10 Small Towns With Huge Backyards

Get a glimpse of the simpler life—and get in shape at the same time. Small towns can offer big outdoor adventures. Sarah Tuff, co-author of 101 Best Outdoor Towns: Unspoiled Places to Visit, Live & Play (Countryman Press, $19.95), shares her picks with Kathy Baruffi for USA TODAY.

Salida, Colorado
"This is the place for whitewater-paddling action," Tuff says. "Downtown Salida even has two of its own 'playholes' in an all-natural, whitewater park on the Arkansas River. Plan a visit around the annual FIBArk (First in Boating on the Arkansas River) Whitewater Festival. Landlubbers can find 15 Fourteeners (mountains more than 14,000 feet high) nearby. One of the sweetest ends to a Salida day? Slices of pizza at Amicas and slumber at the River Run Inn." 877-772-5432; salidachamber.org

Haines, Alaska
"Some 20 million acres of wilderness surround this unhurried town on the longest fjord in the U.S.," Tuff says. "One of the best ways to explore is by kayak: Put in at Bartlett Cove at Glacier Bay National Park. In the fall, you'll want to be at the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve to see the congregation of thousands of bald eagles that feast on spawning salmon. Refuel on halibut fish and chips at the Bamboo Room in Haines." 907-766-2202; haineschamber.org

Livingston, Montana
"They weren't lying when they named this place Paradise Valley," Tuff says. "Livingston is an Eden along the Yellowstone River, just 52 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. Galleries share space with bars, gear shops and breakfast spots in the historic downtown. Anglers have the Yellowstone or nearby Gallatin and Madison rivers, which teem with thousands of fish per mile. Some 2,000 miles of trails beckon backpackers and bikers to the Gallatin National Forest." 406-222-0850; livingston-chamber.com

Bethel, Maine
"You'd never guess that this picture-perfect town—complete with covered bridges and a village common—is host to one of the most unusual outdoor adventures in the country: the annual North American Wife Carrying Championships that take place at Sunday River Ski Resort every October. It is also home to a prime section of the Androscoggin River, dog sledding and skijoring from the nearby Telemark Inn," Tuff says. 800-442-5826; bethelmaine.com

Hood River, Oregon
Fresh fruit and produce from the Hood River Valley, as well as incredible local brews and regional wines, are as rewarding as the outdoor activities here, Tuff says. Bike trails surround town, and there's rafting and kayaking on the nearby Columbia River's swift tributaries. "Hood River's recreational resources blow away even people who are deathly afraid of kite-boarding and windsurfing. A multitude of instructors make it easier to learn than you think." 800-366-3530; hoodriver.org
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