Ghostly Experiences

A demon haunted world!

Well, this is my last post before you wander down the dimly lit corridor of Halloween. I don’t have any advice other than “don’t talk to strangers” and “a pumpkin spice jello shot is never a good idea.”

The Beasts of Borrego Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you going on a trip somewhere scary? Are you hosting a party for close friends in a graveyard? Are you locking the door and pretending it’s Thanksgiving and gorging yourself? Whatever path you may be taking, I hope you have a wonderful ghostly experience. I will be going to Tombstone and asking everyone who will make eye contact with me if they know where the “ghost section” is located. We all have our own unique paths!

The Superstitions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

May your Halloween be spooky and fun as hell!

Related: A Haunting Good Time: Your Guide to 5 Ghostly Cities Across America

It’s no wonder that so many ghosts haunt the lonely trails, mountains, and landmarks of the forbidding Sonoran Desert. Desert lore, stories, and quests for loot and gold have made men greedy. Gunfights, murders, and death from starvation and dehydration have left many dead on barren desert trails. Their ghosts still walk the mountain ridges, gullies, and deserted locations where they once traveled or lived, spirits with unfinished business, who cannot rest. Some guard buried treasures and lost mines while others battle perpetually until death, forever replaying their last moments of life.

Anza-Borrego © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Ghost Lights of Borrego

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Borrego Springs area of southeastern California is notorious for the many legends, ghost stories, and unexplained phenomena occurring there over the years. The region of the Sonoran Desert is home to the Vallecito Stage Station, Yaqui Well, in addition to the mysterious “Ghost Lights” of Oriflamme Mountain.

Anza-Borrego © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first account of the “Phantom Lights” of Borrego was reported in 1858 by a Butterfield Stage driver. Since then soldiers, prospectors, and explorers have reported seeing similar lights. The sightings have been reported near Oriflamme Mountain, over Borrego Valley, and other nearby areas. The occurrences are always slightly different but the general descriptions of the sightings are similar.

The Beasts of Borrego Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1892, a prospector by the name of Charles Knowles and two other men were camping near Grapevine Canyon at the entrance to the Narrows where they reported their sighting of “Fire Balls.” Knowles described the “lights” as balls of fire that rose up approximately 100 feet in the air and then exploded.

Related: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Badlands, Canyons, Mountain Peaks and More

Anza-Borrego © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Knowles compared the fireballs to fireworks. He saw three fireballs rise and cascade upon explosion before they stopped. About 30 minutes later the lights started again but this time they were different. The lights rose into an arch pattern returning to the ground without exploding. The light would then reverse itself and go back to the place where it started.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Haunted Tombstone

It probably wouldn’t surprise you that Tombstone is considered one of the most haunted towns associated with the Wild West. After all, with all of the lawlessness, the murders, and seedy behavior, it would be more surprising if Tombstone wasn’t haunted.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’ve put together a list of the most haunted places in Tombstone. Some of them, you may be familiar with especially if you watch any of the Ghost Hunting TV shows like Ghost Adventures or Ghost Hunters. They’ve all been to Tombstone!

Tombstone Courthouse © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the town’s name and wild past doesn’t convince you that this place is haunted then a tour through its neighborhoods might turn you into a believer. The Tombstone Gunfighter and Ghost Tour start at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, once the elegant Grand Hotel.

O.K. Corral © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A stroll down Allen’s street takes tour-goers to sites of some of the bloodiest Old West gunfights; guests are advised to be vigilant for spirit sightings. Of course, the tour includes a stop at the infamous O.K. Corral, the place where lawmen led by Virgil Earp gunned down three outlaws in 30 seconds in 1881. Whet your whistle at Doc Holliday’s Saloon after a day spent walking with ghosts.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Bird Cage Theatre may be the most well-known haunted location in Tombstone. Thanks to being featured on many TV shows, it seems like everyone who comes to Tombstone knows about the ghosts of the theatre.

In 1882, the New York Times declared that Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theatre was the “roughest, bawdiest, and most wicked night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” 26 deaths and 140 bullet holes later, this American icon is packed with poltergeists (German for loud ghost or noisy spirit). Bird Cage Theatre’s most peculiar poltergeist is the “Woman in White.” This apparition is said to appear as a “proper lady,” a rarity for a brothel.

Boothill Graveyard © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the “Town Too Tough to Die,” Tombstone is ironically known for the dead. Gunslingers, sharp-shooters, stagecoaches, saddle bums: even the streets of this city conjure tales of the dearly departed.

Boothill Graveyard © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boothill Graveyard isn’t Tombstone’s first cemetery but it’s Tombstone’s most notorious. Named for those “buried with their boots on,” Boothill interred outlaws from 1878-1884. Notable markers include Marshal Fred White, killed by Curly Bill Brocius, and Tom and Frank McLaury, buried alongside Billy Clanton. Curly Bill and the McLaurys were lost to the “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” the famous 30-second shootout.

Boothill Graveyard © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travelers report spectral shadows, strange lights, and spooky sounds. If you make it over to Boothill, remember those two-bit criminals are known to still be around the boneyard. And I’d be ever so obliged to hear if you meet up with one.

Superstition Mountain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Phantoms of the Lost Dutchman Mine

The old prospector of the Lost Dutchman Mine fame, Jacob Waltz, left quite a legacy when he died in Phoenix on October 25, 1891. His death marked the beginning of a period of mystery, intrigue, and myth about a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains, more commonly referred to by locals, as the Superstitions. Standing majestically at the forefront of this rough terrain is Superstition Mountain, a 3,000-foot high monolith that seemingly stands guard over the rest of its territory.

Related: Legend, History & Intrigue of the Superstitions

Old mining equipment at Superstition Mountain Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The mine has never been found despite many expeditions. Some believe the mountains are haunted by the spirits of the miners who died in search of the goldmine. Over a dozen men were killed in the 1800s in pursuit of this gold. According to legend, they may be the phantoms that still protect this treasure today.

Old mining equipment at Goldfield Ghost Town © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So be forewarned modern-day prospectors―if the Arizona heat or the Superstition Mountains’ rugged terrain does not get to you, a ghost or two just might.

Related: Apache Trail: Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat and Beyond

Worth Pondering…

I’m just a ghost in this house
I’m a shadow upon these walls,
As quietly as a mouse
I haunt these halls.

—Allison Krauss, Ghost in This House

10 Amazing Places to RV in November

If you’re dreaming of where to travel to experience it all, here are my picks for the best places to RV in November

Winter has officially arrived in the northern states and Canada which means getting up and going home in the dark usually in the cold and blowing snow. It is snowbird season, time to head south until the sunlight finally peeps through again around March or April. Happily, San Antonio and other southern cities are basking in a mellow, pre-Christmas glow.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in August, September, and October. Also, check out my recommendations from November 2020.

Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway, Georgia

Discover history, culture, and autumn beauty along Georgia’s scenic byways. The 41-mile loop of the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is the only route in the state that’s also designated a National Scenic Byway. Coursing through the mountains of the Chattahoochee National Forest, the route traverses several state highways including SR-17/75, SR-180, and SR-348. Panoramic views are plentiful, none more spectacular than the one from Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest point at 4,784 feet. Visitors can still walk the roughly half-mile, uphill paved path to the observation tower at the summit.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outdoor activities abound along the route, especially hiking. The Appalachian Trail crosses the byway in two spots, at Unicoi Gap and Hogpen Gap. Parking areas at each trailhead allow day visitors to take out-and-back hikes on the famed 2,190-mile trail connecting Georgia to Maine. Download an interactive map from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at appalachiantrail.org. Other short trails lead to cascading waterfalls such as Raven Cliff Falls, High Shoals Falls, and the impressive double cascade of Anna Ruby Falls.

Related: The 8 Best Things to Do this Fall in Georgia

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three state parks are on or near the byway. Anglers come to Smithgall Woods State Park to cast a line in the celebrated trout stream of Duke’s Creek. Take a trip through the treetops on the Unicoi Zipline and Aerial Adventure Tour at Unicoi State Park and Lodge. Vogel State Park, one of Georgia’s two original state parks, sits at the base of Blood Mountain near the byway and offers a great view of the mountain from its 20-acre lake with a beach. Accommodations at Vogel and Unicoi include cottages and RV campsites. Smithgall Woods has cottages but no individual campsites.

Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The closest town to the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is Helen, the small Bavarian-themed town with an array of shopping, dining, and lodging options.

San Antonio River Walk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The San Antonio River Walk

The San Antonio River Walk boasts sightseeing, shopping, dining, and incredibly rich history. This world-renowned 15-mile waterway has been setting the standard for river walks internationally for decades. Visit La Villita Historic Arts Village, a community and home to nearly 30 shops and galleries selling locally made jewelry, pottery, folk art, textiles, and other handcrafted items by local artists. Plus, in the midst of these tree-lined walkways and plazas, enjoy a savory culinary experience at the area restaurants with options ranging from traditional Mexican flavors to steakhouse favorites. Or step into Casa Rio which is the oldest restaurant on the banks of the River Walk.

San Antonio River Walk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, visit the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) to learn about the city’s rich cultural heritage. (SAMA) takes you around the world and through five thousand years of art in a complex of buildings that once housed the Lone Star Brewery. SAMA is renowned for the most comprehensive ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art collection in the southern United States.

Mission San José © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, trek to visit the four historic missions at the San Antonio’s Missions National Historical Park. Along with the Alamo, the park was named the first World Heritage Site in Texas by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO) and includes the city’s four southernmost Spanish colonial missions—Concepción, San José, San Juan, and Espada. In the 18th century, Spanish priests established these five Catholic missions along the San Antonio River. The missions are walled compounds encompassing a church and buildings where the priests and local Native Americans lived.

Related: The 20 Best Road Trips from San Antonio

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Mexico

As an RVer who loves visiting new areas and returning to favorite haunts, I’ve often asked my favorite areas to explore. It’s always interesting to see the confusion on the faces of the questioners when my response is New Mexico.

“But isn’t that just aliens and, like, the desert?”

Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re into alien stuff and the desert, you’ll certainly find them here. But you’ll also find so much more. New Mexico is incredibly diverse. While visiting the Land of Enchantment, I’ve camped in the desert, hiked up huge white sand dunes, and down into deep caverns. I’ve explored diverse craft and farmer’s markets and wandered through some of the most amazing art installations and galleries. New Mexico is where I’ve eaten the best meals, explored pecan and pistachio farms, and watched the most epic sunsets of my life. I’ve met incredibly talented artists along the way and visited historic churches and pueblos.

The aliens of Roswell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What I’m saying is: New Mexico is special. It’s quirky and mystical and down to earth all at once. It’s full of adventure and relaxation and history. It’s also the home to one of the newest designated National Park—White Sands—a truly otherworldly experience. Need more reasons to visit?

Related: Wake Up In New Mexico

La Posta de Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Come for the adventure followed by hatch chili cheeseburgers and craft beer!

Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.” I couldn’t agree more.

Forest Center, Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Largest Trees in the World

Located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are two separate parks but due to their proximity to one another, they’re often visited together.

Sherman Tree © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sequoia National Park is home to two notable natural wonders: Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states at 14,505 feet above sea level, and the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world by volume. Both are impressive sights!

Kings Canyon National Park to the north of Sequoia is also home to giant trees including the largest remaining grove on the planet at Redwood Canyon. The landscape in Kings Canyon rivals that of Yosemite with towering granite canyon walls, lush meadows, and the picturesque King River that flows throughout the park.

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While both parks together make up a whopping 865,964 acres, over 90 percent of that land is designated wilderness with no roads or vehicle access. There are numerous opportunities for incredible overnight backpacking trips in the backcountry, though, if you want to plan for that on your California road trip.

Seaside © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seaside, Florida

In The Truman Show, Jim Carrey played a guy who unknowingly stars in a reality show, set in an impossibly idyllic beach town. That’s Seaside, and it required very little effort to make Truman’s hometown seem like a paradise of pastel-colored houses and dreamlike beaches. It’s worth a stop if you want to squeal with delight while strolling through town and stopping at landmarks like the famous white post office. When the post office was built just over 30 years ago, it was only the second civic building in Seaside and was established o create the perception that the community was “real” at a time when Seaside and surrounding communities were just beginning to emerge.

Seaside © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the coolest features of Seaside is Airstream Row. A group of restaurants—like Crepes du Soleil and Frost Bites—set up shop in Airstreams along 30A, lending a little funk to the picturesque scenery. If you prefer to sit down with a grand view of the water, grab a table at Bud & Alley’s which serves classic Gulf fare like grilled head-on shrimp and seafood gumbo.

Seaside © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are more than cute eateries and buildings in Seaside. Sundog Books is an absolute must: an independent bookstore that’s been open for 30 years. If you need a beach read, or just want to support a cool local business, this is a worthy stop.

World’s Largest Pistachio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lots of Nuts Inside

Two of the largest pistachio tree grooves in New Mexico, PistachioLand and Eagle Ranch are destinations that can be enjoyed by all ages. Located in the Tularosa Basin outside of Alamogordo they are easy day trips from Las Cruces and can be combined with a visit to White Sands National Park. With an average of 287 days of sunshine, outdoor activities abound throughout the area. 

Eagle Ranch Pistachios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Tularosa Basin has the perfect climate for growing pistachios, pecans, and grapes.  There are numerous wineries and nut farms where you can enjoy delicious wine and nut tastings and beautiful views of the Sacramento Mountains.

Eagle Ranch pistachios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

PistachioLand is the home of the World’s Largest Pistachio, Pistachio Tree Ranch, McGinn’s Country Store, and Arena Blanca Winery. Experience their motorized farm tour, take your photo with the World’s Largest Pistachio, shop inside their country store, sit on the porch with views of the mountains, try their free samples at the pistachio bar, enjoy the wine tasting room, and grab a sweet treat in PistachioLand ice cream parlor.

Free samples at McGinn’s Country Store © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Eagle Ranch is the home of New Mexico’s largest producing pistachio groves with approximately 13,000 trees. Wines were added to the product line in 2002. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcase how pistachios are grown and processed. A second store is conveniently located in the historic village of Mesilla.

St. Mary’s © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

St. Mary’s, Georgia

Many folks pass through St. Mary’s on their way to Cumberland Island. But this seaside gem is more than just a place to kill a few hours between ferries. Shops and eateries cluster around the picturesque waterfront. (Swing by Lang’s Marina Restaurant for mouthwatering crab cakes.) The St. Mary’s Submarine Museum entices visitors with an extensive collection of memorabilia and photographs. And you’d probably be surprised to learn this postcard-worthy port can lay claim to the oldest continuously operating church in Georgia.

Kemah Boardwalk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas

Kemah is a city on Galveston Bay and a place I think doesn’t get enough hype. Many people pass right by, heading for the island. But, only 20 miles from downtown Houston right on the bay sits Kemah Boardwalk with entertainment galore for the whole family. It offers an amusement park with fun and exciting rides, waterfront dining, festivals, and seaside shows. Shopping and dining are a huge part of the boardwalk.

Kemah Boardwalk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We went on a cool day in November to walk around the bay and noticed that some rides and attractions were not operating plus it was a bit chilly but we were still entertained by the sights, sounds, and dining options. There are also other dining alternatives in the nearby Kemah Lighthouse District. Kemah Boardwalk is open year-round.

Montezuma Castle National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

Although Montezuma Castle National Monument is a small site, its history runs deep. Located in the Verde Valley 25 miles south of Sedona, it was established in 1906 to preserve Indigenous American culture. The compact site almost feels like a diorama of an ancient village built by the Sinagua people who inhabited the valley as far back as 650. A short pathway lined with sycamores and catclaw mimosa trees leads to the limestone cliff where a 20-room building peeks out from above.

Beaver Creek at Montezuma Castle National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Built by the Sinagua people around 1050, the castle is a well-preserved example of architectural ingenuity. The placement of rooms on the south-facing cliff helps regulate summer and winter temperatures. Its elevated location provides protection from Beaver Creek’s annual flooding, plus it functions as a lookout. 

Montezuma Well © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive 11 miles north to see the Montezuma Well which is part of the national monument. Along with the limestone sinkhole, cliff dwellings and irrigation channels are characteristic of the prehistoric people who have lived in the area dating back to 11,000. The water in the well which is 386 feet across has high levels of arsenic and other chemicals but it still supports endemic species such as water scorpions, snails, mud turtles, and leeches.

Olive tree along the Tehama Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tehama Trail, California

The Tehama Trail is a surprisingly fertile area—a prime place for farms and ranches. Many invite visitors to stop in and buy fresh produce, artisanal olive oils, and other local food products.

Lucero Olive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The trail links together nearly two dozen vineyards, orchards, grass-fed beef ranchers, and other specialty meat producers. Hop onto the route at any point but the driving tour technically begins in Corning, a town known for olives. Stop by the iconic Olive Pit for samples of traditional olives, or try more exotic options, like herb-and-garlic-cheese-stuffed Sicilian olives. Head over to Lucero Olive Oil to sample artisanal olive oils and vinegar and shop for gifts.

Lucero Olive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Continue along the trail to sample and buy heirloom tomatoes, juice-down-your-chin peaches and plums, and berries as well as fresh pies and honey. Swing by New Clairvaux Vineyard in tiny Vina, just south of Redding where Trappist monks invite you to sample their Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and other varietals in a large tasting room on the monastery grounds.

Sandhill cranes prepare for takeoff at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Established in 1939 to protect migrating waterfowl, Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 350 species of birds. Tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Crane winter in the refuge as well as Ross’s Geese and many species of duck. Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge host a Festival of the Cranes in November (weekend before Thanksgiving) that includes events, classes, and even a photography contest. A 12-mile auto tour and numerous hiking trails are the primary means of exploring the refuge.

Related: The Mind-Blowing Enchantment of New Mexico: San Antonio & Bosque del Apache

Worth Pondering…

Days decrease,

And autumn grows, autumn in everything.

―Robert Browning

Absolutely Best Road Trips from Las Vegas

The Strip barely scratches the surface

Las Vegas is located in the desert, so daytime temperatures in the summer regularly reach triple digits which can put a damper on outdoor activities. On the plus side, the winter heat is a nice escape for anyone fleeing ice and snow.

Las Vegas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weather-wise, the best times to visit Las Vegas are spring and fall with highs hovering around 70 degrees in March and the low 80s in October. March, April, May, October, and November have the best weather for walking the Las Vegas Strip and getting out in the desert for hikes, and exploring the vast wilderness.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So your idea of fun isn’t drinking yard-long margaritas inside a mind-bending, alternate universe? I get it. One of the benefits of enjoying a city in the middle of a vast wilderness is, in fact, that wilderness. When you’re in Las Vegas, you’re not limited to casinos on the Strip. Some of the grandest scenery is just a short drive away. Whether you head to the Valley of Fire, the famous Hoover Dam, or Death Valley, we’ve got where to go and what to do in each. These are the very best day trips from Las Vegas.

Not only are these destinations beautiful but whether you drive north, south, east, or west out of Las Vegas you’re sure to see mountains, canyons, or lakes, making each trip about far more than the destination but the whole road trip too!

Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to Know Before Going on a Road Trip from Las Vegas

Located in the desert, Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are known for varying temperatures throughout the day and year. While these destinations are beautiful year-round, the weather plays a significant role in choosing when to travel.

During the summer months, it’s best to avoid the hottest desert locations located at low elevations. If you visit then, plan more intense activities during the morning and evening hours and plan for scenic drives and swimming during the day. Fall and spring generally have more moderate temperatures allowing for more physical activities during the day. Surprisingly, many places in the desert are occasionally hit with snowstorms during the winter. So stay up to date on weather conditions no matter the season you decide to travel.

The Best Road Trips from Las Vegas

The close proximity of national parks, recreation areas, and other cities make Las Vegas one of the best cities to road trip from. In any direction you travel, you’re sure to hit a beautiful site. Here are some of the best road trip destinations from Las Vegas.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Distance from Las Vegas: 31 miles

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is big, it’s diverse, and it’s extreme. Temperatures can be harsh, from 120 degrees in the summer to well below freezing in winter on the high plateaus.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the mouth of the Grand Canyon, the park follows the Arizona-Nevada border along what was formerly 140 miles of the Colorado River.

Lake Mead is impressive: 1.5 million acres, 110 miles in length when the lake is full, 550 miles of shoreline, around 500 feet at its greatest depth, 255 square miles of surface water, and when filled to capacity, 28 million acre-feet of water.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although much of Lake Mead can only be experienced by boat, a variety of campgrounds, marinas, lodges, and picnic areas around the lake make it possible for non-boaters to also enjoy the recreation area. Most activities are concentrated along the 20 miles of the southwest shore close to Las Vegas. Facilities include two large marinas at Boulder Beach and Las Vegas Bay plus campgrounds, beaches, picnic areas, and the main National Recreation Area visitor center.

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hoover Dam

Distance from Las Vegas: 37 miles

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Hoover Dam is one of the most recognizable and iconic manmade structures in the world, a 726-foot-high concrete arch-gravity dam that was completed in 1935. Until you visit Hoover Dam it’s difficult to appreciate its sheer size. It’s a dizzying sight from the dam itself. And it’s quite sobering, too, since more than 100 people lost their lives in the building of this spectacular feat of engineering. There are fun stops to make on the way back from a dam visit to complete the trip.

Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Seeing Hoover Dam and getting a good tour of the place is crucial to understanding the point in American history when it was built. Take the Dam tour, a one-hour guided tour of the powerplant and its passageways. The tour starts with a film about the development of the dam and includes an elevator ride to the Nevada wing of the plant and eight of the dam’s generators as well as into the tunnels that served as inspection areas.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Canyon National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 130 miles to the West Rim (Skywalk Canyon Overlook); 280 miles to the South Rim; and 270 miles to the North Rim

John Wesley Powell said it best, “The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.” A universally recognizable iconic destination, Grand Canyon National Park is a true marvel of nature that’s on every RVer’s bucket list.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A deep gorge carved by the Colorado River about seventeen million years ago, the Grand Canyon stretches for more than 250 miles and is up to 18 miles in width and more than a mile deep in some areas. One look over the edge and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re seeking a secluded escape to Mother Nature, you should be prepared: The Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim—home to the Grand Canyon Village and the well-worn Bright Angel Trail—is particularly popular for sightseers and hikers. It is on this side that you’ll find the most amenities. However, for a true escapist experience, head to the North Rim.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 161 miles

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When it comes to standing in awe of nature’s magnificence, it’s hard to beat Zion National Park. And you don’t have to hike for days to see its sheer beauty; at just under 230 square miles, Zion is relatively small by national park standards, and the park’s most memorable features are found in easily accessible Zion Canyon.

Related: Roam Free in Greater Zion: Quail Creek State Park

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not surprisingly, Zion boasts towering monoliths with spiritual names. The Great White Throne is a glistening mass of white sandstone that towers out at 6,744 feet. Angel’s Landing is an imposing, dull reddish rock standing opposite the Great White Throne. The Organ is a colossal of red mountains with vertical sides. The Towers of Virgin are majestic—West Temple is at 7,795 feet (3,805 feet above the canyon floor), the highest point in the park. The Watchman is even more ornate and colorful as it soars 2,555 feet from the canyon floor and stands guard for the two RV campgrounds.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 186 miles

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazingly diverse area of sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, extraordinarily rugged mountains, granitic monoliths (popular with rock climbers), and oases. The park provides an introduction to the variety and complexity of the desert environment and a vivid contrast between the higher Mojave and lower Sonoran deserts that range in elevation from 900 feet to 5,185 feet at Keys View. This outstanding scenic point overlooks a breathtaking expanse of valleys, mountains, and deserts.

Related: Joshua Tree National Park Turns 25. But what is a Joshua tree?

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua trees, giant boulders, cholla cacti, and rugged mountains are some of the classic wonders that make up Joshua Tree National Park. The hiking is fantastic! There is a variety of self-guided nature trails and longer hikes that offer different perspectives of the park. The aptly-named Jumbo Rocks has a half-mile nature walk to Skull Rock and the Barker Dam walk (1.1-mile loop) is interesting in terms of the cultural history of the area.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon National Park

Distance from Las Vegas: 256 miles

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon isn’t really a canyon. Rather it is a “break” or series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters. Erosion has shaped colorful limestones, sandstones, and mudstones into thousands of nature-chiseled spires, fins, pinnacles, and mazes collectively called “hoodoos”.

Related: Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef: A Great American Road Trip

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The rim of the canyon is between 8,000 to 9,100 feet above sea level. In summer, daytime temperatures are in the 80s but fall to the 40s by night. Bryce Amphitheater is the park’s largest amphitheater and can be viewed from several points—Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise points. Hiking is the best way to experience stunning mazes. The park has over 50 miles of hiking trails with a range of distances and elevation change. Most trails descend into the canyon and wind around the oddly shaped formations.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona

Distance from Las Vegas: 280 miles

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you delight in gazing at towering red rocks or driving through rugged canyons, then go to Sedona. If you admire exquisite art or are captivated by amazing architecture, then go to Sedona. If you want to see ancient cliff dwellings, hear tales of Hollywood cowboys or thrill to outdoor adventures, then (you guessed it) go to Sedona. Sedona is a must-stop.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona is a well-known hotbed of energy—one that’s conducive to both meditation and healing—and this is one of the reasons 4.5 million travelers flock here annually. That and the region’s red rocks: stunning sandstone formations that jut upward thousands of feet and change colors from orange to rust to crimson as the sun passes through the sky.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6 More Road Trips from Las Vegas (In case you’re not inspired yet!)

Mount Charleston (42 Miles): A cute mountain town, perfect for getting out into nature.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nelson Ghost Town (48 miles): Just past Henderson and Before Boulder City take a right (south) on 95 South and visit this old Gold Mining town now loved by photographers and music video producers alike.

Lake Havasu (155 miles): Visit the famous London Bridge or get out on the lake for some watersports.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (217 miles): And while there be sure to add on a visit to Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Antelope Canyons.

Related: Awesomeness beyond the Mighty 5 in Southern Utah

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sequoia National Park (379 miles): The giant trees of Sequoia will fill you with awe—and give you a crick in your neck from staring up at them.

Road Trips from Las Vegas: Final Thoughts

With so many beautiful places located around Las Vegas make sure you get out of Sin City and explore the natural wonders of the desert! With activities for all types of adventurers, there is something for everyone. It’s rare you’ll drive more than an hour without stopping to take photos of the impressive sites!

Worth Pondering…

Las Vegas is a 24-hour city. It never stops.

—Eli Roth

October 2021 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 27 Recalls Involving 15 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

When a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 27 recall notices during October 2021. These recalls involved 15 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (7 recalls), Thor Motor Coach (3 recalls), DRV (2 recalls), Jayco (2 recalls), Tiffin (2 recalls), MCI (2 recalls), Keystone (1 recall), StarCraft (1 recall), Highland Ridge (1 recall), Entegra (1 recall), Nexus (1 recall), Winnebago (1 recall), Heartland (1 recall), Cruiser (1 recall), and KZRV (1 recall).

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

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022 East to West Alta Travel Trailers. The LP gas quick disconnect fitting may not have been properly tightened, which could allow gas to leak.

Dealers will inspect and tighten the fitting as necessary, and run a propane system check, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 27, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-264-6664. Forest River’s number for this recall is 501-1419.

Related: September 2021 RV Manufacturer Recalls

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022 Forest River Aurora travel trailers. These trailers were manufactured with the incorrect tires, size ST225/75R15 LRD, instead of tire size ST225/75R15 LRE, as identified on the Federal Placard.

Dealers will replace the tire and wheel assemblies, free of charge. Owner notification letters were mailed on September 24, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-6327. Forest River’s number for this recall is 205-1420.

Hollywood Casino RV Park, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Salem and Wildwood fifth-wheel trailers. The Federal Placard lists a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that exceeds the load-carrying capacity of the pin box, which could result in an overloaded pin box.

Forest River will mail owners a new Federal Placard, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 3, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-534-3167. Forest River’s number for this recall is 69-1423.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Puma travel trailers. The black wastewater-holding tank may be missing the ventilation pipe, allowing methane gas to build up.

Dealers will properly vent the black wastewater-holding tank, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 17, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-642-0606. Forest River’s number for this recall is 420-1425.

Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Entrada motorhomes. The brake lines may wear against the front leveling jack brackets, possibly resulting in brake line failure.

Dealers will relocate the front leveling jack brackets, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 17, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-264-6664. Forest River’s number for this recall is 504-1426.

Related: August 2021 RV Manufacturer Recalls

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2014-2016 Star Trans school buses. The rear emergency exit window labels are not in the correct location and only provide instructions for one release mechanism, instead of two release mechanisms. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 217, “Bus Emergency Exits and Window Retention and Release.”

Dealers will install new labels on the rear emergency exit windows, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 17, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-800-348-7440. Forest River’s number for this recall is 05-0171.

Leif Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2014-2016 Starcraft transit buses. The rear emergency exit window labels are not in the correct location and only provide instructions for one release mechanism, instead of two release mechanisms. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 217, “Bus Emergency Exits and Window Retention and Release.”

Dealers will install new labels on the rear emergency exit windows, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 17, 2021. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-800-348-7440. Forest River’s number for this recall is 05-0169.

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2022 Scope and Rize motorhomes. The LP gas line may be too short and improperly installed, creating an excessive bend in the line which could rupture and leak.

Dealers will replace the LP gas line and reroute it as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 28, 2021. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000243.

Capital City RV Park, Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Venetian motorhomes. The patio awning may have been improperly installed, allowing it to separate.

Dealers will secure the awning, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 28, 2021. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000244.

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling 2021-2022 Magnitude and Omni motorhomes. The LP gas line may have been incorrectly routed through the rear suspension leaf springs, which could damage the line and cause a gas leak.

Dealers will re-route the LP line as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 28, 2021. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000242.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

DRV

DRV Suites (DRV) is recalling certain 2021 Mobile Suites fifth-wheel trailers. The brake rotor bolts were improperly tightened, which can cause the bolts to become loose or fall off.

Dealers will inspect and tighten the bolts, if necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 14, 2021. Owners may contact DRV customer service at 1-260-562-3500.

Related: July 2021 RV Manufacturer Recalls

DRV

DRV Suites (DRV) is recalling certain 2018-2021 Elite Suites and Mobile Suites fifth-wheel trailers. The brake caliper retaining clips may bend or warp while braking, causing the caliper to become unseated.

Dealers will replace the caliper retaining clips, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 14, 2021. Owners may contact DRV customer service at 1-260-562-3500.

Tom Sawyer RV Park, West Memphis, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2019-2021 Entegra Anthem, Aspire, Cornerstone, Reatta, Reatta XL, and Jayco Embark Class A motorhomes. The instrument cluster may intermittently go blank while the vehicle is in motion.

Dealers will update the control module software, and reroute and secure the ductwork, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 30, 2021. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Feather and Flight SLX recreational trailers. The cooktop is installed in a cabinet that may not be entirely sealed from the furnace. As a result, during furnace operation, the interior range cooktop burner flame may invert.

Dealers will install sealant and plywood panels, as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 29, 2021. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901571.

Pala Casino RV Park, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2018-2022 Wayfarer vehicles. The rear-center holding tank water pan bolts may pull through the lip of the pan, allowing the tank to drop down onto the exhaust pipe.

Dealers will inspect and as necessary, replace any damaged holding pans. In addition, metal straps and a washer plate will be installed. Repairs will be performed free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 22, 2021. Owners may contact Tiffin customer services at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is WAY-102.

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Phaeton recreational vehicles. During manufacturing, an electrical outlet was not installed as intended, resulting in an open electrical wire inside the wall.

Dealers will inspect the vehicle and install an outlet on the wire, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on December 7, 2021. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-119.

Golden Village Palms RV Resort, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

MCI

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) is recalling certain 2005-2009 E4500 and 2005-2012 J4500 motorcoaches equipped with Ricon Baylift Wheelchair Lifts. When the lift’s outer barrier is fully deployed, it may not withstand a sufficient amount of force, which could cause it to fail. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 403, “Platform Lift Systems,” and number 404, “Platform lift installations.”

Ricon will reinforce the outer barrier with additional supports, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 18, 2021. Owners may contact Ricon’s Customer Service at (800) 322-2884, or email Ricon’s Recall Coordinator, at admin21e068@Wabtec.com or by locating the nearest Ricon servicing dealer using the locator on the Ricon website? www.riconcorp.com. Owners may also contact MCI’s customer service at 1-800-241-2947. MCI’s number for this recall is R21-024.

The Motorcoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona

MCI

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) is recalling certain 2018 D4000, 2018-2020 D4005, D4000ISTV, 2017-2020 D4500, D4505, 2018-2021 J3500, 2017-2021 J4500, 2020 D4520, and 2018-2021 D45CRTLE motorcoaches. The Main Distribution Panel (MDP) located within the battery compartment contains a circuit board that may fail.

MCI Service Centers will remove the MDP and install a new main disconnect and circuit breaker panel, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 18, 2021. Owners may contact MCI’s customer service at 1-800-241-2947. MCI’s number for this recall is R21-010.

Okeefenokee RV Park, Folkston, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019-2021 Dutchmen Aspen Trail, Coleman, Keystone Cougar, Bullet, Passport, Hideout, Springdale, Sprinter, 2019 Keystone Impact, Fuzion, Residence, Retreat, Summerland, and Dutchmen Kodiak recreational vehicles, equipped with Winntec model 6020 two-stage propane regulators. The regulator may fail, causing an increase in propane pressure.

Dealers will replace the regulator and test the propane system for leaks, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 8, 2021. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 21-414.

StarCraft

StarCraft RV (StarCraft) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Autumn Ridge Outfitter recreational trailers. The cooktop is installed in a cabinet that may not be entirely sealed from the furnace. As a result, during furnace operation, the interior range cooktop burner flame may invert.

Dealers will install sealant and plywood panels, as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 29, 2021. Owners may contact Starcraft customer service at 1-800-283-8267. StarCraft’s number for this recall is 9902571.

Rain Spirit RV Resort, Cottonwood, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highland Ridge

Highland Ridge RV (Highland Ridge) is recalling certain 2021 Highland Ridge Open Range recreational trailers. The cooktop is installed in a cabinet that may not be entirely sealed from the furnace. As a result, during furnace operation, the interior range cooktop burner flame may invert.

Dealers will install sealant and plywood panels, as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on November 29, 2021. Owners may contact Highland Ridge customer service at 1-260-768-7771.

Related: June 2021 RV Manufacturer Recalls

Entegra

Entegra Coach (Entegra) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Anthem, Aspire, and Reatta XL Class A vehicles equipped with Cummins L9 diesel engines that have remote Stage 2 fuel filters and pressurized hoses. A fuel leak may occur in the fuel hoses between the fuel pump and the remote fuel filter head.

Entegra will work with Cummins to replace the fuel hoses, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 30, 2021. Owners may contact Entegra customer service at 1-800-283-8267.

Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nexus

Nexus RV’s, LLC (Nexus) is recalling certain 2018-2020 Nexus Bentley, Bentley Diamond, Evoque, Ghost, Maybach, Wraith, Phantom, Triumph, and Viper recreational vehicles, built on International or Ford chassis. These vehicles are equipped with certain Dometic 3-burner cooking stoves. The saddle valve securing bolt may be overtightened, possibly damaging the o-ring seal and causing a continuous gas leak.

Nexus will work with Dometic, who will install a remedy kit of gaskets, washers, thread locker bolts, and two round orange labels, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 29, 2021. Owners may contact Nexus customer service at 1-574-970-0848.

Foretravel

Foretravel, Inc. (Foretravel) is recalling certain 2020-2022 iH-45, Realm FS605, Realm FS450, and iC-37 recreational vehicles equipped with Hehr 6400 Series windows. The adhesive that bonds the vented portion of the window may fail.

Dealers will inspect the windows, and replace the vent if necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed in October 2021. Owners may contact Foretravel customer service at 1-800-9556226.

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

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2019-2022 Travato and 2021-2022 Boldt vehicles. The wire harness may have been built incorrectly, resulting in the loss of over-current protection.

Owners are instructed to not drive their vehicle until the Volta Power System is disabled. Dealers will replace the harness and inspect the electrical connection, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on October 29, 2021. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 164.

Heartland

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Mallard Pathfinder trailers. The vehicle certification label does not have the correct Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) listed. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 120, “Wheels and Rims-Other Than Passenger Cars.”

Heartland will mail new labels to owners, and dealers will replace them, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on December 13, 2021. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032.

Sonoran Desert RV Resort, Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cruiser

Cruiser RV (Cruiser) is recalling 2021-2022 Hitch trailers. The vehicle certification label does not have the correct Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) listed. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 120, “Wheels and Rims-Other Than Passenger Cars.”

Cruiser will mail new labels to owners, and dealers will replace them, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on December 13, 2021. Owners may contact Cruiser customer service at 1-574-206-7920.

KZRV

KZRV, L.P. (KZRV) is recalling certain 2022 Stratus and SportTrek trailers. The water heater and fireplace circuits were improperly connected to a 20amp circuit breaker instead of a 15amp circuit breaker.

Dealers will replace circuit breakers, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on December 10, 2021. Owners may contact KZRV customer service at 1-800-768-4016 ext. 154 or 153. KZRV’s number for this recall is KZ-2021-06.

Please Note: This is the 33rd in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

A Haunting Good Time: Your Guide to 5 Ghostly Cities Across America

We’ve got spirits, yes we do

We know America as the land of spacious skies and amber waves of grain but it also happens to be the land of a million ghost stories. Take a coast-to-coast tour of the most haunted cities in the U.S. where lingering spirits roam through the halls of mansions, authentically haunted hotels, a haunted theater, a retired battleship, and more of the scariest places scattered across the country. Haunted? Quite possibly. Storied history? Absolutely!

And if ghosts aren’t your go-to travel companions, fear not—these sites offer enough culture, history, and beautiful scenery and architecture to keep you firmly planted in this realm.

Related: Visit a Spooky, Creepy, Weird & Haunted Place

Ashton Villa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas: Galveston

Since Galveston has been the scene of much death and many tragic events, it is no wonder that Galveston is as haunted as it is.

Ashton Villa was built by James Moreau Brown in 1859. The ghost of Brown’s daughter Bettie is said to reside there today. In life, she was reportedly an eccentric, free-spirit, and her ghost seems to be the same. Her spirit has been reported to be seen in various areas of the house. Odd happenings have frequently been reported including Bettie’s bed refusing to stay made. Bettie is not the only haunt in the house. Visitors and caretakers also claim to hear piano music playing at times. It is thought to be Bettie’s sister Tilly since Bettie never learned to play the piano in life.

Bishop’s Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Bishop’s Palace, a beautiful Victorian home was built in 1892 by Walter and Josephine Gresham. It is widely regarded as one of the most prominent Victorian architecture examples in the United States today. Perhaps this is why Walter’s ghost roams around inside and outside the home, according to legend. Visitors widely suspect that Walter is protecting the property. On stormy nights Walter’s spirit seems to be more active, pacing the front porch. Perhaps he remembers the fright of the Great Storm?

Jekyll Island Club © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Georgia: Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island is a stunningly beautiful stretch of sun-soaked sand, trees, and grass on the Georgia coast. Rich in history, it is one of the crown jewels of the Golden Isles. In addition, some say it may be one of the most haunted islands in the world!

Goodyear Cottage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A vacation resort populated by some of the most powerful men and women of its day, the Jekyll Island Club thrived from 1886 until World War II. Its members included the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts. The magnificent “cottages” of the club’s wealthy members still stand in the Jekyll Island Historic District as does the Jekyll Island Club itself.

Moss Cottage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is so well known for its amenities and service that stories prevail of guests who checked in—but never checked out! Among the ghosts said to haunt the hotel is railroad magnate Samuel Spencer. Killed in a 1906 train collision, Spencer still returns to enjoy his coffee and morning newspaper. Room 3101 of the Annex is said to be haunted by the benevolent spirit of Charlotte Maurice. She has encouraged guests to enjoy their lives.

Related: Celebrate Halloween RV Style

Indian Mound © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel’s most famous ghost stories involves the son of club member and railway magnate Edwin Gould who was shot and died in a hunting accident in 1917. The hotel is also said to be haunted by a bellman mostly seen on the second floor.

duBignon Cottage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Suite 2416 on the second floor of the main Club House has been the subject of much talk of supernatural events. During a visit by one couple, they were stunned when a balcony door suddenly burst open and an explosion of light illuminated their room. Just as quickly, the light went out and the door closed with a slam.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona: Tombstone

On a trip to southeastern Arizona, you just might want to bring your infrared film, an open mind, and plan to spend a night or two in Tombstone. Tombstone is home to many ghosts and haunted places.

Tombstone Courthouse © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In its day, one of the wildest places in the west with its saloon, casino, dance hall, prostitutes, and theater; the famous Birdcage Theater has had hundreds of visitors recount hearing people singing and talking in the box seats above the stage. There are dozens of testimonies by both tourists and employees of the theatre of seeing people wearing clothing from the 1800s and numerous sightings of a man wearing a visor walking across the stage.

Boothill Graveyard © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A number of other buildings in Tombstone are also haunted. There have been sightings of ghosts in the Aztec House Antique Shop, Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, Nellie Cashman’s Restaurant, the Wells Fargo Bank Building, Shieffelin Hall, and Boot Hill Cemetery to name a few.

Sign at Boothill Graveyard © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This graveyard, filled with colorful characters who lost their lives under less than peaceful circumstances, boasts a number of spirits that just couldn’t take death as the final word. Perhaps this is how Tombstone became known as “The Town Too Tough To Die.”

Related: The Best Place to Scare the Crap Out of Yourself & Add a Little Spook to Your RV Travels

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alabama: Mobile

Mobile has over 300 years of hauntings that are just waiting to be explored by those brave enough to dare! From ghost hunts to the dark secrets woven into Mobile’s history, the Azalea City has no shortage of spine-tingling experiences for those looking to get spooked. 

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hear tales of darkness, death, and dismemberment on Mobile’s Dark Secrets History Tour that explores pre-Civil War mansions, overgrown gardens, and an old church with a mysterious past. Or, book an evening tour exploring Mobile’s mysterious spirits and strange happenings on Mobile’s Own Ghost Stories tour. Your guide will share stories of Mobile’s ghostly residents, folklore, and other strange events from our city’s past!

USS Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the USS ALABAMA where aboard this historic battleship several people have reported hearing ghostly footsteps, strange voices, and the slamming of hatches.

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona: Bisbee

Fifteen miles north of the Mexico border, Bisbee was at one time one of the world’s most productive gold, copper, zinc, and lead mines. For thrills and chills in the “Most Haunted Town in America” check out the Bisbee Seance Room set in Magic Kenny Bang Bang’s Victorian Parlor where you’ll hear about the historic haunted history of Bisbee.

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Celebrating over 14 years of bringing you haunted and macabre stories, the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour is a great way to experience the town after dark. Or, be spirited away on a haunted walking tour of Bisbee’s most spooky bars. Before you enter each of the five locations your Spirit Guide will regale you with tales of the haunted history of the location. As you sip at your drink of choice your host will recount tales of Bisbee and its unique and interesting characters. The tour is estimated to last approximately 3 hours with 35 minutes spent at each location. Don’t forget that your spirits will not materialize unless you tip your bartender and Spirit Guide!!

Worth Pondering…

I’m just a ghost in this house
I’m a shadow upon these walls,
As quietly as a mouse
I haunt these halls.

—Allison Krauss, Ghost in This House

Ohio Amish Country: It’s About Life…Plain & Simple

The Amish community is a living reminder of the principles of religious freedom that helped shape America

What comes to mind when you think of Amish country? A slower pace, rolling landscapes, quaint shops, comfort food, black buggies, and the clip-clop of horse hooves.

The first notable group of Amish arrived in America around 1730 and settled near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Today the largest concentration of Amish is in Holmes and neighboring counties in Ohio. Located in the rolling hills of east-central Ohio, it is easy to find via I-77 to the east, I-71 to the west, and I-70 to the south.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A relaxing drive in Amish Country reveals scenic vistas and charming vignettes of a simpler time and place. It is basically a living history museum of how life was 100 years ago.

Every bend in the road brings a new and delightful surprise: dense woodlands one minute, panoramic views the next; a sudden glimpse of Amish kids bouncing on a front-yard trampoline; a flock of chickens crossing the road.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive slowly on these back roads. Livestock lurks in unexpected places. And there’s a steady stream of people, too—on bikes, or in buggies, or just walking down the road. 

Related: A Window into a Unique World: Amish Life along the Heritage Trail

Honest, friendly, and hard-working describe the people of the area, where thousands come to experience a break from the hustle and bustle of today’s world.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holmes County has bakeries, cheese houses, wineries, quilt and craft shops, and 80 hardwood furniture stores.

The clip-clop of horse hooves is a familiar sound in the historic town of Millersburg, founded in 1815. Millersville, the Holmes County seat, sits on the bank of Killbuck Creek and is home to 3,500 residents. Along with Berlin and Walnut Creek, Millersville makes up the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

October couldn’t offer a more perfect time to visit Holmes County. Of course, Amish Country’s pastoral landscape, complete with one-room schoolhouses and white picket fences, ambling black buggies and Belgian horses pulling plows in the fields, makes for scenery worthy of a postcard at any time of year.

But the burst of vibrant foliage on display here in autumn—countless species of leaves brandishing every shade of the rainbow, colorful treetops rising from the hills like upturned paintbrushes—serves up vistas that make both the Amish people and their surroundings seem transplanted from another century.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Amish settled in this region of Ohio because it reminded them of their European homelands. They made their living primarily through agriculture, but today the Amish cottage industry is growing. The area has a large concentration of hardwood furniture builders.

Related: Amish Country Heritage Trail

Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They’re also a huge producer of cheese, especially Swiss cheese, with several of their cheese houses using only locally produced Amish milk. A visit to Heini’s Cheese Chalet, home of the original Yogurt Cultured Cheese, or Guggisberg Cheese, home of the Original Baby Swiss provides a glimpse into how cheese is made. Plus, at Heini’s you can sample more than 70 types of cheese, purchase Amish foods, smoked meats, fudge, and more while Guggisberg offers 60 varieties of cheese with all the accompaniments.

Guggisberg’s Cheese, Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Housed in a charming Victorian home where comfortable rocking chairs beckon visitors, the Coblentz Chocolate Company is a destination for locals and visitors to Ohio’s Amish Country. A viewing gallery makes it possible for guests to see firsthand how the staff makes chocolates and other sweet treats the old-fashioned way. More than 60,000 pounds are produced annually at the family-owned business that has a second retail location in Berlin.

Related: Experience a Different Way of Life along the Amish Country Byway

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many farms have a small business attached, catering more to Amish needs than to tourists’ taste. There’s even an Amish Maytag repairman who specializes in fixing washers that run on gas.

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.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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…

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you miss the sense of where you’re going and why.

—Eddie Cantor

5 Haunted Places around America Perfect for a Halloween Road Trip (If You Dare)

Spooky stories, unexplained mysteries, ghost sightings, and paranormal activity

I’m so grateful for you, RVingwithRex readers, for making the time to hang with me every day. The fact that you squeeze in a moment or two between your everyday duties searching for that one life-changing post that will heal all of your woes—frankly, it means the world!

Ghostly sightings © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today’s post is really gonna knock your socks off. From abandoned locales (perfect for the spooky season), haunted inns to creepy jails, there’s nothing quite like learning the intriguing history of a place famous for ghostly sightings—especially around Halloween. But abandoned towns in the middle of nowhere aren’t the only spots where you can experience paranormal activity—large cities and small towns also have a plethora of haunted places like centuries-old mansions, whispery saloons, restaurants, and 5-star hotels.

Scared yet? Pack the RV and head to a destination that offers something for everyone craving some frightening entertainment this Halloween season.

Related: Celebrate Halloween RV Style

Mount Washington Hotel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Hampshire: Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods

The tale of Carolyn Stickney sounds like the worst Disney princess story ever: she married the hotel’s founder who died right before construction was completed. She then remarried into European royalty, but alas, she too passed soon after. She never checked out of Mount Washington Hotel, though; she appears in people’s photos as a hazy apparition, floats around the hallways, and is a regular fixture in room 314, apparently her favorite place to challenge the notion of 5-star accommodations. The four-poster bed she slept in remains in the room where you can still hear her voice, some say.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona: Jerome

Jerome was a near ghost town of 50-60 inhabitants for many years. Jerome’s streets, back alleys, and old buildings have attracted Ghost Hunters for many years. Many miners died in the 70 years of mining in Jerome and locals have reported seeing ghosts and other paranormal activity for decades.

The United Verde Hospital on Cleopatra Hill is loaded with apparitions and inexplicable noises. Moans and other frightening sounds reverberate through the hallways and ghostly figures float through the corridors. Phelps Dodge Mine near Jerome State Historical Park is home to Headless Charlie, the ghost of a miner who apparently “lost his head.” The Community Center has so many ghosts that it is locally known as Spook Hall. The Old Company Clinic houses ghosts of former patients, doctors, and nurses. And often, just around dusk, a phantom spirit is seen standing in the doorways of the Old Episcopal Church.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s no better way to get in the Halloween spirit than with a ghost tour in a ghost town. You can opt for traditional history tours but when else will you have a chance to play Scooby Doo and try to track down spirits? Discover the spooky side of Jerome with a tour of the most haunted locations. Exciting ghost tours are offered by several local companies including Tours of Jerome, Ghost Town Tours, and Jerome Ghost Tours.

Related: A Creepy, Spooky, Ghostly, Haunted Road Trip

Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Mexico: Santa Fe

Hauntings are reported at the La Posada Hotel on East Palace Avenue, the Night Sky Gallery on Canyon Road, the Laguna Pueblo Mission, the Grant Corner Inn (especially Rooms 4 and 8), the Church of San Miguel, the La Fonda Hotel, the Three Sisters Boutique, and the Legal Tender Restaurant and Saloon located in the central part of town. A phantom headless horseman is reported to roam Alto Street, riding down to the Santa Fe River.

La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Fonda Hotel not only hosts travelers who are visiting Santa Fe, but it also hosts ghostly guests. A lot of people believe that the ghost of the Honorable Judge Slough still continues to walk the hotel’s halls. The ghost of a disheartened salesman who jumped into the well after losing the company’s money is often reported. The hotel’s dining room is located directly over the old well and hotel staff and guests alike have reported seeing a ghostly figure walking into the center of the room and disappearing into the floor.

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Carolina: Charleston

Established by English colonists in 1670, Charleston is one of the oldest and most storied American cities. From its history as a shipping port, its struggle during the Revolutionary War, and its involvement in the Civil War, Charleston is a rich well of history. The stories and characters from its past are compelling and unique—and not entirely left in the past! Here are a few of the best spots to catch a glimpse of some of the personalities from Charleston’s past.

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can also stay in Room 8 at the circa 1843 South Battery Carriage House where you may be greeted by the “Headless Torso.” This terrifying apparition of a torso missing its head and legs appears in the room and moans in a menacing fashion. Or, choose Room 10 for a more refined experience with the “Gentleman Ghost,” a genial, well-dressed fellow looking for a comfy bed and warm body to snuggle up to. No need to move over—he reportedly takes up very little space.

The Old Charleston Jail dates back to 1802 and hasn’t changed much over the years. Notable prisoners include Denmark Vesey, arrested for planning a slave uprising, and Lavinia Fisher, the country’s first female serial killer. Pirates and union soldiers were also held captive and many locals believe the spirits and souls of the incarcerated continue to reside behind bars.

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Poogan’s Porch restaurant was originally a Victorian-style residence that was built in 1888. It has long been considered one of the most haunted houses in Charleston. Thanks to the presence of a lady in a long white nightgown who is often seen staring out of the windows long after the restaurant has closed for the night. This is thought to be the spirit of Zoe Amand, a spinster school teacher who died in the house in 1954. Her presence has also been felt by diners during opening hours.

Related: 10 Best Things to Do this Fall

Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Mexico: Mesilla

Ghosts have hung around Old Mesilla—a century-and-a-half-year-old adobe village in the Rio Grande Valley—since the 1800s. Ghosts prefer their haunts to be well seasoned with history and Mesilla clearly meets that standard. It lies along the historic Camino Real, or Royal Road, which connected Mexico’s capitols with Santa Fe for almost three centuries from 1598 to 1881. It attracted legends like Kit Carson and Pancho Villa and gunfighters Sheriff Pat Garrett and outlaw Billy the Kid.

Parrot at La Posta, Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesilla lost its place in the sun in 1881 when the railroad bypassed the village in favor of nearby Las Cruces. Mesilla became the perfect place for a community of ghosts. As you would expect several places in Old Mesilla have discovered ghosts within their walls and grounds.

La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant employees talk about ghosts smashing glasses, moving chairs, opening and closing doors, throwing clocks, chilling the air, exuding sulfur smells, and shoving customers. Sometimes, they even scared the dickens out of the caged parrots at the restaurant’s entrance.

Double Eagle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Double Eagle is housed inside a former hacienda owned by the Maes family. Senora Maes expected great things of her oldest son, Armando: she wanted him to marry an aristocrat. However, Armando, fell in love with a household servant named Inez. When Senora Maes discovered the relationship, she demanded that it end and banished Inez from her home. One day, Senora Maes came home unexpectedly, interrupting the lovers’ tryst. She grabbed her sewing shears from a basket on the patio and attacked Inez, stabbing her. As the Senora was preparing to strike again, Armando threw his body over Inez and the blade that was meant for his beloved struck him. Inez died in Armando’s arms; he slipped into unconsciousness, dying three days after her, without ever waking up. At this restaurant, furniture seems to move on its own, wine glasses break when no one is close by, and then there is the sound of whispering. So, next time you fancy a great meal and a ghost story, head to 2355 Calle de Guadalupe in Mesilla.

Worth Pondering…

I’m just a ghost in this house
I’m a shadow upon these walls,
As quietly as a mouse
I haunt these halls.

—Allison Krauss, Ghost in This House

Great Smoky Mountains: Most Visited National Park…and We Can See Why

One visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is never enough even when it stretches over a week or two

Some of the wildest terrain the Southern Appalachian region can claim and some of the wildest to be found in the eastern United States can be found in the Smoky Mountains. At their heart is the national park which sprawls across 815 square miles, a swath of land just a little over half the size of Rhode Island.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Great Smoky Mountain National Park has one of the world’s best-preserved deciduous forests, the oldest mountains in the United States, and more annual visitors than any other national park in the country.

The 33-mile long Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) bisects the park, stretching from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina with incredible views. Clingmans Dome is just past the “gap,” commonly referred to as “pass” in other parts of the country.

Related: Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Land of the Blue Smoke

With an estimated 900 miles of trails, Great Smoky is a hiker’s haven, one that could occupy you year-round. You could focus on the 70-some miles of the Appalachian Trail that runs along the roof of the park or break Great Smoky into regions and hike them one at a time.

Although there are many national parks that are larger, the Great Smoky Mountains have the greatest diversity of plants anywhere in North America. The Smoky Mountains contain more than 300 rare species of plants with as many as 125 on the protected plant lists of either North Carolina or Tennessee.

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Great Smoky Mountains have an explosion of wildflowers in spring and summer. More than 1,500 flowering plants can be found in the region, including delicate spring beauties, several types of trillium, trout lilies, wild geranium, and orchids; visit from mid-April to mid-May for the best blooms. The park’s showy flame azaleas and rhododendrons also burst to life starting in April in the low elevations and into June up high.

Related: Springtime in the Smokies

The Smokies are famous for their colorful trees in fall. Drive or hike to the higher elevations for sweeping views over the park’s 100-plus tree species painting the hills in bright oranges, yellows, and reds. Peak leaf season is impossible to predict since it is dependent on rain, temperature, and other factors. Generally, you can target the second half of October for higher-elevation colors, and late October through the first week of November for lower elevations.

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before it became a national park, this landscape was home to many settlers who farmed and milled in its hidden valleys. Today, more than 90 historic buildings remain in the park. In Cades Cove, you’ll find the greatest variety of churches, mills, barns, and cabins dating back to the early 1800s. An 11-mile one-way loop road takes you through a lush valley surrounded by mountains. For a quieter ride, head to the Roaring Forks motor nature trail with views of rushing streams, old log cabins, another mill, and forested wilderness.

Visit Oconaluftee to tour the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of structures from the late 1800s, or nearby Mingus Mill. Other beautiful drives include the 18-mile Little River Road from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to Townsend and the Blue Ridge Parkway (outside of the park).

Related: Now Is the Best Time to Visit the Smokies

While Cades Cove with its rich collection of homesteading cabins, corn cribs, smokehouses, and churches is arguably the most popular area of the park, much the same history can be discovered without the crowds in Cataloochee (Big and Little Cataloochee). A little over a century ago this was one of the region’s most thriving communities with 1,200 residents in 1910. Today, though, it draws no crowds to its historic buildings, rolling orchards, meadows or forests, which do, however, attract elk, wild turkeys, and black bears. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled near the park’s eastern border, you must negotiate a winding 11-mile gravel road found near Dellwood, North Carolina, to reach Cataloochee. This road will carry you back into a 19th- and early-20th century landscape rimmed by 6,000-foot mountains and some of the park’s best examples of historic frame buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Still standing is the Palmer House, a vintage “dog trot” construction featuring two separate log cabins (that later were planked over) tied together by a covered porch popular with dogs on long, hot summer days. These days the house doubles as a museum of the valley and offers a video that provides an interesting oral history provided by descendants of the valley’s settlers.

As you can see, Great Smoky holds more wonders and adventures than one visit can embrace.

Worth Pondering…

If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.

—Bill Bryson

Explore the Funky Art Towns and Desert Beauty of West Texas

It’s a hell of a drive, but well worth the journey

Texas being the largest state in the lower forty-eight is just an abstract fun fact… until you actually drive across it. A few hours in the RV often gets you exactly nowhere, a frustrating truth until you decide nowhere is exactly where you want to be. 

Driving West Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s the ideal outlook for a road trip to far West Texas. Removed from just about everything in the best ways, the hours melt into the horizon as you roll steadily past mile after mile of dry, desolate rangeland and on to “nearby” towns like Fort Stockton. 

“Flat” and “boring,” the uninspired will utter, but this sprawling landscape is also punctuated by moments of natural beauty, world-class art, funky towns, big sunsets, and oddball surprises that are well worth the long journey. Take your time and fall into the change of pace—the vibe, if you will—that each area offers. 

Birding in West Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a good chance Marfa is your final destination or maybe Big Bend, one of the most far-flung and underrated national parks—a mountainous dreamscape for kayaking, star-gazing, and hiking. But we’ve got a lot of ground to cover before you get there.

Fort Stockton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to see on the drive to West Texas

Embrace “the journey is the destination” mindset and prepare for a full day of RV travel. Hopefully, you can budget time to stop at these natural wonders along the way:

Caverns of Sonora © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Caverns of Sonora

The founder of a National Speleological Society (read: a group of dudes who love exploring caves) once said “its beauty cannot be exaggerated, even by a Texan.” Daily guided tours of this remarkable cave system last just shy of two hours and take you 155 feet below the earth’s surface. Sonora is also a great halfway point between San Antonio and Big Bend. Their RV park offers 48 sites complete with water and electricity; several of which are pull-through.  Due to the presence of the cavern, a dump station is not available; however, there are clean restrooms with showers.

Monahans Sandhills State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monahans Sandhills State Park

A mystical place where the wind sculpts sand dunes into peaks and valleys, Mon­a­hans Sandhills offers a Texas-sized sand­box for kids of all ages as well as a close-up view of a unique desert environment. These natural sand dunes are ever-changing and worth stomping around after a few hours behind the wheel. Not far from Midland, stop here for a picnic or sled down the swirling dunes on rentable plastic lids if you’re so inclined. Entry is $4. And spend the night at one of the 26 camping sites with water and electric hookups, a picnic table, and shelter. Camping is $15 nightly plus the entry fee.

Balmorhea State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Balmorhea State Park

Time to bust out your swimsuit. Near the crossroads of I-20 and I-10, you’ll find a literal oasis in the middle of the desert: the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world. Recharge in the cold, clear waters and get a glimpse of tiny endangered pupfish, found only in the San Soloman springs. Open daily, entry costs $7; buy a day pass in advance to guarantee a spot especially on crowded weekends when the pool can reach capacity. Stay overnight at one of 34 campsites. Or reserve a room at the San Solomon Springs Courts, motel-style retro lodging built by the CCC.

Marfa

There’s no small town in Texas with a bigger reputation than Marfa. In the early 1970s, Marfa became a refuge for the acclaimed minimalist artist Donald Judd who laid the foundation for the thriving international art scene the town is known for today. Indisputably hip, even by big-city standards (perhaps especially by big-city standards), Marfa still manages to feel mythical and off-the-grid.

Driving the Davis Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Davis and Alpine

For a glimpse of everyday living in far West Texas, swing through the towns of Fort Davis and Alpine. Both offer easier access to exploring the trails and state parks in the area.

Hike in Davis Mountain State Park. You don’t expect to find “mountain” and “Texas” in the same sentence very often and yet here we are. Take in the rugged landscape with a hike on Skyline Drive Trail or drive the 75-mile scene loop that starts and ends in Fort Davis. 

The Davis Mountains © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Comprising 647 acres, Sul Ross in Alpine boasts a beautiful 93-acre main campus and enjoys perhaps the most temperate climate in the state. It is situated in the Davis Mountains and overlooks the center of the city below. The university also has a 468-acre working ranch that serves its animal science programs.

Fort Davis National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the 1980s, some students at Sul Ross placed a large metal desk on top of the very large Hancock Hill behind the university. It’s still there today. Notebooks left in the desk’s drawers are filled with salutations and sage wisdom from past visitors.

McDonald Observatory © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stargaze at McDonald Observatory. Just north of Fort Davis, one of the darkest night skies in the country allows for spectacular stargazing. Gaze into the cosmos during one of their evening star parties. Otherwise, they’re open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday. 

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is the keystone to far West Texas and one of the most gorgeous places in the state. The park’s great expanse and stunning beauty—from desertscapes to river canyons and mountain hideaways—can not be summed up in a few words or even a few days exploring it.

Before heading to Big Bend, be sure to fill up your gas tank in Alpine, Marathon, or Terlingua (depending on where you’re driving in from). It’s also a good idea to bring waaaay more water than you think you’ll need (maybe avoid the hot summer months) and download maps to your phone, as cell service can be dicey. 

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping sites are available at Chisos Basin Campground in the higher (read: cooler) elevations of the Chisos Mountains and the Rio Grande Village Campground (best for big rigs and winter camping) overlooking the Mexican border.

The iconic center point of the park, the Chisos Mountains is the only mountain range completely contained within the borders of a national park. The dramatic drive up to the mountain basin is worth the trip alone just to watch the temperature drop at least 15 degrees from the desert below. From the mountain basin, you can hike to the top of Emory Peak, Big Bend’s most recognizable feature or down the Window Trail to where the entire basin empties out into the desert.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Santa Elena Canyon where you can dip your toes in international waters, wave to Mexico, and hike into the 1,500-foot vertical chasm cut by the river over the eons. The Hot Springs Canyon Trail on the eastern side of the park also offers great views of the river. You can also kayak to your heart’s content.

Drive or hike in the Chihuahuan Desert. This arid, harsh desert makes up about 80 percent of the park but it’s not without its own rugged beauty. Bluebonnets and wildflowers add a burst of color in the springtime. The Chimneys Trail off the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive has neat stone arches left by ancient lava flows.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend’s ultra-remote location, free and clear of any light pollution, makes it one of the best places in the country to stargaze. In fact, it’s the darkest national park in the lower 48. The park occasionally hosts star parties or moonlit walks led by rangers.

Your only option for eating and for drinks in the park is The Chisos Mountain Lodge restaurant and patio has an early morning breakfast buffet and stays open until 9 pm for dinner. There are three locations to buy basic supplies within the park but if you’re planning to stay longer than an afternoon pack in supplies from the grocery store in Alpine or other nearby towns.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.

—John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

America’s Fall Foliage: Leafing through America

The real party here is the #foliage

At first glance, the sea of yellow, orange, red, and brown might seem like a random medley of colors…but it’s not. When chlorophyll abandons a tree in the autumn, it leaves behind a mix of other pigments that are distinct from one species to the next.

The sugar maple which rules the fall foliage world in North America glows a brilliant orange. Dogwoods turn reddish-purple. Beech and hickory trees get their yellow on as does aspen. And oak leaves—well, most of the poor fellows fade to brown before they become raking fodder.

I like to think of it as each tree leaving its individual signature on nature’s canvas before retiring for the winter.

Related: Leafy Scenes: 12 of the Best Road Trips for Viewing Fall Foliage

Fall is upon us. Gather your favorite road trip tunes, pack your camera, and consider one of these majestic drives to behold the dazzling shades of fall foliage from deep crimson to electric yellow. 

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive offers leaf peepers amazing autumn views

Who’s up for some leaf-peeping? If you haven’t traveled Skyline Drive in the fall, you may want to add it to your bucket list. The 105-mile National Scenic Byway runs the entire length of Shenandoah National Park along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. For over 75 years, the two-lane road has offered travelers the opportunity to view many scenic vistas.

Skyline Drive’s northern terminus is at an intersection with U.S. Route 340 near Front Royal and the southern terminus is at an interchange with US-250 near I-64 in Rockfish Gap where the road continues south as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Snap-happy tourists can capture the beauty of Shenandoah’s fall foliage while they stretch their legs at one of 70 overlooks.

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive is buzzing with activity when Shenandoah’s trees exchange leaves of green for reds, oranges, and yellows. To avoid crowds, tourists are encouraged to visit on a weekday. Unless leaf peepers get caught in heavy traffic on fall foliage weekends, the entire length of Skyline Drive can be traveled in about three hours without stopping but why would you. The only public road through Shenandoah National Park is generally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless there is inclement weather.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherohala Skyway Festival set for tomorrow in Tellico Plains

The Charles Hall Museum & Heritage Center is gearing up for its fifth annual Cherohala Skyway Festival scheduled for Saturday, October 23, 2021, at the museum and its grounds. This year’s event commemorates the 25th anniversary of the completion of the Cherohala Skyway.

A professionally-directed video, “Highway To The Sky,” will play all day in Building 2’s meeting room. The seven-minute video offers footage and photos of the early Tellico Plains-North Carolina wagon trains along with the construction and completion of the Cherohala Skyway.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Cherohala Skyway Festival will feature some bluegrass musicians and groups. The Mountain Music String Band will kick off the entertainment. In addition to mountain music, there will be a variety of free activities to entertain children including a meet and greet with the Team Lexi princesses and princes, barrel train rides, a petting zoo, crafts and other activities, and Cherokee games. All ages can also enjoy free horse-drawn wagon rides with hayrides pulled by Mahindra tractors throughout the day.

Related: Stunning Fall Drives across America

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The festival will also feature crafters and artists displaying many products from photography, painting, jewelry, leather, ceramics, quilting, needlework, and woodwork. All items are handmade or hand-decorated or designed.

During the festival, guests will be able to satisfy their appetite with southern specialties such as the Pork Palace’s pulled pork plates and fried ‘tater bowls. A&A Meat Co. will fry up a thick slice of bologna on grilled Texas toast with grilled onions and grilled cheese sandwiches. Slim’s Burger Joint will offer hamburgers with all the southern fixins’ including crinkle-style French fries.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dessert choices include funnel cakes, kettle corn, popcorn, homemade pork rinds, caramel apples, cotton candy, mini bundt cakes, ice cones, soft-serve ice cream, and a wide variety of baked goods from the Tellico Plains Public Library’s bake sale.

Following the festival experience the mountain and river valley sights by driving the Cherohala Skyway, a national scenic byway and the gateway to the Cherokee National Forest, or by visiting the 90-feet Bald River Falls, during peak fall color season,

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park

Fall is an incredible time to visit Zion National Park. As temperatures cool, it’s the perfect time for a hiking adventure. Also, the crowds are much smaller compared to summer and the park looks stunning as beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves add so much color to its rugged desert landscape.

Though the climate in Zion National Park is incredibly arid, many trees thrive in the park. Evergreen white pines, ponderosa pines, and Douglas fir are mixed with golden aspens, crimson maples, copper oaks, and yellow cottonwoods. During the fall months, red and gold accents brighten the desert landscapes creating numerous opportunities for nature photographers.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To get the big picture of the fall in Zion, take the easy one-mile Canyon Overlook Trail east of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. The views of Zion Canyon from far above will take your breath away. A one-hour trail is perfect for families and those who are not ready for long strenuous hikes.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Virgin River is another excellent location to spot fall foliage. Hikers can start on the 2.2 mile Riverside Walk which is paved and comfortable. From there you can take the scenic Emerald Pools Trail which is especially rich with deciduous trees. A more challenging option is to walk on the river bed from the Temple of Sinawava shuttle station in the opposite direction for several miles. This way you can reach Zion Narrows, a beautiful slot canyon, which looks even better with colorful trees. If you are ready to challenge yourself, even more, take the 5.4-mile Angels Landing hike which offers views down into the canyon from a staggering height of 1,500 feet.

Stowe Community Church © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Little of Austria. . . a Lot of Vermont!

One of my favorite places in the Green Mountain State is the town of Stowe. If you’re driving to Stowe from I-89 you will exit off the Interstate and pass through Waterbury and Waterbury Center. Don’t miss Ben & Jerry’s along the way. A little further up the road in Waterbury Center is the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. You should definitely plan a stop to Cold Hollow for some fresh apple cider and the freshly made, delicious cider donuts.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stowe’s Main Street features a number of small stores, restaurants, and of course the subject of many scenic photos and artwork—the Stowe Community Church.

Related: Central Vermont: Montpelier, Burlington & Barre

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make a trip up the Mountain Road to the Trapp Family Lodge, a unique mountain resort featuring Austrian-inspired architecture and European-style accommodations. The Lodge offers stunning mountain views along with activities for every season.

Trapp Family Lodge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the early 1940s, the von Trapp family toured the United States as the Trapp Family Singers before eventually settling in Stowe on an enchanted farm with sweeping mountain vistas reminiscent of their beloved Austria. In the summer of 1950, they began welcoming guests to a rustic, 27-room family home/lodge. After a devastating fire in 1980, the original structure was replaced by the new Trapp Family Lodge, a picturesque 96-room alpine lodge situated on 2,500 acres offering magnificent indoor and outdoor resort amenities. The entire property is owned and operated by the von Trapp family. You can learn all about the von Trapp family history by taking a tour while at the resort.

Worth Pondering…

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

—George Eliot