A Yellowstone Vacation with an RV

Picture of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

A vacation in an RV to Yellowstone National Park is a completely captivating experience. This park is a most unusual landscape, filled with geysers, mud pots and colorful geothermal features. Hot springs and pine forests attract wildlife, and the picturesque waterfalls and canyons intrigue millions of visitors from all over the world.

Drive your RV into the Yellowstone North Entrance at Mammoth. On the way you must stop at the famous Roosevelt Arch. This soaring basalt stone arch is a special symbol of Yellowstone, welcoming travelers to the most popular park in the U.S.

You will come to Mammoth Hot Springs as you move into the park from the North Entrance. The terraces are not to be missed, with the colorful formations amazing in their beauty as hot water and limestone work together to create this natural artwork.

To really get the most out of your visit to Mammoth Hot Springs, you should take the Lower Terrace Trail. You will hike an easy one-mile path and come to an overlook that gives you the best view. You can also access the Upper Terrace and witness how these hot springs are forever changing as the water flows every which way, leaving mineral deposits and making living sculptures.

Absorb some the history at the park by taking a walking tour of Fort Yellowstone. The buildings here were built in 1891, with quarters for officers, guards and enlisted men. At Albright Visitor Center and Museum you can get more history and study the early settlers, mountain men and Native Americans who made this area their home. Ensure you visit the Moran Gallery for amazing watercolor sketches by Thomas Moran.

The Grand Loop Road offers most of the major attractions of Yellowstone only a few hundred feet from the road. Easy access means you will use this as your main route through the park so you don’t miss anything. One place you don’t want to pass up is Mesa Falls, a spot at the headwaters of the Snake River and containing amazing views. Bird watching here is really fun, and you may see an eagle fly overhead.

A must-see is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, carved by great glaciers and the water of the Yellowstone River. Watch the gorgeous cascade of the Lower Falls just east of Canyon Village. The views are indescribable. This is the largest waterfall in the park, as well as the second most photographed attraction (after Old Faithful).

Stopping at Lake Village is a wonderful respite in your RV trip through the park. You’ll find all the supplies you need to continue your travels. At the Fishing Bridge you will see a log bridge built in 1902 that was a favorite of fishermen to go for a trophy catch. You can stand on the bridge and watch the fish swimming below you. Don’t forget to stop at the Fishing Bridge Museum to learn more about this area. The Fishing Bridge RV Park is the perfect place to park your RV for a while and explore the surrounding wonders of Yellowstone.

Now it is time to get yourself over to Old Faithful and watch the impressive display of Mother Nature. As the spray flies sky-high you will find it hard to believe that a geyser can have that much power. Afterwards, explore the Upper Geyser Basin for a wealth of sights such as hot springs, mud pots, more geysers and pools. Walk around Geyser Hill and enjoy the eruptions of Amemone and Beehive Geysers.

Lower Geyser Basin also offers plentiful thermal features to delight and inspire the whole family. You can see massive displays of water shooting up to 150 feet in the air. The multi-colored mud pots bubble and gurgle, making you curious as to what is below your feet in this amazing Yellowstone National Park.

Head north to Madison and see all the sights there are here. From natural highlights like Gibbon Falls to the Madison Museum, you will want to take it all in. Drive towards Norris and stop at Terrace Springs to walk the short boardwalk through this thermal area. Further on you will come to the Artists Paintpots. There is a one-mile trail that will take you to hot springs and large mud pots as well as some backcountry geothermal areas to explore.

Your RV trip does not have to end here. There is always more to do in Yellowstone. You may want to stay a week or two so you can enjoy this famous park to the max. Whatever you decide, you are sure to have a great time no matter how long you stay.

Picture credits: The picture of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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An Autumn RV Journey to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the wonders of the world, and a perfect destination on an RV trip. Avoiding the summer crowds also has its pleasures, so autumn is a great time to go. If you hurry, you can still get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a fall season RV trip beyond compare. The road closes with the first snowfall but you still have time to drive this scenic route and access the North Rim.

All the attractions listed are open until the main highway closes that takes you to the Rim, but all visitor services in the park closed on October 15. This is a truly spectacular part of the park and if you can make it during the uncrowded fall season, you are sure to get extra enjoyment from the trip.

Grand Canyon views are particularly beautiful from the north side. It is the perfect time of year to get in some hiking too! You can take an easy one-half-mile hike to Bright Angel Point (PDF). There are some amazing photo opportunities here. Enjoy the sound of Roaring Springs cascading over the rim. Taking the Clear Creek Trail will take you on a really long hike (8.4 miles) to Cheyava Falls, the highest waterfall in all of Grand Canyon. It is actually a backpacking adventure, so be sure to check weather conditions and be ready for an overnight camp out.

A full day hike is the one to Roaring Springs. This is along the North Kaibab Trail with the trailhead just two miles north of the Grand Canyon Lodge. Start early and ensure you don’t dawdle along. This area is still open for day use until the first snow.

If you don’t want to brave the backcountry so close to snow season, you can just take a short trail through the woodlands. A short trek takes you to Roosevelt Point, a wonderful place to visit with panoramic views. From this viewpoint you’ll be able to see a bit of the Colorado River and a lovely flat plain stretching between Vermilion Cliffs and Echo Cliffs.

As you move along Cape Royal Road, be ready to stop at all the amazing spots for views of the Canyon.  Angels Window will bring gasps of wonder as you come to the arch and move over this incredible formation. Cape Final is another stop on Cape Royal Road, and provides more views that you will get nowhere else.

Another must-see on the North Rim along Cape Royal Road is Walhalla Overlook. You will be able to view the delta of the Colorado where Puebloans used to farm. Take nearby trails to see more fascinating sights, like an ancient granary. If all this sightseeing has made you hungry, stop at Vista Encantada where you can enjoy a picnic while looking out over the canyon.

Perhaps now it is time to head home before the first blizzard strikes. You still have time to drive through Kaibab National Forest on your way home, with many scenic routes through the forests that are turning color. The Kaibab Plateau Scenic Byway is a favorite for the autumn colors.

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An RV Trip of Mountain Dreams in Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

If you love the panoramic landscapes that mountain vistas offer, then Glacier National Park is the place to go. You can take an RV for the best vacation ever, traveling the byways of Montana in style. You will view alpine meadows and rugged mountain scenery. Pristine forests are filled with wildlife and lots of adventures for the whole family.

Begin your wilderness journey in West Glacier, MT, the western entrance to Glacier National Park. Explore the town and its historic past. It is the perfect beginning of a special Montana getaway. Stock up supplies for your trip across the Continental Divide and glorious views. West Glacier KOA is a perfect place to use as a home base for your RV vacation to Glacier.

You will take beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road through the park, with access to all the best sights. This road is 50 miles of incredible scenery. The road is open from June (or snowmelt) to around September or October. If you would rather not brave the high roads and twisting curves in an RV, you can park in West Glacier or St. Mary and take the shuttle system that Glacier National Park provides visitors. This is a comfortable way to view the park and all its wonders without worrying about driving or parking.

There are abundant activities for all ages in and around the park. Wildlife viewing is a favorite, with plenty of bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats and even bears. There are over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, so you simply must take advantage of the opportunity for a high-altitude hike. Once you get accustomed to the elevation, it will be easy to trek along the beautiful trails. The Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trail take you to a lovely mountain lake. Be aware that the trails are high and you must take care and not get too close to the edge. You will finally come to the lake and enjoy the marvelous waterfalls falling from the cliffs.

Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

If you love to fish, you will have plenty of places to throw in a line. You will find Avalanche Lake has some great fishing as well as wildlife wandering its shores. Hiking to the lake is half the fun. Hidden Lake is another lake requiring a hike to reach, taking a trail from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Find some really big trout here, up to twenty inches long.

The most common fish caught in Glacier Lakes include brook, bull and lake trout as well as Kokanee salmon. Try your luck at Bullhead Lake, at the foot of the Continental Divide. Get to Lake Josephine by hiking or boating across Swiftcurrent Lake. This backcountry lake is easy to reach, and will provide a great fishing experience. Mostly hikers come here so fishing pressure is light.

Once you reach the end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, you will be at St. Mary, the eastern entrance to the park. It is a wonderful place to say your goodbyes to Glacier National Park and start your trip home, plenty of incredible memories of your RV vacation etched into your memory.

Picture credits: The pictures of Avalanche Lake and Hidden Lake are by National Park Service staff.

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An Adventure to Grand Canyon in an RV

Picture of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Grand Canyon from the South Rim

An RV vacation to Grand Canyon turns your getaway into something special. You can visit Grand Canyon National Park many times in a lifetime and never run out of things to do and see. The breathtaking views are only the beginning of a journey of discovery.

The best way to plan your trip is to allow plenty of time, and simply arrive! You can stop at the different visitor centers to get important information on access, as well as sights you can put on your itinerary. Ensure you plan on going to both the South Rim and the North Rim so you can see all the park has to offer.

Enter the park via the East entrance, as this way you will be driving along the South Rim and have the opportunity to stop at numerous overlooks along the way. The Desert View Information Center is inside the entrance and here you can pick up a lot of information about the attractions within Grand Canyon National Park.

Three miles west of Desert View are the famous Tusayan Ruins (PDF), an inspiring spot where you can see how Pueblo Indians lived here more than 800 years ago. A ranger-led walk will provide you all the history of these ancient people. When you leave here in your RV and head for Grand Canyon Village, you will experience all the wonders available along Desert View Drive for the next 25 miles. Stop at every pullout. You will learn a lot about the canyon and see the red rock walls in all their glory.

Once you get to Grand Canyon Village, Canyon View Information Plaza on Mather Point is a great place to stop, with outdoor displays and rangers available to answer questions so you can find out more about what’s to come on your RV trip through the park.

From Grand Canyon Village, it’s easy to get to the Yavapai Observation Station where you can view the panoramic scene of the canyon from a glass-enclosed space. You will be able to pick out each layer and formation in the colorful canyon walls. Get some exercise by hiking from the point back to the visitor center then back again to get your RV. It’s an easy walk with additional views.

Just south of the Southern Entrance to the park you’ll find the National Geographic Visitor Center in Tusayan. Pick up additional tips on where to go and what to see. Take some time to see the interactive exhibits and watch the Grand Canyon IMAX movie. From here you can also make special forays on mules, helicopter tours and much more.

Back to Grand Canyon Village and a visit to the Hopi House. Shop here for gifts to take home. You are not far from the train depot and it’s always fun to ride the train to Williams, Arizona and back again. There is always a lot happening to make it a fun trip on Grand Canyon Railway.

Now it’s time to take off for the North Rim. Driving to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is simple, but can only be done in the summer months when Highway 67 and the North Rim are open. When you arrive, stop by the North Rim Visitor Center for maps and more information on what to see on this high rim.

To see a stunning view from a natural arch, walk out to Angels Window. It’s only about a half-mile walk, and gives you an incredible view of the canyon. Bring your camera as you won’t find many better places for photo opportunities. Dramatic views are also available at Bright Angel Point (PDF), a paved but somewhat steep trail in places taking you out to the point.

Drive out to Point Imperial, which is the highest overlook in the Grand Canyon. You can see as far as the Painted Desert from here. Head for Cape Royal, and when you get to Vista Encantada, you should stop and have a picnic overlooking Walhalla Plateau. More views await you at Cape Royal and some nice hiking trails. Head back to the North Rim Visitor Center and you can spend the night at the North Rim Campground, a great RV park with a 40-foot limit and great amenities.

Your RV vacation doesn’t have to end here. If you’ve allowed enough time, you have a lot more to see on both the North and South Rim. It’s bound to be a vacation of a lifetime!

Picture credits: The picture of the Grand Canyon is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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10 Most Visited National Park Service Properties

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, & Virginia
  2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California
  3. Gateway National Recreation Area, New York City, New York
  4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, & Tennessee
  5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia, Washington DC, & Maryland
  7. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, Alabama, & Tennessee
  8. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey & Pennsylvania
  9. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  10. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Source: Wikipedia quoting National Park Service sources

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The Way to Visit a National Park – In an RV!

Although it has not always been true, by 2009 the most popular way to stay overnight in a National Park is is in an RV (climbing from 4th place in 1979). According to National Park Service sources, the 3 most popular ways to stay overnight in a National Park as of 2009 were:

  1. RV Campers
  2. Tent Campers
  3. Lodges
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National Park Service / U.S. Forest Service

The National Park Service manages 392 properties of various designations. Most famous are the National Parks, but, majestic as they are, they only comprise 58 of the sites managed by the National Park Service. Following is a list of the various site designations managed by the Park Service with the number of sites listed in parenthesis.

  • National Historical Park, National Historic Site, and International Historic Site  (123)
  • National Monument  (74)
  • National Park  (58)
  • National Memorial  (28)
  • National Military Park, National Battlefield Park, National Battlefield Site, and National Battlefield  (24)
  • National Preserve and National Reserve  (20)
  • National Recreation Area  (18)
  • National River and National Wild and Scenic River and Riverway  (15)
  • Other Designations (White House, National Mall, etc.)  (11)
  • National Seashore  (10)
  • National Lakeshore  (4)
  • National Parkway  (4)
  • National Scenic Trail  (3)

In addition, the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture, administers public lands as well:

  • National Forests (155)
  • National Grasslands (20)

In total, they manage more than 278 million acres of public land.

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Wow! Free Entrance to America’s National Parks April 17-25!

National Park WeekRV camping at America’s National Parks is always a great way to spend a vacation. Now the National Park Service has made it even more affordable to enjoy the beauty of America by RV! During National Park Week, April 17-25, 2010, the normal entrance fee has been waived at all US National Parks.

This generous offer is part of an effort by the National Parks Service to encourage everyone to get to know our country’s National Parks, Monuments and Recreation Areas. During National Park Week, many NPS locations are holding special events to further capture the public’s interest. Considering there are 392 National Park locations, that’s a whole lot of vacation fun waiting to be experienced in April!

Doesn’t this sound like the perfect excuse to indulge in a quick National Park RV camping vacation? Check the NPS website at the links above for more details on special events during National Park Week at your favorite Park.

El Monte RV Rentals will be standing by, ready to help you find the perfect RV rental and plan your even-more-affordable National Park vacation.

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RV Camping Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River

Who would have guessed that a river full of outdoor activity could be found in the middle of a bustling Southern city? Atlanta, Georgia surrounds Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a National Parks site filled with possibilities for an RV vacation. Follow us down this lazy river to find out why Chattahoochee River NRA is such a favorite with RV campers.

What Can We Do?
One activity motorhome campers report you must do when you visit this Park is boating. Float trips available in lengths from one to twelve hours will challenge most kayaking, rafting and canoeing enthusiasts. Fifty-degree waters, complete with placid stretches and invigorating rapids, guarantee that boating enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy the ride.

Fishing is another reason motorhome vacationers flock to the Chattahoochee. Be sure to buy your Georgia fishing license, and then try your hand catching trout or catfish from a boat or from the riverbank. If you’re not a fan of fishing, spend some time getting to know the area’s abundant wildlife. Nature photographers will find plenty of subjects to shoot along this river.

Bowman’s Island (PDF), another popular section at Chattahoochee River NRA, is an ideal spot for a peaceful day on horseback. Numerous riding trails have been developed, and the scene is so secluded you’ll forget you’re within minutes of city streets. The Island is also a favorite place for hikers, who enjoy exploring the river’s beauty in this deep, green wonderland.

Whether you’re shooting the rapids in a kayak or strolling along riverbank trails, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area will fast become a place you visit often.

Where Should We Stay?
Since you’ve wisely chosen to save money, time and frustration by camping in an RV, you’re halfway to the perfect accommodations. All that’s left is to choose an Atlanta-area RV campground that suits your style.

Atlanta Marietta RV Resort is a lushly green motorhome campground just thirteen miles from Atlanta. Sleep among the dogwoods and pines and let yourself truly relax in this full service campground.

Another memorable RV campground in northwest Georgia is Banning Mills RV Park, where you can continue your outdoor adventures just forty-five minutes from Atlanta. Ride the zip line, hike the surrounding forests and thoroughly enjoy the natural beauty of Georgia.

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East Coast National Park RV Vacation Itineraries

Visiting the National Parks along America’s Eastern Coast is a wonderful way to embrace the region’s diverse beauty. Making the journey in the comfort and luxury of an RV brings a whole new level of pleasure to the trip. Whether you’re very familiar with the area or brand new to the East Coast, there are surprises waiting in its National Parks. Here are two different itineraries for an East Coast National Park RV vacation.

Fort Sumter Cannon

Fort Sumter Cannon

Itinerary #1: South Carolina to Virginia
Point 1 – Fort Sumter-South Carolina: South Carolina is an ideal starting point for anyone interested in the Civil War, since Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor is where it all began. Park your RV at Patriot Point and take the ferry out to the Fort. Ranger-guided tours at both Fort Sumter and nearby Fort Moultrie will enhance your step back into Civil War history.

Point 2 – Charles Pinckney National Historic Site: This charming lowcountry plantation was the home of Charles Pinckney, an author and signer of the US Constitution and, later, a US Representative. Interpretive programs teach visitors not only about Pinckney’s contribution to history, but also about the daily lives of slaves in pre-Civil War America. Before you leave South Carolina, rest for the night at award-winning Lakewood Campground in Myrtle Beach.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Point 3 – Cape Lookout National Seashore-North Carolina: Follow the Atlantic Coast and visit Cape Lookout National Seashore near Beaufort, North Carolina. Be sure to take the short boat trip out to the barrier islands, where wild horses roam and the Cape’s historic lighthouse stands guard.

Point 4 – NPS Outer Banks Group: The National Parks Service also manages the Outer Banks Group, including Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in North Carolina. Explore the barrier islands at Cape Hatteras, learn about the first English settlement in America at Fort Raleigh and climb Kill Devil Hill, where the Wright brothers tested their dreams with gliders. Camp Hatteras RV Resort at Rodanthe, NC allows you to experience RV camping in breathtaking surroundings.

Point 5 – Colonial National Historical Park-Virginia: Southern Virginia’s coastal memorial, Colonial National Historical Park, is rich with nearly two hundred years of historical significance. This site encompasses Historic Jamestowne, the Revolutionary War Yorktown Battlefield and Cape Henry, where the Jamestown settlers first landed in 1607.

Once you’ve mined the historical riches of this Park, you have a decision to make. You can either head up the coastline to Washington’s Birthplace and Assateague National Seashore in Northern Virginia, with a stop at Manassas, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefields, or take the inland route. Here’s a link to a map and details for the coastal route at the National Park Service website.

If you choose the inland route, head across Central Virginia to Petersburg National Battlefield, Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park and the Booker T. Washington National Monument. You might also want to indulge your senses by driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in western Virginia and North Carolina before you head back home. The National Park Service website for Virginia has all the details you need to plan this leg of your trip.

Itinerary #2: Maryland and Washington DC
There are literally so many National Parks Service locations in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia that you should plan to spend an entire vacation here. This NPS Maryland web page shows you what’s available to explore. Consider traveling to Antietam National Battlefield, wonderfully scenic Chesapeake Bay Gateways, and Fort Washington, at the very least.

And no one should live in the US without visiting the unforgettable abundance of memorials, museums and monuments in our nation’s capitol at least once. Enjoy a stay at Cherry Hill Park RV Resort in College Park, MD, where you’ll find DC Metro transportation or a Gray Line Tour to the Washington, DC monuments easily available.

America’s Atlantic Coast is unforgettable because of its rich ecological diversity, its place in our country’s foundations and the care that’s been taken by the National Parks Service to preserve both. Walk the sands of a barrier island, stand in awe at the sacrifice played out on a battlefield and let go of modern-day anxiety with a visit to an historic farm. It’s all there waiting for RV travelers at America’s East Coast National Parks.

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