Dawn Wilson, professional wildlife photographer, launched a solo excursion to photograph the wildlife of the U.S.
The adventure, which started with a trip from her home state of Colorado to southern California, will be completed in a 24-foot Thor Chateau recreational vehicle.
“I gave myself a six-week trial period to get used to driving an RV by visiting familiar locations in Colorado and Wyoming,” said Wilson. “It was quite overwhelming at first but I am excited to launch the adventure and blog about my travels.”
Wilson, 44 years old, has never owned an RV and had never driven one before the test drive in July 2015. Having the RV, and the towed Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, will give her the access she seeks for photographing wildlife throughout the lower 48 states and Alaska.
“Most people wait until they retire to make such a lifestyle change,” said Wilson. “But too many tragedies have happened in my life over the last few years, and those events convinced me that life is precious, fleeting and fragile. It was time to go for the golden ring.”
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, the $14.5 billion RV industry consists of nearly nine million households owning RVs in the U.S. The association estimates about 500,000 to one million of that population lives in RVs full-time.
An increasing number of RV owners are women traveling solo. The specific number is unknown, but associations like RVing Women have seen their membership steadily grow over the last few years. RVing Women, which started in 1990, has a current membership of 2,300 women.
Wilson’s goal is to photograph as many mammals as possible, including:
- Moose in Maine
- Elk in the Rocky Mountains
- Black bears in Tennessee
She will also photograph a variety of birds, including:
- Bald eagles at wintering feeding holes
- Wading birds in Florida
- Migrating birds in Texas and New Mexico
- Snowy owls in the northwest
There are close to 500 different species of mammals in North America, with many quickly losing habitat to development. Photographing these animals will help visually present the uniqueness of the wildlife in the U.S. and the lands where they live.
During her trip to California, she plans to photograph:
- Island fox in Channel Islands National Park
- Tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore
- Sea otters and sea lions along the coast
- Wading and shore birds at the Salton Sea
- Bobcats in the San Joaquin Valley
“Traveling in an RV isn’t really roughing it like some nature photographers will do to get their shots,” said Wilson. “But it provides an excellent opportunity to safely and effectively work from the road while being flexible enough to access a wide variety of locations.”
Wilson grew up in southern New Jersey. In 2002, she completed an MBA in marketing and moved to Colorado. After quitting a full-time corporate marketing job in 2013 to pursue wildlife photography and travel writing full-time, Wilson found the hassles of home ownership an inconvenience to photographing wildlife. On September 1, 2015, she sold her house and moved into the RV.
Although she does not travel with human companionship, she does travel with two Siberian huskies and two cats. She plans to travel solo in the RV for one to three years, including several months in Alaska.
For more information, visit DawnWilsonPhotography.com