Great Outdoors U.S.A.: The Best Adventures For You Across 50 States

Whether you’re already planning a getaway or simply fantasizing about fascinating horizons, the new Great Outdoors U.S.A.: 1,000 Adventures Across All 50 States (National Geographic Books) is an action-packed, info-generous, photography-rich, bright beacon. This ambitious 736-page, colorful and insightful travelogue encourages all levels of nature lovers. It illuminates fun, spirited pursuits in every state; surprising, off-the-beaten-path gems; and full-throttle epic journeys. Perhaps coolest are the heart-warming verdant oases unveiled in urban areas.

“The beauty of the United States resides in the scope of its diversity,” writes Allyson Johnson, Senior Editor, National Geographic Books, in the introduction. “From the deserts of Arizona to the rocky coastline of Maine, from the sandy shores of Florida to the peaks of Colorado, the country offers a dazzling range of natural landscapes — and is ripe for exploring…. Got a spare weekend or a few hours? Tackle a hike that’s just a short drive from your own backyard. Or, even better, use this book as your bucket list to crisscross the country…. You’ll find state-by-state adventures big (bungee jumping over the Kentucky River) and small (walking the botanical gardens of historic Sandwich, Massachusetts). And there’s something for everyone, including trips for adrenaline junkies (raft the Class V rapids of the Upper Youghiogheny River in Maryland); bird-watchers (look to the skies along Ohio’s Little Miami State and National Scenic River); and those who want accessible options (see the playgrounds and trails at Burns Park in Arkansas and wheelchair-friendly routes in Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park).”

Discover Details That Delight You Most

In its comprehensive quest to cover notable destinations, Great Outdoors U.S.A. delivers descriptions galore, showcasing an astounding array of activities, some of which are pulse-racing and others that embrace gentler paces. Among the bounty of recreational choices: ATV and off-roading, biking, bird-watching, boating, camping, canoeing, fishing, forest bathing, garden viewing, golfing, hang gliding, hiking, helicopter touring, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, kayaking, kitesurfing, paddle-boarding, road tripping, rock climbing, sailing, sand-boarding, scuba-diving, skiing, skydiving, snorkeling, snowboarding, spelunking, stargazing, surfing, swimming, trekking, tubing, wildlife spotting, yoga practicing and zip-lining. Inspired by the possibilities? Also savor rousing outdoor festivals. And feast at recommended wine and food venues.

Navigate to Memorable Escapes

Great Outdoors U.S.A. highlights 1,000 different vacation ideas. Here are a handful of directions to jumpstart your wanderlust.

Pedal to Vineyards. In New York State’s picturesque Finger Lakes region, bike (or hire a vehicle driver) to visit some of its 100 or so wineries. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail and Seneca Lake Wine Trail spotlight vineyards that produce grapes for award-winning wines. Intrepid cyclists can map their solo routes or engage an outfitter — such as The New York Finger Lakes Bike Tour from Wilderness Voyageurs — that plots guided itineraries to wineries, ice cream shops, waterfalls and charming inns.

Get High on Hot Air Ballooning. Every October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta lifts off at a 360-acre park in New Mexico that attracts more than 500 vibrantly decorated balloons, many of which are whimsically shaped as animals and characters — pigs to monkeys, Uncle Sam to Darth Vadar — from around the world. Thousands of sky-seeking participants cheer varied events, especially the show-stopper Mass Ascension, which kicks off at 7 o’clock in the morning as “The Star Spangled Banner” booms. Floating in a balloon basket above the desert terrain is a heady happening. Witnessing — from the ground with a parade of balloons above — is a symphony of majestic moments. Aloft! Green chili New Mexican fare and a photo competition add to the round-up applause.

Cross-Country Ski in a Sublime Setting. In New Hampshire, in the vicinity of Jackson Village (next to Pinkham Notch), the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, a nonprofit organization, grooms almost 100 miles of Nordic ski trails, which also connect with trails in White Mountain National Forest backcountry. Rustic and remote, peaceful and uplifting, the Jackson XC Trail network opens up ribbons of wondrous winter wonderlands.

Hike the Rockies Alongside Llamas. In magnificent Rocky Mountain National Park, 70 miles north of Denver, join a guided day excursion or overnight stay with an outfitter, such as Wildland Trekking and Kirks Mountain Adventures, whose llamas are skilled at climbing and trained to transport camping gear. It is a lively jaunt to move in step with these amiable, toothy animals. Selfie smiles!

Camp Near Wild Horses. The freely roaming feral horses of Maryland’s Assateague Island — legend claims that their equine domesticated ancestors arrived via a ship-wrecked Spanish galleon — are an amazing and captivating vision on Assateague Island National Seashore. The likelier history of today’s approximately 300 protected creatures is that they are descendants of horses that were purposefully transported to barrier islands like Assateague in the late 17th century by mainland owners who wanted to avoid taxation of livestock and fencing laws. Now the horses traverse 37 miles of pine forest, coastal bays and salt marshes. You can camp on this barrier island with its tranquil trails. Beach combing is a favorite pastime here, as well as spying migratory birds that soar overhead. Be mesmerized.

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