Adventure from Birmingham, Alabama -> San Diego, California courtesy of Hyundai
We all wish we could live a jobless life and travel the world full-time, but reality for many of us consists of two weeks of vacation per year. So, when She Explores sent my friend Kat and me on a week long assignment with Hyundai we knew we had to make the most of it.
This is what makes a road trip an adventure.Things rarely go according to plan!
Off to a good start, eventually we figured it out and made our way through Alabama and Mississippi to northwest Arkansas. After a long drive in the rain through the Ozark National Forest we found the road that lead to our campground overtaken by a gushing rage of water and a large sign that said “Flash Flood Area”. Kat said, “This is what makes a road trip an adventure. Things rarely go according to plan!” So, we found a spot down the road right off the Ozark Trail.
We set up our tent just in time. Rain came pouring down onto our tent fly, lightning lit up the sky and thunder roared above us throughout the night. It was a welcome departure from our home in Southern California, where the weather is never a challenge.
In the morning, we headed to Haw Creek Falls where we met a couple who happened to have tubes. The next hour was a blur of cruising down the falls, every which way, wherever the water would pull us. Before we knew it, it was time to take off.
Next destination: Horseshoe Canyon Ranch where grazing horses and goats, beautiful meadows and a huge barn house welcomed us. Nestled in a canyon enveloped by steep rolling hills is some of the best climbing in all of Arkansas. We set up camp (for the only dry night of our trip) and headed for the “Idaho Boulders” where no less than 52 problems awaited us.
The sandstone was surreal. It’s full of amazing two-finger pockets and defined shelves. The sides of the boulders that haven’t been painted with climbers chalky hands were smothered in thick green moss.
The canopy towered over the boulders; imagine tall oak, hickory and maple trees hovering above with leaves entwined to form a dense verdant ceiling. We caught a glimpse of a baby owl. It flew down to a branch nearby to see what we were up to.
As the meandering Gunnison River wound its way through pine forests and meadows, it led us to Stevens Creek. The campground is cozied right up next to the Blue Mesa Reservoir. There was a colorful rainstorm lighting up the sky across teh river as we built a fire and settled into the spot for the night.
The next stop was Ouray, Colorado. The town rests within a 7,792 ft valley cradled in some of the most rugged snowcapped peaks the Rockies have to offer. We hiked into a jagged crevice where we spent the morning sport climbing chromatic limestone faces before heading to the local hot springs to relax.
After talking to a resident mountain shop owner, early the next morning we followed his recommendation to hike the Bear Creek Trail. At least a dozen seasonal waterfalls and 1,000 feet of snow-framed switchbacks that ran like a spine along steep precipitous cliffs led us to what’s left of the Grizzly Bear Mine. The view of the mountain range from the trail was phenomenal.
Our time in Colorado was up, so we headed to Utah where Arches National Park resides, home to over 2,000 arches. It’s hard to believe the entire area was once covered by water. It was a sea in fact. We had time to explore Double Arches, Delicate Arch, Turret Arch and the Window arches before giant ominous clouds rolled in and transformed into a full blown hail storm. Laughing, we raced back to the car for cover from the small ice pellets.
The last stop on our road trip was Red Rock Canyon, Nevada: one of our favorite places to climb.
As the final day of our adventure came to an end, the sun dipped behind the red mountains lighting up the last few boulder problems of the trip.
Packing a ton of adventure into a short trip is possible. You just have to plan the right route and be open to anything.
This experience showed us that it is realistic to hold down a 9 to 5 while exploring the country.
Traveling across 9 states in an economy-sized car in 7 days on only $170 of gas also made us realize heavy-duty vehicles and hefty gas budgets aren’t always requirements either. Packing a ton of adventure into a short trip is possible. You just have to plan the right route and be open to anything.
Jess Bryan is an avid writer. You can follow her on Instagram. Kat Carney is a photographer. Follow her on Instagram, and find out more on her website. She also tells love stories at Swell & Stone.
Editor’s note: As disclosed above, this 7 day trip was courtesy of Hyundai as part of a social media promotion for the launch of the Hyundai Eco Elantra. That said, Jess and Kat’s experiences are unbiased – they really did squeeze that much into one week! They chose to camp rather than stay in hotel rooms, mapped the route, and got outside as much as possible.
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