What does the new year mean to you? Is it the traditional fancy dinner date, decked out in sparkly clothes? Is it sipping your way through several hot spots downtown with your crew?
Us, we're all for big celebrations — but that doesn't necessarily have to mean traditional when it comes to New Year’s Eve.
If you're adventurous and love spending time in nature, why not buck tradition and ring in the new year outdoors? Imagine having that midnight champagne toast under the starry sky or greeting the new year by watching the sunrise on New Year’s Day.
Who needs tradition anyway, are we right?!
1. Take a Hike
What better way to ring in the new year outdoors than with a hike? Explore a new trail, hit one of your favorites, or meet some new hiking buddies on a First Day Hike.
First Day Hikes, created by America’s State Parks to “encourage people to get outdoors,” are held across the United States. You’ll find guided and self-guided options, plus a variety of lengths and difficulty levels, and all hikes are family-friendly.
Hiking on New Year’s Day very literally starts the year off with a healthy goal, but also allows you to make progress toward that goal right out of the gate.
2. Get on the Water
Less of a landlubber and more of a mermaid? Ring in the new year outdoors, on the water! Many areas put together First Day floats or paddles or New Year’s Day sunrise surf sessions.
Warmer and milder western and southern states have more events to choose from, but you just may be surprised by what you’ll find across the country.
For example, you can cruise the Rio Grande through Big Bend National Park on a raft or in a canoe. In recent years, Missouri’s Echo Bluff State Park has hosted a popular First Day Float and Winter Paddling Clinic.
If this idea appeals to you but you can’t find an organized event in your area, why not head it up yourself? Simply create a Facebook or Meetup event and spread the word!
3. Hit the Slopes
If you’ve never experienced the magic of a ski resort at night, well, some would say you haven’t really lived.
Okay, that may be a bit dramatic, but there’s seriously nothing like night skiing. To get the full experience, head to one of Colorado’s 50+ resorts — Hesperus, in particular, where more than 80% of the runs are lit!
Even if you aren’t big into skiing or snowboarding, ringing in the new year at a ski resort is still an excellent option.
Many resorts go hard for the holiday, bringing in live music or fireworks. Some, like Heavenly Resort in Lake Tahoe, even have their own unique ball (er, gondola) drops.
Back in Colorado, Telluride hosts an annual New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade, which is exactly what it sounds like: skiers and snowboarders parading down the mountain towards town, torches in hand.
4. Lace Up Your Running Shoes
If you’re sticking a little closer to home over the holidays, consider ringing in the new year with a race.
Many cities, state and city parks, and local running or adventure groups host 5K racing events on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Want to get a jumpstart on your resolutions? Do one of each!
Check social media, Meetup, and other local events sites to find a race near you for a fun and competitive way to ring in the new year outdoors!
5. Go Camping
Regardless of your camping style — tent, RV, glamping, or simply lying underneath the stars — this is a fantastic way to ring in the new year outdoors!
Sure, many places are too cold for camping this time of year, but that’s not true of all destinations. Plus, some good ol' fashioned winter camping is always a good idea!
Winter is an excellent time to camp, whether you prefer more remote dispersed campsites or an RV resort with all the bells and whistles. There are fewer people, winter presents unique wildlife viewing opportunities, and it's the best season for stargazing (and possible Northern Lights sightings!).
If you've always wanted to camp inside a national park, winter is the best time. Campsites are near-empty, including those that are almost impossible to get in the busy seasons.
Check out our suggestions for the best national parks to visit this winter!
6. Lend a Helping Hand
Last but certainly not least, one of our absolute favorite ways to ring in the new year outdoors is volunteering.
There's truly no wrong way to do this, so simply think about how you can make the biggest impact or what interests you most.
The National Park Service hosts one-time volunteer events throughout the entire parks system, as well as several ongoing projects.
Don't live near a national park? Check out other outdoor volunteering opportunities at Volunteer.gov. You can also check with your county or city about local parks cleanup and other opportunities.
If you choose to celebrate the new year by volunteering, we encourage you to round up some friends and get them involved. Kindness is contagious!
No matter what your new year’s resolutions are - or even if you don't set them, for that matter - consider committing to spend more time outside in 2022. We could all use more of that!
At The Wander Club, adventure with loved ones outdoors is always our goal. And you know we prioritize commemorating those memories!
Happy New Year, friends! We are so incredibly grateful for our Wander-ful community, and we wish you the best in 2022!