What do you get when you bring over a hundred van dwellers, nomads, adventurers, and open minded people together in one Colorado grassy field? You get a vanlife gathering, one of many that happen all throughout the country. This past weekend, Tiny House, Tiny Footprint, Vanlife Diaries, and Rock Meets Soil collaborated to put on the Colorado Vanlife Gathering in Basalt, Colorado.
Various different vehicles were strewn about in a ring encircling a huge field. In between the lines of vans, parked with their doors swung open, were people milling to their new neighbors, across the road to the nearby river, or to wherever their dogs dragged them.
The three day event began with a community potluck, where everyone gathered to meet, eat, and share stories from around the world. Throughout the weekend, there were workshops held on everything from creative writing to drawing to acro-yoga, all of which welcomed everyone present to engage with their individual artistry.
Saturday night found the entire group gathered under a massive canvas tent, avoiding the Colorado rain. All present pulled chairs around to engage in a vanlife FAQ. Discussion flowed everywhere from van-friendly locations, favorite van additions, best fans to install, and how to best utilize solar panels. Full time van dwellers were present, as were those who were brand new to the lifestyle, and some who were curiously investigating what life in a van really looked like.
More than the scheduled events however, was the ability for travelers to connect with one another. In addition, the gathering worked to create a space of inclusion, in which every person was welcome, regardless of whether or not they owned a certain type of vehicle, van, or social media following. There were not only a vast variety of vans present, everything from Mercedes Sprinters to Dodge Promasters to colorful VW Vanagons, but also Toyota Rav-4’s, people sleeping in tents, ambulance trucks, and school buses. And the people occupying such diverse residences maintained that level of diversity themselves. Solo travelers, weekend warriors, couples, groups of friends celebrating their retirement, college students, teachers. All were present.
Nomadic living without a steady community can be difficult. Vanlife gatherings offer an oasis from the constant travel, and through simply providing a physical location, the wonder of community begins to work itself into the event.
The Colorado Vanlife Gathering is not the only one of its type occurring around the country. There have been gatherings in the past in locations from New South Wales, Australia to the Grand Tetons. In a few days, on August 10, there will be another gathering in Taos, New Mexico, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Ticket prices range from $35 to $55, depending on the number of individuals present. After Taos, in September there will be a vanlife rally in Asheville, featuring vendors, food trucks, beer, a raffle, and more.
Not only do ticket costs for these events allow for the creation of such a neat gathering to occur, a portion also goes to nonprofits such as Rivers and Birds Inc. or the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.