5 Perfect Destinations for Outdoor Enthusiasts

04 February 2018

As the warmer weather rolls in and the wanderlust gets a little more urgent, outdoor enthusiasts all over the world are looking to get their fix of fresh air and breathtaking nature. And where better to end a day of hiking and biking than a HI USA hostel where the beds are comfortable and there’s always a great conversation to be had? All you have to do is bring your gear and explorer’s spirit – the adventure starts now!

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

With the city of San Francisco and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for a backdrop, the Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a wonderland of stunning trails that lead to mountain tops and secret beaches and mystical forests. Mount Tamalpais State Park is a favorite of locals and travelers alike, especially because it offers a little bit of the best of Northern California, including redwoods, waterfalls and panoramic views of the whole Bay Area.
Where to stay: HI Marin Headlands Hostel in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the perfect home base for exploring the North Bay.

Knoxville, Maryland

If you’re thinking of conquering a part of the Appalachian Trail, biking the C&O Canal or getting your feet wet in the Potomac River, then the little hamlet of Knoxville in Maryland is exactly where you need to be. This area is a hub for action-loving travelers looking for the adrenaline rush from white water rafting, mountain biking and rock climbing as well as the relaxing serenity that comes from a good hike or canoe trip.
Where to stay: HI Harpers Ferry is open from May to October for campers and hostellers looking for easy access to trails, rivers and parks.

Richmond, Virginia

Along with its collection of museums and historical monuments, Richmond also has wonderful outdoor areas for cyclists and hikers. This area is definitely a must for water lovers since the James River, which runs right through the city of Richmond, is known as one of the best places in the country for urban white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. In some places, history and nature intersect, like Belle Isle on the river where you can see a Civil War-era prison camp and do some rock climbing all in one outing.
Where to stay: HI Richmond has all the comforts of home you’ll appreciate after a long day of activities.

Sacramento, California

California’s capital has more than just government buildings and gold rush nostalgia if you venture a little out of town. Bicycle riders from all over enjoy the extensive trails like the 23-mile, tree-lined American River Parkway, which makes for an excellent day out in Sacramento’s perpetual good weather. There’s also the option of getting into a river – either the Sacramento or the American – for some kayaking and white water rafting, or, if you just want to be outside with minimal effort, you can do a lazy afternoon float in a tube.
Where to stay: The stately HI Sacramento mansion is a comfortable, cozy spot where you’re more than likely to make new friends to adventure with.

Park Rapids, Minnesota 

Lose yourself for a magical few days among towers of pine trees and literally hundreds of lakes in the serene Itasca State Park. Home of the source of the mighty Mississippi River, the park is a year-round haven for every kind of outdoor enthusiast: there’s hiking and biking, canoeing and kayaking, and fishing in both spring and winter. The cold weather is also excellent for cross country skiing, while the fall is the ideal time for quiet walks to admire the changing leaves. Whenever you visit, you’re guaranteed to leave satisfied and rejuvenated by all the fresh air and unspoiled scenery. 
Where to stay: HI Mississippi Headwaters hostel is the perfect wilderness home base, plus the friendly hostel staff can point you to the best trails and secret spots.     

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HI USA Tip: Find out how to do some Earth-friendly traveling in major cities with our Green Footprints series, and find more inspiration for places to visit this year where you can stay at fantastic HI USA hostels.