Adventure Labs and Wanderlust Collective take on the SouthwestPosted by Harry Stewart on
Travel Opportunities Are Changing
Before Facebook, Instagram, and the rise of social media, only a select few were lucky enough to get paid to travel. But these days, everyday people can ditch the standard 9 till 5 and live out their wildest dreams.
Our latest foray is the ideal example, and we want to take you along for the ride!
Meet Kevin, Connor, and Carlos, three creatives from North California with a passion for the outdoors and adventure. We’re filmmakers and photographers, and we’re focused on growing our Instagram feed which has over 224k followers and counting.
The Journey Begins
We’ve long yearned to explore and document the beauty of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. And what better time to do so than during the amazing colors of fall?
To finance our trip, we partnered with Chillbo, Nissan, and Guayaki, promising to capture raw moments of unrivaled natural beauty en route.
This would be one hell of a bumpy ride.
After heading south for 500 miles, we arrived at the “Hole in the Wall” campground in the Mojave Desert.
The landscapes were epic, but we’re still stumped as to why it’s called “Hole in the Wall.”
Setting up camp at night isn’t our forte.
Yet in spite of the limited light and the relentless wind, we managed to erect our three Chillbo Cabbins tents in a few minutes flat. Not bad for a first attempt.
The next morning, with hearty feed and strong caffeine kick to power us on, we were in the 4x4 en route to the Valley of Fire!
THE VALLEY OF FIRE
Las Vegas greeted us with traffic jams and urban sprawl - exactly what we’d set out to avoid. After hustling our way through the congestion for an eternity, we finally arrived at the Valley of Fire State Park Campground.
But disappointment turned to gratification as we cruised through the stunning sights of the barren valley. As the sunset began to cast ochre colored hues across the landscape, we whipped out our Chillbo Shwaggins inflatable loungers to watch the spectacle with a Guayaki Yerba Mate in hand.
After basking in nature’s majestic end of day display, we hit the road in search of somewhere to crash.
But it wasn’t to be easy because everywhere was full. Again.
Eventually, a friendly ranger led us to a little-known public campground where we set up for the night. BLM for the win!! A crackling bonfire, a clear starry sky, and a bottle of whiskey always make for the perfect end to the day.
The next morning we awoke to dark clouds and the pitter patter of raindrops. To make matters worse, Connor was still processing yesterday’s footage so we had to ride out the “storm.”
Thankfully, the front porch in our Chillbo Cabbins kept our precious gear dry. Upload complete. Computer, bone dry!
The rain finally subsided as we cruised back to the Valley of Fire. Better yet, most of the other tourists had bailed on the wet weather so we had the popular spot all too ourselves.
Our next mission was to hook up with Dan from the Bolt Collective at a private ranch on the road to Zion National Park.
Dan led us up to the campsite where we were greeted by more rain. At least we had an opportunity to give the Nissan Titan’s 4x4 mode a good work out in the slick red clay.
And we gave it one heck of a work out indeed.
As we passed a slew of abandoned cars on the side of the road, we began to wonder if we’d bitten off more than we could chew.
But our trusty steed performed remarkably well as we churned uphill through the relentless mud.
The sun was setting and the rain showed no sign of letting up. After fishtailing our way up for a half hour or so, we reached a particularly unpassable section packed full of bogged cars.
We definitely weren’t getting through this muck any time soon. Nor was anybody else for that matter. It was the end of the road.
As content creators, we always push on to score that perfect shot. But sometimes, there just ain’t much you can do.
Covered in mud and with nowhere else to go, we cooked up a hearty feast and swapped travel stories with the other stranded adventurers.
Once we’d had our fill, it was time to head back downhill the way we came.
As you might expect, we couldn’t see shit and were sliding all over the place.
After somehow avoiding an endless array of ruts and other vehicles on our harrowing and tractionless descent, we finally made it back to our campsite and retired for the night.
Zion National Park was the next step, and even the omnipresent “campground full sign” couldn’t deter our spirits. After all, we were cruising along windy roads surrounded by cactus-clad canyons and menacing red ravines.
We found a few spectacular places to explore, but securing a camping ground was always on the back of our mind.
Eventually, we scored the ideal spot with an astounding panoramic vista. And setting the tents up in the daylight for once was the icing on the cake.
Moab, Utah was next up and we were in for a long day on the road.
By chance, we stumbled across an amazing lookout called Sand Bench while on a restroom break. The view was incredible in every direction, but a towering mesa in the distance is what really caught our eye.
We knew getting up there would be dangerous, but it’d also be the ultimate place to unwind on our lounges and take some amazing pics. And hey, that’s what we’re all about.
Despite being flanked by deadly precipices on either side, we all agreed the risk was worth the reward.
After yet another long-ass drive of more miles than we cared to keep track of, we finally rolled into Moab.
Just our luck. Every damn campsite was taken yet again.
A hotel would have to do. And although we always prefer to sleep under the stars, there’s no denying the joys of a hot shower and a soft bed.
The next day we made a beeline for Arches National Park.
The sheer beauty of its ancient rock formations, canyons, and boulders was something to behold. And the mile-long hike to Delicate Arch was utterly worthwhile, not least as an idyllic spot to chill out.
Next stop. Denver, Colorado.
As we drove into the Mile-high city, it started getting chilly and we figured snow was on the cards.
As it was dark, we weren’t even sure if those crucial fall colors were still popping.
Had we left it too late?
At least we had a fancy Airbnb to look forward to.
Once we’d charged up our gear, we set out for the day in search of those famous fall colors.
Turns out it was too late after all.
Oh well, maybe we’d find some up in the mountains.
And at least we could suss out the coolest Denver hangouts in the meantime. Naturally, that’d include ample amounts of local craft beer.
Once Denver was done and dusted, we changed course for the Bonneville Salt Flats, opting for a longer and more scenic route in the hopes we’d spot some fall colors along the way.
It dawned on us that our leaf-peeping mission had turned into an epic fail. Hopefully, the sponsors wouldn’t be too bitter about the ordeal.
BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS
We love a good salt flat and had wanted to photograph the joint for a long time. The way there was a journey unto itself as you pass nothing but empty swathes of desolate white land for miles on end.
Before sundown, we drove into the canyons to look for a campsite and found an epic view between the peaks.
The wind was savage, which is not uncommon in such a vast expanse. Luckily, our trusty Chillbo Cabbins were up for the test.
Our Titan also worked like a charm in 4x4 mode, proving itself a pleasure to take off-road. We found an ideal spot to chill and managed to snap some sweet shots of the vast landscape.
On the way back, we may even have done a donut or two.
Pro tip #1: Driving on salt flats after rain is risky business. Another 4x4 got bogged and had to book a pricey tow truck to freedom. Thankfully for us, our Titan was up to the challenge.
As it turns out, camping in the salt flats is no easy feat either. The wind was too ferocious for us to cook and refused to relent the whole night through. We slept hungry, eventually eating at daybreak the following morning.
*This mug was a bit ironic at the time. Despite the extreme sleep deprivation and the wind, we did manage to enjoy our last meal.
A 12-hour road trip packed full of tunes and podcasts saw us arrive back in the Bay Area.
Home at last.
4,000 miles over 10 days had been quite the road trip indeed.
Although we ran into a few hiccups along the way - such as missing the fall leaves entirely - we still managed to have an amazing time and shoot some awesome photographs and footage.
After all, there really is nothing like a good old American road trip to appreciate the finer things in life.
ProTip #2: Even the most carefully considered travel plans can easily go astray. Always be prepared to rip them up and go with the flow.
There’s much more to the work of a content creator than the wanderlust worthy pics you see on our Insta feed. And although it can be challenging at times, we love every minute.
Huge thanks to Chillbo, Nissan, and Guayaki for making this trip possible. These brands understand how digital media is revolutionizing the world.
Until the next Adventure,
-Adventure Labs x Wonderlust Collective
Adventure Labs is an outdoor and adventure content creation collective based in Northern California that operates on passion, creativity, exploration, and impact. They are experts in strengthening relationships between brands and their consumers by telling authentic stories through videography, photography, and social engagement. They live every day inspired to help individuals find their own adventures and live to the fullest. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do or if you want to follow our next adventure to Thailand and Bali, connect with us on Instagram @adventurelabs or at www.adventurelabsmedia.com.
Wonderlust Collective is an adventure travel community that collaborates with like-minded individuals from across the globe. We showcase memorable experiences to motivate others to explore their surroundings. With an audience of over 223K, we help brands amplify their story and products to future loyal customers. We’d love to hear from you, reach us at www.wonderlustcollective.co or Instagram @wonderlustcollective. Cheers!
- Tags: adventure adventure labs ameria america arches national park bolt collective BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS cabbins camping chillbo Colorado. Denver don poolio hiking MOAB Nissan Titan outdoor shwaggins the valley of fire travel usa utah wonderlust collective Zion National Park