Outdoor Challenges For The New Year

Here are seven outdoor challenges to encourage more time away from the screen.

By Courtney Johnson
Explore Ambassador

No one can deny the benefits that time in nature creates from the youngest to oldest explorers. Whether it is taking a hike, trying to catch a fish, paddling your favorite river or building a snow fort, everyone could use some motivation to spend more time outdoors. Here are seven outdoor challenges to encourage more time away from the screen.


1,000 Hours Outside

The purpose of the 1,000 Hours Outside challenge is to get kids away from screens and into nature. For the physical and mental well-being of children, pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot, recommends kids spend at least four to six hours a day outside. A yearly challenge, hours can be completed at any time of day, whether you are catching fireflies, digging for worms, hiking a trail or sleeping under the stars. Keep track of hours any way you wish, or sign up for the official challenge and use this downloadable tracker. Take a listen to their podcast or download the app now on Android or ioS for ideas and motivation to get outdoors.


52 Hike Challenge

This challenge encourages participants to complete at least one hike a week of at least 1 mile-plus for 52 weeks, even repeated hikes. You can participate in two ways: through a 12-week coaching program or self supported. Sign up for free for the newsletter and challenge, or you can purchase packages that give you access to Facebook groups and swag when you complete the journey. You can start your yearly journey at any point in the year. It doesn’t have to be on January 1.

They also have a Kids Series that is based on completing 52 outdoor activities in a year. A Pet Series lets you commit to hiking at least one hike per week of at least a mile with your pup on a dog-friendly trail. The Adventure Series adds an extra step to the 52 hikes with adventure challenges mixed in.


Yearly Fishing Challenge

Fishing challenges are becoming more popular as the sport of fishing continues to grow. In 2017, J.D. Blackburn, a guest writer for wired2fish.com, challenged his buddies to catch a fish a week for 52 weeks. Fishing challenges have popped up around the country, from the one-day catch the largest fish contest in Westborough, Mass., to the multiple-week Hot Springs Fishing Challenge on lakes Hamilton and Catherine. If none of the established challenges appeal to you or there are no challenges near you, consider chatting with your local fishing outfitter or fishing groups and starting your own.


Generation Wild 100 Things To Do Before You Turn 12

Join Generation Wild’s mission to get kids to experience the world through outdoor recreation and play. Older adventurers can make it a goal to complete all 100 outdoor-based activities in a year, while younger adventurers may want to make a two- to three-year goal. The 100 things range from simply skipping rocks and rolling down a hill to more difficult things like climbing a 14er and building a bike jump! Download the list for free and get started on experiencing the natural world. The Natural Trust in the UK has a similar challenge called 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾.


365 Mile Challenge

Complete just a mile a day for 365 days to participate in the 365 Mile Challenge. It doesn’t matter how you get that mile in, as long as you are doing the moving. Walking the dog, pedaling your bike or paddling your SUP all count. Even yoga and aerobics count by using the mileage conversion. Mini challenges throughout the year keep motivation going, from adventure bingo to virtual races. Connect your preferred tracking device (Fitbit, Apple Watch etc.) to the app and track your miles per day. Join the Facebook group, read the blog and the newsletter for encouraging stories and more. Currently, they have a 10% discount on registration for the total package and the ala carte package.



Unplug from work, social media, phones and video games and join adventure outfitter OARS to connect to nature for 100 hours. Since 2017, OARS has invited families to join this movement to get kids (and adults) away from screens and into Mother Nature.

While OARS recommends trying this challenge in the summer for ease (think weather, time off of school, etc.), you can do this challenge at any time. Maybe turn it into a seasonal challenge where you try to complete 100 hours each season of the year.


Create Your Own Challenge

Whether you enjoy paddling and camping or fishing and hiking, you can create your own personal or family challenges this year to complete. Maybe you want to spend a certain amount of nights sleeping under the stars or tackle a 14er hike every month from May to September. It can be simple, like visiting a new playground every month, or more detailed, like spending at least 100 hours on the water. Try to view a new bird species every week or make it a goal to clean up at least one park a month. The sky’s the limit on the challenges you can create to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Whatever you choose, make sure the challenge is measurable and pick a way to keep track of your progress. Reflect on the progress you make and celebrate achievement throughout.

Other Challenges to Consider:

Hike Like A Woman hosts several challenges a year, including the Hike Like a Woman HLW30 hike challenge and 21 in 21 Adventure Challenge.

The Hike it Baby 30 Challenge encourages families to hike 30 miles in 30 days or spend at least 30 minutes outside three days a week.

Related Articles

Always be ready to go with the Go Out{side} Email Newsletter

Don’t miss out on new Go Out{side} news, tips and tricks.