When you think about your childhood road trip to national parks, there are parts you know you didn’t fully appreciate at the time, and parts that you remember vividly and long to recreate.
We grew up in Colorado, but spent the last ten years working in politics, taking us to Washington, D.C. and thousands of miles away from mountains, deserts and endless blue skies. When we recently both found ourselves between jobs and with time to spare, it was time to reconnect with the West.
So, welcome to our ‘Great American Road Trip’!
Arriving in Denver with concept, map and borrowed car in hand (thanks Maddie!), we wanted a camping solution that fit our needs – something quick and easy that afforded us the flexibility to spend the night almost anywhere and didn’t require outdoorsman skills that this set of city slickers frankly don’t have.
Enter Denver Outfitters and their OverRoam roof top tent which will be our home on a room on wheels for the next three weeks and ~3,000 miles.
On day one of our trip, we met up with the Denver Outfitters crew to install the OverRoam on top of our loaner yellow Xterra. The team was incredibly helpful in ensuring the tent was secure and stable (with some custom adjustments included) and gave us a quick tutorial on the 30 second set up for our new house.
We hit the road the following day on a bluebird Colorado morning watching as the snowcapped Pikes Peak and Spanish Peaks gave way to the dusty browns of the Rio Grande gorge outside of Taos.
Our first night was spent in Ojo Caliente – what our friend described as ‘VERY ENCHANTY NEW MEXICO’ and where one of their gorgeous suites will set you back a few hundred a night. The RV park, however, is a steal and provides access to a solid soak in the springs (for a small additional cost) and a few great hikes.
Our first night in the OverRoam was originally forecast for a nice & dry low 40’s night, but after we spent the evening soaking in the springs under the stars, the clouds came in and the temperatures dropped. Rain, snow, wind – classic camping challenges all convened, but we found ourselves snug and dry tucked into the tent with a surprisingly comfortable night’s sleep.
We woke up rested and ready to hit the trail for a relatively easy four mile roundtrip hike out to the mica mines above the springs. As you approach the mine everything becomes glitter-coated thanks to the flecks of mica covering the ground and hillsides – a must do if you are in the area.
Back in the car we drove south to Valle Caldera (or Valle Grande) perched in the mountains above Los Alamos – the cratered remains of an ancient volcano, now filled with expansive meadows and wetlands. We descended via Jemez Spring where classic mountain scenery transformed into deep red cliffs. The road twisted and turned, but there was no noticeable impact from the additional weight on top of our vehicle.
Sunset found us in Santa Fe, enjoying some local beer and gearing up for the next leg of our trip. We hope you’ll follow along.
Stay tuned for Part 2