30 hours, five states, and three natural wonders—that’s what it took to drive all the way from San Antonio, Texas to Hood River, Oregon. Of course, no one really enjoys spending that many hours in a car, so the thought of driving for that long and for that far can be quite daunting; however, like a wise man once said, “the joy is in the journey.” After packing up and stocking up on plenty of travel-size snacks, the road trip was underway. A little special thanks to the folks at Lone Star Carpet Care who took care of a little toilet overflow accident the day before we left for our trip. They saved my bacon.
Our route took us the majority of the way on I-84, from Texas, up through New Mexico, into Utah, passing through Idaho, before finally reaching Oregon at the final stop of the journey. The goal was to find one beautiful stopping point in each of the three states we passed through. The keys to reaching our goal were to look closely at every map, download every travel app we could find, and read all the hottest online reviews for every tourist stop imaginable. Somehow, someway, we pulled it off.
Our first stop was in New Mexico at what’s been called the “Bisti Badlands.” The badlands are one of New Mexico’s most beautiful and unusual scenery. Rolling on for acres and acres, the badlands are rock formations made of sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal and silt. Apparently the word “bisti” was derived from the Navajo language and means “a large area of shale hills.” Since the area of the badlands is considered a protected “Wilderness Area,” we had to park the car and hike through the desert to find the badland formations. Apart from the incredible sights that we were able to take in, it was just as enjoyable to have an opportunity to hike and stretch our legs after being in the car for a couple of hours.
On the Road to Hood River, Oregon
Following the badlands, it was back on the road with the GPS set to the Homestead Crater in northern Utah’s Heber Valley. The Crater is a 55-foot tall geothermal spring hidden under the earth. From the outside, it looks like a lot like a beehive. The Crater, which is made of limestone rock, was formed when melting snow seeped into the ground from the Wasatch Mountains. The coolest part about this stop? We were actually able to swim in the center of the Crater. We even saw other visitors scuba diving, snorkeling, and taking a paddleboard yoga class. After a few hours of exploring, we decided to spent the night at a lodge right near the Homestead Crater and continue our journey the next morning.
Hitting the road bright and early, the next stop was the Black Cliffs of Idaho. Made of volcanic basalt lava rock, the tall formations shoot up high into the sky—ideal for rock climbing. A long way from our starting point in Texas, the Black Cliffs provided the perfect opportunity to get a little adventurous and active before reaching our final destination in Oregon. We climbed and climbed, and upon reaching the top we were able to see a breathtaking view of the Boise River winding through the Lucky Peak Reservoir. With one last look at the Cliffs, it was back on the road as we started on the final leg of the trip.
Just about 5 hours later, we made it to Hood River, Oregon! We had completed our 2,009 mile journey and succeeded in reaching our destination. While we were ready to explore all that Hood River had to offer, we knew our adventure had already started.