Life On The Road: We Visit ‘Van Life Rally’ In CO

The adventure-hippie lifestyle is alive and well, and perhaps it’s no where more prevalent than in a group of filmmakers, artists, athletes, and vagabonds who gather at the annual Van Life Rally in Colorado.


The town of Carbondale has become the temporary home for a community of people who are living with ultimate freedom and adventure in mind, embodied in their vehicles. The Van Life Rally is a part of the 5Point Film Festival.

I was there this past weekend to check it out. If you need a little inspiration, sink into the van life scene, dream a little, and maybe look into joining the movement on your own. Here’s a quick peek.

Van Life Rally

Under the sunny skies of a perfect Colorado spring day, dozens of epic vans and their inhabitants/drivers showed off the creativity and the lifestyle that goes with it.


Adventure photographer and filmmaker Thomas Woodson and his girlfriend Brittani, below, epitomize the van life.

For the last 10 months they have lived out of a converted Ram Promaster, following the winter storms for the best skiing and the sunny weather for mountain biking adventures.

Thomas Woodson, Brittani, and their canine stowaway

Another van-lifer experience was a family affair (below, right). Who says you can’t hit the road and live a vagabond life just because of children? It requires a little more creativity, but the kids love the adventure and most are born “dirtbags” ready to explore and roam.

A bunk-bed setup makes for an extra spacious aisle, with all the toys on the side. Plenty of room (relatively speaking) for three people in the family quarters.


I walked around the festival to sample the diversity of rolling homes. The biggest was a bright yellow, converted school bus.

No longer constrained by the unchanging routes to school, this decommissioned rig acts as chauffeur for more adventurous souls.

Okay, so it can’t technically qualify for the “van life,” but the bus represents all the same values while accommodating a larger group. This bus, belonging to Mason Lacey, rolled in with filmmaker Joey Shushler and a crew of 23 people ready to party.


The well-used 40-foot bus, which is now registered as an RV, cost just $2,000 on Craigslist.

“Usually going on trips the drive is the worst part. Now it’s almost the best part,” Mason Lacy told the Post Independent. “You only have one person driving at a time, so the rest can walk around and hang out with friends; it’s bringing your living room with you.”

Winner of best in show at the festival? A converted Chevy Express work van owned by Matt and Sarah Park was nothing short of a masterpiece (see the top image in this story).

Purchased for $6,000 and outfitted for $4,400, the van required more creativity and dedication than money, the owners said.

Interiors: Storage, beds, and even a wood-burning stove

This GMC was made complete with a kitchen, a small library, a climbing gym, wood floors, and ,the kicker, a wood-burning stove (image above) added for extra comfort and charm.

–See more about the 5Point Van Life Fest.