RV Trip to Wild, Wonderful Washington

Two National Parks, One National Historical Park and One Awesome Recreation Area!

Washington offers some incredibly different scenery from the rest of the US, even the Pacific Northwest. Here, you can go from snow covered peaks on Mount Rainier to beaches covered with driftwood just asking to be carved or at least photographed. Whether you’re a hiker, a photographer or just a nature lover, Washington has a lot to offer.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park encompasses nearly a million acres of vast wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula, in the northwest corner of Washington. This park protects thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline. It is diverse and beautiful with an incredible range of precipitation and elevation.

Designated as both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, the park serves as a living laboratory for scientists and students, as well as an incredible natural playground for visitors. Millions of people visit Olympic each year to experience its beauty, diversity, and many opportunities for adventure, exploration, and recreation.

You can hike short (1/4 to 1 mile) ranger-guided trails or go off for much longer and more challenging hikes to view the vast peaks of Mount Olympus. Mt. Olympus (7,980 ft.), the highest in the Olympics, is one of the most spectacular areas in Washington. Climbing here is only for experienced glacial climbers with proper equipment.

However, for most people Hurricane Hill is 1.6 miles one way and begins at the end of the Hurricane Ridge Road. The rough paved trail gains about 700 feet in elevation, giving panoramic views. This trail is also close to the visitor center which offers a large menu for a reasonably-priced lunch and spectacular views right off their decks. For more information about things to do, including maps and current alerts due to forest fires, see their website. 

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park offers a glimpse into glaciers where you can hear the ice of the glacier crack. Reaching 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning five major rivers. Sub-alpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. Plan a hike or a serious climb as you prefer. Check out all there is to do here.

San Juan Island National Historical Park

San Juan Island is well known for its splendid vistas, saltwater shore, quiet woodlands, orca whales and one of the last remaining native prairies in the Puget Sound/Northern Straits region. San Juan Island National Historical Park is composed of 2,141 acres of woodland, prairie and saltwater shoreline in two units on San Juan Island, one of the 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County, Washington State.

But it was also here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over possession of the island, the crisis ignited by the death of a pig. The dispute is perhaps the best-known period in island history.

But the park also encompasses a rich and diverse environment that cannot be separated from the island’s 3,000-year human history. Long before the arrival of Europeans, the island sheltered a thriving culture attracted by its temperate climate, rich soil, abundant timber and marine resources. These same attributes lured Spain, Great Britain and the United States. Each explored, charted and named the islands while staking overlapping claims to the Oregon County– the present states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, portions of Wyoming and Montana and the province of British Columbia.

You can learn all the details of this fascinating chapter in history and more about the park on their website.

Round out your trip by visiting Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

A jewel in northeast Washington, this park is worth the 5½ to 6 hour drive east from Seattle if you can make the time.

In 1941 the Grand Coulee Dam was built on the Columbia River as part of the Columbia River Basin project, creating a 130-mile long lake. Named for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area provides opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, camping, canoeing, hunting and visiting historic Fort Spokane and St. Paul’s Mission.

San Juan Island, WA

San Juan Island, WA

Where to Camp:

  • Olympic National Park: There are 16 campgrounds in Olympic National Park, although they do not have water or electrical hookups. Those amenities are offered at the two concession-operated campgrounds: Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and the Log Cabin Resort. Check the websites for more details.
  • Mount Rainier National Park: There are four campgrounds in Mount Rainier National Park, as follows: Cougar Rock in the SW section of the park; Chanapecosh in the SE section; White River in the NE section and Mowich Lake in the NW section of the park. Check the park’s website for details.
  • San Juan Island: Both park units–American Camp and English Camp–despite their names, are day-use only. For an up-to-date list of lodging properties check the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau website.
  • Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area: To find out more about camping here and all the activities that abound in eastern Washington’s beautiful jewel, check their website.

You can rent an RV from El Monte RV in Vancouver/Bellingham, WA and drive to the Olympic Peninsula to start your adventure.

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

RV Trip: More to See in Moab – Three National Parks

While Wyoming is probably the most visited of all the states with National Parks due to Yellowstone, Moab, Utah is worth including in your National Park RV camping plans. Here you can visit several exceptionally scenic attractions around southern Utah. In the area near Moab, you can see some amazing sights including Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Visitors from around the world come to the town of Moab to experience sunrise over the towering depths of Canyonlands National Park and then follow it up with sunset in the other-worldly red rock scenery of Arches National Park. Moab’s year-round access to thousands of square miles of amazing red rock landscapes, along with the cool waters of the Colorado River, has made it one of the most sought-after outdoor recreation destinations in the American Southwest.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s high desert. Water and gravity have been the principal architects of this land, sculpting layers of rock into the rugged landscape you see today.

Canyonlands allows you to explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and exploration and adventure. For maps and more information, see their website.

Capitol Reef National Park

Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles. Capitol Reef’s rich cultural history dates to archaic hunter-gatherers, the prehistoric Fremont Culture, and pioneer homesteaders. Capitol Reef is really a hiker’s dream. Trails here are plentiful and provide views of the red rock landscape as well as this unique geologic feature.

Arches National Park

We discussed Arches National Park in an earlier blog but just to recap:

Most visits to Arches involve traveling by vehicle along the scenic drive, which provides access to many viewpoints and trailheads. Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. Over 2,500 of these unusual rock formations can be found here. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. The park is within an arid, high desert environment with hot summers and cold winters. Parking is limited at all destinations. More information is available at the NPS website.

Where to Camp:

  • Canyonlands National Park: There are two campgrounds in Canyonlands,
    Canyonlands National Park

    Canyonlands National Park

    Island in the Sky Campground and The Needles Campground. Both are open year round but there is no water at Island in the Sky campground. You can get drinking water outside the visitor center from spring through fall. There are toilets, picnic tables and fire rings in the Needles Campground. There are also available public and private campground sites outside of Canyonlands which you can see at visit discovermoab.com or utahscanyoncountry.com.

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) operates many campgrounds in the Moab area. Some accommodate large groups and may be reserved in advance. For more information, visit the BLM’s Utah Recreation Page.
  • Capitol Reef National Park: Camp inside the park at The Fruita Campground which is often described as an oasis within the desert. Adjacent to the Fremont River and surrounded by historic orchards, this developed campground has 64 RV/tent sites and 7 walk-in tent sites. Each site has a picnic table and firepit (walk-in sites have a grill instead of a firepit), but no individual water, sewage, or electrical hookups. There is a RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance. Restrooms feature running water and flush toilets, but no showers. Accessible sites are located adjacent to restrooms. The Fruita Campground is open year-round, and is the only developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park. To make a reservation, visit: recreation.gov.
  • Arches National Park: Camp among slickrock outcroppings at Devils Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. You can reserve standard campsites up to 6 months in advance for stays March 1-October 31. All sites are usually reserved months in advance. Between November 1 and February 28, sites are first-come, first-served. Facilities include drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and both pit-style and flush toilets. For more information about camping in Arches National Park, see their website.

You can start your RV camping trip near Salt Lake City and rent an RV from El Monte RV there, or you can start further south around Las Vegas and rent an RV from El Monte RV rentals in Henderson, then head north and east to Utah. You can even pick up your RV at one of these locations and return it to the other if you like.

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

Summer RV Trip to our National Parks: Utah to Montana

While you are thinking about where to go and cool off this summer, don’t forget our amazing states in the Northwest, particularly Utah, Idaho and Montana. These scenic jewels are often overlooked when planning summer RV camping excursions. Begin your journey around Salt Lake City where you can rent an RV from El Monte RV Rentals. You would travel from Salt Lake City, perhaps stopping at Arches National Park and taking in Zion National Park before heading north to Idaho and then reaching Montana and the magnificent Glacier National Park.

If it is a leisurely trip, you can take the scenic highways (note US 89), and maybe pick out some other spots to stay in Idaho along the way. Idaho offers several amazing forests, including the Salmon Challis, Sawtooth, Payette, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, and Nez Pence-Clearwater National Forests. After visiting these scenic beauties, remember to keep your compass aimed northeast to Montana, to make this summer’s adventure truly spectacular.

Arches National Park

Double Arch in Arches National Park

Double Arch in Arches National Park

Most visits to Arches involve traveling by vehicle along the scenic drive, which provides access to many viewpoints and trailheads.  Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. Over 2,500 of these unusual rock formations can be found here. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. The park is within an arid, high desert environment with hot summers and cold winters. Parking is limited at all destinations. Popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden often fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays. Many parking spots can’t fit recreational vehicles (RVs) or vehicles with trailers. If you’re towing a car, considering driving it instead and leaving the big rig outside the park. For more suggestions on traveling in the park and how to avoid the crowds, visit the NPS’ Traffic & Travel Tips page.

Zion National Park

Zion was Utah’s first national park and is still quite popular. Here you can follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. You’ll be able to gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. You can experience true wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is truly the gem in the crown of national parks. As the Crown of the Continent, Glacier is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson’s Bay. What happens here affects waters in a huge section of North America. Due to a detection of invasive mussel populations in central Montana, Glacier has closed all park waters to motorized and trailered watercraft until further notice. There has been an invasion of non-native mussels in many of the waters of the Great Lakes and Glacier is controlling boating very strictly to avoid contamination of their lakes. You can read more about the invasive species of mussels and what the Park Service is doing to protect the Glacier lakes here.

However, don’t let this watercraft restriction deter you from visiting Glacier National Park. It is truly one of the most beautiful locations on earth.

Camping Spots

You can discover some of America’s best outdoor experiences in the West.

Here are just a few choices:

Camp in the National Parks – with reservations required for many spots, you may have to book early to get one. But, many sites are first-come, first-served. Our national park system is so technologically sophisticated that you can get full details including which sites filled yesterday and by what time at their websites.

  • For Arches National Park, you can camp at one of 51 campsites among slickrock outcroppings at Devils Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. You can reserve standard campsites up to 6 months in advance for stays March 1-October 31. All sites are usually reserved months in advance. Between November 1 and February 28, sites are first-come, first-served. Facilities include drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and both pit-style and flush toilets. Click here for Arches National Park reservations.
  • For Zion National Park, there are three on-site campgrounds plus at least five off-site if the ones in the park are full. You should make reservations to get in Zion as it fills up quickly especially in the summer. Click here for Zion National Park reservations.
  • For Glacier National Park, there are 13 different campgrounds with more than 1,000 sites to choose from. Several of their campgrounds are suitable for RV camping. For reservations and more information on available campsites, click here.

To make the most of your National Park RV camping trip, you can easily rent an RV at El Monte RV Rentals in Salt Lake City.

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

RV Vacations in our Favorite National Parks – A Great Time to Visit Wyoming

Wyoming offers many parks and a great climate for summer RV enthusiasts. Here are some of the most popular but not necessarily really crowded spots. Check out the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in Wyoming. You may want to make a few more stops at Jackson Hole and Devil’s Tower, as well as Mount Rushmore while you are there.

If you are starting out in Denver, at El Monte’s RV Rentals, you would travel north from Colorado and maybe pick some spots to stay along the way but be sure to get all the way to Wyoming this summer as it is truly a national treasure.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Lots of folks travel to Wyoming during the summer to get a tour of Yellowstone National Park, but ten miles north you will find the craggy peaks, open meadows, and pleasant views of Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton has everything that a western National Park should have to make it a great trip even if you’re not visiting Yellowstone. If you want to capture the beauty of the area but don’t want to be fighting the crowds at Yellowstone then Grand Teton is a great alternative. Grand Teton also has many great RV parks and is close to lots of other summer fun at Jackson Hole.

Brief History 

Native Americans have been calling the regions of Teton home for around 11,000 years. American settlers and fur trappers came across the region in the early 19th century and preyed on of the area’s vast resources. The US Government led further exploration of the area and its first permanent settlement, Jackson Hole, was founded around the later period of the 19th century.

At the same time, many settlers urged the US to protect the land so near to Yellowstone and on February 26, 1929, the US Congress declared Grand Teton National Park protected. Soon after oil magnate and conservationist John D. Rockefeller began buying up large swaths of land around Jackson Hole to increase the park’s boundaries. This land became known as Jackson Hole National Monument and was added to the park in 1950.

Yellowstone National Park:

Yellowstone is one of the nation’s most popular National Parks and sees more people during summer than any other season. You may want to visit there along with many others as it offers 12 campgrounds with more than 2,000 sites. The Yellowstone National Park Lodges takes reservations for five of the campgrounds and the rest are first-come, first-served. They also offer a network of backcountry campsites if you prefer the roads less-traveled. Yellowstone is in the mountains and campsites are located at altitudes from 6,250 to 7,800 feet.

If time allows, make a side trip to Devil’s Tower, which made a cameo appearance in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” You can actually take a nighttime hayride around the Devils Tower National Monument. Devil’s Tower boasts “Half the Park is After Dark” due to the magnificent star viewing you can see from many of the park’s locations.

Devil’s Tower is near the gorgeous Keyhole Reservoir and Keyhole State Park for some on the water fun. Amateur archeologists will have a blast at Vore Buffalo Jump and if you’re trying to squeeze in some sightseeing have no fear as Mount Rushmore is less than a half hour due east from Devil’s Tower.

Camping Spots

You can discover some of America’s best outdoor experiences in Wyoming.

Here are just a few choices:

Camp in the National Parks – with reservations for many spots, you may have to book early to get one. But, our national park system is sophisticated and many sites are first-come, first-served. You can get full details including which sites filled yesterday at their websites.

  • For Grand Teton National Park reservations, click here.
  • For Yellowstone National Park reservations, click here.
  • For Devil’s Tower National Park reservations, click here.

To make the most of your trip, you can easily rent an RV at El Monte RV Rentals in Denver.

Posted in National Parks, Wyoming RV Camping Vacation | 1 Comment

Summer in the Rockies: A 3-5 Day RV Vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado’s high country has a lot of territory to cover. But even if you don’t have much time, a Grand County, Colorado three to five day summer getaway can introduce you to the best of the Rocky Mountains. RV camping in this area reveals exotic views, plenty of water activities and horseback riding or even rodeos if you like.

Here’s a suggested three – five day trip itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival at High Altitude

If you’ve arrived from the lowlands, be smart and take a day to acclimate while getting an introduction to the area. Remember to drink plenty of water and take it easy—you are on vacation, after all.

Use your first day to take a drive on the Colorado Headwaters Scenic and Historic Byway. Begin on U.S. Highway 34 in Grand Lake. Follow the Colorado River south for 80 miles, through the towns of Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs, Parshall and Kremmling.

A short drive from the town of Grand Lake, Kawuneeche Visitor Center is located just past the entrance to the park. Here, you’ll find an unforgettable drive through pine meadows, up rugged slopes, and out into the open alpine highlands, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, and Lake Granby. End with the spectacular view of the rugged Upper Gore Canyon.

After your brief exploration, you may want to check in at your RV Campsite.

Camping Spots

If you’re looking to camp in or near the park, see suggestions below, or view the National Park Service’s Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds  page, which offers five in-park campgrounds, 3 of which are available for reservations, and two on a first come, first served basis.

Nearby also find Elk Creek Campground and RV Park located in Grand Lake, Red Mountain RV Park and Wolford Campground in Kremmiling, and Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby near Winter Park. There is a US Forestry Service location near Winter Park and Granby as well where you can discover some of the best American outdoor experiences. See their official site for more details.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Remaining Day 1 or Day 2:

Once you’re settled in, enjoy taking your time visiting the Pioneer Village Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs – see the town’s original courthouse, a blacksmith shop, a 150-year-old ranch house, and several antique rail cars. Other local historical sites and museums are open for visitors in Fraser, Grand Lake, and Kremmling. Use the evening to relax at Hot Sulphur Springs Resort. Kick back with a soak in the ancient area hot springs, and enjoy your beautiful surroundings.

Day 2-3: Rocky Mountain Memories

The Rockies are what it’s all about up here!  Although Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the United States, its Western side is less frequented, less crowded, and much quieter.

Plan ahead and pack a picnic. With 35 trailheads in the park and several picnic spots, your family can spend all day in the wilderness, getting up close and personal with the wildlife.

Looking for a family-friendly excursion? Go on a hunt for secret places in Rocky Mountain National Park, which includes hidden lakes, hiking trails, and abandoned mining towns.

Day 4-5: The Western Experience

First settled in the 1880s as a ranching, farming and lumber center, Grand County has maintained many of its original buildings and sites as museums. Use the day or even 2 days to get the full western experience!

If you’re lucky to be here during rodeo season, experience traditional cowboy skills like roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. Watch the West come alive on Saturdays during the summer at Fraser’s High-Country Stampede Rodeo and Granby’s Flying Heels Rodeo. Continue your western experience with a horseback ride into the sunset. For a true hands-on western experience, contact one of the local outfitters who offer half-and full-day horseback rides.

When you’re heading back into Grand Lake, take a stroll along the boardwalk for some last-minute shopping and a leisurely dinner, visit the Kauffmann House Museum to learn more about the area’s history, and make sure to take advantage of some water recreation on Grand Lake.

More of a thrill-seeker than a history buff or shopper? No problem! Grand County is home to over 600 miles of hiking and biking trails. Visit Winter Park or Fraser to take advantage these elaborate trail systems and bike parks. Reach new heights with a challenging mountain trail or stay in town on a family-friendly route, the choice is up to you!

To make the most of your trip, you can easily rent an RV at El Monte Denver RV Rentals.

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

Summer Everglades National Park RV Vacation

Though this may sound like an inopportune time to visit the Everglades, there are several advantages to exploring this vast wetlands National Park in summer.

Everglades Wet Season – June – November

With plenty of room to explore without crowds, the Everglades are the perfect adventure during the wet season, when frequent rains and heat scare many people off. If you come prepared with sunscreen and a hat, you’re likely to see scores of alligators going about their business, making the Everglades thrilling for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers looking for the perfect picture. Transition periods – like late April to early May are always a busy time. Tours are popular on Memorial Day weekend. Plus, alligators experience an active mating period in the spring, and with summer months just ahead, the wetland is preparing to create new habitat for wildlife to thrive. In late August, you can actually hear the cries of new baby alligators getting ready to roam. In the Everglades, water levels change dramatically from month to month, creating unique differences between the wet and dry seasons.

Alligator in the Everglades

Alligator in the Everglades

Facts about the Everglades:

The Everglades is a natural environment that is truly unique to South Florida. Here are some interesting facts about it:

  • The Everglades is located on more than eight million acres in Florida, originating near Orlando and following the Kissimmee River down to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state.
  • The Everglades is the single-largest subtropical wetland ecosystem on the continent and is home to 36 threatened or protected species including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee, and supports 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles.(Wikipedia).
  • Often thought of as a large swamp, the Everglades is actually a complex mix of landscapes including rivers, marshes, forests and marine environments.
  • More than seven million people – or one-third of the state – depend on the Everglades for their water supply.
  • The park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.

Park Entrances

Everglades National Park has three entrances in Homestead, Miami, and Everglades City. Please note, these entrances do NOT interconnect.

Homestead Entrances

  • Main Entrance: This entrance connects visitors to the Royal Palm and Flamingo areas of the park. It is open 24 hours a day. There is an entrance fee collected. If you are interested in taking a boat tour or renting a canoe, kayak or other boat at Flamingo, a separate fee applies.

Miami Entrance

  • Shark Valley Area: Open daily from 8:30AM to 6:00PM. There is an entrance fee collected at the gate. Separate fees apply for tram tours and bike rentals. The park remains open 24 hours, but vehicles do not have access after 6:00PM.

Everglades City / Naples Entrance

  • Gulf Coast Area: Open 24 hours a day. There is no entrance fee collected at this entrance; however there are fees for boat tours and canoe rentals.

The above are all National Park locations. In addition, there is another attraction west of Ft. Lauderdale at Griffin Rd and US 27. Everglades Holiday Park features gator shows, airboat rides and fantastic bird watching. In this park, you also see creatures in their natural habitat. The park is a working rescue operation and an educational park that is raising awareness of the importance of conserving natural wetlands.

Places to Camp in the Everglades:

Long Pine Key Campground, near Florida City near the Homestead entrance to the Everglades. It features 108 individual drive-up sites for tents and RVs available first-come, first-serve for $20/night. Reservations are not accepted for individual sites. However, they are closed during the wet season so save this one for November through April.

Flamingo Campground: Camping on the edge of Florida Bay offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Camping is available year-round!  No reservations are needed during off-season months between April 16 – Nov.19. During the summer wet season, portions of the campgrounds may be closed due to flooding.

RV Sites: Camping fees at the 41 sites in T-Loop in Flamingo with electrical hookup are $30.00 a night per site or $15.00 per site for Senior and Access pass holders. (This fee applies to anyone using these sites, regardless of whether they use electric or not.)

Amenities and Activities:
Flamingo campground is in a big open field with few trees and strong breezes can be felt from winds coming from Florida Bay. The campground features solar-heated showers, two dump stations, picnic tables, grills, and an amphitheater for winter programs.

Flamingo has several hiking trails and canoe trails, and opportunities for saltwater fishing are plentiful. More than 300 species of birds spend the winter in Everglades National Park, and there is ample opportunity to see crocodiles and manatees in the marina area where you can find services, boat rentals, tour boats and the Buttonwood Café.

Bring your kayak or canoe to explore backcountry trails, and small motorboats (5 HP and under) are allowed in many areas.

Flamingo Campground is located 38 miles south after entering the main park entrance in Homestead.

If you prefer to camp outside the park grounds, there are several other RV campgrounds nearby in Homestead and Florida City.

Check out Miami while you’re here:

Driving north from the Everglades, you are only about an hour away from Miami where you will want to take advantage of some extensive sightseeing. Visit Monkey Jungle, where humans are caged and monkeys run wild. Or if you are in the humor for more culture, tour Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (an Italian palace said to have been constructed using real, imported Italian marble) take a walking tour to plenty of art museums. Dine along South Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove and spend the day where Crockett and Tubbs made Miami famous.

And, El Monte RV’s Miami location is right nearby, about 10 miles south of Coral Gables, if you need to rent an RV for your Everglades adventure!

Posted in Florida RV Camping Vacation, National Parks | 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

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

Adventure RV Camping at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

If you’re new to RV camping and aren’t sure it can fit into your active, adventure-seeking lifestyle, you’re in for a surprise. Coming back to RV comfort after a long day spent climbing, canyoneering, trail running or whatever it is you do to get the adrenaline pumping makes adventure vacations even more enjoyable. Here’s an idea for your maiden RV camping voyage—why not take a trip to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park?

It’s an amazing place filled with plenty of outdoor recreation possibilities. Imagine the tallest sand dunes in North America (some as tall as 700’), surrounded by snow-capped mountains, alpine forests and mountain lakes, and you’ve got an idea why adventure seekers flock to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes.

How to Get There

The park is located two hours southwest of Pueblo, CO. Get there by following I-25 south and then I-60 west. You’ll turn north on CO-150 to access the park’s visitor center and interior roads. From the west, follow I-60 from Durango to the national park.

What to Do There

You might just be surprised at the range of outdoor sports visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park enjoy. Here’s a quick list of five to whet your appetite.

  • Sand Boarding and Sand Sledding are favorites of park visitors, using specially built boards and sleds that safely slide the dunes. Area outfitters rent the equipment so you don’t need to lay out cash to buy your own.
  • Fat Biking on Medano Pass is another way to find adventure while at the Dunes. Mountain bikes are pretty tightly restricted within the national park and fat tire bikes made for riding in sand are restricted to Medano Pass Primitive Road (sorry, no dune riding), but there’s plenty to experience along the route. Hint: keep your eyes open for wildlife!
  • Hike the Dunes: With thirty square miles of dunes to hike, you can discover some totally spectacular views! Test your ‘sand legs’ by setting out for the summit on any dune you’d like. This is the original ‘find your own trail’ adventure venue.
  • Hike Mt Herard: Adventure seekers with mountain hiking experience will want to make the climb up this 13er. You’ll have to make the trip by high-clearance 4WD vehicle (no ATVs) to Medano Pass to reach the trailhead to the summit. Once you’ve made the summit, the view of the dunes, lakes and tundra surrounding Mt Herard is unforgettable.
  • The Dunes After Dark are a whole new world waiting for your nocturnal exploration. Plan a hiking party by the light of a full moon and enjoy a midnight picnic at the summit of a dune (don’t forget to pack out your trash!) The darkness at this national park is so intense, the stars will pop out in ways city dwellers may never have experienced. 

Where to Camp There

Once you reach Great Sand Dunes National Park, you’ll want to set up camp quickly so that you can get out on the dunes, mountain trail or in the middle of Medano Creek. There’s a campground that can accommodate RVs right inside the park entrance, so if that’s where you’d like to stay, jump on the NPS website and book a campsite before you come.

There’s also plenty of camping at private campgrounds within forty miles of the national park, and also at San Luis State Park just down the road. No matter which campground you pick, you’ll be close to the action and in some of the most scenic country you can imagine, right in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Range. If you haven’t taken the plunge to purchase an RV, you’re still in luck. You can pick up a Denver RV Rental and enjoy RV camping comfort for less than you think.

It’s going to be a great trip, so start packing your adventure gear and be sure to share your experiences in the Comments section below. Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park—it’s got to be seen to be believed.

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

Celebrate National Parks Week with an RV Camping Trip!

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

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

How to Pick Your Next National Park Camping Destination

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

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

National Park Service

National Park Service

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

What to Expect RV Camping at a National Park

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

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

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

Ready to Go National Park Camping?

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

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

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

Posted in Florida RV Camping Vacation, Kentucky RV Camping Vacation, Maine RV Camping Vacation, National Parks, Nevada RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment