RV Adventure in Oregon’s State and National Parks

Oregon is a treasure trove of beautiful scenery whether you’re in the mountains, at the seashore or in between. There are a total of 195 State Parks in Oregon, and an additional 6 National Parks including National Historic, Monuments, Parks and Sites. You will definitely see an array of beautiful natural treasures when touring this state in an RV. If you are looking for adventure and beautiful scenery, consider parking in an Oregon State Park (46 allow RV camping), or a National Park in Oregon.

This year FREE camping and parking is offered by the Oregon State Parks on Saturday, June 1st. Camping is free the night of June 1 in full hookup, electric hookup and tent sites. Parking is free at the 25 day-use parks that charge a parking fee June 1 and June 2, too.

If you want to guarantee a site, you’ll need to make a reservation (the reservation fee is $8, and that’s a flat fee no matter how many nights you stay). Make your campsite reservations by calling 1-800-452-5687. You can also reserve online at Oregon State Parks website.

This year Oregon State Parks partnered with Oregon Lottery to sponsor events at six parks: Champoeg State Heritage Area, Fort Stevens State Park, Tumalo State Park, The Cove Palisades State Park, Wallowa Lake State Park and Silver Falls State Park. In total, 10 state parks are holding events on Saturday June 1. See the Oregon State Parks Free camping page for the full event list.

To find an Oregon State park that offers RV Camping, check out the State Parks Find a Park page, where you can also select all the activities you would like to have and choose by the facilities they offer.

Oregon National Parks

From the Willamette National Forest to the Umpqua National Forest, to the Warm Springs Reservation and Mt. Hood National Forest in the mountains east of Portland, there are so many places to see that you may want to plan a whole month of camping in Oregon. Farther east from Mt. Hood is the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, featuring active science with spectacular scenery. Colorful rock formations at the John Day Fossil Beds preserve the history of plant and animal evolution, changing climatic conditions and track ecosystems for the past 40 million years. Exhibits and a working lab at the Thomas Condon Paleontology and Visitor Center as well as scenic drives and hikes at all three units (the Clarno Unit to the north, the Sheep Rock Unit farther east, and the Painted Hills Unit to the south) allow visitors to explore the prehistoric past of Oregon and see science in action.

And drive just about 4 hours farther south to find the most amazing national treasure at Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake inspires awe. Native Americans witnessed its formation 7,700 years ago, when a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak. Scientists marvel at its purity: fed by rain and snow, it’s the deepest lake in the USA and one of the most pristine on earth. Artists, photographers, and sightseers gaze in wonder at its blue water and stunning setting atop the Cascade Mountain Range. The most popular months to visit Crater Lake are July, August, and September. That’s when the park’s roads, trails, and facilities tend to be fully open.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

May and June are months of transition in the park, as winter slowly gives way to summer. They can also be months of frustration, as lingering snow prevents access to much of the park. However, May and June are also wonderful months to visit providing you are prepared for the variable weather. These months can bring sunny skies or severe snowstorms. In May, the average daily high temperature is 50 degrees F. But the average monthly snowfall is 20 inches, and the average snow depth at Park Headquarters is more than 6 feet! In June, daily highs average 69 degrees F. The park averages only 4 inches of new snow, but the average snow depth at Park Headquarters is still 2 feet. So bring your snowshoes or rent them there and you will be fine visiting this awesome sight.

Here you can view America’s deepest lake, with a depth of 1,943 feet. The water is an intense blue, an indication of its depth and purity. Surrounded by high cliffs, this lake is fed entirely by rain and snow and is considered by scientists to be the cleanest and clearest large body of water in the world.

There is one RV Campground within Crater Lake National Park, called Mazama, which is open from June 15th to late September. It can accommodate an RV up to 50 feet long and offers plenty of facilities. Reserve early however, as there are only 214 sites available. There are also additional nearby camping options if this one is full.

You can rent an RV from us for your Oregon RV vacation adventure at either our Reno RV Rentals location or from our Ferndale, WA RV Rentals location. Starting at either point, you will be treated to a variety of beautiful scenery on your way to absolutely magnificent views in Oregon.

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RV Adventure: National and State Parks of Southern California

Think about taking time away from it all, seeing a panoply of varied geography like ocean, desert, and mountains with national and state parks abounding, all within a few hours’ drive and you’ve described Southern California.

California National Parks

Within just a few hours’ drive of Los Angeles, you can find Pinnacles National Park, the Channel Islands National Park, Cabrillo National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park. Named for its founder, Juan Rodgriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on what is now the west coast of the United States, Cabrillo National Park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. The Channel Islands are off the coast of Ventura and the park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth. This park has helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.

Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. About 3 hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree displays a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional

RV camping at Joshua Tree National Park

RV camping at Joshua Tree National Park

torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Joshua Tree is located in southern California between I-10 and Hwy 62; its headquarters is in Twenty nine Palms, CA.

Pinnacles National Park was formed about 23 million years ago from the eruption of various volcanoes. What remains is a unique landscape. Travelers journey through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms. Hikers enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spires teeming with life including prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and the inspiring California condor. Bird watchers and hikers alike will delight in the treasures of Pinnacles National Park.

And the hottest, driest and lowest National Park is Death Valley National Park, bordering Nevada and California. Here you will see a below-sea-level basin, which steady drought and record summer heat have made this park a land of extremes. These extremes make Death Valley a rare picture of contrasts: towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite the name, there is a great diversity of life surviving in Death Valley.

State Parks of Southern California

You can also find lots of beautiful state parks in California. In Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 30 state parks to choose from. Orange County offers visitors another 6 state parks and San Diego County has about 15 more state parks to visit. Visitors can choose to visit the Tijuana Estuary, the largest coastal wetland in Southern California, located on the international border between the US and Mexico. The estuary is primarily a shallow water habitat, though often termed an “intermittent estuary,” as it is subject to extreme changes in stream flow at different times of the year. Extended periods of drought leave parts of the estuary dry during some periods, while flooding inundates the same areas during others. For this reason, the Tijuana Estuary is considered to be a very unique part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

Another spectacular view in a state natural reserve is located in Los Angeles County at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. As of April 13th, the blooming poppies were still blanketing the reserve with their magnificent orange color. Every flower and other plants that exist at the Poppy Reserve are currently blooming. This month is a great time to visit. Officials expect the bloom to last through April, but the peak of the bloom may have already been reached. The bloom continues to be amazing, with a few flowers that have started to wilt while there are still some plants that have buds. If you are looking to find the exact location of a particular flower or plant, the park staff can point you to the right trails when you arrive.

Check each of the California State Parks for camping availability before you go as some allow RV camping and others do not.

RV Rental

If you’d like to rent an RV for your southern California adventure, start by checking our California El Monte RV Rental locations. This page also contains much more information about traveling by RV in California so be sure to check it out when planning your RV adventure.

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RV Camping Adventure: Arizona State and National Parks

Arizona has a variety of things to offer for an outstanding RV adventure!

Arizona is a prime destination for RV’ers; once you stay there, you will see why. The Grand Canyon State is high in sunshine and scenery and low in precipitation. The temperature remains relatively warm throughout the year with temperatures easily reaching the upper 70s even in January. This makes it a haven for RV’ers escaping the harsh winter weather.

With 35 State Parks, Arizona, also known as the Copper State, offers beautiful camping locations in several regions. Starting with the western region, the “west coast” of Arizona is bordered by the Colorado River with four parks offering you the choice of where to relax and enjoy the scenery.

The Colorado River is a popular spot for boating, tubing, and floating your days away, and here are four great state parks that have camping available so you can get into river life mode for a week or a weekend. The most well-known park, Lake Havasu State Park, boasts a white-sand beach, five boat ramps, and plenty of electric hook-up sites for your RV, including beach-front sites. If you want a quieter park, check out Cattail Cove State Park, located just 15 minutes away. This park has 61 campsites, including boat-in campsites for you to enjoy near the water. Plus, there’s a dog-friendly beach so you can enjoy time with your best companion! Boat on the blue waters, sail into quiet coves, or water or jet ski out on the open lake.

Head south along the river to reach the Parker strip and two more beautiful state parks, Buckskin Mountain and River Island. Both parks have gorgeous views of the river, the nearby mountains that line the river on both sides, family-friendly events and activities, and amazing amenities to make your camping trip the best yet. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is which park to choose! See the Arizona State Parks and Trails site to get a full lineup of possible parks to stay in.

Alamo State Park, AZ

Alamo State Park, AZ

For a completely different experience, head east from the river to Alamo Lake State Park, located near Wendon, Ariz. This is the place to be for bass fishing, expansive views, and quiet solitude.

With the nearest city lights nearly 40 miles away, this is also a prime stargazing park. In spring, wildflowers bring bright colors to the gentle rolling hills, and visitors can enjoy camping in tents, RVs, or the park cabins year-round. Take your boat out on the lake, or try a canoe or kayak to get the best views. With plenty of group sites, camping spots, and quiet, you’ll be able to get away from it all and unwind. This park also offers access to some of the best off-highway vehicle trails in the state.

There are many national parks and monuments in addition to the state parks, and if time and weather permits, Grand Canyon National Park is something you shouldn’t miss. However, if southern Arizona’s more temperate climate is preferable, visit the amazing Joshua Tree National Park. Or check out Saguaro National Park in the southeast corner of Arizona and on the eastern edge of the state, you can see the Red Basin and Martha’s Butte in the Petrified Forest. Don’t leave out Montezuma Castle National Monument in the center of the state, just south of Flagstaff. Here you can see through windows of the past into one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. This 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a story of ingenuity, survival and ultimately, prosperity in an unforgiving desert landscape.

For more information on RV camping and all the National Parks in Arizona, see National Parks in Arizona.

Rent an RV for your trip:

For this unique travel experience, to best see the sights in Arizona you can rent an RV from our El Monte RV Rental location in Phoenix.

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RV Adventure: Carlsbad Caverns and more in New Mexico

How about a nice late winter or early spring RV vacation to New Mexico? Here you can explore several National Monuments, Preserves, Historical Parks and Carlsbad Caverns in this remarkable southwest state.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Located in southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns has aptly been called the Grand Canyon with a roof on it. This underworld cache lies beneath the Guadalupe Mountains and is one of the deepest, largest and most ornate caverns ever discovered.

A Brief History

For a long time, the area that would become Carlsbad Caverns was more hearsay than an accepted national treasure. Curious explorer Jim White discovered and explored the caverns throughout his adolescence and well into his adult life. Through storytelling, self-promotion, and exciting guano exporters Jim White was finally able to convince people of the cavern’s significance and geological value. On October 25, 1923, President Calvin Coolidge signed the legislation that created the Carlsbad Cave National Monument and the area was finally awarded full National Park status by the United States Congress on May 14, 1930.

White discovered and named many of the cavern’s vast interior spaces that would go on to eventually become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Best times to visit:

The best times to visit Carlsbad for ideal weather are March 12th to June 3rd or September 17th to November 4th. So, plan now to get there in March and you will be treated to average temperatures with highs around the low 70s and very few rainy days. During spring, the desert is in bloom and is even more stunning to see.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is in a semiarid region that can get quite warm in the summer with daily highs around the mid to upper 90s, but it’s always cool in the cave. The interior of Carlsbad Cavern is very stable and hovers around a cool 56 degrees with the deeper sections holding around the low 60s. Summer also brings the highest bat populations to Carlsbad so you’re sure to get a great show at dusk and dawn when the bats leave and return.

Other National Parks, Monuments and Preserves in New Mexico:

There are many other treasures to see in New Mexico. Some are National Monuments such as: Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Capulin Volcano, El Malpais, El Morro, Fort Union, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Petroglyph, and Salinas Pueblo Missions, among others.

As an example, Petroglyph, near Albuquerque, protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. These images are a valuable record of cultural expression and hold profound spiritual significance for contemporary Native Americans and for the descendants of the early Spanish settlers.

There are also National Preserves and National Historical Parks and Trails in New Mexico worth visiting, including Chaco Culture, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Manhattan Project, Old Spanish Trail, Pecos, Sante Fe, and Valles Caldera. Valles Caldera is a 13-mile wide circular depression that was created about 1.25 million years ago by a spectacular volcanic eruption. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history.

Many of these are worthy of a full day of exploring with trails worth traveling to learn about the ancient history of this region.

Check out more about these New Mexico riches at National Park Service – New Mexico.

Where to Stay:

Carlsbad Caverns is one the smaller National Parks, situated on land that has been declared wilderness so there are no park-sanctioned areas to park your RV in the park itself. There are several nearby options near Carlsbad. Here are two you can check out:

  • Brantley Lake State Park: This is on the southernmost lake in New Mexico, and is an oasis of water, wildlife, plant life and gorgeous sunsets as well as stunning night skies. It is located 12 miles north of Carlsbad at an elevation of 3,295 feet.
  • Another great option is the Carlsbad KOA which is not only great for its proximity to the park but has great amenities as well. You would be very close to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park as well as the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area, Roswell’s International UFO Museum and White Sands National Monument.

RV Rental:

Rental of an El Monte RV is no problem if you wish to explore the fascinating terrain of New Mexico. Dallas and Phoenix are our closest locations. You can explore Tucson and the Gila National Forest on your way from Phoenix to Carlsbad. Check Phoenix RV Rentals for availability for your travel dates. Or see Dallas RV Rentals for available RV’s in Dallas.

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Five Northwest Lake Destinations to Discover

Out of RV Travel Ideas?

If you camp by RV often, you may find the same old campgrounds losing their luster. We’ve got five enticing lake destinations in America’s rugged Northwest to help restart your RV camping hearts. Pick one from our list below and get back on the road to camping fun.

  1.   Washington – Lake Chelan

Located in the mountainous forests of Central Washington, Lake Chelan is a developed lake ringed by resort properties, quaint villages and abundant RV camping options.

Sunset at Lake Chelan, WA

Sunset at Lake Chelan, WA

Winding its way through Lake Chelan National Recreation AreaLakeshore RV Resort, operated by the city of Chelan, features full-service amenities paired with a swimming beach and easy access to services in town.the lake is custom-made for outdoor recreation. Boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and camping are popular ways to enjoy the bright blue waters of Lake Chelan and the surrounding Cascades. Campers are also within an easy drive of wineries, galleries, restaurants and shops in two lakeside villages – Chelan and Manson. A must-do day trip idea—hike or take the passenger ferry to the rustic village of Stehekin to enjoy unspoiled beauty.    

  1.   Oregon – Lake of the Woods

If you’ve been RV camping in Oregon, you’ve probably camped at magnificent Crater Lake. We’d like to offer Oregon travelers another possibility—RV camping at Lake of the Woods, a smaller, more intimate setting with plenty of woodsy charm.

Lake of the Woods, in Oregon’s Southern Cascades, is a high mountain lake kept full year-round by snow runoff and natural springs. Kokanee salmon, German Brown and Rainbow Trout thrive in the cold, clear waters at five-thousand-feet elevation.

Lake of the Woods Resort operates the camping concession within Fremont-Winema National Forest. Their small, nicely wooded campground features full hook-up and electric & water sites and is close to the marina.

Plan to spend many hours outdoors at this lush mountain paradise, where trails wind through old-growth forests, around the lake and beyond to nearby mountains. Views of Mt. McLoughlin frame your journey as you paddle a canoe or kayak along the lake’s shoreline.

  1.   Idaho – Lake Coeur d’Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene in Northern Idaho is famous for its bright blue waters and first-class outdoor recreation. Camp in one of several RV campgrounds and resorts near the city of Coeur d’Alene and enjoy tour boat cruises, guided fishing excursions for chinook and bass, and golf on one of ten courses that ring this stunningly scenic lake.

Trails in and around the city (be sure to try Tubbs Hill), as well as a section of the seventy-mile Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, cater to hikers, trail runners and mountain biking enthusiasts. Adjacent Coeur d’Alene National Forest is also home to hundreds of miles of trails.

  1.   Montana – Flathead Lake

Been promising your camping companions a fishing charter experience? There’s no better place in Montana to fish than Flathead Lake, the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi.

Situated in the valley adjacent to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake is fed by two cold, clear rivers. Local outfitters can guide you to where the forty-plus-pound Lake Trout (Mackinaws) feed.

If you’re not into fishing, never fear. The lake is surrounded by hiking trails, two scenic highways that skirt the lake’s thirty-mile length and plenty of places to enjoy wildlife watching, swimming, water sports and comfortable Montana RV camping.

Speaking of camping, Finley Point State Park Campground and a half-dozen private RV parks ring the lake, offering a variety of amenities. Most are on the water or in the lakeside towns of Polson, Bigfork and Rollins.

  1.   Wyoming – Jackson Lake

One of the star attractions of Grand Teton National Park is the collection of alpine lakes within the park’s boundaries. Several of these mountain lakes are remote, accessible to hikers and tent campers. There are, however, RV camping options near the chilly, pristine waters of Jackson Lake.

Colter Bay RV Park, five minutes from Jackson Lake, is a full-service campground with full-hookups and easy access to services in Colter Bay Village. Colter Bay Campground is a large, wooded campground suitable for dry camping in an RV. Showers, laundry facilities and a dump station are close by.

Why camp at Jackson Lake while visiting Grand Teton National Park? It’s centrally located for access to all the park has to offer. The lake itself is famous for cutthroat, brown trout and lake trout fishing, and is also perfect for launching your sailboat or kayak. Boat tours are offered throughout the summer to give campers an up-close view of Mt. Moran and other jagged peaks that border the lake.

Pick a lake that appeals to your heart and plan to go RV camping soon in America’s glorious Northwest. Be sure to let us know which lakeside camping adventure you’ll be repeating!

Posted in Idaho RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, Oregon RV Camping Vacation, RV Campgrounds, State Parks, Washington RV Camping Vacation, Wyoming RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Spring RV Travel in Search of Desert Wildflowers

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

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

RV Wildflower Viewing Trips

RV Wildflower Viewing Trips

RV Desert Wildflower Itineraries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

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

What Will We See There?

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

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

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

Where Can We Camp?

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

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

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

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

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

How Do We Get There?

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

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

What Will We See Along the Byway?

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

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

Skinner State Park, MA

Skinner State Park, MA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Can We Camp?

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

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

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

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

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

Finding America by RV—Michigan’s Copper Country Trail

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

How Do We Get There?

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

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

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

What Can We See and Do Along the Byway?

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

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

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

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

Quincy copper mine

Quincy copper mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Can We Camp Along the Way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camping and Fishing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

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

What You Need to Know Before You Go

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

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

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

Fishing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

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

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

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

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

Take Time to Explore the Verde Valley

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

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

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

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

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