The outdoors should be a place where everyone can feel safe and be themselves. But for a long time, the outdoor industry and media have reinforced a narrow definition of what an “authentic” outdoor experience looks like–one that’s often organized around specific activities or based on achievement. This has contributed to limited depictions of the myriad ways people find meaning, joy and a sense of community outside.
Many individuals and grassroots organizations, however, have been working for years to change that perception. They’re ensuring that outdoor spaces are welcoming and inclusive. They’re connecting people of all body types, abilities, cultures and communities to outdoor spaces, whether close to home or far afield. And they’re changing the narrative of what it means to get outside and who is out there.
We are excited to highlight just some of the groups that we have partnered with that are connecting communities, inspiring seasoned members and newcomers alike to get out in new ways and places, and celebrating the joy of being outside. They have inspired us, but more importantly, they’ve moved us to build a more inclusive outdoor community and society at large. Get to know them, their programs and their missions, as well as how you can support them.
The 52 Hike Challenge is a global movement inspiring individuals to take a personal journey to discover the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits gained through hiking once a week for an entire year. Learn more about 52 Hike Challenge.
ActiveSGV’s mission is to support a more sustainable, equitable and livable San Gabriel Valley in California where people of all ages, incomes, abilities and backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive. Local and regional investments help address our most pressing challenges, including climate change, housing affordability and inequity. Learn more about Active SGV.
Adaptive Adventures provides progressive outdoor sports opportunities to improve quality of life for children, adults and veterans with physical disabilities and their families. Learn more about Adaptive Adventures.
Adina’s calling to teach yoga has been about diversity and community with the understanding that each person is unique and at different level of growth. Learn more about Adina Crawford.
Adventures Without Limits’ mission is to provide opportunity and adventure for all people, regardless of their ability levels, socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity or age. Learn more about Adventures Without Limits.
Black Women Who Kayak+ breaks down barriers, empower and defy the myths of what African American Women will and won’t do when it comes to outdoor sport. It’s at the forefront of facilitating sports that you typically don’t see them in or doing. The group also partners with and re-educates businesses on the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. Learn more about Black Women Who Kayak+.
Bikes Not Bombs uses bikes as tools to foster young people’s leadership, development and sense of individual and collective power to transform their own lives, strengthen communities and build a just and sustainable planet. Learn more about Bikes Not Bombs.
Through education, outreach and advocacy, Birdability works to ensure the birding community and the outdoors are welcoming, inclusive, safe and accessible for everybody. Learn more about Birdability.
The group grows and supports a community of women of color who share a passion for cycling. Black Girls Do Bike champions efforts to introduce the joy of cycling to all women, but especially women and girls of color. Learn more about Black Girls Do Bike.
Black Girls RUN’s mission is to encourage and motivate Black women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. Learn more about Black Girls RUN!.
The longest-running and largest women’s race in New England, the Boston 10K for Women is built around equity, inclusion and commitment to women’s health. At the time, there wasn’t a women’s road race in Boston and race founder Dusty Rhodes is still very much a part of the race today as she was at the start. Learn more about the Boston 10K for Women.
Catalyst Sports gives people with disabilities access to the life changing impact of adventure within a supportive and inclusive community. Through innovative adaptive equipment and with the support of trained volunteers, Catalyst breaks down the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing adventure sports in their community.
A program of the Aspen Institute, they believe all Native American youth should lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and draw strength from their culture and one another. They do this through youth recognition, inspiration and leadership; research, advocacy and policy change; serving as a national resource exchange; and by building a Native-youth driven narrative. Learn more about CNAY.
The Center for Nature and Health improves health and health equity through increasing access to nature. Learn more about the Center for Nature and Health’s research here.
The nonprofit organization is leading a movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children—and natural places—can thrive. Learn more about Children & Nature Network.
Blackpackers is an organization meeting those at the intersection of underrepresentation and economic vulnerability to create economic equity in outdoor recreation. Learn more about Colorado Backpackers.
CorpsTHAT provides outdoor experiences, training, outdoor leadership and career development opportunities for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and partner with Conservation Corps groups across the country. Learn more about CorpsTHAT.
This BIPOC led organization was formed in Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd. It offers BIPOC specific outdoor recreation programming led by community members who donate their time and skills to connect Black people to active living opportunities outside. (Learn more about Melanin in Motion.
Fresh Tracks is an outdoors initiative for youth that provides “young Indigenous, rural and urban diverse leaders with cross-cultural community power building, leadership development, civic engagement and action training.”
Girls on the Run is a life changing program for 8- to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running. Learn more about Girls on the Run.
The public health nonprofit encourages African American women and girls to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families and communities. Learn more about GirlTrek.
GGR is a group of women mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels in Southern California and Arizona. Our mission is to get more women mountain biking and to ensure they have a great experience every ride! Learn more about Girlz Gone Riding.
The Greening Youth Foundation’s (GYF) mission is to engage underrepresented youth and young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation. Learn more about Greening Youth Foundation.
Hike Clerb is a Los Angeles-based intersectional women’s hike club founded by Evelynn Escobar. Inspired to take action by the lack of representation of people of color in the outdoors, Hike Clerb was born as a radical solution to this issue and more. We are equipping Black, Indigenous, women of color with the tools, resources and experiences they need to collectively heal in nature from Los Angeles and beyond. Learn more about Hike Clerb.
The Hispanic Access Foundation improves the lives of Hispanics in the U.S. and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systems. Learn more about the Hispanic Access Foundation.
The aim of Inclusive Woods and Us is to increase equitable access to the outdoors for children, families and communities of people of color in lower socioeconomic standing to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of vulnerable populations. Learn more about Inclusive Woods and Us.
This Latinx-led organization works to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education who embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative. Learn more about Latino Outdoors.
LatinX Hikers is community that promotes diversity, inclusion and equality in the outdoors through social media and community outreach. Learn more about LatinX Hikers.
Mikah Meyer is a travel blogger who became the youngest person and first out LGBTQ+ person to visit all 400-plus units of the U.S. National Park Service, and the sole person to do it in one continuous trip. He created the Outside Safe Space logo, a non-verbal symbol that can be worn or displayed on products, to communicate support and welcome to LGBTQ+ people. Learn more about Mikah Meyer.
Minority Veterans of America is a nonprofit that works to create community belonging and advance equity for minority veterans, and whose vision is to create a just world that empowers minority veterans: veterans of color, womxn, LGBTQ and religious minorities. Learn more about Minority Veterans of America.
The LA Young Leaders Council engages young people from urban areas, underserved neighborhoods, immigrant communities and communities of color. Learn more about the LA Young Leaders Council.
The mission of Nature for All is to build a diverse base of support to ensure that everyone in the Los Angeles area has equitable access to the wide range of benefits that nature provides. They are committed to building support to protect, create access to our forests, rivers, and parks, and developing a new diverse generation of environmental leaders and stewards who connect to and care for our public lands. Learn more about Nature for All.
Ocean Connectors uses migratory marine life to educate, inspire and connect coastal communities of the U.S. and Mexico. Learn more about Ocean Connectors.
The institute provides meaningful nature-based education that promotes positive self-development, environmental responsibility and outdoor career pathways for urban youth of color. Learn more about the Institute.
Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Connection leverages the social capital inherent within our community to promote education, health, advocacy, self-reliance and spinal cord injury/disability awareness, and aims to transform the built-environment and attitudes of society to reduce the obstacles that prevent some of us from fully reintegrating into society. Learn more about Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Connection.
Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. The national nonprofit helps people take better care of themselves, their communities and the planet. Learn more about Outdoor Afro.
Peace Peloton supports and invests in Black livelihoods, communities and Black-owned businesses through organized bicycle rides, community development events, and sustainable enrichment programs. Learn more about Peace Peloton.
People for Mobility Justice is a BIPOC collective that works in mobility and transportation. It encourages a world where people have the freedom and resources to move in public spaces with love and dignity. Learn more about People for Mobility Justice.
The Outdoor Journal Tour is a hybrid health organization that combines the healing tenets of outdoor activity with mindful meditation and introspective journaling. Learn more about The Outdoor Journal Tour.
Refuge Outdoor Festival celebrates diversity, nature and life. The three-day camping experience is geared toward people of color and allies, and is centered on building community through outdoor recreation, community conversations, music and art. Learn more about Refuge Outdoor Festival.
Refugee Women’s Network inspires and equips refugee and immigrant women to become leaders in their homes, businesses and communities. Their Hiking Program promotes equity and inclusion by reducing barriers to participation in healthy, outdoor activities for a diverse community that is traditionally underrepresented in the outdoor experience. Learn more about Refugee Women’s Network.
Founded in 2013, Rogue Climate’s mission is to empower Southern Oregon communities most impacted by climate change, including low-income, rural, youth and communities of color, to win climate justice by organizing for clean energy, sustainable jobs and a healthy environment. Learn more about Rogue Climate.
Soul Trak Outdoors is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that connects communities of color to outdoor spaces while also building a coalition of diverse outdoor leaders. Learn more about Soul Trak Outdoors.
Stride for Stride buys race bibs for immigrant, BIPOC and low-income runners, with the goal to make races more accessible and more diverse. Learn more about Stride for Stride.
The Venture Out Project envisions a world where queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ youth and adults create community, develop leadership skills and gain confidence through the shared experience of outdoor adventure and physical activity. Learn more about The Venture Out Project.
Erin Parisi of TranSending advocates for transgender rights through visibility in outdoors sports and spaces. Learn more about TranSending.
Unlikely Hikers is a diverse, anti-racist, body-liberating outdoor community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson. Learn more about Unlikely Hikers.
The United States Adaptive Recreation Center is committed to guiding people with disabilities toward the creation and affirmation of rewarding lifestyles. Learn more about the U.S. Adaptive Recreation Center.
Vamos Outdoors Project works to connect families to environmental education opportunities through fundraising, outreach and partnerships with local organizations. Learn more about Vamos Outdoors Project.
This youth development organization offers programs that use bikes as a tool for positive transformation. Learn more about West Town Bikes.
Wild Diversity creates community and a sense of belonging in the outdoors by providing outdoor adventures, education and leadership development for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Learn more about Wild Diversity.
Willamette Partnership is working to increase “the pace, scope, and effectiveness of conservation and restoration” “to improve mental and physical health by increasing the presence and use of the outdoors in communities facing health disparities.” Learn more about Willamette Partnership.
Women’s Wilderness’s programs create a space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ girls and women to explore the outdoors, develop outdoor skills and confidence, and build community. Their Outdoor GIRLS program provides leadership development opportunities through outdoor experiences for middle school age refugee girls in the community. Learn more about Women’s Wilderness.
The Red Shed is the home of the WRWC Bike Education Programs. The goal of the Red Shed is to grow more Woony River Heroes – making biking accessible to kids and families in neighborhoods along the Woony River Greenway and beyond. Learn more about the Red Shed Bike Programs.
The Y’s Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD) program offers youth (6th-12th grade) from different economic and racial/ethnic backgrounds, the opportunity to team up and participate in wilderness expeditions that develop confidence, decision-making skills and community awareness. Learn more about Bold & Gold.
Young Women Empowered (Y-WE)
Y-WE cultivates the power of diverse young women to be creative leaders and courageous changemakers through transformative programs within a collaborative community of belonging. Learn more about Y-WE.