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.

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.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

RV Camping on California’s Highway 99

Looking for a new way to spend a weekend in the Sacramento area? RV camping fans will find two Northern California towns, each with its own vintage charm, along historic Hwy 99E. The towns of Chico and Red Bluff are connected by this scenic byway that parallels the Sacramento River, and is also conveniently close to Mendocino and Plumas National Forests.

Chico – Art for Everyone

You’ll find plenty to keep you busy on our first stop along Historic Hwy 99. While RV camping near Chico, CA, here are five things you won’t want to miss in this friendly town with an artistic flair.

  • SoPo and The Junction, a vibrant, vintage district where the distinct blend of art, music, eateries and special events make the area a favorite of Chico State students.
  • Thursday Night Market on Broadway, held weekly April through September, is a special treat for Chico visitors hoping to experience artists, artisans, food truck chefs and the town’s eclectic music scene, all in one event.
  • Chico’s Public Art offerings include stunning sculptures, murals and mosaics throughout Downtown Chico. Plan time to see each one on your trip.
  • Bidwell Park, more than three thousand acres on the banks of Big Chico Creek, is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Whether you’re hiking the more rugged trails of the Upper Park or strolling the serene pathways of the Lower Park, it’s the best way to explore Chico outdoors. Scenic bonus—you can enter the park trail system through Chico’s beautiful City Plaza.
  • Eighth & Main Antique Center in Downtown Chico offers antiques and collectibles hunters nearly thirty thousand square feet of shopping. Come early and be prepared to be amazed at what you’ll find in hundreds of booths over two floors.

Hwy 99E – Chico to Red Bluff

When you’re ready to pack up the RV and head down the road to Red Bluff, it’s an easy hour’s drive north, IF you don’t stop to take advantage of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable offerings along the way.

Once in Red Bluff, you’ll soon see why Northern California RV travelers mark the town as a favorite stop. Not only is it known for its Western history and a great selection of antique stores, it’s also adjacent to Lassen Volcanic National Park. In other words, camping in Red Bluff always promises fantastic views as well as plenty of entertainment!

Once you’ve made a driving circuit of Red Bluff, built high above the Sacramento River, here are four more ideas for spending time while you’re there:

  • Shop and stroll in the Victorian charm of Downtown Red Bluff to find antiques, local arts and crafts and an impressive array of Western wear. Tip for RV camping rodeo fans: if you happen to be in town the third weekend of April, don’t miss the Red Bluff Round-Up, the country’s biggest two-day rodeo
  • Take a walking tour of the town’s gorgeous Victorian homes and be sure to tour the Kelly-Griggs House Museum (open Sundays only) to learn even more about the area’s early settlers.
  • Camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park, just north of town,
    Ciff Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park

    Ciff Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park

    and surrender to the wilderness beauty of the region. Whether your idea of outdoor recreation is a quiet walk on a forest trail or fishing an untamed waterway, you’ll find a place to do it in the shadow of Lassen Peak.

  • Visit Gaumer’s Jewelry & Museum: In business for decades, Gaumer’s offers shoppers the chance to learn about local mining history while exploring displays and exhibits featuring gems, minerals and custom-made jewelry.

The Route

How to get to Chico, our first destination on Hwy 99E? You actually have two choices,

  1. Follow I-5 (formerly known as Hwy 99W) north from Sacramento until you reach Hwy 32 and follow it east to Chico.
  2. Follow CA70/Hwy 99E north from Sacramento to Marysville and then continue north thru farmland and orchards on CA70 to Oroville, swinging west on CA149 to Chico.

A trip along Northern California’s Historic Hwy 99E promises plenty for art lovers, antiques hunters and history buffs. Make the whole trip in a weekend, or slow things down and branch out to the magnificent national forests and parks surrounding Chico and Red Bluff for a big dose of natural wonder.

Don’t own an RV? No problem—nothing could be easier than picking up your reserved motorhome rental in Sacramento, or if you’re planning to extend your trip to enjoy the Bay Area, our San Francisco location is waiting to help. We hope you’ll add your trip report to the Comments below!

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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

RV Camping Along Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

When we hit the road this Spring and Summer, let’s find something fascinating to explore! One of the most unusual geological regions in America can be found between Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California and Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon. Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway connects the two parks and offers ample opportunity for RV camping along the way.

Where to Start

No matter which end of the Byway is your starting point on this 500-mile round trip journey, it’s going to be extraordinary. California visitors will find Lassen Volcanic National Park, the southern terminus, about two and a half hours north of Sacramento on I-5.

If you’re starting at the northern end of the Byway, you’ll find your starting point at Crater Lake National Park northeast of Medford about 80 miles on OR-140.

What You’ll See & Where to Camp

Whether it’s waterfalls, volcanic lava fields, sparkling mountain lakes or the stunning sight of Mount Shasta, following the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway won’t disappoint. Scenic campsites along the way are an added bonus.

Here are just a few premier points of interest to discover on your route.

  • Pelican Bay on Upper Klamath Lake in northern Oregon is a stop you’ll definitely want to make. Paddle a water trail, fish for record-breaking trout or simply take in the view made famous by John Muir’s writings. RV campgrounds near Klamath Falls will let you camp close to the Bay.
  • Castle Crags State Park – Pick a campsite and then hike the trails for unforgettable views of massive granite crags and Mount Shasta.
  • Lava Beds National Monument/Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge – Lava tube caves, Native American rock art and RV camping in the nearby towns of Tionesta and Tulelake can make this a special stop for Byway travelers who like the unusual. The wildlife refuge is one more reason to make this side trip, with an auto tour through marshes and grasslands for bird watchers.
  • Dunsmuir, CA – History buffs will love this vintage railroad town in the shadow of Mount Shasta. Bring your fly fishing gear—the trout stream in town is legendary! Save time on your trip to admire the waterfalls between Dunsmuir and Mount Shasta, too.
  • Lake Almanor – Located near the southern end of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Lake Almanor in Lassen National Forest is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Hundreds of forest campsites are available and a shoreline hike promises spectacular views.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park – Mudpots, a bubbling hot lake and the scenic remnants of volcanoes are only three of the attractions RV travelers will find at this park at the Byway’s southern terminus. Primitive and developed campgrounds within the national park make it easy to extend your stay as you hike and drive through thousands of acres of natural attractions.
  • Crater Lake National Park at the Byway’s northern entrance is a remarkable place to begin or end your journey. The view of the lake is worthy of many vacation photos,
    Crater Lake, Oregon

    Crater Lake, Oregon

    so why not hike the rim trail once you’ve set up camp? See how many of the lake’s ‘wizard islands’ formed by cinder cones you can spot. Speaking of campgrounds, the park’s Mazama Campground has both primitive and developed sites. 

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway provides RV travelers the chance to experience stunning views and exciting outdoor recreation. You’ll also learn about the history of northern California and southern Oregon with intimate side trips into the countryside, visiting quaint towns and historic attractions.

Let us help with a California RV rental and feel free to use our handy list of California campgrounds to plan your trip. We can’t wait to hear about the memories that RV camping along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway creates.

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

What Will You Find While Camping in the Everglades?

Alligator in the Everglades

Alligator in the Everglades

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

Camping Opportunities You’ll Find in the Everglades

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

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

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

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

Wildlife You Can Find in the Everglades

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

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

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

Outdoor Recreation You’ll Find in the Everglades

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

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

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

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

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

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