Are you an outdoor nut like me? If you are, then there's a good chance you've already visited some of the places on this list. If there's one thing I love most about living in this great big country of ours, it's the amazing diversity of beautiful outdoor landscapes. From coast to coast, the United States has 58 national parks and more than 6,500 state parks, according to the NASPD. That's a lot of places to enjoy the outdoors this Spring Break!
I put together this list based on two things: amazing places I've been and amazing places I plan on going. The first three are destinations I've visited throughout my years as an outdoor junky, including my tenure in the Boy Scouts. The fourth destination is one I actually plan on visiting this spring, and the final six are all on my bucket list.
What outdoor destinations are on your bucket list?
1. The Grand Canyon
There is a reason the Grand Canyon tops most bucket lists. No other place captures the imagination quite like this iconic natural landmark in north-central Arizona. I actually took a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon years ago with my Scout troop. After camping out on the south rim, we backpacked about ten miles down into the canyon to the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which is accessible only by foot or mule train. After setting up camp at the nearby Havasu Creek campground, we spent four days exploring the canyon floor and hiking to several of the nearby waterfalls, including Mooney Falls and Havasu Falls. It was by far one of the best trips I've ever experienced!
2. Moab, Arches and Canyonlands
If you hike or mountain bike, Moab is your outdoor mecca. Located within easy driving distance of both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, this laid-back Utah town has more to offer than you could possible do in one trip, which is why I've been there three times and still haven't seen it all. If you do happen to go, I highly recommend making the hike out to Delicate Arch (pictured). It's definitely one of the most unique and stunning natural features I've ever seen. In fact, I hiked to nearly a dozen different natural arches during my trips there. Other must-see spots include Dead Horse Point State Park and Corona Arch. If you mountain bike, be sure to hit up Slickrock Trail. It's well worth the light admission fee.
3. Summit County, Colorado
Although Breckenridge and Keystone are technically the only resorts that fall within the actual Summit County, I tend to use the term loosely to refer to the surrounding area as well, which includes Vail, Aspen/Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Loveland Resort, Arapahoe Basin and Winterpark. So I guess you could just call it Ski County. Whatever nickname you choose, this is Colorado's winter playground, and the sheer variety of fantastic resorts, excellent terrain and welcoming ski villages is guaranteed to impress both seasoned skiers and beginners! The slopes are typically still in pretty good shape, come Spring Break. There are also several spring ski festivals worth checking out. I recommend booking early for the best rates.
4. Northern California
Northern Cali is home to two of the West Coast's greatest treasures: Yosemite National Park and the Redwood National and State Parks. I'm actually planning a trip that includes a stop in Yosemite this spring, and I'm pretty stoked to finally get a glimpse of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and many of the other fantastic sites in the park. I'd also like to do some hiking in Hetch Hetchy and possibly Mariposa Grove, with its giant sequoias. If we leave enough time to make the 6½ hour drive north from nearby San Fransisco to Redwood National Park, I will be a happy camper. I also hear great things about Angel Island State Park, which is located in the middle of San Fransisco bay.
5. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park
Located less then two hours from one another in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are by far two of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world, as anyone who has visited will tell you. I haven't had the chance to make it to either one yet, but they are definitely high on my to-do list. Activities in Zion and Bryce include backpacking, hiking, cycling, camping and guided horseback riding. What really sets these two parks apart from others in the country is the geology. Both feature majestic, completely unique landscapes that formed over millions of years via natural erosion and other geological forces. The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, for example, are actually 60 million years old! Did you know that Zion's first human inhabitants tracked mammoth, giant sloth, and camel across southern Utah almost 12,000 ye
Top 10 Spring Break Destinations for Outdoor Nuts (Part 1)
By Andy Hawbaker
March 06, 2012
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