RV’ing in the Great Southwest Desert

Take a road trip in your RV or ours to Tucson, Arizona this winter and escape the cold weather while basking in sunshine. This city has so much to offer this winter, you may just want to put down some roots, temporary or permanent and take advantage of the many activities and sights to see. Tucson is surrounded by multiple mountain ranges including the Santa Catalinas and is located in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Reflecting its 19th-century beginnings are the restored mansions of its El Presidio Historic District and the adobe row houses of Barrio Historico.

To name just a few of the great sights:

The Arizona – Sonoran Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, the Pima Air and Space Museum and The Mission San Xavier del Bac. Check out these and many more sights to see around Tucson.

Seasonal Events in Tucson:

On the first three weekends in December, enjoy Holiday Nights in Tohono Chul Park. Holiday Nights is a fun event for everyone! Stroll along paths garlanded with over a million twinkling lights while musicians and artists perform throughout the Gardens. Who can resist a sing-along or viewing the stars through a telescope? You’re sure to enjoy the many distinct performances located throughout the Gardens while you sip hot chocolate and enjoy tasty treats!

In January and February, check out these signature events:

Jazz Festival

Jazz Festival

Tucson Jazz Festival (January 11-21, 2019) The only major jazz festival in January in the USA presents 10 days of live music featuring legends and emerging talents of all jazz genres, from straight-ahead to contemporary, at the Fox Tucson Theatre and Rialto Theatre as well as at the free Downtown Jazz Fiesta presented on outdoor stages and at other downtown venues on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Tucson Desert Song Festival (January 15-February 5, 2019) This blend of singing in orchestral, chamber, choral, and solo formats features internationally celebrated soloists along with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra (formed in 1929-the oldest continuing professional performing arts organization in Arizona), Tucson Chamber Artists, UA Presents, Arizona Opera and others, in conjunction with master classes and lectures at the University of Arizona School of Music.

Dillinger Days (January 18-19, 2019) See how crime doesn’t pay at our celebration of the January 1934 capture by Tucson Police and Fire departments of America’s Public Enemy No. 1, the notoriously violent gangster John Dillinger and his unsuspecting gang, with a Depression-era-themed weekend of car shows, history re-enactments, artifact displays, and live music.

Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase (February 2-17, 2019) A one-of-a-kind international marketplace of museum-quality exhibits and world-class collections of gemstones, minerals, fossils, beads, crystals, jewelry, supplies, apparel, and more that originated with the single, original Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® in 1955 and has grown into a showcase of 40+ shows at various locations.

There are many more events and activities to take advantage of. Check out the Visit Tucson website for more details.

RV Camping near Tucson

Thanks to their mild winter weather, a vibrant and historic city center, and a stunning desert landscape, Tucson, Arizona is a popular destination for RV travel. Luckily, it’s also full of places to park your RV.

There are high-end resorts with fruit trees at every site, a large selection of 55+ RV parks with welcoming communities, a state park popular for its numerous hiking trails, and even a patch of BLM land on the south end of the city where frugal RVers like to boondock for free.

Here are some of the highest ranked:

  1. Rincon Country West RV Resort – ranked #1 on Trip Advisor for Tucson area RV parks, Rincon Country West RV Resort is an Active 55+ Senior Community, offering a wide range of amenities and activities. There are RV spaces to accommodate just about every size of RV.
  2. Sentinel Peak RV Park – Tucson, Arizona’s only Downtown RV Park. They have 23 sites all with full hook-ups and 20/30/50 amp service. All sites are asphalt and level. There are different sites to choose from such as our standard back-ins, deluxe back-ins and premium back-ins. We also have large 70′ pull-thrus for larger coaches. Amenities include a splash pool, retail store, recreational area with foosball, pool table, and ping pong, as well as laundry room and picnic tables at all of the sites.
  3. Third ranked in Trip Advisor is Gilbert Ray Campground which is a “beautiful quiet campground close to the city,” according to one reviewer. This park is an unassuming country park on the western edge of the city. It has great access to hiking trails, gorgeous desert scenery and incredible night skies. This campground operates on a first come, first served basis and currently costs $20 per night with a seven-night stay limit. However, you are permitted to leave for seven days and then return for another seven day stay. The park accepts cash or check only and the registration building is open January through March. All other times of the year payment is made at a self-pay kiosk.

There’s also a Tucson Lazydays/KOA Resort, the Crazy Horse RV Campgrounds, the RV Park at the Pima County Fairgrounds and Voyager RV Resort & Hotel, all near I-10. Do your research ahead of time and find the one that best fits your needs.

Rent an RV for your trip:

For this unique travel experience,  check out our RV rental locations map to select a convenient pickup location, then enjoy the drive to Tucson and see some exceptional sights along your way!

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Winter RV Trip: Five Stunning National Parks

Feeling the shorter days and colder temperatures creeping up on you? Would you like to plan to get away, have fun and stay warm while you enjoy some of our national treasures? Here are five stunning National Parks you can visit during the coming months to lift your spirits and allow you to commune with nature.

If time allows, combine a few of these adventures while traveling in your RV so you have everything you need with you.

  • You can enjoy dog sledding at Snow Mountain Ranch, near Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter Park, CO. What an unusual experience and so much fun! See more information about it here.
  • Visit Olympic National Park and watch a winter storm travel across the Pacific from a luxurious hot tub. Olympic National Park has 73 miles of coastline that turns into a wave-crashing show in the winter. From November through February, storms coming in from the Pacific Ocean have wind gusts up to 60 miles-per-hour, not to mention the rain, sometimes accumulating six inches in 24-hours. The wind and rain combined can make it look like it’s raining horizontally.  The best time to watch a storm is when the tide is coming in and at high tide. In between storms, use the sunny time to explore the beach with its tide pools and tossed, teetering wood.
  • And at Yosemite, try and experience the Winemaker Weekend- Jan. 25-27, 2019, where you can join Napa’s Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker and general manager of Chimney Rock, at Rush Creek Lodge. Vianna is well-known for her estate-grown wines from Chimney Rock’s green-certified Napa Valley winery. Here you can sip wine paired with a gourmet prepared meal with one of Napa Valley’s renowned winemakers.
    Yosemite Valley

    Yosemite Valley

    Or come and visit the Yosemite landscape by going on a guided excursion. Winter provides a whole different view at Yosemite.

  • Go to the Grand Canyon on the Polar Express! Yes, really! Families looking to capture the awe of the holiday spirit in their children’s eyes will love Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express. Chris Van Allsburg’s classic book, The Polar Express, comes to life starting annually in November and ending in early January. Families board the special 1930s-era train at the depot in Williams, Arizona for a roundtrip-ride that lasts about 90 minutes. Passengers will ride through dark and quiet wilderness to The North Pole, where Santa and his reindeer wait. Aboard the Polar Express the spirit of Christmas is passed on to every boy and girl from Santa himself with their own special gift. The train departs at 5:30, and 7:30 p.m., and on some days at 3:30 p.m. Tickets sell fast, so don’t wait to book.
  • The Olympic Park in Utah is a wonderful place to fight the winter blues. Take part in this epic experience and feel more energized after you do it. Have you ever wondered how it would feel to climb on a bobsled and race down the track? In winter, the bobsled travels on ice, just as the Olympians do. You can head to Olympic Park in Park City for this ride on the 2002 Olympic Sliding Track.

Each of the National Parks has RV campgrounds for your accommodations. Check the one(s) you will be visiting for schedules due to inclement weather, but most have some winter operating times and there will be fewer people visiting, so winter can be an ideal time for a quiet getaway.

You can start your RV camping trip near Salt Lake City and rent an RV from El Monte RV there, or if you wish to rent at another location see our Where to Rent RV’s page here. And to make planning your trip even better, check out our RV Rental Deals page for current specials to help you get on your way!

Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, Colorado RV Camping Vacation, Utah RV Camping Vacation, Washington RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

NASCAR Playoffs & RV Tailgating: A November to Remember

NASCAR racing culminates in November with racing locations in the west as well as three championships in one weekend in Florida. Check out these upcoming NASCAR weekends: the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2nd-4th.  The next weekend, on the 9th-11th, the Can-Am 500 NASCAR Race will be happening at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The following weekend, in Homestead, Florida, the Homestead-Miami Speedway is host to the championship weekend including the Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR race on the 18th of November and the championship races of the NASCAR Camping World Truck series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

NASCAR racing

NASCAR racing

Texas Motor Speedway and the AAA Texas 500:

The green flag flies on a triple-header NASCAR Playoff weekend with Camping World Truck Series Practice on Thursday, November 1st, followed up on Friday, November 2nd by Salute to Veterans Qualifying Fueled by Texas Lottery for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series, leading up to the JAG Metals 350. Saturday, November 3rd includes Salute to Veterans Qualifying Fueled by Texas Lottery for the XFINITY Series plus the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 XFINITY race. Sunday, November 4th features the weekend’s main event the AAA Texas 500, the eighth race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Don’t miss this exciting weekend of NASCAR fun.

Camping at Texas Motor Speedway:

There are many options for camping at the Texas Motor Speedway. Check out their website for more details on the seven campground options they offer. You can even rent an RV from our nearby El Monte RV location in McKinney, Texas.

Phoenix International/ISM Raceway for the Can-Am 500 NASCAR Race:

First of all, to avoid confusion, the Phoenix International Raceway is known as ISM Raceway due to a first-ever naming-rights sponsorship by Ingenuity Sun Media. ISM’s Connect network will provide digital display screens, interactive fan experiences, a mobile app and social-media integrations throughout the facility, including in the new pedestrian tunnel connecting the infield and grandstands.

So, don’t miss this exciting venue for the weekend of November 9th-11th. Here’s the lineup of NASCAR races coming up. On Friday, start your weekend with the Lucas Oil 150, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Semi-Final Playoff Race under the lights. Prior to the Lucas Oil 150, don’t miss practice sessions for both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series before the starting line-up is set for the Can-Am 500 during Gatorade Qualifying. Then, watch the future stars of NASCAR battle during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Semi-Final Playoff Race on Saturday, November 10. The crowning event on Sunday is the Can-Am 500, where eight drivers will compete for a Championship 4 spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Camping at ISM Raceway:

There are nine options for camping at ISM Raceway’s Zoomtown, U.S.A.® Check out all of their options and camping reservations at this link. To rent an RV nearby, visit our El Monte RV location in Peoria, Arizona.

Homestead-Miami Speedway – Ford EcoBoost 400: Three Championship Races

On Friday, November 16th, the Ford Championship Weekend will begin with the Ford EcoBoost 200 race – which tops off the playoffs for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, as four drivers will battle for the division crown.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series race on November 17th will decide the champ of the top up-and-coming driver in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

Last year, the sold-out crowd on hand for the Ford EcoBoost 400 saw Martin Truex, Jr. cap his historic 2017 season by winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. With the championship being decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway once again in 2018, can Truex, Jr. defend his title? Or will someone dethrone the champ? That question will be answered on November 18.

Camping at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

There are three campgrounds to park your RV at this Speedway, as well as a number of camping options nearby. To rent an RV, you can get one from our El Monte RV Miami location which is only 30 minutes away.

With all these races, it will certainly be a NASCAR November to remember!  Get your final fix now, as it’s a long time until next year’s season begins!

And remember our November special: For rentals with pickup dates between November 1 and November 30, rent for 4 nights or more and get double the miles free! That’s 100 free miles per night!

Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, Florida RV Camping Vacation, NASCAR RV Vacation, Texas RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Visiting the National Parks by RV

Seeing a Show While Visiting the National Parks

There’s no better way to see the beauty of our country’s national parks than with an RV vacation. In an RV, you can make yourself at home on the road, to chart your own course and stray off the beaten path to see parks up close and personal. When the sun sets on an amazing day in the national park, head to a nearby city to enjoy a game, performance or concert. We’ve listed a few of our favorite national parks, as well as nearby towns where you can catch a show and be ready to get back to nature the next day.

The Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the east coast and spend some time in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Before the arrival of European settlers, the park was once the home to the Cherokee people, and it was officially dedicated a national park by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. Explore the pristine beauty of over 500,000 acres of woods, rivers and historic settlements. With its convenient location and beautiful surroundings, it’s easy to see why Great Smoky Mountains is the most frequently visited national park in the country.

The Venue: The Orange Peel, Asheville, N.C.

After you’ve hiked, fished and relaxed in the wilderness, head just 40 miles east to the city of Asheville, N.C. Nestled in the mountains, Asheville has long been a destination for friendly people, great food and fantastic music. While you’re in town, catch a show at The Orange Peel, which has been recognized as one of the top music venues in the country. The intimate space only holds about 1,000 people, but it has drawn musical acts such as Bob Dylan and Smashing Pumpkins. You can even catch a great comedy show there; comedian Tig Notaro will be performing at the Orange Peel on December 12, 2017.

The Park: Yosemite National Park

On the other side of the country is Yosemite National Park, an iconic American gem in Northern California. The park makes up more than 1,200 square miles of mountain vistas, valleys and breathtaking waterfalls, including Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America. Much of the land making up Yosemite National Park has been protected since the mid-19th century, and the plants and animal life in the park are incredibly diverse.

The Venue: Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.

Yosemite is just over an hour from Fresno, where you’ll find the Save Mart Center on the California State University campus. This multipurpose arena hosts everything from UFC fights and comedy shows to concerts from the likes of Miranda Lambert, Pink and Bruno Mars. It’s also home to the Fresno State men’s and women’s basketball teams. Pair an exciting event with a trip to Yosemite for a vacation that checks all the boxes.

The Park: Grand Canyon National Park

They say there’s no way to prepare yourself for seeing the Grand Canyon. No photo or description can do it justice; you just have to stand on the edge of its walls and see it for yourself. It was officially declared a national park in 1919, and more than 5 million Americans head to the northwestern corner of Arizona to see it every year. Whether you walk from one side to the other, fly over it on a helicopter tour, or just take it all in from the visitor’s center, a visit to Grand Canyon National Park is an experience you and your family will be talking about for years to come.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The Venue: The Orpheum Theater, Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Orpheum Theater was originally built in 1911 as a movie theater, and has been transformed into a state-of-the-art venue for film, live music and stage performances. Flagstaff is about an hour from Grand Canyon National Park, and a great home base for your Grand Canyon adventure. The theater is in Flagstaff’s beautiful downtown, close to restaurants, shops and surrounded by the area’s natural beauty. Visit the Orpheum to see rock shows, singer-songwriters or even a classic film on the big screen.

The Park: Mt. Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is an active volcano southeast of Seattle that rises over 14,000 feet above sea level. The highest mountain of the Cascade Range, it’s also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S., and it spawns six major rivers. Visitors can skip through wildflower meadows, marvel at powerful waterfalls and hike on well over 100 trails in this massive park.

The Venue: The Gorge Amphitheatre, George, Wash.

With stunning views over the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River, this outdoor amphitheater is known as one of the most scenic in America. It seats nearly 30,000 fans, and although it’s located in a fairly rural area, there are several campgrounds nearby.

The United States has 58 National Parks, which means you may never run out of sights to see and beautiful roads to drive. Get creative on your next National Park adventure and add in some evening entertainment. An RV adventure gives you the flexibility to make the most of your vacation, no matter where the road takes you.

About the Author

Adam Young enjoys exploring the country’s national parks when he’s not serving as the CEO of Event Tickets Center. His home state of Florida offers a range of parks that are perfect for visiting via RV.

Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, California RV Camping Vacation, National Parks, North Carolina RV Camping Vacation, Tennessee RV Camping Vacation, Washington RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Six Awesome Swimming Holes to Visit By RV

When experiencing the sweltering heat of summer, it’s natural to daydream about shady pools where the cool, clear water is waiting to offer relief. If swimming holes are in short supply near you, no worries! We’re going to share six swimming holes RV travelers love to visit.

South Yuba River State Park – Bridgeport, CA

The dog days of summer are the perfect time to hike down this scenic waterway to one of the many swimming holes within the state park. Spring flows can be treacherous, but by late summer the river has calmed down and offers sweet relief in its cool, granite-lined waters. Be prepared to hike in the river, as no ‘drive-up’ access to these pools is available.  RV campgrounds in Camptonville and Browns Valley are a short drive from the state park.

Slide Rock State Park – Sedona, AZ

Slide Rock State Park, AZ

Slide Rock State Park, AZ

The cold, clear waters of Oak Creek slip along an eighty-foot groove over smooth sandstone boulders. Swimmers can travel down this natural water slide and beat the heat while enjoying the beauty of Sedona’s famed red rocks. Three tips for enjoying this swimming hole that’s consistently chosen as one of America’s favorites—wear water shoes to avoid falling on slippery rock, wear old shorts over your swimwear to avoid friction related malfunctions and call ahead to make sure the swimming hole is open in late summer (low water flows may close the attraction). Numerous private campgrounds between Flagstaff and Sedona are waiting to welcome RV campers.

Inks Lake State Park – Burnet, TX

The rocky terrain and cool blue waters of this Hill Country lake keep swimmers (and campers) coming back for more. Devil’s Waterhole is a sweet spot for adventurous souls brave enough to dive from the cliffs above. The large, on-site RV campground makes it easy to stay awhile and experience the rugged beauty of the area.

Kings River Falls – Witter, AR

Located in the northwest corner of Ozark National Forest, the Kings River Falls Natural Area is a sight to behold. Ozark Mountain beauty frames the Kings River as it flows over large slabs of rock to create the Falls that swimming hole fans rave about. The water is cold and pristine and so worth the two-mile round-trip hike from the parking area to reach the Falls. More than a dozen developed campgrounds within the national forest present plenty of possibilities for RVers.

Southside Quarry – Louisville, KY

This Louisville entertainment staple is an old-fashioned, quarry-turned-swimming-hole where the music is playing, the sun is shining and there’s a laid-back adults only atmosphere. The quarry is quite deep, so most folks bring along something to keep them afloat. Rocky cliffs along one side create visual interest (and a place to dive from, if you’re brave). The entrance fee goes to charity, so you can do something good while cooling off from Southern summer sizzle.

Madison Blue Spring State Park – Lee, FL

The turquoise waters of North Florida’s natural springs make for some of the best swimming imaginable. Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River flows up into a hardwood forest, creating an idyllic spot for a lazy, summer afternoon. Both swimmers and cave divers take advantage of the limestone ledges surrounding the pool to make their launch into the spring. Nearby campgrounds include Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Madison, just ten minutes away.

Pack the RV and grab your swim gear. There’s no better way to beat the summer heat than an RV camping trip to find awesome swimming holes.

Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, Arkansas RV Camping Vacation, California RV Camping Vacation, Florida RV Camping Vacation, Kentucky RV Camping Vacation, Texas RV Camping 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

Camping and Fishing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Imagine a place where you can enjoy RV camping, desert mountain views and first-rate fishing year-round. You’ve just caught the vision for Arizona’s Dead Horse Ranch State Park. This pleasant place in the Verde Valley draws RV campers in search of mild winter temperatures and exceptional places to play outdoors.

What You Need to Know Before You Go

Dead Horse Ranch SP is situated about an hour north of Phoenix in Cottonwood, AZ. If you’re renting an RV for the trip, fly into Phoenix for the ultimate in convenience. Once you’ve reached the state park, you’ll find three loops with a total of nearly one hundred developed campsites, all reasonably close to the water.

The park’s modern facilities make camping here easy. From hot water showers to friendly staff and easy access to trails and boat ramps, the campgrounds get high marks with veteran state park campers. Make reservations before you come; it’s a popular place!

It’s also a beautiful place, surrounded by desert mountain plant and animal life in abundance. At thirty-three-hundred feet elevation, you can expect to enjoy much milder temperatures than you’d find further south in the state. It can be as warm as the 60s in winter, coming down into the thirties at night. For a brief spell in summer you might encounter temps above one hundred, but the mercury’s normally lower most of the time.

Fishing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

If fishing is your favorite part of an RV camping vacation, you’ll love the challenge waiting at Dead Horse Ranch SP. The free-flowing Verde River and the park’s three lagoons offer top fly fishing opportunities, with rainbow trout stocked often.

Fishing for catfish, also part of the stocking schedule, is popular in the lagoons. Nice-sized largemouth bass are pulled frequently from the lagoons, too, so bring along your favorite rigs if you’re a bass angler. The hiking paths around the lagoons add to the ease of access, just one more plus at this well-maintained park.

Here’s a link to more information about fishing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Of course, you’ll want to purchase an Arizona fishing license before you put your lines in the water. One more tip: if you enjoy paddling your kayak to find the best fishing, these waterways where only non-motorized watercraft are allowed are the perfect place to indulge.

Take Time to Explore the Verde Valley

Camping by RV at Dead Horse Ranch SP keeps you centrally located for all Verde Valley adventures, whether that includes fishing, hiking, visiting the galleries and shops in Cottonwood or exploring the area’s many historical attractions.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Take a day off from fishing to visit legendary Sedona, just up the road. A twenty-minute drive will take you to Jerome State Historic Park, where the area’s copper mining history is on display for your discovery. And that’s just the beginning. The natural, cultural and historical treasures of the Verde Valley are well worth slowing down and getting to know.

Finding a state park where RV travelers are welcomed with open arms is always a pleasure. When you find that perfect spot also welcomes avid anglers, it’s a place to add to your annual camping schedule. Bottom line…when traveling through Arizona by RV, don’t miss the chance to enjoy Dead Horse Ranch State Park, where mountains, desert and fine fishing waters come together beautifully.

Photo attribution:  I, Murderbike [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, State Parks | Leave a comment

US89 – An Epic Two-Lane RV Road Trip through Six National Parks

When you get the yen to slow things down and leave the interstate behind, America’s two-lane highways can lead to some pretty amazing places. US89 traverses the Western US from northern Montana to Flagstaff, AZ, with the chance to visit six of our country’s national parks along the way. Ready to find out why US89 is on many an RV traveler’s ‘got-to-drive-it’ list?

US89 RV Camping Itinerary

Let’s start our journey at the highway’s northern US terminus—Piegan, Montana. You’ll be skimming along the eastern side of Glacier National Park, so don’t miss the chance to experience the Northern Rockies by camping in Glacier NP and hiking at least one of the park’s seven hundred miles of trails. There’s nothing quite like topping a rise to be greeted by the sight of a glacial lake!

Bonus Glacier National Park RV travel tip: if you’re coming from the Pacific Northwest, swing through Seattle to pick up your RV rental as you come.

Let’s keep moving! Quaint mountain towns like White Sulphur Springs, MT will keep things interesting as you make your way south on US89 to Wyoming and the wonders of Yellowstone National Park. On the way, you’ll have passed through Lewis and Clark National Forest, another natural treasure worth spending time getting to know.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Once US89 reaches Yellowstone at Gardiner, follow the Grand Loop Road south through Mammoth to Old Faithful (not clearly marked as US89 within the park). Take the time to visit as many of the national park’s scenic wonders as you can, including Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Camping in Yellowstone is also a ‘don’t miss’, so make your reservations before you come.

Get ready for the jaw-dropping splendor of the Teton Range as you follow US89 (marked as John D Rockefeller, JR Memorial Parkway) from Yellowstone’s southern border into Grand Teton National Park. The rugged beauty of this national park will lure you to hike one more trail, take one more photo and wonder why it took you so long to visit. Whether you prefer ‘dry camping’ in the forest or a full-hookups site at the foot of a mountain, there’s the perfect place to come RV camping in Grand Teton NP.

When you’re ready to roll south again, the scenic route continues to the famed mountain resort town of Jackson, WY, continuing along the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Snake River and through Star Valley, surrounded the entire time by national forests. You’ll cross over into Idaho and then swing south toward the bright blue waters of Bear Lake at the Utah border. If you’re ready to stop for the night, numerous campgrounds in the Bear Lake State Park area will be right along your route.

Keep following US89 south from Bear Lake as it becomes Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway and then south through iconic Utah towns like Brigham City and Ogden on your way to Salt Lake City. The Wasatch Range, Temple Square, the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch-Cache National Forest offer RV travelers along US89 in Utah plenty of places to stop and explore.

And then it’s south again along the Jordan River, through valley towns where Utah’s Mormon heritage is celebrated and the cool, green beauty of Manti-La Sal National Forest. Palisade State Park’s RV campsites come highly recommended, if you need a place to stop just off the highway.

From Palisade State Park to Utah’s southern border, your RV trip along US89 will be, in a word, “breathtaking.” Utah’s southern National Parks are unlike any other region in the country. Take the quick side trip east to Bryce Canyon National Park to photograph red rock hoodoos and spires and hike a canyon trail. Spend the night in one of this park’s inexpensive campsites before swinging back west to US89 and Zion National Park.

The canyon trails, waterways and multi-colored vistas that bring visitors to Zion National Park will encourage US89 travelers to stay awhile. Whether it’s a scenic drive through Kolob Canyons or a hike through The Narrows, there’s a way for everyone to experience the wonders of Zion. Campgrounds fill early in warm weather, so plan to arrive in the morning.

We’ve saved the best, or at least, the best-known, stop along US89 for last. Grand Canyon National Park north of Flagstaff, Arizona is the final stop on this itinerary. But before we reach the ‘big one’, enjoy the trip as US89 swings east through the magnificent cliffs and canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to cross Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Your camera will be clicking as the blue waters of Lake Powell contrast with surrounding red rock formations for one-of-a-kind vistas.

Once you’ve made your way to the Grand Canyon, choose your favorite campground and set up camp, then let the convenient shuttle service transport you to the national park’s most famous attractions. From Yavapai Point to the Skywalk, there are trails, scenic overlooks and photo opportunities enough for a lifetime of exploration.

Ready to find your own treasured travel memories on US89? There’s no better way to experience the American West than with an RV camping trip from point to point, national park to national park, on this iconic roadway. You can even explore further south along the ‘traditional route’ of US89 all the way to Nogales, Mexico!

No matter where you choose to travel on US Route 89, there’s an RV rental nearby, so don’t let lack of a motorhome slow you down. It’s an epic journey and one every adventurous RV traveler should embark upon at least once. Let us know about your US89 adventures!

Posted in Arizona RV Camping Vacation, National Parks, Utah RV Camping Vacation | 2 Comments

Six Places to Camp with the Kids in Arizona

RV camping with kids creates family memories and instills a love of nature in the next generation. The State of Arizona is a favorite with families who camp, thanks to the wide range of outdoor experiences available. Here’s our list of six outstanding places to camp with the kids in Arizona.

Buckskin Mountain State Park, south of Lake Havasu on the Colorado River, will welcome your family with roomy riverside campsites and fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Outdoor recreation the kids will enjoy includes several scenic trails, water sports (boat launch is located near the campground), fishing, swimming and photographing desert wildlife. There’s also a convenient market on-site to make your family camping vacation even easier.

Homolovi State Park, on Hwy 40 at Winslow, can kick-start your kids’ interest in Native American history. The park protects the 14th century ruins of Homolovi, once inhabited by the Anasazi and considered sacred by the Hopi people.

Your family can learn more about the history and culture of this special place while camping there, thanks to the museum and visitor center with displays about on-going archaeological research. Another way this park will entertain and amaze the kids is with outstanding stargazing opportunities. Check the Homolovi SP website for special ‘star night parties’ throughout the year.

Before we move on to our next Arizona family camping spot, here’s a tip for parents: most Arizona state parks participate in the Junior Ranger program. Kids complete the activity book while visiting a state park and can then be sworn in to the Junior Ranger program by a Park Ranger.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park, east of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert, offers camping in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains, and a whole lot more, for your family’s entertainment. From hiking trails through the rugged beauty of the high desert to nearby Apache Junction, complete with ghost town, cowboy shows and other Western-themed entertainment, Lost Dutchman can be the epicenter for a memorable camping vacation.

Ranger-led nature walks and demonstrations can inspire your youngsters to explore the desert habitat more deeply, and the stargazing opportunities are excellent here, as well. This park’s roomy campsites welcome your largest rental RV, so bring the whole family and enjoy the unique experience of camping in the Sonoran desert.

Lyman Lake State Park, just across the border from New Mexico on US-191, is a boating family’s dream vacation spot. The state park surrounds a fifteen-hundred-acre mountain lake that allows any size watercraft, so bring the boat, the fishing gear and the RV for a water-themed Arizona RV camping vacation.

Three shorter hiking trails will also encourage the kids to take time away from their screens to discover petroglyphs, mountain wildlife and great views of the lake. Bald and Golden Eagles and Great Blue Herons are known to nest near the lake, so why not teach the kids to identify these mighty birds while on vacation? You’ll find the campground, camp store, boat launches and no-wake swimming and fishing areas combine to create the best possible environment for your RV camping family.

Picacho Peak State Park, about an hour and a half south of Phoenix on I-10, is another high desert getaway your family will enjoy. It’s especially good for families with bored teens in need of a challenge, thanks to the hiking trails that wind their way up to the Peak. For this trip, bring your hiking gear and plenty of water and prepare to be pushed to the limit by the rocky Hunter Trail.

The campground has electric sites only, but water and a dump station are available in a central location. Science-minded youngsters will love the natural desert setting of the campsites, so be sure to have them pack their notebooks for recording plant and animal life. There are also a visitor center and historic markers with details on the only Civil War battle in Arizona, the Battle of Picacho Pass.

Kartchner Caverns State Park, a couple of hours south of Phoenix, through Tucson on I-10, is home to an underground wonderland waiting to be explored by your family. Only revealed to the public in the 1980s, this limestone cave in the foothills of the Whetstone Mountains can be seen on a Ranger-led tour that’s suitable for grade school kids and older.

Both mountain and desert trails provide even more interest for your family, and the park’s scheduled stargazing parties are popular with campers, as well. To ensure a pleasant experience on this vacation, be sure to purchase your tickets for the cave tour in advance and arrive at the park’s Discovery Center an hour before your scheduled tour time. The campground here offers electric/water sites plus shower houses, dishwashing stations and other amenities.

Come to Arizona on your next family RV camping vacation! It’s easy to rent an RV in Phoenix, and the state’s excellent highway system makes these state park locations simple to access. Whether it’s beside a mountain lake or in the peace and beauty of the desert, camping with the kids in Arizona is an experience every active family should enjoy.

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Winter RV Camping in the Desert-Arizona’s Catalina State Park

If the winter months have you longing for the great outdoors—but in a warmer setting—take the RV out one more time to Arizona. Catalina State Park, at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains, is a rugged, beautiful place to camp, where thousands of mesquite trees and saguaro cacti are the backdrop for your winter RV camping vacation.

Located just thirty minutes north of Tucson via Oracle Road, the state park is within Coronado National Forest.  The campgrounds there are accessible to the biggest recreation vehicles, so don’t be afraid to rent or bring your own big rig.

Once you’ve reserved your campsite, you’re going to want to plan your hikes, because that’s one of the best reasons to come RV camping in Catalina State Park in wintertime. Arizona State Parks provides this trail map for Catalina SP to help you plan.

Here are three well-recommended trails to try while you’re at the Park:

  • Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail (3/4 mile): Park visitors are fortunate to have the chance to visit an archaeological dig that unearthed the remnants of a Hohokam village, as well as structures from a late 19th century ranch. Pay special attention to the ‘ball fields’ where some type of sports were played by the Hohokam people.
  • Birding Trail (1 mile): Follow this loop through varied habitats to find many of the Park’s more than one hundred species of birds.
  • Canyon Loop Trail (2.3 miles): This trail travels up and down through the foothills of the Santa Catalinas, giving hikers the opportunity to watch for Desert Big Horn Sheep that have been reintroduced to the National Park, as well as black-tailed jackrabbits, javelina and other desert species.

Here are some tips for maximizing your Catalina State Park RV camping experience:

  1. Reserve your campsite before you come, especially during the winter months.
  2. Be aware of the restrictions for taking dogs on the Park’s trails, due to the recent reintroduction of Desert Big Horn Sheep in the area.
  3. Take plenty of water when you hike, even in winter.
  4. The Park has facilities for equestrian camping as well as an equestrian center for staging trail rides. There’s also a stable concessionaire on-site, if you’d like to rent horses on your trip.
  5. Check the park’s website for their calendar of events. There are concerts, scheduled ranger-led walks and other educational opportunities throughout the winter.

Arizona’s Catalina State Park is a scenic, natural wonder and a fantastic place to spend a winter RV camping trip. It’s an easy thing to pick up a Phoenix RV rental and drive a couple hours south to the state park.

Don’t sit home dreaming about RV camping one more time this winter. Catalina State Park is waiting to provide easy-to-access RV campsites next door to the abundant wonders of the desert.

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