5 Small Towns with Big Outdoor Adventures
If you love to get outdoors, but also love having good food and coffee shops nearby, then these towns will win your heart. From rock climbing and skiing to craft beer and shopping, you'll find variety and excitement in these little outdoor hubs across America.
1. Bishop, California
The highest peak in the lower 48 is just an hour drive from Bishop, California, a "small town with a big backyard" in Southern California. Rock climbers are attracted to Bishop for world class climbing and bouldering options that range from beginner routes to problems that challenge the pros.
With the snow covered Sierras looming in the distance, Bishop is also a great destination for snow sports, from snowshoeing to backcountry skiing.
Once you've exhausted yourself outside, you'll find cute coffee shops, hoppin' breweries, and restaurants in town. Or you can always opt to relax at Keough's Hot Springs, the largest natural hot spring in the Eastern Sierra.
2. Leavenworth, Washington
Also known as "the Pacific Northwest's Little Bavaria," this town with a population of just over 2,000 is big on charm and outdoor fun. The alpine-style buildings are nestled into the Cascade Mountains where adventure abounds year-round.
Thrill seekers will find an intense downhill mountain biking trail at Stevens Pass, and class III-IV paddling.
3. Lander, Wyoming
Less than four hours from Yellowstone National Park lies the much quieter destination of Lander, Wyoming. The granite walls of Sinks Canyon turned Lander, Wyoming into a world-class outdoor sports destination, once rock climbers discovered it. The Beaver Creek Nordic Ski Area is another popular draw, along with a collection of dude ranches for anyone looking to embrace the Old West vibe.
The Wind River backcountry offers fly fishing and hiking, rounding out Landers as an outdoor adventure destination that's fun for just about anyone.
4. Grand Marais, Minnesota
Freshwater lakes are the big draw for visitors to Grand Marais, where summers are filled with swimming, paddling, and fishing.
The tiny town on the water is popular for photographers, too, who revel in the dramatic waves that crash into the pier, and the ice floes that gather in the lake come winter.
Speaking of winters, they're long and brutal in Minnesota. But Grand Marais is the place to make the most of it.
The secret is out. Bend, Oregon is one of the fastest growing towns in the country -- and for good reasons. It's chock full of outdoor activity, from skiing at Mt. Bachelor to white water rafting on the Deschutes River, which runs right through town. Smith Rock State Park, which resembles a little Zion, is just 30 miles away, featuring hundreds of climbing routes up sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt.
Bend offers a craft beer scene that could rival Portland, Oregon in its concentration of breweries -- and don't forget the food trucks!