The Airbnb of Camping Is Opening Private Lands to Backpackers

Through Hipcamp, landowners can rent their own sites for campers seeking solitude and new adventures.
Through Hipcamp, landowners can rent their own sites for campers seeking solitude and new adventures. John Fedele / Getty Images

Hipcamp, the online lodging site that helps you find and reserve the perfect campsite, has expanded beyond national and state to include untouched private land through their Land Sharing Program. "We already created the most comprehensive guide to camping, so this is the next phase," says Hipcamp co-founder Alyssa Ravasio. "Imagine the experience of being the only campers with the code to the gate at a 600-acre ranch with private waterfalls."

The idea of allowing landowners to open up their property to Hipcamp's young, urban demographic may sound like a version of Airbnb for the wilderness, but according to Ravasio, it's much more than that. While Airbnb is a utility for finding a place to lay your head while you experience a new city or destination, Land Sharing is meant to allow campers to find a destination. "This program not only makes it possible for people to have an amazing experience camping on completely new landscapes without the crowds of parks, but it also allows people who really want to keep their land natural and undeveloped do that. Ecotourism is a beautiful way for people to hold on to the land that has been in their family for generations without having to turn to mining, logging, or fracking."

Like many booking sites, Hipcamp plays the middleman between owners and campers, acting as the marketplace where everyone can find what they are looking for. You're able to reserve campsites and pay for them directly through the website, as well as get in touch with rental owners. The program allows landowners to charge a price that they choose for their particular offerings, which currently range from a Yurt on a North Coast California farm for $100 a night to a remote site along the Garcia River accessible only by footbridge that features five beds, two wood stoves, a full kitchen, and functioning toilet for $300 a night.

Currently, Hipcamp's private offerings are not as expansive as their public land listings, which covers 220,000 campsites across more than 8,000 parks and campgrounds in 36 states. But in hopes to expand their acreage, the company is offering a $500 bonus for referring or listing private land. But in the end, Ravasio says that it's about promoting conservation while still allowing people to enjoy the beauty that is being preserved. "I never understood that conservation and recreation had to be mutually exclusive," she says. "We are aiming to allow the people who own that land to make revenue off of their untouched land that they couldn't otherwise, and give campers everywhere an accessible adventure."