11 Outdoor Adventure Destinations for Daredevils
From mountain trails to river rapids, find the perfect place for your next thrill packed trip
Experience the thrill of the rapids on a trip down Cache la Poudre River.
Adventure travelers circle the globe on a quest for the ultimate adrenaline rush, killer workouts with the best views and those trademark too-cool-to-be-true selfies. Are you ready for your next date with the great outdoors? Before you hit the trail, the mountain or the water, slow down long enough to determine exactly what kind of outdoor adventure fits your passion—and energy level.
Would you rather hike through a forest or a desert? Are you packing a sweatshirt or a swimsuit? Do you want to disappear into the wild for a week or be back in time for your dinner reservations? There's something for every kind of outdoor adventurer.
Get in the Water
Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and white-water rafts all behave differently in the water and can give you whatever experience you desire, from lazy drifting to heart-pounding adventure.
- Swamps and bayous surround New Orleans, Louisiana, and paddling options range from quick-and-easy urban kayaking to adventuresome paddling at a ruined Civil War fort.
- Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colorado, promises pure Colorado white-water rafting. If you want to scope out the Poudre before trying its rapids, see it for yourself from Colorado Highway 14.
- Both Falls Lake and Jordan Lake are convenient to the central North Carolina towns of Durham and Morrisville. These lakes are popular kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding destinations, but they also have their fair share of motor crafts; keep an eye out for Jet Skis.
Hit the trail
Nothing beats a good hike, whether it’s on a mountain, desert, salt marsh or forest trail.
- Sierra Ancha Wilderness and Wet Beaver Creek both promise refreshingly primitive backpacking trails within a few hours of Phoenix, Arizona.
- Next time you’re in Asheville, North Carolina, hike to the summit of Mount Pisgah and back in an afternoon.
- South of Los Angeles, California, the 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park boasts 40 miles of trails, ranging from easy to difficult.
Climb a rock
Explore what’s beneath your feet at Talking Rocks Cavern in Branson West, Missouri. Photo Credit: Talking Rocks Cavern
No fear of heights? Great! Clamber up these hills—with the proper safety gear, of course.
- Near Rapid City in South Dakota’s Black Hills, climbers take to the boulders and small cliffs smack-dab in the middle of town along Hogback Ridge. For bouldering, try the Rock Maze. Or stick with good ol’ fashioned climbing at the nearby Cliffs of Dune or Experimental Forest.
- Do the opposite of rock climbing and go under the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri. You can take a guided tour at Talking Rocks Cavern and the ride-through Fantastic Caverns. Or you can stop by the local organization Springfield Plateau Grotto’s monthly meeting to learn about caving and cave conservation.
Show Your Skate Skills
Work on that noseslide at Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit: Grace Hefley @spacewithgrace
Skateboarders, rejoice! You can pack your board and practice kickflips and ollies in a new city without worrying about those pesky “No Skateboarding” signs.
- Florida vacationers can shred at public skate parks, including three in Tampa and one in Orlando.
- Carlsbad Skatepark near San Diego, California, which opened in 1976, is one of the oldest public skate parks in the U.S.
- The community-built Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon—nestled under the Burnside Bridge—is a sight to behold. You may want to build up a little skill before giving this DIY park a shot.
More to Explore
Bike trails in the South
Take the scenic route through the South on these transformed cycling tracks.
Bike Trails in the Northeast
Ride where trains once traveled in places like Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
Take Frame-worthy Photos
Bloggers and photographers offer expert advice for taking great pics.