Having a 9-5 job leaves me only with three weeks of vacation time each year. With limited time off, I strongly believe in the importance of traveling to new places and getting out of my comfort zone when I can. This year, my girlfriend and I set a two-week time frame to explore all that the West has to offer.
We had a general idea of the places we wanted to see, but never set an exact itinerary. Because for us, the adventures are ever-changing. We chose to travel without a set destination because it allowed us to go with the flow and to live in the moment. We drove through six different states, all of which were unfamiliar places, totaling 4,000 miles in 14 days. The best part of the adventure was chasing the sun to our next campsite where we would set up camp only to get a good night’s sleep, knowing we could do it all over again.
In my opinion, car camping is the best way to travel and see the country, but you’ve got to be equipped with the right gear in order to appreciate the journey. Packing light is crucial when traveling with limited space. All Ibex Merino wool items can be put through the ringer and still come out smelling pretty… even after 14 long days. My travel wardrobe consisted mainly of Ibex apparel that was versatile enough to wear in all terrains: mountains, rainforest, desert, and urban.
Throughout the trip we made stops in Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Each state had their individual cool spots and destinations, but I’d like to share with you a list of my personal favorites along the trip and why they should be on your bucket list.
Utah – Dixie National Forest
Utah’s State Parks and National Forests are what make Utah one of my favorite places thus far. Just south of Bryce Canyon National Park lies The Red Canyon in Dixie National Park, Utah. Here in Red Canyon we found breathtaking rock formations and less traveled trails to discover. Maybe the light snowfall drove people away, because we did not see a single person at this location. I highly recommend hiking Cassidy Trail while you’re in Utah.
Travel Hack – save some money by camping in National Forests versus a designated campground!
Idaho – City of Rocks
Climbing in the “City” was another reason why Idaho is a hidden gem of the West. This park is filled with big boulder fields and rock formations, making it a climbing paradise. Thanks to my friend and old boss for hooking us up with the gear we needed to climb a couple routes!
Northern California – The Redwoods National Park
Traveling from Oregon to California, we drove through the Avenue of Giants that sure does hold true to its name. These trees are even bigger than what they look like in a photo. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time while you’re here because you’ll want to get out of the car to check out all of the old growth along the road. We came across a redwood that had fallen, and decided to take a closer look…
Travel Tip – Be mindful and avoid signs for “Drive-Thru Tree”, it’s hokey and you end up waiting in line to pay five dollars only to drive through a tree!
Southern California – Death Valley National Park
From Lake Tahoe, we traveled six hours south to Death Valley. I recommend fueling up before entering the park, because gas and supplies are overpriced due to the remote location. Staying hydrated is important as the temperatures reach one hundred degrees by noon. We arrived at Death Valley by sunset and set up camp at a higher elevation. The valley floor is always windy and blowing the desert sands around. No need for a rain fly that night as there were clear skies and hot temperatures.
Waking up the next day, we went off to explore the Mosaic Canyon Trail. This trail starts off with a tight slot canyon which later opens up to a single-track path leading you through 3.5 miles mosaic canyon breccia. Shades of yellows and oranges paint the smooth rocks throughout the canyon.