If you cannot find the answer to your question below, please contact us!
We know that it's a big decision for you to join in a Wilderness Inquiry adventure, especially if you have not traveled with us before. If you have a question please contact us. You can e-mail Greg Lais, our founder and Executive Director by clicking on the link below. Greg has 30 years of experience with Wilderness Inquiry and he loves to help people get the answers they need. You can also call Lee at (612) 676-9400. We like to talk on the phone!
Ask Greg any additional questions you may have
What makes Wilderness Inquiry different?
In a word, it’s the relationships. WI participants frequently
tell us how amazed they are that a group of people who barely know
each other can come together as a community. These experiences really
do help us discover, explore and deepen relationships—with
others, ourselves and the natural world.
On all our trips you will experience beautiful destinations,
fun activities, excellent instruction, good food and quality gear.
But these things are just the beginning of the adventure—not
the end in itself. We are passionate about helping people fully
engage in life through shared adventure. This passion is shared
by our participants, some of whom have gone on 40+ trips with us.
Steve, a participant on a WI trip to the Green River, said
“The atmosphere of cooperation and trust we enjoyed
created a strong feeling of community in our group. Barriers were
broken down. We met each other as human beings rather than the
labels we carry in our everyday lives. I’d go anywhere with
Who else goes on a Wilderness Inquiry trip?
WI trips are open to people of all ages and abilities, including persons with disabilities. We usually
have an equal number of men and women on our trips. The ages
of trip participants range from 2 to 92. Our general trips are for adults 18 years and
up, however, on occasion we will make an exception and allow someone
younger if they are accompanied by a parent. We also have trips that are just for families and women.
Who can participate?
We seek to include people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
Our trips are generally divided according to the following groups:
- Adults: Most of our trips are geared for adults
who range in age from 18 – 90 years old. They come from all walks of life and share a passion for adventure.
- Families: Since 1994 we’ve conducted
a wide range of family trips. Some trips, like Itasca, are designed
for families with young children, while others are geared for
families with kids aged 12-17. The activities, distances traveled,
and campfire chat reflect these target age groups. Families of
all shapes and sizes join in on these trips, including many single
parent and non-traditional families.
- Women: Since 2004 we've offered trips just for women. These trips are usually the same itinerary as a regular WI trip, except that the staff and participants are all women. Go to "Women's Trips" in main navigation bar.
- Youth: Each year we do many
trips for youth groups from schools and other organizations. We also conduct an extensive youth leadership program called the Adventure Leadership Program to help youth aged 14-18 develop the skills needed to become inclusive outdoor leaders (and future WI staff).
- You: Wilderness Inquiry is all about including everyone. Join us!
Do you serve people with disabilities?
Yes, we are very committed to integrating people with varying levels
of ability on our trips. In fact, Wilderness Inquiry
was started to demonstrate that people with disabilities
can enjoy wilderness just like everyone else—on its
Over the years, we’ve come to realize that the notion of “disability”
is a very relative concept, mostly related to one’s attitude.
Integrated wilderness travel tends to destroy stereotypes
people have about “disability” and helps us all recognize
our common humanity.
Our philosophy is to treat each person as an individual rather than
as a disability. We focus on what people can do—their abilities—not
on what they cannot do. Our goal is to integrate persons with disabilities
seamlessly into our trips without making a big deal about it, and
we’ve been doing it successfully since 1978.
Read more about Integrated Adventure.
How do you serve people with disabilities?
We think it’s easy to do. Some people need assistance transferring
or moving about, and our staff help do this. If a person needs more
assistance with things like activities of daily living, we arrange
to bring along a personal care attendant.
We also use a variety of field-tested gear adaptations. For example,
we developed a little device we call the “rickshaw”
which quickly converts a wheel chair into a two-wheeled cart that
dramatically increases mobility on rough terrain. We also have special
seating adaptations for canoes and kayaks.
We register participants and staff on trips with the group’s
competence in mind, meaning that all individual strengths and weaknesses
are considered in context. We just can’t have everyone paddling
and no one cooking, or everyone portaging and no one telling jokes.
Our trips wouldn’t work that way.
If you have a disability and you’re wondering about our ability
to serve you, please call or e-mail our office. We do have various
assistive devices, and over the years we have served well over 100,000
people with a wide variety of disabling conditions.
Do you offer financial aid?
Yes. We believe the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors should be available to everyone. To keep our programs as financially accessible as possible, each year we raise funds from alumni and others. Financial assistance is need-based. Certain restrictions apply. Use these links to apply for financial aid online or download the application form.
Does WI do trips with pre-existing groups?
Absolutely! We do many trips with schools, families, scout groups, businesses, other non-profit and for-profit
organizations. We pride ourselves on being flexible and accommodating,
and can customize meals, or the destinations, length of your trip - you name
it. Get more information on our group trips webpage, or call Lee Friedman
at (612) 676-9415.
How physically demanding are WI trips?
In general, we have a moderate pace that allows individuals to enjoy
the backcountry without becoming exhausted. Each group may include
people with a wide range of ability levels. We work to ensure that
the overall group make-up is strong enough to have a positive experience.
There are often opportunities for extra activities
if you want more of a challenge.
We consider where you are in terms of skills and conditioning--whether
neophyte or seasoned veteran, physically fit or overweight. We don’t mean to trivialize those issues, but,
in our experience, those things are the “small stuff”
compared to things like compassion and teamwork.
We focus on what people can do—their ability and what they
are willing to do—not on what they cannot do. Our experience
shows us that attitude is more important than physical ability.
Please remember that these trips are adventures, not packaged tours.
The exact nature of your specific trip will depend upon many factors,
including the weather, your group, and your own interests and needs.
Where do I go to the bathroom?
In many of the places we travel there are established toilets. In
places where toilet facilities are not provided, we bring a portable
commode which provides much of the comfort and privacy
of the bathroom in your house. We pay special attention to privacy and hygiene. If you have bathroom concerns, please do not hesitate to ask--many people do have concerns about this so please do not hesitate to ask.
What are the qualifications of WI trail staff?
All our staff are experienced wilderness leaders and have gone through extensive training
programs. Every year, trail staff come from all over the country, bringing
with them a wealth of experience, knowledge and commitment--several have been leading WI trips for over 20 years. Regardless of the trip you choose, you will love the trail staff--they are the best thing about Wilderness Inqury.
What level of service do trail staff provide?
WI trail staff provide participants with support and a safe atmosphere. On the trail they are leaders, coaches, and friends. Most people can’t believe we find such wonderful people to lead the trips. From your pre-trip call, a week before the trip, to your final departure from the group, WI staff work incredibly hard with a smile on their faces. We don't put chocolates on your pillow, but we will bring you a nice cup of coffee in the morning!
WI trips are cooperative in nature. On most trips, this means you will sleep in a tent that you and your tent mates set up. You will also participate in camp chores such as cooking, starting fires, and other camp activities.
What is included in the trip price?
Trip fees cover most all of your needs while you are in the wilderness, including equipment, food, staff, permits, etc. You are
responsible for bringing personal clothing and a sleeping bag. On
most trips we offer transportation between the put-in and several
different locations for a modest additional fee.
What are your refund
Your 25% deposit is non-refundable once you are confirmed for your trip. See conditions for cancellation below:
For trips in the United States:
- 6 weeks prior — we refund all fees paid (minus deposit).
- Less than 6 weeks but more than 3 weeks — we refund 50% of
the trip fee (minus deposit).
- Less than 3 weeks — no refund.
For trips outside the United States:
- 12 weeks prior — we refund all fees paid (minus deposit).
- Less than 12 weeks — no refund.
If WI cancels a trip, we will refund all fees paid to WI, including the deposit. However, to protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet.
What if I want to change trips?
If you would like to switch to another trip once you have registered, the following fees will be applied:
For trips in the United States:
- 6 weeks prior — 1st transfer is free; $50 for any additional transfer.
- Less than 6 weeks but more than 3 weeks — $50
- Less than 3 weeks — no transfer allowed.
For trips outside the United States:
- 12 weeks prior — $50
- Less than 12 weeks — no transfer allowed.
Do you conduct other programs in addition to the trips?
Yes. WI provides a variety of programs and services, besides extended trips, that are also designed to provide opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to be active in the outdoors. Learn more about Wilderness Inquiry's many programs.
How can I get more specific information about a trip or
We’ve tried to put a lot of information about each trip on
this web site, but it’s impossible to include it all. Please
call or e-mail us if you have questions. We’d also be happy
to provide you a list of individuals who live in your area and have
been on the trip of interest to you.
Who can I talk to about some personal concerns?
The best thing to do is call us at (800) 728-0719. Our staff is ready
to answer your questions in a personal and confidential manner.
Many people have concerns about issues such as toileting in the
wilderness—no need to be bashful about talking to us. Our
number one goal is to make sure that you and the other members of
your group have a great trip.
If there is an issue or question about your participation, we will
be up front with you and either help you solve it or refer you to
some other place—nobody wins if you get in a situation that’s
not right for you. In some cases we may ask you to consult with
your physician. Most of the people who answer the phones at WI lead
trips themselves — they know what it takes to make a trip
Ask Greg any additional questions you may have.