Top Highlights From the first Open Roads Fest

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

TOP HIGHLIGHTS FROM OPEN ROADS FEST

Photo credit goes to the amazing Samantha Sais. Header drone shot by Josiah Roe.

It isn’t every day that people from all walks of life, backgrounds, experiences, and ages come together for a three-night campout in the mountains of Idaho. However, that’s exactly what went down at this year’s inaugural Open Roads Fest at Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall, Idaho: a van life festival that we organized with the adventure enthusiast in mind. With the help of our amazing volunteers, the folks at Jug Mountain Ranch, and so many more, we threw what turned out to be an epic get together in celebration of life on the road.

Over the course of a few days, van lifers, aspiring van lifers, and others who enjoy the freedom of the road hung out, attended workshops, made new friends, and packed as much outdoor adventure into their days as they could. It was incredible to watch people living it up and breaking out of their comfort zones with van life as the common thread. To put it simply: we were floored.

Now, with the first-ever Open Roads Fest in the books, we are reflecting on the top highlights from one seriously amazing weekend. Couldn’t make it? Want to relive it one more time? Curious what next year will be like?

Keep reading to get the scoop on what went down during this one-of-a-kind van life festival.

 

Open Roads Fest – Video Recap

Outdoor Adventure at Its Best

The festival grounds of Open Roads Fest at were only a few steps away from some of Idaho’s best outdoor activities. The attendees took full advantage of the easy access to Jug Mountain Ranch’s hiking trails, world-class single track mountain biking trails, and a private reservoir for paddling, swimming, and cooling off in.

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

World-Class Mountain Biking

The amazing team at Jug Mountain Ranch provided complimentary shuttles and top-of-the-line mountain bikes for folks to try out on the epic mountain bike trails that were right on site. The Open Roads Fest Adventure Hub was buzzing non-stop with people checking out bikes, chatting with local experts, and of course, going mountain biking — many for the first time and loving it!

Mountain biking at Open Roads Fest

Free Paddleboarding Demos on Jug Mountain’s Private Reservoir

Other festival goers hopped in one of Jug Mountain’s 4×4 shuttles to catch a ride up to the sparkling reservoir on the property. Hydrus Board Tech brought a fleet of their Boise-made SUP boards and offered free paddleboarding demos to anyone wanting to get out on the water. All weekend the sun was out and the weather was perfect, yet hot, so this was a prime location for many guests looking to cool off, try something new, or enjoy a refreshing dip in the water. However, you didn’t have to go to the reservoir to escape the heat. We also had a beautiful creek that meandered right behind the campsites to dip your toes in or take a chilly plunge.

Paddle boarding at Open Roads Fest with free paddle board demos provided by Boise-based Hydrus paddle boards

Fly Fishing Workshop

Idaho is known for its fly fishing, so we were stoked to have a local guide from Taylor Outfitting swing by to teach us the basics of casting, learn all about fly fishing equipment and go land the big one. It’s no surprise that this session booked up quick!

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

Rejuvenating Yoga

Having easy access to all this outdoor adventure can really wear you out. Every morning Open Roads Fest weekend pass holders hit refresh with a free yoga class held under the tent at Basecamp by Bearfoot Theory’s own Katherine Oakes. It was the perfect way to start the morning, feel rejuvenated, and get ready for another jam-packed day.

Yoga at Open Roads Fest

Workshops (aka Crash Courses in Van Life)

One of the goals that we set out to accomplish at Open Roads Fest was to offer educational, expert-led workshops that would have attendees leave feeling ready to tackle van life like never before. Throughout the weekend, folks participated in over a dozen workshops that covered the basics and beyond. Each day, Basecamp was packed, and our engaging speakers shared tons of insight, professional advice, and how-tos with the audience. Word on the street was that some people even stayed there all day!

Workshops at Open Roads Fest covered all topics of van life - from doing a DIY conversion to doing van life in Europe.

The workshops covered everything you could want to know and more about taking van life to the next level. Whether it was tips for building out your van, powering your van with solar, cooking on the road, traveling solo and finding community, or a fun and lively Q+A with Kristen, our hearts and minds were full of inspiration for all the road trips ahead.

A huge shout out to all our speakers for your time, efforts, and for making the first-ever Open Roads Fest such a great success!

Van Hangs & Community

Van life is centered on community. So, it’s no surprise that the heart and soul of the festival were the people who attended. We were totally blown away by the positive energy and enthusiasm of each and every person who came to Open Roads Fest. Over the course of just a few days, we watched new friendships form between folks of different age groups, views, and vehicles, who bonded over their shared passion for living life to the fullest — even if it means living unconventionally. A good time was had by all and it was all because of you.

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

Van (Night) Life

Open Roads Fest sponsor, Anheuser Busch, helped us kick things off right with complimentary beers at our Welcome Happy Hour. Not only did we get to enjoy them the first evening, but we tossed a couple of cold ones back with friends each night as we jammed to live music from Meandercat and Stonefed. These stellar bands packed the tent each night — getting everyone moving and keeping the good vibes going well after sunset. The epic dance parties were the perfect way to end the day, let loose, and have a great time.

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

Leave No Trace Raffle

We raised over $3,000 thanks to our sponsors and some favorite brands, with all ticket sales going to benefit the non-profit organization, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. As passionate outdoor enthusiasts, we wanted to make sure that Open Roads Fest made a positive impact, gave back, and helped us all responsibly enjoy the wild places we love. It was incredible to watch people jump on board and win tons of cool prizes, all while supporting a great cause. Big thanks to our generous donors and all who participated, plus, congrats to those who walked away with those big-ticket items!

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

 

Vendors

The intimate nature of Open Roads Fest allowed attendees to get to know the people and stories behind the products offered by our sponsors and vendors. It was so cool to walk around and see so many connections being made. All around Basecamp, people were chatting with different brands; getting to experience firsthand products that they’d been wondering about and learning about new ones. By the end of the weekend, new friendships had been formed, questioned had been answered, and the stoke on each and every one of the brands that participated was high.

Vendors at Open Roads Fest included Outside Van, Aluminess, Zamp Solar, DIY Adventure Van Co and more!

Pets of Open Roads Fest

We might be biased, but every Adventure-mobile needs a good furry or feathered copilot to come along for the ride. From the moment the pets of Open Roads Fest rolled in, they easily became some of our favorite attendees — Charlie the Adventure Dog thought so, too. Just like their humans, the dogs were friendly and free-spirited, and the furry feline van dwellers blew us away (if you haven’t seen a cat on a SUP board, it’s time to grab your ticket to the next Open Roads Fest). It’s safe to say that Cowboy, the blind Basset Hound, who cruised around in the 4×4, did morning yoga, and hung out with his owner’s bird, charmed us all and scored the title of most popular attendee of the weekend.

Read about the top highlights from Bearfoot Theory's first-ever Open Roads Fest - a van life festival & campout for outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho.

What was your favorite part of the Open Roads Fest? Got some highlights of your own to share? Leave a comment below or join the conversation in our Bearfoot Theory Outdoor Adventurers on Facebook!

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About the author

Katherine Oakes is an outdoor travel, sustainability writer and yoga teacher. As an avid hiker, skier, yogi (namaste) and aspiring environmentalist, her best days are spent getting a little dirt under her fingernails and fresh air in her lungs.

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