49 Million Americans Will Road Trip This Thanksgiving, 15 Million by RV

With Thanksgiving being less than a week away, it’s important to figure out your travel plans soon. If you’re traveling by car or RV, you’ll want to start gathering everything you need to hit the road.

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.
—Erma Bombeck 

Thanksgiving 2022 falls on Thursday, November 24 this year. When planning your travel schedule, give yourself ample time to get to your destination during this historically busy travel time, and keep in mind any harsh weather that could potentially delay your plans. 

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Packing an emergency kit can come in handy in case you encounter an unscheduled stop in traffic or need to pull over because of car or RV problems. Items to pack include:

  • Extra bottled water
  • Snack foods
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • First aid kit
15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drivers and passengers also should remember prescription medications and items such as a cellphone charger in case of unexpected travel delays.

Getting adequate rest, buckling up, obeying speed limits, and never driving while impaired is behaviors that promote improved highway safety. Eighteen people were killed last year in a total of 15 fatal crashes on all Arizona roads including local streets over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Drivers also should check their vehicle before traveling, including tire pressure, engine belts and hoses, fluid levels and the condition of windshield wipers.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This Thanksgiving holiday, 54.6 million Americans are planning to travel 50 miles or more away from their homes, according to AAA. The amount is 1.5 percent more than travelers during last year’s Thanksgiving festivities and 98 percent of pre-pandemic volumes. AAA is predicting 2022 will be the third busiest year for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether driving or flying.”

AAA finds that most travelers will reach their destinations by car (or RV), similar to last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to drive and while Thanksgiving road trips have increased slightly—up 0.4 percent from 2021—road travel remains 2.5 percent below 2019 levels.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

INRIX expects severe congestion in several U.S. metro areas with some drivers experiencing more than double normal delays. Highways in and around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles will be the busiest. To avoid the most hectic times, INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and avoiding travel between 4 and 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Air travel is up nearly 8 percent over 2021 with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99 percent of the 2019 volume.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Americans are also ramping up travel by other modes of transportation. More than 1.4 million travelers are going out of town for Thanksgiving by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 23 percent from 2021 and 96 percent of the 2019 volume. “With travel restrictions lifted and more people comfortable taking public transportation again, it’s no surprise buses, trains, and cruises are coming back in a big way,” Twidale adds. “Regardless of the mode of transportation you have chosen, expect crowds during your trip and at your destination. If your schedule is flexible, consider off-peak travel times during the holiday rush.”

Related article: Top 8 Tips for Planning a Road Trip this Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday Season

A new survey of leisure travelers conducted by the RV Industry Association finds that 15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s this year. This represents 12 percent of the total number of leisure travelers intending to spend the holidays away from home and the impact of these RVers continues to be felt in the economies of the locations they visit.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Increased spending on outdoor recreation—of which the RV industry is a centerpiece—was reaffirmed last week when the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) report revealing that the sector contributed a record $862 billion to the U.S. economy and employed 4.5 million Americans in 2021. This represents an increase of 31 percent in gross output and 13 percent in jobs over 2020.

“These two studies demonstrate that the RV industry and its customers are vital contributors to America’s economy and all indications are that they will continue to be so,” said RV Industry Association Executive Vice President James Ashurst. “Growth in the industry is being increasingly driven by younger and more diverse RV buyers whose purchases are largely motivated by the desire to experience the great outdoors.”

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the RV Industry Association’s travel intention study, 29 percent of Millennials and 20 percent of GenZ leisure travelers plan on staying in an RV over the holidays. Some of these will be driving to warm-weather campgrounds or mountain ski resorts while others will be parked outside their extended families’ homes over the holidays.

Related article: Thanksgiving Road Trip: See the Best of Arizona in these 8 Places

“Spending time with friends and family is an integral part of the holidays and we know that whether RVing together for a holiday vacation or traveling in your RV for a holiday visit, spending time with friends and family is a primary reason people are going RVing this holiday season,” said Ashurst.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The survey also showed that finances are a driving reason for people’s plans to take an upcoming RV trip. With RV vacations costing 50 percent less than comparable hotel and plane ride trips and a third less than hotel and car ride trips, RVing is an attractive option for people looking for the freedom to travel while also controlling their travel expenses.

AAA recently revealed the top 10 domestic travel destinations for the Thanksgiving holiday. Two theme-park destinations top the list this year—Orlando and Anaheim—as they did in 2019 and 2021 while Chicago and Charlotte are new additions to the top 10.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Thanksgiving is all about spending time with family and friends so it’s no surprise that theme park destinations top the list with entertainment and meals accessible within a resort,” said Twidale. “Chicago and Charlotte join Atlanta as hub cities for the three largest airlines—American, Delta, and United—and will see lots of activity this holiday season as airline routes and direct flights are limited, and staff shortage still exists.”

Average hotel booking costs are up 8 percent compared to 2021 but hotel prices in some cities like Las Vegas and Denver are lower this year.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The top 10 destinations are:

  • Orlando
  • Anaheim
  • Las Vegas
  • New York City
  • Atlanta
  • Phoenix
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Denver
  • Chicago
  • Charlotte 
15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to IRI, big Thanksgiving celebrations are back this year with 76 percent of consumers reporting they plan to celebrate the holiday as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. The average number of people at the Thanksgiving table will be close to eight and that number jumps to 9.8 for Gen Z and younger millennials (those under 32). The oldest consumers, seniors, and retirees anticipate six people at their tables.

Related article: Turkey Talk At Thanksgiving

While people are hosting larger meals, inflation is a top concern for consumers and 38 percent expect to pay more for groceries this year but intend to buy the same amount of food. IRI reports that traditional Thanksgiving meal items are estimated to cost 13.5 percent more than they did a year ago.

In response to high inflation, retailers are discounting holiday meal items including Pilot Flying J and Love’s Travel Stops.

15.3 million Americans plan to travel in RVs between Thanksgiving and New Years this year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Overall, food and beverage costs were up 13.3 percent year over year in October. Additionally, this year could become the worst year ever of avian flu outbreaks for poultry, skyrocketing turkey prices. Wholesale turkey prices are at $1.79 a pound in October which is 40 cents higher than last year’s peak. (Walmart is keeping whole turkeys at $1 a pound.) IRI research shows pies and side dishes are up 19.6 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively.

Related article: Thanksgiving & Staying Safe

Worth Pondering…

Only in America do people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

—Anon

Why the Saying Should Be As American as Pumpkin Pie, Not Apple

I think we should be saying as American as pumpkin pie

When life gives you pumpkins, make pie.

—a play on Elbert Hubbard’s words

Pie is revered in the modern American household. Juicy apples mixed with sugar and cinnamon make much-anticipated appearances in the kitchen throughout fall and winter. Rich, creamy spiced pumpkin and sweet potato pies are delivered on Thanksgiving. Deep burgundy red cherry pies are served on Christmas.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’ve all heard the phrase countless times before: As American as apple pie. Many people never question it. Apple pie is on the menu at most American diners and Normal Rockwell featured the dessert in several of his illustrations. It’s unmistakably American—and yet that well-worn cliche isn’t historically accurate. When you dig into the history of the earliest days of the American colonies you’ll find that the pie most connected to this country’s roots is pumpkin, not apple.

Pumpkin © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pumpkins are native to North America. Columbus wrote about pumpkins he saw from his voyages and brought some back as did subsequent explorers so people in Europe were familiar with them as early as 1492. Pumpkins and other squash were some of the first crops colonists planted when settlers arrived in America in 1621.

And then there’s pie. There’s been a love for pie in North America from the very first settlers to their present-day ancestors. Early settlers cut up pretty much anything that could grow, baked it between two pieces of crust, and called it a pie. Culinary tastes of the era meant that almost all vegetables grown in the colony were baked in a pastry crust.

Pie generally meant something a little more savory. Tarts were dishes where they added lots of sugar. That was the difference between a pie and a tart in the 17th century.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A matter of fillings

Pumpkin, not an apple, was the dominant pie filling in the early American colonies as apple orchards hadn’t been planted yet. New England without apples is difficult to picture but the first decade of the Plymouth colony was mostly appleless.

Related article: How as American as Apple Pie Came to Be

William Blaxton planted the first apple seedlings trees soon after he arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts just south of present-day Boston in 1623.

Pumpkin patch © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once apples were abundant in the colonies, pie recipes popped up that combined sliced apples and pumpkins with butter and a little spice. These original pies, however, were more vegetable-heavy. They used sliced pieces of pumpkin or squash mixed with spices and butter and then baked in a pastry crust. Pumpkin pies with a whipped, fluffy texture became widespread after the advent of Libby’s canned pumpkin puree in the early 20th century.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How pumpkin pie was traditionally served

Pumpkin pie in the 21st century is relegated to dessert—a savory and sweet cap to an already decadent meal. Thanksgiving seems incomplete without it.

But pies weren’t reserved for special occasions in the pilgrim household. Meals were served family style and pies were set out with the rest of the main courses rather than being presented at the end of the meal. Once the family sat down to eat the pies weren’t sliced, either.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you served a pie in the 17th century you’d cut the top crust off, scoop out the filling, and then you’d take little bits of crust to go with it. So pie acted like a container to hold the rest of the filling in.

About that crust: There seems to be some confusion about the uses of early pie crust. New England’s early settlers called pie crust pastry or paste and typically the ingredients were simple: hot or cold water depending on the type of pie, butter, and flour. These crusts, sometimes known as the coffyn became rock hard during the baking process leading to the misconception that the crusts were tossed into the garbage once the filling had been consumed. America’s settlers, however, were much more industrious and recycled the pastry for future use.

Pumpkin patch © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You would eat the pastry with the next meal with broth to soften the pastry. You didn’t throw it away. Because when people go through all the trouble to grow food like wheat or rye or other grains and harvest it by hand and thresh it and grind it, they aren’t going to throw it away. They might not feed it to the lord of the manor but somebody is going to eat it.

Related article: Julian Is World Famous For Apple Pies

The term coffin might sound off-putting when applied to your dinner but it simply described the pie as a basket or box. This dining method proved popular throughout medieval Europe. For one, it required no additional dishes and could be eaten by hand, no utensils needed. And that’s not the coffin pie’s only practical purpose.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Janet Clarkson’s book, Pie: A Global History, she writes that this hefty pastry case served as a container similar to a lunch box. It was a way for people to both transport their food and preserve it (especially important before refrigeration when people needed a way to make their food last). Sometimes, the baker carved a hole in the top of the crust and poured melted fat into the hole to act as a seal against intruding air thus keeping it fresh for an extended period.

Pastry crust didn’t catch on in America until the 1640s, however, when the settlers began growing wheat and rye in the colonies. Maize, the corn favored by the Native American people already living on the land the pilgrims had colonized made soggy pastry that fell apart. So, for the first 15 years, the colonies operated there was no crust made in New England—and therefore very few pies.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, there was one exception: When the long-serving governor of the Plymouth Colony William Bradford married in 1623, rye from England was used to make 12 venison pies.

Even before pie crust became commonplace what the pilgrims did not do was bake pumpkin pies inside a hollowed-out pumpkin. This cooking method is a widespread myth, plain and simple.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This misconception might stem from a 16th-century source who wrote that pumpkins the size of an acorn squash were hollowed out then sliced bits of pumpkin and apple were added and baked together. The real dish would have looked and tasted more like an acorn squash side dish, not a sweetened pumpkin pie. But even so, there is no record of that dish even being cooked in the colonies, only in 17th century England.

Related article: 8 Creative Ways to See Some Fall Color

That’s very different than taking this giant field pumpkin and hollowing it and pouring in four quarts of cream and a pound of sugar and baking that forever and a day.

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As American as pumpkin pie

Pies were undoubtedly a major part of the cuisine in the New England colonies. Until Amelia Simmons published her cookbook in 1796—the first cookbook written in America by an American—reprints of cookbooks from England where pies had long been a staple dish circulated in the colonies. The pilgrims ate plenty of pies, just not apple pie.

Related article: Top 8 Tips for Planning a Road Trip this Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday Season

Pumpkins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It would take a little more than 20 years after the first successful colonies before apples appeared in pies or anything else. America’s earliest settlers filled their pies with what grew most abundantly in their backyards and that was a pumpkin. So next time you’re thinking about celebrating America, pull out the pumpkin pie recipe you’d usually save for Thanksgiving. 

Related article: Thanksgiving & Staying Safe

Worth Pondering…

The pumpkin lies yellow beneath the cold skies, it’s luscious and mellow and ready for pies.

—Walt Mason, The Pumpkin

O’ pumpkin pie, your time has come ’round again and I am autumnrifically happy!

—Terri Guillemets

But see in our open clearings how golden the melons lie; enrich them with sweets and spices and give us the pumpkin-pie!

— Margaret Junkin Preston

I picture pumpkins at a farmer’s market piled happy and high awaiting a new home where children will carve them into scary faces or mothers will bake them into pie or stew.

—Jenny Gardiner, Slim to None

The pumpkin is a uniquely American plant, widely regarded as one of the most magical plants in all the world.

—Seth Adam Smith, Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern

Advice from a pumpkin: be well-rounded, get plenty of sunshine, give thanks for life’s bounty, have thick skin, keep growing, be outstanding in your field, think big.

— Unknown

The Ultimate Guide to Canyonlands National Park

The Colorado and Green rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves

Landscape is what becomes us. If we see our natural heritage only as a quarry of building block instead of the bedrock of our integrity, we will indeed find ourselves not only homeless but rootless by the impoverishment of our own imagination. At a time when we hardly know what we can count on in a country of shifting values and priorities, Canyonlands is our bedrock, a geologic truth that we all share, the eyes of the future are looking back at us, praying that we may see beyond our own time.

—Terry Tempest Williams

It’s huge! The four districts are approximately the area of 172,121 football fields! Ringing in at over 520 square miles, Canyonlands is the largest of Utah’s five national parks and doubtless one of the most stunning. Known for its sweeping vistas of colorful desert landscapes carved by rivers into countless canyons, Canyonlands National Park draws thousands of visitors each year both with its views and its endless outdoor recreational opportunities.

With seemingly unlimited wild landscapes to explore it can be tough to know where to start an adventure. The Green and Colorado Rivers help to do some of the narrowing down by trisecting the park.

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park is divided into four distinct areas, each offering a unique perspective on this stark desert ecosystem. Island in the Sky is a flat-topped mesa while the Needles are tall, sharp spires; the Maze is a seemingly-endless system of crevasses and canyons, and finally, visitors can see where the Colorado and Green rivers intersect at the Colorado Plateau. The park also boasts some original Native American rock paintings inside its iconic Horseshoe Canyon.

The lack of development narrows it down even further by providing only a couple of roads into the park boundaries. Such paved access opens a door to the red rock wilderness where the scenery is enhanced by a colorful Southwest sunset that gives way to soft dusky skies and brilliant starry nights. It is very much a place to write home about. 

Like its neighbor Arches to the north, Canyonlands is served by the small but busy gateway city of Moab where visitors can enjoy a variety of restaurants, shopping opportunities, museums, and cultural events. Other small towns in the Canyonlands area include Monticello and Spanish Valley.

More on Canyonlands National Park: Ultimate Guide to National Park Tripping in Utah: Arches and Canyonlands

The weather at Canyonlands is characterized by the wide temperature fluctuations of a high desert environment; the area sometimes sees temperatures change by more than 40 degrees in one day. The summer is excruciatingly hot and prone to sudden afternoon thunderstorms while the spring and fall bring temperate climates—and crowds.

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With its untamed landscape, Canyonlands offers unparalleled outdoor adventure opportunities both on land and on water. Visitors can enjoy the park on foot, horseback, or bicycle, or take to its two formative rivers for both flat- and whitewater boating. The Park Service also hosts several organized, ranger-led activities such as geological talks and stargazing parties. Check the official park calendar for up-to-date information on these opportunities.

What is today known as Canyonlands National Park is the ancestral land of Indigenous peoples including the Ute, Southern Paiute, and Pueblo people. The Indigenous story of Canyonlands begins long before European men named it such—indeed before they ever set foot in this jaw-dropping desert.

Canyonlands features two on-site campgrounds which are accessible and open to RV camping. However, neither campground offers hookups and both have a tendency to fill up fast.

Fortunately, campers can also choose from a wide array of privately-owned RV parks and campgrounds in the Moab area as well as several free or low-cost dispersed camping or boondocking options.

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Island in the Sky 

The Island in the Sky mesa rests on sheer sandstone cliffs over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. Every overlook offers a different perspective on Canyonlands’ spectacular landscape. Island in the Sky is the easiest area of Canyonlands to visit in a short period of time offering many pullouts with spectacular views along the paved scenic drive. Hiking trails or four-wheel-drive roads can take you into the backcountry for a few hours or many days.

The Island in the Sky area is the closest of the four districts to Moab which serves as a jumping-off point into Canyonlands as well as to neighboring Arches National Park and the La Sal Mountains. Island of the Sky is the place to get your 101 briefing on the area.

Driving the paved park loop road aside the canyons on the high mesa provides easy access to stops along the road at archeological sites as well as at trailheads that lead to easy-to-moderate hiking trails into your private wilderness. In the evening, scenic viewpoints welcome visitors to cap off a day of exploration with the magic of sunset skies.

More on Canyonlands National Park: A Lifetime of Exploration Awaits at Canyonlands (National Park)

This popular area is not only ideal for day trippers but is also heaven for mountain bikers and off-roaders who want to take 4WDrive vehicles onto the legendary 100-mile White Rim Road which provides an up-close and personal meeting with the interior canyons. 

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Several short trails explore the mesa top with minimal elevation change enjoying canyon views from above. Moderate trails involve elevation such as climbing a sandstone feature or descending partway into a canyon. Long trails at Island in the Sky begin on the mesa top and descend via switchbacks to the White Rim bench or beyond to one of the rivers. All are considered strenuous with an elevation change of 1,000-2,000 feet and require negotiating steep slopes of loose rock as well as sections of deep sand.

Mesa Arch Trail is a short hike (0.5 miles) that leads to a cliff-edge arch. Mesa Arch is a classic sunrise spot and is popular among photographers. It has stunning views toward the La Sal Mountains any time of day.

Island in the Sky Campground (Willow Flat) has 12 sites, first come, first served. The campground is open year-round. The spectacular Green River Overlook is nearby. The nightly camping fee is $15 per site. Sites fill quickly from spring through fall. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground. There is no water at the campground. You can get drinking water outside the visitor center spring through fall. RVs are limited to 28 feet in length.

To reach Island in the Sky, drive 10 miles north of Moab on US 191 or 22 miles south of I-70 on US 191. Turn onto UT 313 and then drive southwest 22 miles. Driving time to the visitor center from Moab is about 40 minutes. Be aware that a navigation system may send you the wrong way.

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Needles 

The Needles form the southeast corner of Canyonlands and were named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. Hiking trails offer many opportunities for day hikes and overnight trips. Foot trails and four-wheel-drive roads lead to such features as Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, the Joint Trail, and Chesler Park.

The Needles offers over 60 miles of interconnecting trails as challenging as they are rewarding. Many different itineraries are possible.

Four short, self-guided trails along the paved scenic drive highlight different aspects of the park’s natural and cultural history. Surfaces can be uneven. Trail guides are available at the visitor center and the trailheads.

Roadside Ruin (0.3 miles), Pothole Point (0.6 miles), Cave Springs (0.6 miles), and Slick Rock (2.4 miles) are some of the most popular easy/moderate trails but you’ll likely find after consulting a map and with expert rangers at the visitor center that there are plenty of creative ways to chart your own adventure while flexing your outdoor survival skills. 

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conditions of other trails are more primitive, traversing a mixture of Slickrock benches and sandy washes. Longer trails are especially rough and require negotiating steep passes with drop-offs, narrow spots, or ladders. Water in the backcountry is unreliable and scarce in some areas. Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Although most trails can be hiked in a day by strong hikers many form loops and may be combined with other trails for longer trips. Net elevation change is generally several hundred feet or less except for the Lower Red Lake Trail which drops 1,400 feet to the Colorado River.

The Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs in the Needles section of the park is easy to access on your way in. Having the ability to walk up to and stand face to face with remnants of ancient peoples who lived so long ago in areas that are now our national parks is a grand reminder of the history of the precious American wilderness and its long and important connection with humanity. 

More on Canyonlands National Park: Chasing John Wesley Powell: Exploring the Colorado River—Canyonlands, Lake Powell & Grand Canyon

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Needles Campground has 26 individual sites plus three group sites in different locations around The Needles district. The nightly camping fee for an individual site is $20. You can reserve some individual sites from spring through fall. At other times of the year, individual sites are first-come, first-served. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground. RV’s maximum length is 28 feet.

To reach Needles, drive 40 miles south of Moab on US 191 or 14 miles north of Monticello then take UT 211 roughly 35 miles west. UT 211 ends in The Needles and is the only paved road leading in and out of the area. Be aware that GPS units frequently lead people astray.

The Maze

The Maze is the least accessible district of Canyonlands. Due to the district’s remoteness and the difficulty of roads and trails, travel to the Maze requires more time. Visitors must be prepared for self-sufficiency and the proper equipment or gear for self-rescue. Rarely do visitors spend less than three days in the Maze and the area can easily absorb a week-long trip.

The Maze is the Wild West of the park—remote, rugged, and open to those who are eager and equipped to experience the Utah backcountry without signs and/or other visitors leading the way. In the Maze, you are left with the proverbial horse you rode in on, a map, your best-charted plans, your instincts to guide you as well as the company you keep. 

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Four-wheel-drive roads in The Maze are extremely remote, very difficult, present considerable risk of vehicle damage, and should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers. A high-clearance, low-range, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for all Maze backcountry roads.

The Hans Flat Ranger Station is 2.5 hours from Green River. From I-70, take UT 24 south for 24 miles. A left-hand turn just beyond the turnoff to Goblin Valley State Park will take you along a two-wheel-drive dirt road 46 miles southeast to the ranger station.

From the ranger station, the canyons of The Maze are another 3 to 6 hours by high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. Another four-wheel-drive road leads into The Maze north from UT 95 near Hite Marina (driving time is 3+ hours to the park boundary). Use a map to reach The Maze. GPS units frequently lead people astray.

The Rivers

Also well worth visiting in Canyonlands are the rivers themselves. The Colorado and Green rivers wind through the heart of Canyonlands cutting through layered sandstone to form two deep canyons. In stark contrast to the hot, sunny desert above, the river corridors are remarkably green, shady, and full of life.

Both rivers are calm upstream of The Confluence, ideal for canoes, kayaks, and other shallow water craft. Below The Confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power creating a world-class stretch of whitewater.

More on Canyonlands National Park: Canyonlands: Colorado River and Canyon Vistas

As you can see in that basic outline of the Canyonlands wilderness, there are endless things to do and see while hiking, camping, off-roading, exploring the waterways, taking photographs, and blazing your path in this famous and also challenging park.

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fact Box

Size: 337,598 acres, largest national park in Utah

Date established: September 12, 1964

Location: Southeastern Utah, on the Colorado Plateau

Designation: International Dark Sky Park

Park Elevation: 3,700 feet to 7,120 feet

Park entrance fee: $30 per private vehicle, valid for 7 days

Park camping fee: $15 (Island in the Sky), $20 (Needles)

Recreational visits (2021): 911,594

How the park got its name: Citing From Controversy to Compromise to Cooperation: The Administrative History of Canyonlands National Park by Samuel J. Schmieding, explorer John Wesley Powell designated the region “The Cañon Lands of Utah” in a 1878 report written for the U.S. government. The word cañon was anglicized in the early 20th century and in 1963 the National Park Service merged them into one—Canyonlands.

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Iconic Site in the Park: In the Island of the Sky district is Mesa Arch,the most iconic landmark in Canyonlands and among the most photographed landmarks in the national parks. The pothole arch frames Utah’s White Rim country and the La Sal Mountains—a vista view that is magnificent—and that is before the first ray of sunlight pops over the horizon. That first light bounces off of the rock beneath the arch casting an epic glow onto the roof of it framing a keyhole view of the valley with illuminated light. Every morning, photographers hike their gear along the 0.5-mile trail to the 1,200-foot-high cliff-side to watch the scene unfold, each vying for their own take of the classic shot. Photograper or not, this landmark is a must-see for any visitor to the park, just know that it is only at sunrise when you will see this magnificent light show. 

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Accessible adventure: One of the engineering marvels in the U.S. National Parks are the roads that were constructed, both recently and long ago, to enable visitors to experience America’s most special wilderness places.

More on Canyonlands National Park: Arches and Canyonlands: Two Parks Contrasted

The Island in the Sky paved scenic driving road is the easiest way to explore Canyonlands National Park in a short amount of time. It is the only paved road in this area of the park winding for 34 miles along the high mesa with panoramic views of the red rock wonderland stretching from the canyon bottom 1,000 feet below. The star of the show is at the end of the loop at the Grand View Point, the highest point on the mesa and a scene that is considered by many to be the best view found anywhere in the park.

Did you know?

Canyonlands was the 31st national park and was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Because of its twisted labyrinth of slot canyons, what is now known as The Maze was one of the last sections of the contiguous United States to be mapped. Mapping became easier once planes were invented. 

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Desert scenes from the film Thelma and Louise were captured in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

Canyonlands is one of 11 International Dark Sky Parks in the state of Utah. Others national parks with this designation include Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon.

Worth Pondering…

…the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere.

—Edward Abbey, American author and former ranger at Arches National Park, on Canyonlands

Winter RV Camping Must-Have: Portable Space Heater

The winter camping season is upon us and it’s time to get prepared for the freezing cold temperatures. One of the best things you can invest in for winter camping adventures is a portable space heater.

The cold hard fact is that RVs and winter weather are not ideal companions. With little insulation and plenty of opportunities for chilly air to leak in, it can be difficult to keep an RV comfortably warm when the temperatures drop. That’s where portable electric space heaters come in handy.

No matter how many times you vow to follow the warm weather while RVing, the truth is that you’re going to run into cold weather eventually.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Downsides of the RV furnace

Whatever the reason, chances are good that if you spend any time traveling by RV you’re eventually going to need a source of heat. The first line of defense against cold is the built-in RV furnace. A typical RV furnace uses propane to create hot air and electric power to blow the air through a series of vents distributed around the RV.

There are a few problems with the RV furnace. First of all, they are gigantic energy hogs that use a tremendous amount of both propane and electricity. Second, the electric fan blowers can be very loud. Since they only come on when the thermostat dips below the set temperature if you’re having a cold night the blower could drive you crazy as it cycles on and off.

Finally, not every RV has a built-in furnace. Many older motorhomes, small trailers, and van conversions don’t have a furnace which leaves owners either out in the cold or searching for an alternate solution.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Portable space heaters to the rescue

This is when portable space heaters save the day. These small, efficient heaters are a safe, quiet method for keeping your RV cozy and warm. There are three different types, each with its own strengths and uses. Let’s start with the most popular.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ceramic convection heaters

Ceramic convection heaters are the most popular type of portable space heaters for good reason. Not only are they affordable (you can get a good one for under $50) but they are also efficient and quickly take the chill out of the air. Ceramic heaters work by heating the air and circulating it around the room. Some of the benefits of ceramic heaters are:

  • Warms up small spaces very fast
  • Considered a safe source of heat as they don’t contain hot coils or emit dangerous gasses
  • Small, lightweight, and easy to move around the RV
  • No smells
Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Infrared radiant heaters

Infrared radiant heaters produce mild consistent heat to maintain the temperature of a room. They are designed to heat the objects around them (including you) rather than heating the air.

Infrared radiant heaters are optimal in areas where you are sitting close to them rather than moving around the room. They are also best used to maintain the temperature of a room rather than providing a quick blast of heat. A few of their best features include:

  • Stays cool to the touch making them safe in a small space
  • Emits no noise
  • Unlike heaters that blow hot air around, the infrared radiant heater warms the room temperature without drying the air
  • Provides even, consistent heat
Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Propane space heaters

Portable space heaters that run on propane are great for those situations when you don’t have access to electric power. If you enjoy boondocking or dry camping but still want a source of heat this is the perfect solution.

  • Newer models are safe for indoor or outdoor use
  • Emits no noise or odors
  • Doesn’t require electricity
  • Quickly warms up small spaces
Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV space heater safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association, always follow these safety tips when you purchase and run your space heater:

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including people
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface
  • Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over
  • Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic
  • Never block an exit
  • Keep children away from the space heater
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed

Other articles you may want to read:

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

The Ultimate Road Trip for Clint Eastwood Fans

Get excited, Clint Eastwood fans!

The Man With No Name. Dirty Harry. A western movie icon. There are movie stars and then there are Hollywood legends. Clint Eastwood rose from a TV actor to an Oscar-winning filmmaker, forever making his mark on the entertainment industry as one of the greatest we’ll ever see. His moody glare has made his acting roles iconic and his undeniable directing skills have made him one of the most talented entertainers not only of his generation but ever.

Early on, Eastwood’s rise to fame can be tied to his starring roles in spaghetti western movies which are some of the most beloved from his lengthy resume. Though most of those were filmed overseas this Clint Eastwood-inspired road trip will take you around the United States to visit some other notable film sites from his legendary career.

Sutter Creek, a former mining town in California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pale Rider – Boulder Mountains, Idaho

Eastwood has made a career starring in memorable westerns and this was one of the most popular of the ’80s. He stars as the mysterious Preacher, an enigmatic character who helps protect a struggling California mining town from treacherous prospectors. The title and Eastwood’s character are based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with a pale ghost rider portraying death itself. Eastwood even directed this epic western which was primarily filmed in the beautiful Boulder Mountains of Idaho despite taking place in California.

Jacksonville, an old Oregon mining town © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bronco Billy – Treasure Valley in Boise, Oregon

Another solid ’80s western directed by and starring Eastwood is this action comedy. He stars as the title character and star of Bronco Billy’s Wild West Show, a traveling show similar to Buffalo Bill’s real western-themed show that traveled the world. Billy struggles to keep his show popular and relevant while dealing with declining interest from the public. Despite his best efforts to keep his team’s spirits up they seem to run into a series of bad luck after a spoiled heiress joins their group as Billy’s assistant. It’s funny, unique, and one of the least Clint Eastwood movies on his resume. The stunning Treasure Valley in Oregon served as the backdrop for filming.

Related article: 10 Iconic Road Trip Movies

Hangman’s Tree in Placerville, California

Dirty Harry – San Francisco, California

There are a handful of roles that come to mind when you think of Eastwood and this is one of them. Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan gets assigned to a serial killer case on the SFPD, a case inspired by the real-life zodiac killer. Frequently recognized as one of the iconic films in Hollywood history it’s the ultimate ’70s action film whether or not you’re a die-hard Eastwood fan. Filming was kept as authentic as possible mostly taking place in San Francisco.

An old mine near Salone, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outlaw Josey Wales – Kanab, Utah

Set after the Civil War, Eastwood directed and starred as Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer whose family gets murdered by Union soldiers during the war. He sets out on a war path of revenge on those who took his family joining up with a Confederate guerrilla band and earning a reputation as a feared gunslinging outlaw. It’s another incredibly iconic performance from the beloved star, especially in his repertoire of memorable westerns. Despite taking place in the Midwest the movie was filmed in the small Utah town of Kanab known for being a popular spot for western films. You can visit the town and see some fun Josey Wales memorabilia and filming spots.

Old Tucson Studios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joe Kidd – Tucson, Arizona

Eastwood rocked the ’70s and ’80s with a slew of solid westerns. Joe Kidd was another standout with Eastwood starring as the bounty hunter Joe Kidd hired by a wealthy land baron to hunt down a Mexican revolutionary leader. Though set in New Mexico the movie was filmed in the state next door in Tucson, one of many western films to be shot at the historic Old Tucson Studios. It’s now a western theme park and tourist attraction you can visit but has been temporarily closed to the public since 2020.

Related article: 11 Must Watch Films Shot on Route 66

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hang em High – Las Cruces, New Mexico

Back in the ’60s, Eastwood was quickly becoming one of the biggest western stars in Hollywood. In Hang em High, he stars as an innocent man falsely accused of cattle rustling and sentenced to hang. He somehow survives the incident and becomes a lawman, later able to bring the men who falsely convicted him to justice for other crimes. The movie was filmed at the White Sands National Park where Eastwood allegedly did his own stunts including letting a horse drag him through the park with a noose around his neck.

Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cry Macho – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Eastwood’s most recent film is this modern western which he directed and starred in. Based on the 1975 novel the movie follows an old rodeo star hired to reunite a young Mexican boy with his father (played by country singer Dwight Yoakam) in the U.S. The film follows the Texan rodeo star (Eastwood) as he travels across the Texas border and back but it was fully filmed in the city of Albuquerque.

Cattle drive, Sarita, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rawhide – Tucumcari, New Mexico

The western TV series that helped turn Eastwood into a star was shot all over California and parts of New Mexico. Multiple episodes were notably filmed on ranches in the Tucumcari area back in the late ’50s. The actor played the role of cattle driver Rowdy Yates for eight seasons notably gaining the attention of Italian director Sergio Leone who took his career to the next level by casting him in his historic spaghetti westerns.

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Beguiled – Napoleonville, Louisiana

In this 1971 thriller, Eastwood plays a wounded Union soldier seeking care from a southern girls’ school. The school matron holds him captive but becomes angered when he rejects her romantic advances. It becomes a psychological game of wits for the soldier to try and escape the school and make it back to his troop, but does he? The Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville served as the main filming location for the film which mostly takes place in the house itself. Real Union soldiers had a hospital on the plantation’s grounds during the Civil War.

Related article: Visiting Hollywood South: Louisiana’s Film Trail

Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trouble with the Curve – Athens, Georgia

Later in his career, Eastwood primarily focused on directing projects so when he stars in something you know it’s good. Trouble with the Curve follows an old baseball scout whose adult daughter joins him on his last scouting trip. It was the first time Eastwood starred in something he wasn’t directing himself since 2005. Eastwood’s character is a scout for the Atlanta Braves so the movie was fittingly filmed in the nearby city of Athens.

Worth Pondering…

People love westerns worldwide. There’s something fantasy-like about an individual fighting the elements. Or even bad guys and the elements. It’s a simpler time. There’s no organized laws and stuff.

—Clint Eastwood

The Best Arizona Fall Road Trip: Wineries, Hikes, Train Rides, and More

Arizona hikes, rides, tours, and a local winery or two

All through the summer, Arizona has bounced between extremes—going from record-breaking heat to a deluge of monsoon storms. Since fall is not a season prone to anything quite that intense things should calm down. Autumn comforts even as it calls locals and returning snowbirds outside to play. Basking under big blue skies while reveling in mild sunshine, fall is a perfect time to go exploring.

For an incredible fall road trip, take the drive to the geographic center of Arizona, the Verde Valley. The wide valley stretches from Mingus Mountain to the Mogollon Rim, a lush transition zone separating the Sonoran Desert from the high country and slashed by the winding Verde River.

Scenic small towns full of personality are sprinkled throughout the valley just a few miles apart creating plenty of easily accessed options. Here are a few.

Out of Africa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Out of Africa Wildlife Park

Nestled in the high desert of Camp Verde, Out of Africa Wildlife Park provides a sanctuary for hundreds of exotic animals and features dozens of large predators. The preserve spreads across 100 acres of rolling terrain on the slopes of the Black Hills. The large natural habitats eliminate stress-induced behavior.

Tiger Splash is Out of Africa’s signature show. There is no training and no tricks. The daily program is spontaneous, just animals frolicking with their caretakers. Fierce tigers engage in the sort of playful activities every housecat owner will recognize. It’s just the grand scale that makes it so impressive. Visitors can also take a narrated African Bush Safari and attend the Giant Snake Show.

Outside the park is Predator Zip Line which offers a two- to three-hour zip line tour across five lines and a suspension bridge high above the animals.

Old Town Cottonwood

Wine Tasting in Cottonwood

Not long ago, Cottonwood was a sleepy little burg with much of its small downtown sitting vacant. Everything changed when vineyards and wineries sprang up on nearby hillsides with rich volcanic soil.

Old Town Cottonwood © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine-tasting rooms opened, one after another, and soon restaurants, shops, galleries, and boutique hotels followed. The businesses filled the Prohibition-era buildings fronted by covered sidewalks along the three blocks of Old Town.

Related article: Five Fall Road Trips in Arizona

Such a picturesque and compact setting makes Old Town Cottonwood a popular destination for lovers of wine and food since so much can be sampled by walking a block or two.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walk the Streets of Jerome

Most everybody knows about Jerome, the mile-high town clinging to the steep slope of Cleopatra Hill. It was once known as the Billion Dollar Mining Camp for the incredible wealth pulled from the ground.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After the mines closed it became a rickety ghost town saved by enterprising hippies who turned it into a thriving artist community with fine art and crafts studios and galleries, cool boutiques, mining museums, historical buildings, eclectic inns, and B&Bs, and memorable restaurants and bars lining its narrow, winding streets.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the high perch of Jerome, views stretch across the Verde Valley to the sandstone cliffs of Sedona. Music spills from saloons and eateries as visitors prowl the shops moving from one level of town to the next, pausing to read historic plaques and admire the Victorian architecture. Jerome feels cut off from the rest of the world. It’s one of those towns where it always feels like you’re on vacation.

Verde Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ride the Verde Canyon Railroad

Go off-road the old-fashioned way when you climb aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad and rumble into scenic backcountry. The train departs from the station in Clarkdale and travels into a high-walled canyon carved by the Verde River.

Cottonwood trees canopy the water and turn golden in the waning fall days. Such a rich riparian habitat lures a variety of wildlife, notably eagle, hawk, heron, mule deer, javelina, coyote, and beaver.

Verde Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vintage FP7 diesel locomotives provide the power. All passenger cars have panoramic windows and allow access to open-air viewing cars, where you’ll likely spend most of your time savoring fine fall days.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hike in West Sedona

If you want to enjoy red rock scenery while avoiding some of the crowds and traffic issues, hike a few trails on the far edge of West Sedona.

Related article: Family-friendly Road Trips Through Arizona: Sedona and the Verde Valley

The Western Gateway Trails at the end of Cultural Park Place weave together a series of interconnected pathways across juniper-clad slopes above Dry Creek. Signs with maps at every junction make for easy navigation.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The gentle Roundabout Trail, a 2-mile loop, provides a quick introduction to the area as it branches off from the paved Centennial Trail and swings through shady woodlands and past a couple of small boulder fields. Curling back, it traces the edge of the mesa overlooking Dry Creek with views north of Cockscomb, Doe Mountain, and Bear Mountain.

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can create a slightly longer loop (3.3 miles) by combining the Stirrup and Saddle Up trails. After crossing an arroyo the route climbs to the top of a plateau where the views stretch to Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock at the other end of town.

If you want a little more of a workout, the Schuerman Mountain Trail can be accessed across the road from Sedona High School. It climbs at a moderate uphill slant to the top of an old volcano, now eroded into a rangy mesa.

Cathedral Rock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a great view of Cathedral Rock from the first overlook. It’s a 2-mile round-trip if you make this your turnaround. If you’re in a rambling mood, the trail continues across the broad back of the mountain, golden grasslands dotted with juniper and pine trees.

Montezuma Castle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apartment House of the Ancients

Sinagua built the five-story, 20-room structure about 1150 but abandoned it in the early 1400s. Montezuma Castle is built into a deep alcove with masonry rooms added in phases. A thick, substantial roof of sycamore beams, reeds, grasses, and clay often served as the floor of the next room built on top. The placement of rooms on the south-facing cliff helps regulate summer and winter temperatures. The series of long pole ladders used to climb from the base of the cliff to the small windows and doorways high above could be pulled in for the night.

Related article: The Ultimate Arizona Road Trip: 16 Places to See & Things to Do

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

A short self-guided loop trail leads from the visitor center past the cliff dwelling through a beautiful grove of Arizona sycamores and catclaw mimosa trees along spring-fed Beaver Creek. Benches along the path offered the perfect spot to view the massive structure.

The white-barked Arizona Sycamore is one of the most distinctive sights at Montezuma Castle often reaching heights of 80 feet. This tree once blanketed Arizona 63 million years ago when the climate was cool and moist. As the weather became drier these deciduous trees thrived only in areas close to permanent water, such as the perennial streams and canyon bottoms.

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 lived in the area. 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.

Tuzigoot National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An Ancient Village on the Hill

Built atop a small 120 foot ridge is a large pueblo. Tuzigoot is Apache for crooked water; however, it was built by the Sinagua. With 77 ground floor rooms this pueblo held about 50 people. After about 100 years the population doubled and then doubled again later. By the time they finished building the pueblo, it had 110 rooms including second and third story structures and housed 250 people. An interesting fact is that Tuzigoot lacked ground level doors having roof-accessed doors instead.

Tuzigoot National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The site is currently comprised of 42 acres that includes the hilltop pueblo, cliffs, and ridges in the valley and the Tavasci Marsh, a natural riparian area surrounding an old curve of the Verde River. A paved, fully accessible trail takes you through the pueblo giving you a good idea of what it would have looked like. Though the views from the ruins alone are worth the walk, one room is reconstructed and you can enter it and see what it would have looked like when inhabited.

Tuzigoot National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tuzigoot can be found in Clarkdale, Arizona, just west of Montezuma Castle and just north of Jerome. Visiting Tuzigoot is definitely worth your while!

Related article: Most Scenic Towns in Arizona

Worth Pondering…

To my mind these live oak-dotted hills fat with side oats grama, these pine-clad mesas spangled with flowers, these lazy trout streams burbling along under great sycamores and cottonwoods, come near to being the cream of creation.

—Aldo Leopold, 1937

How Best to Road-Trip across the Southwest? Icons and Hidden Gems!

Favorite ways to see this region’s geological wonders, surreal sunsets, and wide-open spaces

Edward Abbey who immortalized the Southwest in his writing would be turning over in his grave in Cabeza Prieta Wilderness west of Tucson, Arizona if he knew that Arches National Park had to temporarily close its gates in mid-October because capacity was maxed out. The famous monkey wrencher saved a special venomous wrath for the kind of tourist who drove from one viewpoint to the next only to snap a photo and move on.

But Abbey who was a ranger at Arches in Utah for two summers in the 1950s (when it was still a monument) also understood that there’s no better region than the Southwest, a place of mind-bending geology, impossibly living fauna, ferocious wide-open spaces, a sublime light, and millennia of human history to clear the mind and make peace with the soul.

Cabeza Prieta Wilderness © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I have spent 10 winters in the Southwest and believe everyone can benefit from the solace and adventure these majestic landscapes provide. We all, however, need to grapple with how to responsibly recreate within them. If you choose to wander this wide-ranging southwestern road trip starts in Tucson and ends at Big Bend National Park and hits icons and off-the-beaten-path places providing an itinerary to the best of the region. It’s ridiculous how much jaw-dropping splendor there is on this trip.

In the words of Abbey: “For god sake folks… take off those fucking sunglasses and unpeel both eyeballs, look around; throw away those goddamn idiotic cameras… stand up straight like men! Like women! Like human beings! And walk—walk—walk upon our sweet and blessed land!”

Might I politely add: leave no trace, BYO water, and respect those who came before you?

On the road to Patagonia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route: Tucson, Arizona to Patagonia, Arizona

Distance: 64.8 miles

Your base camp: Patagonia

Patagonia, a no-frills mining and ranching town 20 miles north of the Mexican border cropped up in the middle of Pima, Tohono O’odham, and Apache territory in the late 19th century. It has been a beloved destination for birders almost ever since.

Mount Wrightson © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adventures in Patagonia

Hikers and trail runners have easy access to the summits of 9,456-foot Mount Wrightson and the historical fire lookout station at the top of 6,373-foot Red Mountain.

Hummingbird at Patton Center for Hummingbirds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What has more recently put Patagonia on the map is its mountain bike and gravel cycling with 30 miles of new singletrack right from downtown on the Temporal Gulch Trail and endless miles of dirt roads in the San Rafael Valley. Take note: the Spirit World 100 gravel road race takes place the first weekend of November and sells out fast.

Vermillion flycatcher at Patton Center for Hummingbirds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Paton Center for Hummingbirds is a place to explore and experience the special birds of southeast Arizona. It is dedicated to the celebration and conservation of hummingbirds—and all of southeast Arizona’s astounding biodiversity. Two hundred twelve bird species have been reported for this cozy home lot on the outskirts of Patagonia including Violet-crowned hummingbirds, gray hawks, varied buntings, thick-billed kingbirds, and many more local specialties.

Patagonia State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Considered a hidden treasure of southeastern Arizona, Patagonia Lake is a manmade body of water created by the damming of Sonoita Creek. The 265-acre lake cuts a vivid blue swath through the region’s brown and amber hills. Hikers can also stroll along the creek trail and see birds such as the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, black vulture, and several species of hummingbirds. 

Patagonia State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to Stay

The Gravel House is built for small groups of cyclists with a straw-bale house that sleeps six and a wood-framed studio that sleeps two. Both have kitchens and share outdoor space to wrench on bikes or celebrate post-ride with a cocktail.

For a unique place to camp in the area, Patagonia Lake State Park features seven camping cabins with beautiful views of the lake. The 105 developed campsites offer a picnic table, a fire ring/grill, and parking for two vehicles. Select sites also have a ramada. Sites have 20/30 amp and 50 amp voltage. Campsite lengths vary but most can accommodate any size RV.

Road to Patagonia State Park

Where to Eat and Drink

Chef Hilda at the Patagonia Lumber Company serves a delicious menu filled with Sonoran specialties like fresh tamales, Carne adovada tacos, and barbacoa.

The new Queen of Cups restaurant and winery offers fresh pasta dishes and three house-made wines on the menu.

Raptor Free Flights demonstration at Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Best Detour

Tucson’s Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-stop destination for travelers who want to learn more about the fragile yet resilient ecosystem they are traveling through. A highlight includes daily Raptor Free Flights where birds only native to the Sonoran Desert like the Chihuahuan raven, Harris’s hawk, and great horned owl fly free while an expert describes their attributes, habitats, and behaviors.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route: Patagonia, Arizona to Big Bend National Park, Texas

Distance: 624 miles

Your base camp: Terlingua, Texas

It might take you a few days to get to Terlingua because there are a lot of fun detours along the way (see below). But the wait is worth it. This town, once 2,000 inhabitants were strong and rich with cinnabar from which miners extracted mercury in the late 19th century now stands by its claim as one of the most popular ghost towns in Texas with 110 residents. It is now known for its charming assortment of gift shops, earthy hotels, and its famous chili cook-off in early November. Check out the Terlingua Trading Company for handmade gifts and grab a bite of chips and guacamole and catch live honky-tonk music at the old Starlight Theater Restaurant and Saloon.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adventures in Terlingua

Sitting six miles west of the entrance of Big Bend National Park, Terlingua offers easy access to the 801,163-acre park’s offerings including rafting or kayaking the Rio Grande River, hiking the Chisos Mountains, or road cycling its low-traffic paved highways.

Big Bend Ranch State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just west of Terlingua is the storied mountain biking in Big Bend Ranch State Park including the challenging 59-mile Fresno-Sauceda IMBA Epic route known for long, steep, technical, and rocky climbs and descents. Heavy rains have washed out much of the park’s trails so check in with Desert Sports whose owners Mike Long and Jim Carrico (a former superintendent of Big Bend) provide a wealth of knowledge about where and where not to go and offer shuttles, guides, and equipment.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to Stay

There are four campgrounds inside Big Bend National Park—three park-operated camping areas with various services and one by an outside company. The three park-run campgrounds are Chisos Basin Campground, Rio Grande Village Campground, and Cottonwood Campground. All require advance reservations booked (up to 6 months in advance) through recreation.gov.

Where to Eat and Drink

Stop at the Starlight Theatre Restaurant and Saloon, sit on the front porch, and sip a beer then head inside for tequila-marinated Texas quail, a Scorpion margarita, and a rollicking night of live music.

Chiricahua National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Best Detour

Chiricahua National Monument is 131 miles northeast of Patagonia. Stretch your legs on the 7.3-mile-long Heart of Rocks Loop that surpasses the most unusual formations in the monument including the aptly named Pinnacle Balanced Rock which looks like it might topple over any second.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three hundred eighty-two miles east of Chiricahaua is New Mexico’s White Sands National Park home of the world’s largest gypsum sand dunes. Take a ranger-guided hike to Lake Lucero to understand how the dunes are formed. Bring a tent and grab a backcountry permit at the visitor’s center (available the day of camping only) to sleep among the dunes preferably under a full moon.

Worth Pondering…

We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us, everywhere, anytime.

—Thích Nhất Hạnh

More Campsites Coming

The physics of the camping industry dictates that it takes a lot longer to build a new campsite than it does the RV that’s waiting to fill it

The past winter saw the construction of more than 50 new campgrounds and RV parks offering more than 15,000 new RV sites. At the same time work continued coast to coast on the expansion of many existing parks.

An estimated 81,000 new outdoor recreation sites could be constructed within the next year. That’s according to the 2022 Industry Trends and Insights Report released by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
It’s all a result of record recreational vehicle sales which gained a big boost from the pandemic-sparked drive to spend less time indoors and more in the great outdoors. Increased interest in the recreational vehicle lifestyle has also flowed from the ability of many to leave offices in the rearview mirror and work remotely from their RVs.

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

Why are so many RV parks opening and expanding?

The pandemic changed many things. It ignited record sales of RVs as people sought to spend more time outdoors while enjoying all the comforts of home.

In 2021, it seemed everyone wanted to buy an RV of some type and go exploring. Also, the phenomenon of working remotely became the norm for many workers. When you work remotely it doesn’t matter where you are as long as there is a good Wi-Fi signal. RV parks can be as good as anywhere else for working remotely. Many remote workers found RV living to be ideal for work and play.

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As more people got into RVing, campgrounds struggled to keep up with the unprecedented demand for campsites. In 2021, campsite shortages became a real challenge for many RVers. RV parks responded by expanding existing facilities to have more RV sites available. Landowners realized that developing their land into RV parks and resorts would meet a market need and could be very lucrative.

Related: Campgrounds and RV Resorts Can’t-Wait To Go Back To

Another thing that RV campgrounds started doing was adding unique or luxury accommodations for those who want to get away but didn’t own an RV. Many RV owners want to vacation at parks with family and friends who don’t own their recreational vehicles.

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

Non-RV camping at RV parks ranges from site-built cabins to furnished glamping tents, covered wagons, treehouses, and a wide range of other distinctive lodging options. Among the newer twists is the offer of yurts, also known as gears, which are circular structures that are both lightweight and portable and are held up without center supports. The ability of parks to offer lodging aside from RV sites can help businesses claim distinct competitive advantages.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Florida on track to add more than 5,000 campsites by next year

By early next year, RVers will have thousands of new campsite options in Florida. Florida will see an additional 5,300 campsites by 2023. That will come as the result of the opening of 15 new RV resorts and the expansion of 13 already existing parks.

“It’s all to meet the needs of the ever-expanding interest in outdoor recreation,” said Bobby Cornwell, Executive Director and CEO of the Florida RV Park and Campground Association.

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That organization hosts CampFlorida.com, a travel-planning website that features more than 400 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts, totaling more than 120,000 campsites.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Snowbirds have been spending their winters in Florida for decades but now it’s not just retirees who are coming here but working people with mobile jobs who are discovering they don’t have to wait until they’re retired to enjoy the winter in Florida,” Cornwell added.

The additional campsites don’t even include the addition of 2,100 RV sites that took place between 2017 and 2020. That’s when 14 other parks expanded and seven new parks were added. Several RV parks are also making significant improvements to their sites as well.

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

New RV parks opened in 2022

Camp Margaritaville, Auburndale, Florida: Camp Margaritaville is a new RV resort (opened January 2022) in Auburndale, Florida where you can choose to stay in your RV in a well-appointed RV site or in a Margaritaville cabin. Camp Margaritaville has 400 RV sites plus 75 cabins. Amenities include full hookups, 110/30/50-amp breakers, free Wi-Fi and cable, picnic table, outdoor kitchen, outdoor TV, Adirondack chairs and hammocks. The 66-acre, island-themed resort also offers a pool complex with a waterslide, a pawsome dog park, a dog grooming station, a golf course, and even a pizzeria.

Related: 6 Casino RV Resorts Where You Can Stay and Play

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

Pine Mountain RV Resort, Pine Mountain, Georgia: Located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, Pine Mountain RV Resort boasts 225 RV sites plus cabins and glamping tents. The park just opened in January 2022 and has already earned many positive reviews from guests. Amenities include a swimming pool, a playground, and a dog park for the furry glampers. The owners of Pine Mountain RV Resort are RVC Outdoor Destinations, a well-known name in the luxury RV resort business with RV parks in 10 states.

The MotorCoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Coach Resort, Toney, Alabama: Located 15 minutes northwest of Huntsville, Alabama, Red Coach Resort opened in early 2022. At the outset, the park has 47 sites that include 17 full-hookup RV sites and 30 “primitive” sites. At full buildout, the 60-acre RV park in Toney is destined to have 177 sites. Another 20 acres will be reserved for a horse farm accommodating those who travel with horses. The park stretches along a half mile of riverfront where park visitors will be able to swim, raft, and kayak. Additional acres being maintained as a nature preserve overlooking the river may within the next couple years host glamping cabins.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona

Gulf Shores RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama: Opened this summer Gulf Shores RV Resort’s first 175 RV-level full hook-up sites encircle a quartet of stocked fishing ponds. Five rental cottages that can sleep up to six guests also came online in Phase I. In addition to amenities considered standard at upscale resorts, Gulf Shores RV Resort will feature a pool and hot tub as well as fishing ponds, bike rentals, hiking paths, a dog park, and a pair of pickleball courts. Developed by Memphis-based RVC Outdoor Destinations, this Alabama park has the capacity to be expanded by as many as 500 sites.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

River Ridge Retreat, Gunterville, Alabama: Unveiled last fall, River Ridge Retreat sits on over 670 acres of beautiful property that boasts both mountainside views and over a mile of waterfront on Guntersville Lake, Alabama’s largest lake. Miles of hiking and bike riding are available on the property. You can enjoy fishing from their banks or large pier. The property is home to abundant wildlife such as whitetail deer and bald eagles. The park currently offers 12 modern tiny house cabins and 54 full hookup 30/50 amp RV sites as well as a unique wedding chapel. All sites include a grill and fire ring, RV sites include a picnic table as well. The next developmental stages include a swimming pool, boat ramp/docks, and more RV sites.

Related: Highly Rated Snowbird Resorts, According To RVers

Katy Lake RV Resort, Katy, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Wilds in Ohio, Cumberland, Ohio: Construction of a new 59-acre RV park has begun in The Wilds in Ohio. This park will connect visitors with the great outdoors and provide a unique camping experience. The Wilds is a safari park and conservation center that is spread across more than 9,000 acres. It includes multiple conservation areas and is managed by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The park was opened in 1984, and it has continued to evolve and grow over the years. The upcoming park doesn’t currently have a name, but some details and plans for future amenities have been released. It will span across 59 acres and include 46 RV sites and 27 tent sites. A majority of this campground space will be devoted to the preservation of natural areas.

Worth Pondering…

Shoot for the moon, Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

—Les Brown

Cumberland Island National Seashore Seeks Feedback on Visitor Plan

A management plan that will help visitors better enjoy the 40-square-mile Cumberland Island National Seashore barrier island off St. Marys, Georgia is available for public review and comment

After holding daily visitation at Cumberland Island National Seashore to roughly 300 for nearly four decades, the National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to more than double that under a visitor use management plan open for public comment.

Under the national seashore’s general management plan which was adopted in 1984, daily visitation to the park has been held to “approximately 300 people per day.” The Park Service’s preferred alternative in the visitor use management plan (VUM) now being crafted says that approximately 600 people per day could be allowed to enter the national seashore via the Dungeness and Sea Camp docks and another 100 people per day to the Plum Orchard dock if ferry service was available.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“These changes would be implemented adaptively meaning the park would monitor key indicators to ensure sensitive shorebirds are protected as are visitor opportunities to experience the rustic atmosphere, quiet solitude, and wilderness character described by visitors and public commenters. Adjustments would be made based on this monitoring,” a park release said.

The draft environmental assessment on visitor use explains that the cap of 300 daily visitors was related to the number existing ferry service could handle and that the higher number contained in the plan was built around the carrying capacities of specific areas on the national seashore.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The primary goal of this VUM plan is to preserve the fundamental resources and values of Cumberland Island. The amount, timing, distribution, and types of visitor use on Cumberland Island influence both conditions of fundamental resources and visitor experiences,” notes one section of the EA. “By identifying and managing the maximum amounts and types of visitor use that areas on the island can accommodate, the National Park Service can help ensure that resources are protected and that visitors have the opportunity for a range of high-quality experiences.”

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along with increasing ferry traffic to the park which is set on an island off the Georgia coast, the preferred alternative calls for “adjustments to the locations and number of allowable campers at wilderness campsites to expand and disburse camping opportunities, establishes a few new trails to distribute use more evenly across the island, calls for limited facilities including boardwalks and a pavilion to facilitate greater accessibility for visitors with a range of abilities, provides for kayak and canoe rentals on the island to diversify the available recreational opportunities, and includes limited health and safety items for sale on the island.”

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Among the proposed changes are the following:

The park would expand camping opportunities at Sea Camp Campground by adding the three existing overflow sites to the current reservation system. Fifteen of the 19 individual sites would be available for visitors to reserve at any one time and four sites would be rotated into administrative closures to allow recovery or prevent impacts from heavy use. Parties of up to six campers would be able to reserve sites through Recreation.gov and fees would continue to be implemented for public campsite reservations. The two group sites that can accommodate up to 20 campers would remain open for reservations as well. Under the NPS preferred alternative up to 130 people may camp in the front country campground at one time with 40 campers allowed in the group sites and 90 campers allowed in the individual sites ([15 available sites x 6 people] + [2 group sites x 20 visitors] = 130 campers).

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park would offer camping opportunities at four designated wilderness campsites and maintain the number of visitors that could camp in the designated wilderness at one time. Brickhill Bluff and Hickory Hill would remain active. Additional wilderness campsites would be designated at Toonahowie and Sweetwater Lakes. Sites at Hickory Hill and Sweetwater Lakes would be accessed by foot while the Brickhill Bluff and Toonahowie sites could be accessed via land or nonmotorized and/or small motorized watercraft. The existing site at Yankee Paradise would be abandoned and replaced by public camping opportunities at Hunt Camp campground which is adjacent to but outside the wilderness area.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park would offer backcountry camping opportunities at current levels at Stafford Beach Campground and new opportunities at Beach Creek campsite and Hunt Camp campground. The designated backcountry sites would continue to be administered through a permit system managed by Recreation.gov; fees would be implemented for public camping reservations. Fees for Beach Creek campsite and Hunt Camp campground would mirror those charged for wilderness campsites and Sea Camp Campground, respectively as amenities are similar. 

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park would construct and realign South End Trail to provide a loop trail opportunity by connecting the Dungeness Marsh Boardwalk to portions of the existing trail. That new segment would serve as one leg of the loop and the beach would serve as the other leg. A new spur trail would be constructed to connect with the proposed Beach Creek campsite. A portion of the existing South End Trail that runs through the south end marsh would be abandoned and the segment realigned onto upland terrain.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park would create one new trail segment to provide direct beach access from the Nightingale Trail. A bathhouse consisting of restrooms and outdoor showers (~400 square feet) would be constructed at the junction of the existing Nightingale Trail and the new segment.

Approximately 2,670 feet of water utility line would be installed from an existing well house across the Main Road and along the Nightingale Trail. Electricity would either be provided by solar panels or by extending an existing utility line approximately 1,850 feet along the Nightingale Trail from the Main Road. These utility lines would be installed utilizing a trenching machine along existing roads and trails.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An approximately 1,200-square-foot septic leach field would be installed in appropriate proximity to the bathhouse. The exact location of these facilities would be determined during design. Additional compliance requirements would occur before implementation. A pavilion (~800 square feet) would also be constructed alongside the Nightingale Beach access spur providing shelter to visitors within the dune field.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cumberland Island was added to the National Park System in 1972. Accessible only by boat, the national seashore features unspoiled beaches and dunes, marshes, and freshwater lakes, along with historic sites. Twisting live oaks covered in resurrection ferns and Spanish moss make up the island’s maritime forest shading an understory of sable palms and palmettos. Facing the mainland the island gazes across mudflats during low tide and swaying marshes. Looking to the east, visitors step through designated pathways between rolling dunes to hit the sandy beach bordering the Atlantic Ocean. During low tide, sand appears to stretch in all directions.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The visitor use management plan has been in the works since 2017. The Park Service sought public feedback on draft strategies for visitor use management in spring 2019 receiving 2,260 individual correspondences that helped guide the direction of the plan. A virtual meeting to discuss the plan with park staff has been set for November 17 at 6 pm. EST. The meeting will be recorded and available on the NPS planning website following the meeting. 

Comment period closes November 30, 2022.

More on Cumberland Island:

Worth Pondering…

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through

Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.

Georgia, Georgia, a song of you

Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines

—words by Stuart Gorrell and music by Hoagy Carmichael

November 11: Celebrating our Freedoms and Recognizing the Sacrifice of our Veterans

When so many have given so much in the battle for our freedom the least we can do is continue to fight for our liberties

In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.
—President Dwight Eisenhower

Veterans Day is a day to celebrate our freedoms and recognize the sacrifice that so many men and women have made for us to have those freedoms. For one day, we stand united in respect for our veterans.

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Observed annually on November 11, Veterans Day is a tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Not to be confused with Memorial Day which honors those who died while in service, Veterans Day honors all military veterans including those still with us.

This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in their country’s service and was originally called Armistice Day. It fell on November 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I on the “11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month” in 1918.

Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, in 1954, the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in order to account for all veterans in all wars.

Today we continue to celebrate the day as Veterans Day still recognizing the original tie with November 11. That means Veterans Day is on the same day every year—November 11—regardless of on which day of the week it falls.

Saratoga National Historic Park, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Veterans Day is a federal holiday, a bank holiday, and, in most states, a state holiday. That means that federal employees including military members are typically given the day off and in most states, state workers are as well.

Veterans Day is one of many days remembering the sacrifices of those who fought in a war to protect our freedoms. Here are some other ones from across the globe.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remembrance Day is observed by Canadians and other members of the British Commonwealth since the end of the First World War to remember all those who fought and died in the line of duty.

Remembrance Day falls on the 11th of November each year. On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, a minute’s silence is observed and dedicated to those soldiers who died fighting to protect the nation. 

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. In 1931, Alan Neill, Member of Parliament for Comox–Alberni, introduced a bill to observe Armistice Day only on November 11. Passed by the House of Commons, the bill also changed the name to “Remembrance Day”. The first Remembrance Day was observed on November 11, 1931.

Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a moment of silence to honor and remember the men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace. We remember the more than 2,300,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day. Replica poppies are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion to provide assistance to Veterans.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remembrance Day is symbolized by the artificial poppies that people wear and place at war memorials. The poppies may be worn or placed singly or as wreaths. The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance comes from a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military. The poem is called In Flanders Fields and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.

Poppies grow well in soil that has been disturbed. They also grew in large numbers on battlefields. The red color of their petals reminded people of the blood lost by victims of and casualties in the conflict.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

McCrae’s well-known poem In Flanders Fields memorializes the April 1915 battle in Belgium’s Ypres salient. For 17 days, McCrae tended to those injured in the battle. The poem, written after the death of a close friend was first published in Punch magazine and led to the adoption of the poppy as the Flower of Remembrance for the British and Commonwealth war dead. McCrae wrote several medical textbooks during his life and his poetry was posthumously gathered into the collection In Flanders Fields and Other Poems (1919).

When so many have given so much in the battle for our freedom the least we can do is continue to fight for our liberties.

Worth Pondering…

In Flanders Fields

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

—John McCrae (1872–1918)