11 Easy Ways to Find Your Next Off-the-Grid Adventure
Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get off your phone and into the wilderness. Even if you don't consider yourself to be very adventurous or outdoorsy, these 11 apps and resources will make it easier than ever to find an off-the-grid adventure with little to no planning.
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Rent a Camper Van and Hit the Road
Want to try out #vanlife? Rent a vintage camper van, buy a road atlas and an $80 annual Interagency pass to cover admission into national parks, forests and monuments across the country, and go for it. For a van with some character, check out Vintage Surfari Wagons in Costa Mesa, Calif., Native Campervans in Denver and Salt Lake City or Turo, which is kind of like the Airbnb of rental cars. Bonus: With Turo, you can put your own car up for rent to earn some extra cash while you’re on vacation.
Go Off-the-Grid With Airbnb’s Quirkier Side
Airbnb recently debuted new search options to make it easy to find extremely unique places to stay, like this tree house in Atlanta. From campers and castles to tiny houses, barns, boats, earth houses and entire islands, you can use Airbnb’s new filters to find exactly the getaway you’re looking for, anywhere in the world. Bonus? Their Experiences offerings make it even easier to find local guides.
Join a Field Trip With Wylder Goods or Your Local Gear Shop
Head to your local outdoor gear shop to see what they’ve got going on this summer, and you’ll likely find them organizing multi-day backpacking or fly fishing trips in your state and beyond. Online retailer Wylder Goods, for example, is taking customers on a five-night “Field Trip” to Alaska this September in partnership with the Salmon Sisters. With the Kachemak Wilderness Lodge as a base camp, a small group maxing out at 10 people will fish for wild salmon, hike to Grewingk Glacier and forage for wild berries.
Actually Go Off-the-Grid in an Earthship
When we talk about going off-grid, what we really mean is a chance to ditch your cell phone and email inbox for some much-needed electronic detoxing. But if you want to actually go off-the-grid, what you’re looking for is an Earthship, or a completely self-sufficient home built from old tires, glass bottles and other recycled and organic materials that gets its energy from the sun and its water from the sky. You’ll find a particularly large community of these unique homes in Taos, New Mexico, where you’ll find some of the best sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see. Make reservations through Airbnb or Earthship Biotecture, which designs and builds Earthships.
Plan a Spontaneous Adventure in a New City
Add a little spontaneity to a summer vacation by leaving your destination up to chance. First, pick a budget and a date range. Then, sign up for cheap flight alerts from sites like Just Get Out of Town and Scott’s Cheap Flights. Book the first flight within your budget that falls on the dates you picked out. Great American Country has guides to destinations across the country, so you won’t have any trouble figuring out what to do once you’ve got your location.
Find Outdoor Adventure at Pursuit Series
Always wanted to try mountain biking or rock climbing, but never had anyone to go with? Try out dozens of activities at the Pursuit Series, which is like sleepaway adventure camp for grown-ups. For three days and nights, you can camp (or glamp) under the stars, enjoy s’mores and cocktails and craft your own schedule from a massive list of activities like yoga classes, mountain biking clinics, rock climbing lessons, standup paddleboarding, hikes, trail runs, backcountry cooking classes, wilderness first aid and survival sessions and intro to backpacking. There are two Pursuit Series events this year, in New York and California. No worries if you’ve never been camping or you have no idea how to pack a backpack—Pursuit is the best place for you to learn and make new friends who will gladly hit the trail with you for many years to come.
Find an Epic Campsite on The Dyrt
Search public and private campgrounds wherever you’re headed with The Dyrt, which consolidates camping options all in one place. You can also read and write reviews of campgrounds so you know what you’re getting into even before you arrive. If you really want to get out there into the wilderness, or if you’re on a super tight budget, you can also find dispersed camping in National Forests and Bureau of Land Management sites across the country. Freecampsites.net is a good place to start, but the local ranger station will have the best advice on availability, fire restrictions and any road closures you should know about.
Glamp With Under Canvas and Hipcamp
Bring your glamping game to the next level with Under Canvas and Hipcamp. Under Canvas, pictured here, has built elaborate canvas wall base camps near national parks like Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and Zion, where you can sleep under the stars in style. On Hipcamp, you can search and book campsites and unique accommodations—like treehouses, yurts and Airstream campers—on private property that previously hasn't been available to vacationers. What sets Hipcamp aside from Airbnb is that it’s completely focused on sites in and near gorgeous wilderness areas that will make you want to put your hiking boots on, stat. If you’ve got a spot of your own you want to turn into some vacation money, you can easily become a host yourself, too.
Rent a Wilderness Fire Lookout
The National Forest Service has turned many out-of-service fire lookouts into nature’s own (very) rustic bed-and-breakfasts (breakfast not included). You can book quite a few pretty easily, through recreation.gov, but check with visitors’ bureaus in states you’re interested in visiting for additional options.
Head Out on a Women-Only Trip With REI
If you want to adventure with a group of brand-new girlfriends, REI’s got you covered. Their Outessa retreats are like all-women summer camps, where you settle into a base camp and pick your daily activities from a long list of options. This year, Outessa will at Squaw Valley Resort in Tahoe in August and Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire in September. REI Adventures also runs women-only trips all around the world with female guides, from backpacking trips in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, to safaris in South Africa, to kayak and SUP trips in Baja and more.
Adventure in Your Own City With Questival and Outessafest
You don’t have to go far, spend a lot of money or even go completely off-the-grid to have an amazing summer adventure. Outdoor festivals are growing in popularity as the outdoorist’s answer to music festivals. Watch events calendars in local magazines in your state and city, and keep an eye on your favorite gear brands, too. Cotopaxi, for example, runs 24-hour scavenger hunts called Questivals in major cities across the U.S., where participants race the clock to complete as many tasks as possible, like hugging a llama, going for a hike or eating Peruvian food. REI is debuting Outessafest this year—a one-day version of their popular retreats—and their stores also offer loads of single-day outdoorsy events like rock climbing and mountain biking clinics for people of all ages. Your city or state likely also has a hiking club that arranges outings, like the Colorado Mountain Club or Carolina Mountain Club. The American Hiking Society lists hundreds of such organizations on its website. Nationwide organizations with local chapters across the U.S. include Outdoor Women’s Alliance, Hike It Baby and Outdoor Afro.