The Best 8 Day Iceland Adventure Itinerary

Iceland is full of sharp contrasts. This is a country with fire and ice co-existing. Where the winters are long and dark, but the summer’s midnight sun makes up for it, making the day’s feel much longer in summer.

Iceland has been a dream of mine for about 5 years now. The first time I saw pictures my jaw dropped. Who knew the country with “ice” in the name was so stunning with such a diverse landscape? Not me. Iceland immediately jumped to the top of my list. I started researching how much a trip to Iceland would cost me… and my jaw dropped again. There was nooo way I could afford that! Or was there? *Puts on thinking cap*

Here’s my 8 Day Itinerary for Iceland’s Ring Road!

Iceland is full of sharp contrasts. This is a country with fire and ice co-existing. Where the winters are long and dark, but the summer’s midnight sun makes up for it, making the day’s feel much longer in summer.

How to Get to Iceland

Fly into Reykjavik International Airport (KEF). Flights are typically one of the largest expenses when traveling. I fly on budget airlines frequently, especially if it’s going to end up saving me a couple hundred dollars a flight. We flew direct into Iceland on the budget airline WOW. *WOW IS NO LONGER IN BUSINESS*

SEARCH RATES FOR FLIGHTS TO ICELAND HERE
Iceland is full of sharp contrasts. This is a country with fire and ice co-existing. Where the winters are long and dark, but the summer’s midnight sun makes up for it, making the day’s feel much longer in summer. Diamond beach also known as the black sand beach is a must visit on your Iceland road trip.
Diamond Beach

How to Get Around Iceland

Once we arrived in Reykjavik, we took the Airport Direct bus into the city (we found that to be the cheapest way into the city without a rental car). The bus had WIFI, and put public transportation buses in the US to shame. We were dropped off within walking distance to our AirBnB and the city’s attractions. Reykjavik is extremely walkable, so I’d recommend exploring on foot!

A rental car is necessary if you plan to explore Iceland’s ring road or outside the city of Reykjavik. You can pick up your rental right at the airport or take the bus into the city and get your car when you’re ready to leave the city.

CLICK HERE to Save 10% on a Weekend or Weekly Car Rental at Thrifty! >>>>Use code 101349

CLICK HERE to Save on Car Rentals with Thrifty’s Veterans Advantage Program

Reykjavik is extremely walkable, so I’d recommend exploring on foot!

Day 1 in Reykjavik

Perhaps the most iconic building in Reykjavik, Hallgrímskirkja is a beautiful Lutheran church standing at 244 ft high. The height of the church makes it the largest church in Iceland, and one of the tallest structures in the country!

Hallgrímskirkja Iceland church in Reykjavik
Hallgrímskirkja

Reykjavik Sun Voyager Sculpture

The Sun Voyager is a sculpture created by Jón Gunnar. The Sun Voyager sits along the coastline of the city and has a cool history. In 1986 Gunnar’s design for Sun Voyager won best outdoor sculpture in a competition funded by the city. The competition purpose was to create a sculpture that would commemorate the 200th anniversary of the city.

SUN VOYAGER ICELAND Reykjavik is extremely walkable, so I’d recommend exploring on foot!
Sun Voyager

Where to Get Food in Iceland

 Snacking on the traditional Icelandic food was… interesting. Logan tried things where I drew the line, such as fermented shark and dried pounded fish. The rye bread ice-cream however, I could eat in gallons.

TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC FOOD fermented shark, dried fish and rye bread ice cream!
Icelandic hot dogs are not like ordinary hot dogs, because they’re made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. We ordered ours the traditional Icelandic way. A hot dog on a warm, steamed bun topped with TWO kinds of onions- raw white, and crispy fried onions, finished off with ketchup, sweet brown mustard.

Icelandic hot dogs are not like ordinary hot dogs, because they’re made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. We ordered ours the traditional Icelandic way. A hot dog on a warm, steamed bun topped with TWO kinds of onions- raw white, and crispy fried onions, finished off with ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. It was delicious, and much preferred by locals over the fermented shark.

Traditional Icelandic breakfast

SO MUCH COFFEE. Iceland knows coffee, every cup I had was exceptionally delicious. Which is GREAT, because it’s cold and rainy almost all the time, and coffee is a requirement for me to become a functioning human in the mornings.

Grocery shopping in Iceland at BONUS is the more budget friendly option to eat in Iceland.

Everything about Iceland is expensive. Including the food. We easily spent around $25-50 per person a meal while in the city. Before we drove to our first cabin we went grocery shopping at the local Bonus.


Spend 3 Days in Golden Circle

We headed east towards Thingvellir National Park where our next AirBnB was. The road trip had officially begun!  Make sure to check the road conditions (here) during your trip, the weather in Iceland is unpredictable, in one hour we saw sunny clear warm weather turn to hail and wind blown frost.

Iceland Golden Circle Airbnb Cabin

GUYS. If you haven’t yet used AirBnB to travel, you’re missing out on some amazing deals. AirBnB and Skyscanner are my two KEY TOOLS I use when planning and budgeting for my trips. What are the two largest expenses for travel? Accommodation, and flights. So where do you want to maximize your savings and cut costs? Accommodation, and flights. But seriously… check these out. 

AirBnb cabin in Iceland's Golden Circle

We spent two nights in this stunning cabin. Like most cabin’s in Iceland, this one came with a hot tub and was in great proximity to all the major attractions we wanted to see in The Golden Circle!

AirBnb cabin in Iceland's Golden Circle

Golden Circle Activities

  • Chase breathtaking Icelandic waterfalls like the ones below
  • Enjoy breathtaking views as you drive the Golden Circle
  • Explore Thingvellir National Park, where tectonic plates meets
  • Witness the wonders of the Strokkur geyser, it erupts every 5 minutes!

Gullfoss Waterfall

Iceland Gulfoss waterfall along the Golden Circle

Faxi

Iceland Faxi waterfall along the Golden Circle

Lake Kerid

Lake Kerid is a must see while visiting Iceland's Golden Circle

Geysir

The famous geysir along Iceland's Golden Circle sets off every few minutes.

Bruarfoss

The "blue waterfall" in Iceland is Bruarfoss. The bright blue water will amaze you, the hike is not too far, but can be muddy and difficult to find.


Spend 2 Days in Southern Iceland

Head south from the Golden Circle to continue your journey along Iceland’s Ring Road. The two hour drive will take you to Vik, where we took a tour with Arctic Adventures.

dsc_1090

Katla Ice Cave Tour

Our tour guide was awesome, enthusiastic and a slightly crazy driver. Our group drove through scenic landscapes to the volcano Katla in a tour van. Once there we were provided safety gear such as helmets, and crampons. These are required to be worn during the ice cave tour, trust me – you’ll want them. After the tour we still had plenty of time to explore until it got dark out.

Go on an adventure tour inside the Katla Ice Cave!

Go on an adventure tour inside the Katla Ice Cave!


Go on an adventure tour inside the Katla Ice Cave!

Skogafoss

There were a couple attempts to go behind the waterfall…

After the successful attempt at getting soaked- we went inside a local restaurant next to the waterfall parking lot to warm up with some delicious lamb stew.

Visit one of the many waterfalls Iceland has to offer, including the "rainbow waterfall" Skogafoss


Skogafoss waterfall in south Iceland

Just around the corner from Skogafoss is a local restaurant next to the waterfall you'll see a parking lot to warm up with some delicious lamb stew.


South Iceland road trip itinerary.

Seljalandsfoss

Thanks to that summer midnight sun! The picture above was taken around 11:00 p.m. Remember that in May, the day’s in Iceland are long, and the sun never fully sets at night, at midnight you’ll still see the sun on the horizon.

Seljalandsfoss Iceland

This meant a couple things, 1. We weren’t going to be seeing the northern lights (huge bummer, huge) 2. Sleeping at “night” became a challenge. Without black out shades/curtains and no sleeping mask, it was difficult to fall asleep and confusing when you woke up (I never knew what time it was). We talked to a couple locals about it and they laughed, and said we’re used to it, it’s all they knew! I would recommend bringing a sleeping mask if you’re visiting in the spring/summer months.

South Iceland cabin accommodations.


Laufskálavarða

The south coast of the island is unbelievably beautiful. On our way to the glacier lagoon we came across what used to be a giant farm. Back in 894, the first recorded volcano eruption of Katla (yes, the same one we went under to get to the ice caves) destroyed the entire farm.

Laufskálavarða The south coast of the island is unbelievably beautiful. On our way to the glacier lagoon we came across what used to be a giant farm. Back in 894, the first recorded volcano eruption of Katla (yes, the same one we went under to get to the ice caves) destroyed the entire farm.

Laufskálavarða, is a lava mound that was named after the farm. In memory of those that were lost, it is surrounded by stone cairns. Travelers crossing the desert of Mýrdalssandur for the first time would pile stones up to make a cairn, which was supposed to bring them good luck on their journey. The tradition continues to this day, leave a stone when you drive by!

Laufskálavarða The south coast of the island is unbelievably beautiful. On our way to the glacier lagoon we came across what used to be a giant farm. Back in 894, the first recorded volcano eruption of Katla (yes, the same one we went under to get to the ice caves) destroyed the entire farm.


Secret Glacier Lagoon

 As we continued our drive along the coastline we came to our next stop, the “secret” glacier lagoon. We found it thinking it was the main glacier lagoon we were trying to get to… it wasn’t. Looking around, we had the place to ourselves. We realized we had found “the secret lagoon” the local’s told us about.

As we continued our drive along the coastline we came to our next stop, the "secret" glacier lagoon. We found it thinking it was the main glacier lagoon we were trying to get to... it wasn't. Looking around, we had the place to ourselves. We realized we had found "the secret lagoon" the local's told us about.

As we continued our drive along the coastline we came to our next stop, the "secret" glacier lagoon. We found it thinking it was the main glacier lagoon we were trying to get to... it wasn't. Looking around, we had the place to ourselves. We realized we had found "the secret lagoon" the local's told us about.


Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

We were greeted immediately by the reindeer grazing in a clearing when we pulled in to park. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water. We were shocked that despite the freezing water of the lagoon, it was full of wild life.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

Reindeer at 
Reindeer around Iceland's Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon- a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

We watched the sea lions play in the lagoon while we sat and listened to the sounds of the ice moving in the water. After we’d had our fill of adorable animal friends we headed out of the lagoon and across the street.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Iceland


Diamond Beach

The ice from the glacier lagoon washes ashore the black sand beach. Scattered across the beach were giant chunks of ice, giving the beach the famous name “Diamond Beach”.

Diamond beach, or black sand beach is by Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon both are a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

When we could no longer handle the cold beach in our wet clothes, we headed back to our cabin for the night, where more amazing scenery awaited.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

Our next cabin had a sheep farm in the back yard, and it was spring. That means BABIES. And in my opinion, there are few things cuter in this world then baby animals. I sat on my bed while I watched them play outside my window. With the window open, I could hear them BAAAing at each other and feel the crisp salty air blowing in off of the sea. (BLISS)

AirBnb in North Iceland
Baby lamb are everywhere in Iceland during the spring.


Spend Two Days in North Iceland


We got up early and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast the cottage offered.  It was a 5.5-hour drive north to get to the city of Akureyri, Iceland’s second most populous city. We spent 2 nights in the northern part of Iceland, chasing waterfalls and exploring the Lake Myvatn areas.

Dimmuborgir hike in North Iceland

Goðafoss

Goðafoss is one of the most visited waterfalls of Iceland's north.

Skútustaðagígar

Skútustaðagígar is an amazing hike you can do in Northern Iceland

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir hike in North Iceland

Hofdi

dsc_0003

Hverfjall

Hverfjall crater is located in North Iceland. A hike takes you to the top of the massive crater you can see from the road.

The top of Hverfjall crater overlook. The crater is located in North Iceland, a hike takes you to the top of the massive crater you can see from the road.


Krafla Vita Crater

Krafla Vita crater is located in North Iceland by the famous power station. A hike takes you to the top of the massive crater.

Krafla Vita crater is located in North Iceland by the famous power station. A hike takes you to the top of the massive crater.


Last Day: Blue Lagoon

It was another long drive from Akureyri to Reykjavik. We had an appointment at the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon we were trying to make. The national speed limit of Iceland is 90 km/h on paved rural roads… which is REALLY slow when you’re driving around the entire country. Which is probably why we got pulled over in the middle of nowhere and received a speeding ticket. Trust me guys, you DO NOT want to get pulled over for speeding in Iceland- like everything else, the tickets are outrageously expensive.

BLUE LAGOON ICELAND

Don’t forget to share with your friends! Pin for info later!


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

3 Day Itinerary for Olympic National Park

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Olympic National Park is located in the state of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the United States. The national park is home to several different ecosystems, from mountain peaks to old-growth forests. This 3 day itinerary for Olympic National Park will tell all!

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Let’s talk about this trips “sign picture”. For those that don’t know, it’s a tradition of mine to get a picture with my fellow campers by the national park sign when we visit. My travel crew knows the routine… they go stand in front of the sign while I set up the tripod.

From left to right we’ve got Kaytee, Logan, Grace, and half of me. Let me explain…Well this trip, I was setting up my tripod/timer all that jazz- guy drives by and yells out his window “you can’t park there! MOVE!” …whoops. I had no idea we couldn’t park there… better make this quick. So I hit the shutter button and ran backwards…hoping that maybe I’d make it in time to get this in one shot. Above is the result of that one shot.

Fly into Seattle

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Now that my best friend Grace lives in Seattle, I love the state of Washington even more. With the heavy traveling we did in the spring, we wanted to keep our July 4th trip as cheap as we could. Camping’s cheap!  So, this year we celebrated Independence Day while camping in Olympic National Park! With not nearly enough time in Seattle, we left for the park the day after we arrived. If you have time, explore the city! For what to do, check out my post on The Perfect Weekend in Seattle

3 Day Itinerary for Olympic National Park

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Olympic National Park protects nearly one million acres of vast wilderness diversity. From glacier-capped mountains to old growth rain forests, and over 70 miles of ocean coastline, this park has so much to explore. It’s hard to capture all the beauty in just 3 days, we absolutely will be coming back to explore more one day!

DAY 1: Lake Crescent

We drove 3.5 hours from Seattle to Fairholme campground. Slightly worried we might not get a site this close to the holiday (most campgrounds inside the park are walk-in, and do not take reservations). The campground had flush toilets, but no shower facilities or electric. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive at an almost empty campground. We picked a stunning site with massive mossy trees towering around us, overlooking the incredible Lake Crescent. We set up camp and set out to explore the Lake Crescent area. For what to pack, check out my Packing Guide: Camping National Parks

Lake Crescent

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Lake Crescent lies 18 miles west of Port Angeles in the northern hills of Olympic National Park. We could see right down to the bottom through the crystal clear waters. I would recommend kayaking on this beautiful lake if you have the time!

Stay at Fairholme Campground

img_06991

Marymere Falls

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Next we hiked the moderate 1.7 mile trail to Marymere Falls. There are two viewpoints to see the falls. At the end of the hike you’ll reach the falls lower viewpoint at the bottom of the stairs. Continue up the stairs to reach the top viewpoint.

Barnes Creek Trail

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

A peaceful creekside hike with an option to check out Marymere Falls (enter at falls trailhead, continue forward at the junction or go right and check out the falls). This hike takes you through a Jurassic Park looking forest of old growth and lush vegetation. We hiked the barnes creek trail after Marymere Falls, and the solitude from the crowds gave the forest a much different feeling. The trail rolls mostly up and rarely down for 5.5 miles.

Mora Campground

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

DAY 2: Sul Duc

We woke up early to pack up our campsite and have breakfast before we hit the trails for the day. Our plan was to explore the Sol Duc area, and then head towards the coastline to set up camp in Mora, a campground just outside of La Push. You can visit the lush forest near Sol Duc for a day hike or an overnight.

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Sul Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail is a flat short 1.6 mile trail through old growth forest that leads to a beautiful three prong waterfall. The three falls rage under a wooden bridge with crystal blue waters on the other end. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the waterfall capture rainbows in the spray! We continued past the falls and headed towards deer lake.

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
img_0677

Deer Lake

The trail to Deer Lake from Sul Duc Falls is a 6.3 mile hike with 3 backpacking campsites along the trail. This mostly up and rarely down hike is rated as moderate. The hike features a stunning lake at the end (pack food and picnic at the lake!) To get there, begin heading down the trail to Sol Duc Falls. Once you’re there, pass the entrance to the Lover’s Lane Trail, the route begins climbing up to Deer Lake.

img_0665

 DAY 3: La Push

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Our last day in the park was spent relaxing on the coast, recovering from our hikes. The Mora Campground  we camped at was on the north side of the river, on the south side is  First Beach. First Beach is located within the Quileute Indian Reservation, and surrounded by Olympic National Park. The beach is sandy with a crescent shaped shoreline that’s popular with surfers. We stopped here first, and explored the rocks looking for sea creatures during the low tide.

First Beach

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Starfish are naturally born as extremely fragile. A simple gentle poke might hurt them, not to mention a strong grab to get them out of water. NEVER FORCEFULLY REMOVE A STARFISH FROM THE WATER. These creatures have tiny structures that make up their bodies.

** I only touched the starfish to transport him safely back to the sea **

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Second Beach

With a shorter hike than Third Beach, we decided to do the 4 mile round trip hike to Second Beach after First Beach. The trail was interesting, after 0.3 miles, the descent becomes more defined, and the trail becomes a switchback crib staircase which leads down to the beach. We lounged lazily in the sun for hours on this beach. Exploring and climbing the rocks that jutted out from the ocean until it was time for the drive home.

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Like it? Pin it for later!

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide
Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #olympic #nationalpark #usadestinations #washington #hikes #thingstodo #roadtrip #lodging #itinerary #guide

Spending some time in the city of Seattle? Check out my guide to The Perfect Weekend in Seattle!

Everything you must know before visiting Olympic National Park in Washington, USA. Hikes, campgrounds, and the best stops for your road trip. | Her Life Adventures | #usadestinations #washington #whattodo #thingstodo #seattle #lodging #itinerary #guide

10 Perfect Spring Travel Destinations

The month of May has been absolutely insane for me. For starters, it’s my 30th birthday month (HUGE, I know).  For whatever reason, turning 30 always scared the hell out of me. I even came up with a 30 Before 30 List of things I wanted to accomplish before the big day (I did pretty awesome).

I spent a good portion of the last 6 weeks (End of April- May) living out of either a suitcase or a backpack. Sleeping in tents, hotels, airports, and cabins. Traveling back and forth across the country….twice. First time by plane, second time was by plane AND moving truck. I explored my first European country. Then before I beat the jet lag, I took another road trip over Memorial Day weekend. This time across my home state of Michigan. So this all translates to: I’ve had absolutely no time to write about each of the adventures individually (which I intend on doing).

Meanwhile- I came to the realization that the last 6 weeks was one giant adventure, made up of back to back mini adventures! Here’s a recap, with a super awesome picture from 10 places I visited this spring.

Los Angeles, CA

img_9268

map LA.png

I started out in LA for work the last week of April- and it’s been a giant blur since.

 

Chicago, IL

img_9390

map chi.png

I was home for 48 hours after I got home from LA, in which time I attended a baby shower, and a birthday party. Then it was off to Chicago, where I stayed for less than 24 hours to start the next mini adventure.

 

Badlands National Park, SD

DSC_0046.jpg

map badlands

We left Chicago EARLY, and started the long drive across the country to Seattle. We drove through four states before we made it to our first stop.

We were in South Dakota after 12 hours (not including stops). Arriving at night- we set up camp and spent the night at a campground inside the park. Check out my full post on Badlands National Park for more details!

 

Mount Rushmore National Monument, SD

may-04-2018-at-0417pm

The drive from Badlands to Mount Rushmore was only about an hour or so. The stop helped break up the long drive we still had ahead of us- and it was pretty cool to see the National Monument I never in a million years anticipated I’d see.

 

Grand Teton National Park, WY

img_9614

map teton

We drove another 8 hours into the state of Wyoming. I really struggled choosing just one picture for these next two stops. Grand Teton National Park was incredible. We spent a day exploring the park and fell in love with the snow-covered peaks. We crashed at a hostel inside the park (no campgrounds were open this early in the season).

 

Yellowstone National Park, WY

may-08-2018-at-0256pm

We camped for the next two nights in the colorful world of Yellowstone. Only the west half of the park was open during our time there. Thankfully the Grand Prismatic spring was accessible (I had pre-warned Grace I might lose my shit if I missed it).

 

Seattle, WA

img_7077

map yellow.png

The last 12 hours of our trip from Yellowstone to Seattle took us through 3 more states (Montana, Idaho, Washington). When we finally arrived in Seattle, I had 24 hours there before my flight home. Check out my post on The Perfect Weekend in Seattle for more details on this amazing city.

 

Detroit, MI

img_8132

map sea.png

After being on the road for a week, I was looking forward to coming home for a few days. I was going to be home for FIVE WHOLE DAYS before we left on the next trip. Check out my post on The Perfect Weekend in Detroit for a local’s guide on my favorite city.

The entire week, Logan and I planned on leaving for Iceland Saturday night (the day before Mother’s Day). We made plans with our families, put off laundry and packing (we had all day Saturday after all) and figured we’d get through the work week and worry about everything Iceland on Saturday.

Friday night I double checked our tickets and realized, our flight actually departs at 12:30 THAT NIGHT! We now had 4 hours to drop off the dogs/do laundry/clean the apartment/pack our bags/get to the airport…

 

Reykjavik, Iceland

img_0024

map iceland

I planned my Iceland trip almost 5 years ago. It was always the #1 spot on my list of places I wanted to go- I just never seemed to make it there. Well after 5 years of waiting… I finally made it! My favorite travel crew and I set off on a week long road trip around the country that ended with my 30th birthday hike to the bluest waterfall I’d ever seen.

 

“Up North”, MI

img_0087

map mi.png

We got home from Iceland exhausted and jet lagged. At this point the constant traveling was beginning to catch up with me. I’d been in so many different time zones the last couple weeks, I had no idea what day it was, what time zone I was in, or if I should be awake or sleeping (Iceland never got fully dark at night, so our sleeping schedules were all sorts of messed up.)

After spending a few days at home recovering and starting to sort our life back out, next thing we knew- the week was over, and it was Memorial Day weekend.

img_0195

 

I spent my Memorial Day weekend with Logan and the fur babies “up north” in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula, MI) We spent time relaxing at our camp site, grilling, and playing tourist in our own state. We stayed at Indian Lake State Campground which was only 15 minutes from Kitch-iti-Kipi, and an hour from Pictured Rocks National Lake shore.

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking

Death Valley National Park is located on the California, Nevada state borders in the United States. Death Valley holds the title for driest, hottest, and lowest of all the U.S. National Parks. PLUS it’s the largest National Park outside of Alaska. In January, Logan and I spent the Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park. The plan was to see as much as we could in the time we had. The National Park was so amazing, we’re already planning our next trip back to explore more of this diverse landscape!

The park entrance fee is $25 usd per vehicle per day- I have an annual pass ($80 usd) we used to get in. With over 3 million acres of wilderness, sand dunes, slot canyons, rocky rainbow peaks, and miles of back country roads to explore- where do you begin?! We flew into Las Vegas after work the Friday of MLK weekend and rented a car to make the 2 hour drive through the desert into Death Valley.

Enjoy My Death Valley National Park Guide!


Scenic Drive in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking

How to Get to Death Valley National Park

PRO TIP: Make your rental car and camping reservations early. Spend the money on a 4×4 high clearance vehicle. You’ll need one if you plan to do the backcountry drives- that includes the famous racetrack. It’s 27 miles of HARD road to get there, and the ever logical Logan deemed our compact car  unfit for such conditions… preventing us from seeing the racetrack and other park sites (getting a flat or needing a tow truck in the middle of no where sounded not so fun).

Day 1: Death Valley National Park East Side


Stay the Night at Sunset Campground

We spent more time dicking around in Vegas than we anticipated, so we got to the park a little later than planned, meaning we got to drive around in the dark looking for an open site… the campground is first come first serve and there were plenty of spots (it seems we’ve made setting up camp in the dark an unintentional tradition). The campsite didn’t have a fire pit or picnic table but the campground had water and flush toilets (no showers). The sites weren’t very private and it felt like we were in a giant parking lot more than a campground. We set up our tent facing to the darkest side, and watched the sky light up with stars.  

sunset campground

Artists Scenic Drive Loop

This scenic loop drive is 9 miles of paved road that takes you through multi-hued colorful volcanic and sedimentary hills. We had the the one way road to ourselves so we took our time as we drove. As the famous Artist Palette came into view we got out at the pull off and explored further into the rock formations for a small hike. Our little compact car did fine on the paved road.

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
artists pallette.jpg
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking

Natural Bridge Hiking Trail

We did a few hikes in our time at the park, but this by far was our favorite. The road to get here is rough and rocky, we didn’t think our car was going to make it- thank God it did. The out and back hike took us 1 mile round trip from the natural bridge formation- bbbbbut don’t stop there!

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking

We hiked back as far as we could get past the bridge (another mile or so) and the dramatic canyon turned to beautifully colored marble walls glistening around us. You could see the remains of a dried up waterfall, and how the powerful element carved it’s mark permanently into the earth. It was incredibly pretty, and the tall narrow canyon kept us shaded from the sun.

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking

Badwater Basin

It was 75 degrees and sunny when we walked a mile out to the salt flats 282 ft below sea level- the lowest point in North America. There was no shade, and in the dead of winter- we were hiking in Death Valley, and for the first time- we felt it. I’ve seen salt flats in Bolivia, and they were miles and miles long.

IMG_8715.jpg
logan salt flat.jpg
Bad Water Basin Death Valley National Park Salt Flats | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
couple salt flat.jpg

But these were the first salt flats with water I’d seen, and it was an incredible sight (and another reason I FREAKING LOVE MY TEVAS). I walked out into the salty water expecting the lake I saw before me to get deeper as  walked further out. The water never went above my ankle in depth- and from afar it looked to others as if I was walking on water. It was a magical experience.

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
img_8497
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
img_8481
img_8509-1

Zabriskie Point

If you’re looking for the best spot to catch a sunrise or sunset- this is it. The golden colored badlands make for an amazing backdrop to natures free shows each day. Start your day or end your day here- you won’t be disappointed either way you do it. We missed the point coming into the park at night, so we made sure we caught it on our way back out!

zabriskie point.jpg
IMG_8704.jpg

Day 2: Death Valley National Park North Side

Stone Pipe Wells Campground

We spent our 2nd night in this first come first serve campground that’s only open during the winter season; the campground has tent only sites everywhere, and a lot of private options; we had a beautiful view outside our tent of the mountains across the desert- there’s flush toilets and water, but no fire pits or picnic tables.

stone pipe wells campground

Ubehebe Crater

Hundreds of years ago, a massive volcanic explosion happened in Death Valley. Magma mixing with an underground spring caused the explosion that created this 600 ft deep crater. As we drove to the trail head you could see the landscape around us changing from light colored brown tones to dark volcanic black sand. You can hike the full rim of the crater (around 1.5 miles round trip) but we were short on time, so we hiked to see little ubehebe crater and enjoyed the views before heading back down.

The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
Ubehebe Crater Overlook in Death Valley National Park
Road in Death Valley National Park leading to Ubehebe Crater

Mosaic Canyon

This was the hike I was most excited about. The 4 mile hike took us through polished marble narrows, and required a bit of rock climbing (scrambling). It was beautiful walking through the labyrinth of smooth rock.. The colorful walls changed in color and texture along the hike, making for gorgeous photo opportunities.

mosaic 2
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
mosaic 5
mosaic 7

Rainbow Canyon

We ended our day exploring the west side of the park. As soon as I saw their was a “rainbow canyon” I knew we couldn’t leave without seeing it. The drive takes a couple hours, so we stocked up on fuel and road trip snacks in Stovepipe Wells Village before heading towards the canyon. The drive to Father Crowley Vista was one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever done. A landscape of dark lava flows and volcanic cinders turns to rainbow canyon with an explosion of color. As you’re driving through the mountains you can see the colors start to pop the closer you get.

rainbow 1
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking
rainbow 2
rainbow 3
rainbow 4
rainbow 5
raibow 7
rainbow 8
rainbow 9
rainbow 10

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Hike to the largest dune field in the park for another great spot to catch a sunrise or sunset. You can walk as far out into the dunes as you want, the hike to summit the highest is about 2 miles roundtrip. We walked through the sand up and down the dunes until we found the perfect sunset viewing peak, all to ourselves.

dunes 1
dunes 2
The Perfect Weekend in Death Valley National Park | The Adventurer's Guide to a weekend camping in Death Valley National Park. Located in the state of California, in the United States. My guide covers road trips, photography, best hikes, and what to do in Death Valley National Park. | Her Life Adventures | #deathvalley #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #nationalpark #nationalparkroadtrip #travelpacking


Furnace Creek Campground

We spent our last night back on the east side of the park (where the only showers in the park were)- it was MLK Day, and the park entry and camping was free for the holiday! We were expecting a huge crowd but we had no issue finding a site on the first come first serve sites. It was our favorite campsite, we had a picnic table, a fire ring, and nobody around us. Of course the night we have furniture the clouds decided to be assholes- we didn’t see one star that night. Instead we were kept awake by the howling of the locals (aren’t they just adorable?!?).

coyote 1
coyote 2
furnace creek camp

Download your Death Valley Checklist of must see activities!


Know Before You Go

  • Showers are only available at the privately owned Furnace Creek Resort. It’s $5 per person for a pool pass that gives you access to their pool & showers/locker room. **These are the only showers in the entire park, and if you’re camping and hiking, you will want a shower.**
  • You can rent a 4×4 high clearance vehicle by the hour in the town of Furnace Creek from a privately owned company.
  • There is 1 restaurant (Stovepipe Wells Village) and a few small grocery stores inside the park (Stovepipe Wells Village & Furnace Creek).
  • It is a 2 hour drive to the park from Las Vegas and a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles. The park is located in both California & Nevada.
  • Check out my guide on what to pack for your national park camping trip!

Pin it! Then share it with your friends you think may also enjoy it!


Packing Guide: Camping National Parks

Packing Guide for Camping

Being outside in nature, soaking up the sunshine and fresh air is one of my favorite things to do. Camping is one of the best ways to experience the outdoors in all it’s natural beauty. My budget travel enthusiasts will appreciate the cash they’ll save by instead of staying in hotels. My packing guide for camping is perfect for when visiting National Parks, or other backpack camping destinations.

Affiliate Disclosure

This blog post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission for referring you. This comes at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally used + loved.

But what do we do for food?!? The best part about camping outdoors means cooking meals in cool places. After all, what’s better than dinner with a view? The Skys the limit on where you choose to eat your meals.

Camp Freeze Dried Food
Yosemite National Park

Last year I went on dozens of camping trips- forgetting something when you’re camping can be a huge pain in the ass (this one time we couldn’t find fuel, so our meal depended on if we could get the water boiling over a fire- not impossible, just time consuming, and after 5 days- that’s a lot of work) – most times we’re in the middle of nowhere, so you’re out of luck if you do.

I’ve brought friends with me on trips who have never camped before, and their first question is always- what do I pack? It was entertaining to watch them stumble through what they thought they might need (20 lbs of clothes, and no sleeping bag- maybe they were going to just wear lots of layers?)

Yoho National Park

I’ve created a packing guide to avoid that, broken up into camping essentials that you cant be without- down to what is nice to have if you have the packing space/weight. I usually try to fit my gear in a carry on so I don’t have to check a bag on the flight. Helping me save money!

Here’s your ultimate packing guide to camping in national parks!

Camping Essentials

necessities

 

Tent

My REI Half dome plus tent is the perfect size for me and my travel companion. With a door on each side it makes it easier to enter + exit without disturbing my sleeping partner.

The towel I bring is ideal for backpack camping. The light weight, compact towel comes in handy for showers, swimming, travel, or backpacking. It dries fast and is designed for multiple uses daily.

Sleeping Bag/Pad

Sleeping on the ground isn’t always the most comfortable, a good pad can make a huge difference when it comes to a good night sleep- plus it keeps you warm when the temperatures drop. The sleeping pad I use is nice because it self inflates- and after a long day of hiking, I’m lazy and need all my air.  The marmot sleeping bag I use is awesome- it has a hood at the top that not only keeps your head warm- it keeps your pillow from sliding away at night.

 Tip: Pack a sleeping pad repair kit just in case!

Head Lamp

It’s always ideal to set up camp during the daylight hours- however somehow I always manage to end up at camp when the sun goes down. Holding a flashlight (or your cellphone) while trying to set up your tent for the night is difficult- get a head lamp. Yes it looks silly, yes you will be extremely grateful you brought one.

Tip: its handy to study the park maps and pick out what hikes you’re going to do the day before to see if there are any restrictions before you get to the trail head.

Backpack With Daypack

The backpack I take on my trips is better classified as a travel backpack than it is a backpacking backpack. What I love about it is it opens like a suitcase/duffel. PLUS the outer small daypack is the removable- great for carrying my water bladder or camera gear on my hikes.

Camp Stove/Cookware

Food is one of the largest expenses when traveling. Cooking your meals while camping will help cut down costs tremendously ($5 usd a meal vs $15 usd eating out). I bring my stove and cookware with me on longer hikes and cook my meal with a view at the summit- just don’t forget your spork (that’s happened to me several times). The cookware kit I have comes with bowls/pots/pans/spork and a stove. 

Tip: Conserve water and use the leftover water from cooking to clean your dishes. 

Footwear

I have two different types of hiking footwear. My Tevas are designed specifically for a woman’s foot in order to provide unmatched comfort and performance in the water. I’ll also wear them in hot climates or sand hiking.

For more aggressive terrain such as rocky trails, I’ll wear my Salomon Women’s X Ultra hiking boots. These shoes are specifically designed for a woman’s anatomy. It holds your foot in place even during technical descents, and prevents slippage so you can enjoy more stable and safer descents.

Still Have Space?

Other Stuff

 

If you are planning on backpacking and hiking to your campsite every oz of weight matters- you have to carry your bag for miles. These next items are SUPER NICE to have, but you can get by without them if you don’t have them or are trying to save space & weight.

Hammock & Slap Straps

There’s nothing better than kicking back in my hammock after a long day on the trails. I keep telling myself one night I’ll pull in my sleeping bag/pad and sleep under the stars (But then things like coyote’s howling at all hours of the night prevent that from happening- imagine that.) The slap straps I have are easy to use and make set up happen in seconds.

Pillow & Chair

I’m not gonna lie… camping without a pillow or camp chair can make for an uncomfortable night. I use my pillow on the airplanes (and sleep the entire flight 99% of the time). Sometimes I’ll forget the pillow, and I have to get creative for an alternative. Most times I make a ball out of clothes or the sweatshirt I’m wearing (I don’t recommend that). This lightweight camping chair takes up minimal space, and makes those nights around the campfire that much more enjoyable.

Tip: Some campsites don’t have picnic tables so when I get stuck sitting on the ground or finding a good “butt rock”. I always regret not bringing one.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are perhaps the most genius travel invention ever. If you don’t have a set- pay the $10 and get yourself some. They will change the way you travel forever. The cubes keep your clothes separated, keep your bag organized, and make packing things up fast and easy.

Tip: Roll your clothes instead of folding them, you’ll fit a lot more in.

Cocoon & Life Straw

I use my cocoon in the summer months- it’s perfect for warm nights and keeps my sleeping bag clean if it’s a dry shampoo type of day. The life straw is nice to have if you plan on doing longer hikes (6 + miles). My water bladder holds about 3 liters- and I get pretty close to running out on harder treks. I bring the lifeproof straw in case of emergency- it filters out 99.999999% of all the bad stuff, so you can drink from a fresh water source in a pinch.

What’s your favorite camping gear? Leave a comment!

Check out these extraordinary National Parks to inspire your next camping adventure!