6 Standout Outdoors Programs Offered by Universities

Find­ing a col­lege with a nice engi­neer­ing pro­gram or an excit­ing foot­ball team is great, but what are you going to do when the week­end comes and the moun­tains beck­on or the sea calls? Choos­ing a col­lege with a great out­doors pro­gram will give you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn new skills like rock climb­ing or wilder­ness med­i­cine, rent gear such as a moun­tain bike or kayak, and go on stu­dent-led adven­ture out­ings at dis­count­ed rates. You’ll also be able to meet friends who share your pas­sion for the out­doors. Here is a list of six stand­out out­door pro­grams in the country.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon’s Out­door Pro­gram (link)
This out­door pro­gram allows stu­dents to rent a bike any­where from 1‑day to an entire term. You can also fix your bike in their DIY bike main­te­nance shop, which is com­plete with man­u­als and tools.  The Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon’s prox­im­i­ty to the ocean, moun­tains, and east­ern desert allows for a well-round­ed pro­gram where stu­dents can go surf­ing at the coast, rock climb­ing at Smith Rock, and hik­ing in the Cascades.

Col­orado Uni­ver­si­ty’s CU Out­door Pro­gram (link)
At Col­orado Uni­ver­si­ty, incom­ing stu­dents can get acquaint­ed with the Rocky Moun­tains through the CU Moun­tain Fest, where they spend a few days riv­er raft­ing, hik­ing, rock climb­ing, and par­ty­ing in Key­stone. This out­door pro­gram also offers fly fish­ing cours­es where stu­dents get in-riv­er expe­ri­ence, and eight dif­fer­ent rock climb­ing cours­es that include guid­ed trips to the top of First Flat­iron. Stu­dents also have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to become cer­ti­fied in Wilder­ness Medicine.

Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da’s Out­door Adven­ture (link)
If you’re a riv­er rat, lake rat, or sea dog, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da’s Out­door Adven­ture pro­gram is for you. The school is with­in miles of the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and all sorts of swamps, rivers, and lakes.  The pro­gram lets you rent SUPs, surf­boards, and kayaks as well as takes you on excur­sions to see man­a­tees and go kayak­ing through the Ever­glades. You can also get scu­ba cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, or you can gain con­fi­dence on the 45-foot tall Odyssey III chal­lenge course.

Mon­tana State Uni­ver­si­ty’s Out­door Recre­ation Pro­gram (link)
Mon­tana State Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents can access some of the nation’s most icon­ic nation­al parks through raft­ing trips down the Yel­low­stone Riv­er, as well as back­pack­ing trips into Glac­i­er Nation­al Park. This out­door pro­gram also sports one of the nation’s best win­ter gear rental shops, which includes things like XC ski pack­ages, avalanche trans­ceivers, and ice skates. With all that amaz­ing snow in Big Sky coun­try, it’s impor­tant to under­stand avalanch­es, which is why Mon­tana State’s out­door pro­gram offers 3‑different cours­es in avalanche safety.

Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee’s Rec­Sports (link)
Nes­tled in the heart of Appalachia, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee out­door pro­gram offers plen­ty of hik­ing and rock climb­ing excur­sions. You can rent a boul­der­ing crash pad and a pair of rock climb­ing shoes for as low as $12. If ladies night is your thing, female-only excur­sions are com­mon (sor­ry guys). This out­door pro­gram also offers moun­tain bike trips for beginners. 


Uni­ver­si­ty of Alas­ka Fair­banks’s Out­door Adven­tures Pro­gram (link)
If play­ing in the snow is your cup of iced tea, then this is the place to be. You can learn to ice climb in class and then hone your skills on the ice wall. In addi­tion to the 1,100-acre North Cam­pus area, which is a for­est filled with cross coun­try ski trails, Uni­ver­si­ty of Alas­ka Fair­banks is in the process of build­ing its own ski and snow­board ter­rain park. This out­door pro­gram’s gear rental shop has a broad range of equip­ment for both sum­mer and win­ter sports.