June 25 - July 7, 2018 // 13 days
July 10 - July 22, 2018 // 13 days
2018 Itinerary will be updated shortly
Stir your soul and join us for an introductory adventure challenge in America’s best kept secret: the Outer Banks. Once home to legendary pirates and vanishing colonial tribes, the Outer Banks celebrate a rich cultural history and stunning white-sand beaches. Surf the beginner-friendly swells along the coast, paddle the Roanoke River, and explore the magical maritime forests while learning some local ecology. Soak up the sun as we camp on these unique barrier islands, spending our time adventuring, absorbing the local nature, and connecting with our fellow friends on the road less traveled.
The 14-year-old girl I put on the plane was not the same young woman that got off the plane when the trip was over. I could literally see the difference in her face. She looked like a person who was confident in herself, liked herself and was ready to engage with all the exciting things her future has in store.” Parent of RLT Alumna Kelly B.
Next, we venture inland towards the Blue Ridge Mountains for some good ole’ mountain playtime. On the way, we stop at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where zip lines, climbing towers, ropes courses, and whitewater adventures await. Challenge yourself to something new like hiking to alluring waterfalls, dipping in refreshing swimming holes, and staring in awe at the rolling, misty hills. Join the Cherokee—who have been in North Carolina for thousands of years—as we share stories surrounded by streams and forest. Become part of a group of like-minded peers as you develop self-confidence and transform into a true outdoor adventurer.
Keep scrolling to learn more about this middle school adventure travel and marine exploration program in North Carolina!
Count how many different species of fowl you encounter while taking in this birder’s paradise. Pea Island is home to over 30 species of birds including the Brown Pelican, Snowy Egret, Peregrin Falcon, and Tri-colored Heron. Pea Island is a unique home for birds as well as sea turtles thanks to its many marshes, dunes, ponds, and beach coastline.
With over 400 square miles of water, the Outer Banks is the perfect place to try hanging loose on a surfboard. Learn how to find your balance and paddle out in search of the perfect wave.
Part of the oldest mountain range in North America, the Blue Ridge Mountains are aptly named: blue hills roll as fog drifts between ridges and into valleys. Endless trails offer stunning panoramas of the surrounding forest. Join our group as we hike across scenic balds, past fields of wildflowers, and above caves said to house giants in Native American folklore!
Paddle through the freshwater Roanoke River and the salt water Albemarle Sound on a sea kayak adventure. Immerse yourself in the various ecosystems as you live out of your kayak for three days and two nights.
As highland rivers and streams move over mountains, waterfalls persist throughout Western North Carolina. Cool mountain water, rounded ovular stones, and the occasional salamander or crayfish await as we explore the plethora of waterfalls within the Blue Ridge and take a dip in the nearby pools to escape the summer heat.
Experience firsthand the rich biological diversity of the Pamlico Sound and surrounding protected areas. Learn how the bountiful biodiversity and varying ecosystems of marshes, sand dunes, and estuaries make the Outer Banks a perfect home or stop over spot for wildlife of all kinds.
Gather with North Carolina Cherokee at the Oconaluftee Islands Park for an afternoon of storytelling and cultural exchange. Summoning a rich oral tradition that stretches back over 1,000 years, we come together to discover local history, lessons, and lore alongside North Carolina's enchanting forests and streams.
The Outer Banks is home to a stretch of 130 pristine miles of coastline and is made up of four chained islands. These islands are Bodie, Roanoke, Hatteras, and Ocracoke. The chain of islands separates coastal North Carolina from the vast Atlantic Ocean and creates a unique environment for wildlife habitat, extreme water activities, and protected state parks.
Catch a breathtaking sunset after hiking to the top of the East Coast’s tallest dune system, Jockey’s Ridge. From the top, hang-gliders can often be seen gliding below. After taking in the views, get your own adrenaline rush by sandboarding your way to the bottom of the dune.
Become a stair master by scaling the 257 steps to the balcony of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Don’t let the 12 stories scare you – the payoff is well worth the challenge. The lighthouse balcony boasts some of the most spectacular views of the Atlantic Coast.
Work alongside the North Carolina Coastal Federation, the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, the Nature Conservancy, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in a variety of service opportunities, all while gaining exposure to potential career paths and networking opportunities! The best part of it all? Being outside in beautiful places the whole time.
Catch a glimpse of The Outer Banks’ earliest settlers – Wild Colonial Mustangs. These wild horses have roamed the beautiful northern beaches for almost 500 years. These majestic creatures travel in small herds and have been known to appear out of nowhere. Take in the peace and tranquility of your surroundings while a wild horse or two trot nearby.
Marine Conservation & Environmental Service with organizations like the Nature Conservancy, NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, & N.C. Coastal Federation
Sea Kayak: Roanoke River & the Albemarle Sound
Hike: Jockey's Ridge, Devil's Courthouse, Black Balsam Knob
Surf: Ocracoke Island
Culture: Cherokee Native Americans, Judaculla Rock
Education: Local and Wildlife
Explore: Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Historic Roanoke Island, Cape Hatteras, Looking Glass Falls
Swim: Pamlico Sound, Sliding Rock
Throughout the trip (Outer Banks, Blue Ridge Mountains, U.S. National Whitewater Center), we sleep in tents. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. Bathrooms are a mix of flush toilets and latrines.
Tuition (Airfare not included)
Raleigh, NC (RDU)
From ocean to mountains, water to land, we journey from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. Arriving in Raleigh, we head east following the sound of waves. Soon after the first ocean smell starts to linger in the breeze, we settle in at Oregon Inlet, the northernmost campground on Cape Hatteras. Getting oriented, we explore our new home, the beachfront only a short walk away, and the historic Bodie Island Lighthouse a few miles to the north. That night, we drift off under the coastal stars of the Outer Banks, ready to explore in the sea and the sand.
Over the course of the coming days, we adventure throughout the barrier islands. Our days are full of fun in the sun, surfing at Ocracoke Island, swimming in Pamlico Sound, searching for wildlife in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and exploring Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Glide along the ocean waters as we challenge ourselves to an overnight sea kayaking trip, seeing the Atlantic with an entirely new perspective. As we adventure down the Roanoke River into Albemarle Sound, we look for black bears, migratory birds, and more. Hitting the dunes, we hike Jockey’s Ridge State Park where we enjoy the giant sandbox, leaving with our shoes and pockets full of sand. We head back to camp to enjoy a final coastal sunset, preparing for our journey westward.
In route to the mountains, we stop at the U.S. National Whitewater Center—the training ground for whitewater Olympic athletes. An ideal location for an outdoor enthusiast, the USNWWC offers whitewater activities, rock climbing, zip lines, and ropes courses. We spend a day at the USNWWC as we prepare to head towards the allure of the mountains.
We arrive to set up camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains soaking up the cool, verdant landscape of the Carolina highlands. Part of greater Appalachia, the area is rich in nature and in charm. We explore the nooks-and-crannies of the hills as we search for hidden swimming holes, picturesque waterfalls, and panoramic views. We hike Black Balsam Knob and Devil’s Courthouse, two quintessential hikes in the area. Share stories with the local Cherokee community as we gather to hear ancient folklore from storytellers. Back at our campsite, in the midst of fireflies, we share in a traditional Poet’s Campfire and final banquet before saying our goodbyes and heading back to Raleigh. We journey home with fresh ideas and promising plans to share with friends, family, and others who are curious how to connect with our natural world and keep it beautiful.
Arrive in Raleigh, North Carolina and transfer to camping accommodations. Set up camp.
Adjust to island time as we settle into life by the sea. Over the next few days, we surf, swim, sea kayak, explore legendary lighthouses, hike Jockey’s Ridge, and look for wildlife. With our minds curious and our bodies tired from the day’s activities, we spend the evenings cooking our meals and gazing into the undisturbed night sky.
As we venture from the ocean to the mountains, we stop at the U.S. National Whitewater Center to challenge ourselves to zip lines, ropes courses, whitewater activities, and climbing.
The Blue Ridge brings with it new landscapes and a newfound craving for nature and adventure. Here, we hike Devil’s Courthouse and Black Balsam Knob, feel the mist from grand waterfalls, and move like mountain trout in secluded swimming holes. We also venture to Cherokee, NC where we connect with the local, deeply-rooted Cherokee Native Americans to hear stories and participate in activities such as handicrafts and historical talks. End each day at our camp, with the sounds of the forest charmingly surrounding our tents.
Tying up loose ends around camp, we share stories, songs, and wisdom around a Poet's Campfire. We partake in a final banquet celebrating our newfound knowledge, positive impacts, and love for the natural world.
Saying farewell after watching our final sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, we transfer back to Raleigh and board our return flights home.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
North Carolina: Outer Banks Packing List - 2018 list coming soon!
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination of Raleigh, NC on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination of Raleigh, NC back home on the last day of the trip.