21 Great Colleges For The Nature-Loving Student

Humans were created to enjoy nature. Being outdoors is vital to living a healthy life. For the outdoorsy student, finding a suitable college with outdoor recreation can amplify the college experience.

21 Great Colleges For The Nature-Loving Student

We’ve come up with this list of colleges that will appeal to anyone who enjoys beautiful outdoor spaces. Additionally, this list is timely because the pandemic has had a harmful effect of shutting us inside. 

The Benefits Of Enjoying Nature Go Beyond The Classroom

People, especially young people, need to interact with nature for the physical and mental health benefits. Furthermore, holistic and traditional medical professionals alike stress the importance of engaging in nature. After the year of lockdown, it’s never been more important!

Recently, I learned a former client is facing a brutal struggle with anxiety and depression after postponing fall semester and starting in January. It appears the COVID-19 protocols and severe winter weather contributed to his ability to cope, much less thrive at his dream school. I was shattered to learn that this confident, high-achieving, and outgoing student faced such hardship. But it got me thinking about the importance of colleges that emphasize outdoor spaces and activities.

The Right School Can Make The Great Outdoors More Accessible

Remember, a college can have all the opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature. But students must practice self-care and enjoy the fresh air, even if they must mask up! Remember, sunshine is a natural disinfectant. 

The colleges on this list attract students who I consider athletic and/or outdoorsy, competitive, confident, intelligent, and multi-talented.

Here’s my list with the majors, special programs, and locations that encourage engagement with the natural world.

Please note the color coding for selectivity: blue-selective and green-moderately selective.





Sewanee 3 Programs related to Environment:

  • Archeology
  • Forestry
  • Geology
Certifications in emergency.  Sewanee, TN is near Chattanooga on a mountaintop.
Williams Liberal Arts & Sciences Williams Outing Club sponsors the EPHventure Freshman Orientation Program. Williamstown, MA is near the Berkshire Mountains.
Gonzaga University Liberal Arts, known for it’s D-1 basketball team  Hiking, gorgeous weather year round, skiing nearby Spokane, WA is near Selkirk Mountains.
Syracuse Environmental Engineering and Forestry Syracuse is known for cold weather, but tunnels help students get to and from class. Recreation plays a central role in campus life. Syracuse, NY
Virginia Tech Engineering

Agronomy & Agriculture


Inner tubing, water polo, and hikes within an hour of campus. The parade ground is in the middle of campus. Great hiking trails are right off campus. Blacksburg, VA is in a beautiful valley in the Appalachian & Allegheny Mountains.
Military Academies
Merchant Marine Academy Military Academy Competitive athletics, outdoor adventuring is integral to all student/cadet life. Kings Point, NY
Air Force Academy Military Academy Competitive athletics, outdoor adventuring is integral to all student/cadet life. Colorado Springs, CO
West Point Military Academy Competitive athletics, outdoor adventuring is integral to all student/cadet life. West Point, NY
Naval Academy Military Academy Competitive athletics, outdoor adventuring is integral to all student/cadet life. Annapolis, MD
Coast Guard Academy Military Academy Competitive athletics, outdoor adventuring is integral to all student/cadet life. New London, CT
Texas A&M Galveston Maritime Academy offers Majors in Transportation and Engineering.  Beach clean up teams and Save the Sea Turtles program. Many opportunities to sail, surf, fish, and even sail around the world on the Aggie Clipper. Galveston Island, TX
Texas State University Located in the rolling hills of Texas. There’s even a river running through campus. Near campus is a wake boarding venue that caters to the competitive athletes in this sport. San Marcos, TX
UT El Paso Near the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park El Paso, TX
Stephen F. Austin Any college with Lumberjacks as their mascot bears noting. Forestry is #1 in the country.

Attracts hunters and fishermen.

Nacogdoches, TX
Northern Arizona University In Flagstaff, near The Grand Canyon. Skiing, hiking, snowboarding, and rafting. Flagstaff, AZ
Western Carolina University White water rafting, hiking.
Eckerd College Environmental science are king here, very hands on and personalized education. St. Petersburg, FL
Mississippi State Starkville, MS
Montana State Near Yellowstone National Park. Majors like Paleontology and Archeology. Think digging for dinosaur bones and geysers. Bozeman, MT
Western State In a valley surrounded by the Colorado Western Range. Gunnison, CO
Colorado State Fort Collins, CO

We streamline the college planning and application process (and have a little fun along the way)!

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