Solo travel has been on the rise this past decade. According to research by Kayak, searches for single-traveler flights are 36% higher for 2023 travel than for 2022 travel. Escape from the distractions of everyday life and opt for a transformative, renewing experience in the wilderness. The three great options below all offer plenty of seclusion, adventure, and incredible encounters with wildlife and nature.
Embark on a Wilderness Cruise in Alaska
Embark on a journey of discovery in Alaska, Vancouver Island, or Desolation Sound while reveling in the freedom of solo exploration. Small group adventures are an alluring option for solo travelers seeking to explore in the company of likeminded people, but expedition cruises often require a single supplement to pay for the high level of experience they offer.
Boutique wilderness cruise company Maple Leaf Adventures has pioneered safari-like trips in Alaska and British Columbia since 1986, with small group exploration at its core. Ships carry either 8, 12 or 24 guests and when ashore, guests are usually in groups of about 12 people. Some of their upcoming expeditions this season include the Alaska Supervoyage (August 6-17 aboard Swell), Alaska Supervoyage with Canadian Geographic (July 26-Aug 6, aboard Swell), Whales & Wild Isles (July 23-31 and August 3-11, aboard Cascadia), and Desolation Sound & Fjords of BC (October 17-24, aboard Cascadia).
The nature of this style of travel eliminates the barriers a solo traveler may face on larger ships; compared to bigger boats, guests do not feel overwhelmed by hordes of strangers . Guiding crew are essentially “built-in” solo travelers to share the journey with guests—their expertise and warmth are as much a part of the trip as the place, wildlife and ship.
Hike to a Backcountry Hut in Colorado
The sunlight breaks through clouds in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains by Kody Goodson – Unsplash
In the San Juan Mountains just outside of Silverton, Colorado, travelers can hike or snowshoe to a unique lodging experience. The OPUS Hut is a full-service, European-style backcountry lodge with solar-powered lighting, indoor composting toilets, in-floor solar-thermal heating, and healthy, natural food served up daily. In the summer months, one can drive to within just a quarter mile of the hut, but in the winter the road closes and it’s a 3.5 mile hike. This, cozy lodge features two wood stoves, a large dining area with seating for 20, and a small reclining area by the fire.
While the hut is certainly off the beaten path, it still has plenty of little luxuries like outlets for charging devices, filtered drinking water, hot and cold tap water, as well as beer, wine and a limited selection of spirits are available from their bar. Meals are prepared with quality natural, organic and when possible, locally grown products.
This summer, the hut is also trialing a new full bedding service by providing sheets, pillows, pillowcases and a duvet—which means visitors don’t need to bring a sleeping bag liner or any other bedding in their packs. However, this is trial run, and may not continue in the future; be sure to double-check before your booking, or else you might be sleeping a little less comfortably.
Further north in the high peaks of Leadville, those seeking a unique off-grid overnight experience can sleep sustainably at the Weston Pass Hut, set at 11,950 feet. While this hut is technically accessible by vehicle, get the full experience by hiking, skiing, or biking to this remote escape. Hikes from this high perch look out to the tops of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges, including Colorado’s two highest peaks, showcasing Mother Earth’s splendor. The hut itself complements the surrounding natural beauty, as it was built with locally harvested and milled beams and an earth-covered, naturally insulated tundra roof.
Stargaze in the Adirondacks
The Milk Way galaxy rises over the Adirondacks by Kurt Von – Unsplash
The Adirondacks, located within a day’s drive for 25% of the entire North American population, is home to hundreds of New York state-owned campgrounds where visitors can pitch a tent, park an RV, swim in one of the cool lakes, fish along the shore, and explore the area’s mountains, trails, and attractions. At night, campers can enjoy the region’s extreme darkness to easily admire the nighttime sky – offering billions of stars under which to sleep.
The Hamilton County region, in particular, is known for its wilderness and the “big” experiences that it offers to visitors. The area’s wide-open nighttime sky provides a 180-degree view of the Milky Way, billions of stars, planets and sometimes satellites, all twinkling against an ink-black background. In fact, the Adirondack sky is a prime Eastern stargazing zone, with very little light pollution, relatively low humidity, and elevation—all important factors for viewing the stars.
Hamilton County’s billion-star camping options include riverfront and lakefront sites, perfect for daytime swimming, fishing and lounging. Many offer restroom facilities, showers and easy access to local attractions. Who needs a 5-star resort when you can have a beautiful, remote, adventure-filled, billion-star hotel?
This summer, last-minute camping under the stars is possible, as campsites are still available; many for less than $20 per night. It has also recently been announced by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation that two campgrounds in the region (Moffit Beach and Lewey Lake campgrounds) have extended their seasons until October 9th.