The Great American Adventure Index 2023
The best state in the US for an outdoor family vacation revealed
An adventure vacation is the best way to make lasting memories as a family and for kids to build all-important life skills.
From skiing with kids to mountain biking and scuba diving, the most adventurous spots are full of activities for adults and children alike.
You don't have to look far from home to find the best outdoors holidays for kids. Read on to find out where to plan your next family vacation in the US.
We narrowed down the best states for an outdoor adventure, looking at the best national parks to visit with kids and exciting activities like horseback riding and camping.
The best states for an adventure holiday
KEY: Adventure score /10
Ranking in first place, Wyoming is the ultimate destination for an outdoor adventure with the family. There are so many reasons to visit Wyoming, from its snow-capped mountains to the open landscapes of Yellowstone National Park.
For adventure-seeking families, Wyoming is the best destination for horseback riding. The Let 'M Roll trail in Sheridan is a must-visit scenic spot with breathtaking views for families traveling between Yellowstone Park and Mount Rushmore.
Wyoming is also one of the top states for national parks and camping. The state is home to 1.2 national parks per 100,000 people. Visiting families can bring their four-legged friends along for camping and stay in boutique cabins at Shell Campground.
9.39 / 10
Montana is a dream destination for a family adventure holiday, famed worldwide for its wide open spaces and unmatched starlit skies.
Montana is the best location in the country for hiking, home to 342 trails per 100,000 people. The RADish hiking trail is an easy-to-follow singletrack trail, ideal for families.
Montana is also one of the best locations for mountain biking, with 286 trails per 100,000 people. Biking families can visit Mud Creek trail, which can be completed in just over 30 minutes, and then swing by Gallatin River - an excellent spot for fly fishing.
9.12 / 10
In third place, Utah is one of the best states for families seeking an adventure. If you like relaxed wildlife watching and picturesque waterfalls, Utah is the perfect place to visit with kids.
Utah is one of the best spots for horseback riding, which is no surprise considering the stunning views that characterize the state’s landscapes. The state is home to 47 horseback riding trails per 100,000 people, including the Hidden Canyon trail - a challenging singletrack known as a rock crawlers paradise. Families can witness unforgettable sunsets while riding the extreme trail.
8.65 / 10
The best adventure holiday destinations in the US
How does your state rank for a family adventure holiday? Check out the full ranking below so you can plan your dream vacation.
- Ski resorts
- Mountain bike trails
- Horseback trails
- Hiking trails
- National parks
- Camping areas
- Watersports activities
- Annual national park visitors
- Adventure score /10
Per 100,000 people
The best adventure destination for...
- Horse Riding
- National Parks
- Park Visitors
Skiing as a family is an adventure you don't want to miss out on. A family skiing holiday can help kids build muscles and create unforgettable memories.
Vermont is a must-visit destination for ski lovers and adventurous families. The state is home to 4.02 ski resorts per 100,000 people. Atop the awe-inspiring Killington peak summit, you can witness panoramic views of the landscape and experience the largest vertical drop in New England. At Killington ski resort there are endless activities to enjoy with kids, including skiing, snowboarding, and a range of other snow sports.
To find the best states for a great outdoor adventure, we analyzed the following factors for each US state. We gave each state a normalized score out of 10 for each factor before calculating an average ‘Adventure score/ 10’ for each state.
We sourced the number of ski resorts in each state from SkiResort.info on 22nd March 2023.
We sourced the number of mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking trails in each state from TrailForks on 22nd March 2023.
We sourced the number of national parks in each state and the number of annual visitors during 2022 from the National Park Service on 22nd March 2023.
We sourced the number of camping areas in each state from Tripadvisor, looking at hotels listed under ‘campsites’ within the category ‘speciality lodging’ on 23rd March 2023.
We sourced the number of watersports activities in each state from Tripadvisor, looking at ‘water sports’ within the category ‘outdoor activities’ on 22nd March 2023.
We calculated the number of ski resorts, mountain bike trails, horseback trails hiking trails, national parks, camping areas, and watersports activities per 100,000 of the population, using state population figures for 2022 sourced from the United States Census Bureau: State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2020-2022.