A Snowbird’s Utah and Arizona Solo Road Trip – Backseat Bivy

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A Snowbird’s Utah and Arizona Solo Road Trip

Posted by Nicholas Haycock on
A Snowbird’s Utah and Arizona Solo Road Trip

It was the Spring of 2023. My legs still ached from running 130 km and well over 7000 m of mountains crossing the island of Gran Canaria in Spain. The scenes of dinosaur-esque craggy rocks imprinted in my mind, with the suffering of heavy legs running through the night. The post-race dopamine hit was beginning to crash, and so were my spirits as I flew home and saw the white-topped Rocky Mountains of Canmore, Alberta. Winter still had a strong grip, but my mind was hooked on summer after tasting the sun’s warmth in Spain.

I promised myself I’d hit the road if no dirt were found. 

There wasn’t. 

My red 2009 Subaru was still in the shop. After some maintenance work, I learned I needed a new timing belt at least 50,000 km ago. Best play ignorance and pray luck would be on my side. The road was calling…

(If you want some tips for solo road-tripping, see below).

2000 km later, I found myself in Moab—the orange, Mars-like, hippy town. Oddly, it reminded me of my hometown of Nelson. I felt at home.

Love the Moab dirt!

I’ll have to go back to bike this loop from town. Can you guess the mountains?

Every night, I found a road just outside town (and the park) and drove up a few miles. I parked my Suby on a relatively flat surface. Then, I organized the back of my car (usually shuffling food bags to the front seat) and dove into my cozy sleeping bag with a blanket overtop. It only took 3 to 5 minutes to settle as I had my handy Backseat Bivy already laid out. What I love about the Bivy is that it compartmentalizes your stuff. I could easily tuck shoes or valuables in the passenger’s foot zone, and the Bivy hides them all quite nicely.

The Backseat Bivy makes car camping so easy!

In the morning, I washed my face with water from my large jug and a cloth (stay fresh!). I had some oatmeal with protein powder and dried fruit for breakfast. Then, it is time to floss and brush your teeth. I always had a garbage and recycling bag or box on the go!


I was attempting to stay semi-fresh (grease taking hold, though).

The other road trippers and I all seemed to have found the same cafe to get some Wi-Fi and pretend like we were normal adults, working for a few hours, sucking up the internet. The Moab Coffee Roasters staff didn’t seem to mind, and I didn’t mind treating myself to the Desert Sage hot beverage they served. So good!

I used a cooler to keep some fresh veggies, yogurt, and other foods fresh. Stocking up at Trader Joe’s was a must-stop!

And yes, I showered every 2-6 days (semi-spread out). I would pinch my pennies and go to a rec center to work out and then shower. That’s when you sleep really well. 

After Moab, I hit Flagstaff, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott, Phoenix, and Black Canyon City to train. At the time, I was primarily gravel biking. I’d highly recommend them all! There are tons of adventurous gravel roads to get on. 

Classic Sedona gravel adventure, hot and orange rock!

One of the benefits of Social Media is you can post a story or a shoutout, and ask your friends to see if you know anyone anywhere. I sent out the good word and caught quite a few friends to visit. Seeing familiar faces in new places is always such a treat!

I highly recommend biking up to Crown King Saloon! You can make quite the loop (or there and back) on a gravel bike!

Sometimes, I went way far out there. 

It’s easy to do on a gravel bike. 

Sometimes I wondered, what if? Would anyone know if something happened?

What if I got smooshed like this guy?

One day, I ran out of water, still 80 km from anywhere. Thankfully, a random dude on a dirt bike passed by and offered to refill my water.

In no-man’s land, or not many of them anyways…

I always carried my Garmin InReach, and I highly recommend that anyone doing such solo adventures do so!

The sun went down, and all I had was one crappy headlamp. With wild boars rustling in the bushes and a highway to hammer down back to the car, my heart may have skipped a few beats...

After two and a half months, I realized it was time to go home. Alas, I made the long trek back (though quite bearable after stopping at Bryce Canyon and The Grand Canyon.

The mighty Grand Canyon is mighty alright.

Bryce, by bike on a cold day! But rewarding, nonetheless.

My top tips for Solo Road tripping:

  • Tell someone where you are going and check in with them at least every few days.
  • Enjoy solo time but meet up with friends now and again.
  • Strike up conversations with strangers (yes, it’s 2024, but seriously, humankind needs less screen time).
  • Download Offline Maps on Google to get directions on your phone without using data (important if you want to save $$ traveling in a different country).
  • Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music to help the drive go by. 
  • Have an easy car camping setup that allows you to sleep comfortably. check out Backseat Bivy for tips!
  • Use a cooler with ice to store fresh fruits, veggies, dairy, or meat. Check your food regularly to see what you need to eat ASAP!
  • Maintain hygiene by washing your face, flossing, brushing your teeth, and occasionally showering. 
  • If you get spooked at night, play calm music, sing a song, or read a book. Over time, you will get used to being solo. 
  • But lock your doors when sleeping and have your keys nearby. 
  • Use towels, clothes, or pre-jig a curtain system to snooze past the sunrise and have privacy. 
  • Do number two somewhere responsible! It's best if you can park by an outhouse; otherwise, dig a hole and bury it. 
  • Take your trash to a garbage and recycle when you can!
  • Have fun and soak in the adventure of living on the road:) 

Into the unknown... A known place near Cottonwood and Prescott.

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