Why RV Parks MUST Deliver Reliable Wi-Fi

RVers will tolerate many irritations and inconveniences: Interstate or train noise, overcrowded sites, inconvenient placement of city utilities, poor voltage, low water pressure, GPS misdirection and more.

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
We found the Wi-Fi service as promised or better at American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, inadequate or inconsistent Wi-Fi and I’m outta there and looking for another campground or RV park.

A study commissioned by Broadcom amusingly found that 75 percent of people say one week without Wi-Fi would leave them grumpier than one week without coffee.

Not surprising since Pew Internet Research says that 90 percent of people have a mobile device in reach 100 percent of the time and Deloitte tells us that Wi-Fi has become the medium of choice with two-thirds of US consumers preferring Wi-Fi to cellular.

These numbers are backed up by a the 2015 North American Camping Report, an independent study commissioned by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).

Today’s campers are more “plugged in” when preparing for camping trips and while at campsites. Of those surveyed, half of all campers (51 percent) claim that they go online at least once a day while camping, and four out of 10 (41 percent) say that having free Wi-Fi influences their decision to stay at a campground.

When selecting which campgrounds to visit and stay, free Wi-Fi ranks as the third most important amenity, behind only clean bathrooms and a kid-friendly environment, and outpaces access to recreational activities such as a campground store, cabins, and even safety lighting.

Arizona Oasis RV Resort, Ehrenburg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
We found the Wi-Fi service as promised or better at Arizona Oasis RV Resort, Ehrenburg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s no surprise then that the importance of adequate, functional, honestly portrayed Wi-Fi is becoming a highly discussed topic amongst consumers.

When a campground or RV park advertises free Wi-Fi, they should provide travelers with a fast and reliable connection. RVers want fast Wi-Fi for entertainment purposes and for keeping in touch with family and friends.

While there are a number of factors that affect speed and performance, some that simply cannot be helped, the consumer most certainly has an expectation, the one that’s been set by the RV park. When a display ad, listing, website, or telephone representative tells an RVer that Wi-Fi is available it is expected to function adequately. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi reality often times does not live up to the promise.

The key point here is campgrounds and RV parks need to set realistic expectations and deliver as promised. They need to be honest, clear, and upfront with the RVing public.

Whether the Wi-Fi service is a hotspot at the clubhouse, free, offers tiered pricing levels, or is pay to play, say so. If the park’s bandwidth is limited guests should be told up-front.

If Wi-Fi service is frequently down and consumers may experience disruptions campgrounds need to consider a fix and avoid promoting it. It is a mistake for an RV park to set them self up to disappoint their guests and create ill will.

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
We found the Wi-Fi service as promised or better at Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV park management must think of Wi-Fi as a utility. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Wi-Fi is one of— if not the— first questions I ask when contacting a campground. It’s right up there with 50-amp electric service, city water, and sewer. Connectivity is no longer a nicety but for many of us RVers, it is a deal maker or breaker.

High-end, 5-star RV resorts that advertize an outdoor vacation on par with other vacation options, must deliver the same expectations as if the family chose to stay at the Hilton, go to Disney, or take an urban vacation. That’s their competition and they are delivering on Wi-Fi as a utility, tweaking as needed and adjusting their pricing plans based upon consumer feedback (outrage may be more like it).

It’s all about RV parks listening to their customers and figuring out a way to deliver what we ask for, be it a splash park and spa, 50-amp powered sites, or fast, reliable Wi-Fi.

Set high standards and realistic expectations and live up to them. In my humble opinion, that is one of the key ways RV parks and campgrounds can lift the perceptions of the experiences they sell.

To compete with other vacation/lodging options park management must deliver.

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort near Kerrville, Texas . © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
We found the Wi-Fi service as promised or better at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort near Kerrville, Texas . © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
—Theodore Roosevelt

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Most Popular US Campgrounds

Campgrounds and RV parks are great places to enjoy hiking, bikingboating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Triple Blaze infographic of the most popular campground in each of the United States.
Triple Blaze infographic of the most popular campground in each of the United States.

The most popular campgrounds and RV parks in the United States and Canada are usually located in areas of natural beauty or popular attractions.

According to the bloggers at Triple Blaze these campgrounds are often located at or near national parks or state parks.

Based on reviews by campers the most popular campground in California is Yosemite National Park while Glacier National Park and Bandelier National Park are most popular for campers in Montana and New Mexico respectively.

Every year, America’s nearly 8,000 state parks see more than 720 million visitors—more than two-and-a-half times the number of all visits to national parks, which include marquee names such as Zion, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon.

State parks are number one in camping popularity in numerous states including:

  • Washington: Crow Butte State Park
  • Utah: Jordanelle State Park
  • Louisiana: Fontainebleau State Park
  • Georgia: Red Top Mountain State Park
  • South Carolina: Edisto Beach State Park
  • Indiana: Indian Lake State Park
  • Michigan: Ludington State Park
  • Iowa: Lake Mcbride State Park
  • Kansas: Ponoma State Park
  • Delaware: Delaware Seashore State Park
A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While these camping sites and other campgrounds listed in the Triple Blaze infographic are deemed by many campers as the most popular in their respective state, numerous other special RV parks and resorts are situated in some of the most attractive destinations in the US and Canada. These campgrounds with a view offer outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation including birdinghiking, biking, fishing, and boating.

Vogel Talks RVing selected the following top RV parks from parks personally visited.

Moab is known as Utah’s adventure capital, offering activities such as biking the Slickrock Trail, off-road routes, rafting down the Colorado River, and hiking to Delicate Arch, Utah’s famous icon. Enjoy the breathtaking natural surroundings of Moab at OK RV Park. The park provides easy access to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. From scenic parks to adventure, Moab offers something for everyone.

A+ Motel & RV Park is centrally located in Cajun Country near Calcasieu “Big” Lake and other great fishing, hunting, and birding destinations and the Creole Nature Trail All American Road.

JGW RV Park, Redding, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
JGW RV Park, Redding, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Family-owned JGW RV Park welcomes RVers to enjoy its 32-acre facility nestled among the native black oak trees along the scenic Sacramento River. The park has a grassy, natural setting for viewing birds and wildlife and for strolling along the riverbank. You can also fish for steelhead, trout, and salmon.

A wonderland of scenic beauty and outdoor recreation, the Redding area offers unique experiences that include glistening lakes and world-class rivers to scenic drives and backcountry roads. Vibrant attractions include Lassen Volcanic National Park, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and the Sundial Bridge, a Redding icon.

Wake up to a breathtaking sunrise; wind up the day with a spectacular sunset at the Van Horn KOA, set in a beautiful desert valley surrounded by mountains. This country setting, landscaped with native plants that attract wildlife, is filled with the sounds of birds. Visit Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns national parks, Fort Davis and the town of Marfa, whose “Ghost Lights” have defied explanation since 1883. The full-service KOA Cafe can deliver a Texas dinner to your campsite.

Van Horn KOA, Van Horn, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Van Horn KOA, Van Horn, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy the Old West in and around Angel Lake RV Park in Wells, Nevada. Some of the least known, pristine outdoor recreation areas in the West is all easily accessible. Deer, antelope, and other big game populate the surrounding back country. Anglers will find nearby lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and streams much to their liking. Angel Lake, tucked into the East Humboldt mountain range, is a particular favorite for its fish and striking 8,400 foot scenery.

Worth Pondering…

May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view……where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.

—Edward Abbey

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts Near Popular Travel Regions & Cities

These RV Parks stand out for their close proximity to popular travel regions and cities from Las Vegas to the Space Coast and Santa Fe to Boston.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled on the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains looking out upon the vast Rio Grande Valley, the City of Santa Fe has stood for nearly four hundred years underneath beautiful blue New Mexico skies. Santa Fe Skies RV park is located just south of the city on the top of a hill. Enjoy the wonders of the nation’s oldest capital city, take in the spectacular beauty of the region, and the beautiful panoramic view of the Santa Fe area with unobstructed sunrise and sunset views from the Turquoise Trail.

Nestled Between Cape Cod and Boston, Normandy Farms is located just 30 miles from Boston where you can walk the Freedom Trail viewing unique historical sites and just 50 miles from Cape Cod where you can enjoy the salty air and the area’s unique flavor. The resort is also just 5 miles from Patriot Place and the Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Not to mention a short distance from Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, a commute made even easier by public transportation.

Just five miles from downtown, Austin Lone Star RV Resort provides 158 spacious, tree-shaded sites complete with full hook-ups, complimentary cable TV, and wireless internet. Local attractions include Texas State Capitol, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Zilker Park, Austin Children’s Museum, Austin Museum of Art, and Lake Travis.

The closest RV park to Capitol Reef National Park, Wonderland RV Park is located in Torrey at the junction of Scenic Byway 24 and All American Highway 12, just 3 miles from Capitol Reef. Big RV sites feature 75-foot x 26-foot pull-through and 60-foot x 31-foot back-in sites, full hook-ups with 30/50-amp electrical service.

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A southern Arizona desert oasis, Tucson/Lazydays KOA offers 65-foot pull through sites with full 30/50-amp hookups. Tucson is a city of unique and interesting places to explore including the Barrio Historico, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air and Space Museum, Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Catalina State Park, Tohono Chul Park, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona State Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac (“The White Dove of the Desert”), Titan Missile Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Biosphere 2, and Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Las Vegas RV Resort is a 398-site RV Resort with a great location just minutes from the action of The Strip. Subject to a stunning mountain view, staying at Las Vegas RV Resort comes with 5-star amenities and luxurious facilities. Las Vegas RV Resort is a premier RV Resort offering great value.

Lazydays RV Resort offers 300 sites with full utility hookups, entertainment, breakfast and lunch in The Front Porch Restaurant, sports facilities, complimentary morning coffee and newspaper, and much more. Close proximity to the Tampa Bay area and Orlando attractions and events ensure there is always something going on. Whether the goal is to relax and unwind, or explore the area attractions, Lazydays RV Resort offers the complete RV campground package.

Located in historic and beautiful Albuquerque, American RV Park is conveniently located to downtown Albuquerque and makes the perfect Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta camping location. Attractions of note include Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Old Town Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument, Sandia Peak Ariel Tramway, Turquoise Trail, and Rio Grande Nature Center.

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Williams, Arizona, is an extraordinary way to enjoy Grand Canyon National Park. With only an hour’s travel time to the Grand Canyon, you can stop in Williams for breakfast at a Route 66 corner café, grab your souvenirs, hop on a train, visit a wildlife park, take a hike, grab a pole and head out fishing, or simply stroll the streets before your drive to the Canyon. Canyon Gateway RV Park is set atop a hill just minutes away from the famous Grand Canyon Railroad Station.

Vogel Talks RVing selected the list of top campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts from parks personally visited.

American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Austin Lone Star RV Resort, Austin, Texas

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington

Crystal Lake RV Park, Mims, Florida

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lazydays RV Resort, Seffner, Florida

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro, Massachusetts

Pony Express RV Park, North Salt Lake City, Utah

Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Tucson/Lazydays KOA, Tucson, Arizona

Wonderland Resort RV Park, Torrey, Utah

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

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What Do Campers Want?

Families are camping mostly for recreation and are taking camping trips to spend quality time together as well as engaging their kids in outdoor activities.

Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to a recent survey conducted by Aramark’s leisure division, a food and hospitality partner for national and state parks, 56 percent of the respondents camp with children under the age of 18.

Being intimate with nature and enjoying outdoor recreation is a huge impetus to planned camping trips.

In releasing the survey results, Aramark said 76 percent of survey respondents placed a high value on proximity to hiking and biking trails and 83 percent valued water recreation. Thus, camping in national and state parks is an ideal way to ensure plenty of scenery and access to outdoor activities.

In addition to the importance of outdoor recreation, other things families often consider when selecting a campground include:

Amenities: While some enjoy traditional camping in tents with limited amenities, others are evolving with more modern tastes, placing a large importance on the availability of retail stores, showers, bathrooms, washers and driers, free Wi-Fi, or even zip lines and heated pools.

Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Proximity to Recreation: Many campers take part in activities such as boating, fishing, ATV riding, and mountain biking.

Safety: While camping is meant to be stress-free, safety should always be considered when selecting a site or area. For example, the presence of animals, falling rocks, troublesome plants such as poison ivy, or an area that is a target for lightening are all things families think about when planning a trip.

Scenery: Since being outdoors is the main reason families enjoy camping, selecting a scenic location can make it that much more enjoyable. Properties around lakes, mountains, or colorful trails are desired locations for camping excursions.

Proximity to Water: Although some don’t mind dry sites and they tend to be more secluded and quiet, it is important to consider how far away the site is from a water source. Being close to water is helpful for cooking as well as providing fresh water for drinking.

Destinations and Cultural Attractions Managed by Aramark

Almost 22,000 campgrounds exist across the United States. Below are examples of sites with a large variety of outdoor recreation making for great options for family vacations:

Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona, Utah: Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Bullfrog RV Park & Campground, Halls Crossing RV Park & Campground, Hite RV Park & Campground

Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: Morefield Campground, Fairview Lodge

Lake Tahoe Basin National Forest, Nevada: Zephyr Cove RV Park & Campground

Olympic National Park, Washington: Log Cabin Resort Campground, RV Park at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

Olympic National Forest, Washington: Lake Quinault Lodge

Details

Aramark’s Leisure Division

Aramark’s Leisure division delivers authentic and memorable experiences at national and state parks, national forests, conference centers, specialty hotels, museums, and other tourist destinations throughout the United States.

In partnership with its clients, Aramark seeks to enhance the guest experience by offering industry-leading hospitality, environmental stewardship, recreational and interpretive programs.

Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Address: 2850 E. Camelback Road, Suite 240, Phoenix, AZ  85016

Phone: (602) 331-5200

Website: www.aramarkleisure.com

Worth Pondering…

Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes — every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.

—Orison Swett Marden

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Accessing The Internet From Your RVing

Hitting the open road is an American dream. But doing it in an RV means that you can bring all your amenities with you including your desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet computer, e-reader, and smartphones.

Wi-FiThere are three main ways to access the internet while on the road: Satellite connection, wireless service, and Wi-Fi.

Satellite Connection

Through the use of a satellite dish your RV uploads and downloads data. This service tends to be more expensive and equipment heavy than other options.

Wireless Internet

Cell phone carriers offer wireless Internet services designed specifically for the laptop. Most services in this category are based on cellular technology.

Through the use of a MIFI “Mobile WIFI” stand alone device or a smartphone, the device becomes a wireless connection device that uses wireless towers to send and receive data. Recently plans are the cheapest they have ever been and they are pretty reliable.

Your service relies heavily on coverage and the quality of the network you choose to use. The two most common hotspot recommendations are Verizon and AT&T. We prefer Verizon because they have the best nationwide coverage. Be sure to review the coverage map before buying to make sure service is available at your travel destinations.

Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi )

Wireless Fidelity (or WiFi) is a technical term for the wireless network cards in laptop computers.

Most RV park directories including the Good Sam Travel & Savings Guide indicate when Wi-Fi is available.

wi-fiimagesWiFi is the technology that links your laptop to a provider using two-way radio signals, and the provider further connects you to the Internet. The actual speed at which you browse the Internet depends on several factors including the connection speed between your computer and the WiFi receiver and between the WiFi receiver and the Internet.

WiFi has a very limited range. An area within range of the WiFi signal is called a hotspot.

Be aware that if an RV park offers Wi-Fi Internet access, you may not be able to access the network from all sites in the campground, so ask when you make the reservation or check in.

Many RV parks offer Wi-Fi free and others charge a fee for service, in some cases through a Wi-Fi provider. Daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal rates are normally available.

RV park and campground managers are beginning to think of Wi-Fi as the fourth utility that RV parks offer consumers after electricity, water, and sewer. A service that was once considered a perk is quickly becoming an expectation for most, if not all, RVers.

Just a few years ago, 50-amp electric moved from a “nice to have” to an essential service to some degree at any 21st century park. As difficult as it has been for some parks to upgrade, for the most part successful parks have accomplished it. So it will be with Wi-Fi.

Campers demand a connection and if they have to pay an additional fee, it better be good. Following these demands, RV parks are adapting in a variety of ways. Access is no longer a ‘want’; it has become a ‘need’.

Missouri-wi-fi-for-web-smallToday’s RVer expects to be able to get online, quickly, easily, and reliably.

When I’m in an RV park Internet access is a true need. I use it for everything from this website, to buying goods and services, entertainment, and interacting with family and friends.

Wi-Fi or other internet access at each site whether free or a paid service is, I consider to already be an essential utility in a campground or RV park. Park owners must figure out how to deliver this service regardless of difficulty.

One of the first questions I ask prior to making a campground reservation relates to Internet availability: “Do you have Wi-Fi and is it available from each RV site?”

My reservation is contingent on whether the RV park has reliable Wi-Fi available at the site.

I’ve stayed in campgrounds that didn’t provide adequate Wi-Fi connectivity as promised, where the Wi-Fi network was as good as none. Being told that I can come to the office or sit on a picnic table outside of the office and use it, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

A growing number of RVers expect the campground to deliver reliable online access and will choose not to stay in a park unable to provide it.

Worth Pondering…

What’s the Wi-Fi password?

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Selecting the Perfect RV Park

RV travel is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to travel.

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino at Redding, California,
RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino at Corning, California, is a great travel stop on I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

But finding the perfect spot to park your recreational vehicle can be a frustrating experience—especially if you want a spectacular view along with all the amenities of a full service RV resort.

Choices for RV parks and campgrounds include luxurious RV resorts, activity-filled family destinations, 55+ parks, secluded natural settings, and basic parks conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices also run the gamut.

Just what makes an RVer conclude that this is a campground that surely deserves a return visit, a park that meets both short-term and long-term needs?

First Impressions

What happens when you first walk into the office? Are you greeted warmly and treated in a friendly manner? Are the office staff approachable, friendly, and helpful?

The importance of first impression simply cannot be overstated. Once you’re all signed in, have your park map in hand, and headed to your site, you begin seeing this new and unfamiliar park through either the lens of a good feeling, which tends to make everything look just a bit better; or through the more critical lens of a less-than-welcome feeling derived from the sign-in process. You will begin to see the park in either a more or less favorable light.

Orange Groove RV Park, off US-99 in Bakersfield
Orange Groove RV Park, off US-99 in Bakersfield is a perfect spot for both short-term and long-term stays. It’s a 40-acre orchard where you park your RV between row after row of beautiful orange trees. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Site spacing

As a general rule are sites spacious enough to accommodate any size RV.

Is there sufficient space? Is the site long enough for your RV and toad/tow vehicle?

Do the sites offer a sufficient feeling of space? Is there ample room on either side of the RV for that pleasant feeling of light and air? Or do the sites look more suitable for RV storage?

If the park design has resulted in sites which preclude any sense of privacy because of an unacceptable spacing, it’s not very likely we’ll stay for more than one night. And surely not again on a return trip. With the increased size of RVs, a park which is not designed to accommodate at least some big rigs and units with full wall slides is ensuring a diminishing clientele over time.

Site landscaping

After settling into Flag City RV Resort, a 5-star RV park, we started our seven-day tour. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Flag City RV Resort, a 5-star RV park at Lodi (California) is conveniently located near the Lodi wine country and the Sacramento River Delta. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Individual site landscaping is really an element of overall park design. We find parks which show a bit of imagination in avoiding the “parking lot look” to be much more pleasant in overall appearance.

The availability of spacious common areas such as a large grassy field, a woodsy space with trails, or a stretch of beach also contributes to a pleasant environment.

Is the site to which you’ve just been assigned aesthetically pleasing?

Is the site reasonably level? Are there low-hanging branches?

If having satellite TV is important to you, then look for an unobstructed view of the southern sky. Remember that the tradeoff of no trees may mean no shade.

Amenities

Our needs and requirements in an RV park vary depending on length of stay. If overnighting few, if any, amenities are required though we desire to have a minimum of 30-amp electric service and water. The longer we plan to stay at a campground, the pickier we become.

Are the campsite utilities in a convenient central location?

Is there cable TV? Additional fee? Availability and clarity of channels? Available at all sites?

The Cajun Palms RV Resort (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana) swimming pool contains a big plastic pirate ship for children to board and a gigantic purple-and-green dragon stretched across the middle of the water.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Cajun Palms RV Resort (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana) swimming pool contains a big plastic pirate ship for children to board and a gigantic purple-and-green dragon stretched across the middle of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Availability of Wi-Fi and location of towers? Is there an additional fee or required log-in password?

Availability and cleanliness of restroom and shower facilities? Additional fee for showers?

Contact the RV Park

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are RV parks throughout the country to meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

To help avoid unpleasant surprises contact the campground and ask specific questions about their policies and their park. Questions to ask include rental rates (nightly, weekly, monthly per your needs), availability of Wi-Fi and cable TV, park’s amenities, and pet policy.

Is the park big-rig friendly? Length and width of sites? Are sites relatively level? Do the sites have concrete pads, grass, gravel, or dirt? Will I have difficulty obtaining a satellite TV signal?

Worth Pondering…

Never stay at an RV park that charges ten dollars and is run by a man with more tattoos than teeth.

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RVing in Europe

If you enjoy the RV lifestyle, RVing is a fun way to travel in Europe.

RVing in Europe
RVing in Europe (Source: camperissimo.de)

Most RV enthusiasts rent or purchase their RVs in Europe. When renting an RV for your European vacation, consider the type of vehicle you are paying for and where you plan to travel and camp. Most companies offer campervans and motorhomes for rent in various sizes.

Study the rules of the road. Do this for each country you plan to drive through and learn about any extra rules for driving a motorhome. For instance, in England you drive on the left side of the road. Keep in mind that some smaller towns or villages have very narrow roads that cannot accommodate larger motorhomes.

To locate campgrounds that fit your needs, obtain a comprehensive guidebook or search websites such as eurocampings.co.uk. These resources will give you an idea of the location, cost, and amenities of campgrounds across Europe.

Motorhome rental involves two key decisions: Who to rent from and what type of vehicle. Before you book a rental, do your homework. This is a big decision and requires time and effort to do your research.

When comparing rental quotes, be sure you compare apples to apples. There are variations of rental policies, rental company reputations, rental motorhome age, quality, and specifications. Variations exist between motorhome rental companies in terms of inclusions and optional extras and specials.

Obtain answers to the following questions:

  • Is there a minimum or maximum rental period?
  • What supplies are included—kitchen, linens, camping table, etc?
  • Is there unlimited mileage?
  • Is VAT included?
  • Can you take the vehicle to all the countries you intend to visit?
  • How will you get to the rental facility from the airport?
  • Can you drop off at a different location and are there additional fees?

europe IMG_6471_2_3_fused-2And now, what type of motorhome to rent? Consider the following factors:

  • Your budget
  • Amount of space you require to sleep comfortably, sit at the table, prepare meals, get dressed, and store your stuff
  • Your need for a toilet and shower on board
  • Appliances your require, e.g., microwave, electric coffeemaker, TV
  • Length of time you will travel
  • Type of travel, e.g., will you be on the move most of the time, or will you stay put in a campground for days or weeks at a time (This may impact how you think about the trade-offs between cost, comfort, and navigability)

There are numerous reliable companies from which you can rent an RV.

A good place to start is Ideamerge.com for obtaining a quote and to learn about renting a campervan or motorhome in Europe. Here you’ll learn that motorhome hire in Germany is considerably cheaper than elsewhere in Europe. Add to this its central European location and a leading international airport at Frankfurt. Indeed, you should strongly consider starting and ending your RV tour of Europe in Germany—even if the bulk of your travels lies elsewhere in Europe.

RVing in Europe
RVing in Europe (Source: visitscotland.com)

Ideamerge arranges motorhome hire tours of the more extended parts of Europe including Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Greece, as well as neighboring France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal.

Motorhomesworldwide.com is a large booking site that handles rentals in over 35 countries around the world.

With 50 rental stations, Mcrent.eu is Europe’s largest motorhome rental company. You can find a McRent motorhome rental in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, and Iceland. This vendor also sources to other rental companies including Ideamerge.

For a carefree all-inclusive European motorhome tour consider rvtoureurope.com. You travel in small groups caravan style. Your hosts stay with the group and are available for you throughout the entire tour. Only the best campgrounds are selected. You also have the option of going on your own.

Start planning your 2015 Europe RV dream vacation now.

Worth Pondering…

The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.

—Marie de Vichy-Chamrond

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts in Areas of Natural Beauty

These special RV parks and resorts are situated in areas of natural beauty in the U.S. and Canada. These campgrounds with a view, from Utah to South Carolina and British Columbia to Texas, are the perfect spots to park an RV.

Blake Ranch RV Park, Kingman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Blake Ranch RV Park , Kingman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moab is known as Utah’s adventure capitol, offering activities such as biking the Slickrock Trail, off-road routes, rafting down the Colorado River, and hiking to Delicate Arch, Utah’s famous icon. Enjoy the breathtaking natural surroundings of Moab at OK RV Park. The park provides easy access to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. From scenic parks to adventure, Moab offers something for everyone.

Located 12 miles east of Kingman, Blake Ranch RV Park offers the best darn place to park your rig in northwestern Arizona, with all the conveniences RVers expect. There’s plenty to see and do in the area. Drive the twisted ribbon of pavement along the storied Route 66 to the historic town of Oatman, a favorite Arizona road trip. Additionally the ghost town of Chloride is an easy day trip.

The mountains and lakes around Kingman offer numerous recreational opportunities. Fourteen miles southeast of Kingman is beautiful Hualapai Mountain Park at an elevation of 6,700 feet. The shoreline on the Colorado River provide opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and other water sports. Grand Canyon West is home to Arizona’s second largest tourist attraction, Grand Canyon Skywalk, an easy day trip from the park.

JGW RV Park, Redding, California
JGW RV Park, Redding, California

Family-owned JGW RV Park welcomes RVers to enjoy its 32-acre facility nestled among the native black oak trees along the scenic Sacramento River. The park has a grassy, natural setting for viewing birds and wildlife and for strolling along the riverbank. You can also fish for steelhead, trout, and salmon.

A wonderland of scenic beauty and outdoor recreation, the Redding area offers unique experiences that include glistening lakes and world-class rivers to scenic drives and backcountry roads. Vibrant attractions include Lassen Volcanic National Park, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and the Sundial Bridge, a Redding icon.

OK RV Park makes a great home base for touring Petrified Forest National Park. Located 26 miles west of Petrified Forest National Park along I-40, OK RV Park in Holbrook 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.

Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort is just a quarter of a mile from the entrance to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, which contains the largest lake in New Mexico. The resort is the perfect staging location for planning activities and outings for Spaceport America, Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and nearby ghost towns.

A 55-minute scenic drive from the world famous Las Vegas Strip and just 45 minutes to Furnace Creek at the heart of Death Valley National Park, Wine Ridge RV Resort and Cottages is nestled on a ridge below the majestic Spring Mountain range and Charleston Peak. The Resort includes the pristine vineyards and winery of the award winning Pahrump Valley Winery and 5-star Symphony’s Restaurant.

OK RV Park, Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
OK RV Park, Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vogel Talks RVing selected the list of top campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts from parks personally visited.

Blake Ranch RV Park , Kingman, Arizona

Bridgeview RV Park, Lethbridge, Alberta

Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort, Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Interstate RV Park, Davenport, Iowa

iRVin’s RV Park & Campground, Valemont, British Columbia

JGW RV Park, Redding, California

Lincoln Road RV Park, Helena, Montana

Whiskey Flats RV Park, Hawthorne, Nevada  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Whiskey Flats RV Park, Hawthorne, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mom & Pop RV Park, Farmington, New Mexico

New Green Acres RV Park, Walterboro, South Carolina

OK RV Park, Moab, Utah

OK RV Park, Holbrook, Arizona

RV Park USA, Comfort, Texas

Spartanburg/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina

Whiskey Flats RV Park, Hawthorne, Nevada

Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages, Pahrump, Nevada  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages, Pahrump, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages, Pahrump, Nevada

Worth Pondering…

May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view……where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.

—Edward Abbey

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RV Parks As Base Camps For Annual Events

RV parks and campgrounds are great places to enjoy hiking, biking, boating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Shipshewana, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Shipshewana, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With RV and tent sites as well as a wide range of accommodations, campgrounds can also serve as base camps for those interested in attending festivals and annual events throughout the U.S and Canada. These annual events range from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary events.

Following is a sampling of the festivals and annual events that take place during the coming weeks and months, along with listings of nearby attractions and campgrounds and RV parks, many of which also have rental accommodations.

All parks included have been personally visited with a minimum of one night of paid camping.

Indiana: Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Shipshewana, May 5-October 3, 2015

What started out as a home business in 1922 is now the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market with nearly 900 vendors covering 100 acres and offering a variety of products from fresh produce and beautiful flowers to locally crafted items and handcrafted furniture. Held every Tuesday and Wednesday from early May to early October. The sights, smells, and sounds contribute to a unique experience the whole family will enjoy, remember, and want to repeat!

Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwesr Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake near the Northwesr Entrance Station. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This small community comes alive with travelers from all over to visit this “do not miss” Hoosier tradition.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Menno-Hof, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Amish Acres, RV/MH Hall of Fame

Recommended RV Park: Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana

California: Redding Rodeo Championship Challenge, Redding, May 13-16, 2015

This rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Nearby Attractions: Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Whiskeytown Lake

Recommended RV Park: JGW RV Park, Redding

California: Lodi, ZinFest Wine Festival, May 15-17, 2015

There are over 80 wineries, hundreds of Lodi-labeled wines, and approximately 100,000 acres of premium wine grapes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
There are over 80 wineries, hundreds of Lodi-labeled wines, and approximately 100,000 acres of premium wine grapes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine, food, and fun at the north side of Lodi Lake Park. Sip, swirl, and savor from a selection of 200 handcrafted wines from over 40 Lodi wineries at the 11th annual ZinFest.

Nearby Attractions: Wine Tasting, Historic Downtown Lodi, Galt Outdoor Market, Sacramento River Delta
Recommended RV Park: Flag City RV Resort, Lodi

Indiana: Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail, Amish Country, May 30-October 1, 2015

One million blooms of flowers come to life each year in the form of 19 dazzling quilt-patterned gardens and are featured with 21 art inspired quilt-themed murals.

Located in the communities of Bristol, Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, Shipshewana, and Wakarusa along the scenic Heritage Trail in Amish Country of Northern Indiana.

This one-of-a-kind national event is free and fantastic. Combine Quilt Gardens with backroads Amish discoveries, hands-on programs, barn quilts, quilting bees, garden centers, quilt shops, delicious home cooked Amish food, and more. Round out itineraries with Amish farm tours, buggy rides, and step-on guides.

Amish horse and buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Amish horse and buggy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Shipshewana Flea Auction & Market, Menno-Hof, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Amish Acres, RV/MH Hall of Fame

Recommended RV Park: Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana

Indiana: Shipshewana Quilt Festival, Shipshewana, June 24-27, 2015

The Shipshewana Quilt Festival is packed with many exciting activities. A nationally recognized speaker kicks off the event every year on Wednesday followed by the opening of the Quilt & Vendor Show which runs Wednesday through Saturday. A Quilter’s Schoolhouse takes place all day on Thursday; workshops, Shipshewana Backroads Shop Hop and much more.

Experience an old-fashioned quilting bee with local Amish women, dine in an Amish home, or take in the sites at the Midwest’s largest outdoor fl ea market. All this and more await you at the annual Shipshewana Quilt Festival.

Named a Top 100 Event in North America by the American Bus Association.

Nearby Attractions: Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Amish Acres, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Quilt Gardens Tour

Recommended RV Park: Pla-Mor Campground, Bremen, Indiana

Texas: 62nd Annual Luling Watermelon Thump, June 25-28, 2015

Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Guiness Book of Records Watermelon Seed Spit Record is 68 feet 9 1/8 inches from the starting line. The Championship Watermelon Seed Spit record was set in 1989 by Lee Wheelis from Luling, Texas.

Nearby Attractions: Texas BBQ, Lockhart, San Marcos, Austin, San Antonio

Recommended RV Park: Riverbend RV Park, Luling

Worth Pondering…

Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.

—Conita Kent

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KOA Study Reveals Campers Rate Wi-Fi As Top Amenity

More campers today rate access to free Wi-Fi a higher priority than traditional camping amenities, such as access to cabins or recreational activities, according to the 2015 North American Camping Report, an independent study supported by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).

KOA Study Reveals Campers Rate Wi-Fi As Top Amenity
KOA Study Reveals Campers Rate Wi-Fi As Top Amenity

The must-have camping gear, according to the results of the survey of 2,104 US households, is the cell phone, as 83 percent of all campers bring their mobile phone to the great outdoors, according to a KOA news release.

What’s more, the heart wins out over the wallet, as more people today see camping as a way to escape the stress of everyday life than as an affordable vacation option.

Highlights from the 2015 North American Camping Report include the following:

Must-Have Camping Equipment: Wi-Fi and Mobile Phones

Today’s campers are more “plugged in” when preparing for camping trips and while at campsites. Of those surveyed, half of all campers (51 percent) claim that they go online at least once a day while camping, and four out of 10 (41 percent) say that having free Wi-Fi influences their decision to stay at a campground.

When selecting which campgrounds to visit and stay, free Wi-Fi ranks as the third most important amenity, behind only clean bathrooms and a kid-friendly environment, and outpaces access to recreational activities such as a campground store, cabins, and even safety lighting.

Spartanburg/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Spartanburg/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The youngest campers, younger than 25, are more likely to bring a mobile phone (86 percent), compared to campers age 65-plus (77 percent). Conversely, campers 25-plus are somewhat more likely to bring along a laptop or notebook (29 percent) compared to the youngest campers (21 percent). Younger campers even say having a smartphone (28 percent) is almost as important as toilet paper (34 percent).

Camping as a Healthy Escape and Relationship Builder

Though the notion of camping as an inexpensive vacation option remains, survey results suggest that while the cash-saving aspect is still important, people are camping to build the emotional connection and relationships with family and friends in nature.

Survey highlights include:

  • According to campers, reconnecting with nature (55 percent), reducing stress (54 percent), and spending more time with family and friends (49 percent) are the key reasons they camp. Economic and practical values were only identified as reasons for camping by less than 35 percent of those surveyed.
  • Campers are likely to say that camping improves family relationships—in fact, 41 percent “completely agree” with this.

Additionally, fully 4-in-10 campers (39 percent) suggest that camping has “a great deal of impact” on allowing them to spend more time with family. Another third of campers say that camping has a positive impact on their relationships with family and friends (35 percent) and their emotional well-being (36 percent).

Outdoor Melting Pot

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly one in four campers in 2014 identified themselves as either African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic, a significant increase compared to past industry research efforts. Other key survey highlights include:

  • Camping rates among nonwhites have doubled from as recently as 2012, jumping from 12 percent up to 23 percent.
  • Among multicultural groups, camping rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders have increased the most over the last two years, representing only 1 percent of the total camping population in 2012, compared to 6 percent in 2014.
  • Hispanics jumped from 2 percent of campers in 2012 to 6 percent in 2014.

2015 Season Outlook

Looking ahead to the 2015 camping season, a majority of campers (53%) plan to spend more nights camping, and almost half (48 percent) plan to take more trips. Other key findings related to campers’ plans for the 2015 season include:

  • When asked what has the most impact on their decision to camp more, survey respondents cited spending more time with family and friends (68 percent), exploring new areas (67 percent), and decreased gas prices (60 percent) as the most impactful factors.
  • Among campers who say that decreased gas prices are impacting their travel plans for the upcoming year, 88 percent plan to visit new areas, 88 percent say it will allow them to camp more often and 86 percent plan to visit new campgrounds.
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Life is short and the world is wide.
—Simon Raven

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