Outdoor Recreation FAQs

Kayaking on the Charles River in Eastern Massachusetts.
Lamar Gore/USFWS
Learn more about outdoor recreation with our FAQs.

Q: What is outdoor recreation?

A: Outdoor recreational includes activities such as:

  • Hiking and camping
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Canoeing, kayaking and rafting
  • Sailing and motorboating
  • Biking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Horseback riding
  • Skiing
  • Restoration and conservation volunteering

Q: How many people participate in outdoor recreational activities?

A: Nearly 50 percent of all Americans - or 141.1 million people - participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2011, totaling 11.6 billion outings. In fact, last year, Americans enjoyed 1.5 billion more outings than the previous year.

Q: What are some of the most popular outdoor activities?

A: The most popular outdoor activities among the general public are:

  • Running
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking

Skateboarding, triathlons and bird watching are among the top five favorite activities as measured by frequency.

Q: What are some of the benefits of outdoor recreation?

A: Outdoor recreation is beneficial for your health. Being out and enjoying the natural world provides physical as well as mental health benefits. It also is a vital part of the economy on both the local and national level. Enjoying the great outdoors also promotes the health and well-being of the wilderness itself. Proper use of our public lands creates concern and awareness for keeping them protected and free from development. 

Q: How important is outdoor recreation to our economy?

A: It is estimated that outdoor recreational activity contributes roughly $730 billion to the economy of the United States.

Q: How do I find good places to go outdoors?

A: There are countless places to get outside and enjoy nature. Check with your local parks department and check out the Great Outdoor Recreation Pages. Or, visit the website of the member organizations of the Outdoor Alliance.