7 best destinations in the U.S. for outdoorsy summer travel

Visit the top spots that showcase America's natural beauty

WWW.OYSTER.COMJuly 14, 2013 

AV-SUMMERDESTINATIONS 1 FR

A heavy mist inundates the viewing area at Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park in California, on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Warm spring conditions have caused the falls in Yosemite Valley to flow at near peak levels.

MARK CROSSE — Fresno Bee

Summer is the time to get outdoors and get active. And even though it can get your blood pumpin', there is nothing more relaxing than some quality time with Mother Nature, whether you're hiking, fishing or whitewater rafting - or simply kicking back and taking in the views after a day filled with activity.

Our seven favorite spots in the U.S. for an outdoorsy getaway this summer were chosen for their combination of natural beauty and breadth of outdoor activities. To make planning easier, we've also recommended a cabin, lodge or ranch in each place that brings you closer to the outdoors with great views or settings.

SEDONA, ARIZ.

Sedona is most famous for its stunning red rocks, which are particularly beautiful in the glow of sunrise and sunset, and have formed the backdrop for many a western film. The temperatures here are cooler than other Arizona destinations, thanks to the higher elevation, and ponderosa pines surround the city. It's a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with excellent biking, horseback riding and a particular focus on hiking. Some of the most popular hiking spots include Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Rock.

Where to stay: L'Auberge de Sedona, with 87 luxurious and woodsy cottages spread across 11 acres.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIF.

Known for its stunning sites, breathtaking beauty, and protected nature, Yosemite National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best hiking and camping destinations in the country. Travelers from all over the world visit Yosemite to get a glimpse of the granite cliffs, clean steams, giant sequoia forests and waterfalls.

Where to stay: The Ahwahnee, built in 1927 and offering views of the Half Dome and El Capitan summits.

SAN JUAN ISLANDS, WASH.

The San Juan Islands are a popular summer getaway for Washington state residents and have a relaxed, back-to-nature vibe; expect farmlands, evergreen forests, nature trails, whale-watching and mom-and-pop shops. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife spotting (whale-watching in particular is common, and the Shark Reef trail on Lopez Island leads to a harbor seal hangout), sailing and kayaking. For those rare days when it does rain (most of the islands are in the Olympic rain shadow, which makes them much drier than most of the coastal Northwest), the islands have several wineries, farms and museums worth a visit.

Where to stay: Lakedale Resort at the Three Lakes, an 82-acre lakefront property with picnic spots and accommodations ranging from canvas cabins to lodge rooms.

JACKSON, WYO.

Jackson serves as a year-round gateway for tourists visiting Jackson Hole Ski Resort, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, the combination of which makes the area the ultimate outdoorsman's paradise. Hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, the list goes on - so those looking for outdoor adventuring will have their choice of activities.

Where to stay: Spring Creek Ranch, set in a wildlife refuge above Jackson Valley with stunning views.

LAKE TAHOE, CALIF.

Lake Tahoe may be best known for its skiing, but in the summer an equally outdoorsy crowd comes for the hiking, fishing and kayaking, all centered on the pristine Lake Tahoe. There are also a few dispersed museums and historic mansions, and hot-air ballooning and gondola rides are popular ways of taking in the views.

Where to stay: Cedar Glen Lodge, with friendly owners, lake access, a heated outdoor pool with whirlpool and sauna, charming lodge-style rooms and free continental breakfast.

TELLURIDE, COLO.

The Telluride area has some great mountain biking, hiking, river sports and festivals, and offers more of a typical Wild West mountain village vibe than the ritzier towns of Aspen or Vail. In fact, southwest Colorado, as a whole, is much more laid-back than its glitzy counterparts. Telluride is also a good base for day trips to Mesa Verde and Durango, and the Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton is extremely scenic (though the drive is challenging).

Where to stay: Mountain Lodge at Telluride, offering log-cabin-style condo and cabin rentals, most with kitchens, gas fireplaces and balconies.

FINGER LAKES, N.Y.

The Finger Lakes Region in central New York is increasingly known for its many wineries, but it's also a popular summer destination for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. The five lakes offer summer recreation in the form of sailing, swimming, waterskiing, snorkeling, kayaking and fishing. In and around Seneca and Cayuga, in particular, are a number of scenic waterfalls and gorges for hiking.

Where to stay: Hope Lake Lodge, a massive complex with a water park and zip-lining.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service