What Is A Vision Quest?

Written by Paul Wolf

Is your life lacking in spirit? A Native American-inspired vision quest may be just the retreat you need.

A vision quest can be short or long, in your own home or in the middle of nowhere. It can have much ritual or none at all. Find one that suits your needs, goals, need for balance and spiritual philosophy.

Before you go, here's what you need to know:

Time investment: A long quest can require a major time commitment. A four-night quest can take up to two weeks if you have to drive out of state, hike to and from your quest site, and drive back. If time is an issue, consider a short quest of one or two days.

Tips for researching vision quests in your region:
Yoga studios, meditation and alternative healing centers can be good resources for information on quest leaders.
Ask prospective quest leaders for references. Get feedback from several people who have been on their quests.
Interview more than one quest leader before making a selection.
Make sure you are satisfied with all aspects of the quest, e.g., location, security, supervision, length of quest.
Be wary of paying more than $1,000 for a multiday quest, even one with a lot of expenses.

Public vs. private land: Quests held on public land tend to be more secluded. Quests on private land (where most quests take place) are arguably safer and more secure. The downside is that you may be able to see and hear signs of civilization.

Finding a good quest leader: It can be tricky because individuals, not groups, usually lead quests. Yoga studios, meditation institutes and centers for alternative healing can be good resources for quest-leader references. Be sure to interview more than one potential quest leader, as well as people who have been on their quests.

Financial investment: The quest leaders we interviewed charge about $500 for a five-day quest. This covers the costs of planning the quest, help with finding an appropriate campsite, spiritual guidance, water delivery and regular check-ins by your quest leader and/or a park ranger. Be wary of those charging more than $1,000.

The skinny on short quests: A short quest (one- to two-day excursions) may include much of the same ritual as a long one, without the time commitment. You may want to consider a short quest as a steppingstone to a longer one down the road.

Do-it-yourself quests: If hiking to a remote area of the wilderness is not your bag, create your own vision quest. Here's how:

-Quest at home or in your back yard. This could mean a day of fasting and silence, with no computers, TVs or phones.

-Schedule a block of uninterrupted time during which you can chant, drum or meditate.

-Go on a private nature walk, if security permits. Take several hours in which to contemplate nature and free yourself from distractions.

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