enjoying the great outdoors
Today, we’re overwhelmed with ways to stay entertained without ever having to step outside.
Streaming movies, playing video games, browsing limitless TV channels, and watching videos of cats provide endless amusement behind closed doors. However, staying inside day after day isn’t the healthiest way to live your life – there’s a whole world out there just demanding to be explored!
For anyone looking to see and do more, here are four eye-opening activities everyone should try at least once.
#1. Whitewater Rafting
Few pastimes provide adrenaline-pumping excitement while putting you at the mercy of nature’s awesome power.
Whitewater rafting is fast, frantic, invigorating, life-affirming fun. Needless to say, you should only go on your first rafting trips with experienced people to stay as safe as possible.
While there are many stunning whitewater rafting spots around the world, we have more than our fair share here in the USA. Check out the Green River, Salmon River, and Chattooga River for a taste of our finest waters.
Anyone who ever watched Point Break (the original, of course), Blue Crush, or even Surf’s Up will admit to feeling even a little tempted to try surfing, but how many of us actually do?
Well, quite a few actually – believe it or not, there are more than 2 million surfers across America. It’s easy to see why, too. We’re lucky to have a stunning variety of beaches to visit, offering some mind-blowing waves.
It’s natural to be intimidated by such a wild activity, yet surfing transforms lives – so much so fans tend to wonder how they coped before.
Don’t just grab a board and dive in – take lessons, prepare, and follow professional advice. When you’re ready, consider visiting Oahu’s Sunset Beach, California’s Trestles, and the famous Malibu Beach (of course).
#3. Mountain Climbing
As challenging, exhausting, and time-consuming as mountain climbing is, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as the view from the top.
Reaching a mountain’s peak, breathing the crisp air, and taking in the vista at your feet is an incredible experience everyone should enjoy at least once. Climbing a mountain is also a terrific way to build friendships and discover the joys of teamwork.
As a beginner, consider climbing Mt. Katahdin (in Maine’s Baxter State Park), Half Dome (in California’s Yosemite National Park), or Longs Peak (Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park). These may look tough at first glance, but they’re all prime challenges for novices.
Invest in top-quality mountaineering gear to maximize your own safety.
# 4. Skiing
Perhaps the least-extreme activity on this list, skiing is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors while having fun. Skiing’s also ideal for keeping fit, demanding a strong core, solid control of your own body, and fast reflexes.
You also get to enjoy some unforgettable views, breathe clean mountain air, and spend relaxing evenings in luxurious ski lodges.
Here in America, we’re lucky to have plenty of amazing ski resorts, most of which are accessible for beginners. Winter Park, Aspen, Vail, and Beaver Creek are all top choices for the novice.
Before you try any of these, be sure to invest in quality gear, including waterproof backpacks, safety equipment, and more.
America is one of the most stunningly diverse countries on Earth, filled with immense natural beauty and countless awe-inspiring landmarks.
Our national parks are some of the world’s greatest, providing endless sights to enjoy, landscapes to wander, and activities to enjoy. Every year, millions of people – Americans and tourists from farther afield – visit our parks, to see the best we have to offer. In fact, 2016 is the National Park Service’s Centennial, and we have a lot to thank them for!
Still, while we all know Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, why not look to the less-obvious options across our country? There are plenty more underrated national parks to explore.
Next time you’re looking for the perfect spot for a little hiking, cycling, or family-time in the great outdoors, consider one of these five underrated sites …
North Cascades National Park (Washington)
North Cascades National Park is a truly incredible spot to visit, with the various areas inside it retaining the names they were given so many years ago.
You will discover Nooksack, Shuksan, Sahale, Skagit, and more, as as well as timeless pictographs left on Lake Chelan’s surrounding cliffs by the Chelan tribe.
This was established as a national park in 1968, and is a popular spot for mountaineers and hikers. Mount Triumph and Eldorado Peak are two of the most common destinations for dedicated climbers, and Mount Shuksan has the park’s second-tallest peak – at a staggering 9,127 feet!
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado)
Based in the San Luis Valley, this was established as a park and preserve in 2004, though it had been known as Great Sand Dunes National Monument since 1932.
This is an unforgettable site to explore, featuring some of the highest sand dunes to be found in all of North America, measuring as tall as 750 feet. There’s plenty to see, with pine forests, six mountains topping 13,000 feet, and numerous wetlands (home to many different flora and fauna).
Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)
Isle Royale National Park was established in 1940, but was classed as a national wilderness area in 1976 before being registered as an international biosphere reserve just four years later. This hugely-expansive site actually reaches to Canada’s Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, at the border between nations.
For anyone looking to camp at a new site, there are 36 campgrounds available, with some fairly remote (accessible by private boats). Meanwhile, the Greenstone Ridge Trail is a popular hiking option, with 40 miles of path leading right across the island.
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (Alaska)
Looking to truly get away from it all? This national park is one of the country’s most remote, with hot springs, lava flows, and other stunning features to enjoy.
This was established in 1978, and lacks the easy access offered by many other national parks. How do you get in? Bush planes, boats, snowmobiles, and even dog sleds are generally used depending on the time of year you visit.
Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
Established in 1929, Grand Teton National Park racks up millions of visits every year (in 2015 alone, it welcomed almost 3.5m guests).
One of the park’s most remarkable features? It retains an ecosystem best-described as close to pristine, home to much of the same flora and fauna which has been there since prehistory. It’s favored by hikers (unsurprising, given its 200 miles’ worth of trails) and mountaineers.
There are over a thousand campsites for people looking to immerse themselves in one of America’s most picturesque environments overnight.
No matter which of these underrated national parks you visit first, you should put plenty of time into researching the opportunities and facilities available. As always, taking the proper supplies and equipment will help you get the most out of your experience, and ensure you remain safe.
During the colder months, exercising outdoors can be tough. When it’s cold, wet, or snowing heavily, your natural instinct tends to involve curling up in front of the fire. Finding the motivation to go for that three-mile run or take a swim can be difficult.
Still, this isn’t true of everyone – many people love to get out there and enjoy the brisk, biting chill. One of the most popular winter sports?
Without doubt, snowboarding is one of the coolest, most dynamic of all winter sports, a mix of skateboarding and skiing that demands considerable skill. Of course, the stunning snow-capped locations hold immense appeal, helping to attract newcomers year on year.
Always been curious to try snowboarding but unsure exactly how it benefits you?
Let’s take a look at just a few reasons you should give it a try.
Build a Tougher Body
Snowboarding looks far, far easier than it actually is. Staying on your board while traveling downhill at speed requires incredible balance, which works your entire body.
Steering your board strengthens your calves, quads, and hamstrings, while your arms and shoulders work hard to keep you steady.
Get a Cardiovascular Workout
Believe it or not, snowboarding can provide one heck of a cardio workout.
For the average person, you’ll burn anywhere from 250 to more than 600 calories per hour of snowboarding. This depends on the terrain, of course, but as very few people spend less than a few hours on their board, you’re sure to feel the burn.
Walking back uphill provides extra exercise, as does picking yourself up out of the snow (we all fall now and then).
If you’ve watched snowboarders in action, you’ll know just how often they need to twist and turn, changing direction and speed with fast movements. You need to move with the terrain and develop strong control over your body.
Over time, you’ll find you become more flexible and develop better balance.
Lighten Your Mood
Like any exercise, snowboarding makes you feel better in body and mind.
Why? It releases endorphins, those all-important neurochemicals that regulate happiness. As you work your way down the slopes, working your body, you should feel good, content, and motivated.
This goes hand-in-hand with the overall fun you can have in a snowboarding environment. If you’re lucky enough to travel to one of America’s best snowboarding destinations (such as Mount Bachelor, Mammoth Mountain, or Jackson Hole) you’ll get to enjoy amazing views.
You can also make snowboarding trips into luxurious holidays, bonding with friends and meeting new people in a unique setting. Think that will help to keep lifting your mood higher and higher?
Before you start snowboarding for the first time, it’s vital you spend time researching the best boards, the right gear, and the usual practice-methods to get you ready for your first trip.
If you plan on taking food, drink, first-aid kits, and other essentials on the slopes with you, don’t forget to take a waterproof backpack with you. Otherwise, your supplies may well get wet if you happen to fall again and again.
Riding your bike in the city is exciting, an easy way to stay fit on your commute, and a great reason to explore your urban environment.
But if you never take your pair of wheels beyond the streets you see everyday, you’re missing out.
America is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, and what better way to see it than by bike? There are many different bicycle trails out there, offering fantastically diverse terrain and breathtaking views. Some of these tend to be pretty darn long, and will demand more than just a day’s cycling – but the journey is absolutely worth the time.
To help you stay fit and connect with the great outdoors, we’ve put together five of the best bike trails from across the States …
C&O Canal Trail
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal measures an incredible 184.5 miles.
This runs alone the Potomac River’s north bank, and stretches right from Washington, DC all the way to Cumberland, MD. The canal itself was formed in the first half of the 19th century, between 1828 and 1850.
C&O Canal Trail’s best for hybrid or mountain bikes, and you’ll find camping areas (with all the facilities you need) at regular intervals.
The Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail runs from Denver to Durango, crossing nearly 500 miles of terrain, passing through the stunning Rocky Mountains. You’ll pass by unforgettable creeks, lakes, and more.
This is a real change of environment if you’re used to cycling through urban environments or flat ground. The Colorado Trail’s average height is more than 10,000 feet, though this rises and dips throughout.
It can be pretty demanding on your body, and you’ll need a reliable mountain bike to get from beginning to end. You’re best taking this with someone else who’s tried it before, or invest in a high-quality map and guide.
Take a look at our Double-Wall Alloy A1 Racing Bike, which is just as good for your inner-city cycling as hitting a challenging trail like this.
Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
This beautiful path runs from a mining town close to the Montana border, named Mullan, to a town called Plummer, based within range of Washington’s border. The trail runs 72 miles, and takes in a variety of views.
You’ll see the Silver Valley, the Chatcolet Bridge, Heyburn State Park, and more.
Maah Daah Hey Trail
Okay, so this is a big one.
Rather than serving as just one trail, the Maah Daah Hey is a system of routes offering something for all levels. Choose from the Long X (running 5.8 miles), the Overlook (just 0.3 miles), Maah Daah Hey itself (97 miles), Ice Cave (1.5 miles), and a few others.
There are grassy areas, tougher steep spots, prairies, and more.
The Katy Trail is 237 miles of trail, crossing much of Missouri, with more than half of it following the path trodden by the iconic Lewis and Clark.
This has smooth, flat terrain, and will provide a few days of stunning views – Americana at its best. Thankfully, you can get through this with pretty much any type of bike you prefer.
Needless to say, you must take a good supply of food, drink, spare clothes, maps, and first-aid kits. Research your route, invest time into reading up on other cyclists’ experiences, and take care.
Running on a treadmill is private, convenient, and even allows you to exercise in a comfortable temperature.
But there’s no denying it: when you run on a treadmill, you deny yourself certain pleasures.
For a start, you’re out in the fresh air, away from the sweat-tinged confines of your gym. You have beautiful surroundings to enjoy, and a clearer goal to work towards: rather than thinking ‘I want to hit five miles today’, you can say ‘ I want to reach the top of that gorgeous hill’ instead.
You can run outdoors at any time, in any weather (safety permitting, of course). Perhaps you prefer to get a half-hour in at dawn, or two hours after work. Perhaps you prefer throwing on a hooded top and working your legs in winter’s chill rather than summer’s sweltering heat.
Running outdoors is fun, free, and invigorating. However, if you’re just starting out, it’s important to prepare. Not only can a little research help you avoid injury, it can also help you get more out of your time on the trail.
Let’s take a look at a few expert tips for beginners.
Pick a Popular Running Trail
Feeling self-conscious about exercising in public? You won’t be the first or the last.
However, don’t let your anxiety lead you down unfamiliar paths. Choose a popular running trail or spot in your area. If you have no idea where this may be, ask around: speak with colleagues, friends, and family to pick their brains.
Not only is this safer to avoid your getting lost, it also means there will be other runners around to ask for help or advice should you need it.
Don’t Push Too Hard
As with any form of exercise, you have to ease yourself into running.
You might be tempted to run as hard as you can, for as long as you can. However, if you do so, you may well end up injuring yourself.
Start off slowly, and run only for short periods. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Be prepared to stop before you feel ready.
Warm Up First
Not planning to warm up before you start running?
Well, you may risk injury and strain. Even something as simple as a quick five-minute walk around the block can help get your body ready for a more intensive workout, along with a few minutes of stretching.
Be sure to cool down after your run too. Again, allow yourself a brief walk and stretch your legs to minimize discomfort.
Take Supplies (Just in Case)
Even if you only plan on a quick run, you have to stay hydrated,
Take one larger bottle of water, or two smaller ones, in a backpack. You should drink little and often to avoid dehydration, especially if running in hot weather.
Don’t forget to pack a protein bar or two if you plan on running for long distances, to replenish lost energy. You might also want to take a map if in unfamiliar territory, or a book if you plan to stop at the halfway point for a break.
Taking a waterproof backpack is ideal in rainy conditions, to keep your supplies safe and dry.
Running can be fantastic fun, improve your health and well-being, and give you a new lease of life. Take care when you start out – and accept that you won’t be able to run a marathon on your first day!
Every year, millions of Americans go camping.
For individuals, couples, and families looking to relax in our country’s most beautiful spots, camping just can’t be beaten. First and foremost, it’s a cheap break, without the expense of hotels or flights to foreign lands.
Of course, camping also puts you on nature’s doorstep – the perfect reason to explore your surroundings and embrace the American spirit of adventure.
Still, despite camping’s ongoing popularity, many people find themselves reluctant to try it for various reasons. Perhaps it’s the fear of being disconnected from today’s 24/7 online society. Perhaps it’s the sense of isolation they expect, or a feeling of vulnerability away from the city.
Well, in this post, we’re looking at four camping myths – and debunking them.
Myth #1: Camping Is All About Tents
Think camping has to involve tents, sleeping bags, and dozing under the stars?
Well, this is absolutely irresistible to plenty of campers, but others prefer to stay in an RV instead. The beauty of this is that you get all the perks of the camping experience without the more ‘hardcore’ aspects.
You can enjoy a comfortable bed, running water, lighting, and plenty of space to relax. You can lock your RV up and go explore, taking in the sights and enjoying all the usual activities, without missing out on the home-comforts you’re accustomed to in the evenings.
If you ARE staying in a tent, keep your essentials (phone, wallet etc.) in a waterproof backpack. Even if rain seeps through your canvas or you spill water over it, your delicates will remain safe.
Myth #2: Bears WILL Attack You
Even those of us living in regions without a history of bear sightings may well avoid the woods for fear of being mauled. They also give camping novices plenty to sweat over – but is this trepidation justified?
Statistically, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a bear while camping. If you’re visiting a dedicated camping site or national park, their staff will be able to provide information on safety and preparation.
If you’re still worried, just be sure to avoid leaving food in your tent, take care when cooking foods with strong scents, and never leave waste close to your campsite.
Myth #3: Poison Ivy is a Contagious Risk to Others
Poison ivy’s frightening enough to have even the most seasoned campers watching their step while out walking, but do you need to worry if a friend or relative gets a rash?
No! Poison ivy isn’t actually contagious.
The rash is created by the oil contained on the ivy’s leaves and stems, and if this stays on the person’s skin, that may rub off onto someone else. This is unlikely, though, and easy to avoid with the proper care.
Just be sure to change your skin and stay clean.
Myth #4: You’ll Get Dirty
Without doubt, the fear of feeling filthy and smelly is enough to put novices off of camping for life. However, many of the best campsites offer showers with hot water and even baths (for a more luxurious experience).
Of course, if you’re staying in an RV, you may have your own shower. Alternatively, you can wash yourself down in the sink!
We all know hygiene’s important to avoid infections etc., but showering after a long hike or spot of kayaking helps to soothe your aching muscles. You’ll also be able to feel more relaxed if you’re not self-conscious about your body odor or stinky clothes.
Feeling tempted to try camping? We hope so. It’s a great American tradition, and the perfect way to get close to nature in an affordable, fun way. For your first camping trip, perhaps try to take an experienced camper along with you, for your own peace of mind.