MI OLA Ambassador Leslie spent the past 2 years exploring New Zealand and now she’s back in the US. After visiting her hometown in Minnesota, she’s moving to Bend, Oregon. And has decided to road trip her way to Bend. Here are her tips on a great end of summer road trip, with great recommendations on how to #getoutthere along the way!
After living abroad in New Zealand for the last two years, I am back stateside. After spending a few months with the family in Minnesota it was time to get back on the road again. We choose to move to Bend, Oregon for it’s proximity to a variety outdoor activities, small businesses, and breweries. We drove our new home Forrest (a 2004 mini school bus) which travels at a max of 65 mph. This slower style of road tripping was new to us, but very refreshing!
We didn’t take the most direct route to get to Bend, but we made it an opportunity to hang out with friends both old and new. We took breaks to have epic hammock naps, trail run, hike, swim, jump, climb, eat good food, and enjoy life! Check out our road trip route below:
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Every time I visit here I am blown away by the scenery. I stay at the Sage Creek Campground; it’s fairly basic with just a toilet and places to pitch a tent or pull up an RV. There is no water at the campground so come prepared. I recommend arriving with enough time to see the sunset as there’s a small hill behind the campsite that makes for good viewing. Look for prairie dogs and bison and listen for the coyotes at night.
Lander is amazing, I’ve spent some time here and all I can say is there is no shortage of trails, all within an hour drive. I used rootsrated.com to give me ideas of where to trail run/hike.
Fairfield Hill: If you are looking for a challenge! Starts with a steep lung busting incline, then mellows out once you reach the top.
Popo Agie (“Puh – Po Shuh”) Falls Hike: a moderate hike that leads to an epic waterfall slide.
Red Canyon: short hike to see some amazing petroglyphs!
Lander City Park: You are allowed to car camp or tent for up to 3 nights right by the river. It’s a 5 minute walk from the town and a 20 minute drive to Sinks Canyon.
Lander Bake Shop: I’m a sucker for anything “nitro” these days, whether it’s coffee or beer. The bake shop happens to have cold brew nitro coffee on tap. Pair this with a potato, egg burrito and you’re guaranteed a good start to the day.
Scream Shack (only open in summer): Get your ice cream fix! But be quick, the choke cherry shakes sell out fast!
Lander Bar: Looking for some local brews, burger, and live music? Look no further than Lander Bar. Live music most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Wild Iris: A popular climbing area and also a fantastic outdoor store in town. Camping is allowed, but there are limited facilities (a vault toilet but no water). Be respectful of the area and others. Be bear aware – make sure your food is locked in a bear proof container or your car. Check the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) website for more information.
We found the local climbing gym Urban Ascent. The staff were super helpful and friendly! This was a great spot to work the muscles, meet some locals, and have a shower.
Post climb meal: Boise Fry Co. This place was highly recommended to us. If you are a lover of fries then this place is a must visit! There is an entire menu board with different potato and sweet potato varieties. The burgers (and veggie burgers) were super great, and don’t even get me started on all of the different ketchup and sauce options that were available! Check out their website to get the taste buds flowing!
We parked the bus at the 8th Street Trail parking lot, which offers great views of Boise! Again this is a basic site, it’s essentially a parking lot with a toilet. It can be noisy and people do show up at odd hours of the night.
We are so excited to start our new chapter in Bend! Unfortunately it has been a super smoky start but we have already sampled a few local trails, a few local beers and adopted a dog. Stay tuned for more adventures!!!
Some Final Road Trip Tips:
- Maintain your vehicle. Have you had your oil changed? Checked your tire pressure? Know the location and status of the spare. Prevent roadside breakdowns before they happen!
- Make some playlists or check out podcasts.
- Plan where to stay for the night. I use the website freecampsites.com. They post both free and paid camp sites. I always feel more relaxed knowing I have somewhere safe to sleep.
- Pack plenty of nourishing snacks – you’ll feel better!
- Limit caffeine, yes I know weird right? You are actually better off having a power nap.
- Have a paper atlas/map. Cell service is non existent in some areas plus it’s nice to look at the big picture. Recreation area maps are great because they include 4 x 4 roads and potential BLM campsites.
- Say yes! Be open to changing plans on a whim. Meet new people. Visit old friends. Do something that scares you!
- Have fun!