Ultimate Vail & Beaver Creek Skiing Guide – and New Year's Eve!

Vail is one of the most incredible skiing and snowboarding experiences you can do. Beaver Creek is a stunning ski resort offering wonderful views and runs for all skill levels. Both Vail and Beaver Creek have villages full of shops, cute cafes, resorts, restaurants, and a beautiful mountain atmosphere. Combining all of this, and sprinkle in the fact that you can make a special visit for New Year’s Eve, and what do you get? An action-packed fun-filled adventure that you will never forget!

In this article, we are going to tell you the best ways to experience Vail and Beaver Creek, both on the mountain and off of it. We will tell you in depth all of the ways we were able to make this an extremely special experience, so that hopefully you’ll learn something new for a trip of your own! And we will share a few tips and tricks to hopefully save you some time or energy on your adventure.

If you’d like to watch our adventure in addition to getting all these tips and tricks, check out this video we put together! If you like it, we’d love if you subscribed to our channel!

Vail – Skiing & Snowboarding

The number one reason to go to Vail is because of the absolutely stunning skiing areas. Vail is without-a-doubt the best ski resort we have ever experienced. Why? Let’s go over a few reasons. Here are some fast facts on Vail:

  • 195 Ski Runs
  • 29 Lifts and 2 Gondolas
  • 145 Miles of Runs
  • Over 300 Inches of Snow per Year

Vail has 145 MILES for you to ski and snowboard. That is so much that it is almost beyond comprehension! You could literally ski here for weeks and still have not gone on every single run.

That makes for an extra special adventure because it means that you will always be able to find something new to do during your time in Vail. There are 4 different maps needed just to show all of the runs that are spread out over the various interconnected peaks. Let’s start with the front-side of the mountain, which is the most popular area of the resort.

Vail Front Side

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Vail – Front Side Ski Area Map

Vail’s front side starts at the base of the mountain in Vail Village and continues all the way to the top peaks of Vail, over 11,000 feet in elevation. We recommend starting each day at one of the 2 gondolas, either Gondola One or Eagle Bahn Gondola.

Fun Fact: Gondola One is the first ever gondola in North America!

We started at Eagle Bahn Gondola each day, but only because that’s where our Airbnb was. Just head to the closest gondola to your lodging and you’ll be good to go! If you are looking for beginner runs, look for the green circles, as these mark the easiest runs in the resort, followed by the intermediate blue squares and the expert black diamonds.

The easiest section of the resort is right near the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, where there is a collection of green and blue runs to practice on. If you are looking for more challenging runs, you can definitely find a few fun ones on the front side of the mountain. However, the best place for expert skiing and snowboarding in Vail is the back bowls.

Vail’s Legendary Back Bowls

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Vail – Back Bowls Map

The back bowls in Vail are some of the most fun we’ve had on a mountain, ever. Each and every bowl has its own set of challenges for you to find and conquer, our favorite of which was the China Bowl. No, that isn’t just because we love Chinese food served in bowls, though that is true. China Bowl was full of a ton of incredible runs, and there was blue square runs for those who wanted to avoid the black diamonds.

We spent about half of one of our days in Vail just at the China Bowl, skiing down Chopstix and Poppyfields and Dragon’s Teeth. We also jumped over to Siberia Bowl and took on Gorky Park and Orient Express, both of which were awesome as well.

However our favorite set of runs in Vail’s back bowls was the run that took us off to Blue Sky Basin, located even further back from the back bowls! From Patrol Headquarters, you will have to head down The Slot, up Sun Up Express Lift, and down Jade Glade all the way to the Skyline Express Lift. Now you’re on your way to the Blue Sky Basin!

Blue Sky Basin

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Vail – Blue Sky Basin Map – All Maps Courtesy of Vail Resorts

The Blue Sky Basin was a jaw-dropping section of ski runs located at the very back of Vail. Not only were all the runs back here incredibly fun, but the views from Blue Sky Basin will knock your socks off. From the peak you can see for miles and miles, especially on a beautiful clear day.

We hung out in Pete’s Bowl for most of our time at Blue Sky Basin. Grand Review and Resolution were awesome runs, as well as Cloud Nine and The Star. We also did In The Wuides and Montane Glade in Earl’s Bowl, both of which were super fun.

Without a doubt, you have got to make some time to get back to Blue Sky Basin. It is better to start making your way back here right away when you get on the hill, for two reasons. First, it takes a while to make it all the way back, and you’ll want to maximize time at Blue Sky Basin. Second, you’ll beat everyone out there and have the entire place to yourself!

Game Creek Bowl

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Vail – Game Creek Bowl Map

Game Creek Bowl is the fourth section of Vail that has its own map. Like Blue Sky Basin, this is an awesome section of the park, but it is a bit smaller. For that reason, there is only one lift in this section, however that does come with a big bonus: there are runs for everyone here and you can all meet at the bottom!

One of the challenges when skiing, especially in larger groups, is varying skill levels of the skiers. In Game Creek Bowl, there are black diamonds, blue squares, and a green circle, all of which lead right back down to the Game Creek Express Lift!

Because of this, there is no chance that anyone in the group gets lost or goes to the wrong lift. Everyone can take their runs at their own pace and everyone can meet at the bottom for the lift back up to the top!

Vail Village

Vail Village is absolutely one of the big draws to coming to this mountain escape. The village is around 1 mile long, spreading out from the base of Gondola One, and going all the way to the base of Eagle Bahn Gondola.

The shops in Vail Village are the perfect place to stock your winter wardrobe or to pick up a gift for a loved one back home. And if you forget anything you need for skiing, like a helmet or goggles, then this is the perfect place to pick it up! Of course, there are also a ton of ski and snowboard rental shops in Vail Village, so if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing gear along, you’ll be set.

Also in Vail Village are so many cute cafes and delicious restaurants it’ll make your head spin. We ate at Garfinkel’s at the end of a long day skiing and gobbled up all the delicious food we could get our hands on. At Gondola One, any of the places around the ice rink will be delicious, and we recommend taking a special trip to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a yummy dessert!

One final awesome thing you can do in Vail is to go ice skating! There is a gorgeous little rink right in the center of Vail Village, and a few skate rental shops for you located right nearby.

Vail Free Gondola

This is a special bonus when you stay in or near Vail. The Eagle Bahn Gondola is free for non-skiers after a certain point during the day! For us, the free gondola started at 3:30, since that is when the gondola closed for skiers.

At the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola is the awesome Eagle’s Nest, where you can walk around and explore a bit on foot. Also up here is a delicious restaurant, where you’ll be able to enjoy dinner with a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains from above. The free gondola and mountaintop dinner will be a special experience, trust us!

Beaver Creek – Skiing and Snowboarding

Beaver Creek is located just about 10 minutes from Vail, and is an absolutely incredible skiing and snowboarding destination as well. While Beaver Creek is smaller than Vail, it is equally as impressive, and offers a huge variety of runs that make for an extremely fun time.

  • 150 Runs
  • 22 Lifts and 1 Gondola
  • Terrain Park

3 things set Beaver Creek apart: the view, the variety and the cookies. First off, let’s talk about the view. We spent one day at Beaver Creek, and thankfully it was a crystal clear sky. From the top of Beaver Creek, you’ll be able to see for miles and miles all around the mountain. The surrounding Rocky Mountains make for an absolutely stunning backdrop to every single run you’ll do throughout the day.

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Beaver Creek – Ski Area Map – Courtesy of Beaver Creek

In addition to the scenery and views, the variety of activities for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels on Beaver Creek is astounding. If you are the best of the best, then the Birds of Prey section is full of awesome runs for you. This is where many ski racing competitions have been held over the years, so you know it is going to be a challenge.

If you are more of an amateur, then you can pretty much go anywhere in the entire resort outside of Birds of Prey! And for any beginners, the top of Beaver Creek Mountain near the Cookie Cabin is a perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard. In this area of the resort, the hills are not steep and they stay groomed, which makes for a great learning environment.

On top of all of that, there is a terrain park at Beaver Creek that is a blast to use! The jumps, boxes, and rails are not very big, which makes them less intimidating and much less dangerous, which is perfect for us amateurs. We weren’t getting any massive air or anything, but we were having a ton of fun, and that’s what counts, right?

Finally, Beaver Creek literally hands out free cookies at the base of the mountain. This is not a joke. There are people walking around handing out free fresh baked cookies as you are getting on the lift! What is better than a yummy fresh-baked treat right as you are setting off for an awesome adventure on the mountain? Nothing.

Beaver Creek New Year’s Eve

If you are in Vail and Beaver Creek during New Year’s Eve, then you simply MUST check out the celebration in either Beaver Creek Village or Vail Village. There are three separate events that make this such a special experience: the light show, the torch run, and the fireworks display.

For starters, there is the light show, which is open for anyone of any skill level to sign up for. If you have any kids along in your group, this would be a perfect activity and a great way to bring in a new year with a special experience. For the light show, a huge group of skiers tie glow sticks and light bars to their helmets or arms. The end result is a river of bright colors making its way down the hill! Talk about an awesome start to the Beaver Creek New Year’s Eve.

After the light show comes the torch run. For this, the Beaver Creek ski instructors make their way up a steep section of the mountain and ski down in a choreographed formation. On its own, that would be cool. However, in the torch run each of the instructors is holding a lit torch spouting flames in each hand! This is a truly awesome display, as a parade of fire flows down the steep mountain all the way to the base.

Finally, after the light show and the torch run (which you can check out in the video below) make your way to the ice rink at the center of the village for the incredible fireworks display. Beaver Creek’s New Year’s Eve show spares no expense when it comes to the fireworks, and this is a very awesome show that lights up the entire sky. We found that this was a very special way to end our Vail and Beaver Creek trip, and the perfect way to bring in a new year.

Vail Beaver Creek Vlog

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Official Crater Lake Hiking Guide – 2 Day Itinerary

Crater Lake National Park is one of the most unique and incredible sites in the world. The lake itself is the clearest in the world AND the deepest in the United States! Add in the fact that there are tons of awesome mountains and hiking trails all around the lake, and you get an incredible adventure destination! We are bringing you a 2 day Crater Lake hiking guide to see all of the awesome sites in the park. Mount Scott, Cleetwood Cove, Garfield Peak & more, let’s get to it!

If you’d like to watch and read about Crater Lake, check out our video vlog below. We had a blast hiking, camping, and exploring, and we are 100% sure you will too!

Hiking – Day 1

Day 1 in Crater Lake is going to be a SUPER fun adventure. You’ll see Crater Lake from the shore, and from above. You’ll see a fantastic panorama of the entire National Park, and you’ll have the opportunity to do a cannonball into the pristine clear waters of Crater Lake! You could even try and go fishing if you’d like to!

On your way into the park, depending on where you are coming from, you may be driving by the Crater Lake National Park visitor center. If so, we recommend you stop there and have a talk with the rangers. They are super knowledgeable, and will be able to guide you in the right direction if there are any trails closed or anything like that. Also, there is a 30 minute video on the history of the park that was fascinating to see, and gave a new perspective to the park that we were able to see in reality on our hikes.

Cleetwood Cove

Cleetwood Cove is the very first hike on our Crater Lake itinerary, and it is a special one. The Cleetwood Cove trail is the only chance to get up close and personal with Crater Lake, as it is the only trail down to the shore.

Rim Drive, the road that encircles the lake, is typically a few hundred feet above Crater Lake itself. This offers stupendous views of the lakes and the mountains in the background, however it means that there is only 1 way down to the lake, and that is on the Cleetwood Cove trail.

The trail itself is pretty much just 1 mile or so of switchbacks going down to the lake. The hike is super easy on the way there, however remember that what goes up must come down (in this case what goes down must come up). The hike back to your vehicle will be 1 mile of switchbacks climbing up over 500 feet.

At the conclusion of the Cleetwood Cove trail is a chance to swim in Crater Lake! Bring a swimsuit in case you’d like to dive on in, but be prepared for the cold reality that is this alpine lake. Even during the heat of the Summer, the water temperature will be in the 50s (maybe even the 60s) degrees Fahrenheit.

The beauty of Crater Lake is apparent on the Cleetwood Cove trail. At the base of the lake, you’ll see up close and personal how clear and pure the lake really is. As the clearest lake in the world, it really is almost as if the lake is made of glass, you can see right through it!

Cleetwood Cove Hike Details

  • Distance: 2.1 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 620 feet
  • Trailhead: Cleetwood Cove Trailhead

Mount Scott

Since Cleetwood Cove took us to the bottom of Crater Lake, it is now time to see the lake from above at Mount Scott. Mount Scott is the highest peak in all of Crater Lake National Park, and offers the chance to see a full panorama of the entire landscape.

The Mount Scott hike is relatively short, just over 2 miles each way, however the elevation gain is over 1,000 feet. Therefore, you should take your time and enjoy the view along the way. In fact, pack a picnic along and enjoy your lunch on Mount Scott!

In addition to a picnic, you’ll also want to bring a camera along. From Mount Scott you’ll have a bird’s eye view of Crater Lake and the surrounding landscape, which is one of the most incredible views your eyes can see. Take a few pictures at the top so that you’ll be able to show friends just how blue and beautiful this lake really is.

Mount Scott Hike Details

  • Distance: 4.2 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,250 feet
  • Trailhead: Mount Scott Trailhead

Hiking – Day 2

Day 1 offered the chance to see the highest and the lowest points in Crater Lake National Park. Cleetwood Cove trail went to shore, and Mount Scott went to the skies. On Day 2, there is another absolutely full day of adventure, complete with the opportunity to see the 2 awesome islands in Crater Lake!

Crater Lake was formed when Mount Mazama (previously one of the tallest peaks in Oregon) collapsed into a huge caldera. Over time, rain and snow accumulated in the caldera and began to form a lake. Over thousands of years, the lake grew taller and taller from that snow and rain. To this day, there are no creeks or rivers that flow into or out of Crater Lake. All of the water in the lake came there from precipitation, and stays for good. The lake owes its status as the clearest lake on earth to that fact, because none of the water ever moves! Therefore, no extra dirt or sediment makes its way into the lake, which happens with creek-fed lakes.

Garfield Peak

Garfield Peak is hike number 1 on day number 2. This hike will be a bit shorter and less high than Mount Scott, however there is perhaps a better view of the lake at Garfield Peak. Whereas Mount Scott is set a ways back from the lake, Garfield Peak is situated almost right on top of the lake.

On the way to Garfield Peak, and on top of the peak, you’ll be able to see Phantom Ship Island. Why is this named Phantom Ship Island? Well, because it looks just like a ship! Of course no ships have ever sailed on Crater Lake, as there would be no place to go, however this is still an awesome island to view on your tour of the National Park.

From atop Garfield Peak, you will be looking right out on top of Crater Lake, and from this vantage point the lake is a deep blue color. The hike is 1.7 miles each way, and about 1,000 feet up in elevation, and the view is SO worth the hike.

Also, since this hike begins and ends at Crater Lake Lodge, you can grab breakfast or a nice coffee at the lodge before or after your hike! Talk about a great way to begin a day. You’ll have a yummy breakfast, a great hike, and an absolutely jaw-dropping view of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Sign us up!

Garfield Peak Hike Details

  • Distance: 3.4 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
  • Trailhead: Crater Lake Lodge

Discovery Point

Discovery Point is stop number 2 on Day 2, and this place can either be an adventure or just a stop. When we visited Discovery Point, we treated it as an awesome pull-out where we could sit and enjoy the stupendous view of Crater Lake.

However, if you’d like to, there is a trail from Discovery Point that takes you on a trail along the crest overlooking the lake. The trail is relatively flat and easy, and you can go as long as you’d like to, up to 4 miles. We recommend taking a nice easy stroll, and then returning to your vehicle to head to the Watchman Peak.

Discovery Point Hike Details

  • Distance: Up to 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Up to 920 feet
  • Trailhead: Discovery Point Trailhead

Watchman Peak

The Watchman Peak is the final hike on our Crater Lake hiking guide, and this one is absolutely stunning. On a few of the other hikes we’ve done, you will have a view of Wizard Island, the largest and most magnificent of Crater Lake’s 2 islands, however the view from Watchman Peak is by far the best.

The Watchman Peak hike is under 1 mile each way and is less than 400 feet of elevation gain, however the peak is called the Watchman Peak for a reason. You can see everything from this point. The lake spreads before you beautifully and the mountain backdrop of Mount Scott and the surrounding landscape make for a beautiful watercolor painting.

Wizard Island, the last remnant of the volcano that was Mount Mazama (before the volcano collapsed into the caldera that is now Crater Lake) is an awesome island surrounded by the deep blue of the lake. You can take a tour out to the lake via boat, however we think the best view is right here at Watchman Peak.

Watchman Peak Hike Details

  • Distance: 1.6 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 390 feet
  • Trailhead: Watchman Peak Trailhead

Crater Lake Camping

Camping at Crater Lake is one of the best ways to get out into nature and experience the park. If you’d like, there are many great options for campground inside the National Park. However, we recommend getting further out into nature and really experiencing the natural beauty of Oregon.

We love to find free campsites everywhere we go, for 2 reasons. First off, because they are free, and we live on an extremely tight budget. Second, these free campsites typically are deeper into nature, and offer the chance to see places the crowds often miss. In Oregon, right outside Crater Lake, we were able to find some incredible sites on iOverlander. For more free camping secrets all across North America, check out this article:

Video

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Thank you SO much for reading our Crater Lake hiking guide. We sincerely hope you enjoyed reading about the incredible hiking and camping adventures you can have in Crater Lake, and hope that you learned a thing or two along the way! If you loved this article, please use the below images to Pin It and save it for later. Enjoy your own Crater Lake hiking and camping experience!

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A 2 day itinerary in Yosemite is going to be completely full of action and adventure. It you would rather see Yosemite at a more leisurely pace, that is 100% great, we recommend breaking all of these awesome sites that we will talk about into a 3 or 4 day trip.

Yosemite National Park was created back in 1890, and is one of the oldest and most cherished National Parks in the entire world. When you get to the park’s central valley, you will see why. The beauty is almost beyond comprehension.

A few days in Yosemite can feel like forever. You’ll go back to your normal life feeling relaxed, refreshed, and you’ll have a handful of stories to share with friends and family back home.

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Hiking Yosemite Valley – Day 1

On Day 1, we are taking you to the most beautiful section of land in the park, Yosemite Valley. This will be a day full of sites, sounds, adventure, and beauty that you will never forget. Buckle your seat belts and get ready for the journey!

Mist Trail

The Mist Trail was our favorite hike in all of Yosemite National Park. This hike has everything: waterfalls, rivers, a stunning view of the Yosemite Valley, and a picturesque view of the mountains that make up Yosemite. 

Note: Half Dome would have been our favorite, but we didn’t score permits. More on that in a bit.

The Mist Trail starts from Curry Village AKA Half Dome Village, at the end of the road in Yosemite Valley. After a short walk through the forest you will come along the stream that upstream provides the waterfalls that make this hike special!

Hike up that stream along the trail and in almost no time you will come to the first waterfall on this hike: Vernal Falls. This waterfall is the reason this is called the Mist Trail.

Vernal Falls

The water flows so hard and falls so far that there is a mist you will have to hike through as you pass Vernal Falls! Well, at least if you are there during the peak flow seasons. If you go during Fall you may miss it, but in Spring or Summer you will be soaked as you pass Vernal Falls!

If you’d like to, there is an off-trail route here that involves some bouldering over rocks. Do not take this trail if the rocks are wet and slippery, and if you feel unsafe at all. If everything is great, though, you can get an up-close-and-personal look at the beautiful pool at the base of Vernal Falls. 

This pool is absolutely stunning, and the water is so clear you can see the bottom! If you care to, you can even dip your toes into the pool, but fair warning, the water is COLD!

Hiking further up the trail you will be able to see Vernal Falls from the top! At this point you will also get a stunning view at the hike you’ve done thus far and Yosemite Valley in the distance.

Continuing along the Mist Trail, you’ll come to the Silver Apron in Emerald Pool, which is a great place to stop for a quick snack break. Swimming isn’t allowed here, but the pool and mountain backdrop make for a stunning photo opportunity!

Nevada Falls

Finally, the last stop along the trail is the second waterfall: Nevada Falls. Nevada Falls is much bigger than Vernal Falls, and is equally beautiful in its own way.

Nevada Falls is a stunning 600 foot waterfall which you will see in the distance as you approach from the bottom. The falls grows larger and larger with each step you make, until it towers high above you!

The hike to the top is a set of switchbacks that doesn’t seem to end. Until of course, it ends, and you are treated with the best view along the entire trail!

Atop Nevada Falls you get a stunning panorama that embodies Yosemite National Park. This was our favorite place in the entire park, and we spent a good deal of time drinking in the view.

There is a large area to explore up here, including an overlook that takes you right to the cliff where the water flows over to create Nevada Falls! Additionally, this place is a trail intersection where the John Muir Trail and the Half Dome trail intersect with the Mist Trail! Do NOT miss the Mist Trail, it was our favorite hike in Yosemite National Park.

Mist Trail Hike Details:

  • Distance: 8.8 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet
  • Trailhead: Curry Village

Half Dome

The Mist Trail was our favorite, however we are fairly confident that Half Dome would have beaten it. Half Dome is the most iconic hike in the park, perhaps in all of the US National Park system! 

Due to Half Dome’s popularity, a permit system was instituted to help control the number of people visiting on any given day. These permits are not particularly easy to come by, which we found out on our trip there.

The permit system works like this. There are two ways to get a permit:

  • Way 1 – Preseason Lottery – Throughout March you can apply for a permit for any days you’d like to throughout the year. The preseason lottery hands out 225 permits for each day in the year.
  • Way 2 – Daily Lottery – You can apply 2 days prior to your desired hiking date and attempt to get a permit as well. The daily lottery hands out 50 permits for each day, in addition to any cancellations from the preseason lottery.

Therefore, 275 people have permits for each day to hike Half Dome. For more info on permits, or to submit an application, check out the NPS website here.

We were not able to get permits for Half Dome, not since we lost the lottery, but since the rangers had pulled down the cables and closed the hike for the season before we’d arrived. Originally the plan was to go for the daily lottery, since our dates weren’t set in stone, but we ended up losing out. We were sad about it. We cried for 11 minutes. Then we strapped on our shoes and got to hiking the rest of the park!

Half Dome Hike Details

  • Distance: 17 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 4,800 feet
  • Trailhead: Half Dome Trailhead
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Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls are the wildly beautiful waterfalls that flow during the summer months over the north rim of Yosemite Valley. These falls are the ones you’ll see when you look up awesome sites in Yosemite, and as a result you’ll HAVE to see them!

Therefore, the 3rd must-hike trail in Yosemite Valley is to Lower Yosemite Falls! This is a pretty short hike, and is beautiful at the end. Low effort high reward, sounds like a great combination!

Lower Yosemite Falls Hike Details:

  • Distance: 1 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 50 feet
  • Trailhead: Yosemite Valley Lodge

El Capitan Meadow

El Capitan AKA The Dawn Wall is the most famous structure in Yosemite, and it is incredible easy to see why. As you drive into Yosemite Valley, you literally can’t miss El Capitan.

This enormous 3,000 foot tall monstrosity is a flat wall that unofficially marks the entrance into Yosemite. You go from driving through California into the magical wild wonderland known as Yosemite National Park, an unmistakable feeling for anyone who has driven by El Capitan.

The 2 crazy parts about El Capitan that make it stand out from any other place on earth is the combination of height AND flatness. Is flatness a word? We’ll go with it.

Julie hilariously thought The Dawn Wall was called Don’s Wall. Who the heck is Don??

Strangely, the fact that El Capitan is SO HIGH and SO FLAT makes people WANT TO CLIMB IT! People are CRAZY. People are AWESOME! People who climb El Capitan are CRAZY AWESOME!

When you visit Yosemite and set your eyes on El Capitan, bring some binoculars. Look along the wall, and I guarantee you’ll see some shapes moving along the wall. Those are people! Multiple groups of people are making the climb at any given time, and since the climb takes multiple days, you can even keep track of people making their way up the wall during your visit to Yosemite!

In some small way, you’ll have some sense of satisfaction watching a team of climbers make it all the way up El Capitan during your time in Yosemite. At the base of El Capitan is a valley where you can explore and walk to your heart’s content.

One awesome benefit to this area, in addition to the views of El Capitan, is the opportunity to see wildlife. While we were there, we saw 4 deer prancing around and saw a bunch of fish swimming up the creek that cuts through Yosemite Valley!

El Capitan Meadow Details

  • Distance: As far as you want!
  • Elevation Gain: Nothing
  • Location: El Capitan Meadow

Hiking the South Rim – Day 2

Outside of Yosemite Valley, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth, the South Rim is the next best place to go in Yosemite. You’ll be able to see a bird’s eye view of Yosemite Valley and all of the wonderful surrounding landscape that makes Yosemite so stunning.

Glacier Point

Glacier Point is the furthest point along the South Rim road in Yosemite National Park. We recommend driving the full length of the road right away, the working your way back slowly and stopping at hikes and overlooks on the return trip.

Glacier Point is the most popular place on the South Rim and with good reason. At Glacier Point is an awesome nature center and a wildly beautiful view of Yosemite from above. 

One of the best parts of this view is seeing Half Dome in the distance. To be honest Half Dome looks so incredibly round and perfect, it is almost like someone molded it and placed it there!

Additionally, the separate valleys that make up the park are all visible from Glacier Point. You’ll be able to spend as much time as you want exploring the area 360 degrees, reading the history of Yosemite, and getting some awesome natural views.

Once you have your fill of Glacier Point, we are ready for a hike! An awesome loop to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point!

Glacier Point Hike Details

  • Distance: 1 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: Nothing
  • Trailhead: Glacier Point Trailhead

Sentinel Dome & Taft Point Loop

The number 1 best hike along the South Rim is a 5.5 mile loop with 2 incredible stops. The first stop, if you take the loop counterclockwise (which we recommend so that the hike up is first and the hike down is second) is Sentinel Dome.

Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome is unique in that it offers a view from above both Half Dome AND El Capitan! There is something special about getting the perspective of El Capitan from ABOVE after getting the view from BELOW. 

Fun Fact: At over 8,100 feet, Sentinel Dome is the highest altitude we will get in our Yosemite itinerary!

Sentinel Dome itself is, as the name suggest, a huge dome! A huge dome of rock that you can walk up to get an awesome panoramic view of the park. You should NOT miss Sentinel Dome! And after you stay awhile on top of the world, it is time to head to Taft Point.

Taft Point

Stop number 2 on the South Rim hiking loop is Taft Point, which was personally our favorite viewpoint in the park. Yes, Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome are awesome, but Taft Point is next level.

First off, the view of El Capitan is the best in the park. Just like at the bottom, you should bring along some binoculars so you can spot climbers on their way up The Dawn Wall! 

Secondly, at Taft point you are on top of a cliff. Legitimately, you can look over the railing and down thousands of feet to the base of Yosemite Valley. Taft Point gave us feelings and emotions that we didn’t get in the rest of the park, and as a result it was our favorite place.

Thirdly, Taft Point is not as busy as some other areas of the park. We love getting into a good hike, because usually the crowds that go to famous overlooks don’t take the time to hike. 

Taft Point is a perfect picnic location. Pack along some food and enjoy a quiet lunch, taking in every single bite in front of a PERFECT view. After spending as much time as you can at Taft Point, it is time to head out of the South Rim, with a new perspective and a bunch of awesome photos.

Sentinel Dome Taft Point Hike Details

  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
  • Trailhead: Taft Point Trailhead

Camping

Camping in Yosemite is an incredibly cool experience. At least we would think so if we did it. We find free campsites at locations outside of every National Park we visit, and for us Yosemite was no different.

We found free camping at a small town just outside of the park, which we found using iOverlander. It wasn’t perfect, but it was extremely convenient AND it was free! So you take what you can get. If you would like a better spot, there are free camping options in Sierra National Forrest, which does come with a longer drive by a little.

If you do want to camp inside Yosemite National Park, click here to check out your options. The best sites in our opinion are in Yosemite Valley, the Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines, and Camp 4 sites to be exact.

Video – Yosemite National Park Vlog

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Official Crater Lake Hiking Guide – 2 Day Itinerary

Crater Lake National Park is one of the most unique and incredible sites in the world. The lake itself is the clearest in the world AND the deepest in the United States! Add in the fact that there are tons of awesome mountains and hiking trails all around the lake, and you get an incredible adventure destination! We are bringing you a 2 day Crater Lake hiking guide to see all of the awesome sites in the park. Mount Scott, Cleetwood Cove, Garfield Peak & more, let’s get to it!

Continue Reading Official Crater Lake Hiking Guide – 2 Day Itinerary

Kelowna BC – The Jewel of Okanagan Valley

Kelowna is nestled in wine country AKA the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. In fact, it is the HIDDEN GEM of Western Canada! Kelowna is home to delicious wineries, orchards with the freshest fruits you’ll find, and tons of fun activities including a drive-in theater and a free river float!

To be perfectly honest, we had never heard of Kelowna or the Okanagan Valley before we went to Canada. We had been exploring Canada’s National Parks and asking locals for their opinions on where to go next. Over and over, people kept saying we need to go to Kelowna! Not we ‘should’ go, we ‘NEED’ to go!

We are so so glad that we listened to the locals and made this our stop in between Jasper National Park and Vancouver. Side note, if you are interested in our guides to hiking and things to do in Canada’s National Parks:

We spent 3 days exploring Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley in Canada with our friends Matt & Sofia AKA Finglish Explorers. Each day provided new adventure that was so unique and special compared to the day before it!

Now, every time someone asks us what they should do in Canada, we always ask if they’ll be anywhere near the Okanagan. If so, this is a MUST stop. Now, let’s get to it, our guide on things to do in Kelowna BC:

Where is Kelowna?

Great question! Kelowna is nestled about halfway between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Crest. If you are driving between Vancouver and Calgary, you are probably going to pass right by it!

Kelowna Google Maps Link

Being nestled between these mountain ranges, you might think Kelowna still has a high elevation and never gets warm. You would be wrong!

Kelowna is at just over 1,000 feet of elevation and gets absolutely BEAUTIFUL in the summer! We visited in late July and the weather was HOT! We are talking upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the heat of the day!

Needless to say, we were surprised to find these temperatures in Canada of all places. Doesn’t everyone play hockey here? Tough to play ice hockey in the summer heat of Kelowna, that is for sure.

So what can you do in this heat? Well, you can grow some of the best fruit in the world. Especially grapes, meaning… yep, wine! Let’s go to a winery!

Best Winery in Kelowna – Off the Grid Winery

Off the Grid Winery was our favorite winery in all of the Okanagan Valley. In fact, this was the most unique and special winery we have ever been to! What made it so awesome? A few things!

Off the Grid Winery Google Maps Link

First off, as you might have guessed by the name, this winery is completely off-grid. They get electrical power from a set of solar panels mounted on the roof of their building. They get water from a well deep beneath the grape fields.

On top of that, there are goats and sheep on site! Why? Well, so you can take pictures and post on your Instagram! That is one reason, but actually it isn’t the only one! The goats and sheep eat the weeds on the grounds and keep the grape vines healthy, and their manure is used as fertilizer for the plants!

Okanagan Valley winery - best things to do in the Okanagan Valley British Columbia near Kelowna Canada. Stop at a Okanagan Valley winery to sample wine and see the beautiful scenery.
We stopped at Off The Grid Winery in Okanagan Valley British Columbia and had a blast! We loved sampling their wine and seeing the animals!

Folks, we aren’t done yet. Off the Grid Winery’s building is insulated with items grown naturally on the grounds. You have to see it for yourself! There are so many unique ways in which this place went ‘Off the Grid’!

The second reason you have to visit Off the Grid Winery is because of the wine! The wine they serve onsite is absolutely delicious! We personally got the Gewurztraminer and the Ever After, the wine they specially make for on-site weddings!

Side Note: In the extremely rare case that you are reading this AND planning a wedding in Western Canada soon, this would be an epic place for a wedding!

Finally, the grounds and the view. You can explore the grounds when you visit, which is an awesome experience! Learn about the different grapes they grow, meet all the animals, and walk the grape vines.

And there is an incredible view from the winery itself! The view looks over all of Kelowna including the enormous Okanagan Lake! Do yourself a favor and check out Off the Grid Winery when you visit Kelowna.

Best Orchard in Kelowna – Kempf Orchards

Maybe the one thing that Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are known for is their orchards. If you have purchased cherries before, there is a pretty good chance that you’ve purchased cherries from the Okanagan Valley. Cherries from these orchards are sent worldwide and are known for their sweetness and excellent taste!

Now, there are many options for orchards to visit in the Okanagan. Some let you pick your own, some don’t. Some are known for one breed of cherry, some have many! A few orchards even grow other fruits like peaches and apples. Our recommendation for which orchard to go to? Kempf Orchards.

Kempf Orchards Google Maps Link

Kempf Orchards is located right in the heart of Kelowna, and this orchard was everything we could have asked for and more. We were on the hunt for an orchard where we could pick our own cherries. We wanted to learn about the history of cherries in Kelowna and most of all, we wanted to have fun. Kempf was perfect for all of that.

Side Note: We could bring our pup Kobe along for the adventure! Call ahead to make sure dogs are okay, but we had an awesome experience with Kobe along for the ride!

The employees at Kempf Orchards were extremely helpful and answered any questions we had. They helped us pick our first few cherries, told us how to spot a ripe (and unripe) cherry, and how to pick them with the stem still attached! Fun fact: when you pick a cherry with the stem attached, it stays yummy longer…

We spent a few hours walking through the orchard and picking a few different breeds of cherries, sampling a few along the way (don’t tell on us…). We ended up with a few pounds that we got to munch on for the next few days! We highly recommend Kempf Orchards for your Kelowna experience.

Drive in Theater – Starlight Drive-In

Quick question: what is one piece of entertainment that you love but is going extinct?? Our answer: drive-in theaters!

We absolutely LOVE going to drive-in theaters. And we almost NEVER get to do them because there are fewer and fewer that exist! However, there is one in the Okanagan: the Starlight Drive-In.

Starlight Drive-In Theater Google Maps Link

There’s a few reasons we love all drive-ins, but specifically Starlight Drive-In. First off, they do double showings! And the showings always go hand-in-hand. If you love one of the movies, you are going to love the other one!

That is just smart to us. Why do one action movie and one cartoon? Do two cartoons one night and two action movies the next! Starlight knows this.

When we were there, it was a double showing of the live action Lion King and the live action Aladdin! Being children of the 90s, we could not have hand-picked movies we would rather go to!

A second reason we love drive-in theaters is the experience itself is so dang fun. We drove up, found a parking spot, grabbed some camping chairs, grabbed some of our favorite snacks and uncorked a bottle of wine! Was it the same wine we got at Off the Grid Winery… It was!

We even played some Spike Ball while we were waiting for the show to start. Can you think of a more fun night than playing spike ball before an outdoor showing of Lion King and Aladdin beneath the stars?? Sounds pretty unbeatable to us!

Camp Chair

Spike Ball

Beef Jerky

Floating the Penticton Channel

The Penticton Channel is on the south end of the Okanagan Lake and connects that lake with Skaha Lake. Fun fact: the channel was actually man-made in the 1950s to better control flooding in the area!

Penticton Channel Google Maps Link

After the channel was built, locals began realizing how fun it was to float down! They came down in droves, all with their inflatables, and had hours of fun floating down the channel like a lazy river!

Lucky for us (and you!) the channel is still wide open for flotation and is absolutely FREE to use! Isn’t that great?? Some free family fun that is open for everyone!

Now, it is free to use, but you are going to need a flotation device. You can rent one from Coyote Cruises for about $20, however we recommend you purchase one ahead of time and bring it along. First off, it’ll be about the same price to buy versus rent, and then you get to keep the tube!

Also, you can do the float on multiple days if you’d like to, and purchasing a float will mean you can float the channel unlimited times while you are in the area! We did the float twice on back-to-back days, and had even more fun the second day than the first!

Tubes for Floating Penticton Channel

One Person Float

Two Person Float

Group Float

When we floated the channel we personally rocked the two person float. However, if you have a party of 4 we recommend the group float for more fun! Plus you won’t have to worry about a tube floating off as you make your way down the channel.

Another benefit of the group float and the two person float is the space in the center for supplies! Of course, you could bring some refreshments (soda, beers or wine, whatever you’d like!) and snacks along to make your experience as fun as possible! We even saw a couple with a full charcuterie board on their tube… Next level!

Camping in Kelowna BC

We were able to find free campsites to live the van life while in the Okanagan Valley! When you consider that we floated the Penticton Channel and camped for FREE, you can see how Kelowna could be a very cheap vacation destination! Just another reason we love this area.

We found all of our free campsites near Kelowna using the iOverlander app. This is a great crowd-sourced van life app that shows you free campsites in destinations around the world!

Video

We also put together a fun video showing all of the adventure we had in the Okanagan Valley! Check it out and let us know what you think. We would also GREATLY appreciate if you would subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Photography Gear

Whether exploring the vineyards or floating the channel, you are probably going to want to get some pictures of your time in Kelowna! We use the following GoPro and drone to capture our adventures, and love them. These tools allow us to get new perspectives no matter what activity we are doing (and the GoPro is waterproof, great for underwater use!).

GoPro Hero 7 Black

GoPro Floating Handle

DJI Spark Drone

Conclusion

There you have it folks. Our guide on why you need to go to Kelowna BC, and how to have an epic Canadian adventure once you’re there. Enjoy the Okanagan Valley!

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Official Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary

The Oregon Coast is one of the best places on earth to do a road trip. We had the time of our lives exploring this gorgeous stretch of land. In fact, we loved it so much that we developed the perfect Oregon coast road trip itinerary! We are talking everything from Ecola State Park to Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor. We will tell you how to camp along the Oregon coast (for free!) and a few other must-see destinations along your Oregon coast drive!

This Oregon coast road trip itinerary is a 5 day trip, because that is just about the maximum that it would take to drive the entire coast and see all of these wonderful sites. The trip could be done in 2 or 3 days if you are really cruising, however 4 or 5 days will be enough to see everything and not feel rushed! Especially if you do our bonus activity at the very end of the article.

Now, before we get started, one important note: the ENTIRE coast of Oregon is public land! That is truly special, and sets Oregon apart from every other state. From top to bottom, the Oregon coast is right there for you to explore, every single inch of it!

Most of the land is full of huge cliffs and sandy beaches, with forest hikes and nature walks dotting the way. Even the bridges are incredible! Now, without further ado, let’s get into the official 5 day Oregon coast road trip itinerary.

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Day 1 – Oregon Coast Road Trip

On Day 1, we are starting at the Northeast corner of Oregon in Astoria. We will be working our way to the Southeast corner of Oregon (and potentially a bit further if you’d like…) over 5 incredible days of adventure!

Astoria

Astoria is a beautiful town located right where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. One of the hallmarks of Astoria is the enormous Highway 101 bridge that takes you North to Washington!

Note: If you are starting your journey from Washington, take this beautiful bridge down to Astoria!

In Astoria we recommend perusing the city and dining at one of the many local cafes. If you’re interested, there are also a bevy of breweries for you to go sample a few local beers. You can sit and chat about how excited you are for the incredible adventure that lies ahead!

Wreck of the Peter Iredale

The Wreck of the Peter Iredale is the only shipwreck along this journey. And my goodness is it a beautiful one! Located right along the beach, this will make for a beautiful photo stop, especially if you can catch it at a time when the sky is painted a pretty watercolor in the background.

Wreck of the Peter Iredale along the Oregon Coast Drive

Seaside Beach

Seaside Beach is the first of MANY beaches along this Oregon coast drive. This beach is an enormous beach that will take your breath away at its sheer size. On top of that, the beach has huge rock formations about 50 feet offshore that jut high into the sky. Get used to these beautiful rock formations, there are more in your future on Day 2 and beyond.

Day 2 – Oregon Coast Road Trip

On Day 2 we are continuing your Oregon coast road trip itinerary with some of the best sites you will ever see! This day starts at Ecola State Park and winds southward stopping at a few beautiful overlooks, hikes, and more!

Ecola State Park

Ecola State Park is a beautiful section of the coast that juts out into the Pacific, and is entirely open for exploration via hiking and nature trails. This State Park does cost $5 to visit, however that pass is good for every Oregon State Park for that day, and we will be visiting Hug Point and Oswald West State Park today as well. You will get your money’s worth!

Inside Ecola State Park, right at the end of the road that takes you through the park, is Indian Beach. If you would like to hang out on a beach for a nice morning picnic to kick off Day 2, this is the place to do it. You’ll have a beautiful scene in front of you and you can enjoy breakfast with the salty surf blowing in. Once you’ve eaten your fill, you should do the Clatsop Loop Trail, the best hiking trail in Ecola State Park.

Clatsop Loop Trail

The Clatsop Loop Trail is the first hiking trail on this Oregon coast road trip itinerary, and my goodness this is a great one! This trail through Ecola State Park is a 2.8 mile loop, so it is nothing to sneeze at but won’t be all too difficult.

The trail takes you through the beautiful Oregon coastal forest and comes out at a stunning overlook of the Pacific Ocean above a hidden beach. This place is perfect for quiet reflection, and for photography if you’re into that sort of thing. An added benefit of the Clatsop Loop Trail is that you can escape any crowds that may or may not be at Indian Beach if you are visiting Ecola State Park during a busy Summer weekend.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is well known and one of the more famous stops along the Oregon coast drive. The beach itself is beautiful, however the number one reason to visit Cannon Beach is for Haystack Rock, the ENORMOUS rock formation just off the coast.

We took a ton of pictures of Haystack Rock, however the pictures just don’t do it justice. The rock is so dang HUGE that you have to stand hundreds of yards away just to get a picture!

Hug Point

Hug Point State Recreation Area is the next stop along our Oregon coast road trip itinerary, and this is a good one, folks. At Hug Point you will see unique sites that you don’t see at any of the other stops along this route.

Hug Point is a great area to go exploring. Make your way down to the beach and start walking along the shore. After a short while, you’ll come to a waterfall flowing onto the beach. We investigated a bit further and found a beautiful little walk along the stream that made the waterfall! Along the short walk were a few beautiful overlooks that were hidden from the shore.

Also along the Hug Point shoreline are a few rock formations that you won’t find elsewhere along the Oregon coast drive. Because of all this fun, you can’t miss Hug Point as you make your way South!

Oswald West State Park

Oswald West State Park, like Ecola State Park, costs $5 to enter, but is free if you’ve already purchased entrance into Ecola! That’s a great 2 for 1 special if we’ve ever heard one!

Oswald West State Park is home to hiking and exploration, and is a perfect spot for a late afternoon picnic! In addition, at Oswald you’ll be able to find a hidden beach that is only accessible by hiking: Short Sand Beach!

Short Sand Beach

Short Sand Beach is accessible by hiking a short trail, just 1.2 miles round trip. The beach is not extremely well-known, so it will be a great place to get some peace and quiet for reflection in the beautiful masterpiece that is the entire Oregon Coast.

Garibaldi Pier

Garibaldi Pier is Oregon’s longest pier, at about 700 feet. The pier juts out into the ocean and gives you a new perspective looking back at the coast instead of looking out from it! Garibaldi Pier is worth a short stop at the end of your Day 2, maybe for a view of the sunset.

Day 3 – Oregon Coast Road Trip

On day 3 of this Oregon Coast road trip itinerary we will be taking up a big chunk of the center of the Oregon Coast. The drive along this section is absolutely stunning, and there are 5 incredible stops pretty evenly spaced along the coast as well.

Tillamook Creamery

The Tillamook Creamery is an absolute MUST see along your Oregon Coast drive, especially if you are a fan or cheese or ice cream. The creamery has a free tour that you can take of the cheese processing plant, and that comes along with a ton of free samples of everything you can get your hands on!

Tillamook Creamery Ice Cream
Tillamook Creamery Cheese

On top of all of this ice cream and cheese, also on site at the Tillamook Creamery are a bunch of delicious places to get a nice coffee and breakfast. There is a bit of a selection in this cafeteria-style setting, and we were very impressed by the quality of the food and drinks here!

Cape Kiwanda

Cape Kiwanda is another stunning site along the coast. This will be the first stop after breakfast at the Tillamook Creamery, and it can be a shorter stop as there is not much for hiking here.

What you can do at Cape Kiwanda is sit and enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean. The waves will be crashing along the rock formations, and you can sip your morning coffee while also drinking in the gorgeous painting in front of you.

God’s Thumb Trail

The God’s Thumb Trail (also called The Knoll) will be one of the tougher hikes on this 5 day Oregon coast road trip itinerary. The hike is 4.4 miles out & back, however the view at the top makes the effort more than worth it.

When you are sitting on God’s Thumb, you’ll be getting a bird’s eye view of the Oregon Coast that you’ve been having so much fun along! The beach goes for MILES, and you can see all of it from your perch at the conclusion of this awesome trail.

Devil’s Punchbowl

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a wonderful and unique rock formation that you can drive right up to. That is good, especially if you are still a bit tired from hiking God’s Thumb. The Devil’s Punchbowl is a cave with an open roof that allows you to peer down and see the churning water beneath.

This place gets its name because of the danger that awaits anyone who has fallen into the cave. The churning water and crashing waves makes for a an extremely dangerous situation for anyone who ventures too close, so PLEASE keep your distance!

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Devil’s Punchbowl along your Oregon Coast Drive

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua is an excellent final stop on Day 3, as this is a great place to take in that beautiful Oregon sunset over the Pacific. At Cape Perpetua, there is also a beautiful marine garden if you are into that sort of thing, as well as Thor’s Well, another great rock formation. Spend as much time as you’d like to here at Cape Perpetua and then get some rest for an awesome Day 4!

Day 4 – Oregon Coast Road Trip

On Day 4 we are continuing our Oregon Coast drive with some more absolutely stunning sites along the Pacific. We will begin with a few points including a lighthouse, and continue on with a very unique activity – driving on the sand dunes! And we’ll finish at the absolutely incredible Bandon Beach.

Captain Cook Point & Heceta Head Lighthouse

Stops number 1 and 2 on Day 4 are Captain Cook Point and the Heceta Head Lighthouse. These are both absolutely beautiful stops, and are perfect to start the day and enjoy your morning coffee and breakfast. We recommend having a nice breakfast today because you’ll have some time if you want it. There aren’t any hikes on Day 4 of the itinerary, so you can take a leisurely drive down the coast stopping at all of these wonderful sites today.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Oregon Sand Dunes

The Oregon Sand Dunes are one of the top 3 stops along the entire Oregon Coast. We almost didn’t stop here, and WOW that would have been a big mistake!

The Oregon Dunes are much bigger than we thought they would be, and also much more fun. We drove our Jeep Commander ( named Sully) out onto the dunes, and had a blast driving on the beautiful Oregon sand!

Note: Only take your vehicle out on the dunes if you are confident you can drive out. 4 wheel drive and/or some good tires are a necessity.

Horsfall Beach Sand Camping

Horsfall Beach is another place you can drive out onto the sand, and is full of awesome recreational activities for you to do. You can rent dune buggies here, or at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, or even camp along the beach if you would like to! Camping is just $25 per night, and will give you an incredible experience that you won’t be able to get in many other places on earth.

Bandon Beach

Bandon Beach is a beautiful beach with some incredible rock formations along the coast. This beach is located right near a relatively large town along the coast: Bandon. At Bandon you’ll be able to get a nice place to stay (if you aren’t camping on Horsfall Beach) as well as a great dinner.

The best part about Bandon Beach is enjoying the beautiful sunset. As with all of these places along the Oregon Coast, the sunset is beyond words. The sun seems to set in a unique way at each place, making each view uniquely stunning on your way down the coast.

Bandon Beach Sunset

Day 5 – Samuel H Boardman State Park

Day 5 is without a doubt the best day along this Oregon Coast road trip itinerary. The Samuel H Boardman State Park (or State Scenic Corridor) is the most beautiful stretch of land along the entire coast, and the sites are densely packed together.

Day 5 will have the most sites and the least amount of driving, you can drive to all of these sites in just 15 total minutes! This makes this stretch of land an absolutely perfect day of adventure and sightseeing. You’ll have a few hikes, some walks along the beach, and even the highest bridge in all of Oregon! Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Arch Rock

Arch Rock is an incredible rock formation right at the northernmost point of Samuel H Boardman State Park. Really, this is basically the gateway to the most beautiful section of the Oregon Coast, however you can’t really go through the gate, unless you jump on a kayak or something.

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Arch Rock in Samuel H Boardman State Park

Arch Rock is a beautiful place to begin your final day down the Oregon Coast. Take your breakfast to go and enjoy eating with this wonderful scenery before you.

Secret Beach

If you’d like to get a morning hike in, Secret Beach makes for a great short little jaunt. The hike to the beach is 1.6 miles round trip, so it is enough to get the blood moving but not especially difficult. If you’d rather skip Secret Beach since we have a few beaches towards the end of the day, that is okay too!

Natural Bridges

Natural Bridges was Julie’s favorite site along the entire Oregon Coast drive! This is a rock formation that somehow created 2 awesome bridges that you can hike down to. The hike itself is less than a mile, but the terrain is pretty steep.

If you want to avoid the hike, you can enjoy the Natural Bridges from above, however we never felt that the trail was particularly dangerous, as long as you stay along the path. The views at the end are so so cool, it made the hike more than worth it.

Thomas Creek Bridge

The Thomas Creek Bridge is not a natural bridge, however it is equally impressive. This is the tallest bridge in all of Oregon, at a height of 354 feet! That makes the view from the bridge pretty jaw-dropping, and worth checking out.

To get to the Thomas Creek Bridge, you’ll have to drive about 100 yards past the bridge to a parking lot, and then walk back. Bonus: along that walk we found some ripe blackberries for a little fresh mid-day snack!

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Thomas Creek Bridge – Samuel H Boardman State Park

Indian Sands Trail

The Indian Sands Trail is the last real hike along the Oregon Coast! This hike is about a mile and loops around so that you don’t have to hike the same place twice. At the beginning of the hike, you’ll be hiking down through a forest, which will eventually clear out to reveal a path through a clearing.

That path will bring you to a HUGE expanse of sand dunes! We were pretty shocked to see all of that sand so high up from the coast, and had a blast running through the sand in our bare feet.

Whale’s Head Beach

Whale’s Head Beach is named after the rock formation just off the coast. The enormous rock looks just like a whale breach the ocean about to come crashing back down to make a huge splash!

You can drive to this beach, however the road to get there is a bit steep and winding, so don’t go down the road with a huge RV or anything like that. If you do have a vehicle that you don’t want to take down the steep road, then you can park at the top and take a short walk down to Whale’s Head Beach.

Cape Ferrelo

The second to last stop on our Oregon Coast road trip itinerary is Cape Ferrelo. This is a beautiful overlook of the Oregon Coast complete with many of the rock formations that make this area so unique. We recommend stopping here for a late picnic, or maybe just a 20 minute walk alongside the view. However, make sure you spend some time at our final stop: Harris Beach.

Harris Beach State Park

Harris Beach State Park was Zach’s favorite stop along the entire Oregon Coast drive. This place was the PERFECT place to see a sunset, especially if it is your last stop along the Oregon Coast.

Harris Beach is pretty large, and offers a lot of opportunity for quick hikes up rock formations along the beach. We found that these quick hikes give you a bit of privacy as you’ll be the only people taking them!

Sitting on a little perch and watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from Harris Beach will almost bring tears to your eyes it is SO SO beautiful. On top of that, seeing waves crash along the rocks is a very pleasant and relaxing way to end your road trip down the Oregon Coast.

Oregon Coast Road Trip Video

Bonus Day – California Redwoods

WOW! You thought we were finished? Nope! We have a bonus day for you if you are up for it! It is time to explore some of the largest trees on earth: the California Redwoods.

Located just over the Oregon-California border is Jedediah Smith State Park, which is home to some of the largest redwoods in California. Located deep inside this park is the Grove of Titans, the most magnificent trees we had ever seen! We could hug these bad boys and not even get 1/10 of the way around them.

Seeing these wonderful redwood trees makes for a great last stop along your Oregon Coast drive. We sincerely hope you enjoyed our Oregon Coast road trip itinerary! If you are interested in how we camped for free along the entire coast, read a little bit further!

Oregon Coast Camping

We were able to find free campsites each and every night down the Oregon Coast. How? 2 ways: iOverlander and Harvest Hosts. iOverlander is a crowd-sourced app that has a map full of free campsites all over the United States. However, there were a few places we came across that did not have good campsites, so for those we used Harvest Hosts! We loved using these two options as our Oregon Coast camping solutions.

Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, farms, breweries, and more all across the United States that offers campsites for members! And as a bonus, if you use the link below and use code HHFRIENDS15 at checkout, you’ll get 15% off your membership. Enjoy!

Thank you SO much for reading our article on an Oregon Coast road trip itinerary! We sincerely hope you enjoyed it, and hopefully learned a few things as well. If you would like to save this article for later, please use the below images to Pin It!

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Cruise Tips & Hacks – Get an Incredible Cruise for Cheap!

Cruises are a wonderful way to travel. On a cruise you get to ride in style on a gigantic boat decked out with incredible amenities as you make your way to awesome destination after awesome destination! However, there is one negative: cruises are expensive. Well, we are here to tell that that is wrong! You can book an amazing cruise on a great cruise line for a budget with our cruise tips. These 7 cruise hacks will help you save money and spend less on a cruise than you have ever even dreamed!

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Cruise Hack #1 – Explore the Entire Ship on the First Day

Your cruise ship is going to be bustling with activity, especially on your first day. You will have to do safety training, meet your cruise mates for the next week, acquaint yourself with the ship, and of course eat!

In all this activity, something is inevitably going to be missed. Either you’ll miss part of the schedule or you may gloss over an amenity onboard. To help make sure you take advantage of everything on your ship, you should take some time on day 1 to explore the entire ship!

We recommend wandering aimlessly starting on the bottom level and making your way up to the uppermost decks. On the way, take note of any food stands, shops, pools, hot tubs, or anything else you’d like to visit during your time on the cruise.

Another reason why you should do this on your first day: you likely will have a day at sea at the beginning! That means you’ll have plenty of time to explore, and you’ll be able to stop and see anything that grabs your eye without worrying about missing out on a day on shore.

Cruise Hack #2 – Find Free Stuff Onboard

Our second cruise hack goes hand in hand with the first. Onboard your ship, there are bound to be free activities, gifts, and drinks each day all around the ship. However, it is your responsibility to find where and when these free things are happening!

Each cruise ship is different, but most will publish each day’s events in a newsletter. That newsletter will either be passed out each morning or available for pickup at the concierge, make sure to get a copy each day!

Scan your cruise’s newsletter, and if anything floats your boat, especially events with free gifts or free champagne, then add that to the day’s plan! If nothing looks appealing, then no harm done, you can spend the day hanging by the pool or doing a shore excursion!

Cruise Hack #3 – Free Onboard Credits

Many cruises offer free onboard credits. These credits can be used for pretty much anything onboard the ship, including alcohol, food, souvenirs, and gifts! They are essentially as good as money, and therefore you should get some credits if you can!

You can get onboard credits a few different ways. For our Alaskan cruise, we booked through Expedia, who at the time had a promotion for $50 free onboard credits! Shop around when you buy your cruise and see if any booking sites are offering free credits.

Another way to get free credits are if you meet certain critera. For instance, Julie’s Dad is a veteran, and on Princess Cruises (who we cruised in Alaska) he got $100 free onboard credit because of it! In addition to veteran status, cruise ships may offer free onboard credits to seniors, loyalty customers, or something else. Check the cruise details ahead of time and claim credits if you can!

A final way to get onboard credits is through negotiation. If any of your cruise is not up to your standards, then head to the concierge and attempt to negotiate. Cruise companies are much more likely to award you with onboard credits versus cold hard cash, so take that into consideration. If you have a few more days on board, then you should be okay with settling for onboard credits and using them onboard!

Cruise Hack #4 – Bring Wine Onboard

Other than the cruise ticket itself and any excursions you buy, your largest onboard expense is likely going to be alcohol. Beer, wine, and liquor onboard a cruise is not exactly cheap. After all, the cruise ship bars are the only game in town! You are able to purchase all-you-can-drink passes, however we have a better solution: bring wine onboard!

Many cruises offer you the ability to bring wine onboard, however some limit the quantity. Princess, for instance, limits you to one bottle per passenger. We had 4 people in our room, us and Julie’s parents, so we brought along 4 bottles! You must be careful to read the rules first, so that your wine isn’t confiscated during boarding.

Cruise Hack #5 – Book Excursions Directly

Excursions are a BLAST on any cruise. Whether you are cruising Alaska or the Caribbean, during Summer or Winter, there are incredible tours you can do during your days on shore.

There are a few different ways to book these excursions, the easiest of which is to book directly through your cruise ship, either online or through the concierge service onboard. However, we recommend booking directly through the excursions companies. Why? To save a few bucks!

When you book an excursion through the cruise ship, you will no doubt spend more than if you booked directly. That is because a portion of the cost is actually going to the cruise ship. When you book directly, you will be getting the exact same excursion without paying the premium you pay when you book through the cruise ship.

In fact, we booked directly, and we were on the exact same excursion as many people who booked through the cruise ship! When we told them how much we payed, they wished they would have booked directly as well…