Chasing America’s National Pastime by RV

One of the best reasons we can think of to travel by RV this summer is to watch your favorite teams play baseball. We know our readers love their baseball almost as much as they enjoy RV camping. Some might even have gotten the jump on the regular season by traveling to Arizona or Florida for spring training.

America's Pastime - Baseball

America’s Pastime – Baseball

America’s national pastime inspires loyal fans to travel to stadiums across the country. We thought we’d offer even more inspiration to travel in search of baseball. Take a look at what this National Park Service blog post highlighting baseball’s history reveals.

Did you know, for example, that baseball greats like Stan Musial were known to visit fans at Alcatraz Prison? It’s true, and you can learn more with a trip to Alcatraz Island within Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Or that Hot Springs National Park was once the spring training destination for legendary players like Babe Ruth? Baseball has become so much a part of the American fabric that even our national parks get involved.

RV Travel to Watch Baseball is a Grand Slam

We know you’ll be spending lots of time at the stadium as you indulge the urge to travel with your favorite teams. But when it’s time to call it a night and refuel for the next day’s games, an RV can be your best home base. Being able to cook your own meals after a day buying pricey stadium food might make the difference between heading for home and staying to see one more game.

Relaxing at the campground, rehashing the day’s best plays, could be your kids’ favorite memories from this year’s RV road trip to watch baseball. Unwind in RV comfort, make healthy meals that keep your road trip budget on track and enjoy campground amenities that add an extra layer of fun to your journey. That’s the way to have a grand-slam baseball road trip!

Tools to Help Plan Your Baseball RV Road Trip

Ready to exercise your obsession with baseball by traveling by RV to games? Here’s a list of resources that can help streamline your baseball RV travel.

MLB.com – the official site of Major League Baseball. Start here for team schedules and stadium information.

NCAA.org – the place for all things collegiate baseball.

MiLB.com – for everything you need to know about minor league teams and schedules.

USABaseball.com – governing body for US amateur baseball, including US National Teams.

National Baseball Congress – home of the annual NBC World Series.

Baseball-RoadTrip.com – a handy tool for planning a road trip to watch multiple teams play.

BallParksofBaseball.com – for stadium info and suggested baseball road trip itineraries.

El Monte RV for RV rentals and baseball road trip planning assistance.

Bonus Tips for planning your RV Baseball Tour. (1) Check the stadium website for parking details before you go, especially if you plan to park the RV at the ballpark.      (2) Book your campsites early. Campgrounds near the stadium are likely to fill up on game day. (3) Plan to see some weekday, mid-day games if possible. You may score cheaper tickets than those for high-demand weekend or night games. (4) Find out whether tailgating is allowed at the stadium. If it is, arrive early and add a parking lot party to your game day fun.

We hope these tips and tools help you plan your best RV trip to watch baseball yet. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to follow the team to multiple states or travel to one location for a home-game series. Getting there by RV is a great way to enjoy the journey, relax in comfort at the end of an epic game and get back home without ruining your road trip budget. There’s a ballpark out there waiting to show you a good time!

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Summer in New England is Right Around the Corner

10 Maine destinations to explore by RV

Ocean to mountain, deep campsites to quaint villages. Traveling Maine by RV promises fascinating times. Summer RV camping season in New England is just around the corner.  Start planning!

Here are ten Maine destinations you’ll want to explore by RV, roughly north to south.

  1. Aroostook Valley Trail in far north Maine winds a path from New Sweden at the northern terminus to Presque Isle at the southern end. It’s a 28-mile long gravel, multiuse trail created from a former rail bed. Expect to find deep woods, riverside stretches and brushes with five towns. RV camping can be easily found near the Trail, from dry camping at Aroostook State Park to luxury resorts such as Arndt’s Aroostook River Lodge & Campground.
  1. Maine’s capital city of Augusta beckons history-loving RVers with an eighteenth century wooden fort, a spectacular State House, the impressive Maine State Museum and nearby Waterville Opera House.
  1. Explore the Kennebec-Chaudiere International Heritage Corridor for more than two hundred miles from Bath, Maine to Quebec for the RV adventure of a lifetime. Water trails on two rivers, fascinating small towns and lush North Maine landscapes are just the start of the journey.
  1. Swan Island, on the Kennebec River at Richmond, is a nature lover’s paradise. Bring your kayak and paddle the river, or enjoy miles of hiking trails through pristine forests and meadows in search of the island’s abundant wildlife. Don’t forget to book your ferry ride in advance! 
  1. Bridgton, in the Western Maine’s Lake Region, is popular with RV travelers for its vintage downtown shops, easy access to outdoor recreation and city-run Salmon Point Campground on Long Lake. Fish, paddle, hike or shop—you’ll find wonderful places to do it while camping in Bridgton.
  1. While camping in the Freeport/Durham area, consider a side trip to Bradbury Mountain State Park for a memorable mountain biking experience. Single and double track trails crisscross the mountain and the view is fine, too.
  1. The Desert of Maine in Freeport is where the kids will want to spend your Maine RV camping vacation. Located on the central coast, this forty-acre glacial desert within a forest features tram tours, hiking trails, historic buildings and an on-site RV campground.
  1. Reid State Park, on Georgetown Island, has the distinction of being one of the few places in Maine you’ll find stretches of sand beach and large sand dunes. Plan to camp on the island at Sagadahoc Bay Campground for oceanfront sites and lighthouse views.
  1. Casco Bay, by way of Portland, allows RV travelers to Maine to reach beyond the shore. Once you’ve settled in your campground in nearby Scarborough, Saco or Old Orchard Beach, make your way to Maine State Pier in Portland to go island hopping in the Bay, courtesy of Casco Bay Line ferry service. They also offer a variety of scenic bay cruises.
  1. Southern Maine Lighthouse Tour: Love lighthouses? As you leave the Portland area, you’ll enjoy views of no less than seven historic lighthouses by making stops from Cape Elizabeth to Kittery. Here’s your itinerary, driving south.

    Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, Maine

    Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, Maine

  • Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth features Portland Head Light (and museum), as well as views of the Ram Island Ledge Light from the park’s rocky beach.
  • Two Lights State Park, down the shoreline in Cape Elizabeth, offers views of privately owned Cape Elizabeth Light.
  • The Pier Road landing in Cape Porpoise is your next stop for views of the Goat Island Lighthouse.
  • Sohier Park in York is a delightful spot to stroll the shoreline and enjoy views of Nubble Light.
  • Fort Foster Park in Kittery is famous for views of both Whaleback Light and Portsmouth Harbor Light.

An RV camping trip to Maine can be a different adventure every time you visit. Pick your next itinerary and be sure to book an RV rental early. The Pine Tree State can’t wait to show you a good time.

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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 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—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
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RV Camping Destinations—Where to Get Great Ideas

So many things to see! So many campsites to discover! But how in the world do we decide where our RVs will take us when we next go camping?

For some of us, the answer is simple—we go to the places we’ve always gone, those special campgrounds where we know what to expect, which old friends are likely to be there and what adventures are just around the bend.

But for other RV travelers, anticipation is the thing—that tingle of excitement when we turn the key in the ignition and go out in search of something new. And we’re here to help you get started!  We’re constantly collecting new resources to assist our readers who are ready to set up camp at someplace new.

Fasten your seatbelts for our quick list of places you can go right now to find info on campgrounds, camping activities and unforgettable camping destinations.

Where will the road take you?

El Monte RV Rentals: Every once in a while, we like to remind our readers about the fantastic travel resources we’ve gathered on the way to becoming one of America’s top RV rental firms. Here are just a few of the pages you might find helpful as you look for new reasons to travel:

  • RV Camping Guide: Tons of information on places to go, things to do and how to make it easy to get there by RV. From air shows to NCAA football tailgating, we’ve got the goods right here on your next reason to go camping.
  • State by State Campground Guide: Our list of exceptional campgrounds waiting to host your next vacation.
  • Camping Opportunities Calendar: Month-by-month calendar of special events that are custom-made for a camping adventure.
  • RV Camping Itineraries: Step-by-step journeys mapped across America to provide maximum camping satisfaction.
  • RV Trip Planning Resources: Our collection of special helps for RV campers, from green camping information to how-to guides for newbie campers.

National Park Service: No doubt about it, America’s national parks are some of the finest legacies we’ve preserved for future generations. Mountain-top to shining sea, our country has set aside magnificent landscapes, historical sites and cultural treasures to be camped, hiked, studied and treasured by each new generation.

The National Park Service website does an excellent job of sharing what you’ll need to know. Simply click on the map to start searching for the kinds of places your family will enjoy and then click on Plan Your Visit to locate camping opportunities. Get out there and find America this year!

StateParks.com: Here’s another gem for campers mining the internet in search of travel destinations. Maps, abundant details on facilities and reviews by other campers make this site another go-to place for planning your next itinerary.

Private Campground Resources: Click here and scroll down to Other Camping Resources to locate links to sites like Kampgrounds of America (KOA.com), Passport America and Thousand Trails. You’ll also find a wealth of information on where to find free campsites and how to reserve campsites at most state and national parks (ReserveAmerica.com and Recreation.gov.)

We challenge each one of you to make it through this list without finding a place you’ve never been! Don’t stay home this camping season simply because you can’t decide where to go.

Let us help you find your next RV camping experience, the one you might have missed if your friends at El Monte Motorhome Rentals hadn’t lent a hand.

Posted in RV Rentals, RV Vacation, RV Vacation Ideas | 2 Comments

Hiking and RV Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Camping in the surreal landscape of Joshua Tree National Park is unlike any other American camping experience. The huge, uniquely shaped boulders, the distinct silhouette of thousands of Joshua Trees marching along the desert floor and the abundance of desert plant and animal life make coming to this place where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts meet fascinating. It also provides an amazing place for hikers to explore, stretching twelve-hundred square miles through Southern California near Palm Springs.

Where to Camp at Joshua Tree

RV Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

RV Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

Camping at Joshua Tree NP is fairly easy, if you prepare ahead for ‘dry camping’ conditions. There are actually five developed campgrounds within the park, with two equipped for RVs. There aren’t any electrical, water or sewer hook-ups at these campsites, but two campgrounds—Black Rock and Indian Cove—have drinking water available within the campground. Reservations are highly recommended from October to May, as the mild winter temperatures in this desert national park make it a popular place with campers.

Here are some tips to help make your Joshua Tree National Park camping experience a good one.

* Generator use is limited to 7-9 a.m., 12-2 p.m., and 5-7 p.m., so plan electrical use accordingly.

* Pets must remain leashed at all times outside your RV.

* Only small campfires, within fire rings or grills provided by the park, are allowed. * If no campsites are available on your desired dates, use this link from NPS.gov to locate other local options.

* Always practice Leave No Trace camping etiquette.

Where to Hike at Joshua Tree NP

You’ve set up camp and you’ve laced up your hiking boots, but which way to go? You could start at one of the park’s three visitor centers to get an overview of the unique ecosystems and the trails that wind through them.

Or you could use this handy guide to Joshua Tree NP hiking trails at NPS.gov. Either way, you’ll find plenty of information about popular destinations within the park. Here are just a few suggestions for places to discover from the park’s nearly three dozen trailheads.

Keys View is a rocky promontory with views of the Coachella Valley. The short loop trail is accessible via a twenty-minute drive from Park Boulevard.

The seven-mile hike into Lost Palms Oasis leads to a palm-filled canyon.

Making the hike up to Mastodon Peak is a must if you’re in good condition, as you’ll never forget those views of the Salton Sea.

Older kids would love the one-mile hike into Hidden Canyon, where enormous boulders are said to have once hidden cattle rustlers.

These are only a few of the dozens of trails that you’ll encounter as you begin to explore Joshua Tree National Park on foot. Keep in mind that, even in winter, this is a place of sudden weather changes, so always be prepared. You’ll also want to carry plenty of water in this desert environment and respect the plant and animal life that makes this place so special.

Consider hiking and camping at Joshua Tree National Park on your next visit to Southern California. If lack of an RV is keeping you at home, give us a call and we’ll help you find the rental location and RV model that suits your plans. It’s going to be a trip you’ll talk about for years!

Posted in California RV Camping Vacation, National Parks | Leave a comment