Canyon Lake Named one of the "10 Best Outdoorsy Places to Retire"

If you like hiking, biking, or walking, these spots are for you
By Kimberly Palmer
Posted July 31, 2008

Link to actual U.S. News & World Report

Retirees who love the outdoors get more than just enjoyment out of hiking, bird-watching, and kayaking. They also get exercise that improves their quality of life.

"As we age, we stop doing things that used to be fun, like partying all night and other carnal pleasures. So we have to find other things that are fun, and competition is so much fun," says Ruth Heidrich, author of A Race for Life. At 73, Heidrich spends up to three hours a day swimming, running, and biking. She recently won a 10K in her age group (she was the only competitor) and has finished six Ironman triathlons.

To help other retirees find outdoor havens, U.S. News drilled into our Best Places to Retire database and came up with a top 10 list, which includes the watersport-friendly Hilo, Hawaii, not far from Heidrich's home in Honolulu. (If you disagree with our list, feel free to offer your own suggestions in the comments below. For a photo gallery of the cities, click here.)

Many of the picks are located near national and state parks. Winchester, Va., for example, is near Shenandoah National Park. Bill Jones, 84, and his wife chose to live in Winchester partly because of its proximity to the park, where Jones volunteers to maintain trails and camps with his grandchildren. The retired chemist and World War II veteran also volunteers with local groups dedicated to cleaning up local streams and helped establish a walking trail that highlights native plants.

Seniors age 62 and over are eligible for a $10 lifetime pass to national parks. The pass provides free access for the holder and three accompanying adults. Many parks also welcome volunteers to staff information desks, serve as campground hosts, and monitor trails, as Jones does.

Bob Kuhns, 65, enjoyed volunteering at the information desk at Shenandoah National Park so much that he now works as a seasonal staff member. He lives inside the park for part of the year alongside younger workers and also serves as a volunteer photographer of the park's trails and events. "It's a lifetime dream," the former IBM employee says. He first visited the park back in 1956. He can remember wanting to be a ranger even then. "I love helping people be happy in the park," Kuhns says.

Further south, hiking paths, waterfalls, and caves at Rickwood Caverns are a short drive from Center Point, Ala. Visitors can get close to stalactite and stalagmite formations while looking at fossils inside the caverns, or take a leisurely stroll around one of the hiking trails.

Juneau, Alaska, provides a jumping-off point for hiking, rafting, kayaking, and rock climbing. And Juneau isn't far from Glacier Bay National Park, home to massive glaciers. Those looking to stay in the lower 48 can consider taking up surfing and scuba diving at Carlsbad State Beach near Carlsbad, Calif. Over on the East Coast, South Burlington, Vt., near Adirondack Park and the Green Mountains, offers hiking and colorful New England autumns.

In Montana, Glacier National Park offers scenic day hikes and, for the more ambitious, mountainous backpacking trips. The park is just north of Kalispell. Further south, two big national parks, Bryce Canyon and Zion, are easy day-trip destinations from Cedar City, Utah. Those who appreciate the dry air and mountains of the Southwest might enjoy Tanque Verde, Ariz., located near Saguaro National Park. The park is home to a diverse range of plants and wildlife, including its namesake, the saguaro cactus. Canyon Lake, Texas, hosts a variety of water activities, like boating and fishing, as well as relaxing walks along the shore.

Many cities, including those not on the top 10 list, have hiking and outdoors groups that organize activities for retirees. John Bregar, 60, lives in Durango, Colo., where he spends time bird-watching, mountain climbing, and skiing. He does many of the activities with Seniors Outdoors!, a group with over 400 members that helps organize trips.

Heidrich recommends biking and swimming as among the best exercises for seniors. Both, she says, are most fun when done outside.

Ten great outdoorsy places to retire:

Canyon Lake, Texas
Carlsbad, Calif.
Cedar City, Utah
Center Point, Ala.
Hilo, Hawaii
Juneau, Alaska
Kalispell, Mont.
South Burlington, Vt.
Tanque Verde, Ariz.
Winchester, Va.

Canyon Lake, Texas

Total population
Average January/July temperatures
49.0° / 83.1°
Median home price
$ 134,330
Annual Precipitation
36.46 in. /yr.

This city is the “Water Recreation Capital of Texas.”

Canyon Lake experiences warm summers and mild winters.
Cultural Attractions
Canyon Lake is the site of the largest dinosaur tracks in the state, and the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country.
The city is located in the Texas hill country, north of San Antonio and southwest of Austin.
Though the Canyon Dam, which sparked the area’s development, was finished in the mid-1960s, the city was not recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau as a distinct community until 1980.
Canyon Lake and the Guadalupe River provide ample opportunities for water activities.

Location Details

Average January high/low temperature (?)
60.4 ° / 37.6 °
Average July high/low temperature (?)
94.7 ° / 71.4 °
Precipitation (?)
36.46 in. /yr.
Index score for various storm types
Cost of Living
Median home price
$ 134,330
Median household income
Maximum state income tax
State sales tax
8.25 %
Recreational & Cultural Activities
Area of square miles of parkland/greenspace
3.118 mi.²
Number of public golf courses within the county
Number of private golf courses within the county
Number of sports teams within the county
Number of movie theaters within the county
Number of libraries within the county
Number of museums within the county
Number of college and universities that reside within the county
Population & Demographics
Total population
Population density
137 people/mi.²
Population trends (Percentage growth/decline of the 55+ population)
74.2% growth
Population over 55
6,615 people
21 % have a college degree
Number of hospitals within the county
Number of clinics within the county
Number of elder care facilities within the county
Information Courtesy of Content of U.S. News & World Report




Canyon Lake Texas is a true hidden treasure of the Central Texas Hill Country. With breathtaking waterfront and lake views; this is the place where many are starting to call home. White tailed deer, foxes, roadrunners, and other wildlife are in abundance in the Texas Hill Country and especially at Canyon Lake. The Texas Hill Country is famous for its hilly terrain, live oak trees, limestone rocks, native animals, and clean fresh air.


Canyon Lake, Texas has so much to offer: Boating/Sailing, Water Skiing, Kayaking, Fishing, Scuba Diving, Helicopter Tours, Parasailing, Hiking, Dining, Shopping, and much more. Canyon Lake is located just forty miles north of San Antonio and twenty-five miles west of New Braunfels and San Marcos.


Canyon Lake has eight Corps of Engineer Public Parks, 23 boat ramps, two marinas, campgrounds, golf course, country club, and yacht club. The lake has a surface area of 8,230 acres and 80 miles of shoreline. Canyon Lake releases water down stream into the famous Guadalupe River.

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