4 Southwest Travel Gems

Owning an recreational vehicle is the greatest way to explore all of the natural beauty, unique architecture, and diverse culture that exists throughout this magnificent world of ours. It’s a freedom unlike anything other, providing you and your family with countless opportunities for learning and growth.

Still, after several years of traveling, it can be difficult to branch out and identify new roads you’ve yet to discover. That’s why Vogel Talks RVing is posting a series of blog articles—each one focusing on a different region or state.

In today’s post we’ll focus on four favorite “lesser-known” travel locations in the Southwest including recommended RV parks. All selected parks have been personally visited.

Mesilla, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesilla, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesilla, New Mexico

No visit to Las Cruces is complete without a stroll through Old Mesilla. This little town, just two miles southwest of Las Cruces, is steeped in history. Mesilla (“Little Tableland”) is the best-known and most visited historical community in Southern New Mexico.

Mesilla is a small town by today’s standards but 150 years ago it was the largest city between San Antonio and San Diego. Mesilla hasn’t changed much over the years, allowing visitors to see what an 1800s border town looked like.

Stroll the streets Billy-the-Kid and Pancho Villa once walked, check out the shops and find unique Southwestern gifts. Step inside one of the most historical cantinas in the area, El Patio.

Where to Stay: Sunny Acres RV Park or Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces

Oatman, Arizona

Oatman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oatman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once a gold-mining boomtown, Oatman hunkers in a craggy gulch of the Black Mountains, 28 miles southwest of Kingman along Historic Route 66. Though Oatman is only a shadow of its former self, it is well worth a visit to this living ghost town that provides, not only a handful of historic buildings and photo opportunities, but costumed gunfighters and 1890s style ladies strolling the wooden sidewalks, as well as the sights of burros walking the streets.

Burros from the surrounding hills wander into Oatman daily and mosey around town blocking traffic, greeting visitors, and chomping carrots sold by the shop owners.

Where to Stay: Blake Ranch RV, Kingman

Located 16 miles east of Kingman along I-40 (Exit 66), Blake Ranch offers “the best darn place to park your rig” with plenty of long pull-through full-service sites.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The colorful rock layers of northeastern Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park form a visual display of eroded badlands, dating to the Triassic. Petrified Forest is known for its treasure trove of fossilized logs, exposed after eons of erosion by wind and water.

The park is composed of two sections: the north section is a colorful badlands called the Painted Desert, and the southern section contains most of the petrified wood. The park consists of a 28-mile road that offers numerous overlooks and winds through the mesas and wilderness.

Where to Stay: OK RV Park, Holbrook

Located 26 miles west of the park along I-40, OK RV Park has easy-in, easy-out large gravel pull-through sites suitable for big rigs. Each site has full hookups with 30/50-amp electric service, cable TV, and Wi-Fi. The park also features a laundry room, clubhouse, and clean, modern restrooms.

Madera Canyon, Arizona

Madera Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Madera Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the northwest face of the Santa Rita Mountains, one of southeast Arizona’s forested Sky Islands, the cool refuge of Madera Canyon is just 25 miles south of Tucson. Madera Canyon, with active springs and a seasonal creek, is a lush oasis supporting an amazing diversity of life zones. Hiking trails vary from paved, handicap-accessible nature trails, and gentle walking paths in the lower canyon, to steep, expert trails leading to the top of 9,453-foot Mt. Wrightson.

The challenging and popular Old Baldy Trail, a 10-mile trek (round trip) leads to the summit and climbs more than 4,000 vertical feet topping out on a most spectacular summits.

Where to Stay: Tucson Lazydays KOA or Mission View RV Resort, Tucson

Worth Pondering…

America is laced with nooks and crannies, good places that go undiscovered by many mainstream travelers.

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