Northern California RV Road Trip: Volcanoes, Redwoods, and Bears... OH MY!

Updated: Jul 1, 2018

As you know from the previous blogs about our Northern California Road Trip, Al and I didn't leave much time to spare. Our next stop was to visit Mt. Shasta and of course we kept that trend going. That meaning, even though we didn't leave Lassen Volcanic National Park until sunset we headed straight for our campground at Lake Siskiyou.

Muir Woods National Monument (sneak peak)

Mount Shasta

We looked at this whole road trip as an epic hiking and photography adventure and man did it prove it to be one. Mount Shasta ended up on our list as more of a photography spot for us rather than a hiking one. We booked our campsite at Lake Siskiyou because we saw how it had amazing views of Mt. Shasta. To give you a little background of Mt. Shasta it is a "potentially active" volcano in the Cascade range while being the fifth-highest peak in the state of California. That's a pretty big deal sitting at over 14,000 feet! How could we miss the opportunity to see it for ourselves?!

We arrived late at night to our very quite campsite and decided to take advantage of it. How awesome would it be to get some star photography with Mt. Shasta in it?! We knew Lake Siskiyou was in walking distance so we grabbed the camera and headed over. It was very nerve-racking being in black bear territory throughout the trip and this was no different. I felt like that quarter mile walk was one of the longest walks even though we were on a very active trip. We already heard about bear activity near our previous campsites as well as stories from locals so how could I not be scared? Every site that we stayed at had bear canisters for you to put your food in as well as signs EVERYWHERE about bears. We were lucky we had an RV to feel safe in but we weren't going to constrain ourselves because we were there to explore.

Once we safely got to the lake we were looking all over the place for the view of Mt. Shasta. All we saw was this average size hump. Was that it? Man did they fudge the truth on their website. Well it was still a beautiful spot so we were going to take advantage of it. We took some great shots and then headed back to the RV to get a good night of sleep.

Lake Siskiyou

We headed back to the lake the next day to see what it had to offer during daytime. As we walked onto the beach and looked straight ahead both of our mouths dropped open in surprise. What we were witnessing now was not what we saw last night. We soon put it together that Mt. Shasta was too far away to actually be able to see it at night and what we really saw were the pine trees along the lake. The views of Mt. Shasta ended up being even better than expected. So of course we headed right back to the RV to grab the camera to take the pictures we were hoping to get from the beginning. The stop at Mt. Shasta was a short one but definitely worth the stop for that view.

Mount Shasta at Lake Siskiyou

One thing I'll never forget is the conversation I overhead while leaving the campsite. Apparently there were 3 active bears at the site the night before. Yup! My fears held truth but luckily the bears didn't want anything to do with us. On to the last stop of the trip!

Muir Woods National Monument

Al was a trooper, once again, with our longest drive of the trip yet; over 5 hours to our campsite for Muir Woods. We didn't plan it out so great considering we left around rush hour and ended up in way more traffic than we hoped. At least we weren't on mountain roads the whole time but driving a slow RV on major highways isn't so fun either. But we got there... late at night for the last time. We ended up in a camp site that we were pretty sure was only meant for cars so good thing we had a 19ft RV and nothing bigger. Each campsite was unique, like the place itself, while having their own qualities. This campsite was especially amazing. We were immersed in tall redwood trees the entire time with hardly any neighbors surrounding us.

The next day we woke up and headed straight to Muir Woods National Monument. Since we were trying to do different activities at each destination we decided this one would be a little more touristy than usual. Because of how busy it was there we ended up having to park pretty far away and hike our way into the park. We were actually glad we had to do that to have a little more hiking built into the trip. Al and I took the day to soak in the redwood trees and take tons of pictures and videos to remember how amazing it was. I remember not being able to tell if it was sunny or not because the trees blocked your entire view of the sky. It wasn't until we had a perfect spot of the sun coming through that we were able to tell.

Muir Woods National Monument

And then it was the last night of the trip. It didn't end in calmness like one would hope but with one last worry that a bear was right outside our RV. Yup, that's right. In the middle of the night we woke up to what sounded like banging against the dumpster located right next to our RV. We automatically assumed that there was a bear trying to break into it since it wasn't very secure. Well that ruined that night of sleep! Once it was time for breakfast I didn't want to leave the RV because I was pretty sure there was a bear out there waiting for me. However, when we went to take our final garbage out to the dumpster, we slowly opened it and found a raccoon staring straight at us! The poor little guy got stuck in there and was trying to escape all night. We were in the clear one last time!

"We didn't go on vacation, we went on an adventure."

It always makes me sad, like anyone else, when the time comes to pack everything up and get ready to leave. There were definitely some things we weren't going to miss like driving the RV and never having time to eat actual meals but looking back I'm so glad that we did go through everything we did. Yes, we overbooked ourselves. Yes, we bickered because of the added responsibilities we had on top of physically exhausting ourselves. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. Al and I went into this trip knowing that we were going to be exhausted and that we would have more responsibilities than your normal vacation but, most of all, we knew we were going to have an epic trip. When we came back everyone was asking us how our "vacation" was and every time we would correct them by saying "we didn't go on vacation, we went on an adventure". And that's exactly what it was. When you think of taking an adventure you think of all the struggles you go through in the process but how absolutely amazing it feels once you get there. That's exactly how it was for us each and every day during this road trip. At each stop we would feel overwhelmed thinking about everything we wanted to do and then in the process of doing it we would feel tired and fatigued but once we fully got there we felt overjoyed. Accomplished. Alive. Successful. And that's what an adventure is all about. It's about growing as an individual and overcoming your own weaknesses. It's about getting outside of your comfort zone and exploring something new. There's so much to see in the world and so many activities to take part in so why go on a "vacation" when you can experience an epic adventure and make memories like no other?

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#bucketlist #travel #hiking #goals #adventure #photography #NorthernCalifornia #RV #roadtrip #mtshasta #muirwoods


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