Are you still looking for an unforgettable trip to take this summer? Enter the fan-favorite Open Roads Fest in McCall, Idaho. At this festival, you’ll find the ideal blend of van life community, engaging activities, and eye-popping nature.
For three days from sunrise to sunset (at a shockingly-late 9:30 pm), you’ll be treated to the festival’s jam-packed itinerary of wellness sessions, informative van life workshops, social events, and live music. If that weren’t enough, you’ll have access to top-notch trails for mountain biking and a private lake for cooling down.
Sound like your type of festival? Keep reading for our guide to Open Roads Fest. Learn what makes this event so unique, plus all of the practical details you’ll need for smooth sailing.
When is Open Roads Fest?
In 2022, Open Roads Fest is taking place from July 15th-18th.
What is Open Roads Fest?
Open Roads Fest is a three-day festival geared towards outdoorsy van dwellers and other people interested in a nomadic way of life. The festival is held on the ten-acre Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall, Idaho. When not tuning into the event’s robust programming, festival-goers can explore the ranch’s scenic meadows, forested hills, and small lake.
A relative newcomer to the scene, Open Roads Fest has nonetheless become quite popular. The festival was started in 2019 by van life blogger Kristen Bor of Bearfoot Theory. After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Roads Fest is gearing up for an even bigger and better return this summer.
Founder Kristen Bor’s goal is to create community, educate, promote respect for nature, and–of course–throw a fun-filled event! The festival is open to all ages and well-behaved pets, so you can take your whole crew along.
What programming does Open Roads Fest offer?
Attendees will get to take their pick from a packed schedule of sessions and workshops, live music, and social activities. Start each day off right with a wellness session incorporating healthy habits like stretching, yoga, mindfulness, and breathwork. If these sessions inspire you to take on a solo workout–or perhaps lead an impromptu class of new friends at the campground–check out “Stay Fit on the Road: 5 Exercise Routines You Can Do Anywhere.”
Then seek out the wide range of expert-led workshops that will appeal to newbies, seasoned van dwellers, and everyone in between. Subjects include “Van Power Systems 101,” “Thriving Relationships in Tiny Spaces,” and “Money on the Move.” In addition to the official workshops, you’ll get to tour van builds by exhibitors and chat with vendors from industry-leading companies.
There will be ample opportunities to meet other festival-goers throughout the event but especially around the community fire pit. Storyteller Overland is also hosting a free pancake breakfast on Sunday.
It wouldn’t be much of a festival without music, and Open Roads Fest delivers with live musical performances every day. Josh Daniel, The Pour, Leah Woods, and DJ Aaron Schuckman will provide the vibes–with something for everyone–at the main tent as well as lakeside. Food and coffee vendors will be on-site to give you some fuel for dancing.
What outdoor activities can I do on the ranch?
Counterbalance all the socializing by getting active in nature. On the sprawling ranch, you’ll find singletrack bike trails winding through lovely landscapes. You (and your bike) can take the free shuttle from the camping area to the trails for an exhilarating ride through the forest. If you’re not into mountain biking, check out the views by hiking or trail running.
To cool down, hit the ranch’s private lake. Here too, a free shuttle will provide easy transportation for visitors. The refreshing waters will invite you to paddleboard, swim, float, and enjoy the simple pleasures of summer days spent on a lake.
What is the camping situation like?
Open Roads Fest provides options for both van camping and tent camping. Campsites in the main camping area are perfectly situated in a meadow adjacent to a creek. The spots will be arranged in rows like a neighborhood to foster connections between campers. The organizers are also offering van camping in a small field within walking distance of the festivities for those that would prefer a quiet and calm spot.
All sites are dry camping only, so be sure to bring enough water and supplies for a self-sufficient stay. However, clean porta potties will be available for attendees. The campsites are first-come, first-served; get there early if you want to get a prime spot. If you’re meeting up with friends and hoping to set up camp next to each other, try to arrive at the same time. Vehicles will not be allowed to leave and return after entering the festival, but there will be plenty to keep you busy on the ranch for three days.
How much does Open Roads Fest cost?
Open Roads Fest tickets aren’t cheap, but we think the experience is well worth it. There are several different prices: $184.00 for the driver of a van, $169.00 for the driver of a normal-sized vehicle for tent camping, $139.00 for a van camping or tent camping passenger, and $29.00 for a child between the ages of 11 and 17. Kids 10 and under are free.
What activities can I do in the surrounding areas?
When the last vans leave the campgrounds at the end of the festival, the vacation doesn’t have to end. Stock up on supplies in the resort town of McCall and explore the surrounding areas for a little longer. If you’ve made new friends at the festival, you consider inviting them to join. For hiking with mountain views, waterfalls, and forests, opt for the Goose Creek Falls trail and Louie Lake. Looking to get your adrenaline pumping? Try whitewater rafting on the Payette River. If you’d rather relax and soak in some warm water after the festival, head to Gold Fork Hot Springs or Burgdorf Hot Springs.
Open Roads Fest expertly combines elements of all of the best types of festivals, from live music and workshops to organic opportunities to socialize. They are also set apart from many festivals by all of the exclusive outdoor recreation opportunities on the property. If you want to find your road warrior community, learn more about vanning, and make the most of a long weekend in a beautiful location, Open Roads Fest might be just the thing for you.
Looking for more summer travel suggestions? Check out “8 Top Places to Swim in Nature This Summer” and “10 Immersive Art Attractions to Add to Your Road Trip Bucket List.” For the van to take you there, visit Rec Van.