This year I’m thankful for a summer spent on the road – visiting friends all over the Western U.S. and exploring some of America’s finest scenery in the national parks and beyond.
Here are some totals and favorites from our road trip!
Miles Driven: ~9,000 (And Jake’s car had zero problems! Go Toyota!)
Countries: 2 – United States & Canada
States: Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada
Major Cities: Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Las Vegas
We started in Denver, drove down through Utah, up the West Coast, and then back down through Glacier, Yellowstone, and Las Vegas.
National Parks Visited: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Redwoods, Crater Lake, Olympic, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons
Friends Visited: 9 (Thanks to Katie, Tubs, Becca, Isaac, Joey, and Beth for hosting us!)
Total Miles Hiked: 418
Longest Backpack: ~70 miles, John Muir Trail, CA
Highest Hike: Greys Peak (14, 278 feet)
Hottest Hike: Observation Point, Zion NP (106 degrees)
Coldest Camp: Just under Donohue Pass (11,056 feet), John Muir Trail
Best Camp Meal: Chorizo Tacos
Best Sunset: Rialto Beach, Olympic NP
Most Bears Sighted: 3, John Muir Trail followed by 2 at Glacier NP
Best Cultural Experience: Ashland Shakespeare Festival, Oregon
Best City Food: Portland, OR
Most Expensive City: San Francisco (14% Hotel Tax + Parking Fees = Ouch)
Favorite Nature in a City: Chinese Gardens, Vancouver
Worst Mosquitoes: Cathedral Lake, John Muir Trail
Most Annoying Critters: Well-fed chipmunks and squirrels on Angels Landing, Zion NP
Worst Lines: Shuttle for Zion NP
Best Detour: Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons down Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Utah
Best Views: Too many to list!
Things I learned from 3 months on the road:
Showers are always worth $2, never $10.
Always keep at least one full gallon of water in the car.
Get oriented before the car starts moving.
A rainstorm means you get a day of rest. A week of rain means you need to make other plans.
Always carry cash.
Always pack 3 pairs of socks.
Always have Kleenex and Ziplock bags.
Tony Chachere’s makes almost everything taste better.
Real silverware makes a campfire meal almost fancy. Almost.
A real bed is necessary at least once a month.
Locals make the best tour guides.
A campfire nearly always cures a hard day.
Confused Tourist Quotes/Stories
On a final note, we saw and heard some hilarious things while traveling 9,000 miles. Some of our favorites are listed below:
Inside the Grand Canyon – “How far to the lake?” and “Did you camp at the bottom?” as we are hiking out of the canyon wearing full packs.
Biker dude at Zion, clad in full leather in 105 degree weather, in line at 5am for a wilderness permit for no apparent reason. The ranger asked if he had a tent or backpack or even a water bottle… Nope.
Twenty-something guy driving a mustang down the dirt forest road we were camping on pulled over to point out a spot on a map and ask “Where is this? Is this the road to the Grand Canyon?” There were about 5 National Park signs on the main paved road out of town. We have no idea why he turned onto this random gravel road next to a horse ranch…
In Zion, Jake overheard a family speaking with a ranger because they couldn’t find their campsite. They had booked a campground that was in a different section of the park, and was a backcountry site (a 4 mile hike in). Do your research, people!
And my personal favorite, as we were backpacking off Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park, we saw a lady with a cat in her backpack walking down to the ocean.
Never be afraid to be different.