The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that 90% of Americans spend their time indoors. This number highlights the importance of identifying exhilarating and absorbing activities to escape urban confines and explore the unspoiled beauty and boundless opportunities the great outdoors offers.
Whether you seek the thrill of mountain biking, the solace of a tranquil forest or the rush of whitewater rafting, the great outdoors offers something for everyone. From riding electric bikes on local bike trails to taking wildlife photography, you can find the perfect activity to help you unplug and spend more time in nature.
1. Wander Through the Trees: Tree Bathing
Forest bathing or “Shinrin-Yoku,” is a mindful exploration of nature, emphasizing a deeper connection with the forest atmosphere. Unlike hurried walks or rigorous hikes, this practice encourages a slow pace, allowing for a more observant exploration of the natural environment.
By engaging all your senses, you notice details you might otherwise overlook—the texture of bark, the scent of foliage and the sounds of rustling leaves. Tree bathing offers a tranquil outdoor experience that improves mood and reduces stress.
No vast wilderness is needed; even a small park can suffice for this practice. For a more immersive experience, try visiting locations like Redwood National and State Parks in California or Hoh Rain Forest in Washington.
2. Wildlife Observation
Wildlife photography and observation provide the opportunity to witness the natural world in its unaltered state. The practice encourages patience, timing and an appreciation for the rhythm of nature. Whether watching a bird in flight or observing the subtle interactions within a herd, the experience is rewarding and educational.
Consider joining a photography workshop or a local wildlife observation group to improve your skills. You can find helpful information in books like the National Audubon Society’s Guide to North American Birds website or online photography courses through platforms like Skillshare.
Learning about local wildlife and their habitats will also enhance your experience. This endeavor can help you hone your photography skills and deepen your appreciation for nature and its inhabitants.
3. Two-Wheeled Exploration: Mountain Biking
Mountain biking, an exhilarating outdoor pursuit, takes on new dimensions with e-bikes. When choosing the right bike, consider various types such as hardtail, full-suspension and e-mountain bikes. Know your skill level and budget to help you make a suitable purchase. Consider e-mountain bike models, such as Giant Stance E+2 or the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp, for an excellent riding experience.
If you’d rather stay closer to home, you can explore parks and trails in your own neighborhood or city. A road electric bike or city e-bike can give you the speed and pedal assist you need to take longer rides at a local park or travel down rural roads to take in the scenery. The Scott Contessa Addict eRIDE10 is a good road e-bike option, with 55 Nm of torque and 236 Wh battery capacity, while the Trek Verve +2 Lowstep offers easy mounting and dismounting and a 400 Wh battery.
Some people enjoy the thrill of using an e-bike on a certified mountain bike trail; others simply want to ride through nature at a relaxing pace. There is something for riders of all levels, but remember trail etiquette, yield to hikers and prioritize safety with helmets and protective gear.
4. Water Adventures: Kayaking and Canoeing
Water adventures offer a refreshing escape from routine, with kayaking and canoeing presenting serene options. Kayaks, with enclosed cockpits and double-bladed paddles, provide speed and control, while canoes offer spaciousness and versatility. No matter your method, travel safely by wearing a life jacket, having proper training and staying updated on water conditions.
For those craving a more exhilarating experience, whitewater rafting delivers a rush like no other. Descending turbulent rapids tests your mettle and teamwork. Seek professional guides for safety and expertise, especially on challenging rivers like the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.
5. Underwater Wonderland: Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Scuba diving and snorkeling are captivating ways to explore underwater wonders. Scuba diving requires more training and equipment, letting you roam alongside marine life and explore hidden underwater caves and wrecks. Popular diving spots include the Florida Keys, known for its coral reefs and Monterey Bay in California, famous for its kelp forests.
Snorkeling offers a simpler way to explore the water. You just need a mask, snorkel and fins to float on the water’s surface and observe the vibrant world below in shallower waters. It’s an accessible activity for all ages, with many coastal resorts and beach destinations offering gear rentals and guided tours. Ideal places for snorkeling include Hanauma Bay in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.
Enjoy and Explore Outside
Exploring the outdoors offers a respite from the daily grind and reconnects us to the earth’s grounding presence. Whether it’s the adventure of riding an affordable electric bike on a mountain trail, the serene practice of forest bathing or a daring plunge into underwater realms, each activity offers a unique interaction with nature.