This past October, Team Feral took the Feral wagon on a semi-impromptu road trip.
With the hope of creating adventure and a sense of get-out-of-dodge, we hit the open road.
We had only one parameter: We must be home in 1 week.
Within a handful of days, we planned, plotted, prepped and playlisted our way out of the city. Here we lay out the basic itinerary we followed, things to be mindful of, things to consider, places to shower, and pro tips from the road. The Plan? Cover as much land, visit as many National Parks and explore as many new, natural places in 7 days as possible.
The Drive: Denver to Jackson, WY
The Plan: Pack the adventure mobile! We used the Exped Synmat HL Duo 2-person sleeping pad that just so happened to fit perfectly in the back of the Subaru Outback Feral Wagon. If you want to travel light and swift, nothing beats sleeping in the back of a Subaru. Duffel bags packed, snacks within reach, soundtrack loaded…. Jackson, WY, here we come!
Eight hours later you pull into Jackson just in time for sunset. You take some photos on the side of the road, take the classic tourist photo under the elk horn arches in the park, find the nearest brewery for dinner and drinks and slap some Feral stickers around town before crawling into the back of the ‘Bu alongside a neighborhood park.
The Plan: It’s 5am and you’re brushing your teeth in a public bathroom while the janitor is still cleaning. You grab a quick cup o’ joe, rub the sleep out of you eyes and head north to Grand Teton National Park (Park #1!) for sunrise. Only a 20 minute jaunt out of Jackson, you quite literally turn a bend in the highway and are blown away by the beauty of the Teton Range. Take your time here. There are numerous turn-offs to sit back and stare in awe at the mountains. Keep an eye on the valley below – elk and antelope herd here.Why so early? You’re in the Tetons, why not?
Day 2.5: From GTNP, you’ll follow the highway north into the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park (Park #2!). During this drive (and throughout the parks!) keep your eyes peeled for animals. We’ve seen bears, black and grizzly, elk, moose, bison, deer, horses, etc along the route. Drive safely and slowly. Pro tip: take some time-lapse videos and stop to enjoy the sights!
Day 2.75: Run out to see Old Faithful with 1,000,000 tourists. Stock up on snacks at the Old Faithful Inn and Store because it’s getting late and you don’t know if you’ll have enough snacks to get you to morning. Never eat these extra snacks because you found a pizza place in West Yellowstone.
The Plan: Wake up. Drink cowboy coffee. Enjoy mountain views. Drive 3 hours to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Miss the Lava Hot Springs Exit. Drive backwards 15 miles to said hot springs. Pay $20 to soak in blissfully, solo hot pools with cute cats running around and a clean(ish), hot shower!
Day 3.5: Arrive in Salt Lake City, UT. Go to Publik Coffee. Drink great coffee, buy coffee to go, buy coffee to roast next week at home. Also, buy a pastry and/or work for a few hours if you need to catch up on a few things.
Drive over to the Great Salt Lake and park in the boat launch parking area. Go dig your toes into the (great) salt and make some fun drip castles! Pro tip: They have free hoses in the parking lot to wash off your feet before hopping back in the car.
Day 3.75: Drive south through the desert to Moab, UT. Search the town for a place to sleep in the car without drawing much attention. Get kicked out. Find new, darker place to stay. AKA: The desert.
The Drive: Moab, UT > Arches NP > Mesa Verde NP > Durango, CO
The Plan: Wake up and step out of the car to brush your teeth (thankfully) in flip-flops as the desert is FULL of prickly bits. Head into Arches National Park and start hiking/running! The park is a quick & easy win. Delicate Arch = 4ish mile run/hike and incredibly worth it. Be delicate with this landmark… we want it to last for generations!
Day 4.5: Pro Trip: Eat at the Quesadilla Mobilla. It’s Moab’s best food truck. Order anything off the menu, take whichever salsa they suggest and don’t ask questions. Can’t go wrong with a root beer to wash it down.
Drive to Mesa Verde National Park (Park 4!) This particular visit we didn’t have a ton of time to explore – and yes it’s worth it!! – but we saw, we looked, we’ll be back. Onward to Durango, CO for the night!
Day 4.75: Arrive in Durango, CO and almost get a parking ticket in off-street parking. Move adventure mobile. Wander along main street Durango and day dream of one day taking the coal train into the backcountry of the San Juan mountains for a long backpacking trip. The train horn blasts and it’s time for dinner! Look no further than Himalayan Kitchen on Main Street. Order some chai tea, please.
Pull into the local Hampton Inn for a decently dark parking lot (albeit slanted) to sleep in, and a hot, free breakfast and clean bathrooms in the morning (they don’t know that you weren’t a paying customer). Grab a yogurt for the road!
The Plan: After fueling up on the free breakfast courtesy of Mr. Hampton, head back north to Telluride, CO where you’ll find maybe the best public showers this side of the Mississippi! The $3 hot showers are at the town park, and nothing will make you feel better after 5 days on the time on the trails.
Day 5.5: Wander through town and grab some lunch at The Butcher & Baker on Main Street. Any sandwich is excellent. Take a hike up to Bear Creek Falls for a quick 5-miler and a dirtbag bath in the waterfall. Then finish the day grabbing a drink and wandering around Main St. enjoying the mountain air.
The Drive: Telluride, CO > Ouray, CO
The Plan: Take the *free* gondola up the mountain to the summit for some incredible, 360’ mountain views. Hop back into the car for the scenic drive from Telluride to Ouray. When you arrive, scope out a campsite or place to park the car in Ouray before making friends at the local pub. Grab some “real food” – (not gas station food!).
The Drive: Ouray, CO > Denver, CO
The Plan: Wake up in a random parking lot at dawn and again rub the sleep out of your eyes and find some caffeine. You’re headed home today! But first, your last and final National Park on the trip: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Park 5!)
Day 7.5: Travel through the winding road of Black Canyon of the Gunnison and check out the small, but informative visitor center. Canyons are cool! You have time for a hike, so get your ass out of the car. Or perhaps you’re already travel wasted. Either way, take in the beautiful views.
Day 7.75: Arrive back in Denver. Leave all things packed in the car because you might just want to hop back in tomorrow and head somewhere new!