When I tell people I’m taking a seven week road trip to follow the National Park to Park Highway one of the first questions they ask is, “Where are you going to sleep?” Other than a visit to Togwotee Mountain Lodge near Grand Teton National Park, we’ll be sagebrushing along the route like many early travelers did.
Why Would You Do That?
My brother-in-law is NOT outdoorsy in any sense of the word. To him anywhere without air conditioning is the equivalent of a prehistoric cave. So when I said we would be turning our truck into the ultimate camping vehicle for this trip his response was “What’s the appeal of Voluntary Homelessness?”
Normally sleeping in your car is considered a bad thing, but we’re excited for the adventure of camping on the National Park to Park Highway this summer.
We’ve reserved campsites in many of the National Parks through recreation.gov. This website is the one stop shop for reserving camping spaces on federal lands. There are some great resources there, including an article with Tips for Camping with Kids.
Reservations are important, especially at popular National Parks like Yosemite. Sites there are snatched up six months in advance, the instant the dates are made available on recreation.gov. I found this out when trying to reserve a campsite there last month and finding ABSOLUTELY NOTHING available.
If you’re like me, just a little spontaneous, don’t worry. Every campground in the National Park system has a First Come First Serve option, with campsites set aside for those last minute travelers.
Ultimate Camping Vehicle
When we first dreamed up this trip, Mountain Dad and I debated about where we should sleep. Normally we are tent campers, throwing sleeping pads and bags into a nylon and mesh shelter that gives the illusion of protection through a thin fabric cover. But setting up and taking down a tent every night for seven weeks straight wasn’t what we wanted.
|Image from www.americanautoglass.com|
Nor did we want to tow a camper 5,000 to 6,000 miles. The logistics of towing, parking and maintaining a vehicular accessory was not what this National Park to Park Highway Tour was about.
Instead of buying or renting an RV we decided to turn our current truck into the Ultimate Camping Vehicle.
Our newest sponsor, Sam T Evans Trailers of Salt Lake City, hooked us up with a discount on a LEER DCC Truck Cap. It’s a commercial truck topper normally seen on construction sites that we are converting into a sleeping shelter for me, Mountain Dad and Baby L.
We decided on a truck cap so we could leave our beds unmade and not have to take so much time setting up and taking down camp every day. We want enough head room that we can sit up comfortably and something that might be useful after this trip is over. Hence the commercial series.
Big E and little g will have the option of sleeping on the bench seats inside the cab or in a nifty popup tent from our friends at Lucky Bums. It sets up instantly, but can be tricky to fold down. And since it’s not waterproof we’ll only use it when the chance of rain is minimal.
Baby L will have her own little baby tent attached to the tailgate as well. The KidCo PeaPod is the perfect size for a little one and with its easy popup feature it’ll be great for our littlest camper.
Since we’re sleeping in the back of our truck the next obvious question is, where will you put all your stuff? I’m glad you asked.
First we got a discount for a DECKED Truck Bed Organizer. Pullout drawers in the truck bed keep our tools/gear/food all organized. The waterproof top can support 2,000 pounds so we can still use it as a regular truck bed too.
Second, Yakima sponsored the perfect bike storage solution with the SwingDaddy 4 Bike Hitch Rack. With space for four bikes mounted to a swivel arm, the rack moves out of the way for easy access to the back of the vehicle WITHOUT UNLOADING THE BIKES EVERY TIME. Can you tell I’m excited about that?
Finally we’re getting a Yakima LoadWarrior Rooftop Cargo Basket to mount on top of the truck cap for all of those cumbersome items that won’t fit in the DECKEDor the cab.
Camping on the National Park to Park Highway
We’ve thought through how we want our National Park to Park Highway trip to go, but who knows if it will turn out how we expect. Camping is always an adventure whether it’s in a tent, an RV or in the Ultimate Camping Vehicle.
We’re always open to suggestions and tips. Have you ever camped in your car? What worked and what didn’t? Let us learn from your experience and hopefully we can make our National Park to Park Highway tour a total success. Leave a comment here or connect with us on twitter, instagram and facebook.
This post includes affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase something by clicking through these links. Thank you to our 2016 National Park to Park Highway Tour sponsors, several of whom are listed here. Check out our Sponsors page for more info about them.