We interviewed 7 campervan bloggers that you should be following. In this series, we’ll be going over their best tips for places to go, things to do, and what to eat along the way!
Ben Leo Davis
To say that Ben gives his all to his work is an understatement. Ben once ran barefoot on the frozen Icelandic ground to photograph the Northern Lights. While he couldn’t feel his feet, he did get the shots. If that doesn’t explain Ben’s dedication to travel photography, nothing does! Considering he’s Australian, being barefoot in Iceland is no small feat (no pun intended)!
What is your all-time favorite place to campervan in the US?
During my 8-week road trip through the States, I found it extremely hard to choose my ‘all-time favorite’ place to visit. I enjoyed every second of my road trip, especially when every state in the US is different from the rest. One day you could be driving through some of America’s harshest deserts, then the next day, you could be driving through some of America’s lushest national forests. The bonus, Travellers Autobarn, made my 8-week road trip easy!
Here are some of my top ‘all-time favorite places to campervan in the US’
What can I say? This is my favorite place in California. This is a must-see place to visit, only a short 4-hour drive from LA when road tripping in America. From its winding roads that wrap around the huge granite cliff faces to its ginormous tall Californian black oak trees on the valley floor of Yosemite. I would easily spend a good week here exploring what this amazing National Park has to offer!
Ahhhh Oregon! This would have to be my most favorite state in America to visit. From its lush, dense rainforests with hundreds of waterfalls to its man-made hot springs where you can relax, kick back and really take in what America has to offer. Oh, and how can I forget about the Oregon Coast? From start to finish, this coastal road is to die for, offering you its amazing beaches and rock formations from every mile. That is what makes Oregon my favorite place to visit!
What spot is on your bucket list to campervan in the US?
I’ve been to America 3 times now. I’ve remembered the first time I was desperate to find this secret tree swing in the hidden hills of the Californian west coast; I gave up hope trying to find it. The second time around, I asked a few people, but they weren’t really keen on giving up the location that easily, but they did give me a hint to find it. I did some research and a lot of scouting on Google Maps, and I stumbled across some similar hills, and there it was, a lonesome tree in the middle of nowhere on top of a hill. They always say, ‘third times a charm’!
What is your go-to campervan meal?
This would easily have to be classic spaghetti.
1/2 c. finely grated fresh parmesan
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. oregano
32 oz. marinara
2 c. shredded mozzarella
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
What is the top tip you’d give to people who don’t campervan often or are headed out on their first trip?
When I first made my road trip in America, my biggest issue was where could I possibly camp the night without getting woken up at all hours of the morning and asked to “move on.” My answer to that is you can stay at any Walmart parking lot for free. This is a bonus for you as you will not be alone as the majority of the people who have campervans or motorhomes will stay there the night.
My second option would be if you aren’t near any Walmart, you can download the Wikicamps app; this app is perfect as it shows you where you can stay for free or for a small fee. If you decide to stay in a campground, a bonus is you have free access to all their facilities like toilets & showers. I would recommend if you decide to freedom camp, avoiding doing so in national parks as there are huge fines.
How we recommend you visit these places
The most visited park in California and one of the most popular in the nation, Yosemite National Park is on many a bucket list. While the entire park is a prime spot for all photographers, Half Dome stands out and holds its own fame. The 17-mile trail that gains nearly 5000 feet of elevation has takers lining up every year and sends many home to try again another day. If this sounds like you, we applaud you! Prepare well, and if you want a good night’s sleep ahead of time, renting a campervan in nearby Los Angeles is the best thing you can do.
For the Half Dome hikers, the Upper Pines campground is the perfect stop (and right next to Half Dome)! If your days are a little more relaxed, consider the Bridalveil Creek campsite.
Even if Half Dome isn’t on your agenda, there are plenty of ways to take in the majesty of Yosemite. For a shorter hike, the Lower Yosemite Falls trail is just over a mile and features a lake! If you want to stretch your legs for longer than that, the Valley Loop Trail to Mirror Lake is about six miles long and still has a body of water to enjoy.
What else is in the area?
Yosemite is bridged by a number of national forests, including the Inyo, Sierra, and Stanislaus National Forests. If you have time on your hands and fancy a longer walk, the John Muir wilderness is only a drive away. This challenging trail is a favorite of thru-hikers who want a more solitary long trail. You can always choose to do this hike as a section hike if you only have a few days or weeks available!
Planning to make a stop in the Inyo National Forest? Park your campervan at the Boulder Creek RV Resort
Planning to make a stop in the Sierra National Forest? Camp at the Whisky Falls campground.
Planning to make a stop in the Stanislaus National Forest? Stop at the Pinecrest campground by Pinecrest Lake.
The state of Oregon has so much to offer your campervan trip. With lush green expanses as far as the eye can see and a coastline near the Pacific Crest Highway that you can drive for hours and not get tired of, Oregon is a campervan dream.
If you’re short on time, you have to see Crater Lake National Park and Mt. Hood National Forest. You’ll definitely want to take your campervan to Crater Lake as it is Oregon’s only national park. Crater Lake has one of the most scenic drives in the contiguous United States, so don’t leave the van just yet! The Crater Lake rim drive does exactly what it sounds like and takes you around the edge of Crater Lake. Check for closures and allot at least two hours. The drive is only 33 miles (53 km) long, but you’ll want to take the time to park at the scenic pullouts and take pictures. When you’re done with driving, Crater Lake has ample hiking and water activities to keep you busy! When you find yourself tired at the end of the day, camp in the park at the Mazama Village Campground.
For Mt. Hood, there’s plenty to do in the summer too! While often associated with skiing, there are plenty of summer road trip activities to partake in as well! Spend some time relaxing at Trillium Lake, drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Loop, or venture into the Mt. Hood Wilderness if you’re feeling adventurous! Speaking of adventure, if you have kids in tow, they’ll love the Mt. Hood Outfitters (formerly known as Mt. Hood Adventure Park) for all the activities they have to offer! Once you’ve had all the fun you can handle, camp at the Trillium Lake campground.
Good luck on your travels!
If you rented your campervan in LA, you have the option to drop it off in San Francisco or Las Vegas if your travels don’t take you back to Southern California just yet!
Thanks to Ben for taking the time to sit down with us! If you’re interested in learning more about Ben and his work, you can follow him on Instagram.
Check out our other interviews from this series.
Interview Series: Elliot Chau
Interview Series: Cody Conk
Interview Series: Jose Mostajo
Interview Series: The Escape Artists—Sydney and Davis
Interview Series: The Awkward Tourist—Kelly Lacy
Interview Series: Fame is a Fickle Food—Soha
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.