By Brian Handwerk, Nat Geo Adventure — The wilderness doesn't have a monopoly on adventure. In fact, savvy city dwellers know that epic biking, paddling, and camping trips needn't always involve joining Friday night's mad rush to get out of town. Locals love these close-to-home urban adventures—and outdoorsy visitors will find them a welcome break from the usual tourist traps.


OK, so you won't really find big mountain skiing smack dab in the middle of any major city, but Salt Lake City comes ridiculously close. Four world-class resorts (Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude) are within half an hour of the city and can be reached by public transit.

But locals find runs, and sometimes untracked paths, far closer to town. That famous Utah powder falls deep on the mountains and canyons surrounding the city and epic, if not well-publicized, routes can be had a within two or three miles from the city’s streets. Cranking laps on the skin track is a popular pre-work routine among many of the city's snow-minded citizens. Of course, if you're just visiting, there's nothing to stop you from spending the whole day exploring the Wasatch mountain range. Plenty of local guide services are happy to show out-of-towners the backcountry goods—at least, the ones they aren't keeping for themselves.