The great outdoors is calling you. And who better to explore it with than your favorite outdoor equipment retailer, REI? REI was proud to announce that it was expanding its burgeoning partnership with the National Parks Foundation back in 2015 and the start of the REI National Parks Programs.
What exactly do these programs entail?
REI wants to help people experience the parks at a deeper level of intensity. They aim to foster a more intimate understanding and appreciation of the delicate balance of nature that occupies the parks.
REI is currently working to boost awareness and interest in national parks through digital programs and charitable donations.
Read on to discover exactly how REI is doing its part for our parks, and learn how you can benefit from the programs offered in the process.
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REI National Parks Programs Help National Parks and the People Who Love Them
No matter what state you’re in, you can explore a national park.
With over 59 national parks in the country, there’s bound to be one that suits your tastes. REI wants to help you get there.
They also want to give back to the National Parks Foundation with a variety of investments and donations.
How REI Gives Back to National Parks
REI made some significant donations through their REI Adventures program. The REI National Parks programs have an offset that specifically targets our parks system, offering a number of trips led by expert guides across the nation.
REI launched The Adventures program in order to connect the REI co-op community and aspiring hikers around the world with the awe-inspiring nature that can be found only in our national parks.
For each trip purchased in 2016, REI donated 10 percent of the retail price to the National Parks Foundation.
REI is also a vendor of national parks passes. Through 2018, REI has pledged to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from America the Beautiful national parks passes to the foundation.
In 2017, REI and the National Parks Foundation received a Halo Award for their combined efforts to increase park awareness and give through donations.
The REI National Parks programs have invested over 76 million dollars into the preservation and maintenance of our outdoor world since 1976.
Have you dreamt of exploring nature through our national parks and didn’t know where to start? Not sure how to make the most of your time roughing it in the great outdoors?
Adventures is one of the most popular REI National Parks programs because of the vast options for travel. You can choose from a wide number of trips, including women’s backpacking trips in the Smokey Mountains or kayaking in the Southern California desert.
You can also choose trips focusing on cycling, hiking, mountain biking, and even gravel riding. The trips range as far north as cruises to Alaska to the Florida Everglades.
And don’t worry if you think you’re too old or too out of shape, because they have a program for every age group and fitness level. You can even spend your vacation as a volunteer steward at Yosemite — our very first National Park.
The Dirtbag Diaries Podcast
One of the more entertaining ways that REI supports our National Parks is by connecting with listeners of the Dirtbag Diaries podcast.
Photographer Pete McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko embarked on a journey to hike over 700 miles to rally support for the protection of the Grand Canyon. Part of the REI National Parks Programs sponsors their podcast. You can listen to their stories about the hike and other adventures at Soundcloud.
America the Beautiful National Parks Pass
One of the other REI National Parks programs is their park pass program. As mentioned earlier, REI donates 10 percent of all the sales to the National Parks Foundation.
The pass gives you unlimited access to all the parks for an entire year. And best of all, for those that charge per-person entrance fees, the pass covers up to four adults per vehicle.
You can use it at any of the sites managed by the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, too.
NPS Gear from REI
REI is well known for its stylish outdoor gear. Now, you can get apparel and merch branded with your favorite national park. And REI National Parks programs donate 10 percent of the retail price to the park foundation.
How about a cool shirt covered in Joshua trees promoting the Reyn Spooner Joshua Tree National Park? Or chill out around the campfire, drinking cocoa from your NPS mug.
REI Outdoor School
One of our favorite REI National Parks programs is its “outdoor school.” If you want to try a new outdoor sport or activity and aren’t sure how to get started, this is the program for you.
Along with its Adventures programs, REI hosts skills classes and outings across the country. Add new skills like navigation, nature photography, even wildcraft medicine.
REI holds classes in national parks, local parks, and store locations across the country.
REI National Parks Programs Connects You with Nature Through Their Digital Sources
Want to explore our national parks?
There’s an app for that.
Well, two apps.
REI has hand-tailored these digital guides in order to inform the general public of park-related activities, programs, and open adventure.
The programs also aim to help motivate Americans to immerse themselves in the great outdoors.
So what’s the deal?
The Hiking Project App
The Hiking Project App is an app for the avid explorers among us. It offers up information on hikes in the area based on your location. Simply turn on your location, and you’ll see a list of the best hikes around.
There are over 74,000 miles of hiking trails uploaded onto the app — that’s a lifetime of discovery at your fingertips.
The app is constantly updating and changing with new information. As more trails are reported, they are added to the database.
REI understands that when you need your map the most, you may not have any cell phone reception. That’s why the hiking project maps work both on and offline, showing you exactly where you are on the trail of your choice. All you have to do is download the map beforehand.
The app is completely free and open for users of both Android and iPhone.
REI Co-Op Guide to National Parks App
Another one of the REI National Parks programs is their National Parks App, an informative guide on getting the most out of your visit to national parks.
There are a lot of factors to consider when planning your trip, and the app aims to make all that easier. You can search through their list of national parks by location or by what you hope to experience.
The app has all the hiking information you need. You can sort national parks hiking trails by elevation, level of difficulty, and previous hikers’ star ratings.
It also has imperative information on camping, lodging, fees, and tours. Like the hiking app, the parks app works offline in a pinch. Simply download the map you want to use before you go, and it will work — even in the middle of nowhere.
Download the app for free, and have fun in the park!
Get the Most Out of the REI National Parks Programs
REI wants you to get out there and get exploring. Take advantage of their programs to visit national parks across the country. From Yellowstone to the Everglades, there’s a park that fits your needs.
Download the apps to discover why you should go and how you can go about doing it. The usage of our parks is paramount to their preservation. So pick up your cell phone, hop in the car, and get back to nature with one of the REI National Parks programs.
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Featured Image: CC0, by Jon Sullivan, via Wikimedia Commons