I didn't have an agenda for our trip other than I knew we had to be in Las Vegas in 5 days. With only a few stops in mind, I headed out for a mostly spontaneous road trip. Going without a plan meant I could change the route we drove on a whim and we could stop to enjoy any spots that looked interesting.
The first place we stopped for a little hiking break was Beacon Rock State Park, located east of Porland, Oregon on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Beacon Rock is a 848-foot basalt column jutting out of the landscape with a plank trail nailed into the side of it. This relatively easy hike is not for those scared of heights. It's definitely a trail where you want to make sure your dog is wearing a sturdy harness and leash, JUST in case. It was worth the climb for the uniqueness of the trail and the beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge.
We camped the first night at Smith Rock State Park and tackled the Misery Ridge Trail. The name is a little misleading as it was steep but not that difficult. The short steep hike is worth it for the amazing views. Coming down the back side I enjoyed checking out all the spires. If you are in this area, give this trail a shot.
A quick stop to visit a friend in Mammoth Lakes, California resulted in a stunning hike to Convict Lake. This adventure made me glad that I had brought a waterproof, windproof jacket on my desert road trip. You never know what kind of gear you'll need with changing weather and elevations.
We made a point to visit Red Rock Conservation Area where a scenic road winds through the beautiful red rock canyon. There are many pull-outs with spur hiking trails but we didn't have time to venture too far from the road. Luckily, you don't need to get off the road in order to climb on some of the rocks. The heat definitely made me happy I brought my little hydration pack to stay hydrated in this dry country.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada's oldest state park, sounded cool when I spotted it on the map but I was blown away when we got there. I could have spent a whole day hiking this area with the dogs. Some trails looked like something you would find in Canyonlands National Park. Put this park on your Must-see bucket list.
I loved making a road trip out of my trip to Las Vegas. You really get the chance to explore when you travel by car instead of flying. I had such a blast and so did my dogs.
If taking a road trip with your dog sounds like fun to you, be sure to read my previous TeamSierra post 10 Tips for Adventure Road Tripping With Your Dog.
**Editor's Note: Jessica is a regular contributor to the Sierra Trading Post blog as part of #TeamSierra. For more information on adventuring with dogs visit her blog: You Did What With Your Weiner?