Many people understandably
head to the coast in search of escape. But in my experience, inland or otherwise landlocked cities can be just as gratifying, especially these American locales.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
You’ve probably heard of Jackson Hole (pictured above). But many still haven’t paid homage. Here’s what you’re missing. Grand Teton National Park, rafting the wild Snake River, skiing the steep verticals at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the nearby geological gem of Yellowstone—the world’s first (and still one of its best) national park. Plus, Jackson is home to arguably the world’s best antler rack collection.
Rapid City, South Dakota
Not many people think of South Dakota when they think of travel. But they would if they knew about the nearby wonders in Rapid City. Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Custer State Park, Devil’s Tower, Grasslands National Park. You can get to all of them and more in about an hour from Rapid City. And they will change your view of both the state and country. As a bonus, it’s also a suitable place to take your chopper and visit old Western outposts.
Photo: Brent Moore, CC-BY
Chattanooga is another town that’s big on adventure but not on crowds. Rock City offers some of the best sandstone climbing, bouldering and canyoneering in the nation. And on rainy or muggy days, you can still climb at one of several indoor gyms. If that’s not your thing, you can also kayak, paddleboard and whitewater raft to your amphibious heart’s content. Or you can enjoy the area’s many mountain biking trails and cycling loops.
Sandwiched between Indiana to the North and the rest of Kentucky to the South, is often called the “Gateway to the South.” While its 250,000 residents can certainly identify with Midwestern sensibility, you’ll also find plenty of Southern hospitality, relaxed attitudes and varied cuisine here. If extreme adventure is your thing, Louisville might not be the best fit. But if you appreciate a confluence of culture and want to disconnect in a bevy of great urban parks—many of which were designed by the Father of American Landscaping—Louisville has you covered.
Photo: m01229, CC-BY
If there’s one lesser-visited U.S. city that shows up time and again on people’s favorite list, Minneapolis is it. With a population of 400,000, it offers much of what larger cities can without being overbearing. And with the great outdoors in mind, it features nearly 7,000 acres of parks, 20 lakes, and the second biggest network of biking trails after Portland. But wait, there’s more! Thanks to the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, “Waterfall City” (named after St. Anthony Falls) is also an acclaimed place to paddle.
Top Photo: Gord McKenna, CC-BY
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.