We’re diving deeper into the national parks with a spotlight on the people who connect with them internally whether that’s through a career, a lifestyle, a passion, or simply being a local.
If you haven’t seen her content pop up through the reels on Instagram I’m sure you’ve seen her free spirit on TikTok, and if you haven’t seen either, you’ve come to the right place. In the many ways we can feel connected to the outdoor space, one of the most admirable traits is from folks who are so naturally driven through, well, nature alone. You’ve heard these words from us at Parks Project many times, but Kiya truly brings “feeling the earth breathe” & “escaping to nature” to the forefront of her lifestyle. From dancing around the fields, to snowboarding through the Idaho mountains, to river rafting the Colorado River, Kiya Echohawk is thee outdoorsy soul you want to be best friends with. If you haven’t already, check out her Instagram @kiya_echohawk & TikTok @kiyaechohawk to follow along her rad journey.
Q: Your connection to adventure and grounding yourself in nature is so admirable. What do you think led to so much growth outdoors? Was it an upbringing from childhood or a more recently found connection?
A: My love for the outdoors started at an early age. For as long as I can remember, both my mom and dad have taken my siblings and I out on whitewater river rafting adventures. It all started with my granddad (My moms dad) who was a guide on the Middle Fork Salmon River. He would take my mom on multi-day rafting trips growing up, and she continued on that tradition with her own kids. She taught my dad how to row his own boat and read water, and from there he was hooked. Today I still have so much love for white water rafting and continue to run rivers with both my mom and dad all while creating unforgettable memories in the outdoors.
Q: If you had one day in June to do anything outside, what would this day look like for you? What song would you pair with the day?
A: An ideal day for me in June would be to load up a couple boats onto a trailer and drive down to the put in on the main payette. It’s a day trip float in Idaho. It only takes a few hours and is so much fun to run with good company and some snacks, of course! I’d say the perfect song to pair with this day would be “Like a River” by Ocie Elliott.
Q: You’ve been on quite the journey the last month in the Grand Canyon! Can you give us some insight on your trip and what you were doing there?
A: I had the amazing opportunity to go on a private 21 day, white water rafting trip with people I had never met prior to going. This trip has been on my bucket list for years! We rafted & camped along 225 miles on the Colorado river, I saw so many beautiful places and made so many amazing memories. From creating new friendships and exploring the desert during the blooming season, to all the waterfall hikes with the most amazing wildlife and animals thriving around us. I’d say we had such a successful and powerful experience in the Grand Canyon. When being on a trip like this, it takes us outside the pattern of our daily lives, and creates a feeling of renewal, discovery, and achievement to disconnect and reconnect with nature.
Q: As you know, our Teva collaboration is in support of the Grand Canyon Conservancy to support Colorado River restoration initiatives, specifically native fish conservation and monitoring. When out on the river, how do you plan ahead of time to leave the rivers better than you found them?
A: There’s a lot of prep and planning that goes into making a successful river rafting trip happen. On a multi-day river trip, you pack everything you’ll need to survive while out in the wilderness. We bring things such as food, water filtration, clothing, and any other necessities packed into a dry bag and/or ammo cans for the duration of the trip. We float a couple miles each day to a new camp for the night. A big part of being on the river is leaving no trace. Our goal is to minimize the collective impact to protect the fragile resources that exist there. As we are packing up each morning we do everything we can to leave our area better than we found it, so that the next people to come after us can have the same experience for years to come.
Q: What are 5 essential items you bring on; 1. The river, 2. A long hike, & 3. A road trip?
A: My five essential items for a successful river trip would be a PFD (personal flotation device) that is always the number one necessity while being on any river. Of course sunscreen and a hat to protect from the sun, a water bottle to stay hydrated and lastly, a good pair of water shoes to protect your feet.
On a long hike I love to have a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes for the best support. A backpack to hold all my gear, my water bottle with built-in filtration, a sun shirt and hat so that I don’t get sunburnt while on the trail.
My road trip essentials include my pillow and blanket for those much-needed car naps and a good playlist to jam out to. I love to have a comfy and cute outfit to wear. And of course some yummy snacks and drinks.
Q: What have you learned the most within this connection to the outdoor space whether it’s about yourself, protecting the earth, or having found a greater community to be a part of?
A: With my connection to outdoor spaces, I find that being in nature always brings out the best in people, myself included. I think that being a part of the outdoor community has so many benefits when it comes to connecting with others, who have similar interests. I have found myself creating new friendships over my love for the river and the outdoors. We all know as a collective how our impact affects our environment and are always leaving outdoor spaces better than we found them. Doing this creates a sense of fulfillment in knowing we are being a part of a better change. The sense of belonging to a greater community has enriched my experiences, and provided opportunities for learning and growth. Together we can support and inspire one another to explore new places and opportunities.
Q: Where’s your next adventure taking you?
A: I’m so excited for my next adventure! Over The Fourth of July, I will be going on a six day river trip on the Middle Fork Salmon River, where I’ll be spending my time surrounded by nature with my family and friends on our favorite river.
Inspired by Kiya and need some new gear for your next river trip? Shop our full Teva x Parks Project collection for shoes, apparel, and accessories!