Top Activity: Urban Escapes

Woman painting in the wilderness
Jeff Fox
If you live in a city or urban center, unplugging and heading into the wild can be a refreshing, welcome break.

Sometimes the wild is calling, but you can't get away for a long trip. Luckily, many U.S. states have wild places accessible within a short distance from major urban centers.

Here are a few of our favorite urban escapes — wild places within a stone's throw of bustling cities.

Western North Carolina

The Greater Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina offer millions of city dwellers access to wild places. Hiking and nature trails weave through the towering remnant old growth forests, crystal waterfalls and rhododendron jungles.

San Gabriel Mountains

Southern California’s most accessible wildlands are within an hour’s drive of Los Angeles. Visitors enjoy the cool creeks and rivers as well as the majestic 10,000-foot peaks.

San Diego County

Northern San Diego County has recreation within an hour from the city center. Preserved wildlands provide scenic spots for hiking and horseback-riding.

White Mountain National Forest

White Mountain National Forest attracts locals and visitors in search of iconic New England fall foliage. The forest also provides recreation and relief for residents in the populous Northeast.

Boise National Forest

This 2.5 million-acre forest in Boise’s backyard offers fantastic recreation, including whitewater kayaking and soaking in the many hot springs.