Route Guide    Partners    Forum    Photos    What's New    Journal        
Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
Road Trip Tips?
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
Page 1 of 1.  
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.

Email me.
Aug 16, 2011
Hey guys im graduating high school this year and following that im planning on road tripping the us and hitting as many climbing destinations as i can and hopefully end up in Yosemite. Im posting this thread because of all the road trip horror stories ive heard, i just want to gain some tips from thos who have already made they're journey haha. Just post you're wisdom, heres a few things i wanted to get feedback on.

-how many people to go with
-tips on car maintenance
-crucial items
-you're favorite stops in the US (we're starting from the Adirondacks)
-things not to do
-anything you can think of

thanks dudes
Jaysen Henderson
From Bronx NY
Joined Dec 12, 2010
358 points
Aug 16, 2011

I'm 17 and a senior as well (I'm hiking the PCT though after I graduate so no road trip)

They will say that Josh is bad in the summer but as long as you climb in the shade you will be fine.

If you go with people make sure they are down to go the entire time you will, and if they want to stop early they can get on a bus. The key here is not to let someone cut your trip short. But going alone will be more difficult (finding partners in some areas is harder).

Also, bring a slackline. I can spend hours playing on one. Its a good way to pass the time if you can't climb for whatever reason.
Jace Mullen
From Oceanside, Ca
Joined Jan 11, 2011
5 points
Aug 16, 2011

Those are links to similar questions you have. The second link is the one I asked for my east to west coast climbing trip I did in november for a month and a half.

When are you deciding to go on this trip and for how long? Figure that out first. Also, what are you planning on driving? A car? SUV? Van? We went in my buddy`s Yukon XL and pretty much slept in the truck at walmart parking lots and rest stops the entire time or free camp sites.

Some quick tips I can give you:
Buy your food in bulk ahead of time at costco or BJ`s. We spent $400 on food and stored it in bins in the truck. It saved us a lot of money and probably from gaining weight from eating fast food. We actually had food left over.

Make sure you give your buddy a second set of keys to the when he`s in the bathroom or gone for a while and you`re locked out of the car bc he has the keys.

Starbucks have the BEST bathrooms and free internet. Plus they are single person bathroom`s so you can lock the door to shave or take a baby wipe shower.

Baby wipes are key

Krazy glue is great for fixing split tipped fingers.

We ended up climbing in the New River Gorge, Red River Gorge, Hueco Tanks, Priest Draw, Red Rock, Bishop- Buttermilks, Happy n sads, and then Little Rock City.
From NY, NY
Joined May 8, 2010
106 points
Aug 16, 2011
Go alone or with a friend, but don't let the lack of a partner deter you from picking up and adventuring across the country. I would not have met the life long friends I have if I hadn't traveled solo. If you climb with one designated person, make sure you are compatible, not just personality wise, but with your climbing, too. If one is climbing a lot harder than the other or prefers only trad or only sport, frustration can brew from both sides.

Craigslist rideshare if you don't have the funds to travel alone. If you have good judgement, you shouldn't have any horror stories. Sign up on It will open your eyes to how generous and trusting strangers are when the rain starts pouring and you are desperately seeking shelter for the night.

Change your oil. Drive 65mph (the mpg takes a nose dive when you speed). Never drive tired. Buy renter's insurance and photograph all of the belonging you are taking with you. Save receipts. It's worth the $100 to not have to worry about theft.
Pony up for AAA Premier emergency road side. The basic covers like 5 miles of towing. The premier? Like 200 miles. Traveling as a dirtbag climber, you are likely to be in the middle of nowhere. It's another $100. Do it. Make two copies of your car keys and keep one with your partner and the other one under the chassis.

GET CATASTROPHIC HEALTH INSURANCE. <--- see the all caps? Yes. Go with a ridiculously high deductible (5000? 10000?) and a provider that is covered in most emergency rooms (e.g., not Joe Blo PPO) You might not need a checkup, but ER costs can reach in the hundreds of thousands. Relatively speaking, five grand is peanuts. I recommend the "I'm not responsible for paying anything beyond the deductible" plan. If you elect one of those "I am responsible for paying 30% beyond the deductible" plan, well, if your bill is $250,000, you do the math. Don't be dumb. Sign up for something, or since you're so young, you should be covered by your parents. I'd rather take my chances and leave this PSA in my reply so that older folks don't make the mistake of traveling without any insurance.

Crucial item that wasn't obvious to me? Kindle. If you are a voracious reader, get an eReader. You'll save lots of room in your car without hauling along a stack of books. Download loads of public radio for the drive. Learn some non-climbing stuff while you climb your brains out. The rest you can figure out as you travel along. Don't worry. You'd be amazed at how little you need to be happy.

Favorite stops: just search the forums. Everyone has expressed their recommendations on crags and climbs of interest.

You are going to have the time of your life. Good luck figuring out when, where and how you are going to end your full time dirtbagging tour. Withdrawal is a doozy. Oh, and make sure to post up your trip report. You're non-climber friends will be sick of all the pictures of rocks you post up on the internet. They all look the same. But to us on MP, we are intrigued by all thing climbing related. Forget Facebook. Entertain your rock loving peers.

From San Francisco, CA
Joined Jul 9, 2009
615 points
Aug 16, 2011
I'm a list style guy.

1. I would go with two to three other people. I think four is the ideal number for a trip, and anything more than that is a hassle due to logistics and everything. Ideally, you'll have four guys/girls that are amped to go climb, so that you have two sets of climbers all with their own gear. It's better to have three guys willing to climb than three willing to climb and one just kinda along to split gas though.
I usually end up with a best friend of mine for climbing trips in My Ranger, which seats three uncomfortably. WIth us two, I'm pretty sure a cross country trip would be awesome, but with most other people, two people gets boring. UNless it's your girlfriend and....

I just got back from a COlorado trip a few days ago, and needless to say, my buddy decided to wait halfway into the trip to admit he really didn't want to climb..... the whole purpose of the trip....

2. Get an oil change before you go, bring a bottle of spare oil, and make sure your windshield wipers are good to go. Other than that, unless your car has some issues that only you know about, you should be okay. Check your spare and make sure it's in working condition.
3. Cases/gallons of water. Headlamps for everyone. paper towels. Duct tape and electrical tape. Sunglasses. Swim Trunks. Deodorant. And probably an ace bandage and some medical tape with hydrogen peroxide around too.

4. I haven't done enough trips purely to climb to tell you this, although I loved estes park area this last week, and you can "find" free camping a lot of places there if you're creative. You might want to get that mapped out ahead of time though. From there you can hit RMNP for Sharkstooth/the petit, lumpy ridge, eldo canyon and boulder, and of course the diamond and other unique places I'm forgetting. That was my trip recently. Hoping to end up in Yosemite in a month or so.

5. Don't piss people off. You'll have to deal with them the whole time regardless, and no one likes things to be awkward. If someone isn't down to do something you really want to, you're out of luck. NO need to make it an issue. Don't have any unrealistic expectations, but definitely keep an open mind to trying anything.
Don't let yourself get sick. I spent a night puking at the Estes park YMCA and had to let my buddies throw my tent up for me. Watch what you eat.

5. Spend some time just relaxing. Don't make the trip full of action without any break. To go hard for a month+ is pretty tough. Take breaks, enjoy our country, and get to know each other. You might learn some new things about a best friend.

Have a good trip man! I'm trying to plan a similar trip for next summer with some buddies from COllege. Maybe we'll see you out there!

(I don't know what made me decide I had time to type that out. Just woke up...)
From Cleveland, OH
Joined May 6, 2011
33 points
Aug 16, 2011
Ask the locals, they'll always have the best answers to your questions Mike C. Robinson
From Rumney, NH
Joined Nov 23, 2006
2,358 points
Aug 16, 2011
We made our own out of a metal garden sprayer, 6' of hose, and an extra Solar Shower head. Heat some water (stove or solar bag), fill & pump up the sprayer.
High pressure goodness.
Knocks the socks off baby wipes.
Karl K
From Phoenix, AZ
Joined Nov 20, 2006
579 points
Aug 16, 2011
Pick up a 7 gallon carboy. Or maybe 2 of them, depending on where you're going and for how long.

In addition to making life easier than juggling a whole bunch of flimsy grocery store water jugs, it makes a great shower if you rig up a hose and put it on the roof of your car.

Also, I'd go one step further than giving your partner a spare key and get a high-quality magnetic key box to stick somewhere under your car. Getting locked out is a pain in the ass, even if you have AAA (which you most definitely should have!!).
Peter Franzen
From Phoenix, AZ
Joined Jan 1, 2001
3,943 points
Aug 16, 2011
A good few month summer circuit that I did once is Colorado for May, Wyoming/Montana for June, Canmore/Banff for July, Squamish for August, Yosemite in September and finish in Indian Creek for October.

Weather was perfect except maybe a bit hot in Wyoming in June.

As other people have said - get AAA. We got stung for a $500 tow from middle of nowhere to Gunnison.

Don't try and drive and climb on the same day. Climbing days are for climbing and drive days are for chilling and enjoying the travel. Trying to rush a drive day sucks and you also miss out on a lot of the traveling experience cos you're in too much of a hurry to see anything.

It is free and legal to sleep in your car in Walmart. Also since you're there when it closes you can ask the associated fast food outlet for all their leftover food.

It is very hard to sleep in your car anywhere in Boulder.

Bring more shoes than you think you'll need.

Even if you're all messy young dudes TRY and have a place for everything in your car. It's not that hard and it will make your life so much easier.

From Golden
Joined Jun 26, 2008
458 points
Aug 16, 2011
AAA and oil changes are a must. Keep a quart of extra oil and maybe some radiator fluid handy.

Write down the phone numbers for your credit and/or debit cards someplace in case they are lost or stolen. That way you can call up and cancel them.

Keep some cash somewhere...see above

Take your time. I crossed the country in 5 days in order to pick up someone at the airport in Seattle. Needless to say i missed a lot on the way (managed to make time for Wall drug...wish i didn't)

DON'T DRIVE TIRED!! I found that when my eyes couldn't refocus from the road to the odometer quickly I needed to rest. I also find that cracking and spitting out sunflower seeds keeps me alert while driving.

I can't speak for road tripping with partners but I can say that if you do go with someone make sure you've spent a good deal of time together before you set off. Nothing like finding out 2 weeks in that you can't stand the company of someone (it happens)

Take pictures and write things down
From Hartford, CT
Joined Nov 1, 2009
76 points
Aug 16, 2011
Scottie wrote:
Take pictures and write things down

It's cool to call it a "Blog" these days, but I can definitely second the advice to keep a journal or diary of some sort. I wish I had some of the details from my college road trips written down somewhere. Even a nicely detailed ticklist is fun to look over years later.
Peter Franzen
From Phoenix, AZ
Joined Jan 1, 2001
3,943 points
Aug 16, 2011
- AAA - Not only towing but gas, I locked the keys in the car, and you can load up on free maps and guide books.

- If you live in an outdoorsy area you can check out books about camping, backpacking maps, and guide books from your local library. Either renew them online or just mail them back.

- Solar shower...I have this one. If I leave it in the sun it sometimes gets so hot I have to put cool water in it. And if you put it on your hood you need to lay a towel down...the metal sucks the heat right out. Dont get the cheap pos from walmart.

- Drive a car that lets your sleep in the back of it

- Put a hide a key outside the car somewhere. So you never have to worry about dropping your keys

- Check to make sure the spare tire has air, bring a cigarette lighter tire pump, a tire gauge, and those tire repair kits.

- Buy a 5 gallon water bag (not the cheap pos from walmart) something from rei .

- Cut off about 6 feet of garden hose. But make sure you end up with the female end on the 6 foot section. Makes it much easier to fill your 5 gal water bag and solar shower on the side of the building.

- Cheap car GPS...if you are solo it would be lame wrecking your car trying to navigate.

- Renters is about 250 a year. But considering how much gear is in your car if you get it stolen...

- A small fold up table / chairs makes roadside cooking a much better experience.

- If you are last in and first is amazing where you can park to sleep the night.

- Tint the windows of your car so people can't see your gear at night....or you snoozing away.

- Get an inverter to charge your phone. Most phones charge faster on 120v than the 12v cig lighter socket.

I did a 30 day 4800 mile mountain bike, road bike, paddling, and backpacking trip three summers ago. Best damn thing I have done with 30 days of my life.

From Indiana
Joined Oct 4, 2010
21 points
Aug 16, 2011
Talk to your partner/partners about your climbing goals and what you are going to do for food. Everything else is trivial in comparison. Eric8
From Maynard, MA
Joined Nov 2, 2007
299 points
Aug 16, 2011
I went solo on my 1st of now 10 x-country roadtrips and I can tell you it completely changed my life. I learned things about myself that I feel I would not have had I gone with a friend. My buddy bailed a week before the trip, but I went anyways. The other 9 trips were with friends and were also a blast, as it's nice to have a reliable partner and share experiences with good friends. In my experience 3 can be a weird number sometimes. Theres that chance of getting that 2 against 1 scenario. Although some of my most epic trips were with 2 other friends. Just know who you're traveling with, and make sure all of you have an open mind and sense of adventure.

My best advice: Don't plan too much, leave plenty of room for the unknown and surprises. Don't make it too complicated. Make sure you have your gear and money, and just hit the road. Over-planning leads to disappointment. Figure it out as you go, it's all part of the adventure! If you meet some cool people along the way and they invite you to hang, even though it may ruin your "plans" to be somewhere else, take them up on it. Chances are you'll meet the coolest people and lifelong friends may come of it. Make as many contacts as you can, it's always nice to know someone with a couch. Have fun!
From NH
Joined Apr 6, 2007
5,354 points
Aug 17, 2011
Scottie wrote:
managed to make time for Wall drug...wish i didn't

Haha! I know exactly what you mean. Wall Drug was the biggest letdown of my life!!!!
Andrew Shoemaker
From Olympia, WA
Joined May 30, 2011
287 points
Aug 17, 2011
If your low on money when road tripping try to find someone on craigslist for a ride share. They will toss in a little for gas and you will meet someone new. Maybe they will even go climb with you. Owen Darrow
From Garmisch,
Joined Feb 22, 2010
1,916 points
Aug 17, 2011
People in these threads always suggest getting Renter's Insurance in case of gear theft. This isn't always economical, because if you actually read the policy, most of them will only cover 10% of the loss if it occurs outside the insured residence (ie, your car).

Policies can be found that will cover 100% of the loss, but you'll likely pay more for it.

I'm not saying you shouldn't get one of these policies, I'm just hoping to make it clear that it will take some thought, math, and decision-making.
Chance Copeland
Joined Oct 5, 2010
62 points
Aug 17, 2011
Another thing on insurance. Check and see if you'd be covered under a parent/guardian's health insurance. With some exceptions most are covered till they're 26 now. Check the out-of-network coverage and see if cheap Catastrophic Health Insurance is worth it for the trip (I pay $40 a month, health insurance blows).

See if your equipment would be covered under your parent/guardian's home policy or if a specific rider can be added for your climbing equipment (usually at a nominal extra fee per month). This is how I got my equipment replaced when it got stolen out of our rental in NC.

I might get some flack for this but drive at night. Why waste a climbing day driving. If it's straight forward getting there or you're running a GPS (most phones have that app) then do your drives in the evening. If the drives start getting longer than 8 hours though you'll probably end up driving during the day so don't tire yourself out driving at night. Watch for deer, moose, bear, antelope, dogs, people, and manbearpig.

Know how to maintain the vehicle you're driving. Learn how to change the flat, replace a lightbulb, where all the fluids go. Do the regular maintenance while you're out. If it's time for an oil change then do it. If it's time for that 100,000 mile checkup then do it. Make sure you have the cash to cover a mechanic because car maintenance on the side of the road really sucks. Try push starting your car all over Moab for a week because you didn't have a wrench to clean off the battery terminals. This depends on how mechanically inclined you and your friends are and how much space the vehicle has.

Music and reading materials are awesome. Doesn't matter their form so long as they are reliable. I like to read climbing books because they get me even more psyched but some people don't like that. Tent time and drive time get real boring after a while and you can only masturbate so much...

Bring a girl along. Not to hook up or anything but after a while of farting and burping with the guys for a week it's nice to have a fairer face around aside from all your mustachioed brosefs talking about their epic dump from last night.

It never hurts to ask. Remember that because you'll roll in somewhere and been in kind of a bind where you feel akward asking. Hey mind if we squeeze into your campsite and throw you a couple bucks is not offensive. You might get rejected but you might also meet some really cool people and save some money.

Have clear expectations with your road trip buddies. Have a plan but be willing to divert from it. Write the expectations and the plan down. Not only can you use it to keep from dropping into "lazy dirtbag" mode but if someone forgets something, "dude I thought we were going home today", then you've got the plan to refer back to. I like a group of 4 total. It fills the car and you can do the driving in pairs so there's two sleeping while two can stay up and watch the road/drive.

Destinations I would choose based on starting in the Daks depend on what your experience levels and desires but if you're going to Yosemite I would assume you've got some decent multipitch skills so:

May: New Mexico/Colorado Front Range it's a hell of a drive (I did it in like 32 hours, by myself with all my crap moving back across the country. I split it over two days by staying at my parents place in Missouri)
Caveat: If you don't want your first day and a half of the trip to be driving then split it up and stop somewhere like Southern IL, RRG, or AR which has surprisingly good climbing.
June: Alpine areas in the Rockies, RMNP, Winds, Tetons, Wyoming is pretty decent this time of year in my opinion
July: Stay in the mountains or keep heading North. Go to the Bugs if you've got alpine experience or you could head from somewhere like the Tetons to City of Rocks in Idaho
August: I still say stay in the mountains. I hate hot weather so go to Squamish or something like that. Some might say Tuolmne
September: temps are getting good. I hear Yosemite is good this time of year.
October: Southern Utah, Indian Creek, Zion, Red Rocks in Vegas, great time for all of these.

Keep in mind that even hot places have some shade and cold places you can chase the sun. You know what places get you psyched better than we do.
From Colorado Springs, CO
Joined Jul 30, 2008
250 points
Aug 17, 2011
thanks for all the awesome input guys i really appreciate it, so just to specify, the trip would be in July and august, so what in you're opinion would be the prime spots for those times? Also how long did you spend at each area? What has been the best travel to climbing ratio? Jaysen Henderson
From Bronx NY
Joined Dec 12, 2010
358 points
Aug 17, 2011
DeLorme Gazetteers are great for states like California where finding public land can be a bit more challenging (than Utah or Colorado). A good investment to lower the overall cost by avoiding pay campgrounds. If you can sleep in your car, even better. We couldn't.

DeLorme Gazetteers

Google maps/earth is also helpful.

The supertopo forum (dominated by California climbers) has some great local knowledge for free public land camping near VERY popular climbing destinations.

Other tips: Bulk food (mentioned above) is great. Everything will fall together if you find places to sleep w/o being hassled. The closer you get to the coast, the harder that becomes. Try to shave and shower some to keep from getting tooled.

My favorite spots from my trip last summer:
Uinta Mtns - great summer sport climbing
Redwood Coast of California

Spots I would like to go:
Spearfish EDIT: Ten Sleep
Devil's Tower
Sink's Canyon
Mike Stearns
Joined May 30, 2007
1,669 points
Aug 17, 2011
alpinista83 is right about the Kindle or other e-book reader. You can also download Kindle software onto a tablet or laptop. Either way, it's nice to have lots of books and games in a very portable, compact package. There's plenty of free Wi-Fi everywhere (libraries, Starbucks, etc.), so a laptop/netbook/tablet is useful for checking in with the folks back home, managing what little money you have, etc.

Auto: one breakdown or tow, and your auto club membership pays for itself. The maps are nice, too.

How many people to go with? Pick your traveling partners based on compatibility, not on the need to make a quota. If you can't find anyone you feel comfortable traveling with, travel alone.
mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Joined Jul 30, 2005
66 points
Aug 17, 2011
"Try push starting your car all over Moab for a week because you didn't have a wrench to clean off the battery terminals."

This reminds me of one of the more amazing MacGuyver car moments I've ever seen.

A friend and I had borrowed a 1987 Pathfinder to go climb the Crestone Needle. We made it up the forest service road just fine, had a blast on the climb, and were on our way back down the road the next day when I managed to stall out on one of the rougher sections (I was crawling down in Low gear and wasn't fast enough on the clutch). And wouldn't you know it, but the thing wouldn't start back up again. We checked and re-checked everything, and other than some not-so-bad-looking corrosion on the terminals everything seemed to be in order.

After half an hour of sitting there we were almost resigned to walking out of there for however many miles it was until we were back in cell phone range of a tow truck. Just when we were about to give up a truck comes crawling up the road and sees us with our hood open. After just a minute of talking to us and glancing at the battery, one of the guys says "Hold on, I've got a bottle of Pepsi here that should do the trick."

He poured the bottle over the battery, and of course the low pH Pepsi dissolved the alkaline corrosive buildup with ease; the car started right up.

So I guess the Road Trip Advice part of this post is... pay attention in Chemistry 101? Or maybe: Random acts of kindness from strangers can get you out of some pretty sticky spots sometimes.
Peter Franzen
From Phoenix, AZ
Joined Jan 1, 2001
3,943 points
Aug 17, 2011
I can think of a few other sources for an acidic solution, anyone else? mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Joined Jul 30, 2005
66 points
Aug 17, 2011
I have a fixed 2L bottle of coke under the passenger seat of my van for that battery situation. caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Joined Nov 21, 2006
1,930 points
Aug 23, 2011
BTW, is there any good advice for securing a campsite in/near Yosemite? I read the NPS rules about first come first serve in camp 4.

Any better luck arriving on a Sunday, hoping to stay 4 nights?
ChrisG George
From Westminster
Joined Oct 16, 2004
115 points

Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.

Email me.
Page 1 of 1.