“Stop holding your breath,” I thought to myself. It was day three of driving the EarthRoamer and I was in the process of navigating up narrow switchbacks. I take a moment to pull myself together and focus on the path ahead, all the while rolling through a magical world of sprouting monuments and vermillion cliffs. Rock outcroppings below provide a solemn reminder of what could happen if things go wrong here.
But I don’t have time for that.
Valley of the Gods, though similar to its neighbor Monument Valley, is perhaps a more striking example of the hidden treasures one can find tucked away throughout southern Utah. With isolated buttes, towering pinnacles and undulating pathways that seem to stretch on forever, it’s as if you have the whole place to yourselves.
Or at least it felt that way to us.
The sun was dipping lower as we rounded a corner and spotted the perfect empty camp site. With full, expansive vistas of the towering rock faces, our eyes (well-trained to hone in on sweet photo spots) and our hearts told us to stop. So, naturally, we did.
Unlike Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods is located on land owned and operated by the Bureau of Land Management, meaning it’s without tribal restrictions. There are no designated trails or campgrounds, but there’s plenty of backcountry where visitors can explore off the 17-mile dirt-and-gravel road that winds through the valley.
Meet The Vehicle: EarthRoamer
While the majority of our route can now be driven in a small sedan, any desire to venture off-pavement means that we need a sturdy vehicle. Enter the EarthRoamer. Designed to go off-road, off-grid, these goliaths are built on a Ford 550 chassis and are made-to-order. Each one is equipped with a king-sized bed, kitchen with induction cooktop and convection oven, the choice of a wet or dry bath, and seating area with reclining couches. Aside from ample storage, these vehicles have five roof-top solar panels that generate a whopping 1,200 plus watts (this means there’s no need for generators or propane tanks), night vision and chassis cams, and a packable outdoor kitchen.
But these babies don’t come cheap. EarthRoamers range in price from $380,000 to more than $500,000. Prospective owners can customize everything from the type of layout (some have bunk beds or dinettes), the wood, the countertops and floor material. In total, there are 162 EarthRoamers on the road at the time of this writing.
For the next three-and-a-half months, we’re lucky enough to be traveling throughout the western U.S. as ambassadors for LifeProof. Our journey will be taking us through the red rock of southern Utah to the snowy peaks of Washington state. We’ll be sampling craft brews in Oregon and Colorado and getting wet along California’s epic coast. Our itinerary has us jumping out of planes, traversing mountain tops on foot and boarding along waves of sand and water. And, as if that’s not enough, we’ll be visiting no less than a dozen national parks.
For the full route, click here.