Overall participation in outdoor activities dropped .8 percent from 2013 to 2014 to reached its lowest levels since the The Outdoor Foundation began tracking it in 2006.
Extreme weather and an unusually cold winter are likely major contributors to the decline.
While the typically popular gateway activities of running and biking lost participants in 2014, the indoor versions of these activities – running on the treadmill and using the stationary bike – added participants.
Paddle sports are a bright spot in outdoor participation. Stand up paddling continued to be the top outdoor activity for growth, increasing participation by 38 percent from 2013 to 2014. Snow sports, such as telemarking, snowshoeing, freestyle skiing and cross-country skiing, also grew by significant margins.
The findings are part of the Outdoor Foundation's 2015 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, which provides an overview of American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth, young adults and the future of the outdoors. The full Report will be released this summer.
“With a dip in participation numbers, it is more critical than ever that we expand our nationwide efforts to reconnect Americans to the outdoors,” said Christine Fanning, executive director of Outdoor Foundation. “The Outdoor Foundation will continue empowering youth and young adults to lead the outdoor movement, ensuring a generation of outdoor enthusiasts and communities of healthy, active Americans.”
The report found that nearly half of all Americans, 48.4 percent, participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2014. This equates to 141.4 million participants, who went on a collective 11.8 billion outdoor outings.
The Outdoor Foundation® produced the Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report based on an online survey of nearly 11,000 Americans ages six and older and is the largest survey of its kind.
Founded in 2000, the Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through youth engagement, community grant-making, and groundbreaking research, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Foundation has invested $4 million into 785 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 200,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90¢ of every dollar goes directly into this critical work.