4 Of The Best States for RV Travel & Camping

There are many great camping and outdoors destinations across the US―camping is abundant at national parks, state parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas.

Elephant Butte State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Elephant Butte State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each state has a unique appeal, but four stand out from the rest as great RV travel and camping destinations: New Mexico, Utah, South Carolina, and Georgia.

New Mexico

Artists Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe once made the landscapes of New Mexico famous, but New Mexico isn’t just for artists―there are great camping, recreational, and sightseeing opportunities.

New Mexico is home to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, numerous state parks, and historical parks. You can drive the historic US Route 66 or one of 25 scenic byways. In New Mexico, camping road trip possibilities are aplenty.

The camping possibilities are endless and quiet. The locals love their solitude and there is plenty of it. Famous for its beautiful skies, desserts, mountains, and grasslands, New Mexico offers an abundance of outdoor activities. You can hike, bike, ride ATVs and horses, hunt, fish, climb, and cave; in New Mexico, there is an outdoor adventure for everybody.

Utah

Arches National Park contains the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With its diverse landscapes, geology, and recreational opportunities, Utah is an intriguing destination. Home to five national parks and seven national monuments, Utah is a paradise for RVers who love the outdoors.  Elevations rise and fall dramatically in the shape of mountains, buttes, and plateaus, the highest reaching over 13,000 feet.

Camp in the comfort of your RV and explore the awe-inspiring geology of Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef national parks. A geological wonderland, Arches is one of Utah’s most accessible national parks. Towering spires, fins, petrified dunes, massive sandstone buttes, and balanced rocks complement the arches.

Scenic Byway 12 takes you to the heart of the American West. A journey like no other, this exceptional 124-mile route negotiates an isolated landscape of canyons, plateaus, and valleys.

South Carolina

Reedy River and Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Reedy River and Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the Lowcountry to lakes and blackwater rivers to Upcountry whitewater and waterfalls, you’ll find an endless selection of places to RV in South Carolina. From the foothills of The Upcountry to the fun activities of Myrtle Beach and The Grand Strand, unlimited camping opportunities await the RV traveler.

A land of rugged forested mountains, scenic lakes, rushing whitewater rapids, and cascading waterfalls, the Upcountry is a favorite outdoor adventure and family vacation destination.

Each year millions enjoy Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand vacations—drawn here for the swimming, sun bathing, boating, shelling, incredible seafood, and golfing.

With fun family beaches, over 100 championship golf courses, outlet malls, specialty shops, live musical theatre, nightclubs, and a variety of family attractions, Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand is a the ultimate RV destination.

Georgia

Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Georgia offers RVers unlimited travel options from stunning mountain vistas to rushing rivers and waterfalls, charming towns to bustling cities and unspoiled Atlantic beaches. A variety of RV adventures can be experienced throughout the state.

Stunning vistas amid Northeast Georgia’s mountains make this region a natural paradise for RVers. Outdoor activities include boating, fishing, and hiking. At an elevation of 4,784 feet Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s highest mountain. The re-creation of a Bavarian village complete with cobblestone alleys and old-world towers, Helen offers shopping, restaurants, mountain scenery, Oktoberfest, Alpenfest, and other seasonal festivals.

The Coast offers miles of shoreline, windswept dunes, and historic ports and towns. Savannah’s stunning architecture, 21 historic squares, and Low Country landscape make the city a top RV destination. Nestled along the coast are the city of Brunswick and four barrier islands: St. Simons, Sea, Little St. Simons, and Jekyll. A ferry ride from St. Mary’s transports travelers to Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Worth Pondering…

What a life. Today, it’s New Mexico, yesterday it was Utah, and shortly before that we were in South Carolina. Soon it will be Georgia.

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Junction: Texas Hill Country Hospitality Starts Here

Watch some birds, take a leisurely stroll, tube down the river, enjoy a sunset—and relax.

Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Junction boasts first-class outdoor recreation, a big-rig friendly RV park with true Texas hospitality, and all the mouth-watering Texas BBQ you can eat.

I expected the fresh air and open sky. After all, Junction is located on the western edge of the Texas Hill Country, elevation ranging around 2,000 feet. The abundance of outdoor activities was no surprise, either—the town is named for the junction of the north and south forks of the Llano River. Junction is ideal for fishing, tubing, and related activities, and there are scores of low-traffic roads for biking and a sprawling state park and wildlife management area checkered with hiking and biking trails.

What I hadn’t planned on was great Texas BBQ. Junction is a good place to work up an appetite, and, as it turns out, to satisfy it, too.

Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we exited I-10 (Exit 465) for Junction North Llano River RV Park my heart skipped a beat as it jumped for joy! There to the back of a large parking lot was a huge BBQ pit surrounded by many, many, many cords of firewood piled higher than a man’s head like fortress walls. And an outdoor area with picnic tables under the spread of an enormous oak.

The food gods were really smiling on me. Heading west to Arizona with limited time and no hope of seeking out Texas BBQ, I lucked upon Cooper’s. Yes, Cooper’s Bar-B-Q & Grill is a happy accident food-wise on any road trip.

The Cooper family opened its original barbecue joint in Mason in the early 1950s, and Cooper sons later took the tradition to Llano—a location eventually sold outside the family—and here. Roy and Sheila Cooper, their son Mark and daughter-in-law Kim and their children all work at the restaurant, which has been in its current location for 16 years.

Texas Hill Country is the Lone Star State’s prime outdoor destination. But it’s not mountaintops and dramatic views that make this a vacation mecca—it’s water. More than 800 freshwater springs percolate to the surface in crystalline rivers and lakes, and the spot where the North and South Llano rivers meet spawned the town of Junction in 1876. One of the town’s first civic projects was a dam for power and irrigation, and Junction eventually became the commercial hub of Kimble County, named for an Alamo defender, George Kimble. But that has never meant many more than 2,500 people enjoying life in the county seat. Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing are the most popular ways to pass a day in Junction these days.

The dawn of another day along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The dawn of another day along the North Llano River at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rolling hills and open spaces still define Junction. Wild turkeys also are a big part of the landscape. The largest concentration of Rio Grande Turkeys in the American Southwest gather in South Llano River State Park south of town. The gregarious birds winter in large flocks around the cottonwood riparian areas growing by the river. Turkeys can be spotted year-round, especially along the scrubby brush and open grasslands of the Fawn Trail that loops up open slopes for three miles.

The 524-acre park and adjacent 2,155-acre wildlife management area were donated to the state by cattle rancher Walter Buck Jr. Two miles of park front the river, but most folks congregate around the bridge near the entrance.

Activities include camping, picnicking, canoeing, tubing, swimming, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, bird-watching, and nature study.

The park offers approximately 20 miles of hiking/biking trails—15 of them prime for mountain biking—58 campsites with water and 30-amp electric service, six walk-in tent sites, and five hike-in primitive campsites.

Rest at one of the park’s top-notch bird blinds. These comfy shelters overlook water and feeding stations frequented by birds pretty much all day, although morning and evening are prime times. Common sightings are flycatchers, swallows, wrens, warblers, hawks, and hummingbirds.

Big-rig friendly North Llano River RV Park at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big-rig friendly North Llano River RV Park at Junction. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next door, the Walter Buck State Wildlife Area is a destination to hike, watch birds, and polish wildlife photography skills.

Planning a Visit? Experience true Texas hospitality with welcoming smiles at Junction North Llano River RV Park. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a clean, spacious site nestled in a natural pecan grove along the banks of the North Llano River. Big rig sites over 80-feet in length are available; spacious full hookup sites with 50/30-amp electric service, free cable, and Wi-Fi.

There’s something for everyone whether you’re staying for one night, a week, or more—water sports, birding, fishing, hunting, scenic hill country drives, restaurants, golf, shopping, and good Texas BBQ! We’d be back in a Texas minute!

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.

—Elmer Kelto

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Banff: Jewel of the Canadian Rockies

One of the best things about Banff National Park is just how accessible the scenery is. Impressive waterfalls, alpine lakes, craggy peaks, and surging rivers sit just a stone’s throw from the scenic roads and highway.

Mt. Rundle, a prominent wedge-shaped peak, overlooks the townsite of Banff
Mt. Rundle, a prominent wedge-shaped peak, overlooks the townsite of Banff © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled amongst the towering peaks and stunning glacier-fed lakes of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason.

Whether by car, RV, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes, or canoe, in Banff National Park you can enjoy year-round discovery of the mountainous landscape. As the first national park established in Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, what makes Banff so special is its combination of vast unspoiled wilderness, mountain lakes like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, and the gateway to it all: the Town of Banff.

Lake Louise has become symbolic of the quintessentially Canadian mountain scene. This alpine lake, known for its sparkling blue waters, is situated at the base of impressive glacier-clad peaks.

Located nearby, Moraine Lake, with its indigo blue waters surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks, is another of Canada’s most iconic lakes.

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

Established in 1885, Banff was the first national park in Canada. In 1883, two years before the completion of Canada’s first transcontinental railroad, three railroad workers stumbled upon a series of hot springs on the lower shoulder of what is now called Sulphur Mountain. By 1885, the springs and surrounding area were set aside as Canada’s first national park.

The Canadian Pacific Railway immediately recognized the tourism potential of the Canadian Rockies. In 1888, they opened the elegant 250-room Banff Springs Hotel. Chateau Lake Louise soon followed.

Banff National Park sees 4 million visitors each year. The peak season is July and August.

The history of the area is also captured by a number of museums, including the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff Park Museum, Luxton Museum, and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

The hiking in Banff National Park is about as good as it gets—anywhere. What Banff has to offer is variety. Choose any difficulty level, length, and duration and you’ve got a multitude of options. You can hike along the shores of dazzling blue lakes, up to quaint mountain teahouses, through carpets of wildflowers, and up high to spectacular viewpoints.

Nestled amongst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason. Whether by car, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes or canoe, in Banff National
Nestled amongst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason. Whether by car, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes or canoe, in Banff National. Respect the fact that mountain weather can change quickly and it can be severe. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For one of the most authentic experiences available to travelers in Banff National Park, hike to your choice of two alpine tea houses at Lake Louise. These historic cabins, nestled quaintly along some of the most breathtaking trails in the country, provide welcome rest and refreshments to visitors. While the hike to just one of these provides a rewarding experience for hikers of many abilities, adventurous hikers can take on the “Tea House Challenge” and trek to both Lake Agnes and Plain of Six Glaciers in one day (9 miles round trip).

To travel the Icefields Parkway is to experience one of Canada’s national treasures and most rewarding destinations. Rated one of the world’s great scenic highways by National Geographic, the Icefields Parkway is a world-class journey through a vast wilderness of pristine mountain lakes, more than 100 ancient glaciers, waterfalls cascading from dramatic rock spires, and broad sweeping valleys.

Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This road heads north from Lake Louise towards the Columbia Icefield, where you can hop on the Ice Explorer and venture onto the Athabasca Glacier—or step out on the newly opened Glacial Skywalk. Other popular stops include Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake.

Banff National Park is a haven for wildlife. While the likelihood of an encounter with an animal is unpredictable, when it does happen—and the animal is viewed from a safe distance—it can be a magical experience.

Watching a herd of elk in a field, big horn sheep grazing along the roadside, a mountain goat scaling a cliff, or a grizzly bear fishing in a creek is something unique to the natural world and the “big backyard” of Banff National Park.

Worth Pondering…

The mountains are calling and I must go.

—John Muir

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Cumberland Island: Wild, Pristine Seashore

Public beaches are often crowded, noisy places. But less popular areas can be incredibly peaceful.

A total of 50 miles of hiking trails meander through maritime forests, interior wetlands, historic districts, marsh ecosystems, and the beautiful beaches. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A total of 50 miles of hiking trails meander through maritime forests, interior wetlands, historic districts, marsh ecosystems, and the beautiful beaches. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you ready to hit the beach without the crowds? Where you can find a piece of the coast to call your own?

Epoch Times recently named Cumberland Island as one of the top three off the beaten path and secluded beaches in the world. That’s high praise when you’re only bested by Hawaii and Spain.

Published in 21 languages in 35 countries across five continents, Epoch Times said, “Roughly the size of Manhattan Cumberland island is Georgia’s southern-most island and a place where you can truly get away from the modern world. With no bridge to come to Cumberland island the travelers have to use ferry or private boat to get to this beautiful place which is manage by the national park service. ”

Cumberland Island also appears on lists as one of America’s Most Beautiful Beaches and Best Wilderness Beach in the Southeast.

In naming Cumberland Island one of America’s best wild beaches, the Wilderness Society stated, “Glistening white beaches with sand dunes, freshwater lakes and saltwater marshes fill this 16-mile-long island, the northern portion of which is designated Wilderness. Visitors can access the beach at designated dune crossings. Wildlife include alligators, loggerhead turtles and pelicans, as well as many fish that make this a prime place for surf fishing.”

Dungeness Ruins has a very long history to tell. The name came originally from the very first property, which was a hunting lodge named Dungeness, in the area, owned by James Oglethorpe in 1736. In 1803, it was replaced by a mansion built by Nathaniel Greene, which was later on used as a headquarters by the British. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dungeness Ruins has a very long history to tell. The name came originally from the very first property, which was a hunting lodge named Dungeness, in the area, owned by James Oglethorpe in 1736. In 1803, it was replaced by a mansion built by Nathaniel Greene, which was later on used as a headquarters by the British. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although Georgia’s Atlantic coastline is only about 100 miles long, the Peach State is home to 30 percent of the barrier islands along the Atlantic Seaboard. And Cumberland is the largest and fairest of them all with the longest expanse of pristine seashore—18 glorious miles of deserted sand. Truly, this is a bucket list destination.

Before the National Park Service acquired most of the island for a national seashore, 90 percent of it was the private domain of Lucy and Thomas Carnegie (brother of Andrew) and their descendants. The Carnegies bought the island in the 1880s and built five mansions on it during the next two decades. The most superb house was the opulent 59-room, Queen Anne-style Dungeness on the island’s south end.

Dungeness burned nearly to the ground in 1959 from a fire suspected as arson, but its ruins are a must-see for visitors.

We stopped during our visit to the island in early December 2007 to gaze at the tall chimneys, solid brick walls, and other stark remains of the old mansion.

After pausing at an old cemetery where war hero, “Light Horse” Harry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) was interred following his death on the island in 1818, we further explored the island. Continuing the 3 ½-mile Dungeness Trail as it loops around the island’s southern tip, we walked the raised boardwalk over the dunes to the wide, secluded beach, alive with crabs and shorebirds including the American Oystercatcher and Least Tern.

Visitors are reminded these are feral horses and should be treated as wild animals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Visitors are reminded these are feral horses and should be treated as wild animals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On several occasions we encountered many of the 250 feral horses that roam the island, descendants of steeds the Carnegies released during their heyday. Beloved by visitors, they are perhaps the most popular feature to the island.

We saw in Cumberland what the Native American inhabitants glimpsed thousands of years ago, as they roamed the densely wooded, 18-mile-long isle of land hunting and fishing.

We saw what enchanted Spanish missionaries saw in 1566. And what endeared the British, who built forts in the early 1700s to protect their fledgling Georgia colony. And what captivated industrialist Thomas Carnegie and his wife, Lucy, who purchased large swaths of the island in the 1880s and built lavish winter retreats.

And what bewitched John F. Kennedy Jr., who married Carolyn Bessette at a tiny African-American church near the island’s north end. He had personally painted and worked on the chapel himself through the years when visiting friend Gogo Ferguson, a Carnegie descendant, and swore he’d wed there one day. And so he did.

After meandering lazily along the wide, sandy, shell-flecked beach, we slowly made our way to Sea Camp dock where we re-boarded the passenger ferry for a sunset cruise back to the mainland (St. Marys, Georgia).

Don’t be late for that last ferry or you’ll have to spend the night on the porch of the visitors’ center.

We walked the raised boardwalk over the dunes to the wide, secluded beach, alive with crabs and shorebirds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
We walked the raised boardwalk over the dunes to the wide, secluded beach, alive with crabs and shorebirds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer is high season, both for tourists and insects, so be sure to reserve your spot on the ferry and the tour well in advance. There are refreshments on the ferry, but nothing on the island, so be prepared!

Worth Pondering…

The beach is the draw—

17 miles of hard packed blonde sands.

You can walk forever and seldom meet a soul

—Esquire

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Call of the Open Road

An RV travel adventure has no substitute. It is the ultimate experience, one for family fun!

Lake George/Adirondack Region of Upstate New York  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Lake George/Adirondack Region of Upstate New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer is the peak season for RVers to travel the open road and experience the wonders of the United States and Canada, but where to go?

RVers are often creatures of habit and return to the same location year after year.

With so many great vacation spots through the U.S. and Canada, this is the summer to explore new areas of the vast countryside. There are so many cool places to go and not enough time.

Make plans to head out on the road and explore a new region this summer.

Lake George/Adirondack Region of Upstate New York

Beautiful Lake George is at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondack Park is a 6 million acre forever wild park. With 3,000 ponds and lakes and over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there is a lot of outdoor adventure and fun to be found in the Adirondack Mountains.

Head down the Schroon River in a kayak, stop by the Courthouse Gallery to see the latest exhibit, and end your day at Shepard Park for Thursday night fireworks.

From museums to historic forts, free concerts, theatre, and butterfly farms, there are plenty of ways to broaden your mind and renew the spirit in Lake George. And for the youngsters, there are mine tours, mini golf, and a Six Flags amusement park nearby.

Reedy River and Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Reedy River and Falls Park, Greenville, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Greenville/South Carolina Upcountry

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, South Carolina’s Upcountry packs plenty of alpine splendor.

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

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.

Holbrook/Route 66/Petrified Forest National Park

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

Holbrook is the central point for a variety of adventures in Northeastern Arizona. The Petrified Forest National Park, Homolovi Ruins, Window Rock, Canyon de Chelly, Native American Cultures, rich Old West and Pioneer history, scenic vistas, the Mogollon Rim, and a diversity of recreational settings are all within easy driving distance of Holbrook.

Not only can you sleep in a teepee on old Route 66 at the very cool Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, but each of the 15 individual concrete pointed-ceiling lodgings is fronted by a beautifully restored vintage car.

Wander out to the nearby Petrified Forest National Park, one of the world’s largest and most vibrantly colored assemblies of petrified wood, historic structures, and archeological sites. Check out the Agate House, a ruin that demonstrates the ancient Puebloan practice of using the petrified wood as a building material.

Holmes County/Ohio Amish Country

Holmes County/Ohio Amish Country  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Holmes County/Ohio Amish Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why do four million people a year visit Ohio’s Amish Country? Well, where else can you see the “Amish Sistine Chapel,” watch one of the nation’s oldest livestock auctions, shop at the world’s largest retailer of non-electric appliances, or take a guided back-road tour that ends with dinner in an Amish Home?

Holmes County has bakeries, cheese houses, wineries, quilt and craft shops, and 80 hardwood furniture stores. Explore the unique culture of the Amish with a vacation in central Ohio, home of the world’s largest Amish community.

Enjoy beautiful scenery, visit an Amish farm, savor homemade foods, and listen for the clip-clop of a horse and buggy, the most common sight in an Amish community. Shop for handmade quilts, artwork and furniture in Millersburg, Berlin, or Walnut Creek.

There is so much more to see and do in this beautiful and historic area. Take time to explore this great county in beautiful Ohio. You’ll be glad you did.

Worth Pondering…

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

—Rachel Carson

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Explore The Diversity Of New Mexico State Parks

From rugged mountaintops to grassy plains to lowland desert, New Mexico is indeed a true Land of Enchantment.

Elephant Butte State Park  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Elephant Butte State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Encompassing six of the world’s seven life zones, the state’s landscapes exude diversity. Offering unlimited of unique opportunities, the Land of Enchantment attracts millions of visitors who seek out its scenic beauty and countless outdoor recreation activities.

Enjoy camping, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, birdwatching, picnicking, photography, stargazing and much more. You can do all this and more for bargain prices in the state parks of the Land of Enchantment.

From June to August 2014, New Mexico State Parks hosted 1,740,799 visitors. Elephant Butte State Park had 395,522 visitors during that time. And since the water is up, state park officials expect considerably more this summer. The water level of the state’s largest and most popular lake is up over 45 feet from the 2013 low point.

For those looking for a less crowded getaway, the Land of Enchantment boasts 35 state parks and 24 of those parks have ponds, streams, rivers, or lakes. When planning a weekend getaway or summer vacation, consider coordinating visits to state museums and monuments and national parks in the area.

To get started, check out the following state parks.

Leasburg Dam State Park  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Leasburg Dam State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bottomless Lakes State Park: Located just 14 miles southeast of Roswell, Bottomless Lakes State Park is your place for bottomless fun. Enjoy non-motorized boating in your kayak or canoe, camp, fish, picnic, swim, hike, go birding or even scuba dive! The unique lakes at this park are sinkholes, ranging from 17 to 90 feet deep. The greenish-blue color created by aquatic plants is what gives the lakes the illusion of great depth.

City of Rocks State Park: A kid pleaser that looks like a sci-fi movie set, the “city” is the result of erosion of rocks deposited after a mega volcanic eruption 34.9 million years ago. Located between Silver City and Deming, City of Rocks offers a visitor center and observatory, camp sites, hiking trails, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, birding, stargazing, picnic areas, modern restrooms with hot showers, and a desert botanical garden.

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Elephant Butte State Park: New Mexico’s largest state park offers restrooms, picnic areas, playgrounds, and camping with developed sites with electric and water hook-ups for RVs and boating facilities that can accommodate kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, sailboats, ski boats, cruisers, and houseboats.

Caballo Lake State Park: Framed against the Caballo Mountains, the lake boasts an array of water recreation, such as boating, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, swimming, and fishing. The park has 170 campsites, many offering utility hookups for RVs.

Leasburg Dam State Park: A short 25 minute drive north of Las Cruces, this park offers peace and relaxation, canoeing and kayaking, hiking and birding, an observatory that offers night sky programs, and small and big rig RV camping.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park: On the Rio Grande near Mesilla, this quiet park has self-guided nature trails, ranger-guided tours, and a visitor center that’s a great place for information about the area and its wildlife.

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park: Near Alamogordo, this park offers views of the Sacramento Mountains, a historic ranch house, nature trails, camping, and an oasis of pools of water under the cottonwood trees of Dog Canyon.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pancho Villa State Park: Located between the border communities of Columbus and Palomas, Mexico, this unique park and campground offers a chance to explore both of now-friendly little towns and learn about their unique roles in history. The park’s exhibit hall has a vintage aircraft and displays that bring to life the days of Camp Furlong, the Pancho Villa Raid, and a fascinating chapter in military and Borderland history. The campground, particularly beautiful when cactuses are in bloom, has utility hookups for RVs and a playground for youngsters.

Rio Grande Nature Center State Park: Located in Albuquerque on the Rio Grande flyway, the park offers excellent birdwatching opportunities throughout the year. There are indoor and outdoor wildlife viewing areas overlooking ponds, and trail access to the Rio Grande.

Rockhound State Park: Campgrounds, trails, wildflowers, the scenic Little Florida Mountains and, of course, the geological specimens that attract rockhounds from around the world, are stellar attractions for this park near Deming.

Santa Rosa Lake State Park: This reservoir on the plains of eastern New Mexico offers fishing, boating, camping, and hiking, as well as abundant bird watching opportunities. Equestrians are welcome at the Los Tanos Campground.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on the Public Lands Of New Mexico

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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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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Red Bluff: Scenic Springtime Escape

Searching for a springtime escape, one that won’t disappoint?

Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Try Red Bluff, a scenic Northern California town nestled near some of the most spectacular landscapes in North America.

Red Bluff derives its name from its location on a high vertical bank at the bend of the Sacramento River.

You can begin your explorations of Red Bluff where the town began on the west bank of the Sacramento River in William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park. A.M. Dibble built the park adobe house in 1852 that now does duty as a museum. Many of the town’s Victorian buildings that followed still stand downtown as does the classical-flavored Tehama County Courthouse and the Deco-inspired State Theatre.

Imagine the experience of learning science in a 500 acre outdoor classroom located on the Sacramento River. Just south of Red Bluff, the Sacramento River Discovery Center offers walking interpretive trails through native riparian habitats, such as riparian forest, flowering grasslands, wetlands, and oak woodlands, and a demonstration agricultural site.

The more benign surroundings of the rolling blue oak savannah above the Sacramento River are traversed on the eight-mile Yana Trail. Out on the road, the Tehama Trail leads to olive farms, vineyards, and nut orchards for tours and tastings.

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

For pure driving excitement, point your wheels down Highway 36 West as it winds toward the US-101 Coastal Highway.

Just 31 miles to the north is the city of Redding and a wealth of outdoor activities that include Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the renown Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, and Lake Shasta Caverns.

Red Bluff is the jumping off point for the spectacular lunar landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This May marks the 100th anniversary of the historic explosion that established the park.

The main park road provides north-south access through Lassen. The road links Highway 89 from the Southwest Entrance Station near Highway 36 north past Bumpass Hell, Helen Lake, and the staging area for Lassen Peak. The park road continues along Summit Lake and past Chaos Crags en route to the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station near Highway 44, the closest entrance to Red Bluff.

Lassen is spectacular. It’s the only place you can see several volcanoes that all have a different type of cone. Lassen is renowned for its volcanic past and its massive eruptions from 1914 through ’18, and as a destination for its lava-plug-dome volcanic peak, geothermal areas, great day hikes, and wilderness, including a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. And for RVers, it’s a wonderful destination with much to see and ample RV campsites.

Summit Viewpoint, Lassen Volcanic National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Summit Viewpoint, Lassen Volcanic National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Red Bluff takes center stage each April for the annual Red Bluff Round-Up (95th annual; April 15-17, 2016) that was first staged by cattle ranchers in 1918. Now the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo is one of the West’s largest and includes a week of events throughout the community including a bowling tournament, foot race, pancake breakfast, street dance, antique shows, golf tournament, chili cook-off, parade, and more.

Planning a visit? Consider camping at big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, a 5-star resort located on the Sacramento River. Most sites are pull-through 70-90 feet in length and 30-35 feet wide. In addition there are 11 riverfront sites and 21 water-feature spaces (fountains); these sites have utilities on both sides of the concrete pads enabling fifth wheels and travel trailer to back onto the sites and motorhomes to drive forward maximizing the view and water features.

Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights
Big-rig friendly, Durango RV Resort, was our home base during a recent visit to Red Bluff, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, Durango has a number of buddy sites. The park is well laid out and designed. Utilities including 20/30/50-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (63 channels) and centrally located. Interior roads are paved, pads are concrete. A beautiful RV resort with friendly and courteous staff. We would return in a heartbeat.

Worth Pondering…

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

—e. e. cummings

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Top National Parks of British Columbia

The license plates say it all—“Beautiful British Columbia.”

Glacier National Park (Photo Credit: Parks Canada)
Glacier National Park (Photo Credit: Parks Canada)

British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province is a land of lush forests, massive mountains, picturesque coastlines, and fertile valleys.

British Columbia is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor retreats. This vast province offers more natural wonders than any other part of Canada and, much like the American West, is an absolute haven for campers and RVers.

The origin of Canada’s National Parks lies in the mountain parks of Western Canada. Some of the first national parks are located in British Columbia. Yoho and Glacier national parks were among the first to be established. Later, Mount Revelstoke and the Kootenay national parks were founded. Today, the province of British Columbia features six national parks in total.

Glacier National Park 

Carved from the rugged Selkirk and Purcell Mountains by glaciers, Glacier National Park is bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway. This mountainous wilderness is named for its more than 400 permanent  glaciers. Today you will find rugged mountain landscape, narrow valleys, icefields, and glaciers. Many avalanche slopes, caused by heavy snowfall can be seen.

Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park (Photo credit: Parks Canada)
Kootenay National Park (Photo credit: Parks Canada)

Kootenay National Park showcases a diverse landscape of impressive range of mountains, lush meadows, crystal clear lakes, canyons, dense forests, and hot springs. Wildlife is abundant, with mountain goat, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, black and grizzly bear.

Marble Canyon is a 2,000-foot canyon carved out by the meandering Tokkum Creek. Today the walls of the canyon are so polished after centuries of wind and rain that the limestone walls resemble marble (hence the name). The Paint Pots is a series of pools formed by river minerals, compliments of the Vermilion River that flows nearby.

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Mount Revelstoke National Park (Photo credit: Summit Post)
Mount Revelstoke National Park (Photo credit: Summit Post)

Located near the community of Revelstoke, Mount Revelstoke National Park is bounded by the Trans Canada Highway to the southeast. The contrasting landscape ranges from dense rain forests and lush alpine meadows to rocky ridges and glaciers. Red cedars, more than 1,000 years of age, can be discovered on the Giant Cedars hiking trail.

Drive the 16-mile Meadows in the Sky Parkway as it winds up the side of Mount Revelstoke and its 6,388-foot summit. During the summer months, the meadows near the summit are a dazzling display of wildflowers.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino (Photo credit: Tofino Accommodation)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino (Photo credit: Tofino Accommodation)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a thin strip of land along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. Its magnificent islands, beaches, and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound), and the challenging 45-mile West Coast Trail.

The Long Beach Unit is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. Long Beach is an almost mystical place, a broad and—yes—long beach of great waves and breathtaking beauty.

One of the best-known and most challenging hikes in North America, the West Coast Trail follows a rugged shoreline where approximately 66 ships have met their demise along this stretch of the “Graveyard of the Pacific”.

Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park (Photo credit: (Matthew Timmins)
Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park (Photo credit: (Matthew Timmins)

Named for a Cree expression of ‘awe and wonder’, a trip to Yoho is truly awesome. The park offers a diverse landscape of towering mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, expansive glaciers, thundering waterfalls, and spectacular alpine landscape.

These same features were the curse of railway engineers and inspired the construction of the Spiral Tunnels, an engineering marvel. Although many of its highlights are accessible by road, Yoho is also a hiker’s dream. Discover half a billion-year old fossils on a guided hike to the restricted Burgess Shale fossil beds or take an afternoon stroll around Emerald Lake or to Wapta Falls.

For more information on the national parks of Super, Natural British Columbia, visit www.hellobc.com.

Worth Pondering…

Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne

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A Many-Splendored Only in New Mexico Thing

The recently designated Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is a many-splendored, only in New Mexico thing.

The Organ Mountains, east of the city of Las Cruces, are characterized by steep, angular, barren rock outcroppings.
The Organ Mountains, east of the city of Las Cruces, are characterized by steep, angular, barren rock outcroppings. (Photo Credit: Michael Richie/New Mexico Magazine)

Established on May 21, 2014, by Presidential Proclamation, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument includes 496,330 acres.

The Monument recognizes and protects southern New Mexico’s stunning landscapes, significant geologic wonders, diverse ecological communities, and pristine Native American rock art.

The National Monument includes four distinct areas: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.

The Organ Mountains, east of the city of Las Cruces, are characterized by steep, angular, barren rock outcroppings. They rise to nearly 9,000 feet in elevation and extend for 20 miles, running generally north and south.

On the northwest side of Las Cruces are the mountain ranges and peaks of the Robledo and Doña Ana Mountains and Sierra de las Uvas, which make up the Desert Peaks area. These desert landscapes are characterized by numerous mesas and buttes interspersed with deep canyons and arroyos.

To the southwest side of Las Cruces are the Potrillo Mountains. These mountains are a series of cinder cones with volcanic craters and basalt lava flows in an open desert landscape.

The well-maintained Soledad Canyon loop trail is only 15 minutes from Las Cruces.
The well-maintained Soledad Canyon loop trail is only 15 minutes from Las Cruces. (Photo Credit: Michael Richie/New Mexico Magazine)

The monument’s diverse ecological communities include Upper Chihuahuan Desert grasslands and savannas, riparian corridors, sky-island pygmy forests, and even a subalpine zone in the Organ Mountains.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks are a popular recreation area with multiple hiking trails (including four designated National Recreation Trails), a popular campground, the Kilbourne Hole Volcanic Crater National Natural Landmark, and opportunities for hunting, mountain biking, and other dispersed recreation.

The Monument has been a homeland for diverse Native American peoples, a place of exploration for 17th Century Spaniards, a hideout for one of the American West’s most notorious outlaws, and a training ground for World War II airmen and Apollo astronauts.
Abundant cultural sites dating back 10,000-12,000 years dot the landscape including evidence of Mogollon, Mimbres, and Jornada peoples.

Prolific, well-preserved rock art is one of the monument’s defining qualities. BLM estimates include up to 8,000 archaeological sites, from large pueblos to ceramic scatters. A few notable sites, like the huge outdoor exhibition at Apache Flats, comprising over 250 panels, are quite accessible.

Five hikes based out of Las Cruces through the monument’s four areas, offer a cross-section of the abundant recreational opportunities available.

The colorfully layered, 5,900-foot Robledo Mountains’ ridgeline soars 2,000 feet straight above the Río Grande.
The colorfully layered, 5,900-foot Robledo Mountains’ ridgeline soars 2,000 feet straight above the Río Grande. (Photo Credit: Michael Richie/New Mexico Magazine)

Las Cruces’ convenient proximity with its numerous 5-star RV parks serve as a base camp for day trips. Another popular choice for year-round camping is Leasburg Dam State Park located 15 miles north of Las Cruces off I-15.

Valles and Broad Canyons Riparian Corridor Hike 

The Valles Canyon/Broad Canyon corridor features rugged scenery, diverse vegetation, varied wildlife, and well-preserved rock art. Towering north-facing cliffs shelter willows, mesquite trees, ash, desert hawthorns, mature gray oaks, and 750-year-old grandfather junipers. The constant sense of discovery on this three-to-eight-mile open-ended hike makes it difficult to turn around and head back—and it’s just as incredible in reverse.

Soledad Canyon Hike 

This hidden, 6,000-foot-elevation, 10-square-mile natural botanical garden, enclosed by intricately sculpted volcanic peaks and sheer cliffs and pinnacles, is carved into the Organ Mountains’ west slope, where the Needles give way to the gigantic caldera forming the southern part of the range. The well-maintained three-mile loop trail is only 15 minutes from Las Cruces.

Robledo Palisades Hike 

The colorfully layered, 5,900-foot Robledo Mountains’ ridgeline soars 2,000 feet straight above the Río Grande. A dozen hikeable canyons penetrate this five-mile stretch of east-facing white-tuff palisades.

The sprawling Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument is divided into four individually named, discrete sections: the Doña Ana Mountains, the Organ Mountains Area, the Desert Peaks Complex, and the Potrillo Mountains. (Source: New Mexico Magazine)
The sprawling Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument is divided into four individually named, discrete sections: the Doña Ana Mountains, the Organ Mountains Area, the Desert Peaks Complex, and the Potrillo Mountains. (Source: New Mexico Magazine)

Kilbourne Hole Hike 

Twenty-five miles of dusty roads across endless mesquite and creosote brush flats and there’s still no clue that a spectacular, otherworldly crater lies ahead, until you’re standing awestruck on Kilbourne Hole’s precipitous edge. Roughly elliptical in shape, two miles long by more than a mile across and up to 300 feet deep, it is the largest, most perfectly formed volcanic maar (volcanic crater) on earth.

Aden Crater Hike 

The short, gradual walk up to the 4,300-foot-elevation rim suddenly opens out into a circular world of lush green grasses and ocotillo forests bounded by a black lava rim.

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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