On The Road
Motorcycle Camping 12,000 miles across America
Editors Note: We’ve come to be good friends with Josh over the past year as he’s contributed to our Weekender series. Our path’s crossed this past summer in Grand Teton National Park and it was our first time seeing his motorcycle-camping setup in person. We shared an awesome campspot in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and heard stories from the road around a campfire. It was inevitable that we would do a video and a story on his travels.
The American road-trip is quite honestly a rather easy endeavor compared to just 20 years ago. Today’s vehicles are extremely reliable, interstates and highways have been paved to most anywhere in the lower 48, and mobile devices with GPS have made it nearly obsolete to plan routes ahead of time.
Don’t worry... None of that takes away from the pure fun of hitting the road, it just makes the actual driving part much less involved. Rolling down the highway in a plush suv or truck isn’t really a struggle in any way. Comfy chairs, climate control, and an endless view outside the window can easily melt the miles away.
He wanted his version of the American road-trip a bit more raw, a bit more involved
Josh Laskin had grown tired of the Philadelphian rat-race and needed a change. He wanted his version of the American road-trip a bit more raw, a bit more involved. By his estimation, the obvious choice for a more exciting road-trip would be to strap as much camping gear that would fit onto a motorcycle, learn the basics of mechanics, and hit the road with only a few exact destinations in mind. The rest would come as it may.
This would be a constant journey and the elements would become part of the daily routine.
Traveling by motorcycle meant being exposed to the elements at all times, both body and gear. It was akin to backpacking, something Josh had become quite skilled at during his time as a guide in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Except instead of weekend trips where you’d have time to wash and ready your gear, this would be a constant journey and the elements would become part of the daily routine.
It’s now been almost 7 months since the end of his trip and we asked Josh to share some of his photos as well as a few details about the trip:
Tell us about the motorcycle you used.
I bought a 1999 BMW F650 off of craigslist. I wanted something that could handle some dirt roads and still ride decent on the highways.
How many miles and how many days were you on the road?
I left at the beginning of June and ended in New Hampshire at the end of September. I did about 12,000 miles total in that time period.
What camping gear did you have with you?
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 tent, EMS 32 degree sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camp stove (I forget the brand), Black Diamond headlamp.
Favorite campspots along the way?
Pacific Creek in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Diamond peak wilderness (set up a basecamp before climbing Diamond Peak), northern Glacier NP, Hoover wilderness area in California.
What are some of the strangest places you set up camp?
So in Montana there was a rest stop which just consisted of two small bathrooms on the side of the road in the middle of a bunch of plains. I set up there and had an outlet to charge my phone and a sink for my dishes. People were coming in and out as they drove through and just looking at me while I had my tent set up and was doing dishes in the sink.
People were coming in and out as they drove through and just looking at me while I had my tent set up
I also set up in a lot of wal mart parking lots. I always made sure they were close to a holiday inn so I could go in in the morning for free breakfast. Specifically did that at one in Casper, WY
If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn't change anything from this last trip. I learned from my mistakes, and everything that I did and that happened was a part of the experience. With that being said, if I were to do it again, I would like to make the trip on a bike that is a bit more off-road capable. Whether that means modifying the bike I have, or getting a new one. I would also spend more time outside of this country, either in Canada on the way to Alaska, or heading down to South America. I wouldn't want to repeat the exact same trip again.
I learned from my mistakes, and everything that I did and that happened was a part of the experience.
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Tough to find where the ocean ends and the stars begin at this campspot in Polihale State Park.
Colorful campspots are a plenty in the Columbia Hills of Eastern Washington.
Bridger-Teton National Forest is a great option for free camping with sought-after skies.