Business

Adventure-Based Glamping

Off-the-grid mobile trailers offer a unique traveling experience as ROAM Beyond and Homegrown Trailers come to the Flathead Valley

By Maggie Dresser
Corey Weathers, co-founder of ROAM Beyond, stands among his grove of camping trailers outside of Columbia Falls on May 6, 2021. ROAM offers a “glamping” experience in off the grid mobile dwellings. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

When Corey Weathers built a self-contained, off-the-grid mobile trailer requiring no hookups to use on remote camping trips with his family in 2013, there was nothing of its kind in the market. With original intentions to only use the trailer concept for personal use, he started building more and wound up launching Homegrown Trailers a few years later.

“It’s that classic entrepreneur story,” Weathers said. “I had an unmet need and the market didn’t meet my need and because of that I decided to solve my own problem.”

After building his first trailer in his garage in Washington, equipped with beds, solar panels and a composting toilet, it received a lot of attention at gas stations and everywhere it went.

Seeing the interest, he built a few more and launched the company, but despite the widespread interest from the general public, he and his business partner, Jake Haupert, didn’t see that interest reflected in sales. After posting a survey to their followers, they found surprising results.

“Overwhelmingly people said ‘We love it but we would never buy it, we’re not RV people and we don’t have a tow vehicle,’ but they said they’d love to stay in one and they loved the idea of getting off the grid and going to a remote area,” Weathers said.

In 2019, Weathers and Haupert launched a separate company to pair with Homegrown Trailers called ROAM Beyond, a lodging company that provides travelers a unique glamping experience.

Camping trailers are parked by a fishing pond at ROAM Beyond outside of Columbia Falls on May 6, 2021. ROAM offers a “glamping” experience in off the grid mobile dwellings. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Weathers and Haupert collaborate with private landowners and bring the campers to recreation destinations where travelers can book reservations to stay in a remote setting. Starting with locations in Washington, they added operations in Montana this year, where Weathers’ wife grew up.

This spring, ROAM will set up camp with 12 126-square-foot trailers on Lower Stillwater Lake where guests can enjoy lake recreation like standup paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing and stay on site, working with the property’s new owners to eventually do yoga retreats and farm-to-table meals.

In the winter, ROAM partners with the Whitefish Bike Retreat where guests can winter glamp and go on snowshoeing and fat biking excursions.

ROAM also has a flagship location with 24 trailers in Columbia Falls on 20 acres at the former Rising Peak Academy, which Weathers is in the process of purchasing. The property has communal dining and living spaces on the property and Weathers partners with local chefs, yoga studios and other businesses to bring activities to the site.

Pairing with the self-contained trailers, Weathers also works to promote the concept of sustainability and plans to start a garden at the property and bring farm-to-table meals to clients. As a former renewable energy consultant in addition to a past career in the wellness industry, Weathers combined passions to create ROAM Beyond and Homegrown Trailers.

The interior of a camping trailer at ROAM Beyond outside of Columbia Falls on May 6, 2021. ROAM offers a “glamping” experience in off the grid mobile dwellings. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

“This is a blend,” he said. “The outdoors and recreation and wellness combined with sustainability.”

“A big part of our goal is to educate guests,” he added.

While ROAM’s cliental ranges across the board, Weathers has observed the demographics most commonly breaks down into four categories, including higher-earning millennials, families, empty nesters and single travelers, all looking for unique lodging.

With properties in Washington, which are not operating this year, and the Flathead Valley already, Weathers and Haupert are planning to add four new sites per year and they are currently scouting locations in Utah, Arizona and the Bozeman area.

“The whole adventure base camp idea is where we try to fit in as our marketing concept,” Weathers said.

For more information, visit www.roambeyond.travel and www.homegrowntrailers.com.

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