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Stories that Inspire

Five Easy Ways to Actually Help the Planet on Earth Day

April 21, 2017
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The planet needs our help year-round, not just on specific holidays. That’s why we need to stop saying we should take care of the environment on Earth Day — let’s actually do it.

You don’t need to chain yourself to an old-growth tree or buy an electric car to start saving the planet either. Just taking an afternoon to pick up trash in your neighborhood, recycling your old clothes, or giving a few dollars a month to a worthwhile non-profit organization helps a lot. The important thing is that we all do something — anything — to help the environment we depend on.

Here are six easy, but effective ways to help the planet this Earth Day:

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Royal’s Rewear Program

The average person in the U.S. throws away about 70 lbs. of clothing and other textiles every year. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this accounts for about 5% of all landfill space in the country. That’s why Royal Robbins started its Rewear Program. You can donate your old clothing — which will be re-worn, reused, recycled, or re-sold — and receive 25% off your next Royal Robbins purchase. All profits from the program go to the Yosemite Conservancy. It’s a win-win for everyone, and it’s as simple as cleaning out your closet and stopping off at the post office instead of the trash can.

Yosemite Conservancy

Royal Robbins’ past, present, and future are inextricably connected with Yosemite National Park. Royal helped pioneer and define clean big-wall climbing on the northwest face of Half Dome and the other giant granite cliffs of Yosemite, and it’s one of America’s most popular parks — so preserving its history and protecting its future is important. One of the easiest ways to do that is by donating to the Yosemite Conservancy. It provides grants to help support the parks’ most urgent needs, like trails and habitat restoration or its Youth in Yosemite programs that introduce hundreds of kids to the great outdoors each year. Helping is as simple as making a one-time gift, or shopping on the Yosemite Conservancy’s online store, where all proceeds go to help the park.

 

Access Fund

One in five climbing areas in the U.S. is currently threatened by access issues — whether that’s private land being sold for development, or climber impacts degrading the environment. The Access Fund is the climbing community’s most influential and effective organization dedicated to help protect and manage these wild places. There’s lots of ways you can help, too, including: a one-time donation, an annual membership, or even joining one of their local volunteer events at your home crag.

American Hiking Society

The only nationwide organization that promotes and protects foot trails and the wild spaces that surround them, the American Hiking Society offers multiple ways to help protect the trails you care about. A single donation or an annual membership can help them lobby in congress to preserve environmental protections, or you can actually put your boots on the ground by joining one of its local volunteer efforts near you. You can even take a volunteer vacation.

National Parks Conservation Association

Founded in 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association is a one million member-strong, independent, non-partisan organization that works tirelessly to preserve, protect, and educate the public about America’s National Parks. Whether it’s defending clean air and water protection for our nation’s parks, or helping to ensure our parks stay adequately staffed, even a small donation to the NPCA goes a long way.

World Wildlife Fund

Any list of worthwhile NGOs that work to help the environment wouldn’t be complete without the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s largest conservation organization.  With over six million members, it operates in 100 different countries, supporting around 1,300 environmental and conservation projects around the globe, protecting our planet’s oceans, coasts, forests, and freshwater areas. You can make donations to whatever cause is most important to you, whether that’s protecting Monarch butterflies or African elephants and lions.

An added bonus: You can help the environment while you shop. This month we’re donating 10% of the proceeds of the HemplineTM Collection to the Conservation Alliance. Be sure to read up and find out more about this multi-faceted, eco-friendly fabric.

 

RELATED LINKS:

Recycle Your Used Apparel

Building a Heritage of Environmental & Social Responsibility

An Open Letter: Together We Can Defend Our Public Lands

Stories that Inspire

Celebrate Earth Day With These National Park Hikes

April 20, 2017
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In 1970, green pioneer Dennis Hayes conceived of Earth Day as a single moment where people everywhere could explore and renew their commitment to protecting the environments and ecosystems that inspire them. This year, coordinated events involving everything from marches to city cleanups to reforestation efforts will take place on April 22 in nearly 200 countries.

Trash collecting and fun runs are fantastic and essential ways to celebrate and give back. But to truly instill conservation and stewardship values in the next generation of outdoor lovers, we’ll need to get them outside — way out. Luckily, Earth Day coincides with National Parks Week (April 15-23), when admission is free and parks offer loads of special events and programs.

Want to make the loved ones (young and old) in your life into conservation-crazed park fans? Try some of our favorite Earth day national parks hikes — each of which has more than enough to hook beginners, engage the experienced, and nurture a lifelong affinity for the natural world.

(Gear tip: Shoulder season hikes have the potential to swing hot or cold without much warning. Fast-wicking clothing (especially shirts close to skin) will help you stay dry in either case, which is essential to stave off overheating or getting chilled.)

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Second Beach, WA

Olympic National Park: Hoh River/Second Beach

Distance from Seattle, WA: 111 Miles

Olympic is like the sampler platter of national parks. With temperate rainforests, glaciated alpine ridges, and rugged coastline all inside its borders, about the only thing it’s missing is a desert. Start at the Hoh Rainforest, where ancient 200-foot-tall Sitka spruce trees stand as a testament to the wonders preserved when federal protection stopped logging from reaching too deep. A ranger-led Hall of Mosses tour on a sub-mile paved path is great for small kids or those with disabilities, and the adventurous can explore waterfalls, Sitka Spruce as thick as a minivan, and the milky blue Hoh River itself as long as they dare on the trail’s 17 miles. End the day with ¾-mile hike down to the storm-sculpted sea stacks standing sentinel at Second Beach. Search tide pools for sea life and stay for sunset: The half-moon beach extends for another five miles. A sun hat like the Wick-ed Cool Sunhat can help protect you from the sun’s rays.

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Hoh Rainforest, WA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Deep Creek Trail

Distance from Charlotte, NC: 151 Miles

Despite being the most-visited park in the system (11 million people stopped by in 2016), Great Smoky Mountains holds surprising amounts of quiet and solitude in its thick woods, high balds, and waterfalling creeks. The Smokies also show that great things can happen when man and wild collaborate: In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built hundreds of miles of trail and infrastructure, simultaneously lifting people out of the Depression and providing access for generations to one of the greatest wildernesses east of the Mississippi. Enjoy some of their first work on the Deep Creek Trail, which leads to 45-foot Indian Creek Falls and 80-foot Toms Branch Falls over 1.9 miles. Look for lingering wildflowers like trillium bursting between trees and near creeks. Humid spring days are perfect for wicking base layers like the Wick-ed Cool Short Sleeve shirt.

Mist Trail, Yosemite

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, CA

Yosemite National Park: The Mist Trail

Distance from San Francisco, CA: 210 miles

The soaring granite domes and mythic waterfalls of Yosemite have bewitched human eyes and spurred iconic adventures (Royal Robbins himself comes to mind). But perhaps no one has been more inspired than John Muir, the godfather of American conservation who both spurred on the nascent national park movement and founded the country’s preeminent environmental organization, the Sierra Club. He explored around the country and the world, but he always returned to Yosemite’s sacred cathedrals: “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter,” he said. The magic can scarcely be captured by one single trail or a year of trails, but beginners would do well to start at The Mist Trail, where thundering falls flow over cliffs like giant horsetails. Highlights begin at the Vernal Falls footbridge at .8 miles, but it’s worth the strenuous extra half mile to stare down Vernal’s 315-foot pour-off. Make it another 1.5 miles for the real stunner: Nevada Falls careens almost 600 feet to the valley floor. Bonus: Earth Day is perfect timing to see the falls at their strongest, during spring snowmelt runoff. Sections of the trail are exposed to sun while others are constantly bathed in mist; staying comfortable in both with a multi-use layer like the Royal Robbins Diablo Chill Long Sleeve is important.

Even if you can’t make it for Earth Day, these are life-list hikes any time of year. Too far? Find a national park near you and start exploring.

April 15–16 and 22–23: Visit for free! On these National Park Week weekends, every national park will give you free admission!

Related Links

7 Outdoor Wonders in the US: National Parks

The 5 Best Kid-Friendly Hikes In National Parks

8 Things To Pack On A Day Hike

Stories that Inspire

An Open Letter: Together We Can Defend Our Public Lands

January 28, 2017
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Earlier this month, we joined over 100 other companies in the outdoor industry in signing an open letter to the White House addressing the fate of America’s public lands.  The Outdoor Industry Association, which is the leading trade association in the outdoor recreation industry, released the letter in response to growing concerns of Congress and the White House potentially pursuing the privatization of some public lands and national parks or transferring those lands to states.

While we recognize that more Americans than ever (the National Parks Service counted a record 325 million visitors in 2016) are using national parks, monuments and other public lands, privatizing parks would not serve to improve them. Instead, we fear that it would restrict access to parks.

We believe that the outdoors belongs to everyone, and that the freedom to explore brings us closer to ourselves and to nature. We believe in public lands that are accessible to all.

Defend our Public Lands

Please join us in this movement to defend our public lands and to keep them public. Click on this link to access the OIA letter and share via social media to amplify our message. And don’t forget to urge your elected officials to do the same.

Here’s the letter in its entirety:

To our elected officials and those who value America’s great outdoors:

This open letter expresses the view of more than 100 leaders of large and small businesses in the outdoor industry, which contributes more than $650 billion annually to the U.S. economy, generates $80 billion in tax revenue and employs more than 6 million people. Together, we represent a huge range of activities—from hiking to hunting and camping to conservation.

Our businesses make the lives of everyday Americans, from every corner of the political spectrum, healthier and happier. We do not often unite as an industry in the way we are today but we are compelled to make clear our collective view on a vitally important issue that affects the economic health of our industry, our local communities, and the lives of all Americans.

It is an American right to roam in our public lands. The people of the United States, today and tomorrow, share equally in the ownership of these majestic places. This powerful idea transcends party lines and sets our country apart from the rest of the world. That is why we strongly oppose any proposal, current or future, that devalues or compromises the integrity of our national public lands. 

Yet as the 115th Congress begins, efforts are underway that threaten to undermine over one hundred years of public investment, stewardship and enjoyment of our national public lands. Stated simply, these efforts would be bad for the American people. They include the potential of national public lands being privatized or given to states who might sell them to the highest bidder. This would unravel courageous efforts by leaders from across the political spectrum up to the present day, including Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

This is not a red or blue issue. It is an issue that affects our shared freedoms. Public lands should remain in public hands.

We hold these views both as leaders of the outdoor industry — which creates significant economic value for this country — and as individuals who believe deeply that the next generation should be free to benefit from our national public lands as we and our families do today.

The undersigned companies are therefore working together to ensure that all Americans maintain their right to our iconic national public lands and that it is not taken away.

Signed,

Outdoor Industry Association, Amy Roberts, Executive Director

Adventure 16. John D. Mead, President

Alpine Shop, Ltd., Russell Hollenbeck, President

Appalachian Outfitters, Mike & Karen Leffler, Owners

Ascent Solar Technologies, Victor Lee, President & CEO

Backbone Media, Penn Newhard, Founder & Managing Partner

Backcountry, Jonathan Nielsen, CEO

Backcountry North, Tracy Mayer, Owner

Backwoods Retail, Inc., Jennifer Mull, Owner & CEO

Benchmade Knife Company, David Fee, Vice President

BioLite, Jonathan Cedar, Founder & CEO

Black Creek Outfitters, Joe & Liz Butler, Owners

Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., John Walbrecht, President

Braided River, Helen Cherullo, Executive Director

Brook Hopper Consulting, Brook Hopper, Founder & CEO

Brooks Running Company, Jim Weber, CEO

Campmate, Chris Holt, CEO

Cascade Designs, David Burroughs, President

Cedar Ravine, Stephanie Carmi & Christine Stahr, Co-Founders

CGPR LLC, Chris Ann Goddard, President

Chaco, Seth Cobb, President

Champaign Surplus, Dan & Shira Epstein, Owners

Clif Bar & Company, Kevin Cleary, CEO

Columbia Sportswear Company, Tim Boyle, President & CEO

Combat Flip Flops, Matthew Griffin, CEO

Concept III Textiles, Christopher Parkes, President

Confluence Watersports, Sue Rechner, President & CEO

Dakine, Ken Meidell, CEO

Darn Tough Vermont, Ric Cabot, President & CEO

Denali, Chris Howe, Owner

Diamond Brand Outdoors, Will Gay, Owner

DPS Skis, Stephan Drake, Owner

Eagle Creek, Roger Spatz, President

Eastside Sports, Chris Iversen & Todd Vogel, Co-Owners

eGrips, Chris Klinke, President

Elevenpine, Jeff Curran, CEO

Equinox Ltd., Robert Cross, President

Exxel Outdoors, LLC, Harry Kazazian, CEO

Far Bank Enterprises, Travis Campbell, President & CEO

Feral Mountain Co., Jimmy Funkhouser, Owner

First Lite, Kenton Carruth, Co-Founder and Owner

Fishpond, John Land Le Coq, Founder & CEO

Flowfold, James Morin, Owner & COO

Garmont, Bill Dodge, CEO

Goal Zero, William Harmon, General Manager

Good To-Go, David Koorits, Founder

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, Rich Hill, President

Great Outdoor Provision Co., Travis Zarins, Owner

GU Energy Labs, Brian Vaughan, Founder/CEO

Hipcamp, Alyssa Ravasio, Founder & CEO

HippyTree, Andrew Sarnecki, Founder/CEO

Hydro Flask, Scott Allan, General Manager

Ibex Outdoor Clothing, Ted Manning, CEO

IceMule Coolers, James Collie, Founder/CEO

Idaho Mountain Touring, Chris & Jill Haunold, Owners

IPA Connect, Andy Marker, President/Founder

JanSport, Steve Munn, President

Jax Mercantile Co., Jim Quinlan, President

Kammok, Haley Robison, CEO

Keen, Casey Sheahan, CEO

Klean Kanteen, Jim Osgood, President & CEO

Kokatat, Steve O’Meara, Founder/CEO

Kuhl, Kevin Boyle, President

La Sportiva N.A., Inc., Jonathan Lantz, President

Light Speed Outdoors, Brian Cox, CEO

L.L. Bean, Stephen Smith, President & CEO

Lucy, Laurie Etheridge, President

Manzanita Outdoor LLC, David Wheeler, Owner

Massey’s Outfitters, Mike Massey, President

Merrell, Inc., Jim Zwiers, President

MiiR, Bryan Papé, Founder & CEO

MONTANE, Jake Doxat, Managing Director

Mountain Hardwear, Dennis Randall, CMO

Mountain Khakis, Ross Saldarini, President

Mountain Safety Research (MSR), Chris Parkhurst, Vice President

Mountain Works, Inc., Jim Smith, President

MTI Adventurewear, Lili Colby, Owner

My Outdoor Alphabet, Seth Neilson, CEO

Native Eyewear, John Sanchez, General Manager

Nau International, Inc., Mark Galbraith, General Manager

Nemo, Cam Brensinger, CEO

New Balance, Rob DeMartini, President & CEO

Nikwax North America, Rick Meade, President

Oboz Footwear, John Connelly, CEO

Oru Kayak, Roberto Gutierrez, Founder & CCO

Orvis, Perk Perkins, CEO

Osprey Packs, Layne Rigney, President

Outdoor Research, Dan Nordstrom, CEO

Outside Brands / Outside Hilton Head, Mike Overton, CEO

Pack & Paddle, John Williams, President

Pack Rat Outdoor Center, Scott & Carolyn Crook, Founders & Owners

Packtowl, Doug Jacot, Vice President

Patagonia, Rose Marcario, President & CEO

Peak Design, Peter Dering, Founder & CEO

Petzl America, Nazz Kurth, President

Piragis Northwoods Company, Steve Piragis, Owner

Pistil Designs, Todd Douglass, Forrest Jones & Pete Hixson, Founders

Platypus, Doug Jacot, Vice President

Point6, Peter Duke, CEO

Portland WoolenMills, Doug Hoschek & Tina Machuca, Owners

prAna Living, Scott Kerslake, CEO

Ramsey Outdoor, Stuart and Michael Levine, Owners

Redington, Travis Campbell, President & CEO

Red Lantern Journeys, Ambrose Bittner, Founder & Managing Director

REI Co-op, Jerry Stritzke, President & CEO

Rio, Travis Campbell, President & CEO

Rising Tide Associates, David Costello, Principal

River Sports Outfitters, Ed McAlister, Owner

Roads Rivers and Trails, Emily White, Co-Founder & Owner

Rock Creek Outfitters, Dawson Wheeler, Founder

Roots Rated, Fynn Glover, Founder/CEO

Royal Robbins, Michael Millenacker, CEO

Ruffwear, Patrick Kruse, R&D Director & Founder

Rutabaga Paddlesports, Darren Bush, Owner & CEO

rygr, Brian Holcombe, Principal

Sage, Travis Campbell, President & CEO

Salewa North America, Brian Mecham, General Manager

Sanitas Sales Group, Keith Reis, President

SCARPA North America, Kim Miller, CEO

SealLine, Doug Jacot, Vice President

Simms, K.C. Walsh, President & CEO

Skinny Skis, Phil Leeds & Scott O’Brien, Owners

Soar Communications, Chip Smith, President

Sorel, Mark Nenow, President

Stanley PMI, Kelly Kraus, Vice President, Stanley Brand

Stio, Stephen Sullivan, Founder/ CEO

Summit Hut, Dana Davis, President & Co-Owner

Sunday Afternoons, Inc., Sarah Sameh, CEO

Sunlight Sports, Wes Allen, Owner

Superfeet Worldwide, John Rauvola, CEO

Tahoe Mountain Sports, Dave Polivy, Co-Owner

Tenkara USA, Daniel Galhardo, Founder & CEO

Terra, PR, Alli Noland, Founder

The Base Camp, Scott Brown, Owner

The Mountaineer, Vinny McClelland, President

The North Face, Scott Baxter, Group President

The Outbound Collective, Brian Heifferon, Founder & CEO

The Trail Head, Todd Frank, Owner

The Toggery, Trek Stephens, President

Therm-a-Rest Brands, Doug Jacot, Vice President

Timberland, Jim Pisani, President

Toad&Co, Gordon Seabury, CEO (& OIA board chair)

Topo Athletic, Tony Post, Founder & CEO

Trail Creek Outfitters, Ed Camelli & Brian Havertine, Owners

Trango, Chris Klinke, President

Travel Country, Mike Plante, Owner

Trek Light Gear, Seth Haber, Founder & CEO

22 Designs, Chris Valiante, Owner

Ute Mountaineer, Bob Wade & Maile Spung, Owners

Vans, Doug Palladini, President

Verde Brand Communications, Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, President and Founder

VF Corporation, Steve Rendle, President & CEO

Weighmyrack, Allison Dennis, Founder & CEO

Western Spirit Cycling, Ashley Korenblat, CEO

What’s UP Public Relations, Beth L. Cochran, Founder/Owner

Wild Things, LLC, Edward M. Schmults, CEO

Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., Blake Krueger, CEO

Woolrich, Inc., Nick Brayton, President

Yakima Products, Ryan Martin, CEO

Zumiez, Inc., Tom Campion, Founder & Chairman

Inside Royal Robbins Outdoor Destinations Stories that Inspire

Yosemite Facelift Success!

October 9, 2016
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The Royal Robbins cleanup crew at Tunnel View

The Yosemite Facelift was a fantastic success. Two weeks ago, nearly 1,500 people flocked to the weeklong Facelift, put on by the Yosemite Climbing Association for the 13th straight year.

A Royal Robbins crew of 24 was thrilled to join our fellow Yosemite lovers to help the park recover from the high traffic summer season. Nearly 4 million people visit Yosemite every year, and unfortunately not everyone is so careful about packing out what they bring in to the park.

Old Trash

Sometimes a beer can isn’t a beer can, it’s an artifact.

Before heading out on the trail, everyone received a training session from the YCA. Interestingly, not all trash is really trash. Some things have been there so long (old beer cans, historic light bulbs) that they become archaeological artifacts. Such artifacts need to be left where they are by federal law.

However we were able to stay within the law and still help keep our park beautiful.

Here are some numbers that sum up the week:

Volunteers

  • 1,477 Unique Volunteers
  • 2,493 Volunteer days
  • 11,714 Volunteer hours

Weights

  • 5,733 Lbs. of litter
  • 6,464 Lbs. Special Projects
  • 12,197 Lbs. Total removed from Yosemite National Park

Entrance SignThe Facelift was not only a fantastic opportunity to get outside and spend time in the birthplace of the Royal Robbins legend, but it was also a great opportunity to give back. Without our national parks, our lives are not as rich or beautiful. It’s extremely important to support the outdoors and the environment, whether it’s through sustainability efforts like using bluesign® approved fabrics or recycling programs like Royal Rewear.

To learn more about Royal Robbins’ social responsibility program, click here.

Outdoor Destinations Stories that Inspire

Happy 100th Birthday to the National Parks Service

August 25, 2016
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Today marks the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service. Although the first American national park – Yellowstone in Wyoming (and a bit in Montana and Idaho too!) – was created far earlier in 1872, the Park Service itself is a ripe 100 years young.

On August 26, 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, creating the Park Service as a part of the Department of the Interior. The NPS originally oversaw only 37 protected areas. Today, that list includes 59 national parks and 411 total sites, including national seashores, monuments, historic sites, trails and more.

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Find Your Park

To celebrate the Centennial, the NPS has created a fantastic and simple way for everyone to get outside to their nearest and favorite national park. Just go to findyourpark.com. You can discover outdoor adventure paradises close to home or close to your next vacation destination. Whether it’s hiking in Yosemite Valley, sea kayaking the Maine Island Trail (the country’s first water trail) in Acadia National Park, or even visiting some of our greatest historical sites at the National Mall in Washington, DC, this country has so much to offer.

For more information on the Centennial, visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm.

But most importantly, get outside and have fun!

Stories that Inspire

Sally Jewell: Outdoor Leader

June 28, 2016
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Sally Jewell is a leader in the outdoor industry. As Secretary of the Interior, she oversees all of our national parks, monuments, refuges and other protected lands.

Sally Jewell

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

About ten years ago, when she was CEO of REI, I had the pleasure of kayaking with her in San Diego. During her six years at REI, our paths crossed often, and her contagious positivity and can-do attitude left a lasting impression on me.

That afternoon in Mission Bay was no different. Strong headwinds had put an on-time arrival at a dinner meeting in peril. But instead of cutting short or turning back, Sally Jewell, with a quick smile and a strong stroke, led the way forward, as she still does today in Washington.

So I wasn’t surprised to see her progress in the recently released U.S. Department of the Interior’s Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2015. The report is a glowing summary of why she is perfect for the job: her ability to be a good steward of the land while at the same time delivering economic progress.

In 2015, investments made by the Interior in conservation, recreation, water and renewable energy led to $106 billion in economic output and supported 862,000 jobs.

All in, her efforts in leading the Interior Department account for about $300 billion in economic output and 1.8 million jobs that are supported by the Interior’s activities including:

  • Outdoor recreation in our national parks, monuments, and refuges
  • Water management
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Support for Native American tribal communities
  • Scientific research and innovation
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Sec. Sally Jewell’s Dept. of the Interior had a strong 2015

 

All of this occurred while visitation to public lands managed by the Interior (such as national parks and national wildlife refuges) grew by 20 million in 2015. That’s a total of 443 million visits.

Find Your Park

With the National Park system’s centennial occurring this summer, you can be sure that number will continue to grow (visit the NPS website to find the park nearest you).

But Secretary Jewell’s contributions aren’t limited just to economic benefits. The National Park Foundation, of which she serves as Board Chair, has an incredible initiative called Every Kid in a Park, which provides free passes to our park systems for all fourth graders.

The Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program is also raising funds to support children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to have access to a park. It’s programs like these and the Boy Scouts of America that are crucial to opening the eyes and minds of children across the country.

As a member of the outdoor industry for over 20 years, I’m very proud to have one of our own rise to the occasion and help lead our country to a more environmentally conscious space with such amazing financial repercussions! Sally Jewell is a leader that we all look up to.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can view the report and a data visualization tool here: https://my.usgs.gov/doidv/index.html

Stories that Inspire

Yosemite Climber-Access Trail Restoration: Join the Effort

May 10, 2016
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Did you know that one of the most dangerous parts of rock climbing is actually accessing the rock face itself? That’s right – the access trails to some of Yosemite’s greatest climbing routes are falling apart.

In Yosemite, the park service has not historically established official access trails, and climbers have been creating their own routes for years. After decades of intense use, this informal network of trails has become severely eroded, no surprise considering nearly 150,000 climbers visit Yosemite every year.

The Yosemite Conservancy’s Climber-Access Trail Restoration program is now in its fifth year. They’ve id’d priority sites and rehabilitated a number of trails throughout the park. By the end of this fall, they hope to complete the restoration of the access routes in the Tuolomne Meadows area, but they need help.

A trail crew at work on restoring access trails for rock-climbers in Yosemite.

A trail crew at work on access trail restoration for rock-climbers in Yosemite.

How can you help?

Volunteer – every hand, every shovel makes a difference in our park. Visit http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/volunteer to sign up.

Donate – this Yosemite trail restoration program needs money – $80,000 in fact. Join us in supporting the Yosemite Conservancy here.

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Join the Yosemite Conservancy’s trail restoration efforts throughout the park

You’re not a climber? Well these trails aren’t restricted to climbers. In fact, these great hiking trails lead to some of the most incredible parts of the park. For every trail that the Yosemite Conservancy improves, that’s one less place for the National Parks Service to worry about. This program benefits all of us.

This year, the program will target the Middle Cathedral-East Buttress approach in Yosemite Valley and in bouldering areas in Tuolumne Meadows. The result will be a sustainable system of trails that provides visitors safe routes to climbing areas while protecting natural and cultural resources for future generations.

We hope you join us in supporting the Yosemite Conservancy’s Climber-Access Trail Restoration Program.

 

The Yosemite Conservancy is Royal Robbins®’s primary non-profit partner. Our founders, Liz and Royal Robbins, are former Board Members and current Council Members of the Conservancy. Yosemite is our birthplace and our heritage – its iconic granite walls inspired Royal and Liz to build outdoor clothing at a time when the industry didn’t even exist. We are proud to continue to support this national treasure.

Through the support of donors, Yosemite Conservancy provides grants and support to Yosemite National Park to help preserve and protect Yosemite today and for future generations. Work funded by the Conservancy is visible throughout the park, in trail rehabilitation, wildlife protection and habitat restoration. The Conservancy is also dedicated to enhancing the visitor experience and providing a deeper connection to the park through outdoor programs, volunteering, wilderness services and its bookstores. Thanks to dedicated supporters, the Conservancy has provided $92 million in grants to Yosemite National Park. Learn more at yosemiteconservancy.org or call 1-800-469-7275.

Stories that Inspire

Our Royal Ambassador in Arabia: Skyler Burt – Educator, Photographer, Adventurer

March 22, 2016
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Born in Yosemite Valley, we make versatile apparel for people who bring the spirit of a life lived outdoors to everything they do. Our ambassadors are artists, scientists, teachers, and travelers. Their professions may not seem so different from yours or ours, but they are all adventurers. We are thrilled to welcome Skyler Burt to the Royal Robbins family.

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A camel kiss in the Wahiba Desert

 

My name is Skyler Burt. I am primarily an editorial food and travel photographer, but I’m also an educator, writer and father of two amazing girls. I’m sitting right now in our studio in Muscat, Oman, a little known city on the coast of the Arabian Sea that my wife, Heather, and I have called home for the past six years.

Heather and I have always had a taste for adventure and the unknown. This yearning pushed us to pack all our possessions into her parents’ closet and set out to travel the world nine years ago. Luckily they’re still holding onto our stuff.

 

Long stays are  the only way to get to know a place and its culture

 

We both prefer slow travel versus whirlwind-tours. After spending nearly three years in Northeast Asia photographing the travel lifestyle for Lonely Planet Images, we’re into our sixth year in the Middle East working on various projects with magazines and agencies with our company Yellow Street Photos. I’ve always believed that long stays are truly the only way to get to know a place and its culture.

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Skyler behind the camera in Muttrah Souq, Oman

 

With temperatures soaring well above 120˚F during the summer months, Oman is a land of dry, Mars-like seas of undulating sands that crash like waves onto sharp, rocky mountains. The word for mountain in Arabic is jebel, and at times even the jebels seem to be moving, rising and falling into giant craggy canyons and tears in the earth.

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A rose farm atop Jebal Al Akhdar in the Hajar Mountains

 

A few years ago, I landed an academic position in Oman as the head of the photography department at the Higher College of Technology, a local government-run college. Heather and I actually work together. On the weekdays, we teach college students the art of photography, and on the weekends we explore Oman, while raising our two beautiful young daughters. Living abroad can be challenging at times, but after growing up in the farmlands outside the small town of Boring, Oregon, I needed adventure.

From exploring historic Muscat, to hiking in the Hajar Mountains to trekking across the Sharqiya Sands, the Sultanate of Oman is an incredible destination for authentic culture and a unique outdoor experience. Since Sultan Qaboos took the throne from his father in a bloodless coup in 1970, Oman has emerged as a peaceful sanctuary amid the tumult and turmoil of the region. In 2010, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Oman as the most improved nation over the previous 40 years. But unlike many developing nations, the government has smartly focused on providing accessibility to remote areas with modern infrastructure while preserving the environment and the traditional culture of its people.

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Getting some honey from the mountain bee-keepers in the Hajar Mountains

 

Over the last year, in addition to teaching, I’ve documented food culture of southern Sri Lanka, created images for the Oman Ministry of Tourism, Ritz-Carlton, and The Chedi Hotel, welcomed my second daughter into the world and poured hours into my educational food photography site We Eat Together.

But I’ve decided to step out of the academic world and lead a team of photographers exploring some the most remote areas in Oman. We’ll be creating a vast archive of images to help promote the adventure-travel tourism industry that Oman is quickly becoming famous for.

The jebels seem to be rising and falling into giant tears in the earth

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The terrace farms of Jebal Al Akhdar in the Hajar Mountains

 

Our team will start in the Hajar Mountain Range in the north, a vast open space with some of the best hiking, climbing and camping in the entire region. Not only will we be photographing life on the trail, but we’ll also be documenting the cultural heritage of the unspoiled villages that remain. We will then work our way south into the Wahiba Sands and encounter the nomadic lifestyle of the local Bedouin, before venturing into the untouched caves and wadis (valleys or ravines that are dry year-round except after heavy rains) that crisscross this desert.

Follow our journey as we wind our way around the back-roads, trails and breathtaking landscape of the Sultanate of Oman, the jewel of Arabia.

Stories that Inspire

Climbing Over Barriers

September 25, 2015
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The energy is high as we pair up for another night of rock climbing at our local gym. Minor hand and knee scrapes are common at these events, but all you notice are the smiles stretched wide across everyone’s face. As one climber rolls her wheelchair over to get her harness, another asks, “Can you hand me my leg?”, and I pass him his prosthesis. This is the world of adaptive climbing. Our climbing partners have various physical disabilities such as limb difference or amputation, visual impairment, and paralysis.

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Maureen Beck, born without her left hand, belays her climbing partner in Boulder Canyon, CO.

Rock climbing is the main activity provided by Paradox Sports, a non-profit based in Boulder, Colorado. Paradox is an incredible organization which creates physical adaptive sports communities for sports ranging from rafting and stand-up paddleboarding, to mountaineering, rock, and ice climbing.

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Maureen maneuvering through the interesting crux of the climb while I have her on belay.

Climbing, my personal love, breaks the barriers of perceived limits – a great metaphor for working through the challenges some people face when living with a disability. We all adapt to get through physical and emotional obstacles in our lives. In order to successfully ascend a route, you must overcome both physical and emotional obstacles. It is a full body workout and you glean an intimate understanding of your unique body mechanics. You also learn to mentally let go of insecurities, doubt, and fear giving way to trust, belief and conviction.

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Working my way up a beautiful crack in the limestone cliffs at Shelf Road in Canon City, CO. Shop the Essential Tencel Tank.

There is a distinct bond that happens between climbing partners during these gritty moments. You give your belayer the honor of your life in their hands. They become your safety line and the difference between a catch and a fall.

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Heading up to the start of our multi-pitch climb in Eldorado Canyon State Park, CO. Shop the Breeze Thru Tank and Jammer Roll-Up Pant.

Then a deeper connection happens. They watch the transformation of you getting out of your comfort zone, harnessing your inner strength and pushing beyond what you think you can do. These are vulnerable but proud life moments. You feel closer with those that are a witness to these kinds of mini triumphs.

Taking a minute to soak in the beauty of our natural playground. I watch climbers across the way on the Bastille Crack, one of the most classic climbs in the country.

Taking a minute to soak in the beauty of our natural playground. I watch climbers across the way on the Bastille Crack, one of the most classic climbs in the country.

In adaptive climbing, perceived barriers often stem from societal judgment or stigmas. Paradox builds a community around adaptive sports because the experience can be as life changing for the witness as it is for the climber. The shift in perception is important for everyone. Together we redefine what it means for any of us to be differently-abled.

Maureen and I found a great lookout spot to enjoy the view and swap climbing stories.

Maureen and I found a great lookout spot to enjoy the view and swap climbing stories.

Maureen Beck, a Paradox Sports ambassador, epitomizes this mantra. She was born without her left arm a few inches below her elbow. Since starting rock climbing at the age of 12, she has become an accomplished and world-recognized climber.

Maureen’s dog, Beanie, ready to help take the protective tape off her arm.

Maureen’s dog, Beanie, ready to help take the protective tape off her arm.

But it’s Maureen’s attitude and perspective that make her an inspiration. When she chose to play soccer as a kid, despite having only one hand, she picked the position of goalie! No one can define rules and limits on what she can do, except for her.

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Maureen tying in and getting ready for another lap.

Through a healthy outlook, Maureen has never let her limb difference limit her. She doesn’t see it as an absence of a full arm; she finds the positives. In climbing she boasts, “I don’t have fingers to get tired!” Maureen has made the decision to not make excuses. She embraces the creative process of adapting and doesn’t let anything get in the way of her goals for a full and happy life of adventure.

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Exploring different options on my way up the route.

Everyone’s body and mind function a little differently. I’m drawn to the powerful time and space that rock climbing offers to pay attention to the core you. We get to know ourselves and what we’re made of. We adjust our movements to sync our body with the natural flow of the rock. The connection I feel with my climbing partners, myself and the nature around me are incredibly powerful.

Erich Meinig scoping out the route before starting his ascent. Erich is deaf and has several amputated fingers; nothing slows him down from finding holds and climbing techniques that work great for him.

Erich Meinig scoping out the route before starting his ascent. Erich is deaf and has several amputated fingers; nothing slows him down from finding holds and climbing techniques that work great for him.

Whether you are missing fingers, lost the use of your legs, or have emotional barriers in your way, you have a choice. You can let it define you and your limits, or you can adapt and find your best route through life.

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In my happy place! It’s always a good time when climbing.

To learn more about Paradox Sports and its adaptive sports programs, please visit http://paradoxsports.org/.

Stories that Inspire

Adventures of Kris Kolenut & East Fork Farm

June 10, 2015
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Kris Kolenut has the look of a tried and true thrill seeker. Arms tan and sun spotted from hours on the water, hands rough and callused from wedging them in cracks, unmistakable sandal tans and scars from who knows what – each one a telltale sign of a mountain man.

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Kris preparing to embark on a climb. Shop the Cool Mesh Baja Long Sleeve.

He has stories about guiding in Shining Rock Wilderness, being followed by a pack of coyotes, and instructing his crew to sharpen sticks for defense. He has stories about spending all day on the Linville River, navigating house-sized boulders downstream in search of inspiration, and tells of sharing sweat lodges with Native Americans on reservations. He knows what it feels like to let go of the brakes on a mountain bike, or disappear over a waterfall in a kayak.

Moments like these don’t come easy; they come from following instinctual cravings to feel alive. On the edge, but in control. His pursuit of passion has made Kris well rounded, from guiding at-risk youth in the backcountry to sea kayaking the hidden coves of Lake Jocassee. Kris can name nearly every plant around him in the middle of the woods, and could easily navigate the best possible route through rough country.

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Belaying down the rock face. Shop the Cool Mesh Baja Long Sleeve.

Kris escaped New Jersey in pursuit of the lifestyle, and he has found it as a professional guide based in Brevard, North Carolina. Now, he has his eyes set on his next adventure: a base camp for any southern Appalachian experience. A partnership with longtime friend Scott Sullivan on the East Fork Farm is set to poise Kris to offer a completely unique experience.

What he calls a fusion of farm life and adventure camp, the East Fork Farm is already a functioning farm on the French Broad River, its waters fed from the lush Pisgah National Forest just upstream. Rows of what will soon be summer crops dominate the landscape, but the bigger picture includes plans for a pavilion, where Kris will brief daily trips, check-in gear, and get to know his clients over food grown right there.

“We want people to be able to get a real taste of what Southern Appalachia living is like,” said Kris. “That includes great food.”

Kris has guided hundreds of trips, and he knows what makes them run smooth. Part of that experience he credits to his time at Brevard College as part of the Wilderness Leadership program, where he learned from some of the best instructors in the country to plan the logistics of any backcountry excursion, but to also have a plan B.

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Packing up after a night in the outdoors. Shop the Expedition Stretch Long Sleeve.

“I love to plan the trips. Reading the maps, thinking of every last detail, and making the day fit a particular group of people is part of the fun. It can be stressful, but that’s what makes a trip run. Plenty of people can lead a trip, but the logistics part of my Immersion semester made me realize that being an outdoor guide is so much more,” he said.

While Kris loves the outdoors and leading trips, part of his goal with the East Fork Farm is to make connections with his clients and bring their experience full circle, to show them how people affect things like water quality, and how their food is directly influenced by what goes on upstream.

“It’s not that people don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know,” said Kris. “But showing them how to appreciate nature…as a guide, getting someone to make even one realization, is why I do this. The farm is kind of a new spin on an old thing, something to appreciate this beautiful place in a different light.”

Education is at the heart of the East Fork Farm Adventure program, sharing their experience and love for the outdoors is how the owners plan to tie it all together.

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Enjoying the day at East Fork Farm. Shop the Cool Mesh Short Sleeve.

Kris, and everyone else on the farm, is busy with the final operational touches, scouting new routes, applying for guide permits, finding wood and nails to build the buildings themselves and everything else that comes up.

“I’ve taken lots of people out to do lots of things,” said Kris. “Even if it’s just a buddy from out of town…they always say to me after a big day in the woods: ‘Man I wish I lived here. That was incredible.’ I always laugh and say ‘I know, I get to do this everyday.’”

Photos taken by Karin Strickland of the McDowell Photo Project.