We’re ecstatic that you’re here - we’re also certain that you have some questions regarding this website, especially since we quite literally just got off the ground. One of our goals is to form supportive and informative relationships with each member of this community; so, like any good trail guide, hunting partner, or decently polite person, allow us a moment to introduce ourselves.
WHO WE ARE
No one knew it at the time, but Expedition Detroit began in March of 2020 when the world shut down and the only place to explore was home. Dan Cooke, Expedition Detroit’s founder, started channeling his outdoorsman drive and stifled wanderlust into exploring areas around his hometown that he had driven past for decades but never thought to check out. As the pandemic raged on travel restrictions remained in place, Dan uncovered one new favorite trail, park, retailer, event, or organization after another. Even as the world started to normalize, Dan continued to explore more of Detroit’s outdoors, join conservation organizations, and dive deeper into the industries supporting and impacting Detroit’s outdoor economy.
That 2+ year journey ended with the shocking realization that Detroit’s outdoors - our most beautiful, valuable, awe-inspiring, and fragile resource - is severely undervalued, underserved, and dangerously exposed to neglect. This realization held true despite several private and non-profit organizations that are deeply invested in promoting Detroit’s natural environment. While there were a myriad of factors leading to this conclusion, a critical missing factor appeared to be a leading and unifying enterprise that promoted the full spectrum of Detroit’s outdoor experience. After several days of consistent (and somewhat depressing) research, Dan concluded that such a venture did not exist…yet. A few strategic phone calls later and Expedition Detroit was born.
Holly Laginess was one of those first strategic calls. Holly is not only a longtime friend of Dan’s, but is an immensely talented graphic designer, brand content manager, and website builder. As Expedition Detroit evolved from dinner conversation to an operating business, Holly grew more and more integral to the development process. Honestly, the fact that you’re reading this right now, on this platform, is a testament to Holly.
WHAT WE DO
Expedition Detroit is a multimedia content platform that exists to promote, support, and advocate for every facet of Detroit’s outdoor ecosystem. We create original print, photo, and video media that highlights and facilitates access to the best outdoor experiences in our region, starting initially with hiking, backpacking, camping, running, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and hunting. Yes, this list is not exhaustive - we will include more activities and content mediums as this platform progresses, while simultaneously diving deeper into these leading experiences.
Beyond just enhancing outdoor experiences, our content will aim to provide value to the industries and stakeholders whose operations and interests are interconnected with Detroit’s natural environment. We will cover the most valuable and useful gear for optimizing your outdoor experiences, including retailers that are disrupting markets and creating products designed for making the outdoors more accessible and enjoyable. We will promote advocacy groups, volunteer organizations, and proposed legislation that exist to create and protect a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive outdoor experience and culture.
We also intend to explore and create new opportunities for our region. Detroit’s outdoor ecosystem is ripe for disruption, whether it be new or improved trail systems, more efficient regulations, an influx of new ideas into stagnant industries, or new entrepreneurial ventures like us geared towards resolving these issues.
Ultimately, our goal is to create and foster a community of passionate outdoor enthusiasts, recreationists, and advocates. We embrace - no, celebrate - the diversity of interests, backgrounds, and even nationalities that define our region. We can’t wait to serve you with content that enriches experiences, inspires new adventures, facilitates outdoor lifestyles, and protects the best of the Detroit region for generations to come.
WHERE WE’RE EXPLORING
Absent a few outliers, Expedition Detroit’s content will exclusively cover outdoor recreation opportunities, retailers, events, policies, and stories occurring within a 1 hour drive of Downtown Detroit. Yes, this scope includes the entirety of Metro Detroit, plus Southern Ontario and the northwestern coast of Ohio. This geographic limitation is intentional on multiple fronts; not only do we recognize that a car continues to serve as the Motor City’s default transportation mode, but we are passionate about highlighting the immensity of outdoor opportunities that are immediately accessible in our region. Regardless of whether you’re a lifelong local, just in town for business, looking to squeeze in some exercise before a big event, picking up a new hobby, or simply looking for something new and exciting to do, Expedition Detroit will curate the best outdoor experiences for any interest or limitation that you may have.
Check out our Destinations page for more information on the hundreds of outdoor experiences and locales that are largely hiding in plain sight. You may notice that the destinations within an hour’s drive from Downtown Detroit are not created equal - expressways, international border crossings, ferries, and other logistical hurdles can impact which locations fall within our criteria. Don’t worry, we’ll stay on top of our game regarding any changes that bring new destinations into our zone. Suggestions are always welcomed too.
WHY YOU SHOULD PARTNER WITH US
Truth be told, the general “Expedition Detroit” business concept is not a novel idea - similar enterprises have existed for decades in the world’s most famous outdoor adventure destinations like Colorado, Switzerland, Argentina, South Africa, and Nepal. What makes Expedition Detroit very unique, however, is that virtually no one in the global outdoor community views Detroit as an international gateway to world-class outdoor experiences. Our region remains uncharted territory for most adventure seekers.
As we all know, when you first mention that you’re from the Detroit region to someone who has never visited here, their initial response is an “8 Mile” movie reference at best and an insulting remark at worst. Who can blame them - the mainstream media has broadcast the worst of this region for over 50 years, resulting in Detroit being largely neglected in every aspect other than its cars, music, urban blight, bad football team, and the recent renaissance of its city center.
Here’s the good news: this region’s inconceivably undervalued outdoor ecosystem has an unprecedented opportunity to make an impact on the global outdoor industry. Regardless of whether you’re a trail runner, mountain biker, kayaker, hunter, hiker, bird watcher, or any combination of the above, you have surely experienced moments in our region that invoked senses of awe, adventure, and pride in our environment. This region is stunningly beautiful - you can see it when first-time visitors relinquish any preconceived ideas of Detroit during their jog through Belle Isle, paddle down the Huron River, or hike over the rolling hills of Pinckney Recreation Area. Simply put, the entire business plan of Expedition Detroit falls apart if our region’s natural environment doesn’t exceed expectations. Let’s just say that we’re not losing any sleep on that question.
Where we do have concerns - and where you play a vital role - is in raising awareness of the importance of preserving our remaining wild places. Largely due to the neglect that our region has suffered, Detroit’s natural environment is vulnerable to industrial pollution, local retailers struggle against household name brands, and financial resources are diverted from conservation towards more topical uses. If the status quo of general neglect remains, Detroit’s outdoors will likely be sacrificed on the altar of urban sprawl and unsustainable development.
In our democracy, the two most effective tools that everyday citizens have in their arsenal are their vote and their dollar. Here at Expedition Detroit, we strive to educate our community on the most impactful uses of both for effectuating change that improves and protects our outdoors. Our utility as a value creation incubator for Detroit’s trail networks, gear manufacturers, and advocacy organizations only succeeds if our community also embraces this passion. Don’t worry, we vow to do the heavy lifting on producing field research, guides, and analyses on the most important matters facing our greater region - we just hope that you will join us in any capacity on this expedition.
Now that we’ve introduced ourselves, we’ll get back to the trail and circle back with new content to fuel your next adventure. We sincerely thank you for joining us so early on, and we hope that our content will bring lifelong value into your outdoor experiences.
We can’t wait to see you out there.