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Monthly Archives: October 2010
Whether you hope to hike through hardwood forests in their Autumn splendor or splash in a summer swimming hole, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in South Carolina is worthy of an extended RV camping trip. All it takes is a little planning and a yen to see the glory of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Twin Treasures at Mountain Bridge
One reason this pristine wilderness area near the North Carolina border is enduringly popular is that it offers visitors two state parks to explore. Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Parks were combined to form Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, displaying more than ten thousand acres of Blue Ridge Mountain beauty.
But what to do once you get there? Within the state parks, hikers will find some of the best trails in the Southeast. Controlled entry to the trailheads at Caesars Head adds the bonus of enjoying sparsely populated trails. From ten-mile Pinnacle Pass trail to short jaunts like the Coldspring Connector, the trails of Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area range from challenging hike to a casual stroll. By the way, be sure to register with the park office before you hike; the dense forests and sudden changes in altitude can confuse even the most experienced hiker.
What can you expect to see as you climb the mountain trails within this wilderness? Here are some of the favorite sights reported by visitors:
- Waterfalls! Unbelievably beautiful falls can be found in Caesars Head State Park, in particular. Don’t miss Raven Cliff Falls, where clear, cold Matthews Creek rushes more than four hundred feet down granite cliffs. Hike to the suspension bridge over the falls, or the trail to the overlook directly across the gorge. Vacation photo tip: fall foliage makes an especially stunning setting for your South Carolina waterfall photos.
- Hawks! Each autumn, HawkWatch volunteers gather at Caesars Head State Park to count the hundreds of hawks, eagles and other raptors who gather there. Be sure to hike to one of the granite outposts high above the park to watch these birds in action.
- Mountain Vistas! The rugged beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains will stir the most world-weary RV traveler. Treat yourself to the sight of hardwood forests marching past granite boulders on a dramatic three-thousand-foot drop to the valleys below.
There aren’t adequate words to describe the peaceful splendor of Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. No matter the season, there are sights there that should be seen at least once in a lifetime. Combining convenient RV camping with the chance to roam in the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains makes an RV trip to Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area a “must do.”
RV Camping Near Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
Although no RV camping is allowed within the Wilderness Area itself, there are several comfortable RV campgrounds nearby. Greenville, SC, just a scenic thirty-minute drive away, is home to Paris Mountain State Park, where well-planned RV sites are tucked into picturesque surroundings.
Even closer to the Wilderness Area, RV travelers will find themselves surrounded by forests and mountain streams at Valley Park RV Resort in Travelers Rest, SC. One more possibility, just across the North Carolina line at Cedar Mountain, is Black Forest Family Camping Resort.
Choose a campground to come home to after a long day of hiking, fishing or simply walking the trails with camera at the ready. South Carolina’s Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area promises RV campers unforgettable scenery, no matter what the season. Get back to nature soon with a trip to this Blue Ridge Mountains treasure.
The air is crisp, the temperatures once again bearable and the bright blue waters are calling! It’s time to plan your fall RV fishing expedition to Georgia. The fish are headed back to the surface, so gather your favorite anglers, rent a comfortable RV “fishing cabin” and turn your tires toward the Peach State.
Best Fall Fishing in Georgia
According to Kevin Dallmier, author of Fishing Georgia, autumn fishing is sure to be plentiful and definitely worth getting back out on the water. He especially likes Lake Blue Ridge, located in Chattahoochee National Forest, for snagging smallmouth bass along the shoreline.
Just two hours north of Atlanta near the Tennessee border, Lake Blue Ridge is easily accessible for an exciting weekend of RV camping and lake fishing. Although the Forest Service has closed the campground directly on the lake, there are a number of campgrounds in Chattahoochee National Forest just minutes from the boat launch.
Another Georgia fall fishing spot highly recommended by Dallmier is Allatoona Lake, just thirty miles north of Atlanta. He reports the striper fishing is fine as the temperature drops, especially near the dam. Come prepared with heavy-duty gear if you hope to match wits with an Allatoona striper; according to his report, they’ve hauled in striped bass over thirty pounds there!
McKinney Campground, part of Red Top Mountain State Park, is open year-round for RV campers, and also has a boat launch on Allatoona. Another fisherman-friendly place to park your RV (and launch your boat) is Allatoona Landing Marina and Campground in Cartersville, GA.
So don’t put away that tackle just yet! There’s still time to create new fishing tales and RV camping memories with a trip to Georgia’s premier autumn fishing holes. Our thanks to Kevin Dallmier and GeorgiaSportsmanMag.com for furnishing this information on autumn fishing in the Peach State. We look forward to hearing more about your own trip this Fall to these forest-lined lakes in the heart of North Georgia.
Since the 1850s, the Missouri River has nourished the wineries of Central Missouri. The countryside surrounding villages like Hermann, Rocheport and Augusta boasts more than three dozen wineries waiting to delight autumn RV travelers. Take the time to explore these suggested autumn RV road trips to Missouri Wine Country; they’ll nourish your soul and leave you with delicious memories.
Hermann, Missouri Wine Country Road Trip
At the heart of Missouri’s Wine Country, you’ll find the quaint 1830′s German settlement of Hermann. Nestled against Missouri river bluffs, Hermann delights the eye and offers the palate almost a dozen area wineries. As you travel south from I-70 along Missouri Scenic Hwy 19, you’ll be surrounded with the beauty of fall foliage and hillside vineyards.
Once you reach the town itself, affordable RV camping is the first order of business on your Hermann wine country road trip. Hermann City Parks Campground offers a full range of hookups and picturesque creek side campsites. The park is also easy walking distance to Hermann’s shops, restaurants and historic attractions. By the way, if you’d like to leave the RV parked at the campground, the Hermann Trolley travels to four area wineries, as well as many of the town’s other attractions.
Your wine country itinerary can continue at Hermannhof Vineyards, where you’ll be charmed by the beauty of mellow brick and stone. Stroll the riverside courtyards and historic wine cellars, and then settle in to savor local delicacies and a full selection of vintages.
Your next stop might be Adam Puchta & Son Wine Company, just a couple of miles out of town. From a crisp Chardonnay to the fruity blend of their Vignoles, you’ll find something to take home as a luscious memory. Also on the Hermann Trolley route (and a spectacular autumn drive away) is OakGlenn Vineyards, one of the most scenic vineyards you’ll ever visit. Enjoy the vista from atop the bluffs along the Missouri River and treat yourself to a glass of their award-winning Chambourcin.
Last stop on this Hermann Wine Country RV itinerary is Stone Hill Winery, also just moments away from town. A century and a half of winemaking expertise has lead to regular awards for this hilltop winery. Visit one of three historic wine tasting rooms before selecting one of their specialties to enjoy back at the RV. These are just four of the wineries in the Hermann Wine Region; be sure to check MissouriWineCountry.com or Missouri Wines for information on others in the area.
Rocheport, Missouri Wine Country Road Trip
About an hour west of Hermann lays the remarkably scenic river town of Rocheport. Within this village on the Katy Trail you’ll discover a slower pace of life and a wealth of vintage architecture. To add to your sensory feast, camp twenty minutes from town at Katfish Katys, adjacent to the Katy Trail and two state conservation areas. For another back-to-nature RV camping experience, camp at Finger Lakes State Park near Columbia, only thirty minutes north of Rocheport.
Start your Rocheport Wine Country RV itinerary at Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery, offering both fabulous wines and a legendary bistro for RV travelers to enjoy. Check their calendar of events; you may just find an added bonus during your stay!
Less than an hour south, near the Missouri capitol of Jefferson City, allow yourself the pleasure of relaxing in the scenic glory of Native Stone Winery. The hiking trails, both a winery and brewery on-site and a very nice restaurant make this stop worthy of a day trip. Several more Central Wine Region locations can be visited within an hour’s drive of Rocheport.
Missouri’s Wine Country rolls along the Missouri River and offers RV campers the abundance of the grape. Make plans to visit Missouri’s wineries in autumn; it’s a road trip filled to the brim with new discoveries.
In the Sand Hills of Nebraska, near the South Dakota border, lies a treasure waiting to be discovered by RV camping fans. The Niobrara National Scenic River winds its way almost five hundred miles across Northern Nebraska, with seventy-six miles set aside by the National Park Service as a “Wild and Scenic River.” Not only can you expect unforgettable scenery and outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities there, you’ll also find the surrounding area filled with Great Plains charm.
To reach the National Scenic River section of the Niobrara, head for Valentine, Nebraska, a cheerful place filled with Old West panache. Coming from I90, you’ll exit at Hwy 83 and travel about seventy miles south to Valentine. If you’re traveling I80, you’ll head north on Hwy 83 at the North Platte exit and drive one hundred thirty miles to reach Valentine.
Let’s back up a moment, though, and answer the question, “What, exactly, would make me want to drive to Nebraska to see this river?” The best answer is, “The chance to experience the historic attractions, scenic beauty and small-town hospitality of the Great Plains.” And that doesn’t even take into account the first-rate, riverside RV camping.
Speaking of outdoor attractions that draw RV travelers to the region, here’s a list of the top five reasons you’ll return for another look:
- The Bridges of the Niobrara (PDF) attract history lovers and photographers in every season. Of the fifteen bridges within the National Scenic River area, five are listed on the National Register of Historic Structures. Take time to enjoy such architectural wonders as Allen Bridge, built in 1903, award-winning Bryan Bridge built in 1932 and the Verdigre Bridge at Smith Falls State Park.
- Cowboy Trail will soon be known as the longest Rails-to-Trails conversion (three hundred twenty miles) in the United States. Still under construction in some areas, this crushed limestone path leads bikers, hikers and horseback riders through remote prairie corridors home to bald eagles, turkey vultures and a whole host of prairie mammals. Be sure to check the official website for information on trail closures as you plan your RV trip.
- Niobrara River boating brings many kayaking, canoeing and tubing enthusiasts during summer months. A number of Niobrara National Scenic River outfitters are listed on the NPS site to help you plan your float trip, or you can bring your own vessels and test your skills on Class II rapids.
- Waterfalls rushing down rugged rock faces to the river’s edge are a special treat for paddlers. Springs and waterfalls dot the riverbank and provide another layer of beauty to the hardwood forests, high bluffs and rocky shores that border the Niobrara.
- Wildlife Viewing opportunities are abundant both along the river corridor and at nearby Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, where bison, elk, deer and prairie dogs are among the species you’ll see on the Wildlife Drive.
Now that you’re persuaded that a trip to the Niobrara National Scenic River is in order, you’ll need to know where to find the best RV camping. Here are a few suggestions for comfortable camping near or on the river:
- Dryland Aquatics is a popular area float trip outfitter offering electric RV hookups for their customers in Sparks, NE (population 5!)
- Fritz’s Island Campground on the north side of the river, near Sparks, NE offers up-to-date amenities
- Riverside RV Park & Campground near Valentine is famous for its friendly staff
The Niobrara Valley in Northern Nebraska holds mysteries that can only be unlocked when you get out onto its rivers and trails. Create your own Niobrara vacation memories with an RV trip to explore this Wild and Scenic River.
California’s Sierra Nevada region is famous for a number of reasons. It is home to Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. It runs through Central and Eastern California in a mighty green swath where waterfalls, giant trees, and rugged mountain peaks amaze its visitors. But there’s one more great reason to visit the Sierra Nevada on your next RV vacation, and that’s the abundant gold panning opportunities waiting there. Here’s what you need to know to plan your gold panning RV vacation.
No Claim Jumping!
Let’s talk about the most important “need to know.” Because California is world-famous for its gold rush days, it stands to reason that millions of acres of its land and waterways have been staked as private claims for gold prospecting. It’s important to avoid those private claims on your trip!
You’ll want to focus your search for gold on areas where “public casual panning” is allowed. That simply means you can use your hands and pans to collect gold from a waterway for non-commercial purposes. Here are some suggestions for places to pan for nuggets:
- Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park – This park is a study in gold mining history! Tour the museum to learn the impact of hydraulic mining on the environment and then take part in gold panning on Humbug Creek. Check their website for public panning schedules. Rent an RV for the trip in Reno, two hours east or Sacramento, about two hours south. Where to camp? Nevada County Gold’s website has a comprehensive list of area campgrounds.
- South Yuba River State Park – Just downstream from the Malakoff Diggins, you’ll find South Yuba River State Park, where gold panning is allowed along a twenty-mile section of the river. Watch a gold panning demonstration to learn the best techniques and then watch for the shimmer of gold in your own pans. While you’re there, plan time to enjoy some of the best swimming holes in California!
- Columbia State Historic Park – Columbia, CA is a town rich with gold mining history. The mining settlement there was preserved as a State Historic Park, and retains the 1850s flavor of the Gold Rush. About an hour and a half west of Stockton, this vintage gold town offers the chance to pan for your own mother lode. Just down the road from the State Historic Park, Marble Quarry RV Park offers all the amenities and easy access to Columbia and Quarry Hiking Trails.
- Marshall Gold Discovery State Park – About an hour east of Sacramento, you’ll find the place that started it all. In Coloma, CA, Marshall Gold Discovery State Park marks the spot where, in 1848, James Marshall discovered gold on the American River near Sutter’s Mill. Visitors to the park are given the chance to experience their own personal gold rush while panning for gold on the American River. American River Resort in Coloma features beautiful river-side RV camping, and is a short five-minute walk from the State Park.
Admit it; you’re feeling the effects of gold fever! The best cure is to visit one or more of these gold-rich areas where public gold panning is allowed. Check each site for information on permits and equipment necessary, and book your reservations at one of the campgrounds mentioned. All that’s left is to pack your RV (or rent one if there’s not one parked out back) and head for the Sierra Nevada. An RV vacation spent panning for gold in California’s Sierra Nevada will be one your family treasures for years to come.
Heading into the weekend of October 16 finds Northern New England with peak or moving past peak foliage conditions. The exception to that would be coastal Maine and southeastern New Hampshire. Central Vermont is moving past peak.
With that, the focus will turn south. Massachusetts should be an excellent leaf viewing destination this weekend with conditions starting to peak. We thought we would share some Massachusetts fall foliage resources with you to help you plan a weekend excursion:
- MA Fall Foliage Map
- Live Fall Foliage Map
- Fall Foliage Driving Tours: Massachusetts
- Foliage Drives in Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Fall Foliage Drives
- Yankee Foliage
Some great towns to visit for fall foliage viewing would include Amherst, Shelburne Falls, and Williamstown, all three of which were ranked among the Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England by Yankee Magazine (October, 2010).
Many thanks to Marcy and Eric Nelson, Managers of Desert Gardens RV Park, for providing us with this post.
Desert Gardens RV Park is a beautiful, undiscovered gem in the pristine Sonoran Desert where you will have “room to roam” on 266 of the largest 40′ x 50′ to 80′ x 85′ fully developed RV sites in sunny Arizona. Each lot has been carefully placed around sensitive cacti and other native plants to maintain the desert environment. The Park is surrounded by the natural desert and stretching as far as the eye can see, colossal Saguaro cacti tower over barrel cacti and prickly pears. The mountains in the distance provide a backdrop for the unobstructed sunrises and sunsets.
In the desert surrounding the RV Park, you can imagine the irrigated fields of the ancient Hohokams, tribes of Apaches led by Geronimo and Cochise, and you may even observe the twilight blooming of the Saguaro cactus flower. Speaking of the Saguaro, the cactus can exceed 10 feet in height and weigh up to 10 tons. Truly a site to see.
Some interesting attractions near Desert Gardens RV Park include:
- Ak-Chin Him-Dak EcoMuseum and Archives
- Arizona Museum of Natural History
- Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park
- Casa Grande Ruins
- Cochise Stronghold in the Coronado National Forest
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
- Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine Tours
- Rex Allen Cowboy Museum & Cowboy Hall of Fame
- Superstition Mountain Museum
- Tombstone Gunfight Reenactments
Some of the amenities that you may appreciate Desert Gardens RV Park include:
- Telephone and WiFi are available throughout the Park
- A large clubhouse for day and evening activities
- A glass studio for stained glass
- A fitness center
- A wood shop
- A game room
- Free Direct TV’s in three buildings
- A swimming pool and spa and meditation garden with fountains, tables, chairs and firepits
- A laundromat
- Large showers and restrooms
And Marcy and Eric tell us that cell phone service is great at the park, but you will probably be having enough fun not to care…
The park is conveniently located in the Village of Cactus Forest, midway between Phoenix and Tucson and four miles south of Florence, Arizona off of Hwy 79. Be sure to check out Desert Gardens RV Park if your travels take you that way.
You may have parked your RV in Idaho’s National Parks, seen the Craters of the Moon and hiked the trails once followed by the Nez Perce. But have you ever hunted gemstones in the Gem State? RV campers looking for true adventure are invited to learn the joys of a gemstone hunting RV vacation in Idaho.
Where to Find Gemstones in Idaho
A good place to start when planning your trip is the guide to rock-hounding and gemstone hunting available at idl.idaho.gov, Idaho’s Department of Lands’ website. They point out something very important to remember as you pull over next to a promising prospecting site…to respect private property and to help keep Idaho in its pristine wilderness condition.
The site identifies dozens of minerals and gemstones likely to be found in Idaho, including fire opals, rubies and star garnets. In fact, according to Idaho’s Museum of Natural History, Idaho is second only to Africa in the variety of gemstones found there!
For example, in Adams County, you might find rubies and pink garnets in the Rock Flat area adjacent to Payette National Forest near New Meadows. This area also just happens to be the reputed source of the largest diamond (19.5 carats) ever found in the U.S.!
Follow the Salmon River in Custer County, ID (especially the East Fork) to find amethyst and citrine. If you’re traveling with rock hounds, they’ll want to stay awhile in this area, as an abundance of geodes, agates and petrified wood can also be found here.
According to the Cash and Treasure Wiki created by the Travel Channel, opals can be dug from the Spencer Opal Deposit centered near the town of Spencer in Eastern, ID. The Deer Hunt Mine in this area is world famous among gem prospectors and offers gem hunters access on a fee-per-pound basis.
Another easy place to discover wonderful gemstone finds is the Emerald Creek Garnet Area near Clarkia in St. Joe National Forest. It’s the home of record-breaking star garnets, reputed to be some of the best outside of India.
Where to Find a Gem of an RV Campground in Idaho
The next big question is where to stay once you’ve decided to make a prospecting trek to Idaho by RV. You’ll definitely strike it rich staying at one of the many state and national park and forest campgrounds in Idaho. The Moscow, Idaho Chamber of Commerce website has a helpful listing of marinas, parks and recreation areas where RV campers are welcome in Western Idaho.
If you’re hoping to snag a handful of amethyst in Blaine County, make your prospecting base camp at Riverside RV Camp in beautiful Bellevue, ID. Another memorable home away from home for RV camping prospectors is Mountain Home RV Park in the heart of Owyhee County fire opal country.
Whether you’re hungering to find the perfect amethyst or hoping for a blindingly beautiful fire opal, Idaho is the place to spend your RV camping and gem prospecting vacation. If you’re not afraid to get your jeans dirty and hike a bit up a creek bed, the fun you’ll have just may have you planning a return trip to Idaho soon.
By Myriam Bouchard, Hudson Valley Traveler
The Hudson Valley, between New York City and Albany, is home of some of the country’s best scenic drives with stunning views of gentle rolling hills, fields and woodlands, and the mighty Hudson River, punctuated by quaint towns with astounding culinary delights and fun shopping. In the fall, Mother Nature provides brilliantly colored foliage.
Both banks of the Hudson River provide easy access to a kaleidoscope of culture, history, outdoors activities, shopping, dining, vistas, relaxation, and the friendliest people you will ever meet. Whatever you seek, the Hudson Valley will respond with a myriad of choices.
Start your journey in Tarrytown, NY with an exquisite lunch at Equus, nestled in a castle with views of the Hudson River. You will then have choices of visiting either Kykuit, home of four generations of the Rockefeller family, Phillipsburg Manor, an early 17th century farm, or Union Church, with works of Chagall and Matisse. A bit more north, spend an evening at Van Cortlandt Manor admiring their annual exhibit of over 4,000 individually hand-carved illuminated jack o’ lanterns.
The next day, go north to Cold Spring, where you can have a riverside lunch at the Hudson House River Inn. If the weather permits and you are looking forward to a good workout, you can hike up Breakneck Ridge, for glorious views of Bannerman’s Island Castle and Storm King Mountain, towering across the River.
In Beacon, take two hours to visit the world’s largest modern art museum, the Dia:Beacon, with over 240,000 square feet of exhibition space illuminated by natural light, and complete your day by having dinner at a truly authentic Thai restaurant, Sukkhothai.
On day three, still moving north to Hyde Park, grab a fine lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, where a choice of four distinct culinary delights awaits you. Contented and on a full stomach, stretch your legs to visit the numerous historic sites along the Hudson, such as the Vanderbilt Mansion or Mills Mansion or the home of FDR.
Once in Rhinebeck, step into the award-winning BlueCashew Kitchen Pharmacy, where you will be mesmerized by its multitude of remarkable kitchen supplies. Cross the street and replenish your energies at The Terrapin, where some of the world’s most diverse flavors will meet and mingle on your palate.
Mid-way through your journey, cross the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and head to Opus 40, where lays one of the most extraordinary pieces of sculptures ever created by a single man, spread out over more than six acres. Drive south to Kingston to have succulent lunch at the Hoffman House Tavern, a national historic landmark circa 1711.
This afternoon, you can either take a river cruise from the Rondout Historic District or visit America’s oldest street in New Paltz, with houses dating back to 1678. A few miles away, enjoy apple or pumpkin picking and then end your day with a perfectly balanced farm-to-table dinner at the Village TeaRoom Restaurant and Bakeshop.
Today you will walk across the Hudson River on the world’s longest pedestrian-only bridge, Walkway Over the Hudson, and then tour America’s oldest vineyard, Benmarl. As you continue heading south, you will stroll the pristine 500-acre landscape of one of the most outstanding sculpture parks, the Storm King Art Center. Your last stop will be the West Point Military Academy, and finally, a breathtaking riverside meal at the Thayer Hotel, before going back home, wherever this may be…
Many thanks to Myriam Bouchard of the Hudson Valley Traveler for providing us with this wonderful blog post. Hudson Valley Traveler can organize a customized Hudson Valley itinerary for you or you can pick from one of their theme-based packages. You can reach Myriam at 845-750-6252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.