Need some inspiration for your next outdoor adventure? Or maybe you’d rather experience the great outdoors in the comfort of your own home? One of the best ways to get motivated to work out, get out or just relax and enjoy the moment, is to watch a movie that moves you!
Whether you’re in the mood for something adventurous and daring, humorous and fun, emotionally driven, or just looking to take in the beauty and wonder of the world we live in… there is no shortage of exceptional films. And as luck would have it, we’ve compiled some of our staff’s favorite movies about the outdoors… with a little something for everyone.
What You'll Learn
- 13 Best Movies About Getting Outdoors in Nature
- Final Thoughts on Movies About the Outdoors
13 Best Movies About Getting Outdoors in Nature
Firstly, if you haven’t read the classic book The Call of the Wild by Jack London, I highly recommend it. I read it as a kid and re-reading it even today always reminds me to appreciate nature more. Of course, since the film stars Harrison Ford, this might be one of your biggest motivators for viewing it.
The Call of the Wild is one of the most outstanding movies about the outdoors. Harrison Ford plays John Thornton and Terry, a Cirque du Soleil performer, underwent a digital transformation to play the St. Bernard mix, Buck. The film centers around this dog with a big heart and how the canine goes from enjoying the comforts of a California home to living in the exotic 1890s Alaskan Yukon wilds. Buck joins the mail-delivery sled team and cultivates a genuine sense of belonging in the wilderness.
2. Free Solo
For those who like danger, Free Solo can be a great movie to hold your interest. Free solo climbing may also be called free soloing. This is where free soloists do rock or ice climbing alone without protective equipment, harnesses or ropes. This makes it essential for climbers to rely on skill, strength, and preparation.
Free Solo is about how Alex Honnold, a professional rock climber, ventures the first free solo climb of Yosemite National Park’s 900-meter vertical rock face called El Capitan. This is Alex’s lifelong dream and a celebrated athletic feat. Not only is the rock climber’s story an inspiration to us all, but this is an achievement that exceeds how we perceive human potential on a mental and physical level.
If you’ve ever had the desire to escape from your problems by going on a nature hike, then this movie might be perfect for you. It can provide you with a reason to be positive and focus on an engaging plot. Drama and adventure combine with one woman’s tragedies to create a thoughtful and moving film.
In Wild, one of the top wilderness films, Reese Witherspoon is Cheryl Strayed, and Laura Dern is Cheryl’s mother. Cheryl faces the end of a marriage, the loss of a mother, and a downward spiral. In an attempt to stop self-destructive behavior in its tracks, Strayed decides to hike the tough Pacific Crest Trail alone, which is a serious challenge.
4. 127 Hours
One fear every mountaineer can likely relate to is having to consider amputating an arm to save oneself from a dire situation. This can be a difficult decision to make and it can be the difference between living and dying. But hopefully, you won’t be forced to deal with this problem in your life.
James Franco plays Aron Ralston, an adventurer and mountaineer, who heads to a remote Utah canyon to do some exploring. While there, Aron’s arm becomes trapped by a boulder that falls on it. Within five days, Ralston realizes a harrowing decision must be made: stay and die or amputate the arm and go free.
5. The Cove
As an animal lover, I can’t imagine witnessing something so heinous as a mass slaughter of innocent dolphins. I’m sure you can probably identify with how I feel. If not, this film might cause you to be deeply affected by the distress of these sociable creatures too. No matter what, films such as The Cove have the power to teach us all a lesson in gaining empathy for every animal, human or not.
The Cove is a heartbreaking documentary about how a group of adventurers, including director Louie Psihoyos and activist Richard O’Barry, infiltrated the secure area around the Taiji Cove in Japan. This allowed the team to obtain dreadful footage of countless dolphins being slaughtered. Attempting to expose the brutal practices of local fishermen means O’Barry and the team must be ready to risk life and limb.
6. White Fang
White Fang is another admirable novel written by Jack London in 1906 that was turned into a movie. Watching movies about the outdoors is one way to have an adventure without actually going anyplace. Plus, the book was one of the finest novels I’ve ever read.
White Fang was made in 1991 and it’s all about the unlikely friendship between a wolfdog and a Klondike gold prospector. The entire family can enjoy this wilderness tale featuring Ethan Hawke as Jack Conroy. Jed played the wolfdog and made appearances in films such as The Journey of Natty Gann (1985) and The Thing (1982).
When you have a hankering for cowboys, Indians, and great western films, you might want to turn to John Wayne. My personal favorite John Wayne movie is The Searchers. Despite the drama, it makes me want to experience country life more fully and I feel as though you might feel the same way.
In The Searchers, the Comanches kidnap the niece of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), murder this girl’s family, and burn down the family’s home. Natalie Wood played Debbie, the niece, and Jeffrey Hunter starred as Martin Pawley, the adopted brother. Jeffrey and Ethan journey into dangerous Comanche territory to bring back Debbie. Other John Wayne movies you might like are The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rio Bravo, and Stagecoach, among others.
One thing that could persuade you to love nature is frontier life. People who lived this type of life faced difficulties and hard work on a daily basis. When you go on a hike, trek, or do another nature activity, you may encounter challenges that can be difficult in similar ways to frontier life.
In Dances with Wolves, John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) becomes an intolerable military aberration after befriending Native Americans and wolves. Dunbar is assigned to a western Civil War outpost in a remote area. Not only did Costner star in this film, but the actor produced and directed it. Further, Mary McDonnell and Graham Greene played roles.
9. Cast Away
If you’ve ever had dreams of surviving being stuck on a deserted island, in the mountains, or somewhere similar, you might want to add Castaway to your list of movies to see. Although I’ve personally had this aspiration, I’d rather it stay in my imagination. On the other hand, I have been in dire situations, as many of us have, so I can definitely relate to this well-made movie.
Chuck Noland, a.k.a. Tom Hanks, used to be a FedEx executive until crash landing on a deserted island. This forces Chuck to undergo an emotional and physical transformation to make ends meet. Inspired by real-world explorers’ lives, Cast Away is one of those movies about the outdoors that can make you think about overcoming life’s tragedies.
Those who could benefit from watching movies about the outdoors infused with humor might take pleasure in The Great Outdoors. Indeed, if you have an ongoing feud with another couple, you can forget about the drama and have something to laugh at. You can put this on before you go on a camping trip or when you don’t feel like taking life seriously.
The Great Outdoors is an outdoorsy flick starring John Candy as Chet Ripley, Stephanie Faracy as Connie the wife, and the couple’s two kids. But when Connie’s brother-in-law Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd), Craig’s wife Kate (Annette Bening), and the two kids drop by for the family’s weekend vacation in Wisconsin, the Ripley’s serene fishing weekend turns awkward.
Let’s face it, our pets probably aren’t mind readers. Now imagine you leave your beloved dog, cat, or another animal alone at home. Chances are Fido won’t understand why you’re gone or even if you’ll ever come back. This film shows what can happen if your animals are home alone.
In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, the Seavers make plans to head to San Francisco for a vacation. Therefore, the family decides to leave the hilarious cat Sassy, the wise golden retriever Shadow, and the American bulldog with an adventurous side called Chance, with a friend. Before long, the pets begin to worry that the family will never come back. This leads the three on a journey to get back home.
As outdoor thrillers and movies about the outdoors go, I think Cliffhanger could be placed somewhere at the top. It has action, adventure, criminals, stranded hikers, and more to keep almost anyone entertained. You can try watching this whenever life gets boring and you need something to intoxicate you.
In Cliffhanger, a group of criminals endures a plane crash in the Rocky Mountains and loses $100 million. Additionally, a former mountain rescuer named Gabe Walker decides to help stranded hikers, only to discover the criminals are actually violent robbers who are trying to uncover the location of missing money. Cast members include Sylvester Stallone, Michael Rooker, John Lithgow, and Janine Turner.
Since most of us can only imagine how it feels to try to survive at the peak of a mountain in a blizzard, the story of Everest can keep us on the edge of our seats. The challenge can be simply unimaginable, even for the most experienced climbers. While it may seem impossible, this film is based on the real-life 1996 Mount Everest disaster.
Everest features climbers Josh Brolin and Jason Clarke, who belong to two expeditions. On May 10, 1996, these teams began the final ascent of Mount Everest’s summit. Consequently, one of the harshest blizzards man has ever encountered struck Mount Everest, which is the highest point on the planet. This event leads the expedition on a journey of survival against freezing temperatures and blistering winds.
Final Thoughts on Movies About the Outdoors
All things considered, these fantastic movies about the outdoors may be enough to give you the thrill you desire… but there’s nothing like getting out there to see for yourself! You can even watch a film to inspire yourself before workouts or anytime you’d like.
Besides this, these motion pictures can be action-packed enough to view alone or with a family member or friend. And if this list gave you the kickstart you’ve been looking for to try something new, you might want to consider the benefits of trekking.