When you want to go car camping, you have a couple of options. Traditionally, you’re either stacked like sardines next to other campers on pavement slots, or you’re fighting for your slice of heaven after a rough drive to a dispersed camping area.
Either way, the experience can end up being stressful and contradictory to the solitude you seek in nature. But, there’s another way.
Based in Colorado, Ramble is a new venture-backed technology business building tasteful and thoughtful low-impact campgrounds within a few hours of metropolitan cities across the U.S. Its flagship location is a 25-site campground on 320 acres in Mosca, Colo., near Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Ramble officially opens Memorial Day weekend and is currently accepting reservations.
Ramble Introduces a ‘New Era’ of Campgrounds
From his own experiences working in tech and squirreling away PTO for outdoor adventures, founder Matt Oesterle knows that vacation time is hard-earned and precious. A cross-country road trip with his family in 2020 left him feeling discouraged about the existing car-camping options. He was inspired to raise the bar for accessible campgrounds.
“It was almost upsetting to see how people were spending their time with family and friends in gravel parking lots with lots of noise and light pollution, very little space, and not really out in nature,” he said. “It led me to ask, how can we do this better?”
Of course, there are good camping experiences to be had, but you don’t always know what you’re getting when you book sight unseen. It almost feels like you get lucky if you score a site with a view or you don’t end up near noisy neighbors running a generator all day. It can be a gamble.
But at Ramble locations, you’ll always know what you’re getting, Oesterle says. Space to spread out, unobscured views, and really nice bathrooms are a few of the guarantees.
“We’re building places that people think are consistently amazing when they camp with us,” Oesterle said.
What Ramble Offers
Lovers of intentional design will appreciate Ramble’s simple Scandinavian-inspired shade structures. They’re practical but don’t distract from the surroundings. And taking a page out of Disney World’s book, Ramble’s signage and fixtures are completely custom.
“When you arrive at a Ramble, we want you to immediately feel like you’re being transported to a different place,” Oesterle said. “We want you to think, ‘Vacation is starting.’”
Sites range from $59 per night for a standard stay up to $499 for the 12-person group site.
Conveniences at every site include flat tent pads, Adirondack chairs around a Solo Stove campfire, Camp Chef stoves and propane, Polywood picnic tables, coffee pour-over kettles, and a wagon for hauling gear. Everyone has access to cornhole boards and horseshoe pits, flush toilets and semi-outdoor-but-private showers, and potable water spigots. There’s even free access to Starlink internet.
Rather than tracking down the camp host or stopping by a front desk, check-in will be completely contactless through a QR code, like at some Airbnb stays. Ramble plans to employ locals in each community to handle onsite issues and campsite turnover duties, such as refilling propane and other maintenance issues. Guests can also call a 24/7 customer service line.
A Ramble Takeover
By aggressively scaling the business to 1,000 locations in the coming years, Ramble could compete with the nationally recognized campgrounds that are currently the norm — the KOAs of the world, along with RV parks, state parks, and federally managed lands.
Oesterle said his first hire was a data scientist. They’re helping his team understand where there’s demand for more campgrounds. To define Ramble’s audience, he looked to KOA’s 2022 North American Camping Report, which revealed that there are now about 57 million households camping at least once a year. And 77% of those households aren’t camping in traditional campgrounds.
The target Ramble camper includes everyone who’s already camping, from families to couples to Gen Zers.
“People already know camping is a great activity for spending time with family and friends,” Oesterle said. “We just want to give them a better experience.”
After the Great Sand Dunes, the next Ramble campgrounds are slated to open in 2024 near Buena Vista, Mesa Verde National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Oesterle and his team are working with both private and institutionalized landowners to lease parcels and steward the land. They’re also partnering with cause-driven organizations like the Honnold Foundation, Leave No Trace, and 1% for the Planet to share environmentally friendly messaging with guests and leave as little of an impact on the land as possible.
“If we were to remove the Ramble in the future, you would barely be able to tell it was ever there in the first place,” Oesterle says.
For more information and booking for the Great Sand Dunes Ramble Campground, visit the Ramble Camp website.