The outdoors are nothing short of spiritual. Reconnecting with nature – of infinite variety, across North America – can improve your mental and physical health in ways you never imagined. If you love to be outside, here are some of the best regions for you to live in.
The Mountain West
Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists pass through the rocky desert regions of the mountain west. The region creates a wall, a long barrier between California and the midwestern states. It includes Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Each state has some unique elements and environmental niches, but the mountains are the main attraction here. From Arches National Park in Utah, where the orange dirt and strange formations look like an alien planet, to the massive Rocky Mountain ridge that stretches halfway down the region from Canada, there is so much incredible hiking to do. And who can forget Arizona’s unforgettable Grand Canyon?
The Pacific Northwest
The pacific northwest basically just includes two states: Oregon and Washington. While small, these two are perfectly situated between California and Canada to create a uniquely lush climate. The proximity to the ocean provides a coast that, while not sunny or tropical, is a stormy and rocky adventure that waits for brave explorers. Tidepools full of critters and sea life can be explored during low tide. And the states themselves are enabled by the humidity and rainfall to create beautiful landscapes of plant life. Washington offers lots of natural greenery and great weather throughout the year. Another abundance of national parks means dozens of potential adventures to be had.
The largest state is also simultaneously the most forgotten. Alaska remains isolated from the rest of the continental U.S., far to the northwest, bordering Canada. It has thousands of acres of unoccupied land, not to mention thousands of square miles of icy tundra. The weather conditions in Alaska can sometimes lean towards the extreme, especially in the wintertime, when icy plains and violent blizzards can trap unprepared and inexperienced travelers. On the other hand, that icy tundra offers a beautiful isolation and connection with nature that isn’t found anywhere else in the states. It also offers huge, ancient green forests known only to lumber workers and rare hikers.
Many people look for many different things when it comes to the outdoors. Some prefer the flat, beachy tropics. Some only want to hike and explore mountains. Others yet only yearn for forests, swamps, or deserts. The United States offers every single one of these – and in a dazzling variety.
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