7 Adventure Goals For 2016

Get ready for a new year full of new adventures.

By: Christin Healey

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Admittedly, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but plotting out adventure goals for the coming year is something I can definitely get behind. Let’s face it, we all see those breathtaking shots that seem to appear everywhere on social media these days, and add them to the mental “bucket list”. That list inevitably gets longer with each passing day and most of those epic destinations drift further and further from your mind.

Photo: Christin Healey

Enter the adventure goals. Ever wanted to explore glacial ice caves? Tackle a 14er (or 20!)? Hop in your car and just keep going? Take on a serious long-distance thu-hike? Well, friends, this is the time. Take out the calendar and map out a realistic but ambitious game plan for the coming year. For me, the list is a balance of close to home goals, a healthy dose of manageable drives or flights away, and a few big, bold trips and athletic milestones. Everyone has their own personal ambitions, but here are a few that have been on my mind to get the gears turning:

1. Tackle a Long-Distance Thru-Hike

Photo: Christin Healey

You may have heard of the John Muir Trail or the Teton Crest Trail, but there are a few other contenders that are just as epic if you are willing to expand your mind (and sometimes budget!). For a serious challenge in remote and dramatic landscapes, Torres Del Paine’s “O” Circuit in Patagonia and Nepal’s Great Himalayan Trail are two big ones at the top of my list right now. For the romantics out there, the UK’s Wales Coast Path boasts 870 miles of trails that hug the sea, passing by medieval castles and sleepy seaside towns - bring your notebook and watercolors for this one. These treks require serious training and planning, but if you can add one of these to your schedule, you’re already winning. If you can’t spare the time for a thru-hike, don’t give up on the dream. All the great long distance journeys can be shortened for smaller portions of awesomeness like these adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

2. Explore National Parks

Photo: Christin Healey

This one seems like a no-brainer, but exploring the national parks is one of the best and most affordable ways to get outside and explore. There are always to go-to’s that you’re familiar with and they never disappoint, but if you’re looking for some variety, cross off all the most popular attractions and only visit the places that aren’t even mentioned in the tour guides. State parks and wilderness areas are also prime adventure spots, so be sure to add them to the growing list. With tens of thousands of miles of trails, you really can’t go wrong with taking advantage of the best idea America has ever had.

3. Climb a 14er

Photo: Kyle Frost

Maybe it’s because I live in the south, and admittedly, I’m a little behind the game, but I have become slightly obsessed with adding in some serious peaks to my to-do list lately. In the U.S., there are 89 summits that meet or exceed this standard, and there are plenty of them that don’t require technical skills such as vertical climbing or glacial travel. These are still challenging treks though, so be sure to train accordingly. Now who is coming to Colorado with me?

4. Develop Your Mountaineering Skills

Photo: Christin Healey

Want to get higher than that 14er, or maybe just tackle all 89 of them? You’ll need the skills to get really high safely, and there are plenty of courses to help you learn everything from glacial travel, to avalanche training, rock climbing, and of course, making that summit bid.

5. Sign Up for a Race

Photo: Christin Healey

I have a confession to make: I only run if something or someone is chasing me or there is a cold beer waiting after a long backcountry trip. A personal goal for 2016 for me is to commit to a triathlon and jump on board with the training. If you can convince a friend or significant other to join the madness, not only will the training (hopefully!) be more fun, but you will have one more person holding you accountable for showing up at that starting line. So whether it’s a 5k run, a bike race, or an Ironman, set your sights on something that challenges you and go for it.

6. Sleep Under Starry Skies

Photo: Christin Healey

One of the best ways to get out of your comfort zone is to explore after the sun has sunk below the horizon. If you can do that in a locale where light pollution is basically nonexistent and the moon or the milky way is guiding your way; serious bonus points. At prime stargazing destinations like Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, and Big Bend National Parks, you don’t need a billion dollar telescope to see the goods, you simply need to look up and take it all in. Challenge yourself with a midnight hike, set up your camera for some astrophotography, or simply set up a blanket and take it all in. Trust me, you will see things in a totally new light. And yes, pun definitely intended.

7. Get in Your Car and Just Go

Photo: Christin Healey

Ever wanted to hit the road with just a map and your favorite people (or maybe just your adventure dog and some tunes) and just go? No more excuses, people, this is one of the simplest ways to have a memorable, epic adventure. Head out with a vague idea in mind and set out for as long as you are able, stopping wherever and whenever a whim takes you. Even if you just have a few hours, a quick ride with the windows down and the music blaring to a new destination can be just the micro-adventure you were craving.

Photo: Christin Healey

Whatever your adventure goals are for the year...write them down, tell a friend, and consider any outcome that gets you out of that comfort zone a success. If you have any epic adventure goals for the New Year, we’d love to hear what you’re up to! See you out there, friends :)

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.