Canoe Outdoors

For a lot of us—it’s that time of year, again.

Winter is lingering and the lake-ice has yet to begin to melt. The only way to make it through the shoulder season is sit and watch some classic outdoor movies.

Here are 21 of my top picks for easing the winter blues:

The Yearling (1946)

The YearlingThe Yearling

Set in the wilds of Florida after the Civil War, a young boy takes in an injured fawn. It’s not as sad as Old Yeller (1957), but keep a couple of Kleenex boxes beside you just in case.

The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

The Long Long TrailerThe Long Long Trailer

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez play newlyweds travelling the open road with their trailer (before we called them RVs). Any RV owner will definitely relate to all the calamities, but the funniest scene has to be when Lucille’s rock collection rolls around while Desi tries to drive up a steep mountain slope.

My Side of the Mountain (1969)

My Side of the MountainMy Side of the Mountain

A young boy leaves his home in New York to live in the mountains just as his literary hero did, Henry David Thoreau.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

Jeremiah JohnsonJeremiah Johnson

A mountain man's quest for life as a hermit in the wilderness. Don’t we all want to live like Robert Redford at times?

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (1974)

Grizzly AdamsGrizzly Adams

The story was loosely based on a trapper, John Capen, who escapes to the wilderness after being wrongly accused of a murder and then befriends a grizzly bear cub. The movie spawned a television series—that is until the main actor, Dan Haggerty, got busted for cocaine abuse.

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1975)

The Adventures of Wilderness FamilyThe Adventures of Wilderness Family

An entire family decides to escape the smog and congestion of Los Angles—the Robinson family head to the Canadian Rocky Mountains to live a much simpler life. There were two sequels: The Further Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1978) and Mountain Family Robinson (1979). 

Meatballs (1979)


Wacky hijinks of camp councilors, including comic genius Bill Murray, highlight pranks and chasing girls more then the love of the woods—but its still worth watching again.

Continental Divide (1981)

Continental DivideContinental Divide

John Belushi is a hard-nosed Chicago journalist covering a story about an eagle researcher and falls in love with her, and with the mountains she calls home.

The Man from Snowy River (1982)

The Man from Snowy RiverThe Man from Snowy River

Filmed in the mountains of Australia. Its more about a boy becoming a man than it is about wilderness values, but the scenery is unforgettable. 

Never Cry Wolf (1983)

Never Cry WolfNever Cry Wolf

A government biologist is sent to the far north to study the “menacing” wolf population and learns of their true benefit to nature, and the “menacing” nature of man himself.

Waterwalker (1984)


A Canadian canoeist, author and filmmaker created a documentary of a canoe trip along the rugged shore of Lake Superior and inland rivers. It was nominated for a Genie Award and is now thought of as the best canoe film ever made.

The Great Outdoors (1988)

The Great OutdoorsThe Great Outdoors

Chet (John Candy) takes his family on vacation to a rundown resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin. This movie has it all: man-eating grizzly, raccoons in the garbage, leeches and a bothersome brother-in-law, Roman Craig (Dan Ackroyd).

Black Robe (1991)

Black RobeBlack Robe 

Follows the life of 17th century Jesuit priest as he’s escorted through the wilderness of Quebec.

Homeward Bound (1993)

Homeward BoundHomeward Bound

Two dogs and a cat head out across the wilds of California to reunite with their owners. On their way, they learn how to outwit porcupines, bears and mountain lions. 

Without a Paddle (2004)

Without a PaddleWithout a Paddle

Three young men go on a camping trip to fulfill their childhood promise to one-another; a trip that goes horribly and hilariously wrong.

Alone in the Wilderness (2004)

 Alone in the WildernessAlone in the Wilderness

In 1967 Dick Proenneke set out into the Alaskan Wilderness at the age of 50 and built his log cabin on the shores of Twin Lakes. He lived there for 30 years and filmed his day-to-day life at the cabin. This is truly an amazing film.

The Last Trapper (2006)

The Last TrapperThe Last Trapper

The main actor, Norman Winter, plays himself as one of the last traditional trappers living in the interior of the Yukon. The scenery captured on film is stunning, but Norman makes a far better trapper than actor.

Happy People (2010)

Happy PeopleHappy People

An inspirational documentary illuminating how a group of people living in a remote village in Siberia can be some of the happiest people on Earth.

Mile. Mile and a Half (2013)

Mile. Mile and a Half.Mile. Mile and a Half.

A group of friends backpack the legendary John Muir Trail. It’s definitely one of the best documentaries shot in the High Sierras and is a must for any aspiring through-hiker.

Wild (2014)


A woman heads out to through-hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone in hopes to deal with her harsh past. It may inspire you to do the same.

A Walk in the Woods (2015)

A Walk in the WoodsA Walk in the Woods

It’s not as good as the book, but it’s still a solid movie to inspire you to get outside. Author Bill Bryson (played by Robert Redford), decides to hike the full Appalachian Trail. Joining him is an out-of-shape friend, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), whose humorous character makes both the movie and book.