Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Mon June 29 2015

The Top Ten Most Outdoorsy States in the US

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | June 29, 2015

The Top Ten Most Outdoorsy States in the US

Photo and illustration courtesy of Retale

This week the folks over at Retale came up with a formula to rank the 50 U.S. states in terms of how “outdoorsy” they are. The criteria they used were pretty good and to be honest, I am glad they crunched the numbers so that we didn’t have to. They looked at the number of campgrounds, national parks, state parks, summer camps, kayak and canoe locations per state. They also collected the data of how many hang gliding and paragliding schools, REI stores, and ASA Sailing Schools per million people. 

They then matched that data against population density. There were other mitigating factors like CO2 emissions that were included, too, but let's just get to the rankings.

It is no surprise that places like Oregon, Montana, and Washington are on the list.  And looking at the criteria, based on sheer land mass and population density, Alaska is a no brainer.  But there are a few surprises.

Coming in at number ten is Montana, the Big Sky state that definitely speaks to the outdoors with Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountains both being located there. Nine is Florida and eight is Alaska, the most opposite of climates and locations but close in bucolic splendor. Seven is Colorado which, with all that skiing in the winter, lakes and mountains in the summer, and year round clean air is easy to see on this list.

In sixth place, was the great state of Michigan, which isn’t a surprise when you look at the numbers. “Michigan has the highest number of ski resorts throughout the country, the second most number of campgrounds, and, unsurprisingly, the second most number of kayak and canoe locations.” 

Five and four are Washington and Oregon respectively, a natural fit as the Northwest is known for its forests, mountains and beaches. Number three is Pennsylvania, with the second most national recreation trails, third highest number of fly fishing waters, and a bunch of state parks, rock climbing locations, and summer camps.

Number two was New York and although most people think of the population density of New York City, there is a lot more out there in that state. Believe it or not, New York has the highest number of national parks and the second most fly-fishing locations in the country. They also have third highest number of sailing schools and ski resorts.

So who shakes off all of population density arguments, and comes in at number one? California, which has high numbers for rock climbing, summer camps, and campgrounds as well as second highest number of sailing schools, and has the fourth highest number of ski resorts in the country.

To see the full breakdown with a cool interactive map to explore click here

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