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The River Gypsies' Tips for Road Trippin' on Less Fuel

As the spring runoff begins to tumble down the hills across our continent, thoughts of spring and summer travel are beginning to tempt the whitewater addict. But one trip to the gas pump leaves you penniless and worried that you might be stuck having to do yard work instead. Never fear, the River Gypsies Guide to road trippin on less fuel is here!

1. Start saving your money. This sounds obvious, but I hear boaters wanting to go to new places while at the same time spending like the wind. I know it's very tempting to eat out all the time and dart all over your local area looking for flow every time you see a cloud in the sky; but if you want to travel, you have to think ahead and start saving up to afford to put fuel in the tank at these prices. The times have changed, so your stategy needs to as well. Next time you head out to do a run, add up how much you just paid in fuel to go there and ask yourself if it was worth it. Then see how much it would cost to do something less exotic, but closer, so that you can save your pennies for your dream trip. Take it from us - it takes discipline and planning to travel!

2. Do a staycation. If you don't live in an immediate whitewater area, you might have to drive a little in order to get to some paddling, but instead of setting your sites on a destination all the way across the continent, why not go somewhere closer to home? Lately, we have been enjoying taking our camper out to the rivers around our hometown and being tourists in our own area. We have been camping out instead of driving all the way back to town, and we've been discovering all kinds of cool new places closer to home!

3. Pick an area with lots of rivers and good camping in close vicinity. You can camp somewhere central and hit many rivers. You get a lot of bang for your buck this way. And doing more kayaking and camping than driving always feels better! The areas that I recommend for this are West Virginia, Washington, British Columbia, and some areas within the Colorado and Southeast regions depending on what is running.

4. Once you are in an area, pick rivers where you can spend a few days at a time and not have to drive much. Instead of frantically driving from river to river, pick one river with lots of whitewater that is at a good level with good camping. Hang out and run laps and camp. The only driving you have to do is shuttle, and it's very relaxing.

5. Be smart about where you drive. I see boaters driving around frantically all the time going to see if a river is running when it didn't even rain there or the snow pack has been long gone. Do your homework before you go leaping in your vehicle and driving around. If you don't know how to tell if an area has water, we have written a chapter on that called "Water Level Voodoo" on pages 12-13 of the River Gypsies Guide. Read that chapter and start getting on the chat boards around the country to see what the weather pattern is like and what is running. The next chapter on page 14, "Where's the Best Place to Be?" breaks the continent down to where the best place to be in each month is so you can start planning now!

Here are the best chatboards for each region:

  • Southeast and West Virgina - Boatertalk
  • Mid Atlantic & D.C. - Paddle Prattle
  • Northeast - Northeast Paddlers Message Board
  • Colorado, New Mexico, & some Northern Rockies - Mountainbuzz
  • Northern Rockies - Teton Gravity
  • California - Boof.com
  • Portland Area - PDXkayaker
  • Seattle & central Washington area - Professor Paddle
  • Vancouver & SW BC - Vancouver Kayak Club

    And you can always friend the River Gypsies on facebook and follow us on twitter, because we are always keeping our ears and eyes open to know what is running.


    Andria enjoying a short but sweet road trip to Alabama instead of a big western road trip this year.