Outdoor Instagram sometimes feels like an echo chamber. #adventure #explore #mountains et al. There’s a word for the numbing side of Instagram: #simulacrum. A simulacrum is a copy of a copy. It is another picture of red-jacketed Instagram influencers in front of a deep blue lake at the seat of jagged snow-capped peaks. There is nothing wrong with this image; it is beautiful. But copied enough times and it loses its power to inspire.
This article is not about the echo chamber; it is about the high-profile people who cut through the noise. Here are over 70 adventurers who, through large followings and true voices, direct the lifeblood of outdoor Instagram; who keep it alive, awake, and authentic.
This was a massive undertaking, but it was also eye-opening. It showed me that, for many of us, the outdoors is the arena of our lives. It is not just about this photo, or this hike, or this campsite. Taken in sum, it’s home. With each of these Instagram influencers, you are looking into lives. Everyone here is chasing passions, battling demons, voicing issues, and encouraging their audience to get outside.
Just as there is no ranking to the variety of views on a winding mountain pass, there is no order to what you see here. As you make your way along this road, some sights will stop you in your tracks, others less so, and each of us in different degrees.
Was it worth staring at Instagram for hours on end to find all these influencers? Absolutely. Did I find everyone who’s worth following? Absolutely not… Please send me a message @ryanfliss if you think someone should be included. For now, it’s time to spend some time away from screens. I hope you enjoy this list, and embrace your own version of the awe I felt in learning about all these incredible people.
“Ski mountaineer, endurance athlete, public speaker, environmental activist. #bigmtndreams”
Caroline is an example of life lived with intent. She sets massive goals and shares the journey to the next big peak, all the while fighting to protect what matters most to her — a lot of which probably also matters significantly to you.
“#LeaveABetterTrace Cinematographer // Photographer // Contributor @natgeoadventure @roam @andsmejor”
When I look at some photographers’ work, I can almost see the moments they put down the camera and stared in awe, appreciating everything in sight. Andy Best is one of those Instagram influencers with an eye, and his photographs take you to that place of admiration, with captions to match.
“Celebrating Instagram’s most illogical campsites. #youdidnotsleepthere”
@youdidnotsleepthere keeps Instagram lighthearted, featuring photos that we all might have looked at and said, “…but did you actually sleep there though?” Related: Leave No Trace just released social media guidance to mitigate effects on nature from people going a little too far for the ‘gram. Worth a read.
“Nate & Steph & Sparta 🐶 & Pyros 🐕 Outdoor adventure, van life, and lots of beer 🍻 🔨 ”
Life on the road, with less metaphorical filter than you’re probably used to. Trust me: that’s a good thing.
“Go Out and Be Happy Let’s go get lost together! PNW➡SDSU WestCoastBestCoast Join the conversation comment away!”
Aiden White’s photography captures the type of fleeting moments in the great outdoors that bring us all closer together.
“Kathleen Morton 🚐 Tiny living storyteller. Living out of a ‘87 van. Co-founder of @vanlifediaries Photographer | Writer | Environmentalist”
@tinyhousetinyfootprint is Kathleen Morton’s homage to low-impact life on the road. She captures the inimitable moments from her own journey, and introduces followers to others forging their own path.
“Currently📍San Francisco Graphic Design | Photography”
Wherever you are, @alexandriaroby’s often iconic photography offers viewers a breath of fresh air.
“photog | director benmoon.com dog lover @noribythesea #DenaliFilm sony artisan of imagery @sonyalpha @electric ⚡ @stellaandchewys 🐶”
Ben Moon is a sui generis visual storyteller. You may have seen his short film, Denali—a touching and intense tribute to his late pup of the same name (Heads up: Our whole team cried as we re-watched Denali this winter). He uses his account to share insights from his life and highlight other Instagram influencers who do the same.
“🌵advocate for the outdoors 🏜cuban-american, ♥s deserts + houseplants 📍salt lake city livin'”
Katie Boué is a name well known in the outdoor industry, but for those who don’t know, she’s a champion of little moments and doing big things right. Following Katie is like making a new friend who’s always doing that cool thing you’ve thought about trying, but didn’t know where to start. She offers valuable insight on how you can do those cool things while respecting, cherishing, and championing for the places we love to explore.
“Dedicated to following my dreams and living a life of passion, adventure and love. Follow Kicker dog and I on our epic #TinyHomeAdventure”
A life well lived makes joy in every moment possible, and @andrew__muse is a constant reminder that the moments are there, waiting for you to participate. Andrew and Kicker the dog are two Instagram influencers you don’t want to miss in your feed.
“Brothers and adventure cats🐾🍁 Life goal: to be on the Ellen show💃🏼”
Adventures cats. Need I say more? Read our interview with Kayleen and Danielle, the humans accompanying the cats, here: These Adventure Cats Go Camping and Canoeing and Yours Can, Too
“It’s all about the memories 🌲 Seattle, Washington”
I frequently find myself wanting to be where @nathanaelbillings is, but what’s more, his views somehow feel attainable. Like if I just planned a little better, I CAN see what he’s seeing. And that little nudge of motivation can go a long way.
“Advocates for adventure, fun, and community in our unique corner of the world. #pnwonderland @pnwonderdogs @pnwondergear”
Some of the very best of the Pacific Northwest, there is always wonder to be found in the photographs featured by @pnwonderland.
“Adventure Photographer | Vanlifer | Rock Climber”
–me, every time @tedhesser shares a new post.
“Outdoor Enthusiast | Adventure Photographer Currently: Huaraz, Peru ⛰ 👋🏼 Co-Founder: @allaboutadventures 🤙🏼”
“Is this real life?” Related: “Does this Matt really exist? Because these look less like ‘photos’ and more like ‘pho-woaaahs'”
“Fulltime filmmaker 🎥 photographer 📸 and VR artist 🕶 • Always down for an adventure”
A lot of people come to Instagram to go somewhere else. Wherever he is, @timkemple will take you there.
“Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! #VisitPNW for a feature. Please geotag or include location in caption :)”
Yes I would like to visit the PNW, thank you very much. But also, the PNW is huge and I will not be able to visit most of the PNW for quite some time. So, while I still have a lot of places on my to-visit list, @visitpnw is a great stand-in reminder of all the incredible beauty that abounds.
“‘If you love what you’re doing, then you’ve already succeeded.’ / Capturing light and color. Prints available upon request”
@bradleycastaneda shares some of the most incredible imagery on Instagram, and also shares his campfire taco dinner. Authenticity. We need more of what Bradley’s serving (tacos, yes, but here I’m referring to the Authenticity).
“a pup + cat exploring together 🍃 | following their noses + running free 📍 | Colorado @ourwildspirits”
Oh man. No words. You already got the message.
“Desert-Dweller | Storyteller Never leave the dogs behind 🐾”
“When you put your bones and tears and sweat into finding a place, you treat it differently. You respect it more because you worked for it and gave a part of yourself to it.” –Brianna Madia in an interview, Life in a Van in the Middle of Nowhere. Brianna and Keith with pups Dagwood and Bucket, and of course Bertha the van, together live a life that is both refreshing and very much their own. As one of the most popular Instagram influencers in the outdoors, Brianna’s captions alone are worth a devoted afternoon.
“Inspiring the world to go Camping With Dogs® and Hiking With Dogs®”
Dogs can’t put on airs, so photos of them in the wild are always authentic. Camping with Dogs is exactly what it sounds like, and the joy this account brings to Instagram is undeniable.
“I take my social media like I take my rhubarb. Seriously as AF. I am also a professional, yada, yada-doer things, none of which is listed here.”
In case the photos and bio don’t paint the picture, maybe this recent caption will: “Grateful for the reminder that films and friends provide each year through sharing raw, honest, and challenging stories of humanity coupled with rambunctious, ridiculous and joyous celebrations of life. Left this year’s gathering at @mountainfilm reminded that it is the small things, the day to day, that create bridges to understanding and kindness and community and all those things that we need more of if we really want to nudge the needle on something larger than ourselves. Wake up, look up, stand up, reach out; we are all fragile, we are all human, and we are all in this together.”
“Exploring Yellowstone. #YellowstonePledge”
Dedication to place is a rare gift in our age of see-it-all aspirations, and @jacobwfrank’s dedication to Yellowstone provides an important glimpse into this icon of outdoor americana.
“Travel – Outdoor – Lifestyle Storyteller – Friend Collector”
Anyone who loves the outdoors, travel, and friends is almost definitely a person worth following in my book.
“National Geographic Explorer, Professional Climber, Paraglider & Adventure Enthusiast. Founder at Alpine Start: Quality Coffee, Instantly.”
A Nat Geo Explorer, Nat Geo Exploring… from SUPing through glacier-ridden waters to boulder top-outs with friends, @mattsegal brings the eye-popping photographic stoke.
“tell stories with photography & film @strohlalex France raised, Montana based. ”
The stories told by @alexstrohl are followed by millions, and for good reason: every new post is new slice of outdoor amazement balanced with Alex’s behind-the-scene perspective.
“Outdoor travel + inner exploration. Present over perfect. Currently 📖: Turtles all the way down Ambassador CanonUSA | KEEN | Mizu | PADI ✨🐳📚🐴⛺🏝🌿📷”
I met @chelseakauai in Lihue Airport on the southeast coast of Kauai. We were both leaving, she posted a story about being at the airport, and I said it’d be cool to connect. Meeting Chelsea, you would never know she is one of the biggest Instagram influencers, followed by hundreds of thousands of people — but you might suspect it. She is always off to a new place, yet remains steadfast in her admiration of Kauai. Her latest venture: a book club with her followers, complete with private Facebook group.
“Seattle based photographer. 📍Seattle † Love God, love others. 🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔🏔”
@michaelmatti’s feel-good photography evokes the possibility of an early morning sunrise: there is so much good to come, and it’s already wonderful.
“Creative nomad. Following life’s journey, curiously experiencing the world. Slow wide turns.”
@wheretowillie comes across as the type of person who circles “Sunrise” on the calendar. There’s intent behind his photos, a forethought that comes through not just in framing and composition but in the overall “feel” — the undeniable sense that you’ve been invited on an adventure, but only because he chose to bring the camera.
“I’m probably outside Co-founder: @pnwoutdoorwomen Ambassador: @arcteryxseattle”
As the co-founder of @pnwoutdoorwomen, @missmeghanyoung not only portrays authenticity, she creates it in the communities around her. Her captivating captions delve into topics others opt out of (even on an engagement-first platform like Instagram.) And that’s exactly what pushes her posts from great to incredible.
Have Camera, Will Travel. LDS•Photographer•Speaker•Director #chrisburkard
You probably know about @chrisburkard, one of the bigger outdoor Instagram influencers. His photos are all over Instagram and the web writ large. But what strikes me more than his photos is his candor and commitment to play. He’s just a dude. A really talented photographer, yes, but also a father who shares things that make him laugh or smile or stop and stare. If you follow his account, you’ve seen this candid side of his profile in his Instagram Stories, which, to me, increase his photographic impact tenfold.
“It’s never too late to feel a little more alive.”
@everchanginghorizon has found a massive following for his incredible photography, but it is clear he is a photographer first, and social media personality second. He does it for the experiences and takes photos along the way, never pretending to be something else: “Sitting here thinking about what I should write here, and I’ve come to determine that everything’s been said. My few life lessons have already been shared, reshared, stretched, exaggerated, etc. It’s important for me to remember that what I write here doesn’t always have to have substance (tho I try to add it when it feels right). My experiences and words are no more valuable than anybody else’s. If I really think about it, it overwhelms me. Hundreds of thousands of people’s attention at my fingertips – the digital spotlight is on – but it’s been on for years now. And the spotlight can only be on for so long before my eyes start to hurt. So here’s another photo of a happy time, when I had no connection. Half way thru a mac n cheese dinner, about ready to call it an early night.” It’s a reminder worth heeding.
“Photographer and filmmaker based in Bellingham, Washington State.”
As you can see, @fursty’s feed looks different, and on Instagram, difference often hints at authenticity. He goes one step beyond visual branding, incorporating locations and viewpoints that elevate his impact even further. Most recently, his trip to Iraq returned photos that might as well have been from Utah or the PNW.
“Pro Skier – Adventurer 🎿⛺ Moto – 4×4 🏍 🚙 Writer – Photographer 🖋📸”
How many people do you know who ride their motorcycle to ski big mountain lines, then hop on a plane for a monthlong trip around the world? I know of one. Her journey adds an undeniable element to outdoor Instagram — one that is delightfully undefinable.
“Weekend Adventurer | Semi-photographer-ish | PNW ↟↟ Nature doesn’t need us. We need nature. ↟↟”
@missholldoll is a weekend warrior who makes it happen. As I write this, it is Saturday morning and I don’t know if that’s because of my own poor time management or because this project is so large in scope. Regardless, it is in times like this I couldn’t be more appreciative to see Instagram influencers like Holly, people who remind people like me just how much adventure I can pack into a weekend.
“Co-founder of @Sea_Legacy and contributing photographer to National Geographic.”
Holy manatee if you do not follow @paulnicklen stop reading this and go follow him right now. Paul’s dedication to oceanic wildlife is one of those rare passions so thick it feels transferrable through proximal osmosis. By that I mean: just by following Paul’s passion I feel capable of a new level of license for more passion in my own life. Paul’s work is art.
“Nat Geo Photographer // Filmmaker // Speaker // Sony Artisan // River Rat // Fan of Wild Places & Wild Things // Home & Road”
It is clear that @pedromcbride’s posts are just a fraction of what he experiences in his life dedication to wild places and wild things.
“just having a good time 🤙🏼 📍southern california, usa now: south america 🇦🇷 ”
More times than I can count, I have seen a photo and thought “dang.” And then it turned out to be @ryanresatka’s. While he shares familiar feeling views, he does so with a perspective undeniably different, adding a unique and important element to outdoor Instagram.
“Oregon is magic. #traveloregon”
Capturing memorable moments from a region dense with natural beauty, @traveloregon is a constant source of Instagramic benevolence. Beauty abounds in Oregon, and @traveloregen gathers it in one place.
“Jack of all trades, master of type 2 fun. Athlete ambassador for Salomon + CiloGear Sports dietitian | PDX, OR”
@alexborsuk’s daily adventures, often accompanied by her pup Otto, inspire thousands to live more life outdoors. Read our interview, Alex Borsuk on How to Raise and Adventure Puppy.
“Custom built my dream adventure-mobile and have been traveling the US for 4 yrs. Live passionately. Follow your dreams.”
Travis Burke is everywhere. I don’t know if it is just my feed but somehow there is a certain magnetism to what he is doing that keeps it at the surface, but I can’t think of many Instagram influencers who have this same draw. And he rises to the occasion. His Stories, captions, and photos together portray someone interested in the delicate balance between aesthetic excellence and raw experience.
“Five years on the road, less plastic=cleaner oceans=healthier humans”
These are the kind of photos that have inspired so many people in the outdoor industry to pursue #vanlife — but don’t be fooled. The captions from @wheresmyofficenow offer clarity and truth, beyond the cliche of Westfalias parked on beaches. While the photos are almost always gorgeous, vanlife has its ups and down and these two aren’t afraid to talk about it.
“Camp cooking recipes and ideas”
Many accounts on Instagram focus on places. @freshoffthegrid is a champion of the fuel that keeps us going, adding a necessary flavor to the greater community.
“IDLE: to spend time doing nothing THEORY: to spend our time idling BUS: Vehicle + Home since 2012”
With captions that greet you like the upturned golden faces of an endless field of sunflowers, you will find delight in @idletheorybus.
“Traveling in a self converted van since May 2017 Currently California”
Sometimes life on the road is expansive desert sunsets where the dark red earth silhouettes against the maroon sky, and sometimes it’s folding chairs in the shade of the van. @lifeultralight share both types of moment.
“NativesOutdoors Outdoor gear by #indigenous people for everyone to enjoy. Denver based in the homeland of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute people”
NativesOutdoors advocates for necessary voices in the American outdoor industry: the ones that were here first. Read our interview with the founder, NativesOutdoors’ Len Necefer is Changing How We View Public Lands.
“@thenorthface climber // @natgeo @sonyalpha photojournalist // @camp4collective commercial director // landscape painter at heart 😊 ”
@taylorfreesolo is the type of person who has incredible depth and experiences to match, but who does not always show them on the surface. You can read an introduction to her here. In addition to being one of the more journalistic Instagram influencers, she is a powerhouse documentary filmmaker who shares her perspective in captions like this: “Not many people want to or are willing to create stories in this medium (film) from concept to directing to shooting to editing. Soup-to-nuts doc filmmaking is something @renan_ozturk and I have been doing together (and largely, separately) for a number of years now. When the glamour of shooting exciting stories or unique environments subsides we find ourselves in our basement, at this table, swimming for our lives under the depths of decision making that needs to happen. One tiny decision after another. One clip in sequence after another. Documentary is unscripted thus up to the director and editor to create what’s meaningful from the materials at hand.”
@brodyleven dreams big, then does big. It’s a pattern he’s used to, and it’s fun to watch. But more than fun, his outdoor activities are a good reminder that the “big” thing you’ve been thinking about is probably doable with enough forethought, planning, and dedication.
“Community of outdoor enthusiasts. We provide resource to equip and inspire your next adventure.”
@wilderness_culture conglomerates wonder. If you’re interested in discovering new people capturing the incredible, watch who @wilderness_culture features.
“A world-wide adventure collective. Created to connect people and planet with perspective and purpose.”
@andshesdopetoo is a celebration of adventure, balancing feel-good vibes with actionable community. Join one of their Rendezvous or Retreats to participate in the ASDT community.
“Proud SouthAsianMuslimAmerican diversifying public lands & outdoors one story at a time. All Original content. #BrownPeopleCamping & share your story💚 ”
Ambreen created @brownpeoplecamping in August 2016 to give voice to minority and marginalized experiences in the outdoors, and it has taken off. She not only speaks to her own experience, she also uses her platform to amplify the voices of others.
“Fulltime for 4 yrs, now semi-nomadic in Teton Valley, ID 💕Outdoor adventure w/our #Airstream & 3 kids. Explore | Ski | Backpack | Hike | Paddle | MTB”
The real life of a 3-kid family in the outdoors. From full-time nomadic to semi-nomadic, @currentlywandering has been there, and done that, and these adorable Instagram influencers are still seeking out new adventures.
“Let’s talk about your comfort zone 👀 Traveling photographer & writer People / places / wildlife 🌿 @sonyalpha #alphacollective”
Erin’s expert photography is only eclipsed by her personal perspective. Her focus on personal growth means her profile is more than just a curated collection of stunning images; it is imbued with everblooming life. To peruse is to partake, and to walk away feeling fresher.
“💗Diverse Body Positive Outdoor Community 🌲Trails Not Scales 🌧Group Hikes & Adventures 📲#trailsnotscales #fatgirlshiking”
Body positivity has a growing presence in mainstream culture, but the outdoor community still tends to stereotype what a hiker “should” look like. @fatgirlshiking is here to say: “Nope. This is what a hiker looks like. And this, and this, and this. So let’s focus on the trail and get to know each other along the way.”
“Female Outdoor Adventurist @WomenWhoHike Founder @Merrell Ambassador Traveler : Hiker : Writer : Picture Taker: Nevada”
This quote about Instagram characterizes the authentic self-awareness @im_nicolemarie brings to the platform: “We use this app to share what our lives look like from the outside. I believe that alongside that we should be sharing more of the truth. It isn’t always easy, and I can tell you that the truth, it isn’t for everybody. I can also tell you that the thing that people will remember about you probably won’t be the strongest or prettiest image on your profile. It will be something more, something personal and something that others can relate to. I hope that whatever truth you’re looking for or hiding from that you find it, you share it and it helps you, just as it did for me this week.”
“Follow 👣 Leave No Trace across the U.S. inspiring and promoting responsibility ♻ in the outdoors #EnjoyYourWorld #LeaveNoTrace”
If any Instagram influencers leave an impact on you, we hope they are from this account. @leavenotracecenter is the official profile of the organization behind the oft-quoted Leave No Trace principles. As you get your daily nature fix from your feed, it is nice to have regular reminders of best practices and others doing well by the lands we love.
“HE>i Moments & Stories Southwest Photographer & Film” https://www.instagram.com/luke.sky.watcher/
@luke.sky.watcher’s view of the world at first appears to be a familiar outdoor pastiche, but the more you see of his work, the more it appears to be something else entirely: a fantastical, almost otherworldly, recapitulation of major themes in outdoor photography. The effect is magic, not unlike beholding an iconic outdoor vista for the first time.
“The Story of @MoonMountainMan and @Rebornbyadventure becoming parents and raising their daughter while continuing an outdoor lifestyle with her”
A daughter is born to two outdoor enthusiasts, who now document the process of merging parenting with their first love: the outdoors. Do you ever see couples on Instagram going on epic adventures and think, what would happen if they were to have a child? Well, @moonmountianlife is probably what would happen.
“Life was meant for good dogs and great adventures 🥘🍁🦁 🌲PDX / PNW Training Service Dog Harriet #teampancakesforever 🥞🌈 📬 ”
@mycaninelife is what happens when a dog trainer is also the caretaker of some of the cutest pups this side of the Mississippi.
“Est 2007: Int’l human-powered adventure nonprofit. Ski, climb, ride, paddle: Go Conquer.™ Creator of #outdoorwomen hashtag; use for features! (🚫DM🙏)”
@outdoorwomen is the account of the Outdoor Women’s Alliance (OWA), a global nonprofit supporting the pursuits of women in the outdoors.
“Not a very indoorsy type of person. Currently: 📍CA”
“Sometimes I struggle with the role I play here on instagram. Is this a portfolio of my favorite work? A chronology of meaningful moments? A visual journal to jog my fading memory? Am I curating my feed to impress future clients, or to satisfy the desire to share the beauty I experience in life? Do my online friends care to know me better, or are they just here for pretty pictures? Or maybe you’re just here cause we’re friends and could couldn’t care less about the photos?”
@peteramend manages to present all of those things, and we love the result.
“Empowering Women Who Hike On & Off The Trail 🌏1% For The Planet | LNT Partner Next Group Hikes: CO, SD, NC, CA, CT, NH, WA”
Organizing group hikes across the country, @womenwhohike is not only an interesting follow, they’re an actionable community of Instagram influencers you can hike with every month.
“Pete Alport Producer l Photographer l Videographer l Content Creator Every Place Is Sacred 📷🎥”
@pete_alportis an up-and-coming exemplar of authentic instagramming: he does what he loves, documents it along the way, and shares others doing the same.
“🎙Podcast Hosts: RV Family Travel Atlas and Campground of the Week 📖 Co-Authors: Idiot’s Guide to RV Vacations. #RVFTA”
Not everyone who lives on the road lives in a custom-kitted Sprinter van. In fact, a lot of people don’t want the #vanlife. Some prefer the #rvlife, like @rvfamilytravelatlas, who is documenting their journey across highways and through parenting.
Stories inspired by the outdoors, the road, and life. * Listen to our two podcasts: She Explores and @womenontheroad * #sheexplores * Links below!
@she_explores is a wellspring of authenticity, using their spotlight to feature stories from countless adventurers making their way through the world.
“Influencer/Photographer/Musician. East-coast based, often on the west coast.”
With an evocative twist on iconic outdoor imagery, @theamericanroadtripper’s tones cannot be ignored. Each photo tells its own micro story of life on the road. Together, @theamericanroadtripper’s story is a good reminder of the fantastical experiences only a good road trip can provide.
“Everything Bend Oregon 📱 Tag #thebestofbend for a feature!”
What is it about Bend, OR that has everyone in awe? Perhaps it’s the high concentration of outdoor attractions. Perhaps its the high concentration of outdoor-loving people. Most probably, it’s both. And @thebestofbend captures it admirably.
“Empowering Women to Get Outside and Explore. Share your adventures #womenwhoexplore”
@womenwhoexplore’s bio says it all: your daily dose of empowerment through celebration of women in the wild.
“YOUR incredible photos featured here. • Tag #youroregon to share yours • • @allisonjames_”
No, YOU’REegon! Just kidding… That doesn’t even make sense. There is a lot of Oregon in this list, because I am a biased source: I just moved to Oregon from the unimaginable beauty of southwest Colorado. But I’ve learned in the last year, from my own experience and accounts like @youroregon, that moving from the southwest to the north-wet is like swapping one precious gem for another: it’s all good. (On the real though, I know my bias blinded me from finding certain accounts so please @ me and tell me which Instagram influencers to add for better geographic representation.)
Thanks to Reed Huston and Megan Walsh for aiding in research.