Greenville: Upcountry South Carolina Delight

Located in the in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, South Carolina’s Upcountry packs plenty of alpine splendor. For starters, it’s home to the highest waterfall east of the Rockies—411-foot Whitewater Falls.

Falls Park on the Reedy, located in downtown Greenville'
Far more than a nature lover’s paradise, Falls Park on the Reedy, located in downtown Greenville’s Historic West End, is one of Greenville’s greatest treasures. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the hub of the Upcountry, Greenville has been finding its way onto many national Top Ten lists for its lively arts scene, its modern downtown, and its job market. With a metro­­politan population pushing half a million, this is one of America’s fastest growing cities.

Greenville owes its existence to the 28-foot falls on the Reedy River that powered 19th-century textile mills, making it the “Textile Center of the South.”

Known for its exceptional beauty, the two most distinctive natural features of downtown Greenville are its lush, tree-lined Main Street and the stunning Reedy River Falls, located in the heart of Falls Park.

Far more than a nature lover’s paradise, Falls Park on the Reedy, located in downtown Greenville’s Historic West End, is one of Greenville’s greatest treasures. The park serves as an oasis within the city—a place where people gather to work, play, and celebrate life. The multi-use facility lends itself to a wide variety of activities for people of all ages and interests.

© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Delightful walking trails along the Reedy. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It took 40 years of cleaning after the mills closed to make Falls Park into a regional jewel, crowned by the award-winning Liberty Bridge for pedestrians that was designed by architect Miguel Rosales with a distinctive curve as it pitches toward the falls.

Liberty Bridge serves as Greenville’s signature postcard setting, and downtown’s extensive collection of public artwork adds beauty and energy to its public spaces.

At 345 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 8 inches thick, the concrete reinforced deck is supported by a single suspension cable. The deck’s distinctive curve has a radius of 214 feet and it is cantilevered toward the waterfall from supporting cables on the outside. The bridge deck also inclines 12 feet or 3 percent from east to west over the river.

Below the bridge the Reedy River Falls is the site where Greenville’s first European settler, Richard Pearis, established his trading post in 1768. Later he built grist and saw mills at this same location which was the hub of early industry in Greenville until the 1920s.

The vibrant Greenville downtown scene is anchored by the $42 million Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which includes a concert hall for the symphony orchestra, a performance theater, and an amphitheater. Among the city’s several historic districts, the West End has developed into one of the Palmetto State’s most eclectic art districts, with buildings adapted for studio space and galleries.

The award-winning Liberty Bridge on the Reedy in downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The award-winning Liberty Bridge on the Reedy in downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other attractions within Greenville include a zoo with more than 200 animals and the Roper Mountain Science Center, which features an observatory, Sealife Room, living history farm, Discovery Room, chemistry/physic shows and a planetarium.

Also, at Bob Jones University is the Gallery of Sacred Art and Bible Lands Museum Planetarium. This unique attraction brings science and religion together with its extraordinary collection of religious art and biblical antiquities.

Fluor Field in the West End is home of minor league baseball’s Greenville Drive, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The park features a 30-foot replica of the “Green Monster” the mythic left-field wall found in the parent club’s Fenway Park. Across the street is a museum devoted to slugging hometown diamond hero Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The Drive nickname is a nod to BMW Manufacturing’s Greenville-area plant, the German automaker’s only production facility in the United States. The BMW Performance Center offers drivers a one-of-a-kind challenge in sliding and cornering on a wet/dry course, off-road course, and performance drive courses.

Table Rock, Jones Gap, Paris Mountain, and Caesars Head state parks all deliver Blue Ridge Mountain adventure in Greenville’s backyard as the Appalachians tumble into the flatlands of the Piedmont region. South Carolina Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway, traces this dramatic break of the Blue Ridge Escarpment with its abundance of waterfalls. Along the route, Lake Keowee, created as a power utility project, serves up over 300 miles of shoreline for boaters and fishermen.

Planning a visit? Stay at Ivy Acres RV Park, amid beautiful countryside 10 miles from downtown Greenville.

Ivy Acres RV Park is located on 80 acres of beautiful rolling countryside 10 miles from downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ivy Acres RV Park is located on 80 acres of beautiful rolling countryside 10 miles from downtown Greenville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We spent a delightful week at Ivy Acres RV Park, an adult only (45+) park with full-hook-ups including 50/30/20-amp electric service and Wi-Fi available at site. Located on 80 acres of beautiful rolling countryside on the Saluda River, Ivy Acres is like a state park. We would return in a heartbeat.

Worth Pondering…

As the old song declares, “Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning,” or almost any other time.

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Top Campgrounds, RV Parks & Resorts With Fun Activities For the Entire Family

These selected campgrounds and RV parks feature amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for families of all ages. These campgrounds enable families to enjoy quality time together.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled in the woods between Boston and Cape Cod, Normandy Farms is a luxury camping destination that has been a family tradition since 1971. Family amenities include four swimming pools, a Wellness Center, bike path, Creative Arts Center, 18-hole disc golf course, two playgrounds, fishing pond, nature trails, recreational lodge with indoor pool and Jacuzzi, volleyball and basketball courts, bocce ball and horseshoes, and dog park.

Featuring 85 foot pull-through sites and wide paved streets, Ambassador RV Resort is located near Idaho’s wine country and convenient to the Boise metro area: the perfect home base for all your family activities.

Fun for all ages, Cajun Palms RV Resort is a full service campground resort located at Henderson, near Breaux Bridge in Cajun Country. Accommodations consist of over 300 Deluxe RV sites and 25 cabins. Twenty cabins are facing the waterfront view stocked ponds. RV sites have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp electric service, on-site water and sewer, and 70+ channels of digital cable.

The clubhouse contains an assembly/reception hall and features two concession stands serving prepared food, a poolside patio, a second floor deck overlooking a resort style pool, and Kiddie pool. Fun attractions and amenities include Tiki Bar, band stand, beach volleyball, arcade, miniature golf, pool toys and waterslides, and Prehistoric Park.

With approximately 12 acres to explore, you will find yourself wandering amongst some of the most feared predators ever to walk the planet. Prehistoric Park offers a unique, natural setting featuring paved walkways where you will encounter a wide variety of realistic- looking steel and fiberglass dinosaur replicas, including some animated dinosaur exhibits. There is a concession stand, gift shop, and a sandbox with buried bones ready to be discovered by young paleontologists.

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

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.

Lazydays provides fun activities for children of all ages, including a children’s playground and park. Other activities include a screened and heated pool and hot tub, tennis courts, horseshoes, beanbag tosses, ladderball, badminton, and pickleball. Whether the goal is to relax and unwind, or spend quality time with the family, the Lazydays RV Resort offers the complete RV campground package.

Nk’Mip Resort is a four season playground for the entire family, offering the ultimate Okanagan destination. South Okanagan’s largest RV park with over 400 full service sites has been welcoming guests since 1970. Perfectly situated along the shores of Osoyoos Lake with a private beach, playground, and convenience store, the all-season RV Park also offers yurt and cabin rentals and a club house with a seasonal pool and hot tub.

Nk’Mip Resort is a four-season tourism resort destination featuring premium accommodation and visitor experiences including an award-winning winery, gourmet dining, desert golf, a cultural centre, a full-service spa, and meeting space for up to 350 people.

Just a short drive from downtown Charleston, the 643-acre James Island County Park offers an abundance of exceptional recreation offerings and natural beauty with year-round enjoyment for the entire family. Activities include miles of paved trails for walking and biking, seasonal Splash Zone Waterpark, 16 acres of freshwater lakes with fishing, pedal boat and kayak rentals, modern playground, tidal creek fishing and crabbing dock, picnic areas, and off-leash dog park.

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

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Lazydays RV Resort, Seffner, Florida

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama
Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama Gulf State Park, Gulf Shore, Alabama

Nk’Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, British Columbia

Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro, Massachusetts

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California

The Campground at James Island County Park, Charleston, South Carolina

Worth Pondering…

In the end, we only conserve what we love.

We only love what we understand.

We will understand what we are taught.

—Baba Dioum, Sengalese poet

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Campgrounds As Base Camps For Festivals & Annual Events

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

Banff and the Canadian Rockies are a short day trip from Calgary © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Banff and the Canadian Rockies are a short day trip from Calgary © 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 events range from rodeos to music festivals and cultural to culinary happenings.

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.

Alberta: Calgary Stampede, Calgary, July 3-12, 2015

The Calgary Stampede is called “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” for good reason. For 10 days every July, the Stampede City welcomes the world to a spectacular celebration of western hospitality. Stampede Park, located in downtown Calgary, is the world’s greatest gathering of cowboy culture. Each year, more than 1.2 million visitors from around the world come to Calgary to experience the heart-stopping action of the world’s roughest and richest rodeo, featuring bull riding, barrel racing, and more.

The GMC Rangeland Derby is the world’s top Chuckwagon Races. And every night is capped off with the Grandstand Show and fireworks finale that lights up the sky.

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

Freedom Trail, Bostom © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Freedom Trail, Bostom © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Massachusetts: 33rd Annual Boston Harborfest 2015, Boston, July 2-6, 2015

The 33rd Annual Boston Harborfest is a six-day Fourth of July Festival that showcases the colonial and maritime heritage of the cradle of the American Revolution: the historic city of

Boston. The award-winning festival strives to honor and remember the past, celebrate the present, and educate the future with reenactments, concerts, and historical tours. The week includes Boston Chowderfest, Children’s Day, and the July 4th Boston Pops Concert, and fireworks.

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

Nearby Attractions: Freedom Trail, Boston Common, Fenway Park, USS Constitution (“Old Ironside”), Boston Harbor, Plymouth Rock

Recommended RV Park: Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort, Foxboro

New Mexico: 12th annual Pork & Brew State BBQ Championship, Rio Rancho, July 3-5, 2015

Old Town Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Old Town Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Come out and enjoy this terrific family-friendly event with live entertainment, arts and crafts, fun jumps, magic show, and, of course, plenty of award-winning BBQ. The Pork & Brew is hosted by the Rio Rancho Convention & Visitors Bureau and is a fully sanctioned Kansas City BBQ Society event—one of the top 10 events on the Society calendar.

With an average attendance of more than 20,000, Pork & Brew has become one of the largest events in New Mexico. Winners go on to participate at the World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City, Missouri, October 1-4, 2015 .

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

Nearby Attractions: Jemez Mountain Trail, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Sandia Peak Tramway, Local Cuisine

Recommended RV Park: American RV Park, Albuquerque,

Alberta: The Canadian Badlands Passion Play, Drumheller, July 10-26, 2015

Travel back 2000 years to the land and events that changed the course of history. This dramatic portrayal of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in an acoustically superb natural bowl amphitheater will make you feel like you’re actually there. The Scripture-based script and music, sets, costumes, quality performances, and the site’s remarkable similarity to the Holy Land all add to the experience. “One of Alberta’s Top Cultural Attractions”—Attractions Canada

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

Nearby Attractions: Dinosaur Trail, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Royall Tyrrell Museum, Rosebud Theatre

Recommended RV Park: Dinosaur Trail RV Resort, Drumheller, Alberta

Worth Pondering…

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, rather, a manner of traveling.

—Samuel Johnson

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Must-ask Questions During RV Park Check-in

It’s the end of a long day of RV travel as you finally exit the Interstate and drive along the entrance road into your RV park destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a long sigh of relief as you anticipate a quick check-in process. You can already visualize settling into your site, hooking up the utilities, extending the slides, and kicking back and relaxing with a cool one.

But what happens when you 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 campground 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. But I digress.

Do you really want to whiz through check-in process paying mere lip service to the blah, blah, blah as the office staff attempts to give you pertinent information about your new designation and review the 19 or so rules.

During check-in the office staff will ask you the standard questions.

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many in your party?

Any pets?

Do you have a second vehicle?

Whether you are overnighting, camping for the weekend or an extended period of time, there are questions you must ask during the RV park check in process. Planning ahead and asking the right questions may save your life or the life of a family member.

In addition asking specific questions will ease the transition to your new campground and community.

What county am I in?

You need to know the county to be alert of dangerous weather. Watching the nightly news or weather channel does you no good if you don’t know where you are.

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

Where is the closest hospital/emergency care?

A medical emergency requiring a hospital or medi-center can happen at any hour, day or night.

Do you have a storm shelter? If not, where is the nearest one?

This is especially important when traveling in the spring and early summer in Tornado Alley but something you should always know. You may need to drive to a local community center or fire department. Planning ahead can save your life.

In the event you travel with pets, you may wish to know the location and phone number of the nearest vet.

Now that you have the information you need to handle emergency/medical situations you hope never happen, there may be addition questions to ask.

Where is the nearest Walmart/major grocery store?

Where is the nearest pharmacy?

End of the day at Van Horne KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
End of the day at Van Horne KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you have laundry facilities? If not, where is the closest clean Laundromat? Unless your RV is equipped with a washer/dryer, you will probably need this service at some point.

Is there a local farmers market?

Can you recommend a local restaurant?

Taking several minutes to ask the right questions just might save your life or the life of a family member. Be safe out there!

Now go get settled in your site and relax a bit.

Useful Websites

What County Am I In?: www.whatcountyamiin.com

US Hospital Finder: www.ushospitalfinder.com

Tornado Central: www.weather.com/storms/tornado

Find a Laundry: www.findalaundry.org

Walmart Store Locator: www.mobile.walmart.com/location/find

Worth Pondering…

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

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Redding For An Outdoor Adventure

With mountains all around, miles of hiking and biking trails, a river running through it, and national parks nearby, Redding is an outdoor paradise for all ages.

Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cradled by Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen, Redding has 300+ sunny days per year. It’s a great place to escape the chill of spring and the gray days of winter, too.

Redding is also home to the famous Sundial Bridge, world-class fishing, and 200 miles of hiking and biking trails for all abilities. Head out on a day-trip to see the bubbling mud pots and boiling lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or get refreshed by the waterfall at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. This 129-foot gusher is considered one of the most beautiful in the state.

Redding, an old train town named for a California & Oregon Railroad land agent, is the largest city in the Shasta Cascade region of Northern California. Redding has built a national reputation as an outdoors destination around it trail system, so much so that the National Trails Association is headquartered here. The Sacramento River Trail is paved along both sides of California’s largest waterway and the Sacramento River Rail Trail follows a course that was touted as “the road of a thousand wonders” when it was built in 1888.

Redding brags that it’s the “Second Sunniest City in the U.S.,” with 300-plus clear days a year. From the end of May to early September, families can cool off at WaterWorks Park with a trio of waterslides, action rides, and a lazy river.

Sacramento River looking west from the Sundial Bridge toward Klamath Mountains and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sacramento River looking west from the Sundial Bridge toward Klamath Mountains and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The area’s wealth of outdoor activities include Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and Lake Shasta Caverns.

Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a 300-acre campus along the banks of the Sacramento River.

Gateway to the city’s 220-mile trail system , the Park features a botanical garden, natural history and science museum, and exploration center in the guise of a traditional forest camp. The 300-acre complex is tied together by Redding’s jewel, the Sundial Bridge that was the first American project by celebrated Spanish bridge architect Santiago Calatrava. The supporting pylon and curving, translucent deck perform as the world’s largest sundial.

Eight miles west of Redding, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is located at the juncture of the Klamath Mountain range and the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley, making it home to a special collection of plant and animal life, and year-round beauty. The park features Whiskeytown Lake, Shasta Bally mountain (6,209 feet), and numerous waterfalls, providing outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for water recreation, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Lake-based recreation is popular.

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

Redding is the jumping off point for the spectacular lunar landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park boasts incredible mountain scenery reminiscent of Yosemite as well as fascinating thermal wonders similar to Yellowstone with just a small fraction of the visitors. Lassen features three of the four different types of geothermal features including steam vents, mud pots, and hot springs; all four types of volcanoes (shield, plug dome, cinder cone, and composite); and all types of naturally occurring lakes.

The focal point of the park is 10,457-foot Mt. Lassen, one of the world’s largest plug dome volcanoes and the southern-most peak in the Cascade range. Most of the park’s major attractions are along the 29-mile link in State Route 89 that encircles the peak’s east side.

Planning a visit? Surrounded by pristine mountains, lakes, and rivers, Redding offers a wide range of RV parks and campgrounds including Green Acres RV Park, Marina RV Park, Premier RV Park, Redding RV Park, and Win-River Resort.

Our site at JGW RV Park backed onto the Sacramento River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Our site at JGW RV Park backed onto the Sacramento River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our home base while touring the Redding area was JGW RV Park, a big-rig friendly resort located 9 miles south of Redding on the Sacramento River. This is a beautiful 5-star RV park with water, sewer, and 30/50-amp electric service centrally located. The majority of pull-through sites are back-to-back and side-to side.

There was no cable TV; however, we were able to obtain a satellite signal between trees and pick up numerous local stations on the antenna. Our site backed onto the Sacramento River. Interior roads are paved and in good condition with concrete pads. Strength of the Wi-Fi signal varied throughout the park during our stay in November 2014. It was inconsistent and at times inadequate from our river front site.

Worth Pondering…

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

—Rachel Carson

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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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Angel Fire RV Resort Now Open

Angel Fire Resort, located in the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, has opened its RV resort for its first summer season. The new state-of-the-art RV resort offers guests a scenic 35-acre location to camp and play.

Angel-fire-entrance-slider-960x360Some places start with RVs and call it a resort. Angel Fire started with the resort and added the RVs. The luxury resort, constructed on mountain meadowland at the foot of Carson National Forest, is now open with 102 RV spaces and will grow to offer 325 spaces in later phases.

The new RV resort includes a well-appointed private clubhouse, paved roads, fully concreted, over-sized spaces with easy pull-through access, and 30/50-amp electrical pedestals, DirecTV access, bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities, convenient Wi-Fi access and Jacuzzis, a putting green, horseshoes, a dog park and more.

With frontage access to U.S. Highway 64, the multi-million dollar resort will offer guests access to golf, fine dining, horseback riding, a zipline adventure tour, fishing and a mountain full of outdoor activities.

Additionally the resort is located on the Enchanted Circle and is in close proximity to world-class fishing in Cimarron Canyon and Eagle Nest State Park, guided hunting, and ATV trails. Guests also have access to Carson National Forest for biking and hiking.

The resort’s popular Bike Park, ranked No. 1 Bike Park in the Southwest for the second year in a row, has nearly double its trail access to more than 100 miles making it one of the largest bike parks in the North America. Additionally, the bike park is launching a new Global Gravity Season Pass—which allows season pass holders from any bike park in the world to purchase a single day pass for half price.

Entrace to Angel Fire RV Resort
Entrace to Angel Fire RV Resort

The resort will open a fully stocked fly fishing lake at the summit and offer fishing camps, lessons, and rental equipment. The resort is already home to New Mexico’s largest zipline tour, an 18-hole PGA championship golf course, and mountain lodge.

Continuing to build on its reputation as one of the largest world-class mountain biking destinations in the country, the Angel Fire Bike Park’s goal is to engage more beginners and intermediates to the sport and expand its cross-country trail network throughout the Angel Fire region and nearby Carson National Forest.

The park will also expand its new blue trail, Devinci’s Code, by two additional miles and will open to the public at the 5th annual Gravity Games and Bikes, Blues and Brews Festival, happening over Labor Day weekend. Rounding out the improvements for the park bike carriers have been added to the Chile Express chairlift for an easier transport to the summit.

A year in the making, the resort will officially open a fully stocked, fly fishing haven at the summit July 1. Summit Lake will be home to colorful Rainbow Trout and will host a series of fly fishing clinics, private lessons, and full rental equipment.

The resort is continuing to improve on its ever-popular Rocky Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour, which takes thrill-seekers through multiple zipline stages at the summit. The tour is the second highest elevation zipline tour in the United States and the largest in New Mexico.

Angel-Fire-ResortThe six-segment tour opened in 2012 and has been so popular that the resort is now adding additional early-morning tour times to give adrenaline seekers more opportunity to fly 200 feet high above the forest floor.

A zipline tour connects multiple ziplines of varying lengths and descents. The adventure begins with an introductory zipline of only 100 feet and works up to the Super Zipline, which carries guests on a 1,600-foot cable 200 feet above the forest floor.

Situated at 8,600 feet elevation, Angel Fire Resort’s high-altitude, 18-hole Championship golf is rated as one of the top five courses in New Mexico by Golf America, the course winds through two unspoiled canyons of aspen and spruce high up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Located at Olympic Park just south of the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort on Highway 434, the Angel Fire Resort Tennis Center includes six hard courts. Clinics, lessons, tournaments, and weekly play are available and start in June.

Details

AngelFireResortAngel Fire RV Resort

Some places start with RVs and call it a resort. Angel Fire is starting with the resort and adding the RVs.

Rates: $45 (May 1-June 30; October 18-December 10); $55 (July 1-October 17)

Pet Policy: Pet Friendly; Dog Park on site; 2 pets maximum on a 6-foot leash at all times: do not leave your pets unattended

Location: In Angel Fire, New Mexico in the Northeast corner of the state

Address: 10 Miller Lane, Angel Fire, NM 87710

Directions: From Taos, 24 miles east via US-64 & North Angel Fire Road

Phone: (844) 218-4107

Website: www.angelfireresort.com

Worth Pondering…

If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

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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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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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