Top 10 Outdoor Adventure Ideas for Labor Day

Make the most of these lazy last days of summer with one of the awesome outdoor adventures below, with activities from yoga to fishing found all over the country.

The view from Jackson Lodge, Grand Tetons National Park. There's an open meadow, a lake with an island beyond it, and the Grand Tetons in the distance, purple in the sunrise.

Photo by James Ting

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Labor Day is often considered the unofficial end of summer, and the relaxing weekend off from work is the perfect time to try something new outside. Make the most of these lazy last days of summer with one of the awesome outdoor adventures below!

1. Moab, UT

The author hikes uphill and smiles while wearing shorts, a tank top, hiking boots, and a large sunhat. There's a river winding through a valley behind her.

Hiking in Moab. Photo courtesy of Kate Wilson

You’re not going to find unpopulated trails, parades, or tons of wildlife, but stay with me here. Moab is an incredible destination for your long weekend away. My partner and I have spent so much time exploring every corner and can say without a doubt that Moab has more to offer than you think.

Hiking

Kick the weekend off at Arches National Park on Saturday for some of the most stunning desert views you’ve ever seen. Drive the full length, pull off, and park at the Devils Garden Trailhead for hikes that vary in difficulty but never in scenery. The line to enter the park will be long if you sleep in (and maybe even if you don’t) but it’s worth it. Trust me.

There are hikes outside of the park worth doing if you’re trying to avoid park entrance fees or extended time in the car. Mill Creek is popular with the locals and offers a cool stream and swimming hole not far from the trailhead. Hidden Canyon is a beautiful 7-mile long hike that rewards you with petroglyphs if you’ve got a keen eye and are willing to scramble off the beaten path a bit.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking in Moab. Photo by Kate Wilson

Have you got a mountain bike? You’re in the right place. Trails ranging from mellow to totally insane will have you smiling from ear to ear on Sunday. Bar M is great for the whole family, Mag 7 is for more technical riders, and if you’re down for an adventure, The Whole Enchilada should be popping right about now (if you know, you know). Definitely don’t leave the area without riding this one, but be sure to call a shuttle company for current conditions as recent fires may have affected the trail system.

Climbing

On Monday, take a short drive outside of town to Potash Road for some of the most scenic climbing you’ll find in the area, right across from the Colorado River. It’s also a popular spot for locals but there are more than enough routes for everyone and many are kid-friendly, too!

If you’ve done it right, you’re going to be exhausted and ready for a beautiful meal at the end of the weekend. Fortunately, there is a sweet little spot called Pasta Jay’s right in town. I’ve never (ever) had better pasta and if you’ve earned a dessert, this is the place. Creamy cheesecake, perfect tiramisu, and the usual Italian delicacies await at an affordable price. As if you need more stimulation, there’s nothing quite like people watching along Main Street. From classic cars and UTV’s to dreadlock hippies and midwest families, there is never a dull moment along this small-town drag.

2. Creede, CO

A view looking down at a lake nestled in between green hills and snow-dusted mountains.

Lake San Cristobal viewpoint near Lake City, CO. Photo by Kate Wilson

I’ve been to Creede exactly one time and it still rates as one of my top vacations. I highly recommend this charming little mountain town for a long weekend getaway for the whole family. This Labor Day features the Creede Mountain Run on Saturday, a 2 mile to 50k course designed for every age and skill level. Reward the kids afterward with a carnival—fully equipped with a bounce house and the usual classic games—then check out the Salsa Fiesta where you can taste the very best from local businesses in town. Live music from noon to 4 pm keeps the festivities going, and a warm bed at the vintage-feeling Aspen Inn offers a cozy end to a perfect day.

Lake Time

Road trip about an hour northwest on Sunday to photograph, fish, or float Lake San Cristobal, then spend some time in the idyllic little town of Lake City—chock full of history, antique shops, and barbeque joints. Let the kiddos run wild at the large, sparkling clean town park before treating the whole family to ice cream across the street at the San Juan Soda Company.

Monday seems like the end of your vacation, but it doesn't have to be! Visit North Clear Creek Falls or drive along Highway 520 to the Rio Grande River/Reservoir for some incredibly serene scenery or fishing, then grab some souvenirs from town before making the trek home. You will never forget your trip to this picturesque, quintessential little spot filled with friendly locals and tons of history!

3. Taos, NM

Bright pink cacti flowers fill up the foreground of the screen. In the background is the light blue Rio Grande in a valley. The sky is blue with white fluffy clouds above.

The Rio Grande River, NM. Photo by Kate Wilson

There’s a vibe in northern New Mexico, and it’s one you won’t find many places. Extremely laidback Taos offers an artsy community with spectacular food, hidden hiking gems, and the most eclectic artsy community you’re likely to come across.

Wander through town on Saturday to find restaurants that satisfy taste buds you didn’t even know existed. You’re likely to find a local who recommends amazing hidden waterfall hikes close to town, but if not, go watch the sunset from the West Rim trail, an easy 2.2 out-and-back near the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

Mountain Biking

Take a 40-minute Sunday drive to Angel Fire and for a peaceful wooded hike, or if you brought your mountain bike, be sure to visit Angel Fire Bike Park. It’s the largest in the Rocky Mountains and has been voted Best in the Southwest by MTBParks.com seven years in a row! There are +2,000 vertical feet, +60 miles of purpose-built, lift-served terrain that will satisfy even the most technical of riders. Plenty of options for a craft beer in town after your ride and in September the temperatures should be just about perfect for one on the patio. Have one for me!

The author bikes towards the camera with a big smile on her face. A few feet to her left is the Rio Grande.

Finishing the Horsethief Mesa Loop near Taos, NM. Photo courtesy of Kate Wilson

You can also ride the Horsethief Mesa Loop, an absolutely beautiful 12.9-mile trail that’s a little close to Taos. It winds in and out of quiet old-town neighborhoods before sweeping across miles of beautiful southwest vistas, then finishes at the Rio Grande River. Still one of my favorite rides.

Rafting

Speaking of the river, Big Horn Sports offers white water rafting from multiple starting points near Taos. An absolutely epic adventure with options for the whole family and lunch is included on full-day rides (win!)

Fishing

If you’re ready to unwind after a busy Sunday, head over to Eagles Nest Lake State Park for some fishing. Stocked with cutthroat, rainbow, browns, perch (and more!), you’ve got a good chance of scoring a fish or two out there. It’s bound to be busy but the lake itself is large enough to accommodate; it’s equipped with clean bathrooms and a boat ramp, too!

4. Stratton Mountain, VT

A gondola moves up and down the mountain in the summer, over green hills. The sun sets in the distance and you can see rolling hills and a lake.

Photo courtesy of Stratton Mountain

For a fun family vacation without tons of driving, head over to Stratton Mountain Resort! This Labor Day, they are celebrating the end of summer with live music, craft beer, bbq, and tons of recreational opportunities.

Golf

If you can sneak an extra day off, Stratton is hosting a golf tournament on Friday, September 3rd. Help out the community while having fun; proceeds provide food, warm clothes/blankets, and access to health care to local families in need. You can find more information here.

Yoga

On Saturday, start off by hopping on the gondola for some mountain top yoga! This 90-minute class offers cooler temps, amazing views, and a touch of serenity to start your weekend. If you’re feeling extra energetic you can hike back down afterward!

Mountain Biking

Stratton also has an awesome mountain bike park, featuring downhill options for the whole family! We absolutely love riding in Vermont for the smooth, hard-packed, and absolutely gorgeous trails. Bike rentals, lessons, and lift tickets are all available on-site—another fun activity that doesn’t require you to leave the immediate area.

Hiking

If you still have energy on Sunday, get out and hike with your pup! The North Face Doggie and Me Hike is from 12 pm - 2 pm and includes an exclusive in-store discount to The North Face Summit Shop, located in the nearby village. There are many other hikes in the area for all abilities so you’ll definitely find one that’s perfect for you.

Can this weekend get any better? I’m about to change my plans actually because Labor Day in Vermont sounds just about perfect!

5. Montana/Idaho Road Trip

A pool on Kootenai Falls with turquoise rushing water and pine-covered hills.

Kootenai Falls. Photo by Kate Wilson

I had Glacier National Park on this list because it’s so nice right now with the cooler temps and changing colors. A holiday weekend won’t offer the serenity and photo ops you’re after though, so I encourage you to take a road trip northwest instead, where you’ll find some of my favorite _secret_ spots to hike and explore.

Hiking

The Kootenai Swinging Bridge near Libby, MT is a great place to start your weekend. It can be busy since the trailhead is right off the highway, but don’t let a full parking lot deter you. Follow the trail signs to the bridge and wait your turn to cross. It’s absolutely stunning and you’re going to want to stop and take it all in, but there will likely be people waiting on either side to cross as well. Not to worry, there are paths to scenic points on the other end that aren’t as busy, so pack a snack and relax once you’re there! This bridge is one of the coolest little features we’ve found in the middle of nowhere.

You’ll see along the same trail that there are signs for the waterfalls, too, but I was saving the best for last. Backtrack your way toward those signs and get ready to fill up your phone storage with photos of this place! Trails wind along the river and falls, so you’ve got multiple scenic spots to enjoy—one from the top features schools of bright red salmon swimming in the turquoise pool below. We fished for (and caught!) rainbow trout right from the waterfalls and it’s honestly an experience we still talk about today. This is an absolutely gorgeous part of the country that still feels pristine and wild, even with the other tourists.

Venture about 1.5 hours into Sandpoint, ID afterward to find a camp spot or boutique resort for the night. Your vacation isn’t over yet!

Lake Time

A beach on the lake. A giant willow shades part of the beach.

City Beach on Lake Pend Oreille. Photo by Epdp

Temperatures in Sandpoint are in the mid 70’s this time of year and are perfect for a trip to the City Beach on Sunday for some relaxation or family fun. It’s situated on beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, is near the buzzing downtown area, and has a large grassy space, playground for the kiddos, tennis, basketball, horseshoe pits, and volleyball nets. A scenic little ‘city escape’ for the day with plenty of things to keep you busy.

Monday offers an opportunity to check out some of the area’s best hiking trails. From steep ascents to mild loops and longer lake hikes, you’re sure to find a way to get outside and explore the magic of northern Idaho!

There’s always another road trip into Coeur d’Alene if you’re still feeling the road trip vibe. About an hour south of Sandpoint is another quintessential town to check out with scenic cruises, parasailing, theme parks, and more hikes, too!

6. Grand Teton National Park, WY

Pink, jagged peaks and green pines are perfectly reflected in a totally still pond.

Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Jake Johnson

I know, I said to steer clear of national parks on the holidays. However, this one is spread out, offering enough space and recreation for even holiday crowds—although camping is hard to find if you don’t plan in advance. We found a campground halfway between Jackson Hole and the popular attractions of the park; it was pretty full but still quiet and in a great location.

Lake Time

Get up early on Saturday to secure a canoe or kayak at Signal Mountain Lodge, then spend the day exploring or fishing Jackson Lake. The view of the mountains is incredible and if you stay in the coves where motorboats aren’t allowed, you’re in for a quiet, beautiful day. There are plenty of spots to dock on a private beach for a few hours, too. We love this lake and caught some pretty big fish from the boat and shore!

A man holds a net with a fish in it while standing in the lake. You can see jagged, snow-dusted peaks in the distance.

Fishing on Jackson Lake, Grand Teton NP. Photo by Kate Wilson

Check Signal Mountain’s website for updates on early closure. They are ending motorized boat rental early due to lake levels but strive to offer kayaks and canoes through the rest of the season.

Hiking

There is something about hiking on Sundays! It just seems like getting outside in nature is the right thing to do. There is a relatively flat, 7.6-mile trail that goes around Jenny Lake if that is meant to be spectacular; hiking it clockwise offers the best views!

If you’re looking for something more strenuous and away from the crowd, Death Canyon to the Patrol Cabin is the hike for you. In fact, reviewers state they saw more moose than people on this 8 miler so you’re sure to find some peace and quiet out there. It isn’t a hike that’s close to the water, but one that should be on your list if you want to experience a little Wyoming backcountry.

Mountain Biking

You can also check out Philips Ridge mountain bike trail to escape the crowds—15 miles of pristine singletrack near Wilson, WY. Quiet, stunning views, and an awesome workout, we highly recommend this one while you’re in the area. This is bear country though, make sure to bring protection.

It wouldn’t be a trip to the Grand Teton area without stopping into Jackson Hole on the way out of town. Tons of good food options, rowdy cowboy bars, and an overall tourist/party vibe, we love spending time here every few years!

7. Sanibel Island, FL

An aerial shot of green grass and palm trees transitioning into shrubs on the beach into sand and then the water.

Photo by Drew Darby

Living in Florida took me to the usual exciting hotspots like Miami and Orlando but I visited my fair share of smaller towns dotted throughout the state too. Even as a twenty-year-old looking for excitement, I couldn’t help but fall in love with one in particular: Sanibel Island.

A quiet getaway with beautiful white sand and lovely warm water from the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll think you stepped out of reality and straight into paradise. Back in the day, we’d collect jars and jars of shells; light pink and white conch, scallops, and whelks were some of our favorites because they are so different from those found on the West Coast. You can easily spend your first day exploring the coastline or relaxing with a good book.

Kayaking

When you’re ready for some exercise, grab a kayak from one of the nearby outfitters and explore Pine Island Sound Aquatic Nature Preserve where you’ll find dolphins, manatees, pelicans, otters, and so much more! The preserve is part of a 190-mile long kayak trail extending up the bayside of Sanibel Island and continues north for even more wildlife and photo opportunities.

Biking

A bike rests against a tree in front of a few wooden steps leading to the beach.

Photo by Florida-Guidebook.com

You can also hop on your bike and explore 25 miles of easy trails through the woods to a historic lighthouse and to spots with beach access that aren’t accessible by car. There are even water fountains periodically and racks to park your bike if you need a break. No bike? No problem. The main drag in town offers regular bikes, tandems, and even trailers to pull the kids!

Pop over to Captiva Island before you go for some paddle-boarding or to enjoy one of the highly rated, eclectic restaurants in the area!

8. Voyageurs National Park, MN

A lake in Voyageurs National Park reflecting the trees on its shore and the blue sky above.

Voyageurs National Park. Photo by Yinan Chen

I had to slip one more national park in because it’s an outdoor lover's dream, and with four major lakes and 26 smaller ones, you’re sure to find a less crowded area to enjoy. One of our favorites is Rainy Lake with 1,500 miles of shoreline, 1,300 islands, secluded coves, and heavily wooded, private spots to pull off and relax.

When you’ve had enough alone time, check out Voyageurs Outfitters for some awesome ways to explore the park. They offer glamping, guided boat tours to scenic overlooks, and wildlife viewing spots where you’re very likely to see eagles, deer, and even a bear or two! There are sunset tours too, and amazing shoreline meals like Carne Asada over an open fire. Let someone else do the work this holiday weekend—you deserve it!

9. Clear Lake, OR

A raft with lifejackets clipped on and a fishing rod hanging off on a beautiful, reflective lake.

Floating on Clear Lake. Photo by Kate Wilson

I’ve mentioned Clear Lake more times this year than I can count, so if it’s busy, I take full responsibility! Seriously though, I cannot think of a better place to spend three days and in fact, that’s just what we did! We booked in for one night at Cold Water Cove Campground and immediately came back for three more!

Lake Time

Spend Saturday relaxing on the lake. There are no motorboats allowed here so it’s perfect for kayaking or paddleboarding. There’s a section you can float over that has old massive tree stumps underwater and several little coves that are about as emerald green and turquoise as you’ve ever seen. A family-friendly little resort is across the lake, offering ice and snacks, fishing gear, and boat rentals. You can even rent cabins or a yurt from them if you want a little luxury—it’s a slice of heaven over there.

Hiking

A wooden bridge goes over shockingly green and clear water with pine trees all around.

Hike around Clear Lake, OR. Photo by Kate Wilson

The next few days are for exploring and hiking! There is a five-mile trail around the whole lake that takes you through deep green lush forests and ferns, as well as century-old lava fields with bridges and private blue pools along the way. If you’ve got the energy to spare, check out the side trails to Sahalie and Koosah Falls. These continue to be my favorite waterfalls in all of Oregon!

Mountain Biking

Once you’ve done all the hikes, hop on your bike and do a section of the McKenzie River Trail. You can pick it up right from the Clear Lake trail, and it takes you to the other side of the waterfalls mentioned above for a different, equally jaw-dropping perspective. If you can, ride the whole 25 miles for terrain that is surprisingly different end to end. You will need a shuttle for that one though; it’s a long climb back up!

10. Olympic National Park, WA

A waterfall comes down on moss-covered boulders and logs. The scene is full of ferns and moss.

Hoh Rainforest. Photo by Ryan Milrad

We threw a dart at the map last year that landed us near Forks, Washington, and had such a good time, we’re heading back again this year!

There are numerous campgrounds around the area, but the best ones we found were in Olympic NP near the Hoh River. Plenty of paid options are available but we settled into a nice little dispersed spot along the river and spent our days catching some of the biggest bull trout to date! The area is very quiet and picture-perfect with moose crossing the river daily and only the occasional neighbor.

Backpacking

If you’re not into fishing, grab a permit and backpack the Hoh River Trail for some jaw-dropping Pacific Northwest scenery. The hike travels along the river past waterfalls and gigantic ferns and flora with campsites dotted all along the way. Feeling motivated? Follow the trail about 17 miles up to Glacier Meadows for a spectacular view of Blue Glacier. The climb gets gnarly after mile 12 so be prepared for a workout and bring plenty of water!

A tent and a campfire set out on a beach with the sun setting into the Pacific.

Camping on Rialto Beach, WA. Photo by Kate Wilson

The holiday weekend will fly by if you’re backpacking the full Hoh River Trail, but hiking in just five miles and staying one night will free you up to check out my other all-time favorite camp spot. Drive an hour northwest to Rialto Beach, hike in about a half-mile, and settle in for an incredible sunset. Make a campfire on the beach and sleep just steps away from the crashing waves. Grab your coffee in the morning and hike to colorful tide pools and massive rock formations along the coast; truly a beautiful, wild beach that you’ll never forget!

Okay outdoor enthusiasts, there you have it. My absolute top ten recommendations for the best Labor Day weekend ever! Chat with me or another Curated expert here to grab the gear you need and then get out there and have some fun!

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20+ years of camping, mountain biking, winter sports, climbing, fly fishing, backpacking, hiking and traveling - there's no place I'd rather be than outside. Here are my favorites (so far!) ​ CAMPING: Blue Mountains, Australia. HIKING: Mt Cook or Nelson, New Zealand MOUNTAIN BIKE: Moab, of course! F...

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