Five Memorable Mountain RV Campgrounds

Follow a winding road to find a mountain campground way back in the forest. Hike wooded trails to the secret places where wildlife abounds. Hike back to share your stories with new friends at the campground. America’s state and national parks in mountain locales provide memorable settings for your RV camping adventures. Pick one from our suggestions, and be sure to let us know what you discover!

Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Park Campground – Colorado

You’ll find this mountain RV camping paradise off Hwy 36 near the Beaver Creek entrance of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Elk and deer will greet you as you wake to the splendor of immense Moraine Park and the surrounding Rockies.  

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

This Colorado mountain campground puts you close to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, plus scenic Trail Ridge Road, mountain lakes and waterfalls and the mountain village of Estes Park.

Details: Paved roads into the campground. No hook-ups at campsites, but toilets and drinking water are available. Bring your solar shower bag to use in the designated shower enclosure to save RV water/power. RMNP shuttle takes campers to nearby trailheads. Campground is close to Estes Park and Moraine Park Discovery Center.

Black Rock Mountain State Park – Hickory Cove Campground – Georgia

The Blue Ridge Mountains within Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest are home to wonderfully scenic Black Rock Mountain State Park. Waterfalls, a mountain-top visitor center and scenic vistas surround RV campers who make the trip up this park’s winding roads. Black Rock Lake Trail is popular with hikers of all ages, while two more-strenuous mountain trails lead hikers to unforgettable views.

Details: Winding two-mile drive up to campground. Standard water/electric sites, some 50-amp available, showers, toilets, dump station available in campground. Shaded, gravel camping pads. Close to trails, some ranger-led activities available.

Coolidge State Park Campground – Vermont

Located in Coolidge State Forest, we rate this as a mountain campground thanks to the Green Mountain views that surround it. A small, rustic campground nestled in the forest, it’s close to hiking trails well worth discovering. Throughout the state park you’ll find original stone structures built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, adding to the park’s vintage feel. Bonus—park fees also provide access to nearby Camp Plymouth State Park for boating and swimming.

Details: No hookups, dump station is available. Flush toilets and coin operated hot showers. Nature center should be a stop for all visitors. Easy access to hiking trails.

Painted Rocks State Park Campground-Montana

Where Montana’s Bitterroot Range wraps itself around Painted Rocks Reservoir, you’ll find a valley campground that speaks to the heart of those who love wildlife, remote pine forests and mountain fishing. Two hours south of Missoula, Montana, this small lakeshore campground is the perfect spot for a fishing and camping vacation. Moose, black bear, peregrine falcons and great blue herons call the Bitterroot Valley home, so bring your binoculars and your favorite fishing gear to catch cutthroat trout and whitefish.

Details: No hookups, vault toilets, first come, first served campsites. Motorized fishing boats, kayaks and canoes allowed on reservoir, boat ramp available.

Mount Hood National Forest—Spring Drive RV Campground—Oregon

You’ll find this photogenic spot two hours east of Portland on US-26. Located on the southeast edge of Mount Hood National Forest, Spring Drive Campground combines woodland beauty with RV convenience by offering full hookups for self-contained RVs. Rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking and fishing venues surround the campground, with spectacular views of Mount Hood and other area peaks. Reserve your site before you go, as this is a small, secluded campground popular with hikers and nature photographers.  

Details: Full hookups, no dump station, separate drinking water or toilets available. RVs must be self-contained. Large, private back-in sites in a forest setting.

Why not make it a goal to go RV camping in one of America’s mountain ranges? State and national park campgrounds throughout the country offer scenic campsites, easy access to outdoor recreation and a deeper appreciation for the people who saved these special places for future generations.

Let us help with an RV rental reservation close to home or in a city near your alpine destination. The mountains are calling—isn’t it time you answered?

Posted in Colorado RV Camping Vacation, Georgia RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, Oregon RV Camping Vacation, Vermont RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

AAA Members-Look Skyward! 2017 Eclipse RV Travel Savings

You may have noticed our earlier discussion about the singular celestial event that’s coming to America in 2017. To refresh your memories, we’ll be enjoying a total solar eclipse over America on August 21, 2017. A special reason we’re highlighting this opportunity for RV travel again is that AAA members can save big when renting an RV to view the solar eclipse.

AAA members always enjoy RV rental discounts through El Monte RV Rental & Sales as part of their active membership. For this year’s total solar eclipse experience, the nationwide auto club is encouraging members to hit the road in an RV to find the optimal eclipse viewing sites.

This article on the 2017 eclipse in AAA’s April member newsletter offers information on where, when and how to view the eclipse. If you aren’t currently a AAA member, this link offers you the opportunity to join so you can take advantage of the RV rental discounts.  

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse

Haven’t started making plans to see the moon’s shadow completely block the sun from Earthly viewers? Here are the details you’ll need to plan your 2017 total solar eclipse RV vacation:

When Will the Eclipse Occur?

The shadow of the moon will align to blot out the sun from our view for approximately two minutes at 10:15 a.m. PDT on the Pacific Coast near Newport, Oregon. That will be the North American debut of the 2017 solar eclipse. The moon’s shadow will then block the sun from sight in an arc across the US, moving back over the Atlantic off the South Carolina coast at 2:48 pm EDT.

Where Will the Total Eclipse be Visible?

This excellent map of the eclipse trajectory shows the fourteen states (from Oregon to South Carolina) crossed by the “path of totality”. On that path, there’s a sixty-mile band of optimum viewing of the entire eclipse event. Outside that band, you won’t be able to see the total eclipse and will have to settle for partial eclipse memories.

To help you plan your eclipse-viewing RV vacation, here are some of the cities within the path of totality:

Oregon: Newport, Corvallis, Madras, Salem

Idaho: Stanley, McKay, Idaho Falls

Montana: No cities within optimum viewing band, eight miles of remote mountain terrain only

Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park, Casper, Thermopolis

Nebraska: Scott’s Bluff, Hastings, Grand Island

Kansas: Troy, Atchison, Leavenworth

Missouri: St. Joseph, Columbia

Illinois: Carbondale, Chester

Kentucky: Bowling Green, Hopkinsville

Tennessee: Nashville, Gallatin, Clarksville

Georgia: Blairsville, Clayton

North Carolina: Andrews, Clingmans Dome area of Great Smoky Mountain NP

South Carolina: Anderson, Orangeburg, Columbia

Why Rent an RV to View the Eclipse?

As any experienced RV traveler can tell you, weather changes occur when you least expect them. Viewing the eclipse in all its glory will require staying ahead of cloud cover or storms. Two planning steps can help you win the race:

  •         Watch local forecasts for the area where you plan to view the eclipse. If heavy cloud cover or storms are predicted, have a Plan B viewing location in mind.
  •         Traveling by RV allows you to change plans quickly. The flexibility to move to a better location as the event approaches may make the difference between awesome eclipse viewing memories and traveling home disappointed.

AAA and El Monte RV Rental & Sales can help you plan the perfect eclipse viewing RV vacation, but you’ll need to act fast. Campgrounds are filling rapidly, so don’t delay any longer making your plans.

Where will you be when the sun goes dark on August 21, 2017?

Posted in Georgia RV Camping Vacation, Idaho RV Camping Vacation, Illinois RV Camping Vacation, Kansas RV Camping Vacation, Kentucky RV Camping Vacation, Missouri RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, Nebraska RV Camping Vacation, North Carolina RV Camping Vacation, Oregon RV Camping Vacation, South Dakota RV Camping Vacation, Tennessee RV Camping Vacation, Wyoming RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

National Historic Sites to Visit by RV—Birmingham Civil Rights and Freedom Riders Monuments

In a previous post, we mentioned that four new National Historic Sites had been recognized by the National Park Service this year. That earlier post offered RV campers the details for visiting Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Maryland. This week, we’ve got the details on two new historic sites that tell the story of the American Civil Rights Movement. An important lesson in history and excellent RV camping nearby—isn’t it time you took the trip?

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

Both RV travel stops in today’s post are in Alabama, at the heart of the American Civil Rights movement. Challenge your fellow campers to read ahead of time about the role Birmingham, Alabama played in the early days of the struggle for racial equality in America.

The new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument isn’t yet fully developed, but there’s plenty to explore when you visit. These sites are currently designated within the Monument:

  • G. Gaston Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other early leaders in the Civil Rights Movement met to plan non-violent protests and other actions to end segregation.
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is located adjacent to the AG Gaston Motel. This museum and interpretive center can give you the background you’ll need to begin your tour to the other sites that make up the national monument.
  • 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of the horrific bombing in 1963 that killed four young girls and lit the spark for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Bethel Baptist Church, a short drive from the other sites, was bombed three times during the early years of the struggle for racial equality and served as the home of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.
  • Kelly Ingram Park, captured in history by photographers at the non-violent protests that were disrupted by violent police action.
  • 4th Avenue District, an historic neighborhood once the site of blacks-only restaurants and shops during the days of segregation. 

Freedom Riders National Monument

Two hours east of Birmingham on I-20 in Anniston, Alabama you’ll find another newly-designated National Historic Site. The Freedom Riders National Monument is dedicated to the integrated group who boarded a bus bound for the Deep South in 1961, intent on testing a court decision that had found segregated transportation unconstitutional.

In Anniston, AL, you’ll find the Greyhound Bus Station where the group was attacked by segregationists, as well as the site six miles down the highway where the bus was stopped and firebombed by a mob.

While visiting these two designated sites within the National Monument, take the time to follow the Anniston Civil Rights Trail, a walking tour that highlights the importance of this small Eastern Alabama town during the Civil Rights Movement.

Birmingham Area RV Camping

Where to camp in this historically rich area? Oak Mountain State Park, just south of Birmingham off I-65, offers Alabama RV travelers a wonderful place to recharge. With both 30-amp water and electric sites and primitive campsites, you can choose your setting while enjoying the numerous amenities this park features. Two recreational lakes with cable skiing and boat rentals, a golf course and miles of hiking and biking trails are just the beginning of the ways you’ll find to unwind while camping in the Birmingham area. If you’re up for a climb, the state park’s Peavine Falls is a photographer’s dream.

Make an RV trip to Alabama to find the roots of the American Civil Rights Movement, and to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Birmingham area campgrounds. We can help with an RV rental, and we hope our posts inspire you to seek out the places that tell the story of our nation’s past.

Posted in Alabama RV Camping Vacation, Historical RV Vacation | Leave a comment

Spring RV Travel in Search of Desert Wildflowers

North American desert landscapes will host lavish displays of color this spring, thanks to heavy winter rains. In parts of California, they’re actually calling 2017 the year of the ‘Super Bloom’.

It’s time to take the RV out of winter hibernation for a trip to the desert in search of wildflowers. We’ve got all the information you’ll need to hike, camp and thoroughly enjoy the desert’s flashiest season.  

RV Wildflower Viewing Trips

RV Wildflower Viewing Trips

RV Desert Wildflower Itineraries

According to DesertUSA.com, there are several desert locations in America where wildflowers are either blooming right now (last minute RV road trip, anyone?) or will be in full bloom in the next thirty days.

Some of the best places to enjoy desert wildflowers are on BLM preserves. This year has promised to bring such abundant color that the Bureau of Land Management has set up a special hashtag, #TracktheBloom, and is asking desert visitors to share their wildflower photos on social media sites such as the BLM California Facebook page.

That last-minute location we mentioned, where cacti and other desert plants are showing their best colors this month is Carrizo Plain National Monument in California’s Central Valley. Here’s what you need to know to plan your RV trip:

What’s Blooming? Plenty! Expect to see lupine, delphinium, goldfield, hillside daisies and poppies through April in the immense valley that’s home to Soda Lake.

How to Get There? Carrizo Plain NM can be reached via several major highways. From Van Nuys, drive north on I-5 (four-hour trip.) From Las Vegas, it’s nearly a straight shot west eight hours via I-15, same distance from Phoenix via I-10.

Where to Camp? There are two improved campgrounds within this two-hundred-thousand-acre preserve, if you’re up for primitive camping (vault toilets, no utilities). If you prefer developed campsites, there are dozens of RV campgrounds near Carrizo Plain NM in Bakersfield, Santa Margarita or San Luis Obispo.

Or, you could drive farther south to where Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is also in full bloom through late April.

What’s Blooming? Ocotillos, desert sunflowers, many kinds of blooming cacti and spectacular indigo bush are just a few of the species waiting to delight the eye.

How to Get There? The State Park is two hours northeast of San Diego on Montezuma Valley Road, about an hour-and-a-half southeast of Temecula or a six-hour drive west from Tucson, AZ via I-8.

Where to Camp? Lots of options, but be sure to call ahead, as wildflower season may fill campgrounds. Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Tamarisk Grove Campground, an hour south in Julian, CA are three campgrounds to consider for your RV trip to Anza-Borrego.

We’ll leave you with a trio of other RV road trip ideas to find desert wildflowers. Pick one that sounds fun and get packing!

Have a four-wheel drive towed vehicle? Bounce along the 25-mile Quebradas National Backcountry Byway in southern New Mexico. You’ll find beautiful blooming cacti and desert plants in a rugged, undeveloped setting. Take I-25 south from Albuquerque, follow the Byway signs from Escondida, NM to Escondido Lake and beyond. This is on BLM land, and you can find developed campgrounds nearby in Magdalena, NM.

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is another stunningly scenic landscape that’s especially nice when brittle bush and cactus species are abloom. Find it forty miles north of Las Vegas on I-15 (northern end of Lake Mead), with campsites both primitive and developed within the park, or Las Vegas campgrounds close enough to make it a day trip.

Poppies, lupine and globe mallows dominate the slopes of Picacho Peak State Park in southeast Arizona. Located midway between Phoenix and Tucson off I-10, this wildflower haven is easy to access and features hiking trails surrounding the peak that gives the park its name. There are eighty electric-only campsites within the Park (fill those water tanks before you arrive) as well as a private RV resort near the I-10 park entrance.

What better reason to travel by RV in spring than to seek the desert places abloom with wildflowers? Pick one or more of these amazing desert settings and bring your hiking shoes. You’re going to want to get close to nature when you see what she’s offering this spring!

Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, California RV Camping Vacation, Nevada RV Camping Vacation, State Parks | Leave a comment

Historic Sites to Visit by RV—Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

Traveling by RV to visit National Historic Sites is a wonderful way to introduce your family to American history. By combining the joys of RV camping with visits to sites preserved by the National Park Service for their historic significance, your RV camping trips take on a whole new level of meaning.

Speaking of new, the National Park Service has designated four new National Historic Sites in 2017 that are well-worth an RV camping trip to visit. In this post, we’ll visit the first and most northern of those sites—the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

The Harriet Tubman NHP is a collection of structures that tell the story of the amazing escaped slave who led other slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Auburn, NY is located in the Finger Lakes Region, just south of the Canadian border. Traveling there by RV is easy, as Auburn is near the stretch of I-90 that runs between Buffalo and Albany.

What Will We See There?

In Auburn, you can visit the Harriet Tubman Residence where this extraordinary woman lived in her later life. Another important site within the National Historical Park is the Tubman Home for the Aged, established on land she donated, for the care of elderly and infirm people of color. Another historically significant site within the Harriet Tubman NHP is the Visitor Center, where you can learn more about this complex hero of both emancipation and the women’s suffrage movement.

Make a third stop at the Thompson Memorial AME Church within the grounds of the NHP to understand how a deep faith in God drove Tubman to incredible acts of bravery. A last stop RV travelers can make to complete their knowledge about Harriet Tubman is to her gravesite at Fort Hill Cemetery, outside the National Historical Park but nearby in the same town of Auburn, NY.

Bonus Tip for Families: Having trouble keeping kids interested on the road? Challenge ‘tweens and teens to dive deeper into Tubman’s story before you arrive at the NHP. They’ll soon learn she was the first woman to lead an armed raid during the Civil War. Come up with some kind of bonus for being able to tell the rest of the family about the remarkable night when seven-hundred slaves were set free.

Where Can We Camp?

Located on Lake Owasso, Auburn is centrally located for excellent RV camping possibilities. You could choose to stay close to the Finger Lakes by camping twenty minutes from Auburn at Twin Oaks Campground on Cayuga Lake. Another highly-recommended camping spot, Hejamada Campground & RV Park, is a fifteen minute drive away in Port Byron.

For RV travelers who love the beach, head north to the shores of Lake Ontario, about an hour away from Auburn, to find numerous private campgrounds as well as Fair Haven Beach State Park. In addition to two sandy beaches, RV campers there can enjoy hiking trails, boat rentals and a pleasantly-wooded campground with standard electric sites.

Traveling by RV to Auburn, NY can be your family’s best opportunity to understand the tenacious woman known as ‘Moses’ who lead slaves to freedom. The RV campgrounds in the area surrounding Harriet Tubman National Historical Park make the journey even more inviting, and an RV rental will help keep it affordable. Make this trip a part of your RV camping plans this year.

Posted in Historical RV Vacation, New York RV Camping Vacation, State Parks | Leave a comment

RV Camping to Special Events—Two Southern Festivals in May

What could be more fun than coming together for a weekend of good food, good music and outdoor festival camaraderie? RV camping at festivals adds an additional layer of enjoyment to multi-day festivities. Whether you’re camping right in the heart of festival action or at a comfortable campground nearby, the convenience and affordability of festival camping make it a favorite activity of RV travelers.

We’ve picked two special festivals for you to consider for this year’s camping itinerary—and both take place the first week in May! From smokin’ hot blues in Memphis to a luscious celebration of South Carolina strawberries, they’re both good reasons to reserve an RV rental and plan your own Southern festival weekend.

South Carolina Strawberry Festival, Fort Mill, South Carolina, May 5-6, 2017

If you love the experience of small-town festivals, where local elementary school choirs take the same stage as regional country-rock bands and well-known blues artists, you’ll want to turn your RV toward Fort Mill, SC this May.

Fort Mill, a four-hour drive from Roanoke, VA on US-220, and just across the state border from

South Carolina Strawberry Festival

South Carolina Strawberry Festival

Charlotte, NC, is home to the annual South Carolina Strawberry Festival that honors the sweet red fruit that comes ripe right as this festival begins.

There are festival-related events like a pageant and golf tournament the week prior to Festival Weekend, but the action really starts to get sweet on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Home-spun fun such as shortcake and hot wing eating contests and a ring-full of professional wrestlers raising funds to fight cancer will keep RVers plenty occupied. That’s even before we mention the musical talent that takes the Strawberry Jam Stage both Friday night and all day Saturday.

There’s even a Strawberry Pancake Breakfast Saturday morning at the local high school. And it’s all within easy reach, as most festival events take place in or near the town’s Walter Elisha Park.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But you may be wondering where to camp close to the festival. You’ll find plenty of private campgrounds in the area. Here are just a few:

  • Camp Wilderness at Carowinds Amusement Park, fifteen minutes north of the Festival grounds. Why not plan to stay and play at Carowinds to round out your South Carolina family RV camping vacation?
  • Charlotte/Fort Mill KOA, just off I-77 and less than ten minutes from Walter Elisha Park, gets high marks from RV travelers.
  • Crown Cove RV Park on the North Carolina/South Carolina border, minutes from Fort Mill, is another highly-recommended campground close to the Festival.

Our next festival takes us to Memphis, home of blues, barbeque and sassy Southern hospitality.

Beale Street Musical Festival, Memphis, Tennessee, May 5-7, 2017

Each May, more than one hundred thousand music lovers congregate on the banks of the Mississippi at Tom Lee Park in Memphis to enjoy musicians as varied as Snoop Dogg to Drive-By Truckers. The 2017 Beale Street Music Festival will be held May 5-7 and promises to be one of the best reasons to travel to Memphis by RV this year.

Bring your blanket (no coolers, outside beverages or lawn chairs, please) and your love of good music to this three-day festival in a city world-renowned for its musical offerings. The eclectic mix of artists on four stages will ensure everyone in your camping crew has a stellar festival experience. And what could be more exciting than a festival with the South’s most iconic river as a backdrop? (By the way, you’ll need to buy your tickets now, as Tier I and II passes have already sold out!)

Where to camp close to the Beale Street Music Festival? Try these campgrounds for RV camping within thirty miles of the Festival:

  • Memphis Jellystone Park, Horn Lake, MS
  • Graceland RV Park & Campground on Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis
  • Memphis KOA, twenty minutes away, across the state line in Marion, Arkansas
  • Tom Sawyer RV Campground in West Memphis, Arkansas

Bonus Memphis RV camping idea: While RV camping in Memphis to attend the Beale Street Music Festival, while not schedule a longer stay to enjoy the other Memphis in May International Festival events? Kicking off with the Beale Street Music Festival the first weekend in May and stretching to the 901Fest in late May that celebrates all the 901 (Memphis) area code has to offer, this quartet of Memphis festivals in May will tempt RVers to linger longer.

It’s time to start planning your festival RV camping experiences! Use these ideas as a springboard to make your 2017 festival camping plans, and don’t forget—we’re here to help you have your best RV travel experience yet.

Posted in Festivals, South Carolina RV Camping Vacation, Virginia RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Finding America by RV—Connecticut River National Scenic Byway—Part II

In a previous post, we shared the attractions to be found on the Connecticut River Byway’s southern half, from Hadley, MA to Bellows Falls, VT. For this post, we’ll pick up the Byway there and follow it all the way to West Stewartstown, NH, where this storied route bids us farewell.

How Do We Get There?

As we mentioned in our earlier post, this section of the Byway combines state highways on both sides of the Connecticut River, the geographic boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire. This gives RV travelers the chance to experience double the historical attractions and natural areas as they travel, camp and play along the way.

To experience the Byway from the Vermont side of the river, you can follow US-5 until it connects with US-2 near Lunenburg, and then pick up VT-102/US-3 and follow it north all the way to where you cross the Connecticut River for the final time at West Stewartstown, NH.

But what we haven’t said is that, whether you follow this Vermont route or choose to travel the New Hampshire side along NH-12 to NH-10 and finally US-3 to the northern end of the

Covered bridge, New Hampshire

Covered bridge, New Hampshire

Byway, you’re going to want to slow down and travel across at least some of the twenty  bridges that span this scenic state border. It’s the only way to fully appreciate the important role this waterway has played in the history, culture and industry of the region.

What Will We See Along the Way?

Before you leave the Village of Bellows Falls (part of the greater Rockingham area), be sure to cross Arch Bridge into North Walpole, NH. You’ll see Fall Mountain rising above the river gorge on the New Hampshire side, where a trio of quaint villages is waiting to be explored. If you travel back to the Vermont side of the Byway, be sure to visit the Connecticut River Byway Waypoint Center near the Bellows Falls Canal for more information on the region.

You’ll notice as you travel north by RV on either side of the Connecticut River that it splinters into numerous tributaries in this mountainous, mostly rural area. Hiking, fishing and paddling opportunities are abundant along these waterways.

You’ll also find the Connecticut River Byway Waypoint towns of Claremont and Windsor, NH. There’s an excellent Heritage Trail that starts in Claremont, with both walking and driving tours leading to historic districts, covered bridges and the Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, a fascinating collection of buildings, memorials and gardens that tell the story of the sculptor who created some of the best known public monuments of the Civil War era.

Back on the Vermont side of the Byway, there’s a nicely scenic campground at Mt. Ascutney State Park near Windsor. Being a typical state park RV campground, you won’t find hookups there, but you will find a quartet of hiking trails that lead through hardwood forests to rocky overlooks for fantastic views of the countryside. For further outdoor adventures along this section of the Byway, be sure to make a stop at North Springfield Lake Recreation Area, just across the river from Claremont, NH. It’s a favorite of area paddlers, and there’s historical interest in the trail markers where Crown Point Military Road once lead between forts during the French and Indian War, as well as the site of an 18th century cemetery.

As we roll farther north into Vermont and New Hampshire, we’ll reach White River Junction, a village within the town of Hartford, VT. Plan to spend some time here to connect with the region’s railroad, commercial, educational and natural heritage. This village is the epicenter of each, with Dartmouth College just up the road, several major railways intersecting here, reminders of the mills that once dominated the region, and historic districts enough to keep you busy for days.

You’ll also soon find, as you drive north along the Byway, that the Appalachian Trail intersects it just north of Hartford. Why not hike at least a mile or two along the epic footpath before moving on? Another popular way RVers play outdoors along this section is with a stop at Quechee State Park near Woodstock, VT. Camping, hiking trails and breathtaking views of Quechee Gorge make it well worth the short jaunt west from the Byway.

Farther north, we encounter the twin towns of Wells River, VT and Woodsville, NH, joined by yet another Connecticut River bridge you’ll want to cross. Paddlers will soon learn the white water along this stretch is legendary, so pencil in extra time for water play. If your interest is history, instead, spend your time waiting for them to come in off the water by exploring the river valley in search of covered bridges, eighteenth century villages and uniquely New England features such as village forests.

You may also want to plan a side trip into White Mountain National Forest on the New Hampshire side, for a chance to hike wooded trails to summits, past gorges and through mountain meadows rich with wildlife. Campgrounds in White Mountain NF (PDF) are sprinkled from New Hampshire to Maine, offering plenty of opportunity to discover all ‘The Whites’ have to offer.

As we travel by RV into Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and the corresponding wilderness areas of New Hampshire, you’ll find the Connecticut River making more turns than a sidewinding snake. In this final run to the Canadian Border, the Byway loops up to St. Johnsbury (home to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium) then east to Moore Reservoir before swinging north again to Lancaster, NH.

This is your chance to learn, if you haven’t been RV camping in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods, why it draws outdoors enthusiasts year-round. A perfect first stay is at Coleman State Park near Colebrook, NH, close to the Byway and located on a pristine trout fishing pond.

What will you see as you complete the final leg of the Connecticut River Byway? Wildlife! Thousands of moose walk the woods and mountain slopes, so keep an eye out for that giant symbol of the northern wilderness. You’ll also encounter scenic mountain towns such as Colebrook, once populated by loggers and the workers who ran the paper and saw mills along the Connecticut River. You’ll be surrounded by scenery unlike that of any other US region, with the White Mountains framing vast stretches of hardwood forests.

And when you make your way to the Byway’s northern terminus, you’ll find a chain of four Connecticut Lakes from which the mighty Connecticut River gets its start. Whether you choose to spend time exploring those northern lakes and the Pittsburg, NH area or to turn your RV toward home, you’ll leave with a renewed sense of the role this waterway plays in providing recreation and historical interest for millions each year.

Ready to go? Let us know how we can help you plan your RV camping journey along the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway.

Posted in Massachusetts RV Camping Vacation, New Hampshire RV Camping Vacation, Vermont RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Finding America by RV—Connecticut River National Scenic Byway-Part I

Here’s some motivation to follow this week’s route by RV—the chance to visit three New England states while tracing the path of a wonderfully scenic waterway. The Connecticut River Byway charts a course from near the Canadian border, along the Vermont/New Hampshire line, all the way south into western Massachusetts. It’s just short of a five-hundred-mile journey altogether, but we’re going to break it down into two parts, to allow RV travelers time to savor the experience.

How Do We Get There?

The Byway’s northern terminus is just across the border from Quebec in West Stewartstown, New Hampshire. You’ll be following the Connecticut River from near its headwaters in the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Natural Area, all the way to the Byway’s southern-most point at South Hadley, Massachusetts. That’s the big picture, but remember, for this itinerary, we’re only taking in half the Byway.

The Byway invites RV travelers to find the treasures in villages, natural areas and historic sites throughout the region. We’re going to wind our way back and forth across the Connecticut River from Vermont to New Hampshire once we leave Massachusetts, but don’t worry, we won’t leave you stranded. You can get a complete picture of the route from bottom to top at the America’s Byways website.

What Will We See Along the Byway?

One of the reasons so many travelers follow the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway more than once is that there are hundreds of points of interest along the route. As we start our journey in South Hadley, MA, we find the first Byway signs at the intersection of MA-116 and MA-47. You’ll follow MA-47 north through the villages of Hadley, North Hadley and Sunderland, but let’s take a minute to talk about the sights you’ll see along the way.

South Hadley, a pre-Revolutionary War town, is home to Mount Holyoke College and invites you to wander its streets for memorable finds such as Village Commons, home to nationally-famous Odyssey Bookshop.

Skinner State Park, MA

Skinner State Park, MA

As you travel north on MA-47, be sure to stop at Skinner State Park south of Hadley, MA, where a one-and-a-half mile hike up Mount Holyoke will reward you with stellar views of the Connecticut River, as well as the chance to see historic Mount Holyoke Summit House (open for tours on weekends).

The rolling hills surrounding Hadley are home to farms owned by the same families for generations. During the summer, you’ll find the Byway dotted with abundant farm-to-table offerings from local fruit and vegetable stands, creameries and bakeries.

You’ll also find access points for launching canoes and kayaks all along the Massachusetts section of the Connecticut River. Use this handy interactive map to the Connecticut River Paddlers Trail to plan your water excursions.

Another excellent way to explore the state’s Connecticut River Valley is along hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails. These can lead to a multi-day New England adventure, or simply a pleasant day spent hiking or cycling through forests, hills and glorious river frontage. Besides the trailheads within the region’s many state parks and reservations, the Norwottuck Rail Trail is a popular path for cyclists and hikers to follow.

We’ll finish this leg of the Byway by following MA-63 north to the town of Northfield, on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire or Massachusetts/Vermont border, depending on which side of the river you’re driving, to Bellows Falls, VT.

Once you’ve crossed the state line, you can visit historic villages, nature preserves and historic sites in both Vermont and New Hampshire by crossing back and forth across the river. Some RVers may decide to stick to one state on the journey up to the Canadian border and follow the other route on their return trip south.

Or you could stop for a few days and explore the entire Connecticut River Byway between the Massachusetts border and Bellows Falls. From the fascinating walking tour through the Village of Bellows Falls, VT to the swimming beach on the south shore of Spofford Lake, there’s something for everyone in your crew to enjoy.

Where Can We Camp?

Private campgrounds create a cozy home on the road for RV campers who explore the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Brattleboro North KOA-East Dummerston, VT
  • Kampfires Campground-Brattleboro, VT
  • Northampton/Springfield KOA-Westhampton, MA
  • White Birch Campground-South Deerfield, MA

While traveling the southern half of the Byway, choose one of these RV campgrounds as your home base and then journey to mill towns, nature preserves, historic town centers and mountaintop aeries to your heart’s content.

Next week, we’ll move up the Byway to explore the north woods and the wild beauty of the Connecticut River. In the meantime, start reserving your campsites and get in touch to plan your RV rental in Pennsylvania. You’re going to love this RV camping itinerary!

Photo attribution:  By User:Magicpiano (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Posted in Massachusetts RV Camping Vacation, New Hampshire RV Camping Vacation, State Parks, Vermont RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Finding America by RV—The Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Are you up for a five-hundred-mile RV road trip that promises to be the journey you’ll never forget? We’ve got your next itinerary—camping and sightseeing your way along two Great Lakes and two mighty rivers in Pennsylvania and New York. The attractions along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail run the gamut from Niagara Falls to lakeside villages, with charming campgrounds all along the way. Ready to go? Let’s look at the high points.

How Do We Get There?

We’re going to start our journey at the western end of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Pick up PA Route 5 just east of the Ohio/Pennsylvania line and parallel Lake Erie all the way to the New York border. From the town of Ripley, NY, you’ll be following State Route 5 east to Buffalo. The Trail then continues east on a series of NY state highways, north through Niagara Falls and then east once more along the shore of Lake Ontario through Rochester and Oswego.

From there you’ll climb north once again along the lakeshore through Sackets Harbor and Cape Vincent, to the St. Lawrence Seaway, following that mighty river east to the town of Rooseveltown, NY, where our byway ends. An epic journey, indeed, filled with historic importance, stunning scenery and roadside attractions you won’t find along the interstate. 

What Can We Do and Where Can We Camp?

Speaking of attractions, it will be easier for you to follow along if we break up the journey into the five sections detailed on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail official website.

In Pennsylvania, you’ll enjoy views of the Lake Erie shoreline all along your route. Special places you’ll want to visit include Presque Isle State Park near the town of Erie, a three-thousand-acre peninsula with sandy beaches, an 1870s lighthouse and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center inviting you to explore. Beachside camping near the park can be found at Sara’s Campground.

Once you’ve visited Erie’s two additional lighthouses, numerous maritime history sites and historic districts, you can move northeast along Lake Erie to the Chautauqua/Niagara Section of the Trail via Buffalo. Slow down and enjoy the trip on Route 5 through classic harbor towns like Barcelona and Dunkirk, each with a lighthouse waiting to be photographed. Before heading into Buffalo and Niagara Falls, you could camp at Evangola State Park in Brant, with a sand beach and modern campground facilities.

Just across the Niagara River from Canada, Buffalo, NY has been reborn in recent years to offer world-class attractions RV travelers will want to enjoy. From Canalside, a vibrant entertainment district on the water, to the city’s collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, you could spend weeks getting to know this city that serves as the gateway to Niagara. Fishermen will want to pursue their sport in the city’s many waterways, as well, with legendary smallmouth bass, lake trout and musky fishing available on the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Buffalo Harbor.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

As you settle in to enjoy Niagara Falls,   you’re going to find numerous camping options along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in Buffalo/Niagara. Here’s a link to Niagara area campgrounds to help you start planning. Even if you’ve seen the Falls before on your RV travels, there’s nothing quite like the power of the three mighty waterfalls that make up what’s known as ‘Niagara’. And there’s plenty of historic interest, too, on both sides of the international border, including Old Fort Niagara just north of the falls on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Let’s keep traveling! Moving east along Lake Ontario’s shore, you’ll drive through five state parks and beaches, as well as having the chance to tour Thirty Mile Point Light. Three additional lighthouses will be visible as you travel the Lake Ontario West section of the trail, through Rochester and Oswego, NY.

If you’d like to detour just a little south of the Trail to the Finger Lakes near Rochester, you’ll find more than one hundred vineyards and wineries, with ‘Wine Trails’ highlighting most of the lakes, to tempt your palate. Riverfront parkways and Seneca Zoo along the Genesee River in Rochester also offer RV travelers entertainment.

As our byway sweeps north along Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence Seaway, the dramatic shoreline, numerous lighthouses and historic Sackets Harbor on Black River Bay will once again tempt RV travelers to slow down and savor their surroundings. Be sure to visit the War of 1812 battlefield before leaving Sackets Harbor, and also visit at least one of the area beaches before traveling on to Cape Vincent in New York’s 1000 Islands district.

Whether you linger near Cape Vincent to view the historic sites, to cross the Canadian border to visit Ontario and Thousand Islands National Park, to paddle whitewater rapids or hike or bike your way through quaint harbor villages, you’ll want to need a home base for your RV. Campgrounds are available at Burnham Point, Keewaydin and Grass Point State Park to meet your needs.

This finds us in our final section of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, along the St. Lawrence Seaway. From Cape Vincent to the end of our journey at Rooseveltown, we follow the shoreline of that remarkable collection of canals and locks that enable ocean-going vessels to make the journey from the Atlantic down the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes. On your way to the Trail’s western terminus, be sure to stop at the Eisenhower Locks Visitors’ Center to watch huge ships being raised and lowered in the lock.

We’ve reached the end of our journey and, if you’ve made the commitment to go the distance, you’ll have RV travel stories to tell for years. From the Lake Erie shoreline in Pennsylvania to the northern New York river towns along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is waiting to amaze you. Book your New York or Pennsylvania RV rental now and start making campground reservations. It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime!

Posted in New York RV Camping Vacation, Pennsylvania RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Finding America by RV—Michigan’s Copper Country Trail

Hoping to find an RV camping destination where you can learn about America’s past along an epically beautiful lakeshore? Why not venture north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and learn how copper mining shaped the region along the Copper Country Trail? It’s one of America’s National Scenic Byways, and a route where fascinating history, splendid landscapes and excellent campgrounds come together for a trip you’ll long remember.

How Do We Get There?

To give you the overall picture of Michigan’s Copper Country, let’s start by saying that it lies in the Keweenaw Peninsula, that finger of land jutting into Lake Superior at the top of the Upper Peninsula.

The Copper Country Trail is a 47-mile section of US-41 that runs from Houghton, Michigan to Superior’s shores at Copper Harbor. The Keweenaw is about eight hours north of Chicago on I-90.

It may seem like forty-one miles of byway isn’t worthy of an RV camping vacation, but once you’ve discovered the beauty and historic significance of the Keweenaw Peninsula, you’ll find yourself wishing for more vacation time.

What Can We See and Do Along the Byway?

Let’s cover a little history before we highlight the wonders of the Copper Country Trail. From 1841 to the Great Depression, copper mining was the main economic force of the region, with a high percentage of America’s copper output being mined there.

Immigrants from many countries arrived to mine copper ore, run the businesses that supported the mining industry and share in the economic upswing. As with other industries at the time, however, the 1930s brought the collapse of copper mining and the closure of the last mine.

But that’s not to say that you won’t find plenty of evidence of this region’s copper-laden history as you travel the Copper Country Trail.  We start our journey in the city of Houghton, MI, the perfect access point to the Keweenaw Water Trail. This series of lakes, rivers and canals cuts across the peninsula to connect to Lake Superior at both ends. It was an important addition to the region’s ability to ship copper to other parts of the country, and is now a nationally-recognized water trail for kayak and canoe paddlers. There are lighthouses at both ends of the water trail, as well as developed and primitive campgrounds and access to inland trails along the way.

Travel north from Houghton along the Copper Country Trail (US-41) to find Keweenaw National Historical Park, an expansive collection of museums, mining-related buildings, historic mining towns and visitor centers that tell the tale of the peninsula’s past.

Quincy copper mine

Quincy copper mine

At the southern end of the collection is the Quincy Unit, where you can tour Quincy Mine on a cog rail tram and walk the historic village streets to explore a blacksmith shop, a mine office and other structures.

Farther north along the Byway, you’ll arrive at Calumet, MI, where the Calumet & Hecla Copper Mining Company brought unrivaled prosperity. Many of the historic structures built during the copper mining boom remain and can be located on the self-guided Calumet walking tour.

One more stop, just twenty miles north at the Delaware Mining Company, will complete your education on the valuable mineral that changed this peninsula forever. This mine, also part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park collection, allows self-guided walking tours suitable for families (and pets!)

Visiting these villages and mines will certainly give you a better understanding of the Keweenaw’s past, but the present-day beauty of the area will also capture your imagination. All along the National Scenic Byway, you’ll find mountain lakes and lush, tree-studded hillsides sweeping upward to tempt your eye.

When you reach road’s-end at Copper Harbor, there’s still more to discover. A visit to Fort Wilkins Historic State Park offers a restored 1840s military outpost, a developed campground and the chance to tour Copper Harbor Lighthouse. 

For RV travelers who enjoy a good hike, the Copper Harbor area is an outdoor wonderland! Just a couple of suggestions to get you started: for a short walk in the woods, consider the 1-mile Cathedral Grove Trail through the oldest white pines in Michigan at Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary. To fully appreciate the rocky Superior shoreline and the coastal forests that surround it, hike the trails at Keweenaw Shore Nature Sanctuary just east of Brockway Mountain.

And speaking of that high point along the Superior shoreline, be sure to treat your fellow campers to nine miles of breathtaking scenery along Brockway Mountain Drive from Copper Harbor east to Eagle Harbor. The entire drive is awe-inspiring, and a stop at the top promises full-circle views of Lake Superior.

Where Can We Camp Along the Way?

Besides Fort Wilkins State Park campground at the northern end of the Copper Country Trail, the peninsula offers many camping possibilities, from private lakeside resorts to basic state park campsites. 

The City of Houghton RV Park along the Keweenaw Water Trail accepts self-contained RVs, with quick access to downtown Houghton, the Water Trail and an adjacent city park.

The Village of Lake Linden Campground, north of Houghton and just east of US-41 on Torch Lake, is also adjacent to a village park, within cycling or walking distance to shops and eateries.

McLain State Park, west of Calumet, is right on Lake Superior, with a modern campground, hiking trails and a sand beach.

One more tip for RV camping along the Copper Country Trail—Lake Fanny Hooe Resort in Copper Harbor is a popular place to stay while enjoying the sights at the trail’s northern tip.

For camera-grabbing views, interesting historic sites and friendly, scenic campgrounds, Michigan’s uppermost peninsula takes top honors. Be sure to send us your favorite memories as you travel by RV along the Copper Country Trail.

Photo Credit: NPS.gov, Keweenaw NHP Archives, Koepel–8×10–B.F. Childs–Quincy
Posted in Michigan RV Camping Vacation, State Parks | Leave a comment