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REI Buys Grand Canyon Land for Glamping Destination

REI bought land near Grand Canyon National Park with plans for a new "glamping" destination to open in 2025.

Temple,Of,The,Moon,,Capital,Reef,National,ParkStar-gazing at the Temple of the Moon in Capital Reef National Park, where REI now offers a prearranged trip; (photo/Shutterstock)
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Outdoor enthusiasts certainly recognize REI as a giant retailer of all our favorite gear. But many don’t know that it delves into real estate for campground development or offers adventure travel services in the U.S. and Canada.

REI recently purchased 20 acres near the Grand Canyon to build its latest “Signature Camp,” a.k.a. glamping. It will open in spring 2025. Its “Adventures” travel business also added 10 new trips for 2024, making it a great time to find a new place to explore — while letting the outdoor company do all the legwork. Newly added options include a trip to California’s wine country, Maine’s 100-mile Wilderness, and the Pacific Northwest.

REI Buys 20 Acres Near the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon park hikers
REI will open a new ‘Signature Camp’ at the Grand Canyon in 2025; (photo/Grand Canyon NPS)

Currently, REI has three signature camps at Bryce Canyon National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Zion National Park. However, the planned expansion in 2025 at Grand Canyon National Park could become the crown glamping jewel. The co-op just purchased a 20-acre property in Williams, Ariz., and will offer “a self-sustaining” camp building on the 14 trips currently offered for the Grand Canyon.

Williams is a small town (six square blocks!) planted on historic Route 66, about 30 miles west of Flagstaff, Ariz. Although not exactly next door to Grand Canyon National Park, at 60 miles south, the location may offer enough geographic buffer to avoid the summer tourist crowds.

“Boasting seven area fishing lakes, hiking trails up Bill Williams Mountain and into Sycamore Canyon, an alpine ski area and cross-country ski trails, four seasons weather and an abundance of wildlife, Williams offers unlimited recreational opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast,” claims the town’s official website.

And property in the area is relatively affordable. A current listing offers 36.7 acres for an asking price of $47,000. The bean counters at REI must be happy.

REI Co-op Adventures also invested in its other campgrounds. Last year, the company doubled the size of its Bryce Canyon National Park signature camp to meet ongoing demand. It’s one of REI’s most popular trips, and the expansion means more spots would be available.

And there’s a new trip option: the 5-day Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef Hiking Adventure. If you’ve never visited Capitol Reef National Park, you’re missing out on one of the country’s most incredible outdoor destinations. And this trip includes a local astronomer to show visitors the wonders of the park’s awe-inspiring night sky.

New REI Co-op Adventures Trips: From Maine to California

Take an REI trip to the lesser-known Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee; (photo/Shutterstock)

Whether you’re looking to check off a bucket-list national park or avoid crowds with a less-popular destination, REI Co-op offers a variety of experiences among the new trips.

For the Maine Hiking – Appalachian Trail 100-Mile Wilderness (Lodge Based), you’ll spend 6 days exploring Maine’s beloved northern woods with day hikes. Local guides lead the journey through this next-to-last section of the Appalachian Trail. Expect “pristine lakes, river gorges and waterfalls,” REI said. Evenings happen at the International Dark Sky Park at Medawisla Lodge and Gorman Chairback Lodge, where you can paddle or fish.

Looking for something in the Deep South? The 4-day Tennessee Hiking – Big South Fork (Lodge Based) trip takes place on the beautiful Cumberland Plateau. There’s plenty of Indigenous and American history here, including exploring the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. The trail was named for Daniel Boone, who was named Sheltowee from the Shawnee tribe.

West Coasters who want something closer to home can opt for the 6-day Washington Hiking – Mount Rainier & Olympic National Park (Lodge Based), which leads travelers through the meadows and waterfalls surrounding this iconic volcano. It concludes at Olympia National Park.

But there’s also the Seattle Hiking, Cycling and Kayaking Adventure (Lodge Based), which entails 3 “action-packed days” exploring the city’s many outdoor activities.

Visit the REI website to check out all the options.

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