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Pikes Peak in Colorado

5 Ways to Experience Outdoor Adventure in the United States

Natural diversity abounds in the USA

The United States is perhaps most known for its pop-culture exports, but the vast wilderness of the country has long been a defining feature, as well. From the red rocks of the Southwest, to the rocky Atlantic coastline of the Northeast region-- to literally everything in between-- The United States has the most ecoregions in the world. That means that to truly understand how the word diversity applies to the United States, you’d have to take into account, not just the people, but the other forms of nature, as well. And with over 60 national parks and hundreds of other wilderness areas, that won't be hard to do. Check out these 5 outdoor adventures for a sense of the environmental diversity the United States has to offer.

Enjoying a beach day on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

1. Swim in the Oceans

With nearly 150,000 kilometers of shoreline, the United States has more than a few ways to access the ocean.

A trip to the southeast region of the United States offers access to the Atlantic Ocean, where beaches have an earthy feel, with deep green water and sand that’s quintessentially sandy-colored. Just on the other side of the Florida peninsula, the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico are said to offer the clearest water and whitest sand in the area. Further North, you can dip in the Atlantic via Cape Cod, a beachtown in Massachusetts known for its bevy of summer visitors and classic maritime vibes. For big waves, blue water and world-class surfing, add Malibu, California or the capital of modern surfing itself, Hawaii, to your itinerary. Still more beautiful beaches can be found in the Caribbean region of the United States, with stunning destinations like Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, each offering emerald water and plenty of ways to enjoy it.

Hiking at the base of Mount Rainier in Washington State

2. Hike the Volcanos

Hawaii is home to one of the most stunning natural environments in the country, composed of near-daily rainbows and active volcanoes.

Two such volcanoes can be seen, (and hiked!) in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you’ll find some of the most unique geological features in the world. Take Crater Rim Drive to witness the steam vents and the Halema'uma'u Crater, or take the Chain of Craters Road to pass over real lava. Other famous volcanoes within the United States include Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens in Washington State, and the majestic Yellowstone Caldera in Wyoming. There are nearly 200 volcanoes in total, many of which can be found in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

On the slopes overlooking Lake Tahoe

3. Ski Down the Mountains

Skiing is available across the country, from glacier-clad Mount Olympus in Washington’s Olympic National Park, to Okemo Mountain in Vermont, and the many slopes that sweep through the Sierra Nevada mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe: a veritable wonderland for nature adventurers, offering everything from lake-based activities to world-class snow skiing. More world-class skiing and famous mountains can be found throughout the state of Colorado. A trip to the area should include a journey west to Colorado’s neighbor Utah, a state whose identity rests on the abundance of stunning mountain ranges for viewing, scaling and skiing. To find the tallest peak in the country, you’ll have to head to the northernmost state: Alaska, where Mount Denali sits 6,190.5 meters high in Denali National Park.

Hiking in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado

4. Road Trip Through the Desert

Still another kind of landscape that adds to the biodiversity of the United States is the desert region of the American Southwest.

Known for its earthy red land, and hot, arid climate, this region includes such natural wonders as Grand Canyon National Park and the Mojave Desert, with a multitude of ways to experience both. While visiting America’s deserts, check out the wacky and loveable local trees known as Joshua Trees, which can be seen in abundance in Joshua Tree National Park in California, or brave the hottest and driest desert region in the country--Death Valley, near the California-Nevada border.

Sun shining over the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

5. View Wildlife in the Forests & Plains

Spread across the middle of the United States are plenty of other types of landscapes, each with their own outdoor activities in abundance.

You can see the tallest trees in the world at Redwood National Park in California, or journey to Montana, where you’ll find Yellowstone National Park--the place to glimpse elusive wildlife like bears and wolves. Toward the middle of the country, you’ll encounter the Ozarks, a vast mountainous zone that encompasses land from Missouri to Arkansas. Further south, you can explore the country’s Great Plains region, where you can take in America’s prairieland or bask in the beauty of Glacier National Park, where hiking, camping and cycling are all on offer. Further east, take a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, home of the stunning green-blue hued Blue Ridge Mountains and a lovely mountain town with an artsy vibe.

Whether you consider yourself a nature adventurer or prefer to take in the wild with your eyes, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to do both all across the United States. In fact, plan to check off a significant portion of your nature-based bucket list on a trip to the United States.