National Great Outdoors Month, celebrated every June, is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and have an adventure. The designation emphasizes the benefits of outdoor recreation and encourages Americans to enjoy our nation’s many natural wonders.
In celebration of Great Outdoors Month, and in an effort to encourage people to get outside and appreciate nature, we’ve rounded up a list of our absolute favorite spots in the United States. From the swamps of Florida to the peaks of Alaska, each of these places offers the opportunity to breathe some fresh air, explore, and experience the beauty of our natural world.
DuPont State Forest, North Carolina
“One of my favorite places to hike and explore is DuPont State Forest, about 45 minutes outside of Asheville, NC. There are dozens of spots to hike, fish, and mountain bike. My favorite route takes you past three impressive waterfalls (Hooker, Triple, and High Falls) and up to a beautiful lake with a dock perfect for jumping off into crystal clear water.
While the scenic views are enough to make me fall in love with DuPont, it’s also where they filmed many scenes of the first Hunger Games movie. With a quick Google search, you can find the names of the landmarks used if you want to go on a movie-inspired adventure. If you find yourself in Western North Carolina, be sure to check it out.” - Amelia
Arches National Park, Utah
“Growing up on the East Coast made me accustomed to a certain grandeur only found there. After moving to Utah, I experienced a beauty much different than what I was used to, and it was stunning. Arches National Park provides life-changing vistas only found in its boundaries. While there, I rappelled down canyon walls exceeding 200 feet and hiked through their bases. Spectacular views were revealed upon climbing out, making the effort worth the monumental reward. Some of my most precious life experiences have been in national parks, and I look forward to more in the future.” - Joey
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
“Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park on the cusp of winter and spring was a climate rollercoaster. Entering the park at 7,500 feet welcomed us with wildflowers, grassy panoramas, and a variety of wildlife. As we ascended through the park, the landscape quickly filled with ice and snow, and our lungs kicked into overdrive. The park’s Bear Lake Loop at 9,500 feet was, to our relief, not very steep and had beautiful views of snow-capped peaks and trees. We hiked the perimeter of the thawing lake with caution, as two of us accidentally went swimming early on in our journey. Shoutout to Sorel for your toe-saving waterproof boots.” - Elise
Everglades National Park, Florida
“If you’re looking for the chance to get up close and personal with alligators, a fast ride through a river of grass, or some incredible scenery in one of the most diverse ecosystems in the US, a visit to the Everglades National Park might just be your next trip.
Going to the Everglades is like stepping back in time, back into Florida before its development. The park stretches for miles and holds all kinds of epic, surreal scenery. In some places, Spanish moss hangs like curtains on the huge cypress trees standing in the still black water. The air is thick with heat and the sounds of birds, bugs, and the occasional splash. In other spots, you can take a ride on an airboat along a veritable river of grass. Take some time to explore the boardwalks and hiking trails, or rent a kayak to see the Everglades for a totally different perspective. No matter what you’re looking for, chances are you can see it, explore it, or live it in the Everglades.” - Edson
Denali National Park, Alaska
“Denali National Park was exceptional for the sense of grandness, its dimension. It makes you feel small and awestruck by the breadth and beauty of nature. I went with my parents, my wife Anna (who was 7 months pregnant) and our son Oliver, so we rented an RV which made it very comfortable. Good also because it rained a lot and there was a bear roaming through the camping area so at least we were safe. We did some short hikes and also took the tour deep into the park and saw lots of grizzlies, moose, and caribou. One highlight was visiting the sled dogs and learning more about their contributions to exploring and maintaining the park.” - Ryan
Waimea Canyon State Park, Hawaii
“Kaua’i, or the ‘Garden Isle,’ in Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. With an abundance of outdoorsy things to do, I would recommend Waimea Canyon State Park, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. My photos certainly do not do it justice, but this state park offers numerous hiking trails for all levels, as well as incredible look-out points. That’s me ziplining upside down through a rainforest near Koloa Town, Kaua’i.” - Liz
Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
“In 2016, I was fortunate enough to visit “The Mighty Five,” Utah’s top national parks that include Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches. My favorite hike on the trip was Angels Landing in Zion National Park. This hike takes you up the narrow spine of the mountain and leaves you with a spectacular view at the top that makes the strenuous trek all worth it. Utah did not disappoint! Every park on this trip was unique and showcased the amazing wild that we sometimes take for granted in day-to-day life. I recommend that everyone take advantage of the national parks around the country that showcase our nation’s beauty!” - Jessica
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
“Shenandoah National Park is just 75 miles outside of Washington, DC. It extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to many bird species, deer, and black bears. The Old Rag Mountain 9-mile hike is one of the most popular hikes in the mid-Atlantic region and also one of my favorites. The scenic trail leads to a summit elevation of 3,291 feet, with incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Once you get to the top, you will not be disappointed.” - Toyah
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
“Nearly every summer when I was growing up, my family would make the 18-hour drive from Wisconsin to Grand Teton National Park - through the plains of South Dakota to the out-of-this-world Badlands to the low-sloping Black Hills - to camp in the Tetons. Many years later my husband and I got engaged (while camping and wearing our headlamps!) on the shores of the Gros Ventre. Now we make it back as much as possible for great winter skiing.” - Kate
Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, California
“Visiting the Devil’s Punchbowl was an amazing experience and provided the opportunity to see a very unique geological formation. The area, located in the northern San Gabriel Mountains, gets its name from a canyon that’s 300 feet deep and surrounded by tilted sandstone. The formation lies among 8,000-foot peaks and the park features an interesting Nature Center. Each step I took during my hike showed me that nature can create masterpieces.” - Chandaria
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
“In the summer of 2009, I spent 16 days white water rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The experience was quite literally 20 years in the making – a father-son adventure for which, together with lifelong friends, we had entered a waiting list for permits in 1989. The importance and effectiveness of our National Park System, conserving and protecting our natural wonders and resources, are on full display at Grand Canyon National Park. With massive cliffs overlooking greenery and river rapids, the unique landscape simultaneously impresses upon visitors both the gentle nourishment and extreme power of nature.” - Joel
Wissahickon Valley Park, Pennsylvania
“Wissahickon Valley Park has a beautiful trail that takes you from the suburbs of Philadelphia right into the city. The Forbidden Trail is well known for its scenic bike rides and flat graveled running tracks surrounded by trees. It is also a beautiful way to get yourself out of the city and into nature, with easy access to the trail through several marked openings.
I have gone here ever since I was a child, and have always loved to sit by the river that follows the trail. I still go and watch horses roam in the stream and run in the mornings whenever I visit home. If you are ever anywhere near Philadelphia, you have to take a stroll through the many hiking trails that are on the side of the gravel running track. It is especially a beautiful site for the more adventurous who love to mountain bike on high-grade roads.” - Danielle
Glacier National Park, Montana
“I visited Glacier National Park during the summer of 2011 when I spent six weeks at a geologic field camp in Montana. We took a day trip to the park and little did I know, it would be one of the most spectacular days of my life. The beginning of the trip was cold, rainy, and cloudy. Fifteen minutes before this photo was taken, we were actually standing in the middle of a cloud, blind to the beauty around us, and cursing our luck. But then, when the cloud moved on and the sun peeked through, we were greeted with the most incredible view I’ve ever seen. And I mean that. My camera couldn’t even begin to capture the sheer magnitude of these mountains.
Unfortunately, by the time the sun came out, it was time to leave. As we drove out of the park on Going-to-the-Sun Road, I remember pressing my face up against the back windshield and tuning everyone out just so I could try to take it all in and memorize the way I felt at the moment. If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into another world, this is the place to go. I hardly scratched the surface so I can only imagine what other treasures it holds.” - Angela
We hope our stories have inspired you to take some time to appreciate the great outdoors this month. If you care about the environment as much as we do, we hope you’ll __joi__n_ Arcadia_ in supporting clean energy.