The Mojave Desert: A South West Road Trip Essential Stop!

Adventure, California, Car Camping, nomad, Road Trip, South West USA, Uncategorized

This was a quick stop for me on my drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles! I always try to see any many places as possible when I’m on road trips, even if I only have time to stop for a few hours.

This place was nothing like I had never seen before! Growing up in the Pacific North West, I didn’t see the type of greenery and terrain that encompasses the mojave desert and surrounding areas!

I took the scenic road through the park. A lot of it was gravel roads, but they were well maintains. Charles Lickens (my cat) and I decided to stop for an hour or so and take it all in. There were tall, barren mountains in the back and beautiful Joshua trees all over.

Joshua trees are such funky and delightful plants! They make me wanna throw a party to celebrate funky plants. I checked out A LOT of them lol. I’m that weird nature girl. They are so unique and beautiful!

This small detour is more than worth it if you are in the area!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Stay safe and stay groovy!

Stunning Scenic Lake In Southern Colorado: Smith Reservoir!

This is an awesome little road trip stop if you find yourself in southern Colorado! This reservoir is small but it’s so beautiful! I drove from Austin, Texas, cut over into New Mexico just before Amarillo and winded through some back highways until I got into souther CO! My grandpa taught me to always take…

Flaming Gorge Reservoir: Road Trip Stop On The Utah/ Wyoming Border

I’m always looking for new and beautiful places to explore around the United States! A lot of the time I will just zoom in on my apple maps on a green area or a body of water, and then research whatever names are posted in that area! That’s how I found the Flaming Gorge. I…

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado: Rocky Mountain Sand Dunes

Colorado is such a beautiful state! I’m so glad I took this route on my way up to Washington State! I weirdly had never been to Colorado, one of the only states I hadn’t been to yet (aside from the airport)! 🤯 seems like the first place I’d go lol. I also stopped at the…

Ocean Jet Skiing in Destin, Florida: Destin Beach Trip Mini Guide

Destin and the entire Florid Panhandle have a ton of very underrated beaches! If you’re looking for white sand, and bright blue water, this is the spot! And it’s a pretty affordable vacation spot! I’ve been to the Panhandle a handful of time and it’s been a blast for all of them! Pro tip: it’s…

Tennessee Waterfall Hike: Burgress Falls State Park

I wasn’t sure how I was going to like living in Tennessee, after growing up in the beautiful Pacific North West, but I was pleasantly surprised! Tennessee is extremely lush and has hills and mountains. There a lot of waterfalls to visit! (Here’s another one of my favorite Tennessee Waterfalls). This hike is right off…

Middle Tennessee’s Best Hike, Waterfall, and Swimming Hole: Cummins Falls

I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for a couple years and this waterfall and swimming hole is by far my favorite place in the State.  Also… side note! If you’re going to Cummins Falls you should definitely spend some time in Nashville! I will be writing up a post on the best spots to go in…

Hiking Red Rock Canyon: Best Las Vegas Hikes- Calico Hills

I spent a couple months in the greater Las Vegas area! Between the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon National Park! All of which are beautiful in their own way! One of my favorite hikes and hot springs is close by as well! It goes along the emerald colored Colorado river. If you…

Big Tree State Park, Northern California Road Trip

I was making the trip from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe, and of course decided to take the back roads! (Which also lead to another cool discovery and long dead end). I didn’t have a big plan, I was car camping and was stopping and going as I pleased! Luckily I saw the signs for Big…

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Yosemite Valley, California Road Trip Stops

California, Cat On A Leash, Cats, National Parks, Road Trip, Uncategorized, Waterfalls

If you haven’t been to The Yosemite yet, add it to the bucket list! I give this place an 11/10 for beauty. It truly is one of the most breathtaking places you’ll go to!

I drove in from Los Angeles Overnight. I want to say it was about a 4 ish hour drive! My cat, Charles Lickens, and I got there in time to see a beautiful Yosemite sunrise! Charles and I have been car camping all across America for the last year or so! It’s a cheap and easy way to see the country!

Near the visitors center

You can drive all the way through the park from one side to the other (most the year, be sure to check for snow/weather closures).

There are tons of waterfalls and scenic lookouts! I normally would have stopped to hike but it was super packed, there were endless lines for parking spots and I was there at first light! I also didn’t have a safe place to leave my kitty.

Charles and I did manage to find a nice spot to cozy up for a hammock nap! I also found out you can buy a beer in the little eating area. It’s in the fridge with all of the other drinks (water, pop, tea, etc.). It was a nice little refresher after pulling an all-nighter and walking around all day, kitty in tow!

Hammock chillin’ at Yosemite

I have a double hammock! I like the extra space. I’m able to draw and read comfortably inside! It also fits two people super easily! My friend and I used it together and we had more than enough space. He read on one end and i drew on the other.

Mr Talkative as people walk by lol.

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

There’s a town on the north side of the park, Sonora, California! I stayed the night there. It was so cute! I was told by more than one person that they have the best Mexican food ever there! And I must say, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had! The place was Called El Arroyo. Yum!

By far the best restaurant you can eat at near Yosemite. But there were also other types of food in this town if you don’t like Mexican!

The best place to eat near The Yosemite.

The drive from Yosemite to Senora is also amazing! Little windy two lane road through the rolling hills of California.

Driving out of the the north side of Yosemite, towards Sonora.

The Mojave Desert: A South West Road Trip Essential Stop!

This was a quick stop for me on my drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles! I always try to see any many places as possible when I’m on road trips, even if I only have time to stop for a few hours. This place was nothing like I had never seen before! Growing up…

Southern California Road Trip Stop: The Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in the state of California! This lake is very close to where they host Coachella! I made a pit stop here on my South West road trip, traveling from Arizona to Southern California. There isn’t a ton to do in the area, but it’s a super unique place…

Mount Rainier National Park: Driving to the Top, Photo Gallery

Mt. Rainier is one of Washington States most iconic peaks. You can see the mountain clearly from Seattle. I was fortunate to grow up in Washington. My brother and I decided to take a longer drive to our cousins wedding, and we drove through Mt. Rainier National Park. You can drive almost all the way…

North Cascades National Park, Washington State: Guide and Photo Gallery

North Cascades National Park is heaven on earth. It hugs the Canadian boarder, you’ll even get some “Welcome to Canada” texts if you happen to have service any point! It encompasses serene alpine lakes, endless mountain peaks and dense forest! Everywhere you drive or go is another breathtaking view! It never ends. For Forests floors are…

Grand Canyon National Park: That Time an Elk Hiked With Me

This was my first time ever going to The Grand Canyon, so you could say I was pretty stoked!  I got up early where I was staying, in Flagstaff, which is just a little over an hour from the park! I threw on my spandex and USA hat and hit the road! I knew I…

Oregon Water Fall Hike: Ramona Falls in Mt Hood National Forest

Ramona Falls in Oregon is a Hidden little gem found in Mt. Hood National Forrest! My friend from Texas found it on the AllTrails app and we went for it! This hike made you feel like you are walking through a tropical rainforest, it was insanely green and lush!  The Trail Head It’s not too…

Hiking Mt Hood, Oregon: MnNeil Point Summit

This was hands-down one of the most breathtaking hikes I have ever done in my life! And I have done a lot of hiking in my days. My friend has hiked around America, Europe and South America and he said the same! Mount Hood is Located just outside of Portland Oregon. You can see it’s…

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Car Camping: An Affordable and Safe Way to Travel The Country Van Life Style

camping, Car Camping, nomad, Road Trip, Van Life

I get a lot of questions on how I life the “Van Life” without having an actual Van or RV. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to find the best ways to live like this, but I have found ways to make it cozy, comfortable and affordable!

I also love that car camping allows you to lock your “bed” while your sleep. My SUV has an alarm too so I always feel at ease when I’m asleep.

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Mountain Car Camping with Sleeping bag in Summer 2018

Setting Up the Bed

We spend a lot of time sleeping… well were supposed to anyways… so having a comfortable and safe place to sleep when you’re living on the road is very important.

  1. Start but laying down all of the back seats in your SUV (or whichever vehicle you are using). If it doesn’t lay down completely flat, I would recommend taking the seats out completely and storing them somewhere safe (hey, mom and dad!)
  2. Place some sort of soft pad on the bottom. I bought a 2 inch pad, click here. If you are doing it short term, feel free to grab the one off your bed, just make sure it has a sheet (or maybe two, one for each side) so that it doesn’t get dirty!
  3. If the weather is cold, pack a sleeping bag, If it’s on the warmer side bring blankets so that your body can breath. If you are in the mountains I would recommend always having a sleeping bag, it gets cold at night! Right now I have a regular king sized blanket. I like to get them bigger than my car so that I can bunch them up on the side for extra cushion.
  4. Bring Pillows! I have four pillows, again to add some extra cushion and make it cozier!
  5. Set up battery or solar powered lights inside (I use this waterproof solar lantern). This was a game changer for me to help me relax in the evening after the sun goes down. Having lights in there makes it feel more like home and allows you to read, write and draw! … or to see your beautiful fur babies face!
  6. Face your trunk pointing towards the best view. I love relaxing with the back trunk wide open in bed while enjoying a beautiful view.
  7. Cover with a tarp and pack your things on top of it!

Setting Up Outdoors

My best friend and I do car camping together, we fit two in this Rav4 we rented (I didn’t have an SUV yet) comfortably.
  1. TARPS. I love tarps (outdoor rugs work too!). I set them up outside of every entrance of my car I’m going to use. This allows you to keep your shoes by your door without tracking a bunch of dirt into your car. I put one outside of the trunk and one outside of the back side doors (you can’t open the trunk from the inside so in the morning you have to go out of the side). Amazon basics has some nice and affordable tarps.
  1. Folding table. I have a folding table that lays flat in the back of my car on top of my bed. I usually set it up near the fire pit, since that’s where I prep most of my food. Put it where you are going to cook! Having a table makes a huge difference, you can find some affordable ones online and in store.
  2. If there isn’t any shade, I create some. A lot of people use an easy up, I don’t have one (yet), so I typically open my trunk and use bungee cords to hook a tarp to the top of it and then clip the other side of the tarp to a tree or another car near by! This creates shade just outside of your bed and makes a bigger shelter! I do this when it rains too to give me more dry space.

They also have those really cool tents that you can attach to the back of your open SUV trunk!

SUV Tent, so badass.

4. OPTIONAL. Set up your hammock on your campsite. I love relaxing and taking naps in my hammock, gives a cozy feel to your “home”.

Setting up the tent and unloading the car!

Efficient Packing

You obviously don’t have to pack the way I do, but I’ve learned a lot from others over the year on how to pack efficiently and in a very organized way.

If you aren’t interested in the “Van Life” and just want to go on a little camping trip, skip to step 2!

1. Become a MINIMALIST. This is one of the most challenging parts. We all learn to love and become attached to our belongings. You just need to pull the bandage and DO IT.

I got rid of almost everything, aside from a little bit of clothes and some kitchen and bathroom essentials.

I picked a few “cute” outfits to keep for when I meet up with friends or go out and got rid of the rest! It was hard but I knew I wanted to make the transition into this lifestyle so I did what I had to do.

I have one (shallow) clear tub of pants, one for t-shirts & tanks, one for long sleeve & athletic tops and then a deep large tub or warmer clothes (jacket, sweatshirts, gloves, snow pants).

2. I pack EVERYTHING in clear plastic tubs with lids. Click here for the ones I’m talking about! This is way cheaper than buying in person too. In person they are about $8 a piece. on amazon you can get 6 of the nice ones that have the lids that lock shut for about $30. I mean I put EVERYTHING in them. Underwear, food, shampoo, you name it! I got a lot of this from Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix; she does into a lot of detail as to why packing in clear tubs is important.

Clear tubs allow you to see exactly what’s inside without having to dig through it. They also store and stack nicely if you get uniform ones. I have found that the shallow, but large size are best for staying organized.

3. Pack your food in one, cooking supplies in another, clothing in one, bathroom supplies, etc.! Combine two different things if there’s room.

Setting up the car bed! (Shawn at the end)

How to Find Places to Camp

First, be sure to check my camping section, I’m working on adding more!

There are a ton of campsites all over the United States and Canada, and plenty of them are free! In fact, some of my all time favorite places to stay have been on free sites.

One of the best ways to find free land to camp on is by going onto the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site and finding free public land. You can stay in these places for up to two weeks and then after your time is up you have to move at least 20 miles to the next BLM spot. These are always free, but they don’t have facilities (water and bathroom) so you need to go extra prepared!

Another great way to find BLM spots on your phone and other FREE spots is through the Boondocking app. It will show you all of the free spots around the United States and also gives you information for each spot.

Another great website/app I use is Ioverlander.com. This site/app will show you all places to camp, free and with ones that cost money. I like this one because it has filters. You can put if you want showers and other amenities.

Lastly, the park4night app is another great resource for finding all different types of places to stay. This one will also show you parking lots that allow you to crash overnight in your Car, SUV or Van. It also has BLM land and campgrounds and typically provides information on each location.

With the van life, if you just need a quick spot to pull over and sleep, Wal mart allows overnight travelers to stay overnight in their parking lot (most locations, double check before). This might sound sketchy, but it is actually one of the safest options. There are security cameras, security, and indoor bathroom.

Stay safe and have fun!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

If you have anything to add or ask, please comment or email me! I’d love to chat and get more tips and answer your questions. (enter below)

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico: sand dunes and sledding

Uncategorized

When I started my second cross-country road trip, I didn’t have the highest hopes for New Mexico (not sure why because it’s gorgeous). I hopped onto my apple maps when I stopped at a gas station; I was tired of being in my car and needed to see some scenery. I zoomed in to a little green spot on my maps…. Yes this is how I find a lot of my hikes and beautiful scenery.

I saw the White Sands National Monument and hopped on instagram and looked at hash tags for it and it looked amazing!! I started driving after spending about 4 seconds looking at pictures of it.

This ended up being one of my favorite stops in 2019!

Follow Charles Lickens (my cat) on Instagram! @charlesadventurekitty

What to Bring

  • Your beautiful body
  • Check the weather and dress for the weather that day. I wore jean shorts and a swim suit top & cover because it was almost 90 degrees that day. The sand is super soft so feel free to go barefoot (easier than walking in sandals)!
  • Portable solar charger for your phone and camera. The one I have folds up small into about the size of a folder and fits well in any backpack!
  • Water WATER water. Always a lot of water in these dry, hot climates. I brought my Hydroflask, it keeps water ice cold all day!
  • A sled or boogie board ( you can get them at the entrance too but you will have to pay).

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Location

  • White Sands National monument is location in Southern New Mexico, not far from the Mexico boarder.
  • Located off Hwy 70
  • Easily traveled to from:
    • El Paso, TX (super close!)
    • Las Cruces, NM (Also super close!)
    • Albuquerque, NM
    • Tucson, AZ (and Phoenix if you don’t mind the drive)
    • San Antonio, TX (And most of Western Texas by car)

Arriving at the National Monument

White Sands National Monument

When you pull up to the National Monument, it has a similar vibe as National Parks. Your National Park Service Pass will work to get into the park… although I don’t remember anyone checking! There’s a welcome building, gift shop, restrooms and an area inside the gift shop to rent or buy sleds.

Being the adventure and adrenaline junkie I am, renting a sled was the first thing I did. I checked out the gift shop on my way out because I was too excited. Once you get your sled you head towards the entrance of the park. There was no fee to get in.

Don’t forget to buy wax in the shop for your sled!

Follow Charles on Instagram! @Charlesadventurekitty

Inside the Monument

Right away you get sucked into the unique beauty of this place. Just look at the road driving in.

The road drives through all of the sand dunes and loops around at the end so you can drive back. I found a little spot where there was no people, I like the serenity of silence when you’re in nature alone. I had my cat… per usual so I brought him out along with a blanket and we relaxed in the sun for a while.

I went back to my car and grabbed the sled I had just bought and started to wax it up. I ran up to the top of the sand dune… which is very exhausting after a few times (just warning you but still amazing). I would run and jump onto my sled and fly down the dune. It was so much fun and unlike anything I had done before.

If you are in the area I would highly recommend stopping by! It’s also a great place to take some awesome photos!

Be sure to pack out what you pack in. Leave no trace!!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Yosemite Valley, California Road Trip Stops

If you haven’t been to The Yosemite yet, add it to the bucket list! I give this place an 11/10 for beauty. It truly is one of the most breathtaking places you’ll go to! I drove in from Los Angeles Overnight. I want to say it was about a 4 ish hour drive! My cat,…

Maryland Hiking and Sunset Locations: Sugarloaf Mountain

Not gonna lie, when I moved from Washington State all the way over to the North East…. Baltimore to be more specific, I did not expect to find a ton of places to explore outdoors. I moved there for a job and was planning on working as much as possible and saving a ton of…

Spokane, Washington Hiking: Big Rock

Growing up in the Pacific North West, good ole PNW, I was spoiled with serene mountainous beauty, clear lakes and endless exploring!  One of my favorite go-to-hikes when I’m back home in Spokane, is Big Rock! It’s right off the Palouse Highway! It’s about 10-15 minutes down the Highway if you’re coming from the South…

Mingus Mountain, Arizona-Near Sedona: camping, hiking and local amenities!

I’m so thankful I accidentally found Mingus Mountain, Arizona. It wasn’t part of my plan. I headed over to California, and almost all nature was closed due to COVID-19. It was super stressful so I headed back to Arizona. It was hot at this point in the year so I needed to get up onto…

Sedona, Arizona: Camping, BLM Land and Hiking Guide

Arizona is an incredibly beautiful state. I appreciate it more and more each time I visit! This previous time… I stayed for 2 months. Ooops! I was there during the chaos of Covid-19, so it felt better for me to stay put for a while! Sedona is one of the most beautiful places you can…

How Toxins Negatively Impact the Body: A list of non-toxic products

A study done by environmental scientists found an average of 200+ chemicals in the umbilical cords of pregnant women after giving birth. That’s a lot of poison being pumped right into our babies! General hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, bleach, shampoos, and popular daily products are loaded with toxins that have harmful effects on your body!…

Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Up To Delta Lake

Delta Lake Hike was one of the most stunning hikes I have ever done in my 26-years of life! The contrast of the bright blue water, green trees and white snow was unreal. I could have stayed up there for weeks and been happy! This was a very challenging hike but it’s doable for most…

How to Train Your Cat: Leash Training, Car Rides, Hiking, Camping and More!

Traveling with my cat, Charles, has been so joyful! I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cats can be trained just like dogs, people just choose not to train them for some reason. To prove it, he’s a video of my kitty cat going pee outside! He digs a little toilet, plops on top of…

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Idaho Mountaintop Hot Spring: Hike up to Goldbug Hot Spring

hiking, Hot Springs, idaho, nomad, Van Life

Goldbug hot springs tops the cake for my favorite hots spring in the United States (at least thus far in my adventures). Adding an amazingly breath-taking view on top of a fully natural hot spring makes it stand out among the rest. Hopefully I will be able to make it back many more times while I’m still breathing on this beautiful planet.

Goldbug Hotsprings, Idaho

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

I have gotten numerous messages from people about geotagging. I understand when people don’t want to share their locations to hidden gems, but that’s not my mentality. I love to share my spots and get more people off their phones and out enjoying the great outdoors. I won’t be directly geo-tagging on Instagram …. But I will gladly share on my website!

Location

Goldbug Hot Springs are located about 30 minutes south of Salmon, Idaho. Salmon is a cute tiny little mountain down in east-central Idaho off hwy 93. You can get there from multiple directions! I went in January and the mountain roads were still accessible, they have a lot of winter road gear up there. I would still recommend going with good tires and preferably four-wheel drive if you are going in the winter time. Summertime should be a breeze!

The address is: 34 Warm Springs Rd, Salmon, ID, 83467.

The parking lot is just about a quarter mile off hwy 93.

There are some other breathtaking Hot Springs in Northern Idaho that are stunning as well!

Local Attractions

I went to Bertram’s Salmon Valley Brewery in Salmon the night before I went on the hike. They had delicious beer! They had a good-sized menu as well with a variety of options.

The whole downtown strip was cute! I would recommend walking up and down it and chatting with the locals.

Gear to Bring

Your Beautiful Body

-Swim suit

-Towel

-WATER (lots of it, those hot springs plus a hike will dehydrate you). I always bring my Hydroflask to hot springs. It keeps my water ice cold even when it’s down in the hot water with me!

Get the Hydroflask I have on Amazon

-Snacks. Climbing up a mountain and sitting in a hot spring can really deplete your energy. Before hiking back down I would recommend eating something, even if it’s small! It will help a lot with your energy when going down. I have found that hikes back after a hot springs seem way longer, your body gets super relaxed in those baths!

-Hiking shoes. I wear Keens, they have great grip and tread. They don’t have my exact ones on amazon but click here for ones that have shorter ankles length but the exact same show other than that!

-Micro Spikes. This hike can get slick in the winter. I hooked my micro spikes right onto my hiking boots! Helped so much.

Winter and Spring:

You don’t NEED spikes but they make the trek easier and quicker. The start of the hike is steep as well as the end right before you get to the springs for about ¾ of a mile. I had my Yak Tracks on and passed a lot of people who just had regular shoes or even hiking shoes on. The mud in the Spring makes it very slippery as well.

Goldbug Hot Springs, Idaho

 I also brought my trekking poles, which are always a huge help on any hike regardless of snow or if its steep. I’ve found that using my trekking poles helps even out the strain from the hike over my entire body, rather than just my legs. We all want toned arms to go with our hiking legs, don’t we?!

Summer and Fall:

You just need the basics from my list above. Make sure you still having hiking shoes on, as there are some steep and rocky spots. Lots and lots of H2O!!! I was running low on water so I put some fresh snow in my Hydroflask, but if you don’t have fresh snow you won’t always have this luxury! Hydroflasks are great because they either keep things super cold or super hot! I love mine so much and use it every single day.

On the way up there are numerous waterfalls that are surrounded by greenery. You feel like you are on a tropical island, but really you are on a small mountain in Idaho. Take your time and sneak into the little waterfalls!

There are 8 different pools you can choose from, they get hotter the higher up you go.

You’ll know your are at the main hot springs when you cross a small wooden foot bridge… it’s super obvious.

Have fun and stay safe!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

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    There is nothing quite like relaxing in an all-natural hot spring in the middle of the mountains while it’s snowing. It’s a dream… well for me! I was told about these hidden hot springs from some locals while I was living in Montana. I seem to find the best and most beautiful when I rely…
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    Goldbug hot springs tops the cake for my favorite hots spring in the United States (at least thus far in my adventures). Adding an amazingly breath-taking view on top of a fully natural hot spring makes it stand out among the rest. Hopefully I will be able to make it back many more times while…
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    It had always been on my bucket list to go to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming. I finally made that dream come true in the summer of 2019 during 4th of July week. My best friend and I decided the night before that we were going to go (that’s how we roll), we…
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