Summer is meant for adventure, and there is perhaps no better adventure than a van life festival. There, you’ll get to camp, learn, eat, drink, hike, shop, dance, and–most importantly–connect with like-minded people.
Van life gatherings also provide a reason to road trip to beautiful destinations off the beaten path that you might never visit otherwise. From the picturesque coast of Oregon to the mountains of Colorado, we’ve compiled the most noteworthy van life events taking place this summer.
Ready to plan for the highlight of your year? Read on for the locations, dates, and details of 11 epic van life festivals.
When: June 10th-11th, June 17th-18th, July 8th-9th, July 29th-30th, September 2nd-3rd
Where: Cable, Wisconsin; Hood River, Oregon; Evergreen, Colorado; Topsfield, Massachusetts; Ogden, Utah
With events year-round and across the country, there’s a good chance you can find an Adventure Van Expo that’s convenient to visit this summer. The heart of these expos is their wide range of vendors selling all things van life-related, from beautifully built-out camper vans to adventure gear and clever van accessories. However, there’s plenty to do besides being tempted to spend all your money. Enjoy local eats and beer, live music, and networking with other van enthusiasts. Most events on this year’s Adventure Van Expo tour offer on-location camping.
When: June 15th-19th
Where: Hudson, Wyoming
Once a year, The Journal of Lost Time hosts a four-day gathering in Wyoming’s scenic Wind River country. Artsy van dwellers will appreciate the event’s lineup of creative activities, from pottery to woodworking. Commemorate the occasion with a tattoo or a scoop of free ice cream. At night, enjoy Bluegrass music and a film festival. A swap meet on the last day provides an opportunity to sell handmade goods, trade gear you don’t need anymore, and find unique items to purchase from other nomads.
When: July 20th-24th
Where: Toledo, Oregon
Another offering from The Journal of Lost Time, this three-day event takes place on the stunning Oregon coast. Wake up each morning to a view of the ocean before taking your pick of an impressive array of activities. Connect with nature with a morning yoga flow, guided kayak and paddleboard estuary tour, and family-friendly boating. Take the energy up a notch with happy hours, live music, a comedy show, karaoke, and bowling. Many of the organized activities in this jam-packed itinerary take place in the surrounding nature or the town of Toledo, so you’ll get to explore a new place while also hanging out with other van dwellers.
When: July 7th-9th and August 25th-27th
Where: Redmond, Oregon and Loveland, Colorado
Expand your community of road warriors at this event, which is geared towards not only van travelers but overland adventurers of all kinds. Here, you’ll meet people who love to explore remote wilderness destinations by car, truck, van, and motorcycle, camping in all manner of arrangements. The massive Overland Expo gatherings feature thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors, classes, and community-building events. This summer, choose between the Pacific Northwest or the Mountain West festivals, or check out both!
When: August 10th-13th
Where: Hollister, California
Like the Overland Expo, the CampNation Expo is open to a wide range of adventurers. Their tagline, “the ultimate gathering for DIY camping and travel enthusiasts, no matter how you roll,” sums up this inclusive attitude perfectly. The event is mainly educational, with dozens of hands-on workshops, guest speakers, and panels. If you’ve ever wondered how to set up a solar power system or sew your own RV upholstery, you’re in luck. And unlike other van festivals and gatherings, the CampNation Expo offers full hook-up sites so you can van camp with that extra degree of comfort.
When: September 1st-4th
Where: The Oregon Outback
Descend on Bend is one of the most eagerly-awaited van life festivals of the year. This popular gathering takes place over Labor Day weekend and draws hundreds of free spirits from around the country. The pristine natural landscape of the Oregon Outback invites rugged outdoor adventures, while the festival itself boasts well-rounded programming. Live music, workshops, yoga, and a daily maker’s market will keep you busy at camp. Foodies will appreciate the coffee and affogatos prepared in an off-grid vintage VW van. Speaking of sweet treats, making friends at the campsite is even easier when you whip up a mouthwatering campfire dessert to share.
Whichever gathering you head to this summer, you’re in for fun times with new and old friends. Looking for more exciting destinations? Check out “The Best Music Festivals for Van Lifers to Attend This Summer” and “Summer Bucket List: 10 Bodies of Water You’ll Want to Swim in This Summer.”
Optimize your travels with our guides to create a summer capsule wardrobe, beat the bugs, and protect your van against summer elements. If you’re looking for your next rig, visit RecVan to browse our huge selection of camper vans from industry-leading brands. Our team is happy to demystify the many models on the market and help you find the perfect adventure partner.