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Camping While on the Road with Escapenorthwest


What type of Campsites do you stay at?

There is not one type of campsite we stay at while on the road. Sometimes we stay directly in the National Park, for example in Yellowstone we make reservations as soon as we know how many people have booked the trip. Staying in the park, obviously gives us more time to spend in the park. National Park campgrounds typically have drop toilets, pay showers are typically located somewhere close and the campsite itself has a couple picnic tables and a fire ring to have campfires. Some people would consider this type of campground a rustic campsite, others would call it luxurious compared to sleeping in the backcountry. It’s all in your perspective, what you are comfortable with.

Other times, when not staying directly in the parks or national forests we will make use of private campgrounds with showers and laundry rooms. Some of these campgrounds even have pools! We try to stay in nature as much as possible but sometimes it isn’t feasible. Falling under the private campground category would also be ranches. On a couple nights along the 30 Day Western Odyssey we have the opportunity to stay at a dude ranch where we’ll go on an optional horseback ride and have a party at night.

Of course in the cities we stay in hotels/or hostels depending on availability. The trip cost includes these nights of accommodation which is pretty rare for this type of touring company. So we won’t be staying at 4-5 star accommodation but we typically find nice, clean sufficient hotels that take care of all the basics. Our guests have been pleased with the hotels we choose along the way. If you have questions about accommodation, don’t hesitate to contact us. A member of our reservations department will be in contact with you shorty.

Overall we try to stay in rustic, basic campsites throughout the entire trip. Most National Park campgrounds fall under this category and most people are happy with the amenities offered at these sites.

Q&A

Escapenorthwest?

Why did you name the company Escapenorthwest if you travel all over?

Yeah. It’s a name. It’s where we’re from mostly but we travel all over. And technically all of our trips depart or arrive in the Northwestern Region of the United States. So we think it’s a pretty good name. Escape is a powerful word and I think people kind of have a negative connotation with it. But lets be real. That’s what I’m about. That’s what we are about. Is there something you’d like to get away from? Or perhaps something you want to run to? Either way leave it behind, or move toward it, come join us and return a changed, stronger person with a story to tell.

What is your favorite part of the country?

-That would depend on the time of year which is reflected in this years’ schedule. We try to stay in the Northwest during the peak time for good weather and then venture out to other parts of the country when the weather isn’t so perfect for camping up here. That being said, we aren’t scared of camping in the rain. We think any night spent in a tent is a win. I love being in the desert during the spring and fall though. You can’t beat the Northwest during the late summer months, and if you can sneak down to Florida during the spring time before it gets super humid you’re in for a treat. If you check out the site and take a look at the trips this year. We’re basically trying to do that.

What makes you qualified to run these trips?

-It takes a certain type of person to want to be on a road trip for 3+ weeks, that’s the shortest trip we have scheduled this summer. To be honest it’s difficult to know if a leader can actually do it unless they have tried it. We do training trips for new tour leaders that last 3 weeks and we don’t hire people who haven’t traveled somewhat extensively. Personally, I’ve been taking long range road trips for 10+ years now. Of which, 7 of those were spent as a tour leader for other companies. My other tour leaders are friends of mine I know from the road with a wide range of experience and skill level. The one common intangible thing, I think we all have is: we rally. We always have a rally in us. That means, even if we’re tired, the thought of making another sunset or sunrise at the top of some mountain peak, or perhaps having to motivate our group out of their comfort zone a little bit to experience something extraordinary–we do it. This isn’t about being comfortable all the time. If you want to lay around at an all inclusive resort–these tours aren’t for you. But with a little sacrifice and drive to make it, we find ourselves in some pretty awesome spots with some pretty awesome people. You can be comfortable when you get home and show everyone the pictures of the smiling faces you met and the horizons your eyes gazed upon.

Where do your trips go?

This year’s line-up and schedule can be seen on our site. We go all the way down to Key West, up the Mississippi River delta, across interstate 90 up to Seattle on our first trip. That’s a good one. It’s beaches and bars for awhile, then music and food, then the rugged western states, National Parks and wildlife. You get a little of everything and it’s a cross country trip too. So you can put that feather in your cap once it’s finished. We have a couple of good loops leaving Seattle and circling all the way into the SW, hitting up all the cool National Parks down there, and ending in the crown jeweled National Parks of Alberta and British Columbia Canada. Those are awesome trips, provide a lot of photography and hiking opportunities along with so few climbing side bars if we want to. Then there’s the big ol’ Dream Pilgrimage which is a new trip this year. It goes down the West Coast and into Baja, across the Sea of Cortez into the mainland of Mexico. We kinda don’t know where we’re going after that but where ever it is…for the next couple days will be fun. Believe that. I imagine the type of person who books this trip will have that level of adventure in mind, “lets see what happens.” Sort of attitude. Then we head up to Big Bend, National park on the way to a little favorite of mine White Sands National Park. Then up the Rockies into Canada, similar to the other loops we have. As I get older the longer trips are becoming more and more appealing. Something about the amount of commitment a person has undertaking such a journey. Mental peaks and valleys will ensue but the end result is something unparalleled by any other type of travel. Road trips, they stick with you.

What is your vehicle like?

-We switch around our vehicles from Mercedes sprinters with all the bells and whistles to a converted ‘skoolie’ as they’re calling them now. Basically a short bus all tricked out with the right combination of comfort and character.

Who Drives?

-The Tour leader/manager will do all the driving. They are a commercial permitted driver with plenty of experience leading these types of trips. There are many days when the majority of the day is driving, where we arrive at camp around 3-4pm. Sometimes this can be a bummer but these long drives are needed to get to all the destinations our customers/collaborators pay for. We’ve tried to make the itineraries where we space the long drive days apart both for the drivers and the customers. We always seem to have a good time where ever we go. Whether it be a gas station in the middle of nowhere or on top of the world somewhere watching the sun chase the moon.

Who goes on these trips?

Mostly we’re getting a lot of attention from people in their mid twenties all the way up. You would want to have had some type of overland travel experience I would imagine, but it’s not required obviously. These trips are not always relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, we spend a lot of nights, any night we can, around the campfire or meeting other campers along the journey, we spend nights in the backcountry chillin’, we listen to a lot of reggae in the van on rainy days you know but sometimes it’s tough on the road. Stuff happens, flat tires happen, inclement weather happens, roads get closed, border crossings can be a bitch. We deal with it and make the best out the situation knowing good and well, tomorrow is a new day, a new destination is on the horizon.

When do your trips depart?

This summer we’re running 5 trips. The trips and the departure dates/cities can be seen on the website. The homepage has the trip itineraries. Keep in mind the ininteriaries are flexible, some groups will be more into the backcountry options so we’ll park the skoolie and hike deep into the National Parks and outlying areas and spend a couple nights out there. Other groups will be more interested in photography and a lighter hiking schedule. We’re open to all of it. And we try our best to accommodate everyone’s needs while on the road.

Do you take bookings from single travelers?

Absolutely. Traveling in a small group as a single traveler might be the best of both worlds if there ever was such a thing. You get to hang out with other like minded people on the road trip of a lifetime, which offers safety, unity and a sense of community while traveling, all the while you’re doing it on your own. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. If you’re traveling with a friend or a group of friends we encourage you to book with us as well. You’ll get a chance to meet new people and spread your friendly vibe with us.

Typical Day

Grand Canyon to Vegas with Escapenorthwest

Waking up at the Grand Canyon is a favorite day of mine. Typically we’ll start the engine to the van/bus bright and early, before sunrise. Those who are ready to head over to the South Rim to check out the sunrise will silently make their way into the vehicle. It’s usually pretty cold in the morning no matter what time of year so it’s a good idea to bring your sleeping bag along with you to bundle up side by side with your tour mates in the quiet moments before the sun comes up.

Slowly moving through the campsite in the quiet morning we take a short drive to one of the many awesome spots for sunrise. There are many well known, surprisingly quiet spots like Yavapai point to sit and wait for the sun. Once we arrive, we walk over to the edge of the Canyon and find a spot to sit. Many people take this opportunity to get some early morning long exposure majestic photographs of the Grand Canyon. When the wind starts to pick up you know the sun is about to come up. As the sun comes over the horizon, the realization of a lifetime slowly comes to fruition. Sunrise at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World ain’t a bad way to start your day. The energy is permeable with every group I’ve ever experienced this with. Walking back to the vehicle there is a sense of, “Wow, I’m never going to forget that moment.” And you won’t.

We’ll head back to the campsite for a nice leisurely breakfast around the picnic tables before we pack up the stove, the tents and the rest of the camping gear to load into the trailer. Team work makes the dream work! Other campers are always approaching me at campsites amazed at how quickly our groups are able to set up and pack up camp. Traveling in a small group is the best. The amount of work is divided evenly and everyone seems to enjoy contributing. After the tour leader demonstrates how to set up the tents on the first camping night the group takes over from there. It’s always fun to get out and discuss how we are going to set up our tents!

After we pack the van and trailer there’s a quick meeting about the day before we get in to make the drive. On this day we are heading to Las Vegas for two nights. The tour leader will go over the drive time, the stops on the way and what to expect during the day. He or she will go over the route on the map, talk about some natural and human history about the destinations and any other relevant information. Of course there are always always always reasons to make small detours which will happen frequently. That’s the fun part of a road trip!

Heading to Vegas after a sunrise morning at the Grand Canyon is a great day on the road. We’ll stop for lunch somewhere along the Route 66, if that’s your sort of thing, and otherwise blaze a trail to our hotel close to or on the strip. Once we’re checked in, your tour leader will set a meeting time. If you’re not the partying type this night might be the one night you make an exception. Just sayin. Limo ride, clubs appearances and late night gambling if you’re into it. We’ll head out from the hotel to dinner as a group, after a meal together the limo will pick us up and take us on a tour lasting about an hour to a few notable places along the Las Vegas Strip. We’ll be dropped off at the Bellagio and the rest of the night is whatever you make of it. After years on the road we’ve made a few relationships with club promoters around the city. If you’re into getting into one of the world’s best night clubs let your tour leader know. They’ll make it happen. Please drink responsibly.

As you’re dancing to the intoxicating music you might even look up to the disco ball and think about how your day started. Was it worth it? Yeah, it was worth it.

Check out the website to book a trip and live this day and many others traveling with Escapenorthwest