Celebrate National Parks Week with an RV Camping Trip!

With America’s National Parks Week just around the corner, it’s time for RV camping fans to start planning for national park camping. For one hundred years, the National Park Service has managed our country’s most beautiful destinations. In honor of their centennial, from April 16-24, 2016 they’re waiving entrance fees for all national park visitors.

With more than four hundred destinations to choose from, finding the perfect national park for your April camping adventure might seem difficult. Never fear! We’ve gathered tools to help our readers locate national park campsites and attractions from Acadia NP in coastal Maine to California’s Joshua Tree National Park. Ready to plan?

How to Pick Your Next National Park Camping Destination

One of the things we like best about America’s National Park Service is their visitor-friendly attitude. Since 1916, they’ve been refining their outreach to national park visitors to make it easy for anyone to access information on NPS-managed locations.

Finding a park that suits your interests, travel schedule and camping style is simple, with several ways to search and access national park information. The first is through the FindYourPark.com website, a community-engagement resource where national park fans can share information, search for national park locations and learn about ways the NPS connects with communities.

Another excellent resource for national park RV campers is the National Park Service National Park Service website itself. You can search for NPS-managed locations, including national parks, heritage areas, historic sites and monuments, state by state, by using their easy-to-understand search tools. Once you’ve located one or more possible National Parks Week camping destinations, click on each park’s link to access information such as driving directions, things to do, places to see and campground amenities.

What to Expect RV Camping at a National Park

Never camped at a national park campground and wondering what to expect? National Park Service campgrounds run the gamut from no-hookups ‘dispersed camping’ to full-hookups, amenity-rich developed campsites. One note for those who plan to camp during National Parks Week—entrance fees are waived, but campground fees will still apply.

Here are some examples of national park campgrounds, to give you an idea of the range of amenities.

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area, that water sports wonderland on the Arizona/Nevada border, offers both developed campgrounds run by concessionaires and NPS-run campgrounds with water and dump stations but no hook-ups.
  • The campgrounds at Everglades National Park also offer a range of possibilities, from sites with electric hook-ups only on Florida Bay to ‘dry camping’ sites in a pine forest.
  • Yosemite National Park’s ten campgrounds are located amidst magnificent scenery, but plan ahead because hook-ups aren’t part of the camping amenities.
  • Maine’s vast and scenic Acadia National Park gives RV campers the choice of primitive campsites, electric sites and electric/water sites.
  • The large campground at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park is a beautiful spot without RV hookups but with easy access to the cave’s entrance and miles of above-ground hiking trails.

Ready to Go National Park Camping?

Keep in mind, no matter where you camp in America’s national parks, you can expect scenic wonders, outdoor adventures and interesting people you might never have met otherwise. Don’t those all sound like fantastic reasons to go RV camping during National Parks Week?

One more tool  for planning to camp in your RV at a national park—Recreation.gov offers a wealth of ideas and information on national park vacations, and for those campgrounds that allow reservations, this is the place to reserve your campsites before you go.

Let’s celebrate our country’s National Park Centennial by doing what we love best—camping in a motorhome or trailer.  And be sure to let us know about your national park camping experience in the Comments Section below!

Posted in Florida National Parks, florida rv vacation, florida vacation, Kentucky RV Camping, Kentucky RV Vacation, Maine RV Camping, Maine RV Vacation, National Parks, nevada vacation, NV RV Camping, NV RV Vacation | Leave a comment

What Will You Find While Camping in the Everglades?

Exploring the vast national park that encompasses the Florida Everglades is an adventure every RV camper should experience. The wildlife, scenery and enormous land and water mass of Everglades National Park everglades come together to create an unparalleled camping experience. If you’ve never been, you may be wondering if it’s all about ‘gators and airboats, but there’s so much more to discover when you come to South Florida’s ecological treasure.

Camping Opportunities You’ll Find in the Everglades

The National Park Service serves up top-notch camping facilities in all fifty states, and campgrounds at Everglades National Park are no exception.

Two campgrounds within the National Park can accommodate RVs—Flamingo Campground and Long Pine Key Campground. You may find portions of the campgrounds closed during wet season (May to October) but they are both wide open and welcoming campers every day from November to April.

If you choose to camp at Long Pine Key, you’ll be on the Park’s southeast side, near the Homestead entrance. The quickest route is through Miami, south on the Florida Turnpike to Florida City. This plan positions you to explore the Long Pine Key Trail (see below) and the wildlife-rich trails connected to the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This is a no-hookups campground but water and a dump station are available. Campsites are first-come, first-served.

Farther south, at Florida’s most southern tip, Flamingo Campground has developed campsites, dump stations and solar showers. It’s also accessed via the Homestead entrance by traveling about forty miles into the park past Long Pine Key and the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook to the Flamingo Visitor Center. Camping at Flamingo puts you close to plenty of outdoor adventure, with easy access to water and hiking trails. We strongly advise reserving your campsite if you plan to stay at Flamingo Campground during the winter months.

Wildlife You Can Find in the Everglades

With more than a million acres covering the gamut from sawgrass prairie to mangrove swamps, you won’t miss out on wildlife watching opportunities when you visit the Everglades.

As you hike the trails, take a tram tour, paddle a canoe or take advantage of access points like the Shark Valley observation tower, you might just see not only alligators but also saltwater crocodiles, West Indian Manatees, bottle-nosed dolphins, several species of bats and an abundance of wading birds.

Depending on the habitat, you may cross paths with raccoons, grey fox, river otters and flying squirrels. Keep your eyes on the ‘River of Grass’ in all its forms—there’s always some kind of creature making its way through this one-of-a-kind sanctuary.

Outdoor Recreation You’ll Find in the Everglades

We’ve mentioned wildlife viewing and RV camping, but what else is there to do outdoors at Everglades National Park? Plenty!

The extensive paddling, biking and hiking trail system within the Park can keep you busy for weeks, so let’s talk about some of the most popular pathways:

  • Anhinga and Gumbo-Limbo Hiking Trails, Royal Palm Visitor Center: Anhinga Trail is a little less than a mile long, full loop, and is accessible. Lots of bird and wildlife watching along the way. The shorter, quarter mile, Gumbo-Limbo Trail is also paved and wheelchair accessible, offering a quick view of the coastal hammock habitat.
  • Bayshore Loop Hiking Trail: Two miles long and offering a view of Florida Bay, this trail can be reached via the Flamingo Campground.
  • Shark Valley Biking Scenic Loop: This fifteen mile bike trail is for experienced bicyclists able to make the whole loop, but it is also a terrific opportunity to observe wildlife, birds and the ever-changing landscape of the Everglades. If you’re not up for the bike ride, tram tours are also available for this loop.
  • Ten Thousand Islands Water Trails: Experienced paddlers will find the perfect challenge by following one of the water trails along the Gulf Coast of the Everglades. Start at the canoe launch at Everglades City and follow your chosen trail toward Big Cypress National Preserve. Not confident of your ability to paddle these backcountry trails safely? There are boat tours available, so you won’t miss out on the mystery and beauty of this vast wilderness area.

You can also indulge in saltwater and freshwater fishing at many spots throughout the National Park. Check the website for information on other activities such as birdwatching, kayaking and eco tours for an in-depth Everglades experience.

Setting up camp in Florida’s Everglades National Park can be the beginning of one of your best RV vacations. Make plans to visit now by reserving your Miami RV rental and planning your Everglades activities. The River of Grass is waiting to take you on the ultimate outdoor adventure.

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Short on Time, But Want to Experience Long-Distance RV Adventures?

Taking an RV vacation has many advantages over staying night after night in various hotels.  For instance, you can’t beat the convenient mobility perk of motor homes by taking all your possessions with you, in addition to the privacy and comfort of having your own “home” away from home at any vacation destination you’re visiting.  The convenience that RVing affords families with children and pets is well worth the effort, time, and money spent on experiencing an RV rental vacation!  Some people never consider renting an RV for long-distance vacations, like going to the Grand Canyon from New York, believing they would have to drive the entire distance in the RV.  Fortunately for the vacationers who enjoy convenience and luxury, El Monte RV offers a wonderful solution to make that kind of a trip possible!

El Monte RV motor home at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

El Monte RV motor home at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

For this type of traveler, a “Fly and Drive” RV trip might be the perfect solution.  In a nutshell, travelers looking into this manner of vacation will fly to an El Monte  RV rental location near their destination in order to pick up an RV before staring on their adventure.   There is an upward trend building in this “Fly and Drive” travel experience for several good reasons.

Probably the top and most obvious reason at hand is not having enough time to drive the entire distance just to get to your final destination.   Depending on the kind of trip you have in mind, this aspect of the “Fly and Drive” option is a win-win!   While road trips are a lot of fun and enhance the RV trip, it may not fit into your time schedule.  It serves a better purpose for some people to get there quickly so that they can start using their RV the way they want to.  Another reason to fly and drive is that it can be the most economical way to visit a national park or other destination on the other side of the country.  Instead of paying for all of the gas just to get to your destination, a plane ticket may be a cheaper alternative.

If you decide to fly and drive to your destination, there are a few simple steps to follow to make your trip a success!  Early planning is the best policy; it is usually the cheapest way to go, as well as having the increased availability for campsites and RV selections!   After deciding where you want to go,  you’ll need to do a little research first.  You will want to locate the nearest RV campgrounds or other sites that allow overnight RV parking before making your RV reservations.  Especially when considering a stay in a national or state park, you’ll want to know the size of your RV rental first because the RV size can make a difference in whether or not there will be site availability.  Before reserving your camping spot, find the closest El Monte RV location to reserve and book the RV that will be perfect for you, remember to take note of the size of your motor home.  Then make a call to the campground and reserve your RV camping spot!

Next, you’ll need to book your flight tickets!   El Monte RV offers shuttle service at their larger store locations.  You will want to verify upon booking your RV rental whether or not that particular location provides shuttle service.  An alternate choice for a low-cost way to get from the airport to your El Monte RV location is using a car transport service such as Uber.  This modern and popular alternative to taking taxis is usually the cheapest and easiest way to get to your El Monte RV location, and you’ll be able to use it to get back to the airport at the end of your vacation as well.  Make sure to download the app to your smart phone before you leave on vacation, as this will allow you to hail an Uber car as soon as you walk out of the airport!

If you’re thinking about taking an RV vacation this year, don’t hold yourself back from anywhere in the U.S. that you’ve thought about going in an RV.  If the nearest El Monte RV location isn’t within easy driving distance, consider doing a Fly and Drive vacation instead!

El Monte RV

El Monte RV Rentals and Sales

For more information on renting or buying a motor home CLICK HERE!  or call 1-888-337-2208

 

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Visit a National Preserve Park for a Great RV Vacation

An RV vacation to a unique national preserve site can provide a great getaway for the whole family.  And this one in Florida, is a perfect winter destination all by itself.  The preserve that we recommend you visit is the Big Cypress National Preserve.  An easy drive from Miami, this park has a great mix of climates that is comfortable any time of year.  This is the place to go for wildlife viewing, paddling fascinating waterways, and RV camping.  El Monte RV Rentals in Miami will provide the ideal RV for your trip!

View of the Big Cypress National Preseve in Florida

View of the Big Cypress National Preseve in Florida

In Big Cypress National Preserve you will find a couple of RV campgrounds which are open all year.  The Midway Campground is first-come, first-served and has twenty-six separate RV sites.  There is also a dump station.  This is a great place to make your home base while you explore the rest of the preserve.

Before you get completely settled in, you may want to take some of the scenic drives in the area.  There are plenty of pull-offs where you can stop and watch wildlife, as well as, take in some wonderful views.  Loop Road is 27 miles of forests with pines and dwarf cypress trees and, of course, numerous animals and birds.  The Turner River / Wagonwheel / Birdon Roads Loop is a favorite of birders as there are a wide variety of wading birds that come to feed along this route.

You are going to be experiencing Alligator Alley in real-time and must bring your camera in order to not miss a shot of one of the most popular sights in southern Florida – alligators! And, of course, hiking is always something that will get you out there, up close and personal with nature here at the preserve.  The Kirby Storter Boardwalk is a great path for those with young ones with them.  Short and sweet, this route will take you into the heart of the Big Cypress swamp.  You will find a whole network of hiking trails in the preserve so you can really see all the corners of this most fascinating swamp area.

One of the best trails in Big Cypress National Preserve is the section of the Florida National Scenic Trail that stretches across Florida.  Three parts of this trail are within the park’s boundaries.  There is the northern boundary to Interstate 75, then the section of Interstate 75 to Highway 41, and Highway 41 to the Loop Road.  The latter is best in the winter season as there is no flooding as there is during rainy season.

Canoeing Fun in Big Cypress National Preserve

Canoeing Fun in Big Cypress National Preserve

If the weather permits, you will be lucky because you can follow the canoeing trails and really experience the swamp as it should be experienced.  Newbies to paddling should take the Lefthand Turner River Trail.   More experienced paddlers can take more difficult paddling trails like the Turner River or the Halfway Creek Loop.  Right now is the paddling season.  It goes from November through March.

Yes, a winter vacation to Big Cypress National Preserve is a wonderful trip to take in an RV.  You will be happy to get out of the cold winds, blizzards, and freezing temperatures.  Book your RV rental today!

El Monte RV

El Monte RV Rentals and Sales

For information on renting an RV in Florida  – CLICK HERE or to rent a motor home outside of the state of Florida  – CLICK HERE.

Picture credits: Big Cypress National Preserve and Canoeing Fun are both by BigCypressNPS and are licensed under the Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license.  Thank you!

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Visiting Jacksonville on a Florida RV Adventure

A winter vacation in Jacksonville, Florida can put new meaning into “vacation.”  The Florida coast offers a marvelous combination of seaside beauty and southern hospitality.  With so many sights to see and so much to do, the whole family will be busy constantly, with very little downtime (unless some is desired, of course).  Florida has some wonderful weather, too!  Jacksonville has lovely beaches and plenty of historical and scenic spots.

Boy at Seaside Playing with Seagulls in Jacksonville, Florida

Boy at Seaside Playing with Seagulls in Jacksonville, Florida

You can easily pick up an RV rental at El Monte RV Rentals and Sales in Orlando and head up to Jacksonville for your vacation.  You’ll discover some great RV campgrounds with lots of amenities, such as the Flamingo Lake RV Resort or the Fleetwood RV Park.  Either is conveniently located to give you easy access to enjoy all the sights and touristy things there are to do in Jacksonville.

One of the first stops in the city will be the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, a thrill for those of any age.  Animal exhibits are always fun to tour, and the animals love your company!  It’s an experience you won’t want to miss.  Another popular place to visit is the Veterans Memorial Wall  on East Adams Street.  This is a memorial honoring all veterans from all branches of the service.

Flamingos in Jacksonville Zoo, Florida

Flamingos in Jacksonville Zoo, Florida

If you want to enjoy a little outdoor recreation, you can drive a bit north of the city to the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve.  Here is your chance to see coastal wetlands and the animal life that makes their home here.  As you wander the dunes and absorb the seaside ambiance, you’ll realize how relaxing it is to breathe that wonderful sea air.  Stop at the Visitor Center so you can get well-informed about how to make the most of your visit to this preserve.

On one part of the preserve is the Kingsley Plantation, a place where you will discover some fascinating history.  There is no admission fee and you can explore the plantation and imagine you were there in an historic time lapse.  You’ll learn even more history of the time period of the slaves if you take the ranger program.

Museums provide a unique kind of education.  The arts should always be admired and studied, and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens will certainly engage your artistic sensibilities.  The gardens are a wonderful place to enjoy some solitude amid its natural beauty along the banks of the river.  You must also make your way over to the Museum of Science and History to learn even more about this amazing state of Florida.  More art is available to view at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.

If you can bear leaving Jacksonville even temporarily, you will have to head south to St. Augustine.  This will be a bonus to your trip to Jacksonville.  Stop and see Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth and the St. Augustine Light.

Premier El Monte RV Rental Motor Home 2014  Model

Premier El Monte RV Rental Motor Home 2014 Model

You will certainly love this opportunity to explore some of the Florida coast and see the sights that Jacksonville offers.  It will be one motor home vacation that will go down in your books as one of the best!

For information on renting an RV in Florida – CLICK HERE or to rent a motor home outside of the state of Florida  – CLICK HERE.

El Monte RV

El Monte RV

Picture credits: photo of boy with seagulls by V2112 and the flamingos by Rob Bixby are licensed under the Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license.

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Planning an RV Vacation so All Goes Smoothly

You want your RV vacation to be the best that it can be for everyone.  After all, a vacation is supposed to relieve all the stress built up from living day-to-day in your workaday world.  But if you are not fully prepared, you will be adding stress to your vacation days.  Let’s see how we can prepare you for your RV vacation and have a worry-free getaway.

Florida Keys, Florida USA

Florida Keys,

First, you need to know your destination and how you’ll get there.  You will find El Monte RV Rentals all over the United States where you can obtain the ideal motor home for your trip.  We offer free “RV Camping Itineraries” that provide  mapped-out courses and destinations for your convenience.

You can either “fly-drive” to your destination or pick up your motor home locally and enjoy the drive and adventures along the way that only RV travel can offer!  Don’t forget that in many cases you can take advantage of our free airport shuttle service in major airport cities.  Check our website for availability.

Here’s a possible RV Travel Itinerary:  you can rent an RV from El Monte RV Rentals in Orlando, find a nice camping spot, visit some Orlando sights, and then head to the Keys for more fun.  On the way to the Florida Keys there are plenty of sights to see and you’ll want to allow time to stop and enjoy them all.  You may want to refer to previous postings on our Monty’s Musings blog to learn about many exciting destinations to visit in Florida in your RV.

From Orlando, you could head east to Fox Lake Sanctuary, then south on Interstate 95 to the Florida Keys and beautiful Key Largo.  For a winter vacation, you really can’t beat the Keys.  You will meet creative types who spend their time making unique art, beachcomber types who relax all day along the sandy beaches, and swim with the dolphins.  Use Google and maps on the Internet to plan your route and everything you want to see on the way.

If you don’t want to bring your pets along, you can contact a pet-sitter or the kennel in advance to ensure they have an opening for your time away.  But if you prefer keeping Fido with you, it’s good to know that El Monte RV is a “Pet-Friendly” company and supports taking the family pets along!  Also remember to check out the weather forecast for that area for the time you will be there.  It is surprising how accurate these weather forecasts can be.  You will then know what to pack, or even if you should put off your vacation for a few days to miss a storm.

You will want to prepare your smartphone and laptop for the trip.  Download some apps to make your vacation more exciting.  You can find apps online and pick the ones you’ll use the most.  Perhaps you’ll choose the one which forecasts weather down to the hour or perhaps the one which identifies animal tracks.  There are many to choose from.

Now begin to pack for your trip.  First make a detailed list of every item you want to bring and as you pack them, mark them off.  This way you’ll forget nothing.  Remember, when packing clothes, roll them instead of folding.  This prevents wrinkles.  There’s lots of storage in motor homes, so taking “it all with you” is usually not a problem!

When you prepare and plan out your trip, you will find everything less stressful and more enjoyable.  Have a great RV vacation!

El Monte RV Official Logo

El Monte RV Official Logo

For information on renting an RV in or near Orlando, Florida – CLICK HERE or if you need to rent a motor home outside the state of Florida,  -CLICK HERE

Picture credits: The photo of Florida Keys was found on Flickr Commons. It is licensed under the Explore/Creative Commons license.

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Travel from Sarasota, Florida, to the Everglades this Winter

Florida beckons to take the chill out of winter with its mild weather, gorgeous beaches, and great attractions.  It is the perfect time to take an RV winter vacation and get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.  Getting out on the open road offers a needed break, an adventure that clears the mind and boosts inspiration.  The west coast of Florida is a good place to start your getaway.

Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

While in Sarasota, Florida, there are many things to do, so you should consider spending some time here.  If you have children with you, you will most definitely want to stop and see the Children’s Garden & Art Center.  Both boys and girls have a wonderful time playing here.  There is a fairy garden where the little ladies can engage in make-believe and a tree fort for the young men to let their imagination run wild.

Both kids and adults love the Crowley Museum and Nature Center because you learn all about the early settlers in Florida, and there is nothing quite like getting that taste of history to make your trip all the more interesting.  Prior to continuing down the coast, also visit the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary.  It is wonderful to see the lions, tigers, and other animals that were rescued and can now live happy lives.

The weather in Florida during the winter months can vary greatly; but more often than not, you’ll find very mild weather conducive to a visit to the beach.  At Fort Meyers there are some wonderful beaches, and you can also enjoy plenty of shopping and fine dining.  Marvel at the amazing sunsets over a glass of wine.  You will find more shopping at Cape Coral, just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Two more places to stop before you reach the Everglades – the Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge with a wide array of wildlife, sea life, and birds and Collier-Seminole State Park with one of the largest mangrove swamps anywhere.  But be prepared for the Everglades, as there is no other park that matches the wonders of this one!

Everglades National Park gives you the opportunity to enjoy so much of nature.  You will, perhaps, glimpse a Florida panther.  You might come face-to-face with a gentle manatee or see an American crocodile in action.  You can learn more about the park and what to look for by stopping by the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Gallery.

Of all recreational activities available in Everglades National Park, hiking is one of the favorites. There are numerous hiking trails where you can traverse the unique landscapes.  If you love birding, the Bear Lake Trail is the one to take; and if you want to see mangroves and open coastal prairie, take the Christian Point Trail.

You will find this Florida winter RV vacation to be fabulously relaxing.  It is going to be one that will stay in memory as one of your favorites!

For information on booking an RV Trip near Sarasota, Florida, – CLICK HERE or if you need to rent a motor home outside of the state of Florida, CLICK HERE.

Picture credits: The picture of Sarasota, Florida, is from Flicker Commons by Jim Brickett.  It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

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