In many ways, Dierks Bentley likes to keep it old school.
Calling from a landline on a park ranger’s desk at Crater National Park in Oregon, the country star tells PEOPLE about how he’s raising awareness about national parks across the country and limiting technology in his life.
“I’ve had a chance on the [What the Hell World Tour] to visit a lot of the more than 400 national parks across this great country of ours,” Bentley, 42, says. “One of our favorite ways of recharging on the road is getting out there and seeing some new treasures waiting to be explored.”
To help preserve the parks for future generations, Bentley partnered with the National Park Foundation and National Park Service to help celebrate the 101st birthday of the national parks on Aug. 25 through their ‘Parks 101’ campaign.
“We’re shooting a really cool 360-degree video that people will be able to use to explore [parks] and inspire them to come see these places themselves,” he says. “There’s nothing on a phone that can beat being in one of our national parks.”
In his own life, Bentley tries to get outside often and step away from screens.
“I actually carry a flip phone as much as possible to remind myself that there’s more to look at than just my phone,” he says. “We have a saying on the road as a band called ‘living life.’ There were so many moments where we used to do nothing but sit on the bus, and there was no life being lived.”
“The last couple of years, we started exploring more of our surroundings and seeing that there’s so many parks near where we’re playing.”
“We live in a day and age of iPhones where kids spend so much time on their screens, and I’m so worried about [my children’s] exposure with being on the phone,” he says. “Kinds of places like this get your soul recharged, and you learn so much about our country and history.”
Now that his children have reached an age where they’re all old enough to go camping, Bentley can’t wait to plan more trips to the outdoors and do “some hardcore exploring.”
“They love to camp whether it’s just in the backyard or somewhere out in the national parks back home,” he says, admitting that there is another reason they love to go. “My kids love s’mores — the main motivation to get them to go camping was to make s’mores.”
Aside from having graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows on hand, Bentley’s key to a great camping trip isn’t surprising — “No phones.”
“That’s the most important thing, but what’s great about camping is that you can’t plan too much,” he says. “It’s just getting off the grid, getting away from technology and looking up at the stars at night. There’s nothing like it.”
Growing up in Arizona, Bentley was able to camp and take advantage of a lot of the natural beauty the state has to offer — including the Grand Canyon, Lees Ferry and Lake Powell.
“Nature has always been a big thing for me, and I find that it’s where I feel most alive,” he says. “I want to make sure that we spread the message to our kids that there’s a lot more out here to explore.”
He adds: “Get involved, and go find your park.”
Bentley is currently on his What the Hell World Tour through September.