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.

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After becoming paralyzed from the chest down, the mountain athlete found an unlikely ally in recovery: psychedelics

Kurt Steiner has dedicated his life to skipping stones, developing a technique to produce throws that defy the laws of physics

Some of you are thinking, Ewww, no way. But open your hearts to the truth: spiders are among the most fascinating creatures on earth, and great neighbors to boot (goodbye, mosquitos!). With climate change putting them in danger, they could use a few new friends.

The 27-year-old former Navy SEAL may be one of the most gifted runners on the planet. Good thing he doesn’t want to race—yet.

Born on an island off the coast of Virginia, home to a wild herd that inspired the classic children’s novel ‘Misty of Chincoteague,’ this gentle, blue-eyed gelding enjoyed an adventurous life with a family in New Mexico. After his death, a mother and daughter went on a mission: to lay him to rest amid the sand and the waves.

“I really did spend 16-plus hours covering fewer than three miles”

Meet an amazing man who has dedicated his entire adult life to stone skipping, sacrificing everything to produce world-record throws that defy the laws of physics. To hear him tell it, he has no choice.

People say farmers aren’t supposed to get emotionally attached to livestock. Uh-huh. When fate sent our writer two newborn sheep with life-threatening birth defects, that kind of thinking was banished from the barn.

If you want workers to come back to the office, here's a thought: let them wear shorts

Eric and Pam Bealer were living in a cabin in rugged coastal Alaska when they made a dramatic decision: they would exit the world together

When retired art dealer Forrest Fenn hid a chest full of a million dollars’ worth gold, rubies, and diamonds in the Rocky Mountains, he sent thousands on a journey of desperation

The family of Lauren Davis desperately sought answers after she was fatally struck by a driver while biking to work in New York City in 2016. At every step, the criminal-justice system let them down, raising the question of what justice should look like for victims of traffic violence.

Leading cross-country bike tours was supposed to be the ultimate escape from the monotony of normal life. Instead it was a kind of torture.

In 2015, billionaire entrepreneur Johnny Morris opened a hunting-and-fishing store that doubles as a theme park, with multiple bars and restaurants, a luxury lodge, and an entire swampland forest decorated with taxidermy—all shoved inside a replica Egyptian monument. We sent one writer on a 24-hour mission to explore this exotic modern wilderness.

Rivendell Bicycle Works built a loyal following by ignoring convention. But what happens when good intentions spark public outrage in a country divided?

The legendary chef runs restaurants on three continents and has perfected the art of cooking over an open flame. We joined him in Patagonia to ask: What’s next?

Brian Boland was a prolific creator of handcrafted hot-air balloons who set distance and altitude records all over the world. But on July 15, 2021, during a routine outing with a family in Vermont, things went dramatically wrong. Sarah Schweitzer examines Boland’s eccentric and adventurous life, and finds out what happened on his fateful last flight.

Once thought to be basically immortal, giant sequoias are dying in droves as fires burn bigger, hotter, and longer than at any other point in human history. Protecting them is possible, but managing western woods is a Pandora’s box of tough choices.

People develop sensitivities to just about everything these days, but can you really be allergic to frigid temperatures? Our writer takes us on a wild—and potentially life threatening—journey to find out.

Mega cruise ships stopped sailing to Key West, Florida, during the height of COVID-19. Many locals appreciated the resulting peace and quiet and won a vote for large ships not to return. But the fight’s not over.

With fabrics created from alga, graphene, and copper, and hoodies built to last a hundred years, two British ad men are creating the apparel and gear of the future

After kicking off an enormous slide on a familiar backcountry run in Colorado, our writer was forced to reconsider his relationship with skiing

After a lifetime of prudishness, our writer tries to become one of those people who bares it all in the great outdoors

Thanks to a lot of hard work, skill, luck, and love, these amazing animals emerged safely from the flames and disruption

Fresh out of film school, Soraya Simi’s first documentary was centered around the Paralympic rower’s 2,500-mile solo journey to Hawaii. Except Madsen never made it.

When vast gas reserves were discovered off the idyllic coast of northern Mozambique, a crew of roughnecks flew in from around the world to make their fortunes. But in March 2021, Islamist rebels attacked, and the foreigners and thousands of Mozambicans were abandoned. Two hundred holed up at the Amarula Lodge, where the expats faced a choice: save themselves, or risk it all to save everyone. As oil and gas fuel a new war in Europe, Alex Perry pieces together, shot by shot, a stunning morality tale for the global economy.

He was an environmentalist versed in the dangers of our warming world, an expert trail runner, and eminently capable of moving far and fast outside. The heat killed him all the same.

The Swiss Alps are home to an incredible new hut-to-hut runners’ route called the Via Valais. It’s a little demanding—150 miles, nine stages, and 42,000 feet of elevation gain—but if you can take it on, you’re guaranteed one of the most spectacular adventures of your life.

This retired professional ultrarunner has found (almost) every waterfall along this wild stretch of central California coast. And, no, he won’t tell you where the best ones are.

Last summer, Tiffany Thiele, a young rock climber from Reno, Nevada, took her life after posting a Facebook message claiming she’d been raped by a ski patroller. She left behind an unsolvable mystery about what really happened, along with urgent questions about whether more could have been done to heal her feelings of pain and distrust.

In the heart of Cornhusker country, they know how to make their own fun. Native son Carson Vaughan drafted four friends, loaded up on beer, and did what may be the strangest float trip in the world.

In an excerpt from his new book, ‘Riverman,’ writer Ben McGrath recounts how he met an itinerant canoeist named Dick Conant, a fascinating character who mysteriously disappeared shortly thereafter

Last year, Annette McGivney lost her beloved yellow Lab, Sunny, and was overwhelmed by sadness. Since then she’s built a new life with a challenging rescue dog, and she’s learned a lot about the healing power of human and animal bonds.

It’s not easy being a progressive who works for a middle-of-the-road president. Mark Sundeen sizes up the interior secretary’s first year in office—which has been a disappointment to climate-change activists—and decides she’s most likely to make a mark through a historic reckoning over the U.S. government’s shameful running of Native American boarding schools.

In a small town in England in the early 1950s, a group of Brits gathered at a pub to form the world’s first off-road cycling club. They came from all classes—barons rubbed elbows with foundry workers—but were united by their love of the wild and a shared belief that a bike could get them anywhere they dreamed of. Seventy years on, Tom Vanderbilt heads to the UK to join a few current members in pursuit of the rough stuff.

How boredom and booze created an outlaw sport best left alone

Earth-loving New Yorkers are drawing from an unlikely arsenal of activism, hip-hop, marathon city-council Zoom meetings, and one sassy pug to hold the city to its zero-waste commitments. If they succeed, the environmental benefits could be huge.

The accident highlights an industry at a crossroads and raises a crucial question: As safety schools boom, who is responsible for making sure the students come home?

Mark Jenkins chose to skip a risky adventure with his friends. Twenty-five years later, he’s still haunted by what happened in his absence.

In the past two years, Americans have become disenchanted with work, leading to major strikes and what is being called the Great Resignation. But what if there was a better way? This writer went looking for that ever elusive work-life balance, learning how to get outside more and stress less.

Reeling from her husband’s request to divorce after 25 years of marriage and two kids, Florence Williams was experiencing debilitating grief. An accomplished reporter, she decided to explore the science of heartache to see if she could find a cure. In this excerpt from her new book, ‘Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey,’ she heads out for a 120-mile solo paddle on Utah’s Green River, with a too heavy portable toilet and a shattered heart.

Four years ago, the Minnesota phenom won historic Olympic gold in cross-country skiing, alongside Kikkan Randall. She was just getting going.

All over America’s ancient eastern mountains, there’s an organism that lives underground, tethered to tree roots, waiting to be hunted. It’s among the world’s rarest and most expensive foods, and it grows in a wide range of conditions. But there’s only one guy in the country who really knows how to find it. Rowan Jacobsen joins him in the search for the Appalachian truffle.

While getting his PhD in English, Logan Scherer developed an intense friendship with a male grad student that lasted for years, through his friend’s engagement and marriage to a woman. Scherer struggled to make sense of it, until he lost himself in a group of spinster nature writers from the late 19th century who eschewed marriage to live alone or with other women during a time when the language of queerness didn’t exist.

A secret abortion, pirates, and the peace found at the bottom of the ocean

With increased coastal flooding and erosion, climate change is harshing California’s mellow vibes. Officials say it’s time to retreat from the shore altogether. Residents want to stay and fight. Paul Kvinta reports from the front lines of a pitched battle, where geologists and millionaires are squaring off, and friendly fire between surfers isn’t so friendly.

When Maggie Shipstead set out to report on women-only expedition travel, she was driven by a desire to learn new skills in a low-bro-factor environment. But six days exploring Alaska with the state’s first woman-owned adventure outfitter turned out to be regenerative in ways she didn’t expect.

Hoping to help my brother beat his alcohol addiction, I set up a two-wheel road trip through the scenic terrain of northeast Kansas. As usual, he was funny, endearing, maddening, and burdened by problems I couldn’t solve.

For as far back as she can remember, Mardi Fuller grew up in a world of swimming lessons and swim teams, which was unusual for a daughter of Jamaican immigrants. Why the emphasis on water? Because of a mysterious death that haunted her family’s past.

All over the West, a housing crisis is causing workforce shortages, crippling local businesses, and threatening the culture and existence of mountain towns as we know them. But amid the doom and gloom, some people are fighting for solutions.

The grandeur of the Great Salt Lake stopped Brigham Young in his tracks and inspired John Muir to jump in for a swim. Yet now it’s in danger of disappearing, sucked dry by agriculture, climate change, and suburban lawns. Many Utahns would just as soon pave it, but as Bill Gifford learned during a yearlong exploration, there’s beauty and natural splendor here that deserves to live on.

How two rival teams fought storms and sleep deprivation to claim an 18-year-old paddling FKT

For decades, Deep Springs College in California resisted the push to go coed. But even though women are now allowed to attend, it still holds on to the past.

I’m really sorry it happened and really glad I survived. Notes on the flabbergasting climax of an Alaska road trip that changed my life.

Each year an estimated 300,000 smugglers, known as ‘kolbars,’ haul millions of pounds of contraband from Iraq to Iran over the 14,000-foot peaks of the Zagros Mountains. More than 50 of them will die—shot dead, killed in accidents, or freezing to death—and countless more will be arrested and imprisoned. Alex Perry travels to Iraqi Kurdistan to investigate the roots of a trade that all but defies comprehension.

Over the past few years, McCastle has completed 5,804 pull-ups in a single day, pulled a 5,000-pound truck across the Mojave Desert, and climbed a rope the equivalent height of Mount Everest. How on earth has this Navy SEAL dropout accomplished some of the craziest physical feats in recent memory?

If you get lost or injured in the woods these days, aid might come from above—in the form of small-propeller drones that are revolutionizing SAR and saving lives

A revered figure in modern climbing literature, Katie Ives is known for her intense work ethic and for encouraging writers who weren’t always invited to the club. In her first book, she explores how the physical and fantastical aspects of big peaks have, for centuries, inspired human dreams.

Oregon voters have opened the door to treating mental illness with substances like ketamine and psilocybin. In a peek at the future, our seeker attends a backwoods retreat where patients get help from a powerful combination of drugs and the outdoors.

A new app called NatureQuant harnesses the latest research to track and rate your time outside. Next up: determining how much you need.

At a bold and stylish new brewery in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Missy Begay and Shyla Sheppard are using traditional Native American ingredients to produce delicious craft creations, part of a growing movement that’s changing the face of domestic beer

When my yellow Lab died last spring, I was flattened by an overwhelming sadness that’s with me still. And that’s normal, experts say, because losing a pet is often one of the hardest yet least acknowledged traumas we’ll ever face.

With a pair of Army SPECS and a little ingenuity, Pit Viper’s cofounders built a brand that nobody could have predicted

Lyme-carrying ticks are a bigger threat than ever. A promising new antibody treatment looks to stop infection—even after a tick bite.

To live in the small town of Haines, Alaska, is to live with bears, with roughly one brown bear for every nine human residents. Last winter, a local snowboarder woke a hibernating brown bear in the backcountry and was severely injured, furthering tensions between food-stressed bears and anxious local residents. But in most encounters, it’s the bear that ends up dead, prompting the question of what it means to coexist.

Her list of physical feats seems almost impossible. Win national sport-climbing competitions starting at the age of 13? Check. Summit Mount Everest? Check. Free-climb El Capitan in under 24 hours? That, too. But in order to cement her status as one of the world’s best climbers, there were more daunting obstacles to overcome.

Born in Surf City USA, and the descendant of an actual samurai, Japan’s surfing superstar is ready for the sport’s debut on the world stage.

On a backpacking trip through Utah’s Buckskin Gulch with ultralight gear legend Glen Van Peski, our writer learns about the Crotch Pot, an Oscar-winning actor’s anti-snoring technique, and that there’s a whole lot of shit you don’t need when you’re on the trail 1,000 miles from home

It’s not just the gear purchases—it’s how we think about the future. Here’s the Outside guide to getting your financial $hit together, no selling out required.

When President Biden needs a break from Putin and Mitch McConnell, he vacations on the Delmarva Peninsula, a blend of mid-Atlantic beauty, quirky accents, and tasty treasures from soil and sea. I grew up in the heart of it. Hear my song to this glorious land.

"I fell in love with cycling while watching the Tour each year with my father. When he was dying last summer, it became so much more than just the world's biggest bike race."

The later moon missions didn’t grab as much attention as the first landing in 1969, but they had something very cool on the gear front: the lunar rover, a lightweight go-kart that gave crews unmatched mobility on another world

After losing her father to Alzheimer’s disease, one writer reflects on her relationship with grief and running—and the connections between the two

Tuliamuk had secured her spot in the Tokyo Olympics—then 2020 happened. Fortunately, she’s always run for more than just the medals.

At some point in every adventurous life, you need to pursue something completely trivial with such single-minded focus that it nearly drives you mad. Allow me to explain.

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