Long Reads

Long reads are the longform articles our readers know and love. These features showcase our strongest writers, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors.

What I Saw When I Came Eye to Eye with a Whale

Sperm whales are extra­ordinarily intelligent animals with deep family traditions and the ability to communicate across oceans with sonic clicks. But when Rowan Jacobsen had a close encounter with one in the Caribbean, he saw a creature far stranger than he'd ever imagined.

Rowan Jacobsen
Jun 24, 2020

A Cave Kingpin Is Buying Up America’s Underground. What’s His Plan?

John Ackerman has spent millions procuring a majority of the known caves in Minnesota, which add up to dozens of miles of underground passageways and likely make him the largest cave owner in the U.S. He collects and charts them in the name of preservation, but his controversial methods have created many opponents.

Matthew Sherrill
Jun 17, 2020

The Unlikely ASMR Hero of… Camp Stoves?

Our writer has a man crush on a Utah cook-stove inventor named Steve Despain, and it’s easy to see why. Using creative design, smart marketing, and YouTube star turns, he’s brought glamour to the humblest little workhorse in the outdoors.

Mark Horowitz
Jun 10, 2020

Sudden Solitude on One of the World's Busiest Mountains

Our writer was looking to find solace on the congested slopes of Snowdon in Wales when COVID-19 shut it down. He soon realized that a mountain devoid of humans isn't the vision he thought it would be.

Oliver Smith
Jun 6, 2020

The High, High Price of Living in Utopia

Nestled in Chattahoochee Hills southwest of Atlanta, the Serenbe community is designed to deliver everybody's favorite buzzword: wellness. You can't argue with the gourmet wine dinners, leafy walking trails, and goat yoga, but be aware that Paradise doesn't come cheap.

Carrie Battan
May 28, 2020

Adventures in Lockdown with Seven Full-Size Roommates

My dad is struggling with cancer in North Carolina, and COVID-19 cruelly cut him off from his family. But in Maine, where I live, the pandemic has forced 'Brady Bunch' togetherness that's been challenging, strangely fun, and full of lessons worth carrying forward.

W. Hodding Carter
May 20, 2020

The Misunderstood Hunters of Florida's Python Bowl

Pythons are devouring native animal life in the unique ecosystem of South Florida. To help solve the problem, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials have turned to amateur and professional hunters to round up the reptiles in a wild competition called the Python Bowl.

Rebecca Renner
May 14, 2020

I Escaped Our Weird Reality with Airbnb Online Experiences

Could the company's latest play to own the experience economy transport me virtually around the world? I made sangria with drag queens in Portugal, meditated with sleepy sheep in Scotland, and visited stray dogs in Ukraine to find out just how far Zoom-powered travel could take me.

Nora Caplan-Bricker
May 7, 2020