You are here

Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Robin Warner | 06.01.2019

What does a year of new adventures look like? And how might those adventures change throughout the months and seasons in a calendar year? With our 12 Months of Adventure content series, we'll be diving into exactly that.

For each month throughout 2019, we'll be highlighting a different outdoor activity/focus and inviting you to follow along and take on a new adventure (or 12). Tapping the expertise of our knowledgeable Contributors, we'll be providing educational resources, how-to tips, and trip ideas and excursions—so you can get out and start racking up adventure time, pronto.


Car camping at Maroon Creek Road amid the peak of the aspen turn. Denis LeBlanc.

12 Months of Adventure: June - Vehicle-Based Camping

May: Trail Running | July: Paddlesports

Summer means it’s time to check adventures off of our must-do lists. Whether you’re attempting another peak, collecting national park stamps, or meeting up with friends, it's time to pack up your car and get going. You never know who you’re going to find, whether you’re pitching a tent on public lands, scouring a national park campground for the last available site, or parking your rig in a rest area for the night. Wherever your summer destinations take you, you’ll find a curious cast of characters—and this is part of the fun of vehicle-based camping, be it by car, trailer or adventure van.

Also known as dispersed camping, the “boondockers” like to camp where no one else goes—and sometimes, directions are obscure. “Go 3 miles past the Lost River turnoff,” they might say. “Turn right on the second unmarked dirt road and drive for 10 to 25 minutes.” With directions like these, finding your boondocking campsite is like hitting the lottery if you arrive after dark.

But boondockers are good—really good. If you’re a boondocker, you’re probably also one of “the efficients.” The efficients can set up their tent in 5 minutes, and they never put the rain fly on backward. They are going to 10 national parks in 18 days on approximately $500. Their kids have checked off 38 different state license plates, and they never complain about having cold cereal for breakfast.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, “the expedients” find a way to make camping as easy as possible, and sleeping in a parking lot is the definition of convenience. Whether in front of a SuperMart, a rest stop off the freeway, or the ski-in, ski-out parking lot on closing day of your local ski resort, parking lots are equal parts ubiquitous and sketchy. The expedients, sleeping in the back of their car with the seats folded down, are either novice or pro travelers. No frills and 100% organized, they would be forever grateful if you shared your dessert.

The land of last resorts, RV parks costas much as a hotel room, but the hot tub makes it worth it to “the tourists.” As you drive in, prepare yourself to gawk at a motorhome bigger than your first apartment. With multiple slides, elevated decks, a satellite dish, fireplace, and two bathrooms, these are dream neighbors: They are fast asleep by 8:00 p.m., and so are you, as long as they’re mindful of their generators.

State and federal public campgrounds are adjacent to some of the most spectacular sites the world has to offer, and they’re all available at the tap of a finger—if you’re one of “the planners.” For these talented and disciplined adventurists, the world is their oyster as long as they are at their computers by 8:00 a.m. on the dot, 6 to 9 months prior to arrival, in order to reserve their spot.

Campgrounds are notoriously filled with families in tiny travel trailers that barely hang on. What was once an organized camp becomes chaos after a raucous night of children has struck. Only stuffed animals are allowed to sit in the camp chairs, and children run around with water guns. Exasperated parents sit on a log with a drink, and the books they planned to read have not been touched.

But none of this matters to old friends, who pass through town the highlight of summer. Maybe because there isn't a spare room, or your dogs don’t get along, beloved friends have been known to end up sleeping on the driveway. It’s not ideal, but it works. Luckily, #vanlife friends are ready and able to pull into the driveway, eat dinner with a titanium spork, and call it a night on their 1,500-thread count organic cotton sheets.

Regardless of how you get there, the outdoors are the joy of summer adventures on the road. Frills, no frills, waterfront or in front of a big-box store, we’re all out here for the same reason: to reconnect to each other and disconnect from the distractions.

Wherever you camp,  have a great summer seeing new places and meeting new faces.

How Tos

Adventure Recommendations

We hope you get inspired by 12 Months of Adventure and are able to take on some new adventures this year. Don't forget to let us know about your spring photo adventures by tagging your photos #12MonthsofAdventure​ on Instagram and by adding a comment/photos in the comments section below. Happy trails!

The 12 Months of Adventure:

From mountaineering to outdoor photography, from paddling pastimes to environmental stewardship, 12 Months of Adventure aims to cover a breadth of interests that connects everyone in a deeper way with the outdoors. Follow along each month with a new 12 Months of Adventure focus:

  1. January: Snowventures
  2. February: Adventure Training/Fitness
  3. March: Photography
  4. April: Mountaineering
  5. May: Running
  6. June: Vehicle-based Camping
  7. July: Paddlesports
  8. August: Mountain Biking
  9. September: Hiking + Backpacking
  10. October: Wildlife + Fishing
  11. November: Conservation, Stewardship + Volunteering
  12. December: Skiing + Snowboarding


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.