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A Life List for Outdoor Adventure Seekers

By Janelle Smith, Recreation.gov

On top of the world at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming (Rob Harwood, Share the Experience)
On top of the world at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming (Rob Harwood, Share the Experience)

If what you seek is adventure around every corner, make this your bucket list of outdoor experiences. From Alaska to Minnesota, these 10 adrenaline-inducing and physically challenging activities will feed the soul.

View Bears in the Wild

A curious Alaskan brown bear on the Katmai National Park and Preserve (Sandeep Rajagopal, Share the Experience)
A curious Alaskan brown bear on the Katmai National Park and Preserve (Sandeep Rajagopal, Share the Experience)

There are still many places where bears roam, but only a few where an observer might reliably view a bold, beautiful bear in its natural habitat. Witness some of the largest bears in the world congregating in popular fishing spots as salmon make their way to spawning grounds in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Yellowstone National Park also hosts grizzly and black bears that visitors often see from a safe distance. Check out these 8 Locations for Bear Watching in several U.S. locations.

Boat the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Minnesota

Boating in Boundary Waters (Gary Hamer, Share the Experience)
Boating in Boundary Waters (Gary Hamer, Share the Experience)

The BWCAW features more than 1,200 miles (1931 km) of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and about 2,000 designated campsites. This wilderness offers freedom to those who wish to pursue an experience of expansive solitude, challenge and personal integration with nature. Visit our Boundary Waters reservations page to plan your trip.

Hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Eastern U.S.

Hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail on the Pisgah National Forest (Nathan Farber, Share the Experience)
Hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail on the Pisgah National Forest (Nathan Farber, Share the Experience)

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,184-mile (3,514 km) long public footpath that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Approximately three to four million visitors hike a section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail each year.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail form what is known as the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the United States.

Mountain Bike in Moab, Utah

Riding the trails in Moah, Utah. (BLM)
Riding the trails in Moab, Utah. (BLM)

Mountain bikers travel great distances for a chance to ride in the Moab area. The Moab Brand trails offer 31 miles (49.8 km) of terrain for all abilities with spectacular views, including Arches National Park. The Klondike Bluffs area offers longer-distance trails with about 60 miles (96.5 km) of fun. Regardless of the trails you choose, riding in Moab is an experience that creates memories to last a lifetime.

Experience Alpine Skiing or Snowboarding

Snowboarding at night in Utah (Spencer Lunt, Share the Experience)
Snowboarding at night in Utah (Spencer Lunt, Share the Experience)

National Forests are host to 122 ski areas throughout the U.S. In addition to the thrill of alpine skiing and snowboarding, many forests offer opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, dog sledding or snowmobiling! Visit our Downhill Thrills page for more information about year-round thrilling adventures at ski resorts.

Climb a Fourteener in Colorado

Ascending the mountain on the White River National Forest (Christopher Benda, Share the Experience)
Ascending the mountain on the White River National Forest (Christopher Benda, Share the Experience)

The pinnacles along the Colorado Rockies are the 54 peaks over 14,000 feet (4,267 m) in elevation. "Fourteeners,” as climbers affectionately refer to them, offer views and experiences like no other. Visit this list of all of these majestic peaks (PDF) throughout the state and plan to ascend to these great heights. Also, check out our Colorado Peaks article for more great information and safety tips.

Experience a Volcano, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Hiking near Mount St. Helens' diverse landscape (Greta Nehrenberg, Share the Experience)
Hiking near Mount St. Helens' diverse landscape (Greta Nehrenberg, Share the Experience)

Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers. Although strenuous, this non-technical climb is suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers complete the round trip in 7-12 hours. Visit Climbing Mount St. Helens for everything you need to know, and to obtain a required permit.

Hike the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

A trail leading to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (Paula Bittner, Share the Experience)
A trail leading to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (Paula Bittner, Share the Experience)

A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms the senses through its immense size. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide, and a mile (1.6 km) deep. Hikes into the Grand Canyon range from short day hikes, to multi-day adventures. Prepare to be awed by this stunning geological phenomenon.

Raft White Water on the Four Rivers, Idaho and Oregon

Running the rapids on the Snake River (John Stephenson, Share the Experience)
Running the rapids on the Snake River (John Stephenson, Share the Experience)

Explore the largest area of protected wilderness in the lower 48 United States with 3.3 million acres (1.3 million hectares) of roadless land, and mountain ranges separated by rivers as big as the landscapes that surround them. Experience white water rafting on the Four Rivers in Oregon and Idaho of the Main Salmon, Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Snake and the Selway rivers. These rivers contain all the excitement of Class 5 whitewater and the calm needed for fly fishing Zen.

Hike Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, California

Ascending the Cables at Half Dome (Melissa Bartow, Share the Experience)
Ascending the Cables at Half Dome (Melissa Bartow, Share the Experience)

Rising nearly 5,000 feet (1,524 m) above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet (2,682.2 m) above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. The most famous—or infamous—part of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet (121 m) to the summit without rock climbing equipment. This ascent is a thrill and rewards climbers with a view that makes the climb well worth the effort. Before planning your trip, make sure to gather as much information as possible about the lottery process for the Half Dome Permits.

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