Planning my first trip
Updated: May 19
Whenever I've told people about my plans for vanlife they often ask where I'll be taking my van. As of now I'm planning on leaving Southern California to drive to Northern Arizona, then going all the way up through Utah and Colorado to Montana, into Canada, and then back down through Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
Right now the plan is to leave in June, and until then I'll be taking smaller trips around Southern California to test out my van.
I plan on exploring other parts of the country including Michigan, Nebraska, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina and Maine. That will have to be a future trip though, as unfortunately it would be hard see the entire country in one summer.
With COVID-19 related closures in national parks, campgrounds, hiking trails, etc. it's been a challenge to plan out this route. I haven't mapped out exactly where I'll be going on my first big trip, but I have ideas for where I want to stop. If you have any ideas for interesting places I can go, feel free to message me on Instagram!
The list below includes the areas where I plan to visit. All of this is contingent on what will be open by the time I leave and I may have to adjust as I go.
This is one of my favorite places in Arizona. Mt Humphreys is the tallest mountain in the state and this will be the second time I hike to the top.
Zion National Park
This is certainly one of the more travelled parks, but from what I've seen online it looks like an incredible place to hike.
A couple of friends recommended Escalante, which they described as being similar to Moab with less tourists. I'm especially excited to see the Grand Staircase here.
I've actually visited Moab when I was a kid, and would love to revisit it to see Delicate Arch.
I'll likely be staying around Aspen for a while, as I plan on hiking nearby fourteeners like Mt Elbert and, if I can find a guide, maybe even Capitol Peak.
In addition to checking out everything that the city of Boulder has to offer, I'll also be taking a detour to hike Longs peak while I'm in the area.
Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
Even though I don't remember it very well I actually had one of my first mountain climbing experiences here when my family and I were guided up to Cube Point.
Glacier National Park
This is another area that has been highly recommended by multiple people. It's supposed to be incredible, but they have all said to watch out for bears here.
Banff and Jasper National Parks
After I travel into Canada, I'll visit Banff and Jasper for a while and hope to see the clear blue water at Lake Louise and Moraine.
North Cascades National Park
Much like Colorado and Glacier National Park, the Northern Cascades will be fantastic for climbing up mountains.
Olympic National Park
Here I'll spend time visiting the Hoh Rainforest, checking out Mt Olympus and hiking.
Mt Rainier National Park
It has long been a dream of mine to climb up Mt Ranier, but that will probably have to wait until I can find someone to help guide me to the top. Until then, I'll hike around the mountain.
Mt St. Helens
Even though it is still an active volcano, you can hike to the top of Mt St. Helens, which is exactly what I'll be doing when I stop here.
This is another glacial volcano that I would absolutely love to climb, but don't have the proper gear or experience for it. Just like Rainier, I'll have to view it at a distance for now.
Crater Lake National Park
I'll be stopping here so I can take a dip in the deepest lake in the United States.
Just like Mt Hood and Mt Rainier, I'd like to climb this mountain in the future, but on this trip I'll just be taking in the views.
From what I've heard, Eureka is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. Here I'll visit beaches and climb up a few redwoods. After leaving Eureka, I'll travel down the coast to Point Reyes and likely stop at more than a few attractions along the way.
While I have been to San Francisco several times, I've never visited Point Reyes, which is supposed to be another beautiful coastal area.
I've always wanted to go see Lake Tahoe, and I look forward to swimming in it, even though it's supposed to be pretty cold.
Yosemite National Park
This is another place I had traveled to when I was much younger, it'll be fun to revisit Yosemite and to take hikes around the park.
Sequoia National Park
Mt Whitney has always been on my bucket list but I'll have to wait until next year to climb it since a permit is required months in advance. While I'm here I'll visit the Alabama Hills and climb smaller mountains around Whitney.
*Photos taken from Unsplash