Man alive, what a great trip!
We started off Thursday after work, heading over to the Wayfarer World HQ in Colorado Springs. Then it was a quick drive down to Florence Brewing before heading out to the Royal Gorge for the first night. One of the themes for the trip: smoke. We were getting smoke in Colorado from some fires in California, so driving towards CA wasn't going to make things better.
The next morning we got up and went for a nice run on the Gorge trails. Then it was off to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
The plan was to get to Fruita for the night, and by the time we got to Montrose the breweries were open. We hit Horsefly
and 2 Rascals
. Horsefly provided the first of another theme for the trip - bacon cheeseburgers.
Also dropped by Monumental Beer Works
on the way, good stuff there. Then it was Hot Tomato
, waiting at Copper Club Brewing
while the pizza was cooked. Love me some Fruita time. We camped way out at 18 Road. Dinner, short hike with the dog, some guitar playing, and then we hit the hay early.
Up super early for a good desert dog hike in the pitch dark, then we shot off across Utah. Weren't looking to stop at all there, but as we were approaching Delta, UT, we noticed this place:
And holy hell did they have a good bacon cheeseburger!
We got to Great Basin National Park in the early afternoon. The place, as is the case for most national parks, isn't very dog friendly so we took a driving tour and then headed out to Sacramento Pass
, some BLM land not far from the park entrance. Lots of OHV folks, but we took the dog on a nice 5k singletrack loop near the campsite and didn't see a single person on the trail. Did that same loop again early the next morning with the pup.
We were now driving highway 50 through Nevada. Lots of interesting places. Like this place, the International Cafe in Austin, NV. They will not serve you if you have a mask on. Of course we went in and grabbed a beer.
Hit another gem along the way, Middlegate Station
. Another fantastic burger.
We finally pulled into Reno around 6PM. Stayed at the very dog friendly Whitney Peak Hotel. They even have a dog park across the street.
And it's located right by this famous sign.
The dog was happy to have some AC as it had been hot outside, so she was alright with us humans heading out to explore Reno. Found some solid places. Ended up not hiking Boundary Peak due to logistics (van couldn't have made the road to the trailhead, so would have had to rent a car), so I plan on visiting Reno again in the future.
The next day we visited Wayfarer Vans in Reno, then headed south on 395. I drove that highway back in 2011 and it was fantastic. Unfortunately we wouldn't see very much this time as the smoke greatly limited visibility.
But hey, we did get to go to The Mobil
. We've been wanting to go to that gas station since 2012 when the podcast came out. And despite the high expectations the place didn't disappoint.
Not your typical gas station food.
And of course we stopped by Mammoth Brewing Company
, home of the 395 IPA. The smoke was so bad here I swear we were about to be burned alive, but the bartender assured me the fires were actually nowhere near Mammoth.
Next day was off to Death Valley. Passed through some quality trail towns like Independence and Lone Pine before turning off 395 and heading east. I think Death Valley is technically a little more dog friendly than most national parks, but they can be that way as the heat regulates dog activities pretty well. We drove down to Badwater Basin, and there must have been a cold front blowing through as it was only 104F. On the way back from the Basin we took the Artist's Drive loop
and I highly recommend it.
Dog was happy to chill in the van.
Once we exited Death Valley on the east side we were now in alien country. The route we were going to take would skirt the perimeter of Area 51, you know, if Area 51 actually existed. North up to Tonopah and then over to Rachel, NV, home of the world famous Little Ale Inn
, which is where we spent the night.
On the road again the next day, we headed south towards Vegas. Stopped to check out Valley of Fire State Park
, very dog friendly but again we had to be wary of the heat.
Went down the Lake Mead Scenic Highway towards Vegas. Decided to pull off to try to get near some water. You know that oft quoted line along the lines of "it ain't an adventure 'till something goes wrong..."? Well shit went wrong here. I hit some kind of vehicle sand trap and got stuck. We dug for a good hour in the Vegas heat and completely spent ourselves, to no avail. Luckily we have roadside assistance on our insurance and it was easy to call for a tow, though super embarasing.
While waiting for the tow truck, covered in a gross mixture of sweat and sand, we decided that a hotel next door to the Double Down Saloon
would be pretty cool. Dog could get some AC and the adults could get some copious amounts of cheap booze.
The next morning I took the dog for a nice walk around the UNLV campus and we finally found the Tark statue. College hoops back in the mid 90s sure was something else.
Then it was off to Flagstaff. We were really hurting for a laundromat by this point in the trip, and luckily there's one right across the street from Beaver Street Brewing
Also hit Dark Sky Brewing
, Historic Brewing
, and Wanderlust Brewing
. Special thanks to $100 for driving this portion of the trip, as I obviously wasn't in any shape to operate a big vehicle. Dark Sky was fantastic, the best beer I'd had since leaving Colorado.
Found some forest land not far outside of Flag and called it a night. The next day took us to Durango, where again we found some hidden campsite on BLM land.
Next morning was Pagosa, where $100 did some fishing, and then we finished the day at a regular-for-us campsite just outside of Salida. By Sunday afternoon we were back home in COS and my friends were over mooching all the beer we brought back.
3104 total miles. $429.42 total in gas money, though that included a fill up in Woodland Park to leave us with a full tank next time we head out. Great trip and we can't wait to head out again!