Outdoor Recreational Activities

Find out about boating, fishing, hunting and other activities.

Federal and State Recreational Activities

U.S. recreational areas offer an assortment of outdoor recreational activities. Recreation.gov lets you search for federal parks, forests and other public lands offering the activity you're interested in, including:

  • Biking: Find breathtaking trails for your road or mountain bike.
  • Boating. You can also find important boating safety tips.
  • Camping: There are thousands of places to pitch a tent or park an RV, from the backcountry wilderness to a national seashore.
  • Climbing: Find technical challenges for the beginner to expert climber, from guided climbs to ice climbing on your own.
  • Fishing. Also see resources for saltwater fishing.
  • Hiking: Thousands of trails, from steep technical climbs to flat lakeshore paths, await.
  • Horseback Riding: Many areas offer trail and off-trail riding. Some even have stables and guides.
  • Hunting. Also read about hunting licenses.
  • Winter Sports: Enjoy cross-country and downhill skiing, snow-shoeing, dog-sledding, and more. 

Want to get outside, but need some inspiration? Check out this list of adventures at FindYourPark.com

Contact Recreational Areas

For detailed information on a particular recreational area:

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Boating rules in recreational areas vary widely. Licenses, fees, and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. For detailed information on a particular recreational area:

Boating Safety

Whether you're on a sailboat, a motorboat, a kayak or jet ski on a lake, river, bay or ocean, these few steps will help keep you safe: 

  • Wear your life jacket. Everyone on board should have a life jacket. If you fall overboard, or your boat sinks quickly, you may not be able to get to your life jacket fast enough.
  • Prepare a float plan. Leave a copy of your plan (the who, what, when, and where of your outing) with a friend or family member. This will help alert authorities if you don’t return as planned. 
  • Check the weather before you go. If storms or high winds are in the marine forecast, postpone your trip.
  • Don’t drink and boat.  It’s as dangerous as drinking and driving. Even if you’re not operating the boat, it can impair your ability to escape safely if your boat capsizes or you fall overboard.

Learn more about how to prevent accidents and find out about recalls and laws at the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety site.

Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)

While not required for recreational boaters, having a registered digital signal (406 MHz) beacon provides search and rescue authorities with information when responding to a distress signal:

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Each state grants permits (fishing licenses) and determines:

  • Closed periods (seasons) where specific species are unavailable for harvest
  • Restrictions on gear types
  • Quotas

To learn the laws and regulations for recreational fishing in you state, contact your state fish and wildlife agency

Fishing in Recreational Areas

There are many recreational sites that allow fishing. For location information, contact a state fish and wildlife agency or a federal recreation area.

Saltwater Fishing

Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Resources for Fishermen. You can also find information on the National Saltwater Angler Registry.

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Big game, small game, and bird hunting are permitted on America's public lands depending on the site and season. Hunting fees, licensing, and seasonal restrictions vary from site to site. 

For information about a particular recreational area, contact the site directly:

Hunting on a Wildlife Refuge

There are more than 300 national wildlife refuges and protected wetlands in the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). Use this search tool to find appropriate hunting locations near you. Visit the Refuge website or contact them directly.

Hunting Licenses

Everyone age 16 and older who wants to hunt must get a hunting license. Individuals under age 16 may need a junior hunting license. Check with your state fish and wildlife agency for requirements.

If you want to hunt waterfowl, you need a Federal Duck Stamp in addition to a state hunting license.

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Last Updated: April 03, 2017

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