Most popular outdoor activities in the United States from 2009 to 2016, by number of participants (in millions)

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HikingCar, backyard and RV campingRoad biking, mountain biking and BMXFreshwater, saltwater and fly fishingRunning, jogging and trail running

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This graph depicts the number of participants in the most popular outdoor activities in the U.S. from 2009 to 2016. Hiking was the fourth-most popular outdoor activity in the U.S. in 2016 with 42.2 million total participants.
Outdoor activities - additional information

Running, jogging and trail running have been the most popular outdoor activities in the United States over the years. The number of participants in the activities reached 52.3 million in 2016, up from 51.5 million in 2015. Despite this slight increase in the number of participants, running and jogging remains the most popular activity.

There are different motivational factors to take part in outdoor activities, such as jogging, hiking, camping, biking and fishing, but 68 percent of Americans stated that getting exercise motivated them to participate in outdoor activities in 2015. Other important factors included being with family and friends, keeping physically fit and being close to nature.

The gender difference in outdoor activity participation is quite significant. In prior years, more men than women have tended to participate in outdoor activities. In 2015, the participation gender gap was eight percent. In 2015, 31 percent of the Americans with a household income of more than 100,000 U.S. dollars participated in outdoor activities, compared to just 14 percent of those with an income of less than 25,000 U.S. dollars. Compared to other ethnicities in the United States, the Caucasian population had the largest share of outdoor activity participants with 74 percent in 2015.

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Release date
April 2017
United States
Survey time period
2009 to 2016
Number of respondents
24,134 (11,453 individual & 12,681 household interviews)
Age group
6 years and older
Method of interview
Online interview
Supplementary notes
A participant in outdoor recreation is defined as an individual who took part in one or more of 40 outdoor activities at least once. Included in those 40 activities are for example backpacking, bicycling, surfing and fishing.
Data for the years prior to 2016 were taken from previous reports.

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