Exploring what our wonderful continent has to offer is one of life’s great pleasures. Spending time outdoors brings a whole host of benefits, from feeling better psychologically to being fit and trim. Given that two thirds of Americans are medically obese, and a quarter suffer from mental illness, now’s the perfect time to get out and appreciate what the great outdoors has to offer to counter these worrying trends and improve our overall quality of life.
The Owyhee River
Cutting through 1.2 million hectares of sagebrush desert in Idaho’s southwestern steeps, the Owyhee River is one of the least appreciated waterways in the US. Whether you’re looking for a gentle one-day introduction to rafting or a week-long adventure that includes a Class V whitewater stretch, this stunning river has something to offer everyone.
The Appalachian Trail
Stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, this epic hiking trip is 2,200 miles long and spans all sorts of terrain. Traversing several peaks of over 4,000 feet, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart. Make sure you have all the Appalachian Trial essentials packed to deal with every eventuality, from the variations in temperature to the inevitable wandering bears. You don’t have to do the whole trail at once (this takes around six months), but can start and leave off wherever suits you. Because most of the trial is above the tree line, the views you’ll encounter along the way are second to none.
This 14,410 foot high mountain in Washington is one of the most challenging peaks in the US. Of the 9,000 people who attempt to climb it every year, around half turn back, defeated by the weather conditions, fatigue, or simple inexperience. You can approach the stunning peak from any angle: those of you who want to actually climb and belay their way to the summit should inch their way up the Kautz Glacier Route for the ultimate challenge.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Tucked into the north-eastern corner of Alaska, this is one item on the bucket list that’s an adventure just to get to, but worth the journey. Covering a spectacular 19 million acres, the ANWR is home to an unmissable wildlife event every June: the caribou migration from Yukon to the refuge, where 200,000 of the majestic beasts march to their winter grazing grounds. You can stand by the banks of the Kongakut River which spans the 20-mile-wide plain that lies between the Beaufort Sea and the Brooks Mountain Range. For the sheer scale of nature in all its glory, there’s no beating it.