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By Lucy Higgins • September 16, 2023

A recent National Parks Service survey confirmed what many outdoor recreationists have witnessed first-hand: our 400-plus national parks, and the trails that run through them, are predominately white. The 2020 survey noted that 23 percent of visitors were people of color, and over their 10-year survey, 77 percent of visitors were white. Factors like systemic oppression and exclusion, as well as financial barriers, have proven effective at keeping these spaces white. 

In recent years, however, the rise in nonprofits, groups, and organizations working to increase diversity and inclusion on trails and in the outdoors has led to a cultural and tangible shift in outdoor representation. Below are a few of the many groups celebrating and advocating for a new path. 

Latino Outdoors

Created in 2013 by José González, Latino Outdoors was created to create and foster the Latine experience in the outdoors. The organization focuses on leadership development; throughout the country, volunteers lead in recreation activities, mentoring, and partner with other organizations to provide education. In 2014, Latino Outdoors started their Vamos Outdoors program, which is geared toward creating enriching outdoor activities for families and youth.

Melanin Basecamp

After founding Melanin Base Camp in 2016 (and Diversify Outdoors in 2018) to increase BIPOC and LGBTQ+ outdoor participation, Danielle Williams had a realization: those folks were already out recreating. What needed to change was, in Williams’ words, “visibility of outdoorsy black, indigenous, people of color, to increase our representation in the media, advertising and in the stories we tell ourselves about the Outdoors.” Diversify Outdoors is a coalition of bloggers, athletes, activists, and entrepreneurs promoting diversity in outdoor space. Melanin Base Camp provides weekly content from Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and Queer People of Color celebrating the outdoors, and Melanin Base Camp: Real Life Adventurers Building a More Inclusive Outdoors is now available for purchase. 

Outdoor Asian

Outdoor Asian works to include those of Asian and Pacific Island heritage into the outdoors. That may look like hiking, but it also includes surfing, hunting, foraging, and more. Whatever the activity, the goal is to strengthen relationships with nature and to reconnect with reinvigorate and remember ancestral connection to land. 

Indigenous Collective

The Indigenous Collective tells stories of culture and craft. This takes form as an ongoing video series focused on Indigenous storytellers, artists, musicians, and performers to uphold their creativity and celebrate culture. 

Outdoor Afro

Based in Oakland, California, Outdoor Afro is a not-for-profit that “celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature.” Started in 2009, Outdoor Afro is now active in 60 cities across the U.S., and offers programs like Outdoor Afro Leadership Training (OALT) where outdoor participants learn how to navigate and lead in nature, and Making Waves, which teaches Black children and their caregivers how to swim. 


This grassroots initiative works to break down entrance barriers for LatinX recreationists. LatinXhikers does this via creating access, providing representation, and empowering communities to establish connections with nature, as their ancestors held.

Brown People Camping

Brown People Camping is a social media initiative founded by Ambreen Tariq based on her personal experience as a Muslim American woman growing up in Minnesota. The goal of the initiative is to create better diversity, equity, and access in the outdoors. 

Natives Outdoors

Natives Outdoors is a creative and athletic collective rooted in empowering Indigenous communities via storytellin. Natives Outdoors currently specializes in film and media production, design consulting, and written, photo, and audio storytelling.