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10 Colleges with Clubs for Outdoor Enthusiasts

If you love to ski, hike, bike, paddle, and climb—or if you want to find out whether or not you love to ski, hike, bike, paddle, and climb—college and university clubs provide supportive spaces to explore your interests. Along with making new friends and adventure partners, outdoor clubs come with loads of other perks including access to gear rentals and recreation center club hours, outdoor outings to outdoor areas and invaluable education and knowledge about the sport, gear and yourself.

Being away from home for school can be overwhelming enough that trying a new sport might seem out of the question. But when you join a club, you’re in good company surrounded by students who are in the same situation as you. Embrace the new experiences—that’s what college is for. Wherever you end up pursuing your degree, you can probably find a club that aligns with your outdoor curiosities and introduces you to the area’s outdoor opportunities. Here are 10 outdoor-focused clubs with reputable and robust programs rooted in outdoor adventure.



  1. The University of Kansas's Rock Climbing Club

Lawrence, Kansas

Without many cliffs to scale in the vicinity, Kansas isn’t the first place most people think of for rock climbing. But that’s what makes KURC(Se abre en una ventana nueva) an underrated club on this list. Despite the state’s less-than- dramatic topography, the heart and soul of the steadfast, strong, and confident climbers(Se abre en una ventana nueva) make this club a standout. Though they are “several hundred miles from the nearest passable climbing destination,” members have access to the campus recreation center’s indoor rock climbing wall called the Chalk Rock (named as an homage to the Rock Chalk, Jayhawk chant). The plastic pulls are enough to help them train their skills, confidence, and strength ahead of several outings to climbing areas every year, from Red Rock National Conservation Area in Nevada to Horseshoe Ranch in Arkansas.


  1. Lewis and Clark’s The College Outdoors Program

Portland, Oregon College is about trying new things. Lewis and Clark’s The College Outdoors Program(Se abre en una ventana nueva) is about trying new things in the outdoors. Open to all skill levels but particularly approachable for newbies, members get to explore the Pacific Northwest’s outdoor recreation treasure troves for hiking, mushroom hunting, cross-country skiing, backpacking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, nature meditation and more. Students lead the trips and build their leadership skills, all while learning alongside their peers. Want to try backpacking for the first time ever? Absolutely no experience is required, making it a great introduction to new types of fun. Gear rentals are available on campus.   

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Dartmouth Mountaineering Club(Se abre en una ventana nueva) (@dartmouthmountaineering(Se abre en una ventana nueva)) • Instagram photos and videos


  1. Dartmouth College’s Mountaineering Club

Hanover, New Hampshire Founded in 1936, the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club(Se abre en una ventana nueva) has a lengthy history of introducing students to the love of climbing and mountaineering. Many alumni of the club become deeply rooted in the outdoor community after graduation. In addition to weekly meetings, the club arranges free day trips to a nearby climbing area called Rumney as well as inexpensive multi-day trips to out-of-state climbing hotspots like Red Rocks, Bishop and Acadia. Even if you’ve never touched rock before, leaders are welcoming and encourage students to join the beginner-friendly sessions at the campus climbing wall. Plus, all equipment is provided if you don’t already have your own. For students wanting to focus more on training and climbing in an indoor competition environment, the school also has the Dartmouth Climbing Team, with close ties to and crossover with the mountaineering friends. A landscape view of colorful trees and a body of water in the background from a rock overlook Image via Rachel C.(Se abre en una ventana nueva)

  1. College of the Atlantic’s Outing Club

Bar Harbor, Maine With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Acadia National Park to the west, the College of the Atlantic is conveniently located nearby rural Maine’s most spectacular natural resources. Throughout the year, no matter the season, the Outing Club(Se abre en una ventana nueva) offers weekday and weekend excursions for all skill levels. In fall, the club hosts their annual Mt. Katahdin summit trip and visit the Common Ground Country Fair. In winter, members head to the carriage roads for cross-country skiing and cozy up for wood carving and conversation on Fireside Fridays. And in spring as the weather starts to warm, hiking, canoeing and kayaking become possible again. The Outing Club also has a leadership curriculum, which teaches students technical and interpersonal skills through their choice of three tracks: sea kayaking, hiking and backpacking and traditional skills. A brick building with a grassy quad in front of it Image via Keming Tan(Se abre en una ventana nueva)

  1. Brown University’s Outing Club

Providence, Rhode Island The Brown University Outing Club(Se abre en una ventana nueva) is so well loved that its newsletter list is 3,000 members deep including faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The club guarantees community, challenge and regeneration in the outdoors through skill building classes, service trips and leisure adventures both on and off campus. Some of the club’s longest trips have been to the Adirondack, Blue Ridge and White Mountains, the premiere areas for outdoor activities in the Northeast. With its very own gear room on campus, students can borrow equipment for personal use and club trips. And if someone needs financial aid, the club covers costs, no questions asked. Opportunities to get even more involved arise at the end of every semester, when applications open again for the next leadership team.   

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NAU Running Club(Se abre en una ventana nueva) (@naurunningclub(Se abre en una ventana nueva)) • Instagram photos and videos


  1. Northern Arizona University’s Running Club

Flagstaff, Arizona High altitude, pristine desert trails and a devoted community make Flagstaff one of the top running destinations in the country for professionals and amateurs—and the university’s running club(Se abre en una ventana nueva) doesn’t miss out. Regardless of experience and level, the club supports members training for any surface, distance and competition. Some runners compete at the collegiate level while others just log miles for fun. Group runs meet multiple times a week during the school year, and updates and events are communicated through the group’s messaging app and Instagram(Se abre en una ventana nueva). Past events include workshops with local professionals, fundraisers for local causes and holiday-themed runs throughout the seasons. Show up to one of the mandatory introductory meetings to see if the NAU Run Club community fits with your running goals.



  1. Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Program

Grand Junction, Colorado Home of the Western Slope’s largest inventory of outdoor rental equipment, the Outdoor Program at Colorado Mesa University(Se abre en una ventana nueva) is a resource for more than just current students. As a service to the greater community, alumni and locals can reserve gear(Se abre en una ventana nueva)—like stand-up paddleboards and four-burner stoves—to use on their personal excursions. Community resources also include a library of instructional videos for raft safety and a catalog of trip guides for the area. Of course, students get the most benefits from joining the club. Student trips are organized around the common adventure concept, which means that two or more individuals work toward common goals. Costs, planning and other responsibilities are shared among the group members. That way, everyone is included and has a stake in the experience.