US Road Trip: West Coast Edition

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  • National Parks visited: 13
  • US States visited: 13
  • Miles driven: ~15,000
  • Nights spent camping: 39
  • Burgers consumed:
  • Times we had to ditch our soaked tent at night and run on slippery red mud to the car because of a flash flood: 1

Gear:

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  • 3 sleeping bags (2 single 40°, 1 big 0°)
  • 2 pillows
  • 1 medium-sized ice chest
  • 1 hammock
  • 1 rope
  • 1 two-person tent
  • 1 guitar
  • 1 cajon
  • 2 backpacks full of clothes and toiletries
  • Food/Cooking Utensils/Camp stove 

Parks visited:

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  • Petrified Forest (CA)
  • Redwood (CA)
  • Lassen Volcanic (CA)
  • Yosemite (CA)
  • Crater Lake (OR)
  • Olympic (WA)
  • Yellowstone (WY)
  • Grand Teton (WY)
  • Canyonlands (UT)
  • Zion (UT)
  • Bryce (UT)
  • Arches (UT)
  • Capitol Reef (UT)

Lessons Learned:

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has plenty of land you can camp on for free. Some even right outside national parks!
  • Some parks require bear-proof containers but you can usually rent them from the parks themselves for an affordable price.
  • Want to see less people and have the parks to yourself? Start your hike before sunrise.
  • Invest in an America the Beautiful Pass. For $80 you can visit as many parks as possible for a year.
  • Check out the programming the National Parks have to offer each day. It’s usually free and it gives you a totally new perspective on the park. My personal favorites included a pitch black, eyes-closed night hike and a bat counting session.
  • Planning takes time. Remember how long it takes to look up driving directions, free campsites or lodging, attractions, etc. especially when you’re moving from national park to park and have spotty service or WiFi. Being spontaneous is sexy but more costly and adds more stress. Best is to have a general plan with room for flexibility.

Stephanie’s highlight1482173595915

My favorite experiences are the ones that were the most remote. We stayed in a friend’s family cabin near Cisco Grove and had the best time. I learned how to use a chainsaw and axe, I bathed in the lake and dried off on a sunnyrock nearby, and I read 1000 pages. In terms of national parks, Lassen Volcanic was magical. The quiet bubbling of mudpots, the smell of the chartreuse sulfur pools, and lack of crowds all made me feel like I was on another planet. The backcountry cabin there was scary because it felt so remote but the sunset was breathtaking.


1482173415999Robin’s highlight

It’s hard to forget a month and a half-long roadtrip… I do believe it remains my overall highlight so far. I’d say that a more precise highlight of mine might have been the contrast between our time alone (singing our lungs out in the car, discovering weird camping spots and hiking as much as we could afford to) and the time spent with friends old and new. They make for two very different experiences, but just as valuable when I remember the great and oh-so sweet people we met along the way.

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