Monthly Archives: May 2010

RV Camping to California’s Bay Area Lighthouses

Fabulous San Francisco Bay is the focus of today’s RV camping exploration of America’s lighthouses. Numerous lights, both preserved and dismantled, line the rocky shores of this Bay surrounded by San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and a whole host of other scenic cities. We’d like to offer an itinerary for seeing three of the most famous lighthouses that guard San Francisco Bay.

Fort Point National Historic Site is a great place to begin your journey. Although the lighthouse here can’t be toured, you can visit the historic fort and see an excellent presentation on the three lights that have guarded this entrance to San Francisco Bay. Adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge, this site yields one photo opportunity after another.

Alcatraz Island Light is another lighthouse nestled in the midst of history. The lighthouse on Alcatraz was the first light activated on the West Coast, and served to warn ships away from the Island for more than one hundred years. The light’s remaining cement tower can be viewed as part of the tours offered by Alcatraz Cruises, the only transportation to the Island.

In case we forget to mention it later, our El Monte RV Rental office  in Dublin, California offers pickup and drop off service to the Dublin Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, making it super simple to pick up your RV!

Before we move on to one more wonderful Bay Area lighthouse, let’s talk about RV camping in the area. Two RV resorts, in particular, get great reviews. San Francisco RV Resort in Pacifica is right on the water and centrally-located for your lighthouse tour. San Francisco Candlestick RV Park is situated in front of Candlestick Stadium, home of the 49ers. Talk to the hosts at either campground for ideas for enhancing your San Francisco motorhome vacation.

Don’t leave the Bay Area without seeing Yerba Buena Lighthouse, located on an island halfway across the Bay Bridge’s span. Although this beautifully preserved lighthouse, still operating as an automated light, isn’t accessible for tours, there are several ferry tours across the Bay that offer excellent views of this lighthouse.

Several more lighthouses dot the shores of San Francisco Bay, but many are modern “skeleton” lights set on historic settings. Try sampling the three listed above to get a sense of Bay Area maritime history. It just might inspire you to head up or down the California coast for yet another California lighthouse RV journey.

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Scenic Discoveries in Mesa, Arizona

)Superstition Mountains

Superstition Mountains

One of the most popular day trips for anyone visiting Mesa is up the historic Apache Trail through the mysterious Superstition Mountains and into the foothills of the Tonto National Forest – the fifth largest forest in the United States. To this day, the area continues to pay homage to its Western roots which took shape in the late 1800s. On this scenic drive guests will encounter an authentic old west stagecoach stop, a ghost town, the famous Elvis Presley Chapel, and the majesty of a mountain lake, all nestled in the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape that captures the true essence of Arizona.

Ghosts and Gold
For more than 115 years, Goldfield Ghost Town has welcomed travelers from all over the world to discover the charm and history of this authentic gold mining town. In its heyday, Goldfield was a busy bustling little outpost perched atop a small hill between the mighty Superstition Mountains to the east and the Goldfield Mountains to the west. The first gold-strike was made in 1892, and it took just a little under a year before the town came to life. Today, visitors can walk down Main Street, explore the many shops and historic buildings and tour the historic Mammoth Gold Mine. Popular attractions for kids and adults are panning for gold and hopping aboard Arizona’s only narrow gauge train. Don’t miss one of the daily gunfights presented by the Goldfield Gunfighters and the underground mine tours.

Superstition & Lore in the Sonoran Desert
As you go further along the Apache Trail, make a stop at Lost Dutchman State Park. Here one can get up close and personal with the ghostly and volcanic, Superstition Mountains which rise some 2,000 feet into the desert sky. Hidden in the depths of this forbidding range is the Lost Dutchman, one of the most storied “lost mines” of the West. Five hiking trails are offered here that range in distance and elevation. Open year-round from sunrise to 10 p.m., the U.S. Forest Service protects these beautiful mountains in the nation’s most popular designated wilderness area. Just down the road is a gem of an attraction that is not to be missed, the volunteer-led and supported Superstition Mountain Museum. Here, a visitor can learn all about the legends and sought-after lore of the famous Lost Dutchman Jacob Waltz – and even get their eyes on numerous maps promising a hidden path to riches! A tour of the grounds includes numerous stages and buildings from the historic Apacheland Studios including the chapel from an Elvis Presley western, Charro.

Just around the bend, you can stumble upon the tiny Tortilla Flat stagecoach stop settlement that once boasted a hotel, general store and saloon. Today, it boasts six full-time residents and a saloon with saddles for barstools and walls festooned with currency and business cards from around the world. Don’t miss out on the “Killer Chili,” prickly pear ice cream and other Southwestern specialties.

CAMPING TIP: The best views here are offered at Lost Dutchman State Park, offering numerous coveted campsites and RV hookups. The park may close this summer (2010), call ahead (480-982-4485)  for the latest news and park hours.

An Oasis in the Desert
Complete your tour at Canyon Lake with a “Mark Twain” voyage aboard the Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a sternwheeler paddleboat. Cruise the lake’s secluded inner waterways and photograph desert bighorn sheep and other wildlife. The 90-minute nature cruise or twilight dinner cruise is the perfect complement to the Apache Trail experience.

After a day of driving and discovery, circle back and stop at the world famous Mining Camp Restaurant for a hearty meal of good ol’ Western food. Nestled at the base of the beautiful Superstition Mountains, the restaurant’s unique concept follows the theme of the early mining camp cook shanty. Here, you can reminisce about your day back in time and dine on good food, shared in plentiful quantities.

CAMPING TIP: Check out the Canyon Lake Marina & Campground offering special summer discounts for mid-week stays. Call ahead for reservations (480-288-9233). Day use also available.

Up Close & Personal with Mother Nature
Sunrise yoga, scorpion hunts by blacklight, animal “hide and seek” walks, toddler cruises up miniature mountain tops and even edible adventures snacking on desert plants as you go are on the docket at Usery Mountain Regional Park. Operated by Maricopa County Parks, one of the largest regional park systems in the United States, Usery Park offers more than 29 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Inside the new Nature Center, rangers are on hand to guide guests into the wonders of the Sonoran Desert before taking in some unique programming – everything from stargazing sessions, fitness hikes and “Find the Ranger” programs are offered year-round. Guests can purchase snacks and cold beverages, souvenirs and outdoor necessities like sunscreen, hats and water bottles before hitting the trail. Camping areas are neatly laid out giving campers plenty of space for their own Sonoran Desert discoveries. The park even offers playgrounds for little ones.

CAMPING TIP: Act quick – especially around the holidays when locals flock to this park to celebrate with friends and family. Each site here has a large parking area to accommodate up to a 45′ RV and is a “Developed Site,” with water and electrical hook-ups, dump station, a picnic table and a barbecue fire ring. Usery Mountain Regional Park provides immaculate restrooms with flush toilets and hot water showers. All sites in the campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Thank you to our friends at the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau for providing this article. For more on planning your camping or RV getaway to Mesa, Arizona call 480-827-4700 or go online and request a complimentary Mesa Tour Planner and Official Visit Mesa Guide at www.VisitMesa.com.

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RVing in Florida Offers A Range of Possibilities

Other than the Rockies or Sonoran desert, you can pretty much find any type of RVing option you’d like within the state of Florida. Many don’t think of the Sunshine State as having a diversity of environments, but in reality, it does.

And while I’m not strictly speaking in terms of natural wonders – no Rockies, cactus, or midwestern prairies, you will find forests, rivers, lakes, beaches, theme parks, race tracks, and even a wetland or two.

See, diversity…

So where should we begin? Lets make a north to south sweep of just some of the RVing choices, and you decide which environment is most appealing.

St. Augustine, in Florida’s northeast corner and roughly 40 miles from Jacksonville, is known for its historic foundation on the American shores of this “new world”. You’ll be able to view an historic fort, walk the generations old streets, and enjoy beaches first crossed by European explorers on your St. Augustine RV visit.

From the state park at Faver-Dykes, where a winding river and towering trees filled with local wildlife offer up fishing, canoeing, and more, to the family owned campground and fishing resort, where trees and the beautiful St. Johns River create a rustic background to your visit. From the beach front stroll to the tidal salt marsh of Anastasia State Park to a Stagecoach mere miles from the historic area, you’re sure to find a setting that feels both welcoming and inspiring.

For more on the St. Augustine area and RVing options, visit the Accomodations/Camping/ page of the St. Augustine Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, Florida website.

Pensacola, home of the Navy’s Blue Angel’s, great beaches, and plenty of history is a sure-fire, high energy, laid-back, sunset watching kind of spot.

This is Florida’s panhandle. Pensacola and its surrounding area offer a range of activities, budget sizes and outdoor activities to choose from, there are plenty of chances to tempt your tastes and peak your interests. The RVing is one of the options as well.

Cruise a river through the tall trees of the backcountry. Kayak, fish, hike, spot protected native species, swim, and explore. Discover America’s history, watch the Blue Angels, touch America in a way you never expected you’d find along the Gulf shores of Florida.

For more on the Pensacola area and its RV options, visit the camping page of their tourism site.

Daytona, known for one thing: speed. NASCAR has put this sandy little town on the map. Along with the main attraction – NASCAR racing – one can visit the Daytona International Speedway year round for its “experience”.

With plenty of other things to do in the area, Daytona isn’t necessarily just for speed, its just an awesome part of it. But there are things such as beaches, shopping, great food, and you’re not too far from the Kennedy Space Center. This is the eastern edge of Florida, and its a great RVing and travel destination.

For more on Daytona and RVing options, visit the Daytona International Speedway Camping page or the Daytona Beach, Florida visitors site.

Walt Disney World & Fort Wilderness Resort. Let’s face it, no discussion of RVing in Florida would be complete without a look at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. One of the “original 3″ resorts at the Disney complex, its still one of the most popular. No matter the time of year, people who stay here are friendly, loving the Mouse and his house, and are ready to not only enjoy their RVing experience, but the world of Disney as well.

Set in the heart of the WDW resort, campsites at Fort Wilderness are fully equipped, and only a boat ride away from all the magic. One of Disney & Florida’s best known and most beloved dinner shows has its home right here; the Hoop De Doo Review.

For more on Disney’s Fort Wilderness, and all you need to know about a Walt Disney World vacation, please visit the Fort Wilderness Resort Website.

The Everglades. One of the most unique environments on earth, your stay in the Glades can last a few hours or several days. “Civilization” can be found on either end in either Miami to the east http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/Index.asp or Naples to the west, but in the heart of it all is the Glades.

Fishing, boating, air boat tours, wildlife watching are all apart of a Glades adventure. Whether stepping into the heart of the Glades or staying on the edges, whether searching for its rich native history, or seeking those illusive creatures that call this environ home, there is plenty to do.

For more on Everglades RVing, visit these sites: Lake Okeechobee Outpost, Miami Everglades, Everglades Holiday.

And don’t miss the Monty’s Musings – RV Travel Blog article: RV Camping to Everglades National Park.

Florida Keys. Capping off our RVing tour of Florida, we end at its end; the Florida Keys. Like a tail on a tiger, the Florida Keys are a range of energy, excitement, and power. They’re a lazy day under the sun, a pouncing delight, a delicious way to cap off a tasty adventure.

At the northern end, Key Largo with the excitement of diving John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park and the awe-inspiring Statue of Christ of the Abyss, where fish of many colors and coral in an array of patterns live and play. Islamorada and its world renown fishing, attracting fishermen and presidents for generations. Marathon at the middle, home of the Great American Road’s 7-Mile Bridge and close by, Dolphin Research Center. Big Pine Key and its natural, laid-back, less crowds, more natural kinda place. And Key West. The cap of America. Where being who you are and doing what you do isn’t a “thing,” its away of life.

These are the Florida Keys, and I’ve barely tapped the surface of this watery abyss of fun. Not only an amazingly fun and adventurous, romantic, family friendly or interesting place to visit, but an RVer’s delight.

For more on the Florida Keys and Key West, and RVing along the Keys, please visit the tourism website Florida Keys & Key West.

About the Author
Rori Paul, known around travel circles as RoriTravel, writes about Florida travel on her blog RoriTravel’s Florida, as well as shares more on Florida & travel on Twitter/RoriTravel & Facebook, RoriTravel’s Florida.

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10 Most Visited National Park Service Properties

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, & Virginia
  2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California
  3. Gateway National Recreation Area, New York City, New York
  4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, & Tennessee
  5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia, Washington DC, & Maryland
  7. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, Alabama, & Tennessee
  8. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey & Pennsylvania
  9. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  10. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia quoting National Park Service sources

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RV Road Trip Idea – Country Music Hall of Fame

Country music has come a long way, but you don’t have to go very far to learn all about your favorite stars. Turn your RV toward Nashville, Tennessee and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. That’s where country music fans can learn about legends like Brenda Lee and Hank Williams, while reveling in the art form that made Nashville a music epicenter.

Since 1961, the Country Music Association has been honoring the very best in country music. That tradition led quickly to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where fascinating multimedia exhibits now showcase the lives and music of the stars. Check the Hall of Fame’s website as you’re planning your vacation to learn which live performances and autograph sessions you can also enjoy during your visit.

The Hall of Fame and Museum building, located on Fifth Street in Nashville, is a visual vacation in itself. Your camera won’t stop clicking as you record the excitement of this impressive structure. Spend time soaking up the sights and sounds of country music’s home by spending at least a day roaming the Hall of Fame, as well as watching live performances and collecting autographs.

One fascinating side trip while visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame is a tour of historic RCA Studio B. Learn how great country songs were recorded there by legends like Elvis Presley.

What Else Can I See in Nashville?
If you’ve never been to Nashville, you’ll soon learn why it’s the country music capital of world! Historic Ryman Auditorium, just steps from the Country Music Hall of Fame, was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Today’s Opry is equally popular with Nashville-bound RV campers, so be sure to reserve your tickets and get in on the act.

Honkytonks featuring the hottest in country music abound near the Hall of Fame. And if you’d like to experience the zenith of country music enjoyment, plan your trip to coincide with the CMA Music Festival in June.

Where Can I Camp in Nashville?
Coming to Nashville by RV is a great choice, because Music City boasts plenty of comfortable campgrounds. Two favorites among RV campers are Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort and Two Rivers Campground, both conveniently close to Nashville area attractions. Nashville Country RV Park, north of downtown in Goodlettsville, can also arrange a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame and other area attractions.

Will I Be Able to Park?
Nashville’s country music tourism means you’ll find plenty of places to park around the Museum. Public lots behind the Country Music Hall of Fame are RV-friendly, if you don’t plan to bring your own vehicle. Get in touch with ParkitDowntown.com to find your best parking options. If you need to rent a luxury motorhome for your trip to Nashville, check out our Nashville RV Rentals location.

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The Way to Visit a National Park – In an RV!

Although it has not always been true, by 2009 the most popular way to stay overnight in a National Park is is in an RV (climbing from 4th place in 1979). According to National Park Service sources, the 3 most popular ways to stay overnight in a National Park as of 2009 were:

  1. RV Campers
  2. Tent Campers
  3. Lodges
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National Park Service / U.S. Forest Service

The National Park Service manages 392 properties of various designations. Most famous are the National Parks, but, majestic as they are, they only comprise 58 of the sites managed by the National Park Service. Following is a list of the various site designations managed by the Park Service with the number of sites listed in parenthesis.

  • National Historical Park, National Historic Site, and International Historic Site  (123)
  • National Monument  (74)
  • National Park  (58)
  • National Memorial  (28)
  • National Military Park, National Battlefield Park, National Battlefield Site, and National Battlefield  (24)
  • National Preserve and National Reserve  (20)
  • National Recreation Area  (18)
  • National River and National Wild and Scenic River and Riverway  (15)
  • Other Designations (White House, National Mall, etc.)  (11)
  • National Seashore  (10)
  • National Lakeshore  (4)
  • National Parkway  (4)
  • National Scenic Trail  (3)

In addition, the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture, administers public lands as well:

  • National Forests (155)
  • National Grasslands (20)

In total, they manage more than 278 million acres of public land.

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Check Out Our New RV Camping Photo Gallery

Be sure to check out our collection of RV / motorhome camping pictures in our new Monty’s RV Camping Pictures photo gallery. It will help you to visualize your next RV camping trip!

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Beaver Creek Mountain Man Rendezvous in Marysvale, Utah

Beaver Creek Mountain Man RendezvousSouth-Forty RV Park (Marysvale, Utah) and Rose Ranch Resort (Marysvale, Utah) are hosting the 1st annual Beaver Creek Mountain Man Rendezvous. It takes place Memorial Weekend and starts on Friday, May 28th and runs through Monday, May 31st. Real live, authentic Mountain Man Camp at the Rose Ranch Resort along with all the other activities. Events include Black-Smithing, Quill Work, Arrowhead Knappers, Pistol Shoots, Tomahawk Throws, Rifle Range, Cannon Wars, Tennis Ball Shoot and Much More! There will be tons of Food, the Rose Ranch will do BBQ’s Friday and Saturday nights and will serve daily lunch specials. The South-Forty RV Park will be hosting a BBQ with live music Sunday Night.

If you need an RV Rental to take in the Beaver Creek Mountain Man Rendezvous, try our Salt Lake City RV Rentals location.

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