Lazydays RV Resort Introduces Snowbird Deal

Lazydays, the world’s largest RV dealership, introduces a special extended-stay package for RVers to settle in and camp the entire winter at its recently expanded 300-site RV resort.

Lazydays Tampa RV Resort
Lazydays Tampa RV Resort

A four-month minimum stay and your choice of a full hookup campsite are now available at the Central Florida RV resort. The on-site RV-themed restaurant and pub, Exit 10, will offer a variety of dinner and drink specials only for winter residents.

“We absolutely love having our guests and their families on site,” said Linda Stephens, who oversees the resort.

“We want the resort to be a home away from home for RVers and their families. This new package offers award-winning hospitality so that all guests get the full RV camping experience while staying with us.”

The RV resort sits amid the overall Lazydays campus conveniently located near I-4 and I-75 and offers a wide range of amenities designed for RVers, families, and rally groups.

Lazydays Tampa RV Resort
Lazydays Tampa RV Resort

Free high-speed Wi-Fi, business center, complimentary morning newspaper delivery, premium coffee, and cable television are available to all RV resort guests, with golf cart rentals and shuttle services also available. The tennis court is newly resurfaced and two half-basketball courts have been added.

Other areas feature horseshoes, beanbag toss, ladderball, badminton, and pickleball.

The RV resort also features a beautiful and spacious heated pool, hot tub, and well-appointed deck with all new resort-style outdoor furniture.

The entire Lazydays campus is pet friendly and the resort has a dog park.

A new children’s playground and park features state-of-the-art playground equipment and a gazebo while Exit 10 features daily drink and dinner specials, plus poolside service, take-out, and catering services.

Billing itself as “America’s RV Destination,” Lazydays also has a full-time concierge onsite to assist guests with travel plans and discount tickets to local attractions.

The Lazydays 126-acre RV dealership site is home to more than 1,200 RVs representing the nation’s top brands and 220 state-of-the-art service bays. Also located on the Lazydays campus is an RV parts and accessories store with a broad selection of merchandise to enhance the RV experience and three themed restaurants including the exclusive Crown Club for the luxury motorhome owner.

LazydaysTampaThe popular complimentary on-site Lazydays Drivers Confidence Course offers seminars and classes.

This year, Lazydays celebrated great success and growth at the Lazydays RV Resort with an 8 percent jump in occupancy July 4th weekend compared with 2014. Resort guests enjoyed two full days of fun activities and games for the whole family including hamster ball races, reptile discovery shows, arts and crafts, capture the flag, and poolside movie showings.

Be warm this winter, have fun all season long.

The Lazydays special extended-stay snowbird package extends from October 2015 to April 2016 with a 4 month minimum for $1,200 per month plus tax. Choose your own 50-amp campsite. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour security, and special discounts at Lazyday’s Exit 10 on-site restaurant.

Daily rates range from $39.99 plus tax to $50.99 plus tax based on season and length of sites.

Central Florida has much to offer. It’s a perfect winter getaway.

Worth Pondering…

Dare to live the life you dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Top Culinary (Wine & Bourbon) Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts

These select RV Parks are located in regions known for distinctive local cuisine, wine regions, and Bourbon Country, and in areas that host popular food and wine festivals.

Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These RV parks are located in fertile farming regions, areas known for regional cuisine, and near major cities. The common denominator: they’re ideal for adventurous RV food, wine, and bourbon lovers seeking great food on the road.

Flag City RV Resort, a 5-star RV park, offers 150 full hookup sites with 30/50-amp electric sites with cable and park-wide WiFi. Flag City is ideally situated to explore 75,000 acres of Lodi vineyards and enjoy the fine wine-tasting opportunities at 50 unique wineries that includes Van Rutten Vineyards, Michael David Winery, and Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi.

In the Western Canadian province of British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley has developed into a significant wine-producing area. Located in the southern interior, the Okanagan is characterized by a dry, sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and a series of lakes.

Wine festivals are a great opportunity to meet the winemakers and sample wine. A superb wine experience, the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival is now in its 35th year (October 1-11, 2015). Located in the heart of Wine Country, Desert Gem RV Resort, offers full hook-ups with 30/50-amp electric service, water, sewer, cable, telephone, and high-speed internet.

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California
Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Orange Grove RV Park in Bakersfield is on the route snowbirds and other RVers use when traveling to the Southwest desert area including Palm Springs and Indio. The park is situated in an actual orange grove. During the picking season—late November through early March—campers are invited to pick as many oranges as they can personally use, and even loaned the appropriate picking implements. Take a bag along with you when you leave, because you’ll never find these in a grocery store!

Conveniently located with easy access to Bourbon Country and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Grandma’s RV Camping in Shepherdsville offers 30 pull through spaces 70 feet in total length and 35 back-in spaces to accommodate vehicles up to 45 feet in length. All sites include full hook-ups with 20/30/50-amp service and free wireless Internet service.

Adventures in culture, food, and music await in Cajun Country where life is on the spicy side.

With quintessential Louisiana flavors such as boudin, crackling, crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, and hot sauce, Acadiana has all the makings for a taste-tempting trip. Louisiana’s landscape and history create a culinary tradition unlike any place else—and that makes it the perfect RV getaway for anyone who loves to eat. Experience the flavor of Cajun Country, learn the history, culture, and local cuisine at Frog City RV Park in Duson, 10 miles east of Lafayette.

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

RiverBend RV Park and Campground is a scenic 20 acre park located on the banks of the San Marcos River in Luling. Luling is home to world famous barbecue, and is the first stop on the Texas Barbecue Trail. Lockhart, the Barbecue Capital of Texas, is a short away. Explore the area with day trips to Shiner, home of Spoetzl Brewery and Shiner Bock beer and Brenham, home of Blue Bell Creameries, manufacturer of Blue Bell ice cream. Tours and taste testing are available.

Columbia Sun RV Resort is the prime Tri-Cities RV park destination. The resort offers 145 full-service sites with 30/50-amp electric service on 25 beautiful landscaped acres; 70 large sites for big rigs. The region provides visitors with a variety of activities to choose from including 160 Yakima Valley wineries in nearby Prosser.

Hacienda RV and Rally Resort is conveniently located immediately off of I -10 in Las Cruces within walking distance to historic Old Mesilla. New Mexican food is unlike any other, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of the variety of flavors available in the state’s wide array of restaurants. The foundation of New Mexican cooking, long pungent chili pods can be picked in their green or red form. In either color, chiles become the key ingredient in cooked sauces served as an integral part of traditional dishes, rather than simply being served as a separate salsa-style accompaniment.

It’s never too soon to start planning your own culinary adventure.

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

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

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington

Desert Gem RV Resort, Oliver, British Columbia

Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California

Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana

Grandma’s RV Camping, Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Nk’Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California

Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas

Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel.
Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spartanburg/Gaffney KOA, Gaffney, South Carolina

Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages, Pahrump, Nevada

Worth Pondering…

Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”
―Andre Simon

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Using Campgrounds As Base Camps For Festivals

Campgrounds are great places to enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, boating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, Bardstown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, Bardstown, Kentucky © 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 throughout the U.S and Canada. These events range from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary happenings.

Following is a sampling of the festivals 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.

Kentucky: Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Bardstown, September 15-20, 2015

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is a six-day Festival dedicated to the legendary spirit of Kentucky. Distillers from across the state of Kentucky come together to share their Bourbon in a variety of events. The 2015 Festival will be the 24th annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in historic Bardstown, Kentucky, the Bourbon Capital of the World. There is fun—and activities for all ages.

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

Nearby Attractions: Getz Whiskey Museum, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, My Old Kentucky Home

Recommended RV Park: Grandma’s RV Camping, Shepherdsville

Historic Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Historic Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Mexico: The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, Las Cruces, September 26-27, 2015

Nearby Attractions: White Sands National Monument, Historic Mesilla, New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

Recommended RV Park: Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces

British Columbia: 35th Annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, Okanagan Valley, October 1-11, 2015

Okanagan Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Okanagan Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Warm, desert days and cool nights—just what the viticulturist ordered to ripen grapes and prepare for harvest. It also makes a great time to visit the Okanagan. For 10 days in early October the annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival celebrates earthly delights. The only festival in North America to happen at the heart of harvest and feature more than 100 events.

Enjoy a vineyard tour, lunch among the vines, dine on a waterfront patio, or take in a wine pairings seminar. Find the wine experience that’s right for you and create your own wine story.

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

Nearby Attractions: Okanagan Wine Trail, Wine Tastings and Tours, Kettle Valley Steam Railway, SS Sicamous, Father Pandosy Museum

Recommended RV Parks: Desert Gem RV Resort, Oliver, British Columbia, and Nk’Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Alabama: BayFest, Mobile, October 2-4, 2015

BayFest will be celebrating its 21st Anniversary in 2015. BayFest is an annual music festival that is expected to draw more than 200,000 guests, who will make merry in the streets of downtown Mobile and see more than 125 live musical acts on nine stages during the weekend. BayFest offers continuous music for every taste, including country, classic rock, alternative, pop, jazz, R&B, rap, gospel, modern rock, and more. Mobile’s BayFest music festival also includes a family activity area that has garnered rave reviews.

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

Nearby Attractions: Exploreum, U.S.S. Alabama Battleship, Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama Gulf Coast

Recommended RV Parks: Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama; Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama; and Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama

New Mexico: American Indian Art Festival, Albuquerque, October 3-4, 2015

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

Hear Native drums as you enter into the Albuquerque American Indian Art Festival at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. At the outdoor plaza , there’s a marketplace filled with tribal artists from across the country, selling handmade items. Dancers perform tribal dances every hour. Groups can also enjoy a wide selection of Native and American cuisine at the award-winning Pueblo Harvest Café.

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

Nearby Attractions: Acoma “Sky City” Pueblo, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Sandia Peak Tramway, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Park: American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico

New Mexico: International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, October 3-11, 2015

Each fall, pilots, crews, and spectators from all over the world come to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest hot air ballooning event. For nine days during the first full week of October, hundreds of colorful balloons float above the city each morning as dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains. It’s no wonder this visual feast is said to be the world’s most photographed event.

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

Nearby Attractions: Acoma Pueblo, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Sandia Peak Tramway, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Park: American RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Worth Pondering…

There is adventure in any trip; it’s up to us to seek it out.

—Jamie Francis

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Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude

Big Bend National Park is well off the beaten path…and well worth exploring.

Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Welcome to a national park where you can actually revel in its silence and solitude. Remote, huge, and austere, this national park along the Rio Grande River is an uncrowded gem. One of the largest parks in the country, with more than 800,000 acres, Big Bend is also one of the least visited—thanks to, you guessed it, its remote location.

Big Bend National Park is a land of paradox, beauty, and above all, vastness. Even today, only three paved roads run south into Big Bend, but from those roads the view can astound.

The Rio Grande River squiggles its course across the harsh desert landscape, carving through limestone and shale. The river separates much of the state of Texas from the country of Mexico, and within the big bend formed by the river, sits a region that will appeal to RVers and other travelers who believe the best things in life require a little effort.

The nearest interstate highway access is 1-10 to the north; from Fort Stockton southbound on US 385 it is 125 miles to park headquarters at Panther Junction. Nearest town to the park is Marathon, 70 miles from Panther Junction.

Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In other words, Big Bend visitors must plan their trips. You can see and enjoy plenty on a day visit, but you won’t see nearly enough, and you will have burned a lot of fuel along the way. Big Bend rangers recommend three days, and depending on what you want to do, a week or more may be a better choice.

Prior to visiting the park, we spent several enjoyable days in Big Bend country at Marathon in a charming little place, Marathon Motel & RV Park.

The next day we headed for the heart of Big Bend down US Highway 385 making a stop at the visitor center at Panther Junction for orientation, maps, brochures, and hiking information. Before setting out on greater quests we, strolled Panther Path and checked out the vegetation found in the Chihuahuan Desert—yucas, lechuguillas, creosote brushes, and bunch grasses.

We then continued to the Rio Grande Village on the Rio Grande River to secure a full hookup site for the duration of our stay.

Big Bend is vast deserts, mountains, canyons and THE river—the Rio Grande—and along the river are several hot springs.

But the park touts more than a famous river: In the middle of Big Bend there’s a grand series of peaks known as the Chisos, accessible by dinghy and small RVs along a narrow and curved access road. Ponderosa and pinyon pine carpet the cool flanks of these hills, providing a haven for black bears and cougars.

Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend National Park was officially created in 1944, but evidence of human habitation of the Big Bend area dates back roughly 12,000 years. The Mescalero Apache and Comanche tribes were on the long list of those who came to the area.

Each season is unique. Summer temperatures can soar to 120 degrees while mild winters allow RVers to explore fascinating geology. The spring months of March, April, and May bring especially good birdwatching with more than 450 species having been counted within the park—more than in any other national park.

There’s not a lot of water here. An average of just 18 inches falls annually in the heights of the Chisos Mountains that tower nearly 8,000 feet into the sky. And if you think that’s not a lot, these mountains get a deluge when compared to the rest of the park. It is a land that is lucky to see 10 inches of rain in a year. This is an arid landscape.

While touring the park in our dinghy we stopped in the Chisos Basin, a valley within a mountainous ring, and one of the park’s most popular areas, with a visitor center, RV park (not suitable for big rigs), and a lodge.

We take a short hike for a clear view of the Window Overlook, or V-Window, as it’s called since its mountainsides form a “V” shape with views of distant mountain ranges.

Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big Bend National Park: Splendor & Solitude © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend has four campgrounds: Rio Grande Village RV Campground (25 full hookup sites), Rio Grande Village Campground (100 non-hookup sites), Chisos Basin Campground (60 non-hookup sites), and Cottonwood Campground (24 non-hookup sites).

Big Bend is filled with surprises, scenic beauty, native plants, wild­life, fantastic outdoor recreation, and the opportunity to enjoy them all in a rugged, majestic setting. A visit to this incredible place will provide wonderful memories for years to come.

If you’ve never been to Big Bend, take your RV, take your time, and go. Go. Just go!

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

After 7 days of trial and error,

God created Texas on the 8th day.

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Head For the Hills: Texas Hill Country

Imagine hills, soft and scrubby, green valleys, and limestone cliffs.

Settled in the 1850s by immigrants from the Old Country, Fredericksburg retains much of its Germanic influence through shop and restaurant themes, seasonal festivals including the annual Oktoberfest with its oom-pahs, polkas, and bratwurst. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Settled in the 1850s by immigrants from the Old Country, Fredericksburg retains much of its Germanic influence through shop and restaurant themes, seasonal festivals including the annual Oktoberfest with its oom-pahs, polkas, and bratwurst. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conjure up ranches and communities of German heritage, wineries, fields of wildflowers, and sparkling rivers lined with cypress and oak.

Ah, the Texas Hill Country. To some it is the state’s greatest natural resource.

No big cities, no hustle and bustle. Just cafes with country cooking, water for fishing and inner tubing, and old places with timeworn comfort.

Yes, it’s easy to feel at home in the Texas Hill Country.

The Hill Country rises out of south-central Texas like an island out of a vast ocean. A large area of rolling hills and valleys with limestone canyons, clear-water rivers, and a few scattered small towns, the Hill Country is quite densely wooded. Prepare to be amazed.

Ideally situated off I-10 near Kerrville, Buckhorn Lake RV Resort is a perfect base from which to explore this wonderland of scenic vistas, oak-covered hills, rocky outcroppings, and streams.

Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Buckhorn Lake Resort is just an hour drive from San Antonio. Each pad site is designed with large coaches in mind—they include widely paved pull-through sites and roads.

History comes alive at the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site and National Museum of the Pacific War. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
History comes alive at the Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site and National Museum of the Pacific War. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The resort also features an 8,000-square-foot red barn. The facility that not only hosts year-round activities sponsored by Buckhorn but also can be rented for other events. Other amenities include trash pick-up, a dog park, pools, and a fitness center.

Trading the customary Howdy! for Willkommen!, we headed to Fredericksburg, just 30 minutes northeast of Buckhorn Lake, a community that celebrates it German heritage. Settled in the 1850s by immigrants from the Old Country, the town retains much of its Germanic influence through shop and restaurant themes, seasonal festivals including the annual Oktoberfest with its oom-pahs, polkas, and bratwurst.

The Marktplatz in the center of town commemorates the peace treaty between the German settler and Comanche Nation. The treaty is thought to be the only one with Native Americans never broken.

Don’t leave Fredericksburg without a visit to the emotionally powerful Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site and National Museum of the Pacific War. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific during WWII, grew up in Fredericksburg. The museum covers eight acres and includes a Garden of Peace—a gift from the people of Japan.

Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park offers scenic paths, outdoor recreation, and 98 RV campsites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park offers scenic paths, outdoor recreation, and 98 RV campsites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Pioneer Museum Complex is also located in Fredericksburg, telling the story of the mid-1800s German settlers. Open year-round, a four-acre museum community complex includes a home, a store, a smokehouse, a log cabin, and a bathhouse.

On the southwest edge of Fredericksburg, 340-acre Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park offers scenic paths, outdoor recreation, and 98 RV campsites with 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and WiFi. The park’s Live Oak Wilderness Trail, a mile-long stretch on 10 creek-side acres, features a bird-watching station and a butterfly area.

Fredericksburg is also at the center of the Hill Country wildflower scene, best witnessed during the spring months of April and May, but there’s a nearly year-round floral bonanza to be found at Wildseed Farms, seven miles east of town. This the largest working wildflower farm in the world, where flowers are grown in endless rows for seed.

Sure, we love Fredericksburg, with its quaint Main Street and antique shops, biergartens, and bakeries. But after we’ve gorged on apfelstrudel to our heart’s content, it’s time to brush off the crumbs and open up our trail map.

Our enchantment with the area continued when we drove onto Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 20 miles north of Fredericksburg. This 1,643-acre park is dominated by a 70-acre dome of pink granite that rises 425 feet above the bed of Sandy Creek, 1825 feet above sea level. One of the largest batholiths (an underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the US, Enchanted Rock is surrounded by oak woodlands as far as the eye can see.

Wildseed Farms is the largest working wildflower farm in the world, where flowers are grown in endless rows for seed. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Wildseed Farms is the largest working wildflower farm in the world, where flowers are grown in endless rows for seed. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With two main trails from which to choose, this is a great place to stretch your legs. The view from the top is worth the climb.

The Hill Country offers many other getaway options. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. The towns of Boerne and Comfort, New Braunfels and Gruene, Dripping Springs and Marble Falls, and Bandera, the “Cowboy Capital of the World”.

Oh yes, and Luckenbach.

And these my friends, are the subject of another post.

Worth Pondering…

I am humbled by the forces of nature that continuously -mold our great state of Texas into a beautiful landscape complete with geological diversity, flora and fauna. It is my goal as a photographer to capture that natural beauty and share it with others.

—Chase A. Fountain

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Choosing Your Perfect RV Camping Destination

A key factor in planning any vacation or road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds.

A top rated RV resort, A+ Motel & RV Resort is located in Cajun Country near Lake Charles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A top rated RV resort, A+ Motel & RV Resort is located in Cajun Country near Lake Charles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together.

But not all RV parks and campgrounds are created equal and no one park is perfect for everyone.

Before leaving home, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

Citing GuestRated as the source, Wicked Good Travel Tips notes that only 34 of an estimated 4,000 campgrounds and RV parks earned an ‘A’ rating in 2014—less than one in 100 parks.

GuestRated.com surveys guest satisfaction using an online process for RVers to review and rate their camping experiences and provide feedback available to other campers and park owners. Of those campgrounds and RV parks, eight emerged as super-stars by earning an ‘A’ rating for 6 years or more.

A top rated RV resort, Wine Ridge RV Resort is located in Pahrump, Nevada. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A top rated RV resort, Wine Ridge RV Resort is located in Pahrump, Nevada. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While social media has a meaningful role to play in assisting campers select the “perfect camping site” a less subjective, opinion-based rating scale is still a key determinant of quality RV parks and campgrounds.

Our go-to resource in selecting RV parks and resorts, the Good Sam Campground Directory uses a three-number rating that assesses the park’s amenities, cleanliness, and environment with each rating category measured on a scale of 1 to 10.

Less than 1 percent of parks or campgrounds receive a 10/10*/10 rating which indicates superior facilities that are well maintained, clean, well-appointed restrooms, and a highly appealing appearance. Campgrounds are inspected annually by RVers for RVers.

Of the eight campgrounds and RV parks that emerged as GuestRated super-stars, only two received the coveted Good Sam10/10*/10 rating in their 2015 Campground Directory: Lake George RV Park, Lake George, New York, and Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Additional details on these two parks and the other six is available in an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing.

A top rated RV park, Seven Feathers RV Resort is located in southern Oregon off I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights
A top rated RV park, Seven Feathers RV Resort is located in southern Oregon off I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights

What we like and prefer in an RV park may be totally different from what your family desires. Given different personalities and wants and needs of RVers, no one park can be all things to all people, but many can fulfill the majority of wants and needs.

While we have not visited any of these eight campgrounds and RV parks, we have personally visited with a minimum of one night of paid camping at 14 of the 2015 “Best of the Best”, the top-rated Good Sam RV Parks and Campgrounds (10/10*/10).

A listing of these outstanding parks follow:

Alabama: Lake Osprey RV Park, Elberta

Arizona: Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande

California: Indian Water RV Resort & Cottages, Indio

Louisiana: Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson

Louisiana: A+ Motel & RV Resort, Lake Charles

Massachusetts: Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro

A top rated RV park, Cajun Palms RV Resort is located in Cajun Country at Henderson. © Rex Vogel, all rights
A top rated RV park, Cajun Palms RV Resort is located in Cajun Country at Henderson. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Nevada: Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas

Nevada: Wine Ridge RV Resort & Cottages, Pahrump

Oregon: Seven Feathers RV Resort, Canyonville

Texas: Buckhorn Lake Resort, Kerrville

Texas: Llano Grande Lake Park Resort & Country Club MHP, Mercedes

Texas: Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort, Mission

Texas: Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca

Washington: Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick

And yes, we would return to these parks in a heart-beat.

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts Near Popular Water Recreation Areas

These selected campgrounds and RV parks are located on or near some of North America’s most popular water recreation areas including Lake Powell, Gulf Coast, and Colorado River.

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

 

Wahweap RV Park and Campground is located near Page in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This RV park is well laid out, offering spacious sites for rigs of any size—all with full hookups. The park sits on a sloping hillside overlooking Lake Powell. There are many wonderful scenic day trips to take from here. Don’t miss the trip over though Marble Canyon to Lee’s Ferry.

The newest RV Resort and Golf Club destination on the North Shore of the Alabama Gulf Coast, Lake Osprey RV Resort is designed for high-end RVs. Built for outdoor enthusiasts that boast beautiful, serene settings. Lake Osprey is nestled around several spring-fed lakes in a nature preserve and consists of 188 lushly landscaped extra-large RV sites. Sugar white sand beaches, a variety of vacation amenities, and world-class shopping are all nearby.

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Brunswick is situated on a peninsula with Oglethorpe Bay to the west, the Brunswick River to the south, and the Intracoastal Waterway to the east. This offers you a choice of inshore, offshore, Gulfstream, and deep-sea fishing. Coastal Georgia RV Resort is conveniently located off I-95, situated on a beautiful south Georgia lake surrounded by lush landscaping, just minutes away. The resort offers 105 spacious sites, all 35 feet wide, with lengths ranging from 60 to 70 feet. Most sites are pull-through with full hookups including 30/50-amp electric service, tables, fire rings, and grills.

Enjoy the beaches, trolley tours, ghost tours, golfing, bicycling, or fishing off the pier. Visit historic sites like Fort Frederica and Bloody Marsh Battle Site. Jekyll Island also offers beaches, bicycling, horseback riding, nature trails, fish off the pier, and Historic Millionaire’s Village.

Moses Lake is the perfect place for boating and water based recreation. Located on one of Washington State’s largest natural fresh water lakes (featuring over 120 miles of shoreline), Moses Lake is an outdoor recreational oasis. Suncrest Resort offers 87 full hook-up sites, swimming pool, mini water slides, 30 person spa, and pet areas.

Resting on the high plains along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front Range, Great Falls is located at the confluence of the Missouri and Sun Rivers. With more than 48 miles of trail along the historic Missouri River, the award winning River’s Edge Trail is the perfect setting for biking, walking, skating, or jogging. Conveniently located right off I-15, Dick’s RV Park offers 137 full-hookup sites, cable TV, and WiFi. Most pull through sites are big rig friendly with pads 70 feet in length.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the city of Gulf Shores on the coast of Alabama, white sun-kissed beaches, surging surf, seagulls, and seashells greet you at Gulf State Park. Consisting of 6,150 acres with two miles of sugar white sand beaches and three fresh water lakes, Gulf State Park has a modern full-service campground, cabins, cottages, back country trails, and the largest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico.

The park also features an interactive nature center, nationally recognized scenic nature trail, tennis courts, beautiful beach pavilion, 18-hole Refuge Golf Course, and a 900-acre lake for fishing. Gulf State Park offers a 496-site campground with pull-through, back-in, and water front sites. All sites are big-rig friendly and have water, sewer, and 50/30/20- amp electric service, a paved camping pad, picnic table, and pedestal grill.

A Kleberg County park, SeaWind RV Resort is full-service campground located on the Texas Gulf Coast, 22 miles southeast of Kingsville on Baffin Bay, which holds the best trout fishing record of anywhere along the Gulf Coast. Red fish and Black Drum are also a very desirable catch.

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

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

Arizona Oasis RV Resort, Ehrenburg, Arizona

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia

Dick’s RV, Great Falls, Montana

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama

La Paz County Park, Parker, Arizona

Nk’Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas

Seawind RV Park, Riviera Beach, Texas

Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Suncrest Resort, Moses Lake, Washington

Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas

Wahweap RV Park & Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona

Worth Pondering…

For all at last return to the sea—to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.

—Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

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15 Bad Camping Decisions

You don’t have to be Bear Grylls to enjoy a camping trip; there are options for every camping skill level and travel taste.

Camping at Devils Garden Campground, Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at Devils Garden Campground, Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campground and RV park camping is distinguished from wilderness camping by the presence of facilities and designated campsites. Campground choices range from RV parks and resorts to the bare basics often found at national forest campgrounds or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) dispersed camping areas.

Whatever your camping preferences, here are the 15 worst moves you can make at a campground.

1. Fail to give someone your camping itinerary. Before you set out on your adventure, be sure to let someone know your plans. What may seem like a silly precaution could actually save your life.

2. Forget to bring insect repellant. It does not matter where you camp, there will be insects and you need to arm yourself appropriately.

3. Assume there will be toilet paper. Pack your own roll. It’s the first rule of camping. Paper towels and Kleenex are also necessities.

Camping at the White Tank Mountains Regional Park near Buckeye, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at the White Tank Mountains Regional Park near Buckeye, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Assume that there will be running water. Depending on the season and the camping area or facility you choose, you may need to bring your own water. You do need to stay hydrated and brush you teeth.

5. Take more stuff than you need. Whether you will be sleeping in a tent or in a luxury RV, there is no reason to take things that are not essential for your journey and destination.

6. Forget your first aid kit. Consider the first aid kit your failsafe in the event that you make all the wrong decisions while camping. Your first aid kit should include Tylenol or Advil to ease a headache or fever, Cortizone 10 cream to soothe an itchy insect bite, antibiotic ointment like Neosporin or Bacitracin to prevent infection from minor cuts or scrapes, Band-Aids of varying sizes to cover those minor cuts and scrapes, and Benadryl to relieve allergies.

7. Assume that your GPS is always correct. It isn’t. Learn to read a map…a paper one! And make sure you have clear directions for your destination before you leave home, preferably from more than one source.

Camping at Long Point County Park, Brevard County, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at Long Point County Park, Brevard County, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Set up camp in the dark. Unless you are very familiar with the campground and all of your equipment, plan to arrive before dark. Setting up in the dark is not only a logistical challenge; it’s annoying to other campers trying to enjoy a peaceful evening that does not include all the ruckus of you fighting with your gear.

9. Invade other people’s space. Space invaders are the worst campers in any campground. Do not walk through other people’s camps, even if you think they aren’t there. It’s rude and creepy. Don’t let your children do it either.

10. Expand beyond your assigned camping site. Second worst camper is the space hog. It doesn’t matter if you are in a luxury RV resort or a rustic forest campground; don’t take up more than your designated space. It creates problems for the park management and is rude to other campers.

11. Picnic in an empty campsite. Campsites are for camping, not picnicking. This is a subtler way of hogging space, but still a bad decision. Do you want to be the guy who misses a prime campsite because somebody was using it for an afternoon snack when you arrived?

12. Leave open food containers outside. Never, ever, leave food outside especially in bear country. Unless you like ants, flies, feral cats, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, bears, or irate neighbors. Worse yet, don’t leave them in your tent overnight.

Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Leave garbage near your camp. See the previous bad decision. Garbage belongs away from your campsite, inside cans or dumpsters, if they are provided.

14. Leave things in public spaces. There is a distinct yuk factor involved in finding someone else’s toiletries in a campground bathhouse. The same applies to buckets, hoses, dishpans, or dishcloths left at communal water faucets.

15. Underestimate the weather. You did check the forecast before you left home, right? Just know that it will likely be hotter, colder, windier, or wetter than you expect. And you do have a NOAA Weather Radio!

Worth Pondering…
You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.
—Yogi Berra

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America’s Best Campgrounds & RV Parks For Family Fun

RV camping can fill our lives with great memories of outdoor adventures.

A top rated RV resort, Lake Osprey RV Park is located on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A top rated RV resort, Lake Osprey RV Park is located on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We all want our camping trips and RV travels to be enjoyable and fun for the entire family.

Numerous factors can determine the outcome of a camping trip. Factors that we can control include campground choice, route we take to get there, and when to travel.

A key factor in planning any vacation is the RV park or campgrounds. Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together. But not all RV parks and campgrounds are created equal and no park is perfect for everyone.

Before leaving on your RV vacation, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

A top rated RV park, Columbia Sun RV Resort is located in the Ti-Cities at Kennewick, Washington. © Rex Vogel, all rights
A top rated RV park, Columbia Sun RV Resort is located in the Ti-Cities at Kennewick, Washington. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Citing GuestRated as the source, Wicked Good Travel Tips notes that only 34 of an estimated 4,000 campgrounds and RV parks earned an ‘A’ rating in 2014—less than one in 100 parks.

GuestRated.com surveys guest satisfaction using an online process for RVers to review and rate their camping experiences and provide feedback available to other campers and park owners. Of those campgrounds and RV parks, eight emerged as super-stars by earning an ‘A’ rating for 6 years or more.

What we like and prefer in an RV park may totally different from what your family desires. Given different personalities and wants and needs of RVers, no one park can be all things to all people, but many can fulfill the majority of wants and needs.

While social media has a meaningful role to play in assisting campers select the “perfect camping site” a less subjective, opinion-based rating scale is still a key determinant of quality RV parks and campgrounds.

A top rated RV park, Seven Feathers RV Resort is located in southern Oregon off I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights
A top rated RV park, Seven Feathers RV Resort is located in southern Oregon off I-5. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Our go-to resource in selecting RV parks and resorts, the Good Sam Campground Directory uses a three-number rating that assesses the park’s amenities, cleanliness, and environment with each rating category measured on a scale of 1 to 10.

Less than 1 percent of parks or campgrounds receive a 10/10*/10 rating which indicates superior facilities that are well maintained, clean, well-appointed restrooms, and a highly appealing appearance. Campgrounds are inspected annually by RVers for RVers.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the GuestRated eight superstar RV parks and campgrounds along with a comparative rating from Good Sam:

Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Maryland: The closest RV and Camping Park near the nation’s capital of Washington, DC. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9.5/10*/9.5)

Lake George RV Park, Lake George, New York: A beautiful resort in New York’s Lake George Adirondack Region. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 10/10*/10)

Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: An easy drive from the George Washington Bridge in New York, and has a beautiful Pocono Mountain location close to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9/10*/10)

A top rated RV park, Buckhorn Lake RV Resort is located in the Texas Hill Country at Kerrville. © Rex Vogel, all
A top rated RV park, Buckhorn Lake RV Resort is located in the Texas Hill Country at Kerrville. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: The largest campground on the East Coast and enjoys one mile of oceanfront beach. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 10/10*/10)

Pioneer Campground, Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania: The campground has 80 mountain top acres at a 2,000 ft elevation offering scenic outlooks in a wooded setting. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9/9*/9.5)

Red Apple Campground, Kennebunkport, Maine

This campsite enjoys a grassy, well manicured setting with lovely flower gardens. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9/10*/10)

Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven, Michigan: Just minutes from Lake Michigan, the Sunny Brook RV Resort has 65 acres along the sandy shore of a 5+ acre lake. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 10/10*/10)

The Vineyards Campground & Cabins, Grapevine, Texas: Located along the shores of Grapevine Lake, the Vineyards Campground offers both lakefront and forest views. (2015 Good Sam Rating: 9.5/8.5*/10)

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

Worth Pondering…

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

—Franklin P. Adams

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Using Campgrounds As Base Camps For Annual Festivals

Campgrounds are great places to enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, boating, and other outdoor recreation activities during your leisure time.

Fort Edmonton Park, Edmonton, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fort Edmonton Park, Edmonton, Alberta © 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 annual summer festivals throughout the U.S and Canada. These events range from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary happenings.

Following is a sampling of the annual festivals 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.

Alberta: Edmonton Heritage Festival, Edmonton, August 1-3, 2015

2015 will mark the 40th annual of the Servus Heritage Festival”—a three-day showcase of Canada’s vibrant multicultural heritage. Approximately 60 pavilions representing over eighty-five cultures will be part of this exciting celebration. Enjoy delicious cultural food, wonderful creative performances, lots of crafts, artwork, clothing, and plenty of opportunities to chat with people eager to talk about their cultural roots and their communities in Canada.

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

Nearby Attractions: West Edmonton Mall, Elk Island National Park, Fort Edmonton Park, Muttart Conservatory

Recommended RV Park: Glowing Embers RV Park, Acheson, Alberta

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

Indiana: 53rd Annual Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival, Nappanee, August 6-9, 2015

More than 300 vendors from across the country will ply their trade and sell their wares around the historic farm’s pond.

Farm wagon rides, marionettes and magic shows, family-style Threshers Dinner in the century-old barn restaurant, and guided house and farm tours intertwine the festival and farm attractions. Free entertainment on four stages is planned throughout the four days along with festive food concoctions.

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

Nearby Attractions: The Round Barn Theatre, Amish Acres, Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Quilt Gardens Tour, Newmar Factory Tour

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

Alberta: GlobalFest, Calgary, August 20-29, 2015

Known as Calgary’s second largest annual festival, GlobalFest attracts more than 100,000 visitors from around the world. GlobalFest is the umbrella organization for the OneWorld and Trico Homes International Fireworks Festivals.

The OneWorld Festival presents diversity through music and dance, food and drink, and arts and crafts. It boasts a Tipi Village, cultural pavilions, ethnic food, performance stages, a night market, and a children’s village. The Trico Homes International Fireworks Festival will present five nights of pyromusical beauty.

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

Nearby Attractions: Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park Historical Village, Canada Olympic Park, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

Recommended RV Park: Mountain View Camping, Calgary, Alberta

New Mexico: SalsaFest! Las Cruces, August 29-30, 2015

Historic Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Historic Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spice up your tour with SalsaFest! a signature of Las Cruces. SalsaFest! serves up some of the most creative samples. Join nearly 10,000 locals who attend to sample sauces made from scratch by professional and amateur teams.

SalsaFest! also features salsa music, the Best-Dressed Chihuahua contest, an excellent assortment of food and Mexican beers, crafts, and people watching. When things heat up, grab a shady seat, sip a cold beverage or slurp a snow cone, relax, and enjoy the view.

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

Nearby Attractions: White Sands National Monument, Historic Mesilla, New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, Historic Mesilla

Recommended RV Park: Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Worth Pondering…

Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.

—Frank Herbert

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