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The 7 Best Adventures You Can Have Without Leaving the Country

Sure, traveling to faraway places around the world can be a real adventure, but sometimes you just can't get away for any number of reasons. Fortunately as Americans, we live in a nation large enough that there are plenty of adventures to be had on our own soil, and within a diversity of environments. Here's [...]

Sure, traveling to faraway places around the world can be a real adventure, but sometimes you just can't get away for any number of reasons. Fortunately as Americans, we live in a nation large enough that there are plenty of adventures to be had on our own soil, and within a diversity of environments. Here's a round-up of seven of the best adventures you can have - without having to bring your passport:

1. Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Photo: Jeff Pang via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

There's no need to travel to New Zealand - shooting location of the Lord of the Rings trilogy - to fantasize about being a Hobbit hiking long distances in a grand environment. The Appalachian Trail is one of the world's most epic hiking treks, spanning over 2,100 miles across 14 states in the eastern mountains of the USA. Hiking the entire trail takes anywhere between three to seven months depending on your pace, willingness to complete the entire thing, and availability of vacation time. If you don't have months to spare, don't worry, you're not alone; most trekkers of the AT only do sections at a time.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Hiking Spots in the United States

2. Rock Climbing at Yosemite

Photo: Maria Ly via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

To the casual tourist, Yosemite National Park in northern California is one of the ultimate American destinations for grand scenery of mountains and waterfalls. However, to the rock climber, Yosemite is truly legendary, with tons of routes for all types of climbing and skill levels. If you're gung ho, head for routes on the prized El Capitan. If not, take it easier on the West Face of Leaning Tower where beginner to intermediate climbers can really experience the grandeur of the rocks that attracted them to the sport in the first place.

3. Wreck Diving off the North Carolina Coast

Photo: NOAA

You don't have to climb high for adventure; it can be found down below - way down below the sea that is, when you go SCUBA diving for wrecks. One of America's premier places for wreck diving is off the coast of North Carolina, which many refer to as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." Here there are dozens of sunken ships - including German U-boats - left over from war. Decades ago they were used for battle, but now they are artificial reefs - and attractions to explore if you're an adventurous diver that's historically inclined.

4. Surfing in Hawaii

Photo: Pete Markham via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Not all adventure is found under the sea; on the surface there's tons of action to be had, especially when said surface is breaking into epic waves to surf on. And some of the country's biggest and best waves are found off the shores of our 50th state Hawaii, where surfing isn't just a sport, it's a way of life.

READ MORE: Hawaii's Top 13 Surfing Spots

5. Rafting down the Colorado River

Photo: Erik Isakson/Tetra Images/Corbis

Can't quite get the hang of standing on a watercraft atop moving water? Have a seat and brace yourself in a raft when riding the mighty Colorado River, in Colorado, Utah and Arizona. If the Colorado is powerful enough to carve out the Grand Canyon (granted, over millions of years) just imagine what it can do to you and your team of paddlers in a raft. Rafting the Colorado is one of the country's best - and therefore most popular - rides, so make sure you book a spot in advance.

READ MORE: White Water Rafting: Top 5 U.S. Locations

6. Riding the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Photo: Craig Lloyd via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Don't quite like falling out of a raft on a wild ride down the river? Well, you could always get the thrill of twisting and turning - not to mention staying dry - by strapping into the seat of a roller coaster. There are many roller coasters across the United States, but the mecca for coaster enthusiasts is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, home of over a dozen world-class roller coasters. One of them, the Maverick, takes riders up, down, and upside down at speeds of up to 70 mph - and even through a dark tunnel.

7. Driving from Coast-to-Coast

Photo: Erik R. Trinidad

If all of the above adventures are too extreme for you, don't fret; there's always the classic American road trip, made culturally cool by Jack Kerouac's immortal On The Road. There's nothing like a coast-to-coast driving adventure as you see the sites, eat the food, and explore the regional cultures that make this country great with its diversity of landscapes.

READ MORE: 6 Different Ways to Do the Classic American Road Trip