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Thread: Wild America

  1. Default Wild America

    If any of you have seen this movie you know what I am talking about. Me and a couple friends would like to do this same thing. Visit states and film wildlife or other things. We would like to sleep in the car or van. Also we want to like not know where we are going next. Which will make it really fun. Though I know some of you are professionals at road trips so I was wondering. What things should I plan,take, precautions. Things like this so please tell me all the info you have to make my experience better.

  2. Default When and where would you like to start?

    There are lots of ways to do this -- one of my friends I road-trip does a lot of wildlife and nature photography, so you can build a road trip around this.

    But.. where and when would you like to do this? You get a lot better opportunities do get pictures if you time your trips to when the wildlife is most active, and that may vary depending upon the part of the country and what type of wildlife you're interested in.

    For example, I did a wildlife trip up through California one April --

    -- Kern National Wildlife sanctuary (near Lost Hills, California Central Vallley)

    -- Elephant Seal colony at Pedros Blancas (north of Hearst Castle/ San Simeon California)

    -- San Luis Wildlife sanctuary (near Los Banos, in California's Central Valley)

    -- Sacramento WIldlife Sanctuary (north of Sacramento, northern California Central Valley)

    -- Merced National Wildlife Sanctuary (near Merced, CA)

    -- Pixley National WIldlife Sanctuary (near Earlimart, CA)

    Thousands of ducks, herons, white pelicans, whooping cranes, etc. Very beautiful. But you had to do it when the birds were going through the Pacific Flyway -- else the wildlife preserves are pretty empty.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Timing AND Time

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Larrison has pointed out the importance of timing to your trip - you'll need to know when the wildlife you seek will be "ready for their closeup". But time is another consideration. Marty Stouffer has exposed more than 3,000,000 feet of film to get the 60-75 hours worth of viewable film that went into the Wild America TV series, and that doesn't even begin to count the many hours just sitting in the cold/dark/damp waiting for some animals to come by. Don't get me wrong, your choice of goals for this trip is admirable and could work out so as to be the trip of your collective lifetimes. But it is also possible that you will end up with a few dozen feet of elk grazing in a meadow. Remember that what you're most likely to get images of are what the animals are most likely to be doing, and that is eating and resting. So you should have a 'Plan B' that will let this trip be memorable even if you encounter no wildlife.

    As far as what to pack, I'm going to quote a recent post of mine: There are many theories on that, from bare essentials to serious overkill. There have been a couple of threads in the past, that while a bit on the long side, do lay out various strategies that people use and their rationales. Have a look at this one (don't let the topic put you off) and this one.

    Finally, I think you'd benefit from a quick read of Bob and Gen's article on The Art of the Cheap RoadTrip.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-27-2007 at 06:54 PM.

  4. Default

    Alright thanks guys well here comes a couple more questions. If you have seen Wild America then you know they visit a beach and other places on there trip. Ok how and where do you think I should go. I live in West Virginia and I think I would like to go South and then out West maybe first Alabama and then out West. Though then it comes down to what car or van. I would like a van because there are two other people. So it there any sort of good affordable vans I could get that would have enough room to store us all and be durable enough to bring us back home safely.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Advice But No Answers

    As a general recommendation, you would probably best be served by heading down the spine of the Appalachians to Mobile Bay, while hitting as many units of the National Wildlife Refuge System as you can. From there, "West" is an awfully big target, but certainly Big Sur, Yosemite, and Yellowstone would be target rich environments for your shooting.

    As far as getting a van for the trip, you're obviously going to be in the used market if affordability is a concern and that means whatever is locally available. Stop by your local convenience store and pick up a copy of Auto Trader or similar circulars, pour through local and regional newspapers' classified sections, shop. When you find something that you think might suit your needs and budget, go look at it, but most importantly, insist on a thorough inspection by an independent mechanic of your choosing as a prior condition to sale. Tell the mechanic what you plan to do with the vehicle and ask for an estimate of what it would cost to prep it for such a journey, Then either add that to the cost of the purchase or try to negotiate it off the purchase price. But ultimately where to go, how to get there, and what 'style' to travel in are just a few of the choices that you get to make and that make each RoadTrip unique.


  6. Default

    Alright thanks man could you give me a like a list and how and where I should stop to do this because I dont have the slightest idea. I mean just give me like where to stop and stuff I want national parks and then go west and then back home to WV. I would like to do haunted stuff to like maybe a haunted road or something and maybe Route 66. So try and see if you can fit that in there. Also how much should we all bring as in money?

    Sorry for all the questions but is there any famous like hotels, diners, towns, cities, restraunts anything around this area?
    Last edited by War-Lord; 02-01-2007 at 02:23 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Wild vs. Limits

    You have said that you want to see 'wild' America and "want to like not know where we are going next. Which will make it really fun.". The fact is that there are still wilderness areas throughout the United States, including in the East, but these are NOT areas where you can just "stop to do this". Wilderness areas are, by definition, far from paved, or even graded, roads and require serious hiking treks to access. As far as accessible wildlife areas, you can't do better than the National Wildlife Refuge System that I pointed to earlier. There is a page on their web site that will let you find the location of refuges by state, and I'd say that is your best bet for finding great places for filming wildlife. I've also previously indicated three of the best wildlife locations in the west.

    OK, so now you've added haunted venues and Route 66 to the mix, but still, other than West Virginia and 'the west' we don't know much about the trip you and your friends plan to make, so first things first. The three of you need to sit down together one evening (or more) and lay out at least the basic outline of your journey: How long; Where; Major stops or at least objectives; Budget. To get a handle on what such a trip might cost, have a look at this post, but also be sure to add in some bucks for your special avocations. Once you've got at least a skeleton of a trip that appeals to you, then we can help fill in some of the details. But RoadTrips are not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and if you want this one to be as unique as you indicate, you're going to have to lay down some groundwork.


  8. Default Another source...

    I'll echo AZbuck on this as well..

    What do you want to photograph? Any type of wild life? Birds? Mammals? Both? Reptiles? Sea life? Wild nature (including dramatic natural scenery)?

    Pick a rough trip -- something notional for where you might want to go and sort of things to photograph. Then you need to do a little bit of research.

    The National Wildlife Refuge System is one of the most unappreciated set of parks we have around, including some amazing wildlife and scenery. But you might check into some others..

    National Audubon Society has many local chapters and they provide specific tips on where to go, what you'll see, and how to do it. But the real specific instructions are for specific local areas. Some of the places they point to are not in the Wildlife Refuges but other natural areas.

    Similarly, just about every significant national park, national monument, state park, national seashore, etc has a page on its website listing the wildlife you can see and usually suggesting where and when its best to see it.

    So lay out a rough idea of a trip and what you want to see, get a map and pencil in a rough path, and then start looking through some of the resources to see what might be really cool to photograph. You might find some real gems....

    As for what to take, my only suggestion would be get something that you can carry your gear in, be comfortable in, and has a little capability for going off pavement (not off road, but on dirt or gravelled roads a bit -- virtually every national wildlife refuge I've been in has unpaved roads). You'll probably want to be camping to get into some of these places and to save on money -- so you'll need a bit of stowage spaces, and I figure a tent works pretty well instead of sleeping inside. For a real wild-card desirement (desired, but not required), something that you can stand up in or on to photograph would be cool... (Like through a sunroof or on the roof of -- to give you a little better quick line of sight to something).

  9. Default

    Well is there a list of the top 10 most endangered animals in America? I would like to make this trip worthwhile while filming wildlife and also doing other fun things. Like haunted places Route 66 and famous cafes and other desinations. I heard that out West somewhere there was a hotel that based around Aliens I think that would be really kewl. I would also like to visit some famous diners of some sort. So all this info would be greatly appreaicted.

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