Frequently Asked Questions
Thinking About a Trip
Do you have any additional health restrictions on trail?
In addition to following CDC guidelines, we work with a team of community and health experts to help guide our safety measures on and off the trail. Find a complete list of steps we are taking to provide you the safest experience here: https://www.wildernessinquiry.org/covid19/
What is the minimum age to participate on a Wilderness Inquiry trip?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a Wilderness Inquiry trip. For a paddling trip, we require all participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD). Families with children under 30 pounds would need to provide their own PFD. For most family trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1 hour or more. Please use this criteria to decide whether or not your child would be a good fit on any particular trip.
For family and day trips, youth under the age of 18 must attend with an adult family member or friend who is over the age of 18.
How physically demanding are Wilderness Inquiry trips?
In general, we have a moderate pace that allows individuals to enjoy the backcountry without becoming exhausted. Each group may include people with a wide range of ability levels. We work to ensure that the overall group make-up is strong enough to have a positive experience. There are often opportunities for extra activities if you want more of a challenge.
We focus on what people can do, not on what they cannot. Our experience shows us that attitude is more important than physical ability.
Please remember that these trips are adventures, not packaged tours. Expect your muscles to be sore at least once on the trip! The exact nature of your specific trip will depend upon many factors, including the weather, your group, and your own interests and needs.
What type of food do we eat during the trip?
You’ll be pleased by the food we offer. Cookbook author and food guru Beth Dooley joined our staff a few years ago, and she has infused our menus with flair! Typical menus include meals like pesto pasta, chicken burritos, stir-fry, deli sandwiches, and blueberry pancakes. The exact menus vary trip-by-trip. On longer wilderness expeditions, we bring more nonperishable foods that keep well for days without refrigeration. On international trips, we tend to eat the local cuisine. Some trips, like A Taste of the Apostles, feature local foods as a special focus. We can accommodate most dietary restrictions and preferences - please note this information on your registration form.
Do I need paddling experience to join a canoe or kayak trip?
Paddling trips with WI are appropriate for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike. On the first day of all trips, basic paddling strokes will be taught by the trip leader. Each trip gives participants multiple opportunities to practice their skills. Participants with more experience will have plenty of opportunity to paddle during the trip, and even to help teach less experienced paddlers!
Can I rent equipment from Wilderness Inquiry?
Wilderness Inquiry is not in the gear rental business. On occasion we loan gear to a participant at no cost if they need it to participate.
Do you offer ground transportation on any of your trips?
If you need help arranging transportation to join us on an adventure, give us a call! Our staff will try to meet your needs however we can, but we cannot guarantee transportation on all itineraries.
Registering for a Trip
How far in advance do I need to register for a trip?
If you are hoping to travel over a specific set of dates, be sure to register as soon as possible. Many of our trips fill quickly. The sooner you register, the sooner we can confirm that a trip will be running!
How can I get more information about a specific trip or program?
We try to include as much detailed information as possible about each trip on the website, so this is a great place to start. If you have additional questions, please contact us at 612-676-9400 or [email protected]. Our staff are very helpful and knowledgeable!
Do we provide our own airfare when joining a Wilderness Inquiry trip?
Yes. Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to the trip meeting place. This includes airline travel when necessary. Past participants have recommended Travel One for assistance in arranging a flight. Travel One can be reached at 800-247-1311 or at their website.
We encourage you to wait until you receive your trip confirmation materials before purchasing nonrefundable airfare.
What are my odds of getting on a trip after joining a waitlist?
Space becomes available on wait-listed trips on a case-by-case basis. It is more likely that a space will open on a domestic trip roster, than on an international trip roster. We encourage you to register for the wait-list so we are aware of your interest, and then to call us at 612-676-9400 to discuss the specifics of the trip you are interested in.
Who can I talk to about some personal concerns?
The best thing to do is call us at (612) 676-9400. Our staff members are ready to answer your questions in a personal and confidential manner. Our number one goal is to make sure that you and the other members of your group are safe, comfortable, and have a great trip.
Preparing for a Trip
What should I bring on my trip?
Once you are confirmed for a trip, a confirmation packet will be sent to you. The packet includes a detailed personal packing list.
What is included in the trip price?
Trip fees cover all of your needs while you are traveling with us — including equipment, food, guides, permits, etc. You are responsible for bringing personal clothing. Personal gear can be borrowed upon request. On many trips we offer transportation to and from the starting location.
Airfare is not included in the trip price and it is the responsibility of the participants to provide their own means of transportation on any international trips.
Are alcohol and tobacco allowed on a trip?
We follow the basic rules of etiquette here, and also the law. If you are an adult of legal age and you smoke tobacco or enjoy a glass of wine, you may do so on most of our trips, however we do not allow these choices to become a distraction or disruption. For safety, liability, and quality group experiences, we do not tolerate abuse of alcoholic beverages, nor use by any minor or vulnerable adult. No smoking is allowed in vehicles, indoors, or in tents. No illegal drugs or firearms are permitted. If you have questions, please call.
Some of our trips for adult populations include alcoholic beverages on the menus, such as our A Taste of the Apostles trip. You may purchase your own alcoholic beverages on trips that feature meals in restaurants.
How do I reach my trip leader?
Our trip leaders will call you within a week before the start of your trip. If you don't hear from them, or if this is an emergency, you can call us at (612) 676-9400 or email us at [email protected].
Can I bring my dog on a Wilderness Inquiry trip?
We love dogs at Wilderness Inquiry, but not all trip participants do. And not all parks allow dogs. For this reason, registered guide dogs are the only dogs permitted on a Wilderness Inquiry trip.
We can include guide/assistance dogs on most of our trips. If you would like to bring your registered guide dog on a trip, please call us at (612) 676-9400 to discuss details.
Could the itinerary change after I sign up?
Your trip is dependent on weather, availability, and potential other unforeseen circumstances. All itineraries online are "sample" itineraries that are subject to change. Please check your confirmation packet for the most up to date information.
Trip Fees and Cancellations
Do you offer financial aid?
Yes - we believe the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors should be available to everyone. To keep our programs as financially accessible as possible, each year we raise funds to support need-based scholarships. Certain restrictions apply. Financial aid is available for a select number of trips only and typically not available for international trips. Click here to apply for financial aid. This website also shows a list of trips that are currently eligible for financial aid. Check back often, as this list is updated regularly! Call 612-676-9400 for more information.
Can I purchase a gift certificate?
Yes. A purchased gift certificate can be applied toward any Wilderness Inquiry trip, and it never expires. Click here to purchase a gift certificate, or call Anne at 612-676-9423.
Do trips get canceled if not enough people sign up?
It is very rare that we cancel a trip after a participant has signed up. However, earthquakes, volcanoes, and illness do happen. In the rare case such an event happens, we guarantee we will do our best to find an alternative that meets your needs and mitigates any loss. You may consider trip insurance if this is a concern. Check out: Trip Mate
What is your cancellation policy?
Trip deposits are due upon booking and are generally non-refundable.
Within five weeks prior to trip departure (0-34 days):
- You are responsible for 100% of trip fees. No refunds issued.
- For a few types of extenuating circumstances, we may be able to credit your deposit to a future trip. (Note: Credit must be used within one year of the original trip departure date.)
Five to ten weeks prior to trip departure (35-70 days):
- We will refund up to 50% of your trip fee, minus your deposit.
- For a few types of extenuating circumstances, we may be able to credit your trip fee to a future trip. (Note: Credit must be used within one year of the original trip departure date.)
Ten weeks or more prior to trip departure (71+ days):
- We will issue a refund of all trip fees paid, minus your deposit.
- Deposit may be credited to a future trip. (Note: Credit must be used within one year of the original trip departure date.)
Our cancellation policy is based on the allocation of Wilderness Inquiry resources required for your adventure upon booking (permits, staffing, trip planning, and bookings). Our policy, including non-refundable deposits, ensures we can continue to serve our mission.
If you have contracted with Wilderness Inquiry for a private group experience, please note that you are responsible for the full balance of the trip, even if your final group size is smaller than initially agreed upon. Wilderness Inquiry allocates staffing and resources several weeks in advance of a trip based on the contracted group size. If you would like to add participants to your group prior to the trip start date, please contact us as soon as possible. We will make every attempt to accommodate your request, with associated per-person fees, if resources are available.
Wilderness Inquiry reserves the right to make changes to a proposed itinerary, activities, or location due to inclement weather, unsafe conditions, or other unforeseen events.
In the rare event that Wilderness Inquiry cancels your trip, all fees (including the deposit) will be refunded or applied to a rescheduled or alternative trip. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for any personal expenses, such as airline tickets and other trip-related expenses. To protect your investment in your travel plans, we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet.
We understand that uncontrollable and unfortunate life circumstances happen–such as the death of a family member, a significant change in health status, or loss of employment. We may make rare exceptions to our cancellation policy on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us if you have a unique circumstance and would like to discuss your situation.
Effective January 1, 2023
On the Trail
Are you able to handle special diets on a trip (vegetarian, Kosher, Halal, etc.)?
Yes, we are able to accommodate most dietary requests, from preferences to allergies. Be sure to list any dietary restrictions on your confidential health forms during the trip registration process.
Wilderness Inquiry proudly offers a Kosher menu option on our private, custom trips. Some Kosher foods can also be made available on our general public trips, but separate Kosher cooking equipment is typically not provided. All food items on our Kosher menu are certified by OK Kosher or OU Kosher. If a more specialized Kosher menu is desired, participants have the option of providing their own Kosher products. Wilderness Inquiry may be able to provide specific Kosher products for an additional fee upon request.
What are the qualifications of Wilderness Inquiry trail staff?
All of our staff are trained wilderness leaders with current safety certifications. Staff have a wide variety of experiences but all share a passion for the outdoors and connecting with people. The positive experience with our guides on trail is consistently ranked as one of the most rewarding aspects of joining a Wilderness Inquiry trip.
How structured is the daily itinerary during the trip?
Most trips have planned activities throughout the experience. The exact length, timing, and order of these activities varies from trip to trip. Wilderness Inquiry staff will take individual preferences under consideration, but activities will be chosen based on the best fit for the entire group. Sitting out of a particular activity is always an option. Participants can choose to use their spare time to hike, canoe, or just hang out around camp and relax. As long as staff leaders know of your intentions, most activity choices can be accommodated.
What types of kayaks and canoes are used on your trips?
We use stable, Current Design or Eddyline tandem kayaks on all of our kayak trips. These are very big and carry a lot of gear, and can be used as a 3-person kayak if a participant needs to sit in the boat as a passenger. Everyone will get the opportunity to paddle and stern a boat if they want to.
On some trips we use Wenonah canoes made of either Royalex or Kevlar depending on the location, participant group, and portages.
On other trips, particularly on big open water like the Mississippi River, we use our custom, handmade 24-foot North canoes. These boats are specifically designed for safety and stability. Each boat fits 10 people.
I have limited ability in my upper body. Is a paddling trip appropriate for me?
Most WI paddling trips are a great fit for anyone with limited upper body abilities. Our canoes and kayaks are fully accessible and we have a variety of adaptive equipment to assist you. Please provide as much information as possible regarding your accommodation needs on your registration form.
What type of wheelchair tires would be suitable for your trips?
We require participants to provide their own manual wheelchairs. Chairs with mountain bike tires, knobby tires, or balloon front tires work best on trail. Most modern, manual wheelchairs are adequate.
Can I bring a power wheelchair on a Wilderness Inquiry trip?
We require the use of a manual wheelchair on most of our trips. Please call us at 612-676-9400 or email [email protected] to discuss the possibility of using a power wheelchair on a specific trip.
What is the process to have a support person join a Wilderness Inquiry trip (trip assistant, personal care attendant, American Sign Language interpreter, etc.)?
Wilderness Inquiry uses the following process for providing trip supports to participants:
1 - Person needing support registers for a trip and pays a deposit.
2 - Wilderness Inquiry determines if the trip/itinerary is a good fit for the individual, based on their support needs.
3 - Wilderness Inquiry and the participant mutually assess and agree upon what type and level of support is needed for the person on the trip.
4 - Wilderness Inquiry assigns a price for the trip assistant’s trip fee. This fee will be based on the base price for the trip, any additional costs associated with the trip support required (e.g., equipment), and our modest administrative fee. For select continental U.S. experiences, the fee may be fully waived for personal care attendants or ASL interpreters.
Continental United States: Wilderness Inquiry will reach out to our volunteer network to secure an assistant. Although this cannot be guaranteed, it is rare that Wilderness Inquiry is unable to provide a support person for trips within the continental United States. Reduced fees are generally paid by the trip assistant.
International/Non-Continental United States: The participant determines who will pay the trip assistant’s fees and travel expenses. Fees are generally paid by either the participant who needs support or by the trip assistant.
-If individual needing support is able to pay:
-----They can bring a friend/family member to serve this role, provided that the person is qualified and able to adequately support them.
-----Wilderness Inquiry will send a staff member or another known volunteer trip assistant at the lowest cost available.
-If the individual needing support is not able to pay, Wilderness Inquiry will reach out to our volunteer network of trip assistants, but will not confirm the individual on the trip until a support person is identified and agrees to travel with the participant at their own expense. If a trip assistant is unable to be found by an agreed upon date, then the participant seeking support may be unable to join that particular experience. Wilderness Inquiry will either 1) work with that individual to find a different experience and apply fees paid to it; or 2) fully refund the participant fees paid.
Does Wilderness Inquiry provide trips specifically for people with cognitive disabilities?
Yes! WI's Gateway to Adventure trips are intended for participants with cognitive disabilities. Gateway trips are designed to help participants with cognitive disabilities learn outdoors skills and have fun in nature. Some participants on Gateway trips attend fully integrated trips with Wilderness Inquiry after learning basic skills.
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI family trip. We require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A family with a child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For family paddling trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1+ hour at a time. This should guide whether or not a child would be a good fit on any particular trip.
Is there a discount on family trips?
Yes. All youth participants under the age of 18 pay 25% less than the adult rate on all family trips.
Would my teenager enjoy a family trip with Wilderness Inquiry?
There are typically both teens and younger children on our family trips. We often offer a variety of activities so that participants of all ages have an enjoyable trip!
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Yes. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points throughout the trip. Our staff love kids and are great at making sure your whole family has a great time.
Which immunizations do you recommend when traveling to an international destination?
Prior to departure, we recommend that you check with your doctor as early as possible to ensure you are up to date on your standard immunizations. Your doctor is in the best position to recommend specific vaccinations to specific destinations.
Do I need international travel insurance?
If your health insurance doesn't cover you while abroad, it is a good idea to consider a basic travel-specific insurance. Wilderness Inquiry does not offer insurance, but many companies do. Check out:
TripMate: Your partner in travel
How can I obtain hands-on experience with WI before I apply?
We encourage all prospective staff to volunteer at WI or participate in an event to find out more about us. One good way to do this is to sign up as a Trip Assistant (TA). TAs go on trips at a reduced fee in exchange for their services. Sometimes TAs provide additional strength or balance in a group. Other times a TA may be assigned to assist with an individual with a disability. This is a great way to get a better understanding of what our trips are about, as well as the expectations we have for our trail staff. Click here to apply for a volunteer position.
Does Wilderness Inquiry offer full-time or career positions?
Yes. Most of our hiring processes involve seasonal or part-time work, but we do occasionally have full-time openings. Wilderness Inquiry currently has approximately 20 full-time career positions. The people in these positions are dedicated professionals who perform a wide variety of functions. Wilderness Inquiry is a growing organization, so new positions are created from time to time as well.
Click here to see a list of current employment opportunities.