried that things slow down in the winter? Don’t. Its high elevation (3,623 feet above sea level) makes it an appetizing destination for winter sports enthusiasts, too. Skiing and snowshoeing reign supreme during the cooler months.

Durango, Colorado

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The reverence to the outdoors is evident everywhere you go in Durango. Even the main library features an outdoor deck so that you can enjoy the Animas River running by while you read.

Situated near the Colorado Trail, the Rocky Mountains, the San Juan Mountains, and Mesa Verde National Park, it’s a destination for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and mountain climbing. But wait: there’s more! With an elevation of 6,522 feet above sea level, it’s famed for its beautiful mountains and boasts plenty of ski areas nearby.

Fairbanks, Alaska

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With its pristine natural landscapes that seem straight out of a movie, Alaska has long been a destination for outdoors lovers. But in Fairbanks, you’ll find some truly inimitable experiences.

For one, it’s one of the premier spots in not just the U.S. but the world for viewing the Northern Lights. During the so-called “Aurora Season” from August 21 to April 21, the lights are typically viewable four out of five nights. For another? Dog mushing. Yes, indeed. Where else can you do that in the U.S.?

Don’t worry. Fairbanks offers plenty of the usual suspects in terms of outdoor activities, too. Whether it’s birdwatching in the Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary, fishing or hunting in the woods, or camping and hiking along the many paths, you have plenty of opportunities to get out there in this out-there destination.

Missoula, Montana

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Missoula just likes the way the world looks from a bicycle. This mountainous Montana town is known for being bike-friendly and has even received a Gold level rating from the Bicycle Friendly America program.

But that’s not all that this Northern Rockies town offers outdoorsy types. Situated next to the Lolo National Forest, there’s plenty of hiking, fishing, and horseback riding, and its access to rivers makes it a destination for kayaking and water adventure.

Park City, Utah

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In 2002, an Olympics training center was built in Park City in advance of the Salt Lake City games, and many Olympians still call the area home. But you don’t have to be a pro athlete — or stay indoors at all — to enjoy all that Park City has to offer.

If you love winter sports, then Park City is a mecca. You have access to not one but three world-class ski areas: the Canyons, Deer Valley, and Park City. Prefer less powder and more leaves and streams? The nearby Uinta Mountains offer nearly 500,000 acres of designated wilderness, featuring plentiful trails, fishing, climbing, hiking, and camping.

Traverse City, Michigan

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From sporty types to foodie types, Traverse City has an outdoor adventure for every personality and style. Hiking, biking, and swimming in the lake are all favored during the more temperate months; in the winter, it’s a haven for skiers and snowshoers.

If you love being outside but sports not so much, then you're in luck: the area is an up-and-coming wine region, so there are plenty of wine tastings and vineyard tours. It’s also considered the “Cherry Capital of the World” — and during the summer months, roadside stands and cherry picking abound.

Get In Touch With Nature

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Ready to hit the road? From sea to shining sea, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, biking, camping under the stars or sampling wines in a beautiful vineyard, there’s a place for you in the U.S. What are you waiting for? Get outside!

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