As an avid camper my perfect summer would consist of rugged forests, secluded trails, hidden sandy beaches and a night so quiet and still, you can hear your own thoughts. Commercial camping is great, but it also comes with its own set of problems. Over-crowded campsites where you’re shoulder to shoulder to the campers in the neighbouring site can lessen the experience. Swimming is often not an option unless you want to get up at four in the morning to get a spot on the beach. The sounds of young people partying into the night and other campers’ conversations become the soundtrack to your weekend in paradise. In short, most people don’t get the experience that they dream up.
Hipcamp wants to change this—by doing for camping, what Airbnb did for vacation rentals. The aim is to make places available that no one has had access to before. According to Hipcamp, over 60 per cent of the United States is privately owned.
The idea is not only to open up camping but also to reap the benefits that outdoor recreation can bring to private land. In an article for Indefinitely Wild, Hipcamp explains that it is essential that land remains undeveloped so that wilderness habitats, and corridors that allow plants and animals to thrive and migrate can be maintained. “By connecting landowners who want to keep their land undeveloped with responsible, ecologically minded campers, we can use recreation to fund the conservation of this land.”
Hipcamp currently covers 32 states and 5,814 campgrounds. The site helps land owners figure out insurance, fix up their facilities and looks to make the experience smooth and easy for both campers and hosts. Once you sign up, you can search for and browse available spots with high quality pictures and descriptions. Like Airbnb, Hipcamp encourages campers and hosts to rate and review each other.
In an article for Indefinitely Wild, Wes Siler talks about his first-time experience with Hipcamp. Siler and his friends booked from Betty Withrow, who has lived in the mountains of Big Sur for 43 years. “She’s six miles down a rough dirt road, in a little hollow it takes serious effort to find, even with a map and directions,” writes Siler. “With mature apple, plum, fig and avocado trees, not to mention the redwoods that surround her property, it’s about as close to heaven as you’ll likely find on God’s green earth. Rugged mountains come crashing down into the sea, covered in oaks up top and redwoods as you get lower down. Somewhere in between the ridges covered in golden grass, persistent marine layer clouds and rocky coast line there’s real magic. No better sunset exists anywhere on earth.”
Siler’s experience is one that campers dream of, yet seldom find. Hipcamp hopes to deliver these experiences to campers—connecting nature lovers with the unkempt and peaceful hidden places of the world.