This past spring Rocio and I did our first extended overland trip (more than a couple days) and had a ton of fun!
We were really driving from Texas to Oregon to spend some time with family, but we decided to make an adventure of it along the way.
We left Texas and first headed to Overland Expo West, which was an adventure in and of itself as it was our first time attending the event. We had a blast but it was definitely overwhelming a bit with sooo much to see and tons of people packed into the camping on-site. I’ve seen a lot of people speak negatively of the event due to its growth but if you’re wanting to get a feel for the entire scene (good and bad) it’s a one-stop-shop for it all. Overall, we enjoyed it.
From there we set off for the Mojave Road. Due to being tired from Expo West and getting a later start than we would have liked, we ended up spending one night in the Mojave National Preserve instead of the planned two. I think you could easily spend 3-4 nights exploring around and have a great time. We really enjoyed the driving and the bits of history we saw along the way.
From there we pushed on to Death Valley National Park. It has a strange beauty to it that we found very special. It quickly became my wife’s favorite national park. We ended camping at a random spot as our initial plan fell through on arrival. It rained all night and we woke up to bone dry desert… it was the weirdest thing… We hit all the main spots as we traveled south to north (Badwater Basin, Artist’s Palette, etc) before arriving at the visitor center. There we learned flash flooding in the northern part of the park had our planned route closed. We decided the significant detour wasn’t going to work for us so pushed on through the park and heading for the Alabama Hills.
We had wanted to spend a night or two in the Alabama Hills but arriving to a torrential downpour put a damper on our spirits and we didn’t feel like setting up our ground tent in the rain. We decided to cut things a bit short and get up to Oregon a day sooner than planned.
All in all, it ended up being a really great experience for us. It was our first extended trip on our own and while it didn’t go perfectly as plan, we avoided any major issues and got to see some really beautiful country. We’ll definitely be back to both the Mojave Road and Death Valley NP to give them more time
As we entered Oregon, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a quick pitstop at Crater Lake National Park. I was really hoping for good conditions for some landscape photography but we had no such luck. After getting up super early to make it for sunrise, we stood socked in by clouds with basically no view. Eventually, it did clear up but the light was gone.