We all know that for the most part, getting outdoors is relatively cheap. Even after buying your gear and paying for your park entrance fees and permits, it usually comes out way more affordable than say, a trip to Disney World. That being said, everyone loves to save money where they can. If you’re looking to enjoy the backcountry without dropping much more than a dime, then consider trying these (almost) free activities this summer!
REI Free Class on Basic Skills
REI already has tons of great classes, outings, treks, and adventures all over the world. Most of these classes come at a good price, and are totally worth the time and money. However, if you have little of either, then consider signing up for one of REI’s free courses. They offer them in basic camping skills, basic hiking skills, lightweight backpacking skills, family camping skills, etc. The courses are each about an hour and a half long, and are a great opportunity to learn something and meet others. You just need to reserve your spot.
Nature Hiking Programs in Your State
Every true hiking state has a list of free nature and hiking programs that are offered all throughout the summer. While you won’t expect luxurious backpacking excursions with all your meals and gear provided, you can expect a fun, educational, and meaningful hike in a place close to you. (Or, you can travel to another state and go from there!) For example, Boulder, Colorado offers awesome free hikes, like “Walking Through History on Marshall Mesa,” or a “Roll and Stroll Wheelchair Wildflower Hike.”
Complimentary Kayaking in NY
Free kayaking? Whoever heard of such a thing? Especially in a city like New York, it’s hard to find anything for free, let alone something that costs less than an arm and a leg. Well, there is a god, and he or she would like to provide New Yorkers with spectacular views of the state, via the Hudson waterways. And, it’s all free! Just visit the Downtown Boathouse in New York and let it all soak in! (Just don’t go more than 20 minutes or you might have to buy the entire Hudson River.)
Night Sky Programs in National Parks
There’s nothing quite like seeing all the stars in the sky on a beautiful summer night. And, to do it while being surrounded by like-minded backpackers, all completely for free, is truly an awesome experience. National parks all over the country offer these special Night Sky Programs, astronomy nights, and even the chance to get the hang of a telescope! One popular destination for this kind of thing is Bryce Canyon National Park. Though you’ll still have to pay your park entrance fee, these programs are fully included. Bring the whole family along while you’re at it!
Wildlife in its Natural Element
With a few obvious exceptions like Yellowstone, usually paying too much for wildlife takes the authenticity out of it. (Think, going to a zoo.) However, there are many instances where you can view wildlife for free this summer, just by showing up to their home. Visit the viewing area beside the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas to witness 1.5 million bats flying overhead. Get over to Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, as well as other national parks where the opportunity to get close (but, not too close) to these creatures is one you’ll never forget.
Fly Fishing…No, Free Fishing!
Summertime is a wonderful time to go fishing. While this sport is just great fun overall, if you happen to catch something, then get a free meal in addition to to an exciting day. The Free Fishing in State Parks program is an incentive to get people to go fishing without any license required, in participating states. Just make sure to respect the environment as best as you can.
Not looking to spend too much this summer? Then try one of these (almost) free outdoor activities!