Back in 2015, outdoor retailer REI decided to close its doors on the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, in order to encourage customers to “opt outside” instead of going to the mall or shopping center. This decision became a long-running campaign and inspired other companies and outdoor-focused organizations to encourage this practice of choosing outdoor togetherness over a day focused on consumerism.
Every year we have hundreds of guests who choose to “opt outside” with us the day after Thanksgiving. But there are other ways to spend intentional time in nature throughout the holidays. Hikes with a Naturalist every Monday in November are included with Park admission and are a great chance to hit the trails and de-stress during a busy time of year. Give yourself the gift of a new peaceful hobby by joining our Mindfulness Hike on November 11th or our Fall Birding Hike on November 18th. Or, simply celebrate the last few months of the Year of the Trail by taking brisk morning hikes through the Park on your own. And of course, don’t forget to #OptOutside on Thanksgiving weekend for Holiday Animal Encounters and a chance to hike off some of that turkey.
If indoor winter activities are feeling a little stuffy, mark your calendars for Santa on the Chimney and get in the Christmas spirit in the great outdoors, too. On December 2nd and 9th watch Santa (with help from his friends at Fox Mountain Guides) rappel down Chimney Rock to prepare for his big day! The event will also feature guided hikes with the elves, special Animal Encounters, holiday music, festive crafts, photos with Santa, and other family-friendly activities. And the calendar year winds down with an off-the-beaten-path hike on December 16th for those with an adventurous spirit, and another Mindfulness Hike on the 30th to say a reflective goodbye to 2023. Though the weather may be changing, there’s no need to be cooped up inside through the chilly months. The holiday season is the perfect time to “opt outside” for more than just one day.