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Backpacker Magazine – August 2009

Top Cities to Raise A...

Does your kid want to be an ice climber? How about a thru-hiker, or paddler? These cities have just what you need.

by: Jason Stevenson


Birder
Ithaca, NY
Sapsucker Woods is home to dozens of avian species and Cornell's world-famous Lab of Ornithology.

Ice Climber
Conway, NH
Two climbing schools, four-season cliffs at Cathedral Ledge, and a loooong ice season

Kayaker
Sylva, NC
A virtual nest of rivers with every class of rapids a kid (or parent) could want, Sylva is home to American Whitewater association.

Naturalist
Missoula, MT
Local outreach by the University of Montana's College of Forestry and Conservation gets kids into the woods.

Paddler
Pittsburgh, PA
City summer camps teach skills required to canoe, kayak, and raft PA's river network.

Park Ranger
Flagstaff, AZ
Start with the Grand Canyon's Junior Ranger program; graduate to N. Arizona University's 13-week ranger training program.

Rock Climber
New Paltz, NY
Gateway to the 'Gunks and the famous crag's thousand-plus climbing routes

Skier/Snowboarder
Salt Lake City, UT
Forty feet of annual powder covers backcountry slopes and bowls–plus a half-dozen resorts–just minutes from downtown.

Thru-Hiker
Rutland, VT
In the heart of New England's mountain kingdom and at the nexus of the Appalachian and Long Trails



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READERS COMMENTS

Ms Re
Mar 04, 2010

Yeah nothing in Texas, I do not think so. We have lakes and wide open spaces. Best climate ever we go camping all year long.

Steve Cash
Jul 10, 2009

What's the most important factor for raising outdoor kids?....the parents. I grew up in an awesome outdoor place, but I had friends who never ventured into the wild outdoors, slept in a tent in the rain, trudged waist-deep through snow with a pack, climbed a hill on a windy day or caught a fish at sunrise on a misty morning. Those things and more I did because of my parents. They allowed me, helped me, accompanied me and sometimes made me "go outside." Moms, make a rule about watching TV during the day. Dads, set up a tent in the backyard and let the kids sleep in it. Teach the kids to cook. Show them that you love it. Go outside yourself and, for goodness sake, take the kids with you. Let them explore, play, climb and hike. You will pass on to them a legacy, a heritage that is as natural as...nature. God made us to live and enjoy this world. Give your kids a love of the outdoors and you will gain much more in return. You will also gain your children's appreciation, their love and affection and their time. As my daughter has just turned 14 and my son is 11, I have renewed my committment to spend time with them outdoors. Two weeks ago, after my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, the next day my dad and I hiked the Dog Mountain trail in the Columbia River Gorge (featured on BP's website). It reminded me of a time when we went on a similar hike when I was about 10. I wouldn't have traded that time with my Dad for anything. The message here is this...wherever you live, make it a great place to raise an outdoor kid. In the words of my Grandad, who raised outdoor kids.."YOU do it." YOU make it a great place to be an outdoor kid.

Pat
Jul 09, 2009

Albuquerque, Tucson, and several other cities in the Southwest have good places to hike in nearby mountains and mesas.

Mike Falls
Jul 09, 2009

I think honourable mentions should be given to some Canadian cities.

Paddling, Ice climbing, Hiking, Sea Kayaking, Skiing - alpine and cross country, snow shoeing, Birding and being a naturalist can all be done in Thunder Bay Ontario. It's eight hours north of Minneapolis / St. Paul. Most will argue this by saying either Vancouver or some other major city here in Canada. However, Thunder Bay simply has it all for raising an Outdoors kid.

M

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