2017 Best Counties for Outdoor Activities Methodology

The 2017 Best Counties for Outdoor Activities ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the accessibility to designated outdoor spaces and activities at the county level. This grade takes into account key indicators of a location’s environment and surroundings, including air quality, local weather, and access to natural amenities and outdoor recreation, in an attempt to measure an area’s quality of and access to the outdoors. Learn where our data comes from.

Factors Considered

Factor Description Source Weight
Nearby National Parks and Forests The number of National Parks and Forests within 200 miles. Parks were assigned to their primary state. U.S. National Park Service 20.0%
Parks A measure of the availability of Parks. Open Street Map 20.0%
Nearby State Parks and Forests The number of State Parks and Forests within 100 miles. U.S. Geological Survey 15.0%
Physical Inactivity The rate of adults (at the county level) who do not report any leisure-time physical activity. CDC 10.0%
Weather Grade Based on number of sunny days, precipitation, and average temperatures in an area. Niche 10.0%
Access to Recreational Goods Rentals A measure of both the proximity (per square mile) and the availability (per capita) of Recreational Goods Rentals. Niche 5.0%
Air Quality Index 90th Percentile A daily measure of the air quality (lower is better). This factor uses the 90th percentile value (i.e. 90% of recorded days had this value or less). EPA 5.0%
Nearby Beaches The number of beaches within 100 miles. U.S. Census 5.0%
Nearby Campgrounds The number of campgrounds within 50 miles. FBI Uniform Crime Report 5.0%
Nearby Skiing Facilities The number of ski facilities within 50 miles. U.S. Census 5.0%

This ranking assesses 2,773 counties in the U.S. The same methodology is used to produce the Outdoor Activities Grade for each ranked county as well as additional places. Statistics are primarily obtained from the U.S. Census and represent the most recent data available.

For more details about how we calculate our rankings, click here.