Appalachian State’s Outdoor Programs Garner (Inter-)National Attention

Appalachian State’s Outdoor Programs Garner (Inter-)National Attention
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By David Rogers. May 5, 2016. BOONE, NC — Adventure begins with “A.” In the calculations of many: Adventure = Appalachian State University. That thought was underlined recently in a globally distributed list of “The Top 20 U.S. Colleges for Outdoor Adventures.”

COVER IMAGE: “Camp and Paddle at Price Lake”, photographic image by Christin Healey, courtesy of The Outbound Collective

180x150_AppUrgent[3]Blowing Rock News coverage of Appalachian State University arts, academics, and administration is made possible by a sponsorship from AppUrgent, a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

An Appalachian State Strength

Maybe it was only by virtue of “A” being the first letter in the alphabet, but in the article Appalachian State is nonetheless listed at the top of a pretty heady class by The Outbound Collective, a website and iOS app with an international scope.  The site advertises advertises its mission as “…to help everyday people discover the best outdoor adventures nearby.”

The Outbound Collective described the Blue Ridge Mountains environment as “nature’s playground.” Many of us fortunate enough to live in the Watauga-Ashe-Avery counties area take for granted what The Outbound Collective reports: “Students at App State have a wealth of outdoor opportunity right at their fingertips, as some of the East Coast’s best mountain biking, caving, climbing, and paddling are within an hour’s drive from the ASU campus. App State’s Outdoor Programs offers a range of activities, from backcountry cooking right on campus to 30-day international trips in places like New Zealand and Italy.”

Outbound Reach

Atop Rough Ridge. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.

Beyond college recommendations for outdoors-oriented students, The Outbound Collective is an ambitious undertaking when it comes to content, offering its readers suggestions for nearby adventures wherever they are.  For instance, access the website or app from a Boone address (and it appropriately asks permission to allow the site to know where you are, automatically, without your having to input an answer), click on “Find Adventures” in the top navigation menu, and the site makes these immediate suggestions:

  • Camp and Paddle at Price Lake
  • Explore Boone Fork Creek
  • Summit Calloway Peak in Grandfather Mountain State Park
  • Hike Rough Ridge
  • Explore Beacon Heights on the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Hike to Little Hump Mountain (21 miles away)
  • Hike to Linville Falls (25 miles away)
  • Photograph Hawksbill Mountain at Sunrise or Sunset (25 miles away)
  • Camp on Hawksbill Mountain (25 miles away)
  • Explore Wiseman’s View (27 miles away)
  • Summit Views on Table Rock Mountain (27 miles away)
  • Backpack the Roan Highlands – Appalachian Trail (29 miles away)
  • Backpacking the Linville Gorge (30 miles away)
rough ridge
Rough Ridge. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

And so on. What Outbound Collective has done is compile hundreds of outdoor adventures nationwide and created reports — with brilliant accompanying photography for each listing — and designed an app to tell you what is nearby and describe each venue’s special features, from the activities offered (i.e. backpacking, hiking, photography, kayaking), a suggested skill level (i.e., beginner or advanced), whether it is seasonal or year round, the trail type (if applicable), distance, elevation gain, parking access, etc. They even include a map.

Appalachian State at Center

For every “adventure” suggested above, we can probably think of 10 more that aren’t listed.  Certainly, though, The Outbound Collective is a good start.  And, it so happens, Boone and Blowing Rock — and Appalachian State University — are the epicenter of a multitude of outdoor opportunities.

Appalachian State has certainly not been ambivalent to its surroundings and is well-deserving of an appearance on The Outdoor Collective’s list of the top 20 colleges. Continues the website, “For students who wish to make outdoor education their career, App State provides three different recreation management concentrations: Outdoor Experiential Education, Recreation and Park Management, and Commercial Recreation and Tourism Management. For students who wish to pursue another career but are still interested in guiding outdoor education trips at App State or in the future, App State offers an Instructor Development Program, which includes Wilderness First Responder and epinephrine administration certifications. Students are also encouraged to volunteer with the Blue Ridge Parkway Corps to educate tourists about preserving the trails.”

The full list of top 20 schools, as authored by New Jersey-based editorial contributor Claire Siegrist (alphabetical listing):

  • Appalachian State University — Boone, North Carolina
  • Berry College — Mt. Berry, Georgia
  • Boise State University — Boise, Idaho
  • College of the Atlantic — Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Cornell University — Ithaca, New York
  • Green Mountain College — Poultney, Vermont
  • Middlebury College — Middlebury, Vermont
  • Montana State University — Bozeman, Montana
  • Northland College — Ashland, Wisconsin
  • Sierra Nevada College — Incline Village, Nevada
  • Stanford University — Stanford, California
  • University of Alaska — Fairbanks, Alaska
  • University of Arizona — Tucson, Arizona
  • University of California — Berkeley, California
  • University of California — San Diego, California
  • University of Colorado — Boulder, Colorado
  • University of Oregon — Eugene, Oregon
  • University of Texas — Austin, Texas
  • University of Utah — Salt Lake City, Utah
  • University of Washington — Seattle, Washington

At the bottom of the article, among the “comments,” several readers offered other university or college suggestions mostly by virtue of outdoor opportunities in their respective areas, not necessarily for the outdoor education programs also offered at their respective schools. Those include:

  • Northern Arizona University — Flagstaff, Arizona (“NAU is 45 min or less from the Sedona, Grand Canyon, Mount Humphrey’s and it is placed inside the worlds largest continuous Ponderosa Pine Forest. NAU also runs programs/trips through the school for all the places listed for UofA but they only drive like 30 min.”)
  • Humboldt State University — Humboldt, California (“That should be number 1. I mean come on the freaking Redwoods man!”)
  • Southern Utah University — Cedar City, Utah (“We have 5 national parks within 4 hours, we live less than an hour from the infamous Zion National Park, 10 minutes from hundreds of canyon hikes and climbs, we won the Outdoor Nation Challenge in the Fall of 2015 where we competed for most outdoorsy school, and we were officially declared the University of the Parks earlier this year.”
  • Prescott College — Prescott, Arizona (“Our University resonates with this article completely. We are an experiential learning school offering many outdoor oriented professional degrees within a city characterized by National Geographic to be in the top 100 adventure towns in the U.S. We are completely surrounded by national forest and designated wilderness areas through nearby creeks, canyons, and mountain ranges. With a project-based, and field oriented curriculum, many of the students who learn here are also avid hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers and naturalists.”)

The Outbound Collective is branching out, with international adventures that include countries such as Germany, Norway, Latvia, The Czech Republic, and France in Europe; a sprinkling of outings in South Africa; a range of options as might be expected in The Himalayas of Nepal; a growing number in Southeast Asia countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos; a couple of dozen in and around China; and the beginnings of a list in South America’s Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador; with even more in Central America’s Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

More information about The Outbound Collective is available at

More information about Appalachian State University’s Outdoors Programs is available at

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