Give the Gift of an Atlanta Outdoor Experience

Alexa Lampasona
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Instead of gifting a nice fleece jacket that, yup, was the wrong size, or that new YOLO SUP that will sit in the garage until warmer temperatures, how about giving your thrill-seeking, outdoor-loving friend a ticket to adventure. The pass to a climbing gym, a certificate for rentals, or a reservation at a remote lodge in the wilderness- now that’s living the dream. Whether you’re friend is a hardcore mountaineer or a weekend warrior, RootsRated rounded up a few holiday gift experiences for the outdoor enthusiast in your life, all curated for Atlanta.

For the trail runner

A view on a run long the Chattahoochee River
A view on a run long the Chattahoochee River Alexa Lampasona

Whoever says Atlanta is just a concrete jungle has not explored any of the trails at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. With more than 10 official trails, any runners’ legs can find solace on the dirt-packed trails that meander along the river and rise and fall over wooded, root-laden terrain.

The downside? Every trail in the park requires a $3 daily parking fee. For those who frequent the trails multiple times a week, it adds up. But with an annual pass to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, they can run free on the trails for one full year for just $35--beginning the month you purchase. That earns itself back in a mere 12 visits to the trails. Purchase the pass here.

For the road runner

There’s no shortage of road races in Atlanta. A quick search reveals that races occur somewhere in the city almost every weekend. Races are fun, but fees can add up.

Atlanta Track Club is one of the largest running organizations in the country, with more than 30 races per year. An annual membership is only $35 but grants access to the club’s free races and discounts on other area races and running products, ranging from track distances and 5k’s to half and full marathons. Plus a membership guarantees entry into the Peachtree Road Race, if you become a member by February 1.

Longer distance runners will be thankful for the Triple Peach race package that includes entries into the Peachtree Road Race, the Atlanta 10-miler and the Atlanta Half Marathon.

For the climber

Stone Summit climbing gym
Stone Summit climbing gym Alexa Lampasona

Winter in the south is one of the best times to climb, because we are blessed with minimal snowfall. Cooler temperatures chase away the humidity, making for the dry air (and dry rock) that climbers dream of. For those itching to grab onto some real rock and practice outdoor climbing skills, Alembic Outdoors leads guided trips to hotspots around Atlanta such as Foster Falls, Boat Rock, and Leda, with skill levels ranging from beginner to advanced. Expeditions start at $195 for a half day, or $390 for a whole day. Choose to book for your friend and include their information for a gift.

And when late spring and summer swelter with heat and drive climbers away, they can stay in shape at indoor climbing gyms such as Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center, where the new Kennessaw location just opened too. The gift certificate can be redeemed for any membership or package, including the monthly pre-paid program or, for the more sporadic climber, the punch card ($70 for five passes, $135 for 10 passes.) Or an intown gym, Atlanta Rocks! Indoor Climbing Gym, offers monthly memberships beginning at $75.

For the weekend warrior

This is the friend that so badly wants to backpack to a primitive camping spot, but just hasn’t had the time or resources to go. Make their lives a little easier and eliminate one excuse: give them a certificate to rent their gear.

[High Country Outfitters](wwwhighcountryoutfitters.com) offers rentals for backpacks and tents*. Rates begin at $18 per day, and $8 per additional day. (*For a two-person tent). If they end up buying the product, one night’s fee will be discounted off the purchase.

Once the weekend warrior is geared up, set them up with a reservation at the Hike-Inn in Dawsonville, Georgia. This sustainably designed facility is similar to a cabin weekend, only hikers must trek 5 miles to the location. Upon arrival, hot showers and fresh linens, plus family-style breakfast and dinners await.

Reservations are available for up to 11 months in advance, and the fall is particularly busy. Rates can be viewed here.

For the paddler

Kayak Guy's Etowah River tour
Kayak Guy's Etowah River tour Scott

The winter months are certainly not the time to put in, especially when colder days ice over shallow parts of the river. Come spring though, the sound of rushing rapids and lake water lapping against the shore act like a magnet to draw in paddlers.

Greet them with kayak rentals or a trip from KayakGuyAtlanta. The “kayak guy”, Scott, found himself taking friends and family on Georgia’s rivers every weekend, so he decided to turn this passion into guided trips. You’ll find Scott’s tours informative and fun. His dates for spring are not set, but call him to reserve your spot.

And for those looking for kayak lessons, KayakClassesGA teaches technique and safety, both essential for anyone looking to dip into the sport. Gift certificates can be purchased for $99 until December 31. The instructor, John Miller, leads beginner whitewater or flatwater classes and useful swift whitewater rescue and wilderness first responder classes.

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