Alright, so it’s 2018! Does anyone else feel… absolutely no different? I mean, one day it’s 2017, the next day it’s 2018. I am the same person.
Cleary, I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. The way I see it, the new year is really just an opportunity to ogle the newest Women of Climbing Calendar and test how quickly I can adapt to writing new numbers on dates (answer: not very quickly). But one thing I do love about entering a new year is checking out all the upcoming events focused on getting outside; and with a rise in interest in the outdoors, more festivals keep springing up. I like to call these EPIC ADVENTURE GATHERINGS!!!!!
Each year, industries in the outdoors offer amazing opportunities to get all us outdoor nerds together. From the somewhat obscure to the nationally renowned, there are dozens of events offered throughout the year to get you psyched on the outdoors.
I’ve gathered a personal list of the EPIC ADVENTURE GATHERINGS I’ll be keeping an eye on each month in 2018. This is just my personal list, and I’m sharing it to ignite an interest in others. If you aren’t sure when to take a vacation, or don’t know what to do with a week off, check out my list for inspiration! Go meet people with similar interests, or better yet, meet people who can teach you a new hobby. Some of them are already sold out or booked up, some are just dates to keep on your radar, and others haven’t even started registration or posted a schedule yet. Start your planning, and spread the word of #EpicAdventure Gathering to your friends. Nothing like a road trip to a great big party in the middle of the mountains, amiright? Without further ado…
2018’s Epic Adventure Gatherings
January: Outdoor Retailer’s Snow Show
Outdoor Retailer is the largest outdoor expo + demo in the country, and this year they are joining forces with the Snow Show. This epic, six-day event is capped by a two-day On-Snow demo in beautiful Denver, CO. Hundreds of outdoor retailers and companies gather to share their product – and the stoke – with outdoor enthusiasts and snow gurus. One important thing about OR + Snow Show: you have to be affiliated with a retail company, be a company, or be part of the media to attend.
February: Hueco Rock Rodeo
Wondering what Texas could possibly offer you? Well, stop wondering, and take a look at the American Alpine Club’s Hueco Rock Rodeo, hosted at the Hueco Rock Ranch just outside El Paso. Winter desert getaway? Check. Cheap tattoos and funky haircuts? Check. World class bouldering? Check-it-y-check-check-check. Hueco Tanks State Historic site boasts some of the most amazing bouldering and scenery, and every year, the AAC hosts the largest outdoor bouldering competition in America. You can register as a competitor or a spectator; but register soon! The park is highly regulated and spots fill up quick.
Flash Foxy, a women’s climbing community, hosts this annual festival to bring female climbers together. Veteran and newbie climbers alike can gather to climb in Bishop, CA and attend concerts, film showings, demos, and lectures. Note that the WCF is for women and anyone who identifies as female only. Sorry, rock jocks. See you at the crag another time.
5Point Adventure Films host festivals around the country, and each year they invite artists and filmmakers to present their work in Carbondale, CO. In their words: “we avoid films solely about hucking yourself off a cliff and love films with a story and a human element and our best films embody our five guiding principles.” Those principles, in case you are curious, are respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance. This festival is art and nature in it’s best form, run by people who care about our environment and our community.
May: Whistler’s GO Fest
Whistler’s Great Outdoors Festival, or GO Fest, invites participants to try their hand at a variety of activities that celebrate the outdoors. From new sports to local art and culture, this weekend festival is all about appreciating the great outdoors.
June: NATIONAL TRAILS DAY!
Alright, so this isn’t a festival or event per se, but HELLO!!! NATIONAL TRAIL DAYS!!! National Trails Day is the first Saturday in June, so this year it falls on June 2nd. The American Hiking Society has a nifty tool to find or plan events near you. So get out there and celebrate our trails!!!
North America’s Largest Outdoor Trade Show (as Outdoor Retailer touts on their website) is back again this year! This enormous showing of brands, events, and gear is the catalyst for many new partnerships, and the place to meet the best and brightest in gear design and marketing. Just like the Snow Show, you need to be affiliated with an outdoor brand or be involved in media. Start making those connections, because registration is open now!
August: National Park Service Birthday!
August 25th is the National Park Service’s Birthday, and admittance to all National Parks is FREE!!! Check out the link above to find events at parks near to you, or across the country. Just remember: this birthday party is BYOCake.
September: 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell
If the laid back, comp-focused Rock Rodeo sounds too mainstream to you, you’ll want to check out 24HHH. This 12- and 24- hour climbing competition at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas draws the craziest of climbing teams to rope up, and climb as much as they can in the time allotted. If that doesn’t sound like a bad enough idea, free tattoos, crazy haircuts, bartering, a mandatory winner’s slip-n-slide, and an all-out dance rave are waiting at the delirious end. I’ve had friends attend, and they are all in agreement: this is very much Type II fun.
October: Leavenworth Oktoberfest
October marks the beginning of Oktoberfests around the country, and if you’re a mountain love in the PNW, Leavenworth is the place to go. Leavenworth, WA is a Bavarian tourist town located in the beautiful Cascade mountain range, and home to climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting. Leavenworth was fully designed to look like an old German town, complete with alpine roofs and extra “e”s at the end of words. Before you start rolling your eyes (it’s a tourist trap, I know), check out some of the photos: this place is beautiful, and their selection of wine, beer, and food is not half bad. Come October, Leavenworth puts on a festival of music, beer, and food in the heart of the town. This Oktoberfest lasts three weekends, and tickets start at just $10, but that won’t include drink tickets or lodging. While hotels are pricey and fill up quickly, numerous campgrounds up Icicle Creek offer more affordable options. However, these also fill up come Saturday morning – so try to get there on Friday. The drive up Icicle Creek is winding and long, so designate a driver if you go that route.
Having hosted successful climbing festivals in Bishop, CA, Flash Foxy is expanding the WCF to include the east coast this year!
December: Bozeman Ice Fest
Full disclosure: I’m not an ice climber, and have zero plans to ever try ice climbing. But Bozeman Ice Fest keeps popping up on my radar, and for good reason. Started in 1996, this comp and festival is aimed at protecting ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon. So if you’re into being cold and potentially giving your partner a concussion by throwing ice down on them, check out BIF. It seems like a really, really good place to get started or dig your heels in to ice climbing.
And that will bring us out of 2018! Did I miss any festivals or events that you’re excited about? Anything you think I’d like? What’s your favorite outdoor festival or event? Drop a comment below!
None of the photos above are my own. Please click on the photos to obtain additional information about the photographers and the sites from where they came.