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Van Life Adventures in the Southwest

— By: Inga Beck

Rain is a fact of life in the Pacific Northwest. Some people feel totally fine from season to season—others (like me) are more likely to feel down during the winter and early spring months. When the rainy season is in full swing, one of my favorite ways to beat the blues is to pack up the van with bikes and head south—where the sun is shining and the trails are dry.

We’re part-time van dwellers—living on the road during weekends & holidays only. We rarely drive during the week, as we both prefer to get around on bicycles. Van builds are often referred to as DIY camper van conversions, and our DIY camper van has made it affordable for us to travel more often. For this adventure, our main destination was Moab, Utah—but we planned to spend time at a number of locations along the way.

Salinas, California

Our first stop was at Sea Otter Classic—the largest cycling event in North America. While there, we were invited to park our van at The Hacienda House—a beautiful 20-acre organic vineyard and olive orchard in Salinas, California.

Jason wearing the men’s Hyperspacer Long Sleeve Crew and men’s Daytrippen Chino Pant.

We really enjoyed the early morning vineyard stroll with a cup of our favorite coffee. The property is absolutely gorgeous—and the chardonnay was delicious as well.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Strip dazzles, sure, but the real adventures lie outdoors. With all the sweeping desert landscape and varied terrain, Las Vegas is filled with popular mountain biking trails for all experience levels. One of my favorite trail networks is the Southwest Ridge Trails. Located less than 30 minutes from the Las Vegas strip—it offers some of the best desert single track trails in the area.

Inga wearing the women’s Dardariel Shirt. Jason is wearing the men’s Cascade Shirt, and men’s Stretch Motil 5 Pocket Short.

I also have family in Vegas and enjoy stopping for a day to visit. The grill typically gets fired up and we hang out poolside. Always one of the best pit stops on our road trips.

St. George, Utah

St. George, Utah is often overshadowed by the mountain bike trails in nearby Hurricane, but skipping it would mean missing out on some amazing terrain. The Green Valley Trails start at the edge of a neighborhood and is a popular spot for motorized recreation as well as cycling. There’s also some free camping at this site and with all the short loops accessible from one location, it’s a great spot to meet up with fellow travelers.

Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah has become one of the top mountain biking destinations in North America—and it’s hard not to see why. Mountain bike trails like Captain Ahab and Porcupine Rim are just a couple of reasons—the exposure and views of Jackson Hole and Canyonlands are outstanding.

We also came across the Scott M. Matheson Preserve—875-acre wetland area on the outskirts of Moab. Walking the trails and boardwalks early in the morning with a cup of coffee was a great way to ease into the day. We saw several Yellow-breasted Chat, Great-tailed Grackle, and Indigo Bunting birds.

Jason is wearing the men’s Hyperspacer Long Sleeve Crew and men’s Stretch Motil 5 Pocket Short. Inga is wearing the women’s Introvert Crop Jacket.

After 3 days in Moab, we packed our gear up and headed back north to Portland, Oregon. To break up the long trek home, we stopped in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Boise, Idaho to visit a couple of urban bike parks. This trip was just what we need to reboot and revitalize our spirits. Looking forward to many more van adventures in the near future.

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