When you are weary of the stress and rigor of city life, there’s nothing like hopping on a plane, train, or driving far away from traffic and skyscrapers to enjoy the great outdoors. The United States is rich with natural beauty: mountains, valleys, rivers, and fresh air. If you’re looking to get in touch with what nature has to offer, whether alone or with family or friends, here are seven nature escapes to consider.

1. The Adirondacks

Photo by Eva Darron


Whether you’re visiting during the hot or cold months, The Adirondacks in upstate New York are truly magical.

According  to Visit Adirondacks, this is the name given to “over 100 welcoming communities, mountains, lakes, verdant valleys, and steep cliffs, spanning more than six million acres.”

Lovers of the outdoors head to this special reg ion to bask in the majesty of nature.  In the warmer months, you can enjoy whitewater rafting, camping, cycling and of course, hiking.

If you want to go hiking for the first time, it’s recommended that you travel with at least one other person. If they have hiking experience, all the better, and they can advise on the gear you will need.

Be mindful of sudden changes in terrain and drops. Getting that unreal Instagram selfie is not worth jeopardizing your life.

The following are great for first time hikers: Auger Falls Loop (a waterfall), Silver Lake Mountain, and Owl’s Head Mountain. Other suggested hiking areas can be found on the Visit Adirondacks site.




2. The Poconos

Photo by Wilmar Silveira


Need to get out of Philadelphia, but would rather not leave Pennsylvania? Check out The Poconos, where you can rent a cabin and frolic in the great outdoors.

This region offers hiking options for people of different fitness levels. As Poconos Mountains explains, “some trails are scenic or leisurely, while others are self-guiding, educational or rigorous.”

The Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area consists of over 100 acres of preserve “frequently visited for hiking, fishing, waterfall viewing and picnic spots.” The trails here are easy to moderate in terms of difficulty. 

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, check out the Hickory Run State Park, which has nearly 50 miles of mostly rocky hiking trails. 




3. The Catskills

Photo by Thomas Loizeau


The Catskills are another upstate New York gem.

As The Outdoor Project points out, it has “rolling green mountains packed with miles of hiking trails that span both public and private lands in the greater Catskill Park.”

If you’re not one for camping, you can always book an Airbnb or stay in a resort.

Need some specific ideas for hiking spots? Check out Mount Tremper, Vroman’s Nose, and North Point. The latter offers wonderful views of the Hudson Valley.




4. Yosemite National Park

Photo by Mick Haupt

Yosemite National Park in California is widely considered an American icon. According to the official website, its “dramatic waterfalls, giant sequoias, and awe-inspiring cliffs,” attract millions of visitors every year.

You can arrange for a hiking tour with an instructor, or you can be guided as a group. Some instructors specialize in working with families with younger children, but it’s very important to make sure they do not veer from the designated paths.

White Wolf, Glacier Point Road, and Tuolumne Meadows  are three popular hiking areas.


5. Shenandoah National Park

Photo by Mike Von


This Virginia park has some 500 miles of hiking trails, so you’ll need to visit more than once to see them all.

Hiking for the first time? The website details all that you need to know, including what to pack, what to wear and what to do in the event you encounter a bear or other wild animal.

Want to take your dog along for the fun? Shenandoah is one of very few national parks that allow for that, “but they must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.”

Be mindful that some hiking trails here are completely off limits to pets.



6. Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo by Jon Hieb


If you’re a serious hiker that happens to be in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, according to its website, “is a paradise for adventurous types seeking wilderness and solitude.”

There are 147 lakes, streams stretching for nearly 500 miles, and “permanent snowfields that can be found in the highest points of the mountains.”

There are so many hiking trails here, some know n for fantastic panoramic views, others for vistas of lakes and waterfalls.


7. Zion National Park

Photo by Jamie Hagan


Head over to Zion National Park in Utah,  where you can hike or even go backpacking (though you will need a permit for this).

The trails here have a limit on group size for both safety and environmental reasons.

For the thrill seekers, Angels Landing is fantastic, but if you have vertigo or a fear of heights, avoid this trail!

People who have climbed it, report amazing views from the very top, but also say that the real adventure is the journey to get there.

Be sure to use the chains built into the rocks to haul yourself up, and pay attention with every step, especially the final stretch where the trail narrows and there are steep drops at either side.