Aug 23, 2021 - Things to Do

Explore Eden aims to kickstart the future of camping

Illustration of a pixelated marshmallow roasting on a stick.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An app set to launch next month may change the way people experience the outdoors.

What's happening: Stuart Collier, principal broker of Collier & Associates, is launching Explore Eden, which will enable landowners to list properties and would-be campers to book them as campsites.

  • It'll offer options for users who want different experiences or have different needs, from RV-ready spots to primitive locations to so-called "glamping" sites, where, for an extra fee, posh tents will be erected ahead of arrival.
  • Service will differentiate Explore Eden from Airbnb or Vrbo, Collier said. He cited a focus on vetting locations with good user experiences and helping landowners with photography and video services as ways to make his app more competitive.

Why it matters: The pandemic has renewed interest in outdoor recreation, including camping. Explore Eden leverages that niche and taps into an estimated $87 billion global vacation rental business.

  • And the app is an example of NWA's entrepreneurial spirit and contributes to a shift into a more diversified economy, leaning on all things outdoors.

Flashback: Collier said the idea came when a friend of a friend offered to pay him to use his land near Osage Creek last year.

  • "Devil's Den and all these parks were booked solid — you couldn't even get a spot," he said. "If you did, you had some guy playing his music too loud or getting drunk 10 feet over from you, and I just thought, 'There has to be a better way.'"

What they're saying: Clay Morton, a partner in Mission Contractors, has land on Beaver Lake he purchased to put a couple of houses on someday.

  • He uses it for camping, but "not often enough," so he's listed the location with Explore Eden, hoping for some passive income.

Between the lines: Land is a great longterm investment, but can be a financial burden in the short term.

  • Collier hopes Explore Eden will allow qualified landowners the ability to cash flow property without major development, while giving nature-lovers the opportunity to use private land with desirable views and no noisy neighbors.

What to watch: The app is set to launch in mid-September, and Collier's team is actively looking for landowners in NWA.

  • But he's already got an eye toward the future and is looking to expand in Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; and North Carolina.
Photo of a family camping huddled near a campfire.
An example of the types of locations and glamping tents Explore Eden will provide users. Photo: Courtesy Explore Eden

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