In 1969, while he walked on the surface of the moon, astronaut Bill Anders shot a photograph of the earth rising above the horizon line. “We came all this way to explore the moon,” he said then, “and the most important thing is we discovered the Earth.” Captured in that moment from 238,000 miles away was the vastness of our home in contrast the immense and overwhelming vacuum of space.
That which seems small by comparison is of infinite variety. Within the 60 miles of the Earth’s surface exists everything essential to the workings of life: all of our governments, our societies, our cities, all of life, all of our experience, and every one of our adventures—unless you’re an astronaut like Bill.
As we’ve found at Outdoor Project, a continent is more than enough to fill the lifetimes of all of us. North America alone has no fewer than 4,479 adventures, and that number grows every day—sea caves and golden sand beaches on the coast of Kauai, rafting adventures on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, river oxbows along the Alatna River in Gates of the Arctic folded on one another like a curly straw.
Still, the vastness of our home never ceases to impress, and beyond the shores of North America are adventures worth stamping your passport. It was said that when God finished building the world, he took everything he had left over and lumped it together in South America. The continent hosts 20,000-foot peaks along its spine in the Andes, the biggest river watershed in the world, the driest desert, one of the most dangerous ocean passages, the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest growing glacier, and an island archipelago to inspire evolutionary theory.
Europe is steeped in history. Thru-hiking in Europe takes place on ancient trails traveled by pilgrims, the pioneers of sport, or the armies of antiquity. Where in North America the untouched wilderness is valued, here there are monasteries built on Grecian pillars, constructed over the ages by monks with ladders lashed together and baskets attached to ropes, where the skulls of past residents line the sacristy. In Turkey, underground cities built beneath stone monoliths bring together the natural and the human environments.
The wilds of Asia are no less striking, with thousands of years of history of its own. The islands of Japan were said to form from the ocean brine that dripped from the spear of Izanagi and Izanami, the first man and woman. Now thousands of feet above the Pacific rises Mount Fuji. The rivers of the Himalayas run parallel through the wild gorges of Yunnan, where some of the world’s most dangerous rapids have claimed lives.
Throughout Africa and Australia, and across the world, are unending opportunities to get out of the norm, to experience something unknown, to see the size of the world in contrast to the overwhelming vacuum that surrounds it. For this week’s edition of the #52WeekAdventureChallenge, we bring you some of the best adventure destinations in the world.
We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We strive to provide inspiration and supporting information on incredible adventures to make it easy for you to get outdoors and explore new places. We understand that life is busy, but we strongly encourage you to make time for outdoor recreation on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To keep you inspired all year, we've put together a list of 52 geologic features and adventure themes. Check them out and join us in our #52AdventureChallenge!