Interview With The Dyrt Co-Founder Sarah Smith

When was the last time you ended up at a less than ideal campsite? Were your campsite neighbors too close? Was it right off a busy road? Did you know that there’s a website/app you can check for reviews of campsites across the United States?! The Dyrt is essentially Yelp and Trip Advisor for the camping world and is now the fastest growing camping app for web and mobile. In addition to being a great resource for planning, it’s a wonderful outlet for people to share reviews and tips with each other. Meet Shoestring Warrior and co-founder of The Dyrt, Sarah Smith! She shared with us why she created The Dyrt.

I wanted to be able to get a feel for a campground before I made a weekend commitment to stay there. The resources available to me did not provide the basic information I wanted access to – photos, videos and other people’s opinions.

The Dyrt has over 90,000 reviews and pictures of campgrounds across America. Campers who review campgrounds earn points and win prizes! Keep reading to learn more from Sarah about what inspired her to start The Dyrt and what her tips are for planning a camping trip. Check out The Dyrt Website and then download the app for iOS or Android and head off on your next camping adventure more informed!

Tell us about yourself!

I have a lifetime obsession with camping and travel. I started camping as a child growing up in Minnesota. After spending 10 years abroad (with little time in a tent), I reconnected with camping and realized how much I had missed the diverse, natural beauty of the US.

When did you discover your love for the outdoors?

The outdoors has always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories involve camping around Lake Superior, picking blueberries for hours, and fishing for walleye and smelt. Fried walleye makes for the BEST camping meal!

What is The Dyrt?

Think “Yelp for camping” — campers have uploaded more campground photos & reviews to The Dyrt than anywhere else on the internet.

Just like many people wouldn’t go to a restaurant without consulting Yelp, or stay in a hotel without checking out Trip Advisor, people want to have a better idea of a campground before they get there.

A weekend is a long time to camp next to a loud highway just because you didn’t have the detailed info you needed before you got there.

NEW: App now live on iOS and Android (launched June 2018)

What inspired you to start The Dyrt?

Pure frustration. I wanted to be able to get a feel for a campground before I made a weekend commitment to stay there. The resources available to me did not provide the basic information I wanted access to – photos, videos and other people’s opinions.

I validated my own feeling of frustration by doing focus groups and interviews with other campers and quickly realized that I was not alone in feeling like we weren’t finding the information we wanted.

Over 60,000,000 Americans camp each year and we want the experience to count.

Lastly, there was not a clear leader in the campground search and reviews space and with the outdoor industry being an economic giant (bigger than the pharmaceutical industry), I knew there was a big opportunity for The Dyrt.

The Dyrt has a unique model; people submit reviews, earn points, and then win prizes. Can you tell us a little more about the incentive model?

At the beginning, as a new site, we knew we needed good content from users and needed it quickly. We realized the best way to do that was to incentivize people to review campgrounds on The Dyrt. The Dyrt partners with outdoor brands and the top reviewers on The Dyrt earn gear from these brands. The users love being rewarded for their reviews and brands are happy to get in front of a group of outdoor influencers who  review their products at a campground. Truly authentic gear reviews in action at campgrounds! It’s a win for the users, the brands, and for The Dyrt. And the Campground Review Contests are monthly so all the contest leaderboards reset at the beginning of each month – giving everyone fresh opportunities to compete! You can see all the brands, contests and this month’s prizes here (

Our gamification model has worked and we now have over 90,000 pictures and reviews of campgrounds with a new visitor creating a new account on The Dyrt every 60 seconds!

The Dyrt collaborates with everyday campers across the country through the Dyrt Ranger program. What does it take to be a Dyrt Ranger?

To become a Dyrt Ranger you need to be one of the best reviewers on The Dyrt. The campers who win camping contests become a Ranger but we also award Ranger status to other members of The Dyrt who we see as being exemplary reviewers.

The Dyrt Rangers then get access to more gear from our outdoor brand partners and they also get the inside track to The Dyrt staff through a closed Facebook group. They have been a huge help in helping us prioritize tech features. You can see The Dyrt Rangers and power reviewers here:

What are the three most reviewed campsites?  

1.     Mather Campground – Grand Canyon National Park

2.     Watchman Campground – Utah

3.     Cades Cove Campground – Tennessee

What do you enjoy most about the work you do at The Dyrt?

I love solving an actual problem that can make people’s lives better and help them get outside more.

I also enjoy being a rare female co-founder of a tech company which comes with a fresh perspective that I enjoy infusing into our company culture. I am really excited that we’re growing quickly – what started as just me, now has 25 employees!

When I’m not running strategy and culture, I love spending time improving the user experience of our brand new iOS and Android mobile apps.

What tips do you have for someone who wants to start planning a camping trip?

  • Step 1: Don’t limit yourself – Go broad and then narrow it down.
  • Step 2: Start by looking at everything at the state level:
  • Step 3: Narrow your state level search by ‘Type’, ‘Filter’ and ‘Sort by’ options. Or use the map to zoom in on the area you want to camp at.
  • Step 4: Create a list to help with the planning of your camping trips.
  • Step 5: Review the campground you visited on The Dyrt on your profile page so you can access them in the future and not forget the name of your favorite campground, or what you liked about it!

The Dyrt also features a digital magazine. What is the primary focus of the magazine?

The Dyrt Magazine showcases the latest camping tips, stories, and lists to an extremely engaged audience of outdoor enthusiasts.

The perfect s’more? (If you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)

I’m partial to an adult version of a s’more that includes Kahlúa or Bailey’s. Not sure it can be really classified as a s’more but it’s very tasty.

Photos © 2018 The Dyrt

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