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5 Off-the-Grid Destinations with Zero Cell Service

Unplug from the grid here

In the best places, you couldn't make a call even if you wanted to. (Sam Camp/iStock)

Unplug from the grid here

Ready to unplug? We mean no Snapchatting, no Instagramming, no text messages, and especially no work emails. Tell your boss that in these five out-of-service locales, you couldn’t make a call even if you wanted to.   

Big Sur, California

Take the meandering drive down California’s rugged, coast-hugging Highway 1 and you’ll lose cell service just about as you’re hitting the rocky cliffs of Big Sur. Grab an ocean-view campsite at Kirk Creek Campground, surf the mellow break at Sand Dollar Beach, and climb 1,450 feet in elevation through misty old-growth redwoods on the Ewoldsen Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. At night, dig into a wood-fired pizza at the Big Sur Bakery.

Kamas, Utah

You don’t have to head too far into Utah’s Uinta Mountains, the highest range in the state, to be blissfully out of cell range. You can backpack to high alpine lakes overflowing with trout, take in the picturesque 56-mile drive known as the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, or post up at a log cabin at the Bear River Lodge (from $229). Don’t miss the house-smoked teriyaki peppered jerky at the Samak Smoke House in Kamas. 

Old Forge, New York

In addition to endless outdoor recreation, the Adirondacks also has spotty coverage so you can really get away. Book a lodge room or cabin at the newly renovated Great Pines (from $139), which opens for business in July on Fourth Lake outside the town of Old Forge. The lodge, formerly the run-down North Woods Inn, was purchased last December by a New York City couple who quit their fashion and cosmetics jobs to move to the mountains. Rent a kayak or canoe, explore the hiking trails right from the lodge, and grab dinner in the new Lean-To taproom.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Welcome to one of America’s greatest destinations for disconnecting: the Grand Canyon. From the canyon’s deep ravine, floating down the emerald waters of the Colorado River, your phone will live permanently in a buried dry bag, brought along only for taking photos of plunging canyon walls and campsite revelry. O.A.R.S. leads raft trips ranging from a five-day sampler to the full 17-day, 280-mile journey from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead (from $2,379.) 

Downieville, California

You’ll come to Downieville, a remote outpost in the Sierra Nevada, for its world-class mountain biking, including the 15-mile-long shuttled Downieville Downhill, which spoils with 4,000 vertical feet of descent. You’ll also be treated to a cell-phone-free visit in the process—service is spotty at best. Book a bike shuttle from Yuba Expeditions (from $200), score a campsite along the North Yuba River, and hit up the Brewing Lair for a pint of local IPA. 

Filed To: Travel / California / Utah / New York / Arizona
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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