Categories: CampingGuides & hacks

Road Trip Guide: Adventuring through America’s Heartland

We’d like to introduce our first Field Scout Road Trip Recap from Michelle Park! Field Scouts are experienced photographers and camping aficionados who shoot and verify the accuracy of private Hipcamp listings. In addition to visiting new properties one-at-a-time, Field Scouts can also claim thoughtfully-curated Road Trips for extra cash and Hipcamp credit.

At the end of each Road Trip, we ask scouts to share their stories on our Journal so our whole camping community can get a jam-packed adventure guide to these cool, sometimes lesser-traveled areas.

Want to share your own road trip guide on the Hipcamp Journal? Submit your idea to us here.

Road Trip Rundown

Road trip: 3 properties, 2 states (Arkansas and Missouri)
Destinations: Tripletop In Wooldridge, MO
Dockley Ranch, MO
JB Trading Co Campground, AR
Driving distance: ~250 miles
Trip length: 7 days
Road trippers: 3
Theme song:
Most essential item: Jetboil
Best meal: Gluten-free pancakes (Trader Joe’s mix) with blueberries, and an egg scramble with avocado, chicken sausage, onions, and bell pepper. And coffee, of course.
Biggest challenge: Flash floods and violent storms. We were very unprepared for the tempestuous weather. We got a flat tire right before a huge storm hit because we didn’t have four wheel drive on our way to a property (the road was really bad).
Favorite memory: After we drove and slept in the worst of all storms, the weather cleared up tremendously on our first day in Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. My friends and I danced/cartwheeled in acres and acres of sunshine surrounded by horses and baby goats, like little kids. We did yoga on top of a massive boulder and just lay in the grass staring up into the clouds.

Trip Supplies

Gear Food
3 lenses, memory cards, laptop, chargers
2 solar-charged lanterns
Camp mug
Camp dinnerware
Swiss army knife
Climbing rope
Quick draws
Petzl Harness
Climbing shoes
Hiking shoes
Sleeping bag and pad
Bug spray
Disposable Cooler
Water bottle
Climbing Horseshoe Canyon Guide Book
Almond butter and honey
Fruit and veggies
GF Pancake Mix
Chips and salsa
Hummus and carrots
Chicken sausage
GF Past and marinara
2 bottles of Wine, beer, and a bottle of tequila

Trip Route

Stories from the Road

One of the greatest things about a road trip is how unpredictable life becomes. Apart from controlling the kind of gear and food you pack, you are giving yourself up to the open road, meeting all kinds of people, and reaching new levels of weird with your buds. Maybe you’ll get caught in flash floods, maybe you’ll get a flat tire, maybe your tent will perpetually smell like salsa, maybe you end up in a hot tub surrounded by goats, maybe you buy your first bottle of Jose Cuervo…

But sure enough, everything adds up to a glorious whirlwind of playlists of all decades, landscapes changing right before your eyes, and working creatively as a team on just about everything. This is why road trips are one of my favorites ways to inaugurate a new summer. No matter what, you’re going to end up with quite a memorable list of “remember when?”s and “I can’t believe that happened”s.

My Hipcamp road trip through America’s heartland (the Midwest) started in Kansas City. (If you ever get a chance to go there, make sure to hit up as many coffee spots as you can: Thou Mayest Coffee, Quay, Broadway Café, and Parisi). Our goal: drive and camp down from KC to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas to lead climb at the legendary North 40. From KC, we headed south into Missouri and pitched our tent up in a beautiful big oak tree right in the middle of a farm.

Then we stayed at the serene Dockley Ranch in the Missouri Ozarks, where it was lush and green as far as the eye could see. Out there, the peacefulness envelops you with fresh morning dew and the sound of baby goats bleating off in the distance.

The Ozarks were even more beautiful than we could’ve expected. What we also weren’t expecting: flash flood warnings and camping in booming thunderstorms that us California girls are definitely not used to. The winds and rain were extremely fierce but thankfully, we were nestled safely in a cabin with a roof over our heads, a walkie-talkie to call our hosts, and a trusty bottle of red wine.

And then…the storms just kept getting worse. But we pressed forward! And when we finally hit Arkansas, we immediately knew we were in climbing territory as tree lines got thicker and huge bluffs became visible.

We stayed at JB Trading Co., where we could restock our gear and recharge our batteries in their joint outdoor retail store. JB was also only 29 min away from our climbing destination Horse Shoe Canyon Ranch, so we were able to wait out the storms in JB’s sturdy safari tents before heading out to climb.

Horseshoe Canyon is a dude ranch that offers nearly 420 routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.14. We knew this place was going to be supremely epic, but after all the belligerent storming and flooded roads, our hopes of climbing anything were pretty low. But to our delight, the sun finally reappeared in full force and as we drove into the ranch, it truly looked and felt like a slice of paradise. There were enormous horses roaming freely around the forests, families of goats napping on all the grassy hills, and an infinite blue sky above us.

We spent the next couple of days running around like kids with candy, doing yoga on top of a boulder, climbing our hearts out, and soaking in the hot tub. We even got sun burnt.

If you haven’t already, corral your friends and hit the damn road. You won’t regret it! America is truly a treasure trove of unpredictable adventure and a road trip is an easy way to take explorative action. By the time I’m old and gray, I want to look back on all the days that I ventured out into the wilderness of my own, beautiful, country. “Yup that’s right,” I’ll tell people with a fat grin on my face, “I used to rock climb on a dude ranch with my friends, and drive through thunder storms to get there.”

Hipcamp offers paid road trips to Field Scouts—photographers and camping aficionados who verify and shoot new properties for us—across the country. If you’re interested in becoming a Field Scout, apply here.

Michelle is a photographer based in San Francisco who loves the outdoors and can’t live without hot sauce. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Hipcamp.

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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