Words & Deeds

Idaho tops Alaska for best outdoor states, loses to — what? At least we aren’t worst

If you’re competitive by nature and about nature, there’s a strong chance that you believe it doesn’t get any better than the Gem State.

You’re not quite right, according to an interesting new study from Mighty Goods. Idaho is the No. 3 best outdoor state in America, according to the adventure-travel website.

The top five, in order: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and North Dakota.

Wyoming wins? Really?

Colorado came in sixth. Oregon and Utah finished nine and 10. Our neighbor Washington sort of got snubbed — No. 14.

Illinois is the nation’s worst outdoor state (ski Chicago!), followed by Ohio, New Jersey, Texas and New York.

Mighty Goods made an effort here. The list is based on metrics, not on how soft we think the powder is or how majestic the mountains look to us.

“Most other rankings of the best outdoor areas in America are based on subjective opinions,” the article notes. “This isn’t fair since a small group of analysts cannot possible have a correct impression of the outdoor possibilities in each and every part of the country.”

States were ranked in statistical categories such as land with protected-area status, air pollution, and number of campgrounds, trails and outdoor jobs.

A statistic that jumped out at me? Idaho has the nation’s third highest outdoor participation rate. A whopping 79 percent of us participate in outdoor activities, according to the numbers. That’s encouraging and cool, right?

We also have the third most trails and bike shops per 10,000 people. And the fourth most campgrounds — although it never seems like it when you’re trying to find a spot in the middle of July.

Being totally subjective about the ranking of best outdoor states, losing to Montana seems reasonable. Hey, a river runs through it, right? But Wyoming at No. 1 blows my mind a little. Come on. Was there a category about number of cattle ranches per 10,000 people or something? Oh, wait. Yellowstone. That’s right.

That reminds me. I haven’t snowboarded at Grand Targhee in way too long.

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