how to live, travel and explore the world from your van

Vanabode 17 week 10,524 mile Western States Road Trip

western states road trip vanabode map

Remember YOU TOO can travel as long as you want and get hundreds of different kinds of experiences with Vanabode - Travel Forever on $20 a day, the original simple solution to affordable long term travel.

During this 100th+ trip out West again I didn't want to take the time to write a book or create hundreds of web pages like those on my Vanabode Destinations Guide. We just wanted to travel and have fun without working. So here we only publish a few pictures from some of the places we visited on this 17 week 10,524 mile trip from Kansas through Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This trip we skipped the coastal states, and concentrated 117 days on the interior western states. We accomplished this extraordinary feat of travel on $20 a day including food, gas, and lodging using our Vanabode and accompanying strategies. (Click if you want the EAST COAST trip instead - diary style from AMAZON).

Western States Travel Destination Guide Pictures

walgren lake in nebraska camping lakefront

Above: Walgren Lake in Nebraska offered comfortable easily accessible free waterfront remote camping with very few others around. We saw deer, cows, mice, fish, birds, bugs, and double rainbows.

Big bull bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the South side

Above: Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the South side and the National Bison Range in Montana both had many big bull bison and plenty of nearly deserted trails and lands to explore.

Free camping at the Oakley Monument Rocks in Kansas

Above: More free camping at the Oakley Monument Rocks in Kansas. Beautiful, close up remote Vanabode travel in it's purest state. Drive, park, play, eat, rest, move on.

denver colorado art museum and gallery

Above: Denver Colorado art museum and gallery from above. Our Vanabode vehicle, equipment and strategies allow for big city fun like art galleries, museums, city parks, and downtown districts along with traditional out in the wilds style camping. This sets our lifestyle apart from other van dwellers and campers.

Red Rock amphitheatre in Denver is astonishing

Above: Colorado's Red Rock amphitheater in Denver is astonishing. Thousands came and went over the three hours we were here, dogs, runners, joggers, body builders, show offs, wannabe's, weekend warriors, pot smokers, gatorade drinkers, and push up specialists all frequented and at times filled the hundreds of steps built right into this astonishing canyon.

Colorado's Garden of the Gods park  easy parking and lots of shade

Above: Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods park right in the middle of it all, free.

cattle stampede in Wyoming's Cheyenne city

We pulled over and parked 25 feet from this IN CITY cattle stampede drive in Cheyenne Wyoming.

flathead lake in montana waterfront camping and pickniking

Above: Montana's Flathead Lake offered great free waterfront day camping and swimming.

idaho hot spring skinny dipper

Above: Idaho turned out to be a spectacular, affordable, fun beautiful state to Vanabode in long term. We were here for weeks in summer enjoying heavy forest hikes and steaming hot springs - all free. Check out Jerry Johnson hot springs, plus the super good hot springs about 20 miles North of Cascade, and also Skinny Dipper hot springs, and a dozen other ones. Top Creek hot springs picture below.

top creek hot springs

waterfront camping in southern idaho

Waterfront camping in southern Idaho offered astonishing lake and mountain views.

From our Vanabode our riverfront camping spot Hammer Creek BLM campground in Idaho

Above: Hammer Creek BLM campground in Idaho can be had for as little as $5 per night. Hundreds of rafters passed by us during the day beginning one, two, and even three week float trips some costing over $4,000 per person.

Above: Camping with a pretty woman makes every view better! Here we explore antique buildings in Roseberry.

Idaho Horsethief resevoir trout for books

Above: Idaho Horsethief Reservoir trout caught by a local couple. I traded a copy of my book for two of these sweet fish and we cooked them up in our little propane stove with a cast iron pot. DELICIOUS! Free waterfront camping here under a special program, some guy donated the land and the BLM runs it. NOT good in the winter though, too cold.

cascade idaho valley county rodeo mutton buster and horse roping

Above: Idaho's Cascade Valley County rodeo featured mutton busters that had me laughing so hard I couldn't even see them all the way through. Bull riding, horse roping, calf rustling, and more, big all day and all night fun while van camping all over the west. Because we never have to worry about check in and check out times or schedules we can stop and do whatever we want for special events we had no idea were happening at just that moment.

Glacier National Park's Avalanche Lake

Above: Glacier National Park's Avalanche Lake was is astonishing find behind a 2+ mile hike through fairly easy terrain in mostly shady forest. The middle of Glacier was on fire when we were here, so we explored the Northern and Southern areas.

Lake McDonald Glacier National Park

Above: Glacier National Park in the Lake McDonald area shore side. This was the only night we paid to camp while enjoying Glacier for the week (came with the only hot shower in the area).

Above: Even when traveling thousands of miles for months at a time, my children are never far from my mind. I wish they were here with me. The guy on the right was playing this huge custom horn on the shores of the lake in Apgar Village as we watched the sun set.

Lake view in Apgar Village in Glacier

Above: Lakefront during sunset in Apgar Village in Glacier National Park, host to stores, hotels, camping, picnic areas, and limited bathrooms for the public. It's clean, fun, cheap, and easy to Vanabode here.

Above: Just another example of the thousands of things you can see on a long Vanabode trip, where time and money do not hold you hostage, where fun and freedom reign.

glacier national park secluded and one on one hikes

Above: From the top, we are just getting into it, see the Vanabode down there? That's why we go, there's not a soul up here with us, and even though it's a gray cloudy day it's still beautiful.

Above: We parked too close to this big cats den. What a surprise, a real monster of a story if this mountain lion had jumped down on us. Luckily he was just as scared as we were, I think because he was between us and the van. Unreal and near Glacier too in Kalispell!

sculpture in Medora North Dakota

Above: It's not all hiking, trail running, mountain climbing, and lake swimming. We spend a lot of time in museums and art galleries in every spot we Vanabode. Here the sculpture in Medora North Dakota did not disappoint.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

Above: What do you do when the Buffalo wants to check out the van? You wait. We hid in the tall sage and winding rows of grasses until he was finished browsing, eating, and doing what big mammals do after they eat. This bull was wandering Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota in the summer.

Utah's gooseneck state park was cheap to camp

Above: At Gooseneck State Park in Utah it was cheap to camp. I think they only charged us $10 for an awesome night of camping right on the very edge of the canyon. Day use was only $5 as I recall. This place has some of the biggest most unique views I've ever seen outside of Glacier, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. Be there for sunset, it's much better than sunrise.

utah rocky mountains

Above: Thousands of massive unique rock formations cover Utah. Most you can access from the road.

Moki Dugway on UT-261 from the top

Above: The Moki Dugway on UT-261, just northwest of Valley of the Gods presented some of the most dangerous driving of the trip (NO big RV's or Buses allowed!) and some spectacular long distance views. We came up that road that dissappears into the horizon three hours prior to this picture.

nayonlands national park offroad pictures

Above: Canyonlands National Park outside Moab has some crazy dangerous dirt roads you can explore if you have the right kind of vehicle. We did not have the guts to do this one. The road on the left is the same as the one on the right and the one you see in the distance.

shunpikers guide to free offgrid camping

Above: Outside Canyonlands National Park we used the Shunpikers free camping guide for lots of incredibly remote and private FREE camping. This is EXACTLY one of the spots she lists in her well written guides covering the west.

Great Basin National Park in Nevada sub alpine lakes

Above: Great Basin National Park in Nevada is a breathtaking, tree huggers paradise. We saw flocks of wild turkeys up close, and some of the oldest trees on Earth. We had the place to ourselves and as you can see I am not the man I once was. I'm not posing here. I'm recovering from the hike up to the sub alpine lakes. Make sure you don't wait too long to do the things you want to do. None of us know when we will pass or when our health will leave us quietly in the dark without so much as a goodbye.

spencer hot springs naked hot tubbing

Above: Spencer Hot Springs outside Austin Nevada has given us many years of fantastic star lit soaks in the 90 to 110 degree range. Clean waters bubble up from the earth unhindered (you can adjust the temperature using the pipe seen in the back of this picture). I was wandering around investigating all the plants and rocks surrounding this particular tub (there are many) and I found a secret stash. Someone left this Ziploc package with a love note, a bottle of wine, some toys, and instructions to whomever finds this treasure - INDULGE!

nevada ghost towns roadside

Above: Ghost towns abound just off the highways and smaller roads all over Nevada and the west. Here, on the way from Winnemucca to Austin we visit a crumbling miners shack hand made from local stones and clay motar.

pretty blonde riding offroad in the desert on an atv

Above: Our gracious Winnemucca friends loaned us heavy duty quad all terrain vehicles and hosted us for a few days. Fantastic fun - thanks Rendal and Michelle! Here you can see their house many miles down the mountain hinting at just how far you can ride these machines in the west.

1872 rules for teachers posted in an incredible historic church in virginia city

Above: Virginia City, Nevada has so many wierd things to see, you just have to come here. It's fun, cheap, and one of a kind. 1872 rules for teachers was posted in an incredible historic church where you can tour for free. READ IT - it's hilarious, and teachers think they have it bad today! The town includes fascinating buildings, a brothel museum (pretty pathetic inside), dozens of fun tourist shops and there's a BIG bar scene for such a small town right on the street.

Above: Nevada is easy to love. Here millions of acres lay open to free exploration. Camp and live forever for free, enjoying pristine desert, incredible starry nights, and fun wildlife. Vegas is only 3 hours away, here you can have it all on a micro budget.

las vegas strip in the daytime

Above: Las Vegas is surrounded by thousands of acres of wild outdoor activities all within an hours drive. Check out Mount Charleston for skiing and hiking when you need a break from the casinos. Red Rock Conservation area is photographed by some of the best lens lovers on the globe offering stunning views, rock climbing, and back country hikes. Like the water? Lake Mead is great for boating, fishing and jet skiing through crystal clear water surrounded by desert mountains. This 16+ week long trip afforded us nearly 10 days in this incredible city. Thanks to the Mamidi's for hosting us in the big city and those great meals!

Above: Lake Powell is nearly indescribable. Get here. Just do it. This time we spent time and nights at all four marinas and even rented a boat for nearly $500 (no that is NOT part of a $20 a day plan - HA!)

zion national park hiking slot canyons

Above: Zion National Park is a top draw for incredible outdoor adventure. It is our countries most well run park with free shuttles running every 6 to 10 minutes to every major trail head in the park. Here we hike just off the highway in an undesignated area - just us, under a red brick bridge and along a natual arroyo that eventually becomes a slot canyon. Dozens of people drowned in Zion while we were here hiking tight slot canyons in heavy rains.

narrows hike in zion

Above: Zion National Park's Narrows hike is one of the countries funnest trails. Here you hike slot canyons in knee deep and shallower water for as long as you can take it. We met Jeff from Canada in Lake Powell and he loaned us his wisdom and paddle board. Here we meet up again for another good time together.

camping in sedona

Above: Sedona Arizona is hard to describe and very difficult to represent in one photograph. What's so special about it? Perfect weather, free parking, gorgeous art galleries, affordable food, and upscale fun shopping at the FOOT OF STUNNING RED MOUNTAINS.

arches hike in the national park

Above: Arches National Park is stunning every time we visit.

Arches National Park

Above: Arches National Park has some of the craziest rock formations in the world. Here notice the road and person in the foreground and you can get an idea of just how big these are.

free camping out west waterfront

Above: Here we pulled over for the day, swam, bathed, napped, grilled lunch on the lake, and then just before dark as the sun was setting over the rocks and water a huge storm chased us away. Hail rained down for 15 minutes and I had to move the van under a big cottonwood.

burning house indian ruins utah arroyo

Above: Burning House of supposedly 400 year old ruins of structures built by indigenous desert Indians in Utah. We hiked a wild rough wet arroyo for 2 miles and reallly enjoyed the rocks plus forest look.

Above: Anthropology Museum University New Mexico - we usually go to every art gallery, antique store, upscale gift shop, and museum where the admission is free. I think I know this guy.

waterfront lake powell camping for free in utah

Above: Marianne Edwards Shunpiker Guides turned us on to this splendid waterfront camping spot. Free, fun, nearly private, serene star lit nights over the water.

Above: Kelly captains the power boat through orange canyons, over clear waters, under blue skies, through Lake Powell.

rent a boat in lake powell for a day

Above: Views from the boat through endless canyons and 1,000's of miles of shoreline. Forget Europe. Forget the Bahamas. Forget Fiji. Forget Hawaii. Get here, it's easy and you can stay as long as you can handle it with a Vanabode. They even have seasonal jobs here while you live out of your Vanabode.

hole in the wall gift shop in a cave roadside in utah

Above: Hole in the Wall gift shop in a cave roadside in Utah had thousands of unique items for sale and extraordinary sculpture like this hard metal offroad jeep.

cliffside dwellings camping in utah

Above: Native American Indians setup shops along the highways throughout the West where they have a reservation presence. Here we shopped their mostly carving and jewelry offerings.

cliffside dwellings western american ruins of american indians

Above: These ruins were the former homes of American Indians. This dwelling was right beside the shopping setup in the picture above right off the road.

capitol reef National Park offers free fruit

Above: Capitol Reef National Park offers free fruit during the season in dozens of orchards nestled inside massive rocky mountains. Here we took pears, apples, peaches, and others direct from the trees.

Above: We enjoyed the Alamo and Riverwalk boat rides and walk with Kelly's Texas family, David, Cousin Cindy, Brian, Jim and Veronica, Uncle Floyd, and David's Dad Lenny.

santa fe art

Above: Sante Fe New Mexico could easily be an annual destination, a city filled with spectacular art (that's a bronze horse head the size of a buildling), great food, cool people, and lovely weather.

santa fe new mexico

Above: Santa Fe New Mexico is filled with historic and beautiful buildings of muted subdued tones.

grand canyon ariel view of hikers

Above: No picture can capture even one 1,000th of the Grand Canyon. Look for the trail below towards which our hike would later take us.

kangaroo rat spencer hot springs

Above: This little Kangaroo rat tried to run up Kelly's pants while we were hot spring camping the desert. He was adorable and ran back and forth from us to his nest for two hours.

grand canyon horse and wagon sculpture

Above: Sculpture and structure outside Grand Canyon National Park.


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