4 RV Vacations You Need to Take

Hitting the open road is an American dream. But doing it in an RV means that you can bring all your amenities with you. That’s living in luxury—virtually anywhere.

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

RVing can be an ideal vacation for kids, and an inexpensive way to have that family vacation you always wanted.

Banff, Alberta

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.

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.

Red Bluff, California 

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

For a summertime escape that won’t disappoint, 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 on the Sacramento River.

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.

Red Bluff is the jumping off point for the spectacular lunar landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Galveston, Texas

Bishop's Palace, Galveston, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Bishop’s Palace, Galveston, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Galveston is one of the oldest and most historic cities in Texas. From its time as a major 1800s-era shipping port, through the devastating Hurricane of 1900 and up until modern day, Galveston has played a major role in shaping Texas history.

Galveston sits on a barrier island two miles offshore surrounded by 32 miles of sandy beaches, numerous attractions, and one of the largest and best-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the US. From soft sandy beaches to famous 19th century architecture, the island is surrounded with incredible history and unique beauty.

Running parallel to Galveston Beach and the Gulf of Mexico is the island’s famous Seawall that stretches for more than 10 miles and rises 17 feet above mean sea level.

The Seawall is as much a playground as it is a protective barrier for the City against the ever changing tides of the Gulf of Mexico.

A premier Texas destination, Galveston never disappoints with its unlimited attractions.

Sedona, Arizona

Beautiful. Mysterious. Seductive. These words describe Sedona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.
Beautiful. Mysterious. Seductive. These words describe Sedona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved.

Beautiful. Mysterious. Seductive. These words describe Sedona. The massive red-orange buttes and spires surrounding Sedona carry imaginative names reflecting their curious shapes—names like Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, Coffee Pot, and Snoopy.

Drive through the 16-mile gorge of the Oak Creek Canyon. Slide Rock State Park, about 7 miles up the canyon from Sedona on Highway 89A, is famous for its natural water slide with cool water and warm rocks creating great swimming holes.

And then there is Tlaquepaque (Tla-keh-pah-keh), a beautiful artist colony and shopping area. Set among stately sycamores and lush gardens it was built in the Spanish colonial style in the 1970s as a lace for artists to live and work.

One of the most popular activities in Sedona is to take a Jeep tour out into the more remote parts of the Red Rock Country. Our favorite of these trips is up and over the primitive Schnebly Hill Road (FS 153) which zigzags east from State Route 179 in Sedona, 13 miles to I-17.

Bring your hiking boots and camera.

Worth Pondering…

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.

—Jack Kerouac

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Nothing Behind Me, Everything Ahead Of Me On The Great American Road Trip

One of the most quintessentially American experiences is the road trip.

Anyone who has listened to John Denver sing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains can easily imagine the transcendent beauty of Shenandoah National Park.
Anyone who has listened to John Denver sing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains can easily imagine the transcendent beauty of Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Drive. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is it about road trips? The adventure? The unknown?

Maybe Jack Kerouac nailed it in his highway-focused tome On the Road when he wrote, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road”.

Undecided about your RV vacation? Here are four tips to make your road trip a fantastic experience.

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Skyline Drive, the 105-mile road that bisects the length of Shenandoah National Park winding along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains provides stunning views of the park’s mountains, valleys, and forests.

Skyline Drive is the only public road through the park and offers 75 overlooks with breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont area to the east. The long, narrow park flows outward, upward, and downward from the highway that splits it.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Native Indians named the valley Shenandoah, mean­ing Daughter of the Stars, for the expansive firmament that roofed their world. Daylight vistas of gently slop­ing mountains, forests, and tumbling rivers, and mountain streams are equally sparkling.

West Texas & Big Bend

Nothing beats the West Texas sky when the clouds roll in. Or when the sun sets. Or when the stars come out. Take a tour of Big Bend National Park, Marathon, Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, and Balmorhea State Park.

Big Bend is a stunning mix of topography and ecosystems from the rugged Chisos Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert to the verdant banks of the Rio Grande River.

Lying some 36 miles to the north, the tiny community of Marathon is dotted with adorable old-timey eateries and other super Texas-y things. Check out the historic and beautiful Gage Hotel and Shirley Burn’t Biscuit Bakery, a Marathon institution providing fresh baked goods daily.

A remote, high-desert jewel nestled in the tall hills of West Texas, Alpine is a friendly, bustling community of a little over 5,000 people in a scenic valley that feels like nowhere else in the state.

Marfa has long been known for its art-world, off-beat cool factor, a mix of kitsch and bizarre; the Marfa Lights Festival kicks off on the Labor Day weekend (29th annual; September 4-6, 2015).

Red Rock Scenic Byway Visitor Information Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Red Rock Scenic Byway Visitor Information Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Davis is pure Texas, as genuine as the working cattle ranches on the outskirts of town. The area’s lively military history is preserved at Fort Davis National Historic Site. An internationally known attraction, the McDonald Observatory is a 17 mile drive up a pretty canyon north of town.

Don’t miss Balmorhea an oasis in the desert north of Big Bend. The San Soloman Springs feed the swimming pool, keeping the water at a refreshing 74 degrees.

Red Rock Scenic Byway, Arizona

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls.”

This highly acclaimed National Scenic Byway, begins shortly after you exit #298 off I-17 and has earned the distinction of being Arizona’s First All-American Road. Although the Scenic Byway is only 7.5 miles, it is long on spectacular sights.

Sedona’s Red Rocks are comprised of sediment layers deposited over many millions of years. The shale foundation is the remainder of ancient swamp lands. Other layers are the remainder of an ancient beachfront that deposited iron about 275 million years ago. This iron is what gives Sedona’s rocks their rich red color.

Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, North Carolina and Tennessee

Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The name “Cherohala” comes from the names of the two National Forests: “Chero” from the Cherokee and “hala” from the Nantahala.

Located in southeast Tennessee and southwest North Carolina, the Skyway connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with Robbinsville, North Carolina, and is about 40+ miles long. The elevations range from 900 feet above sea level at the Tellico River in Tennessee to over 5,400 feet above sea level at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line at Haw Knob.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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More Americans To Take Summer Road Trip

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and kicks off summer vacation planning season. More Americans will take to the roads this year as they benefit from the low fuel prices.

travelocity-road-trip-infographicAccording to a recent Travelocity survey of 1000 Americans, 65 percent of those polled stated that they were more likely to take a road trip this summer compared to last summer.

While it’s clear that low fuel prices are likely driving Americans to take more road trips, Travelocity’s survey also looked at why road trips are still popular when it comes to travel.

While the majority of those surveyed replied that the destination is what they most look forward to, a full one-third of those polled felt that the best part of a road trip is the journey itself.

This sentiment was echoed by a number of Travelocity customers who were asked what they loved most about going on road trips. According to one veteran Travelocity customer, sharing and enjoying their favorite music on the road by “making road trip mixes” is the best part of a road trip, while another noted that it is “…fun to pull over to random roadside attractions. Those usually create long lasting memories and stories that will forever commemorate the trip.”

When asked about what person with whom they would least want to undertake a road trip, 35 percent of those surveyed responded that it would be “the fussy child”, followed by “the one who needs frequent bathroom breaks” (20%) and “the backseat driver” (16%).

Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When asked how long they could go without needing to stop for a break, the average across those surveyed was five hours. However, when broken down by gender, the difference turned out to be substantial. While on average, women feel that they could go just over four hours between stops, while men claim that they can go almost an hour longer before having to pull over.

The Road Trip

The tradition of taking a road trip dates back about 3,000 years.

The first road trip likely occurred in ancient Egypt around 1200 B.C., when Ramses II hit the road in his chariot.

Similar ventures—using the well-loved automobile—began in Germany in the 1880s.

As the car’s popularity grew, so did the practice of taking to roadways for a carefree holiday.

The road trip became an easy, breezy travel idea that’s affordable and accessible—and in America today there is no shortage of highways, byways, and back roads.

Answering the call of the open road is practically an American rite of passage—and today more and more are taking to the open road in a recreational vehicle.

Anyone who has listened to John Denver sing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains can easily imagine the transcendent beauty of Shenandoah National Park.
Anyone who has listened to John Denver sing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains can easily imagine the transcendent beauty of Shenandoah National Park along the Blue Ridge Parkway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Scenic Byways

So put the pedal to the metal, crank up those tunes, and roll down those windows to gaze upon America the beautiful as it rolls by.

Indulge your wanderlust on wheels while exploring the following National Scenic Byways.

Scenic Byway 12 (Utah)

Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. It runs through Utah’s Garfield and Wayne Counties and is home to Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks; Kodachrome Basin, Escalante Petrified Forest, and Anasazi Museum State Parks; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the 1.8-million-acre Dixie National Forest.

Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia and North Carolina)

The Blue Ridge Parkway provides spectacular mountain and valley vistas, quiet pastoral scenes, sparkling waterfalls, and colorful flower and foliage displays as it extends through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Connecting two national parks—Shenandoah in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountainsin North Carolina—the Blue Ridge Parkway traverses 469 miles through blue-misted Appalachian highlands.

Red Rock Scenic Byway (Arizona)

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls.” Travelers are amazed by the high desert’s power, diversity, and sense of intimacy with nature. Inhabited for thousands of years, the stunning red rocks are alive with a timeless spirit that captivates and inspires.

El Camino Real (New Mexico)

New Mexico’s El Camino Real passes by missions, historic sites, and a national wildlife refuge.

Cultures along El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road of the Interior Land), are as diverse as its history and scenery. Pueblos reveal artisans crafting wares using centuries-old methods. First traveled by Don Juan de Onate in 1598, the route provided news, supplies, and travel to the first capital of the New World.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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5 Must-See Stops on a Road Trip Across America

Every RVer’s bucket list should include at least one road trip across America.

Remember the Alamo! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Remember the Alamo! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want to make it extra memorable? Consider stopping at one—or all—of these must-see places along the way.

The Alamo

One hundred seventy-nine years ago The Alamo was the site of a pivotal moment in the history of the Texas Revolution where 250 or so Texian and Tejano defenders held off an estimated 1,500 Mexican soldiers for 13 days. The Alamo is remembered as a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds—a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

If you travel to San Antonio to take in The Alamo, you’ll almost certainly visit the River Walk. They’re just a couple blocks apart, connected by an “alley” with waterfalls, snazzy shops, and lush gardens.

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66

No matter where you decide to go on your road trip, a stop along the historic Route 66 is absolutely mandatory. Nicknamed Main Street of America and the Mother Road, the famous highway holds a special place in American consciousness and evokes images of simpler times, mom and pop businesses, and the icons of a mobile nation on the road.

Completed in 1938, Route 66, which once served as the main corridor taking drivers from Chicago to Los Angeles, sparks excitement and a feeling of freedom in many travelers who love the open road.

Sedona

Sedona and Red Rock Country
Sedona and Red Rock Country, a vacation hotspot, has appeal for every member of the family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona easily makes the “A” list of RV destinations due to its rugged western appeal and colorful rock formations. Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country and Sedona, its centerpiece. Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Coffee Pot Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Butte, as well as its surrounding lush forests.

Sedona has developed into a center for traditional and contemporary arts and offers a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops. The Sedona community offers so much—history, archeology, arts, culture, hiking, biking, off-road adventure, and spiritual and metaphysical meditations.

Santa Fe

A block east of Santa Fe Plaza is St. Francis Cathedral, named for Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A block east of Santa Fe Plaza is St. Francis Cathedral, named for Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A combination of altitude, desert, and pueblos has produced a magical city that bears little resemblance to nearby Albuquerque or anywhere else for that matter. Santa Fe is the United States’ longest continuously occupied state capital. Located high and dry in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this well preserved center of Southwestern art and architecture attracts visitors with its galleries, cuisine, and play of light on its adobe buildings.

Santa Fe is referred to as “the city different,” a city that honors its Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo heritages and embraces its natural environment unlike any other in the United States. A city whose beautiful, brown adobe architecture blends with the high desert landscape and a city that is, at the same time, one of America’s great art and culinary capitals.

Alabama Gulf Coast

Mix two parts sugar-white sand with one part crystal blue water. Add a generous helping of Southern hospitality, and you have the key ingredients of the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast.

Fresh seafood is the standard along the Gulf Coast. Seafood markets offer shrimp, oysters, crab, and snapper. There are numerous seafood restaurants with an endless assortment of dishes.

One of the most charming small towns in America, Fairhope is located on the beautiful Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. A growing arts center with quaint boutiques, specialty shops, bookstores, cafes, and galleries line its quaint downtown streets. From the business district, Fairhope Avenue funnels toward grand homes and parkland down to the Fairhope Pier and Mobile Bay. The pier’s picturesque setting makes it a wonderful place to view gorgeous sunsets.

Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sparkling turquoise Gulf waters and stunningly white sand await the RVer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, the highway that’s the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66!

—Bobby Troup

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What’s Your Favorite Arizona Destination?

Could you choose just one?

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I tried, but found it impossible to choose just one favorite Arizona destination. Since every attraction has its own reason for making the list, it’s really like trying to compare apples to oranges.

I decided to create a top 10 list instead.

Even then, I had to settle on leaving the list in no particular order. Yes, I know, that’s a cop-out, but maybe being drawn to varied outdoor adventures and activities explains why I’m so attracted to the RV lifestyle.

Arizona’s most visited attraction is, of course, Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park

No other canyon can compare with the most visited Arizona destination. It’s hard to imagine a trip to Arizona that doesn’t involve at least a peek at the Grand Canyon. A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

Visible from space, this massive gorge isn’t just a geological marvel, it’s a symbol of Western adventure and American spirit. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. One look over the edge and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

Sedona and Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sedona and Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona & Red Rock Country

Sedona is an Arizona destination not to be missed—a must-see wonders. Sedona easily makes the “A” list of RV destinations in the US due to its rugged western appeal and colorful rock formations. Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country and Sedona, its centerpiece.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Coffee Pot Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Butte, as well as its surrounding lush forests. Sedona has developed into a center for traditional and contemporary arts and offers a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops, and spiritual-energy vortexes.

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saguaro Cactus & Saguaro National Park

Native only to the Sonoran Desert, the saguaro cactus is practically synonymous with Arizona. Large and slow growing, saguaros can reach up to 70 feet tall and may not sprout an arm until they’re 100 years old.

Tucson is flanked on its western and eastern edges by Saguaro National Park, showcasing the giant cacti. Hiking is popular in both divisions of the park, but you can also drive the leisurely loop roads if you want to see the cactus forests from the comfort of your car. The park’s western division sprawls over the Tucson Mountains. In the eastern division, trails lead up from the saguaros into pine forests on the 8,000-foot summits.

Wildflowers & Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The precise prerequisites for a banner wildflower season—an early “triggering” rain, steady precipitation, and mild temperatures—make it about as reliable as a Vegas slot machine.

The sere landscape around Picacho Peak gets a splash of vibrant colors come spring, transforming it into one of the best wildflower spots in the state. The ephemeral Mexican goldpoppy is the litmus test for wildflower season: you’ll either spot sparse individuals or be blinded by a field of electric orange blooms. The more reliable brittlebush resembles a shrub sprouting a bouquet of mini-sunflowers. Your best bet for both is March.

Other good places to enjoy wildflowers include Pinal Pioneer Parkway, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Apache Trail, Maricopa County Parks, Saguaro and Organ Pipe national parks.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take desert creatures such as prairie dogs and Gila monsters and put them in a nearly natural outdoor setting. Add a dose of natural history and you have the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden, all in one place.

The Desert Museum is unique among zoological parks for its focus on interpreting the complete natural history of a single region, the Sonoran Desert. The museum has two miles of paths covering 21 acres of desert and features hundreds of creature species and more than 1,200 varieties of plants.

Please Note: This article is one of an on-going series on Arizona destinations.

Worth Pondering…

Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever. Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area.

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4 Destinations Beyond the Grand Canyon

The world knows Arizona as the Grand Canyon State.

Spider Rock, the unofficial symbol of Canyon de Chelly, is a sandstone obelisk that rises more than 800 feet from the canyon floor.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Spider Rock, the unofficial symbol of Canyon de Chelly, is a sandstone obelisk that rises more than 800 feet from the canyon floor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But there’s far more to the natural beauty of Northern Arizona than just one landmark. This region has many spots that people outside the state may never hear about. Following are four of my favorite overlooked Northern Arizona travel destinations.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

A comparatively little-known canyon, Canyon de Chelly has sheer sandstone walls rising up to 1,000 feet, scenic overlooks, well-preserved Anasazi ruins, and an insight into the present day life of the Navajo, who still inhabit and cultivate the valley floor.

The northernmost and southernmost edges are accessible from paved roads—the North and South Rim drives. The South Rim Drive offers the most dramatic vistas, ending at the most spectacular viewpoint, the overlook of Spider Rocks—twin 800 foot towers of rock isolated from the canyon walls and a site of special significance for the Navajo.

The campground, located in a shallow valley less than ¼-mile from the visitor center, was a wonderful surprise. The campground is large with approximately 100 spacious campsites, plus a large group camping area. We had no difficulty is finding a suitable site for our 40-foot motorhome.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park preserves one of the world’s largest and most vibrantly colored assemblies of petrified wood, historic structures, and archeological sites.

After entering Petrified National Park from the south we hiked the Giant Logs trail located behind Rainbow Forest Museum. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
After entering Petrified National Park from the south we hiked the Giant Logs trail located behind Rainbow Forest Museum. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park is composed of two sections: the north section is a colorful badlands called the Painted Desert, and the southern section contains most of the petrified wood.

The park consists of a 28-mile road that offers numerous overlooks and winds through the mesas and wilderness. Visitors can also choose to hike a variety of trails ranging from easy to difficult.

Petrified Forest National Park stretches north and south between I-40 and U.S. Highway 180. There are two entrances into the park. Your direction of travel dictates which entrance is best to use.

Westbound I-40 travelers should take Exit 311, drive the 28 miles through the park and connect with Highway 180 at the south end. Travel 19 miles on Highway 180 North to return to I-40 via Holbrook.

Eastbound I-40 travelers should take Exit 285 into Holbrook then travel 19 miles on U.S. Highway 180 South to the park’s south entrance. Drive the 28 miles north through the park to return to I-40.

Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona 

Sedona is an Arizona destination not to be missed—a must-see wonders. Sedona easily makes the “A” list of RV destinations due to its rugged western appeal and colorful rock formations. Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country and Sedona, its centerpiece.

Sedona’s mesmerizing red-rock country is unique to the world. The Sedona community offers so much—history, archeology, arts, culture, hiking, biking, off-road adventure, and spiritual and metaphysical meditations.

Prescott

Nestled in a stunning mountain bowl and surrounded by one of the largest ponderosa pine forests in the West, this beautiful town is steeped in history with an authentic taste of western heritage.

The 1916 Yavapai County Courthouse, constructed of white granite and ringed by towering pines, is the centerpiece of Courthouse Plaza. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 1916 Yavapai County Courthouse, constructed of white granite and ringed by towering pines, is the centerpiece of Courthouse Plaza. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Banners proclaim Prescott as “Everyone’s Home Town.” You won’t find high rises, but the downtown businesses clustered around the 1916 Yavapai County Courthouse and its plaza are thriving.

On one side of the Court House Plaza is Whiskey Row. It’s more sedate now than it was prior to 1900 when the whiskey flowed and the faro tables were jammed 24 hours a day in its forty or so saloons. The former territorial capital of Arizona, Prescott boasts 525 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Worth Pondering…

There are only two places in the world

I want to live—Sedona and Paris.

—Max Ernst, Surrealist painter

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Sedona Named Top Tourism Destination

Sedona, Arizona has been ranked as one of the Travelers’ Choice 2013 Top 25 Destinations in the United States.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Cathedral Rock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Coming in at lucky 13, Sedona is pleased with the abundance of positive feedback and awe-inspiring reaction of both long time visitors and newcomers, according to Chamber news release.

“Sedona is a true oasis, a vacationer’s paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. Here, you’ll find resorts and spas, canyons and red rock formations,” said TripAdvisor.

“Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon are great hiking spots, and the dramatic architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a religious experience itself. When the sun dips down below the horizon it introduces the best show in Sedona: the night sky.”

“On behalf of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, it is great honor to be placed on the Travelers’ Choice 2013 Top 25 Destinations in the United States. As the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor assists visitors in gathering travel information, posting travel reviews and engaging in interactive travel forums,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

“This powerful web-based company boasts 200 million unique monthly visitors and over 100 million reviews and opinions. We are honored that world travelers voted Sedona as one of the best destinations to visit in the US.”

Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“It’s recognition like this that helps position Sedona as a premier destination in the world,” added Wesselhoff

Sedona is an Arizona destination not to be missed—a must-see wonders.

Sedona easily makes the “A” list of RV destinations in the U.S. due to its rugged western appeal and colorful rock formations. Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country and Sedona, its centerpiece.

Located at the base of Oak Creek Canyon, another scenic destination, Sedona is renowned for its stunning rock formations such as Coffee Pot Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Butte, as well as its surrounding lush forests. Sedona is located in both Coconino and Yavapai Counties and is surrounded by Coconino National Forest.

Sedona has developed into a center for traditional and contemporary arts and offers a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops.

In 1950, surrealist painter Max Ernst moved to Sedona, and other famous artists followed. Many artists have been attracted to Sedona and its rugged beauty which is said to enhance their creativity. Over the years, an artist colony has developed in Sedona and many of the artists sell their work in local galleries and shops.

Words alone cannot adequately describe this part of the country. Exhilarating nature! Scary excitement! Spiritual renewal! The sun and the moon! Incredible historic stories of wisdom and strength! The wild animals, birds, and flora! And of course, art! All are surrounded by azure blue skies and clean air.

Sedona’s mesmerizing red-rock country is unique to the world. The Sedona community offers so much—history, archeology, arts, culture, hiking, biking, off-road adventure, and spiritual and metaphysical meditations.

Finished in 1956, Chapel of the Holy Cross sits atop a pinnacle 250 feet above the valley floor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Finished in 1956, Chapel of the Holy Cross sits atop a pinnacle 250 feet above the valley floor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is believed by many that the region of Sedona contains a concentration of vortexes which are spots that release psychic energy or power from the Earth.

Positively charged vortexes are said to have feminine attributes: nurturing, calming, tranquil, or yin. Negative vortexes are masculine, active, energizing, or yang.

There are four local points which are considered to be energy vortexes in Sedona: Cathedral Rock (positive-feminine), Bell Rock (negative-masculine), Airport Mesa (negative-masculine), and Boynton Canyon (a balance of both energies).

For me, all of Sedona and Red Rock Country is one big vortex, a magnetic force that draws me back to this enchanting land year after year.

Sedona offers it all in a picturesque backdrop of serenity contrasted by some of the most rugged terrain to be found in The West.

The top 25 destinations include: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Washington DC; Boston, Los Angles, Honolulu, New Orleans, Seattle, Miami, Sedona, Savannah, Charleston, Napa, San Antonio, Lahaina, Portland, Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach, Kailua Kona, Palm Springs, Naples, and Houston.

Worth Pondering…

There are only two places in the world

I want to live—Sedona and Paris.

—Max Ernst, Surrealist painter

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New RV Park Proposed for Red Rock Country

An RV park named Sedona Views is proposed to be built along SR 260 between Cottonwood and Camp Verde in Verde Valley giving competition to existing RV parks Thousand Trails and Distant Drums and raising the visitor accommodations in the Verde Valley.

Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Nestled within the red rocks, Sedona attracts four million new and returning visitors each year, making it the second-most-visited place in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Michael Mongini presented his proposal to the Yavapai Planning Commission Wednesday (January 22) in Cottonwood, the Verde Independent reported.

The Commission unanimously recommended approval by the Yavapai County Supervisors, which would be scheduled for a vote next month.

The application calls for a zoning map change from Industrial General Limited to Planned Area Development. Planner Tammy DeWitt explained to commissioners that such parks are not allowed in the M1 zone and the PAD will allow for the phasing that is proposed.

Mongini said he has received formal support for the park from all but three of his neighbors and those three verbally have supported the proposal.

The 35 acres on which the project would be built is located in the business park community surrounding the Steve Coury dealerships. The proposed site, however, is outside both Camp Verde Town and Cottonwood City limits. Mongini said there are no plans to annex the land into either municipality.

Mongini is proposing 299 RV sites and storage spaces for 274 units.

From the hilltop position, Mongini said you can see the red rocks of Sedona, but not the buildings in the business park below which are screened by the terrain from view.

The most discussion involved a proposed arched entryway to be crafted from a former railroad overpass structure. Mongini said it would stand 27-feet high and 27-feet wide to accommodate RV movement.

Commissioner Curt Lindner was worried that if the lighted sign at 27 feet tall on a hill that was another 25 feet or more, with lights on the structure, would be 50-feet tall or higher.

Sedona has developed into a center for traditional and contemporary arts and offers a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sedona has developed into a center for traditional and contemporary arts and offers a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The commission asked that the sign be relocated off the hilltop to a lower location.

Mongini said his partnership also operates the Happy Jack Lodge with RV spaces with a similar entry way structure and they are very sensitive to ‘dark sky’ issues, because of the nearby Discovery Telescope.

When asked, Mongini said there were no plans for permanent placement of units on the property, though there might be a couple park models as there are in Happy Jack, but certainly “not like Munds Park, where every unit is a park model.”

Worth Pondering…

Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever.

Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area.

Early symptoms include a burning desire to make plans for the next trip “south”.

There is no apparent cure for snowbirds.

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All-American Road Trips

An estimated 34.8 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more this weekend, according to AAA’s annual Memorial Day travel forecast.

Let's Go RVing on Scenic Byway 12, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA projects an increase of 1.2 percent over last year’s 34.3 million travelers over the holiday weekend that runs today through Monday.

Indulge your wanderlust on wheels while exploring the following National Scenic Byways.

Scenic Byway 12 (Utah)

Scenic Byway 12 takes you to the heart of the American West.

This exceptional 124 mile route negotiates an isolated landscape of canyons, plateaus, and valleys ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. You’ll encounter archaeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities while driving this exhilarating byway.

Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. It runs through Utah’s Garfield and Wayne Counties and is home to Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks; Kodachrome Basin, Escalante Petrified Forest, and Anasazi Museum State Parks; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the 1.8-million-acre Dixie National Forest.

Scenic Byway 12 has two entry points. The southwestern gateway is from U.S. Highway 89, seven miles south of the city of Panguitch. The northeastern gateway is from Highway 24 in the town of Torrey near Capitol Reef National Park.

Scenic Byway 12 takes visitors through memorable landscapes, ranging from the remains of ancient sea beds to one of the world’s highest alpine forests, and from astonishing pink and russet stone turrets to open sagebrush flats. The history and culture of the area blend together, making Scenic Byway 12 a journey like no other.

Red Rock Scenic Byway (Arizona)

Let's Go RVing on the Red Rock Scenic Byway, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock Scenic Byway winds through Sedona’s Red Rock Country, often called a “museum without walls.”

Travelers are amazed by the high desert’s power, diversity, and sense of intimacy with nature. Inhabited for thousands of years, the stunning red rocks are alive with a timeless spirit that captivates and inspires.

This highly acclaimed National Scenic Byway, begins shortly after you exit #298 off I-17 and has earned the distinction of being Arizona’s First All-American Road! It winds through the evergreen pinion-covered Coconino National Forest, with several scenic pullouts, as well as through the extraordinary, prehistoric Red Rocks with nearby parking (RV friendly) and all levels of hiking and biking trails.

Although the Scenic Byway is only 7.5 miles, it is long on spectacular sights.

Sedona’s Red Rocks are comprised of sediment layers deposited over many millions of years. The shale foundation is the remainder of ancient swamp lands. Other layers are the remainder of an ancient beachfront that deposited iron about 275 million years ago. This iron is what gives Sedona’s rocks their rich red color.

The Coconino sandstone layer was formed at a time when Sahara-like dunes covered the majority of the Western U.S. The Red Rocks we see today were formed several million years ago when the uplifting of the Colorado Plateau that created the Grand Canyon also caused water to carve out Sedona’s red rock, cake-like layers.

El Camino Real (New Mexico)

Let's Go RVing along New Mexico’s El Camino Real. Pictured above is Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Mexico’s El Camino Real passes by missions, historic sites, and a national wildlife refuge.

Cultures along El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road of the Interior Land), are as diverse as its history and scenery. Pueblos reveal artisans crafting wares using centuries-old methods. First traveled by Don Juan de Onate in 1598, the route provided news, supplies, and travel to the first capital of the New World.

El Camino Real crosses central New Mexico from Santa Fe to the Texas state line near El Paso. The 276-miles long byway follows a series of U.S. Highways and State Highways closely paralleling I-25. All the roads are two-lane paved roads suitable for all types of vehicles.

The scenic beauty of the byway is as diverse and colorful as its culture, history, and people.

From the low-lying flatlands of the south to the soaring peaks of the northern mountains, the terrain climbs 10,000 feet in elevation, creating a landscape of dramatic contrasts.

The El Camino Real and surrounding area is the postcard picture of desert beauty. Majestic mountain ranges with treacherous peaks wind through the desert, and low shrubs and cacti dot the earth.

The El Camino Real is an experience sure to leave an impression of the Southwest with you forever.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on 5 Great All-American Road Trips

Part 1: Road Trips!

Worth Pondering…
People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.

—Saint Augustine

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An Oasis for Wildlife: Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Just a 20-minute drive outside of Sedona (Arizona), in the heart of Cottonwood, is Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a 423-acre outdoor oasis.

This resident Great Blue Heron is one of 200 species of birds that inhabit Dead Horse Ranch State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dead Horse Ranch is a camping mecca for nature lovers in the heart of Verde Valley. Located at an elevation of 3,300 feet, the park has plenty of outdoor activities and a refreshing river—the Verde—running through it.

More than 200 birds—from predatory falcons and migrating species to the inquisitive cactus wren, the state bird of Arizona—fly through the park each year.

The park features 10 miles of well-maintained trails that are well-traveled by hikers, bikers, horse and riders, and birders. Most trails average about two miles in length and vary in difficulty from easy to moderate.

Other popular activities include picnicking, canoeing, and fishing. Both the Verde River and a four-acre lagoon are periodically stocked with trout, sunfish, and catfish to the delight of anglers and a resident population of Great Blue Herons.

Campers can use Dead Horse Ranch State Park as their base camp to enjoy the Verde River Greenway, a six-mile stretch of the Verde River that is contiguous with Dead Horse Ranch. A one-and-a-half-mile-long greenway trail follows the meandering river and passes through the Fremont Cottonwood/Goodding Willow Riparian Forest, one of only 20 such stands in the world.

The fishing is good at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park also borders the Coconino National Forest, with more hiking trails. Only minutes away is Tuzigoot National Monument, a Sinagua ruin that adjoins the Tavasci Marsh, one of the few fresh-water marshes in Arizona and an important birding area.

How the Park Got its Name
The Irey’s family came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy. As the family searched for a ranch, they found one with a dead horse lying by the road. When the family asked the children which ranch they liked, they replied “the one with the dead horse”—the name stuck.

Camping
Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers more than 100 RV sites, situated along several loops and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Most of the pull-through sites can accommodate large motor homes and truck and fifth-wheel trailer rigs up to 65 feet, and include water and 30/50-amp electric service. All loops include a modern restroom with hot water and showers.

The park features 10 miles of well-maintained trails that are well-traveled by hikers, bikers, horse and riders, and birders. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One loop, the Blackhawk Loop, has 17 non-electric campsites, reserved exclusively for tents. It is adjacent to modern restroom facilities.

Another campground, the Raven Loop, has been designated for group camping. It has 23 sites (for up to 46 camping vehicles), a large ramada, restroom facilities, and a group fire ring.

For those preferring a cabin getaway, there are eight furnished one-room log cabins, set apart from the camping areas. These have beds, lights, and electricity, but no linens or indoor cooking facilities. Each cabin does have a barbecue grill and outdoor picnic table. Family-style showers are a short walk away.

The user-friendly park also has four horse corrals for overnight use with advance reservations, a dump station, and fire rings for campfires.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park hosts two festivals each year.

During the last weekend in September the park welcomes Verde River Days, which promotes preservation and care of the environment. The celebration also includes nature-based exhibits and hands-on activities.

During the last weekend in April, it is home to the Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival (2012 dates are April 26-29). The festival provides expert-guided field trips to birding hot spots and instruction on topics relating to birding, archeology, geology, and photography.

Details

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Elevation: 3,300 feet

Admission: $7.00/vehicle

Camping Fees: $25 per night for electric sites (Quail Loop sites: $30 (starting July 1); 15 per night for non-electric sites

Dump Station: Available with no extra fee to registered campers

Address: 675 Dead Horse Ranch Road, Cottonwood, AZ 86326

Contact: (928) 634-5283

Website: azstateparks.com

Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival

Website: birdyverde.org

Worth Pondering…
We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in, for it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
—Wallace Stegner

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