5 Picture-Perfect Places For Your Next Road Trip

Archie hanging out amongst the palm trees in California. All photos courtesy of Nick Bowersox. 

In June 2018, Nick Bowersox, BAJ’11, and Sarah (Ricker), BAJ’11, hit the road in their renovated, 1966 Airstream named “Archie”—paying homage to IU Bloomington’s men’s basketball coach, Archie Miller.

For the next six months, the married couple traveled across 21 states, making 65 stops in their 22-foot home that was hitched to their Ford F150.

In order to live on the road full time, Sarah quit her job, and Nick continued his marketing work remotely.

“We wanted to [find out] what happens when you strip away all the comforts that you have in a routine, in an apartment or a house … what makes you happy? What fulfills you?” Sarah says.

Together, they set out with the intention of “creating more, consuming less” and finding the beauty in their own backyard.

“The U.S. has these amazing parks and places to visit, and you can do them all by car,” Nick says. “It was really eye-opening to experience—I think that a lot of us take [the U.S.] for granted.”

Nick and Sarah visited 12 national parks along their 18,000-mile journey. Their biggest takeaway? Always stray off the beaten path.

“A lot of the places that were the most important to us were after an hourlong hike. They were hard to get to, so you had to really earn it,” Nick says.

“Honestly, some of the places that were the most Instagram-friendly were some of our least favorite places because there were too many people. There was no way to really enjoy the nature.”

Keep reading for Nick and Sarah’s take on their five most memorable pit stops on their cross-country trek with Archie.

1. Nomad View in Buffalo Gap National Grassland

Nick and Sarah Bowersox in Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park
Wall, S.D.

“This was our first taste of “boondocking,” or camping with no hookups. The camping is free, and you can park at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Badlands. [This was] one of the most remote and peaceful camping experiences of our trip. But beware of high winds!”


2. Tom Dick and Harry Mountain Trail

Nick and Sarah on the Tom Dick and Harry Mountain Trail with Mount Hood in the distance.

Mount Hood National Forest
Government Camp, Ore.

“You’ll climb over 1,700 feet in a little over 7.5 miles. Along the way, you will see Mount Hood reflecting on Mirror Lake. Continue climbing until you reach the peak of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. From the peak, Mirror Lake is now tiny, and you are almost eye to eye with all of Mount Hood in the distance.”


3. Thornhill Broome Campground

Sarah reading at sunset after parking Archie on the sands of Thornhill Broome Campground.

Malibu, Calif.

“If you can, drive south down the Pacific Coast Highway to camp at Thornhill Broome Campground just outside of Malibu. The campsite is directly on the beach and costs a fraction of what Malibu campgrounds cost.”


4. Trail Ridge Road

Archie making the trek up Trail Ridge Road.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, Colo.

“Driving east to west on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll climb 12,000 feet in elevation and see some of the most stunning views of the mountain range without ever leaving your car. It’s a bit of a treacherous drive, so make sure your rig isn’t too big!”


5. Canyon Rim Campground

Sarah marveling at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Dutch John, Utah

“This campsite is less crowded. You’ll camp at an elevation of 7,400 feet near the Red Canyon Rim for one of the most epic sunrises you can imagine.”

Bonus: “If you’re looking to swim, search for your own private cove in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir near Mustang Ridge Campground.”

Sarah lounging in a private cove of Flaming Gorge Reservoir near Mustang Ridge Campground

Read more about Nick and Sarah’s adventures with Archie here.

Written By
Samantha Stutsman
Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind. native and a content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.