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Starting on nomadic van journey visiting the national park system

I am in my 70’s and have decided to fall off the mainstream grid. Kids and grandkids live in different states. Solo traveler/explorer in Arizona. Plan to van and tent camp while hiking. Any advise or suggestions where/ how to begin?

3 Replies

You have a bunch of really great parks right in Arizona.  Work out from there.  Don't limit yourself to just national park areas.....

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@DennisCleveland - This is so exciting to hear. Congrats on embarking on such a journey!

Like @hikermor said, there is a ton to see in Arizona itself, as well as seemingly endless options as you explore further. I was lucky enough to live on the road while working remotely for a couple of years and really treasure all of the astounding parts of this country that I saw. 

One suggestion I can pass along is purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass. You mentioned being in your 70s, which would qualify you for the senior pass. At that price point, there are lifetime and annual passes available, which might be a good idea if you plan on visiting a lot of national parks across a stretch of time. 

The national parks are certainly breathtaking and should be on your list, but if you have the time, you can try to see what is beyond them as well — state parks, BLM land, small town centers, etc. It can be easy to go, go, go while on a journey like this, but from personal experience I always enjoyed when I slowed down a bit more instead of checking places off right after another. Locals often have great recommendations that don't show up on the computer (though posting in this community is a great place to connect with locals from all over too!). Once you're in a spot that you're enjoying, it might be fun to seek suggestions from folks around town to see what they love about the area. 

Are you set with the gear you have or are you looking for recommendations there to? If you have the essentials, you may want to get on the road and see how your system works and what gaps show up before grabbing new things. It can be surprising what you think you need versus what you end up wanting. 

It would be great to stay up to date on your ventures. I'm hopeful lots of folks will jump in on this thread and share their recommendations too. If any more specific questions come up, feel free to add them here or start another thread!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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REI-CarterC mentioned park passports.  They are a really good deal.  On my first visit (pilgrimage, actually) to the Seattle REI, I purchased the Golden Age Passport for all of 20 bucks.  I got a prompt return on my investment.  That night we entered Olympic NP, saving $15 and got our campsite at half price, saving another $5.  The saving has mounted from that point on.

BTW, I seriously doubt there is anything like a "Golden Age" - maybe Better Than Average??

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
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