10 Amazing Places to RV in February 2024

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

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

—Eden Phillpotts

English author and poet Eden Phillpotts was known for his prolific output of novels, plays, poetry, and short stories. In 1918 he published A Shadow Passes, a collection of reflections and poetry that capture the author’s keen observations about the world around him. In his contemplation of the buckbean plant (aka Menyanthes), Phillpotts marvels at the beauty of its “ragged petals finer than lace.”

This attention to detail serves as a broader contemplation of the natural world emphasizing the innumerable potential wonders that remain unnoticed and unappreciated until our understanding and awareness deepen. Beauty and magic are always present; we need only to keep our minds and hearts open to the possibilities that lie in wait all around us.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in January. Also check out my recommendations from February 2023 and March 2023.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. A history of cowboys, shootouts, and outlaws in the southwest

The rich and illustrious history of Tombstone is well-known by many Western film buffs but few places are as prepared to tell its story as the Tombstone Courthouse. This Arizona State Historic Park is a wealth of knowledge on everything from the founding of the city of Tombstone to the first-hand accounts of those present at the gunfight at O.K. Corral.

Tombstone as a city was established in 1877 when Edward Schieffelin discovered silver mines in the area. Tombstone Courthouse was the center of Cochise Country from 1882 to 1931 when the city seat was moved to Bisbee.

The courthouse was built in the shape of a Roman cross and is 12,000 square feet. The Tombstone Courthouse is the oldest courthouse still standing in Arizona. During its tenure as the county courthouse seven men were sentenced to hang for various crimes—five of which were hung together after a botched robbery left at least four others dead.

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Best national park to visit in February: Saguaro National Park

Located in southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park is one of the warmest parks to visit in February. Temperatures in the park soar from late spring through early fall making the winter months the best time to visit Saguaro. With an average high of 70°F and a very low chance of rain, this is a great park to visit in February.

Saguaro National Park is named for the Saguaro Cactus which only grows in the Sonoran Desert.

This park is split into two different sections, the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District. You can visit both in one very busy day but you’re best to spread them out over two separate days.

Plan your visit:

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Temecula Valley wine region

Nearly 50 wineries populate the Temecula Valley and the rolling-hills region: known for award-winning Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir. Think of Temecula as the Napa Valley of southern California being only an hour drive from San Diego and a couple hours from LA.

Just west of the valley wine region, Old Town Temecula is a fantastic place to eat and people watch. However, getting through Old Town involved ten stop signs and ample opportunity for street café onlookers to witness my first gear stall.

Plan your visit:

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. West Texas is mostly flat and desolate, right? Not Quite! 

Big Bend National Park is an exception to people’s commonly-percieved notions that West Texas is flat and desolate. Big Bend National Park is the quintessential hidden gem of the state. At 801,000-plus acres, it’s one of the largest national parks in the United States yet it’s also one of the least-visited parks. The low-visit rate might be because the park is nowhere close to a populated city center.

Big Bend National Park is perhaps most appealing in winter when temperatures stay in the 60s during the daytime. This weather is perfect for hiking and biking the 200 miles of trails that the park offers. Big Bend offers the best of both mountain and desert terrain and with the Rio Grande River bordering the park, you can also take part in water activities.

Plan your visit:

Galveston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. I still dream of Galveston

This exciting old city is located on a barrier island off the Gulf Coast via Highway 45. It’s just 50 miles south of Houston but it leaves the hustle and bustle of the big city behind and slows the pace down to a barefoot beach town.

The Gulf of Mexico laps the sandy beaches that stretch the full length of the island. You can enjoy the relaxing beachfront atmosphere, take a dip in the warm gulf waters, walk along the seawall, or go through the shops in the historic downtown area where cruise ship passengers disembark to get a taste of this historic city that was established in the early 1800s when it was still part of Mexico.

The Spanish influence is evident in much of the old-town architecture. Check out the Bishop’s Palace, historic churches, and the Moody Mansion for examples.

Read more:

Bay St. Lewis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. A place apart

There’s St. Louis, and then there’s Bay St. Louis which dubs itself a place apart. Just 51 miles away from the one-of-a-kind hub that is New Orleans, Bay St. Louis couldn’t feel further from the hustle and bustle. The town’s prime spot on the Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico provides a glorious stretch of white-sanded beach with virtually no crowds. In fact, this strip of shoreline is known as Mississippi’s Secret Coast.

Just off of Beach Boulevard, you’ll find Old Town Bay St. Louis, a walkable area full of local shops and eateries. Spend an afternoon strolling through Old Town, browsing the beach boutiques and art galleries.

Plan your trip to be in town on the second Saturday of each month when Old Town puts on a giant art walk complete with live music, local merchants, and other special events.

Check this out to learn more: Bay St. Louis: A Place Apart

Mardi Gras © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Mardi Gras

Mark Twain once wrote that a traveler “… has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Of the hundreds of Louisiana festivals, none tops Mardi Gras. Spectacular parades, unbelievable costumes, music, dancing, food, drink—take your pick of places to indulge and enjoy.

The biggest celebration occurs in New Orleans but nearly every community in the state has its own version of the annual party. Wherever you go, you can find the style that best suits you including tons of family-friendly celebrations.

Mardi Gras is here and there are so many parades and activities for every member of your family. You’ll find the perfect revelry for every age.

Nothing gets Louisianans together like a good party. And when it comes to Mardi Gras season, you’ll find plenty of ways to celebrate with the kids and grown-ups alike all the way up until Fat Tuesday (February 13, 2024).

Read more:

Mardi Gras King Cake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Birthplace of Mardi Gras

When you think of Mardi Gras you likely think of New Orleans, beads, and the rowdiness of the French Quarter. The Big Easy has a long and illustrious history with Fat Tuesday, but, believe it or not, it’s not the birthplace of the celebration in America. For that, you have to go about 150 miles east to Mobile, Alabama.

On Mardi Gras, clusters of costumed people travel from the banks of Mobile Bay on Government Street, up old and tightly crowded Dauphin Street, and into the center of the city.

The secret societies that dominate the celebration organize themselves on floats just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did before them. Crowds along the street cheer them on and marvel at the costumes catching trinkets and MoonPies thrown from above.

Read more:

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. A dose of southern hospality

Savannah, Georgia, is a charming historic Southern town on the Atlantic coast, just across the Savannah River from South Carolina. The city is known for its beautiful municipal parks, historical features such as antebellum homes, and the horse-drawn carriages that ferry passengers around the cobblestoned streets of the historic district.

Stroll the ancient oak-lined paths of Forsyth Park and then take a walk through the Juliette Gordon Low Historic District followed by comfort food at a Southern cafe and you’ll never want to leave Savannah. February is the end of Savannah’s low season and a great time to beat the crowds as long as you are willing to don a jacket.

Worth Pondering…

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

―Charles M. Schulz

The Best RV Camping February 2024

Explore the guide to find some of the best in February camping across America

Where should you park yourself and your RV this month? With so many options out there you may be overwhelmed with the number of locales calling your name.

Maybe you’re an experienced RV enthusiast, or maybe you’ve never been in one—regardless, these RV parks are worth your attention. After finding the perfect campground, you can look into RV prices, and the different types of RVs, and learn how to plan a road trip. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll convert to full-time RV living.

I didn’t just choose these RV parks by throwing a dart at a map. As an RVer with more than 25 years of experience traveling the highways and byways of America and Western Canada—learning about camping and exploring some of the best hiking trails along the way—I can say with confidence that I know what makes a great RV campground. From stunning views and accommodating amenities to friendly staff and clean facilities, the little things add up when you’re RV camping. And these campgrounds are truly the cream of the crop.

Here are 10 of the top RV parks and campgrounds to explore in February: one of these parks might be just what you’re looking for. So, sit back, relax, and get ready for your next adventure at one of these incredible RV parks!

RVing with Rex selected this list of parks from those personally visited.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly RV park recommendations for the best places to camp in December. Also, check out my recommendations from January 2024 and February 2023 and 12 Best RV Parks in Arizona for Snowbirds (2023-24).

Hidden Lake RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas

Hidden Lake RV Park offers 72 large pull-through and back-in sits (60-60 feet), full hookups with 30/50 amp at every site, free satellite TV cable, free Wi-Fi, private bathroom/shower rooms, laundry facility, lakeside sites, some shady sites, nature trail, and catch and release fishing.

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, El Mirage, Arizona

Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort is in El Mirage about 30 minutes northwest of Phoenix. A Roberts Resort, Pueblo El Mirage resort offers 378 RV sites and a range of five-star amenities including an 18-hole championship golf course, 26 pickleball courts, lawn bowling, a pool, banquet hall, hair salon, two-story library, computer room, workshops for woodworking and other crafts, and two dog parks.

The resort also organizes weekly entertainment such as live music, games, and food trucks for the guests’ enjoyment. The location of Pueblo El Mirage allows for easy access to local attractions as well as hospitals and healthcare providers.

Upon arrival guests received a care package including tote bags, note paper, mugs, pens, and lip moisturizer.

Lake Osprey RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama

A new destination luxury RV resort, Lake Osprey is located near the sugar-sand beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast. The resort offers 147 RV sites located within a nature preserve next to Soldiers Creek Golf Club. Each RV lot has an extra-long 16-foot x 75-foot concrete pad, a lighted pedestal, and lake or courtyard view. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, cable TV, and laundry.

Lakeside RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana

Easy-on, easy-off (Interstate 12, Exit 22), Lakeside RV Park is big-rig friendly with 127 back-in and pull-through sites. Our back-in site was in the 55-60 foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, and sewer centrally located. Site amenities include a picnic table and fire pit. The park features a beautiful 17-acre fishing lake, a large pool with lounge chairs, a family game room, laundry facilities, an enclosed dog park, a children’s playground, modern bath facilities, free Wi-Fi, and two large lake-view open-air pavilions. All interior roads and sites are concrete.

Jekyll Island Campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia

The Jekyll Island Campground is the most affordable, convenient accommodation located near Driftwood Beach. Choose from RV and tent sites as well as amenities like free Wi-Fi, shower facilities, and onsite laundry. The campground offers 175 campsites on 18 wooded acres on the island’s north end. Options range from tent sites to full hook-up, pull-through RV sites with electricity, cable TV, water, and sewage. Wi-Fi and DSL internet are free for registered guests. The campground also will offer private yurt experiences beginning in 2023.

Lake City RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake City RV Park, Lake City, Florida

Located at the crossroads of I-75 and I-10, Lake City is a 24-acre RV park with 67 pull-through sites. A pleasant campground with most sites under the live oak and Spanish moss, Lake City is big-rig friendly with sites in the 75-foot range and utilities centrally located. Amenities include complimentary cable TV and Wi-Fi, a 24-hour laundry facility, a large clubhouse with a commercial kitchen, and a dog run. Due to low-hanging limbs and the draping Spanish moss, not all sites are suitable for high-profile rigs.

Hacienda RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hacienda RV Resort is located off the I-10, exit 140, in Las Cruces, 1.5 miles from Historic Old Mesilla. Hacienda offers paved roads leading to 113 spacious RV sites with a variety of sizes and layouts with many boasting breathtaking views of the Organ Mountains. Relax in the large outdoor patio with a wood-burning fireplace or enjoy the comfortable southwestern community clubhouse with an indoor fireplace, workout facility, and gift shop.

Park amenities include 30/50 amp service with full hookup (electric, water, and sewer), private showers/dressing rooms with hair dryers, free cable TV, high-speed Wi-Fi, and a large, enclosed dog run. Choose from pull-through sites (55– 59 feet), back-in sites (34–36 feet), extra-long back-in sites (52–53 feet), and extra-long, big rig pull-through sites (69–130 feet).

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort, Mission, Texas

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort is one of the most unique RV Resorts in South Texas and is part of the 2,600-acre Master Planned Community of Bentsen Palm Development. Bentsen Palm Village is located in South Mission at the entrance to the World Birding Center headquarters at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Bentsen Palm Village is only minutes from shopping, medical facilities, and easy access to Expressway 83.

Bentsen Palm Village offers over 250 large pull-through and back-in sites, full hookups, rental cabins and casitas, and native landscaping. Super Sites offer a 10×12 storage building that can be locked and secured. Resort amenities include a Clubhouse, pool and spa, fitness center, dog agility course, woodshop, craft room, and miles and miles of hike and bike trails.

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

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California

Nestled within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course provide 163 spacious RV sites. Borrego Springs offers a peaceful winter retreat in the California desert where the sun shines over 300 days a year. And they’re the only internationally-recognized Dark Sky in California hosting the most spectacular stargazing at their top-of-the-line, on-site astronomy park.

Make yourself at home as you try your hand at tennis or challenge yourself to a game of pickleball. Relax your muscles with a soothing massage or a soak in their hot mineral baths with water sourced from their deep well or go for a round of golf at their 9-hole championship course. Do some catch-and-release fishing, and let your dog run free in their dog park.

The resort offers large pads with ample space and privacy between sites along with double pedestals between each RV site allowing you to plug in and camp from either side. Big rig-friendly, the resort offers 90 spacious pull-through sites 35 feet wide and 70 premium back-in sites averaging 40 feet by 80 feet.

Rincon West RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rincon West RV Resort, Tucson, Arizona

Situated near the beautiful Tucson Mountains, Rincon Country West has 1100 spaces, including deluxe, pull-through RV sites, and a train depot. Amenities include full hookups with 30/50 amp electric, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, gated entry, private mailboxes, gated entry, laundry, showers, heated pool and spas, exercise room, woodworking shop, pottery room, lapidary room, card room, arts and crafts and sewing rooms, billiard room, tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard, and bocce ball.

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

The 25 Best Small Towns in the South 2024

The anatomy of a perfect Southern small town doesn’t come in just one idyllic shape or size, nor does it ever look or act in quite the same way. Some show their personality by way of tiny historic downtowns while others spread out their charm across sprawling parks and rivers.

Forget about size. These 25 Southern towns may be small (some are technically villages) but each one has its own distinct story to tell.

This wide-ranging list captures the wonderful diversity of the region. You’ll find towns by the seaside, in the mountains, outside of big cities, near universities, and more. Some are known for German food (Helen, Georgia; Fredericksburg, Texas), others have thriving art and culture scenes (Ocean Springs, Mississippi; Berea, Kentucky; Boone, North Carolina), many are rich in history (Williamsburg, Virginia; St. Augustine, Florida; Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia) or natural beauty (Beaufort, South Carolina; Blowing Rock, North Carolina). There is a small town for every interest and all of these places are destination-worthy in their own right.

Berea © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Berea, Kentucky

Known as the Folk Arts & Crafts Capital of Kentucky, Berea is a dynamic spot for creators and craftspeople working across various media. Many sell their wares at galleries along Chestnut Street and in both the Artisan Village and the Kentucky Artisan Center. 

2. Sanibel, Florida

This 12-mile-long barrier island on Florida’s west coast is a laid-back slice of paradise and a treasure trove for shell seekers. Sanibel took a major hit from Hurricane Ian in 2022 but the beloved getaway is open to visitors and on the mend.

Fairhope © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Fairhope, Alabama

When Otis Redding sat down to pen The Dock of the Bay, he may have been dreaming about Fairhope. The bayside spot is populated by ethereal live oaks, brilliant azalea bushes, pastel-colored bungalows, and brick sidewalks traversing a lively downtown. 

4. Beaufort, South Carolina

Wild beauty and Lowcountry allure abound in this South Carolina gem. Get lost among the pines and palmettos of an ancient maritime forest, catch a striking sunset over the Beaufort River, and marvel at the columns and sweeping porches of stately mansions. 

Gatlinburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Groups love the family-friendly attractions and mountain adventures in this bustling resort town. It’s also an entryway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a hiker’s paradise. Book a campsite to take in the scenery and plenty of fresh air. 

Read more: Smoky Mountain Day Trips from Gatlinburg

6. Blowing Rock, North Carolina

This mountain town is named for its most famous feature, a 4,000-foot cliff that overlooks a spectacular gorge, distant peaks, and dense forests. But Blowing Rock is no one-hit wonder. Expect plenty of High Country characters from a community of talented craftspeople and chefs inspired by their surroundings. 

Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Bardstown, Kentucky

In the center of Bourbon Country, Bardstown is a hub for whiskey lovers. New distilleries stand alongside long-lived institutions, many of which offer tours and sips in tasting rooms across the countryside. Head to Bardstown Bourbon Company for creative takes on classic Bluegrass State foods and drinks.

Read more: Bardstown Sets the Stage for Spirited Memories

8. St. Augustine, Florida

In this town founded in 1565, you’ll encounter the past and present around every corner. Step back into the 1600s at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and then enjoy the area’s up-and-coming dining scene and its many craft breweries and distilleries. 

Mount Dora © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Mount Dora, Florida

With its live oaks, lovely inns, and quaint shops, Mount Dora offers a nostalgic taste of Old Florida. Head to Palm Island Park to stroll a boardwalk surrounded by old-growth trees and lush foliage or spend an afternoon hitting the many nearby antique shops. 

Learn more about Mount Dora: 11+ Sensational Things to do in Mount Dora

10. Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Folks have been flocking to this resort town since the 19th century thanks to its namesake natural springs. The stunningly preserved Victorian architecture makes downtown a destination unto itself and quirky shops selling everything from kaleidoscopes to quilts can entertain you for hours.

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama

Although many think of Florida when it comes to great beach towns, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach beg to differ. The coastal twins boast the same sparkling turquoise water, white-sand shores, and family-friendly fun. With miles of coastline and easy access, it’s clear why sunseekers love the area. 

Read more: Experience the Alabama Gulf Coast along the Coastal Connection Scenic Byway

12. Danville, Kentucky

Often referred to as Kentucky’s city of firsts, Danville’s appeal is due in large part to its long history. Explore spirited Main Street where you can find Renaissance Revival- and Federal-style buildings housing modern eateries; boutiques; and the Art Center of the Bluegrass, a creative hub in the community.

Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Helen, Georgia

Take a trip to old-world Bavaria by visiting Georgia’s third-most popular destination. With its cross-gabled cottages, steeply pitched roofs, and German flags flying in the breeze, this hamlet packs oodles of character into just 2.1 square miles. The annual Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market), glühwein (mulled wine), and the occasional snow flurry make Helen a bucket list getaway.

14. Shepherdstown, West Virginia

One of West Virginia’s oldest towns is a prime location to see the splendor John Denver waxed poetic about in Take Me Home, Country Roads. Stunning views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and the meandering Potomac River play a backdrop to centuries-old Victorian houses and an art-filled downtown.

Fredericksburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Fredericksburg, Texas

Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg has deep German roots. Its Main Street has always drawn visitors but now people are also making a beeline for the fantastic food scene here (biergartens included) and more than 100 area wineries.

Read more: Top 10 Reasons to Visit Fredericksburg

16. Folly Beach, South Carolina

If going to a dive bar in flip-flops is your idea of a good time, head to this easygoing seaside town. Book an ocean paddleboard tour, check out the state’s oldest surf shop, or find a spot to sink your toes into the sand on its 6 miles of beaches.

Bay St. Louis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

17. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Just over 50 miles from New Orleans, Bay St. Louis blends The Big Easy’s funky, artsy feel with the mellow, barefoot vibe you can find only in a tried-and-true coastal town. The beaches are dog-friendly, the blueways (water trails) are ready for exploring, and Old Town’s French Quarter appeal can’t be beat.

Learn more about Bay St. Louis: Bay St. Louis: A Place Apart

18. Round Top, Texas

A contender for the award for tiniest town (at less than 1 square mile), Round Top has enough Lone Star spirit and style to more than makeup for its population of just 87. It is situated around three squares: Henkel, Rolland, and Town, and you should complete the trifecta for the full experience in this renowned antiquing destination. 

Colonial Williamsburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

19. Williamsburg, Virginia

The cobbled streets and 18th-century environs have long drawn people to Williamsburg, but these days, there’s much more to discover by way of shops and restaurants. Muststops include The Virginia Beer Co., Merchants Square, and The Cheese Shop. 

Read more: Colonial Williamsburg: World’s Largest Living History Museum

20. Mountain Home, Arkansas

Waterways like Bull Shoals Lake, Norfork Lake, and the White River surround this small town, which got its start as a resort. It lured folks in with opportunities for fishing and boating, activities that still power tourism here in the southern stretches of the Ozark Mountains.

Port Aransas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. Port Aransas, Texas

Hurricane Harvey caused major damage here in 2017 but nothing can keep this resilient coastal town down. Port A remains one of the state’s main spots for fishing and its 18 miles of beautiful beaches continue to attract returning visitors and new residents.

Read more: Oceans of Fun: Port Aransas and Mustang Island

22. Paducah, Kentucky

A jewel situated at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, Paducah has an undeniably creative soul and is home to The National Quilt Museum as well as one-of-a-kind businesses like the antiques shop Frenchtown Station and the bourbon palace Barrel & Bond. 

23. Natchitoches, Louisiana

Louisiana’s oldest town has much more to offer than its famous fried meat pies. Visit sites like the National Historic Landmark District (with an array of architectural styles ranging from French Creole to Art Deco) and Melrose Plantation, a stop on the state’s African American Heritage Trail that is home to rare works by folk artist Clementine Hunter.

Wetumpka © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

24. Wetumpka, Alabama

After a powerful series of tornadoes struck Central Alabama in 2019, Wetumpka worked to recover. Located just northeast of Montgomery, this town sits on the banks of the Coosa River, which has been its claim to fame along with Gold Star Park—until now. In July 2020, Erin and Ben Napier, stars of HGTV’s wildly popular Home Town reported that they were taking over the entire town known as The City of Natural Beauty for their home-renovation show’s next season.

Learn more about Wetumpka: The Inspirational Transformation of Wetumpka, Alabama

25. Oxford, Mississippi

In 1837, this town incorporated and named itself after Oxford, England with the hope that it would also be home to a great university one day. About 10 years later, The University of Mississippi opened and in time Oxford became the South’s quintessential college town. Equally celebrated for SEC football and its literary-and-arts scene this place attracts all kinds creating a vibrant community with a refined sense of Southern style. 

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

Family-Friendly Mardi Gras Events in Louisiana 2024

Everywhere else, it’s just a Tuesday

Mark Twain once wrote that a traveler “… has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Of the hundreds of Louisiana festivals, none tops Mardi Gras. Spectacular parades, unbelievable costumes, music, dancing, food, and drink—take your pick of places to indulge and enjoy.

The biggest celebration occurs in New Orleans but nearly every community in the state has its version of the annual party. Wherever you go, you can find the style that best suits you including tons of family-friendly celebrations.

Mardi Gras parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mardi Gras is here and there are so many parades and activities for every member of your family. You’ll find the perfect revelry for every age.

Nothing gets Louisianans together like a good party. And when it comes to Mardi Gras season, you’ll find plenty of ways to celebrate with the kids and grown-ups alike all the way up until Fat Tuesday (February 13, 2024).

Greater New Orleans Area 

Slidell: Krewe of Bilge

Sometimes Mardi Gras floats float. Head just a few miles east of New Orleans where the Krewe of Bilge boat parade goes through the canals of Slidell. For the last 40 years, Bilge has tossed out beads and cups (or throws) and other commemorative Carnival treasures to parade goers from the middle of Slidell waterways. The family will love seeing the decorated boats where krewe members toss out beads and Carnival treasures.

Some great spots to catch the parade are at The Dock of Slidell off Lakeview Drive, along Highway 11 at Michael’s Restaurant, The Landing, and Tooloula’s, and on the east side of the parade route at the firehouse on Marina Drive.

Details: Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 12:00 pm

Mardi Gras parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Metairie: Family Gras

Head to Jefferson Parish’s family-centric Mardi Gras experience: Family Gras. This free event is perfect for the whole family. You can enjoy the spectacle of Mardi Gras parades, authentic local cuisine, local art, a Kids’ Court and outdoor concerts by both national artists and Louisiana favorites!

After the music ends, stay for an up-close look at the Krewes of Excalibur, Caerus, Atlas, and Madhatters as they roll in front of the Family Gras site on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

Details: February 2-4, 2024, Mardi Gras Plaza, 3300 block of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, across from Lakeside Shopping Center 

Mardi Gras parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Orleans: Krewe of Barkus

Mardi Gras gets even cuter when furry friends are involved. New Orleans’ French Quarter goes to the dogs at the annual Krewe of Barkus where dogs and their owners dress up in cute, crazy costumes. It’s a blast for kids and adults alike alike. Who doesn’t like adorable animals dressed to the nines?

Like Barbie, Barkus believes that dreams do come true and that any dog canine be anything! Krewe members embrace the possibilities that Barbie and her posse represent at the best dog parade on Earth.

Details: Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Mardi Gras parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Louisiana

Lafayette goes big with its Mardi Gras festivities and two of the family-friendly highlights are the annual Children’s Parade and the Krewe of Bonaparte. The Children’s Parade kicks off first in downtown Lafayette and is followed by the illustrious Krewe of Bonaparte later in the evening. These are far from the only parades, though. An old-fashioned Courir de Mardi Gras takes place in Vermilionville and is followed by many others.

Eunice: Lil’ Mardi Gras

Adults can’t have all the fun! Eunice is one of the small Cajun Country towns where the culture is as alive as ever and family is an important aspect of their culture. That’s why you’ll find Lil’ Mardi Gras here where children are separated into different age groups and can participate in traditional Cajun Mardi Gras traditions.

They are encouraged to be in full costume, mask, and capuchon. The day starts early with the Mardi Gras run beginning at 9 am. Participants will return to the Eunice Recreation Complex at noon for lunch then depart for Harris Field at 1:15 for the chicken chase. The day ends with a children’s parade in downtown Eunice at 3 pm.

Details: Sunday, February 11, 2024

Mardi Gras costumes exhibit © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Baton Rouge: Mystic Krewe of Mutts 

In Baton Rouge, the 25th annual Mystic Krewe of Mutts asks you to bark your calendars for this hilariously awe-inspiring (or paw-inspiring) event. This is a fundraising celebration for a local non-profit’s spay/neuter program that features costumed pups parading through downtown Baton Rouge. Food vendors are on-site, too, so come hungry.

Details: Sunday, January 28, 2024 starting at 10:00 am

Lake Charles: Krewe of Barkus 

Lake Charles also hosts the Krewe of Barkus parade that encourages pets, their owners, and all who want to participate to dress in their Mardi Gras best.

Details: Saturday, February 10, 2024 at 1 pm

Mardi Gras exhibit © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jeanerette: Grand Marais Mardi Gras Parade

The Grand Marais Mardi Gras Parade is a unique experience the whole family will love. This rural Mardi Gras parade in the heart of Cajun Country takes place at the corner of Highway 90 and College Road in Jeanerette. It’s a family-oriented event with floats, bands, and an “ugly costume” contest that is not to be missed.   

Details: Sunday, February 11, 2024

Central Louisiana 

What to take the kids to see a real-life queen? The reigning Miss Teen Louisiana is the Grand Marshal of Alexandria’s annual Children’s Parade. You’ll see whole families from grandparents to grandchildren on colorful floats along with local marching bands and dance teams to get your toes tapping.

Mardi Gras exhibit © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Natchitoches: Krewe of Dionysos

The whole family will enjoy the charm of Natchitoches with the Krewe of Dionysos parade. This evening parade puts on a show with lights, costumes, and lots of beads to take home.

Details: Saturday, February 10, 2024

North Louisiana 

Monroe: Krewe of Janus Parade 

The Krewe of Janus Parade in Monroe puts on a show that is not to be missed, with dozens of floats and marching bands. The elaborate floats feature larger-than-life sculptures and bright colors that are a marvel to the eye. And the Krewe of Janus Children’s Parade steps up the competition for best floats with some incredible family creativity. In the Children’s Parade, you will find dozens of decorated wagons and kids in costumes putting on a show for the whole family.

Details: Saturday, February 3, 2024, Pecanland Mall at 10 am

Mardi Gras exhibit © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shreveport: Krewe of Barkus and Meoux Parade

Shreveport goes to the dogs (literally) at the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux Parade. Head to Old Reeves Marine to see the pups strut their stuff, and feel free to bring your own. The cuteness of this parade will have you telling everyone “Happy Mardi Paw!”

Details: Sunday, February 4, 2024, Louisiana Downs at 11 am

This is just a sample of the many family-friendly that take place throughout the state during carnival season. Enjoy a safe family-friendly Mardi Gras!

Here are a few great articles to help you do just that:

Worth Pondering…

It’s a great party, and anyone who doesn’t enjoy Mardi Gras is not of this world.

—Franklin Alvarado

Arizona State Parks for Every Interest

Try new outdoor things this year

Arizona’s 34 state parks have something for everyone—from contemplative nature walks to stargazing to camping. Here’s my abbreviated look at some of the more niche offerings to add to your bucket list.

Lost Dutchman State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for hiking

Sedona‘s picturesque wonderland of red boulders is on display at Red Rock State Park, a 286-acre nature preserve. Hikers can pick from several trails—Eagle’s Nest Loop, Coyote Ridge, a guided nature walk, full-moon hike and more—many of which lead to Oak Creek and the iconic Cathedral Rock.

Located in the Superstition Mountains on the eastern edge of metro PhoenixLost Dutchman State Park offers hikers plenty of trails to explore, not to mention an opportunity to seek the gold supposedly hidden in the 1870s by German native Jacob Waltz, aka the Dutchman. You might not find gold but on the Native Trail you’ll spot cholla, prickly pear, and ocotillo cacti. Moderate trails like Treasure Loop or Prospector’s View are available for semi-seasoned hikers while advanced hikers will want to climb Siphon Draw Trail and Flatiron.

Note: Since trails often get overcrowded on the weekend aim to hike on a weekday for a better experience and even better views.

Check out Spring Is the Season to Hike Arizona State Parks for more hiking inspiration.

Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for wildflowers

As you travel I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson, you can’t miss the 1,500-foot distinctive rock formation of Picacho Peak State Park. The peak is obvious but hiking the trails especially during spring will be nature’s eye candy—a blanket of Mexican gold poppies as far as the eye can see.

For more wildflower viewing, Catalina State Park near Tucson is home to around 5,000 saguaros. Between February and April, lupine, desert chicory, penstemon, and more wildflowers bloom into vibrant color.

Read Beauty of the Desert: Arizona in Bloom and Wildflower Season Has Arrived in Arizona! and Where to See the Best Blooms? for more floral inspiration.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for family fun

For families who love the outdoors, Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area is the perfect destination. With more than 120 campsites situated in a Ponderosa pine forest near Show Low plus boating, swimming, Junior Ranger activities, a park store, and a visitor center Fool Hollow offers plenty of opportunities for family fun.

For families not too keen on roughing it but who would still like to enjoy nature, Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood (30 minutes from Sedona) has cozy log cabins with heat and air-conditioning. Game night, anyone? Families can also sign up for guided horseback rides, go fishing in the lagoons, photograph birds, or spend an afternoon at the playground complete with a zip line.

Patagonia State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for water sports

Water activities reign supreme at Patagonia Lake State Park in southern Arizona. A sandy beach slopes down to the shoreline making it easy to dip in for a swim. To get on the water, rent a canoe, rowboat, or pontoon from the marina. You can also put in your own boat including motorized boats for water skiing at the ramp. Better still, the town of Patagonia lies near one of Arizona’s three wine-growing regions, Sonoita-Elgin. End your day at the lake or take some time away for a tasting room tour of the area’s award-winning wineries.

If you want to chill waterside, bring your yoga mat to the tranquil beaches of Cattail Cove State Park or ply the calm waters of the 45-mile-long Lake Havasu with a kayak or paddleboard, available for rent at the park. This Lake Havasu City-area park is renowned locally for its sandy beaches and gets quite popular during the summer months.

Best Arizona State Parks for stargazing

As of 2023, there are more than 200 places in the world designated official dark-sky places by the International Dark-Sky Association. In Arizona, two state parks hold this distinction: Oracle State Park and Kartchner Caverns. This means they “possess an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.”

Oracle State Park, located just north of Tucson earned its designation in 2014 thanks to star-studded skies so free of light pollution that you can see the Milky Way. Stargazers should head to the American Trailhead Parking Lot for celestial viewing opportunities. Since 2010, Kartchner has been hosting nighttime astronomy programs for visitors and has achieved 99 percent compliance with its Lightscape Management Plan which has improved outdoor lighting codes countywide.

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for history

Fort Verde State Historic Park showcases the original buildings used in the 1870 and 1880s by General Crook’s army in the small north-central town of Camp Verde. History buffs will appreciate that this state park near Camp Verde is considered the best-preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona.

At Tubac, in southern Arizona, the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park preserves the ruins of a Spanish Presidio site, San Ignacio de Tubac. The on-site museum houses interpretive exhibits, and nearby sits a Territorial school from 1885—the second oldest schoolhouse in Arizona.

Back up north near Winslow, Homolovi State Park is home to more than 300 American Indian archaeological sites from the Hopi people many sites dating to the 1200s. A paved trail to the ruins with interpretive signage makes this a particularly appealing accessible option, too.

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for camping

Making its second appearance on this list is Patagonia Lake State Park for its camping options—pitch your tent, drive your RV, or reserve one of the furnished cabins. Campsites come with picnic tables and fire rings, some even have ramadas. Cabins boast porches from which you can spot blue heron or whitetail deer. Or, amp up the adventure level by booking one of the boat-in campsites.

If you want a riverfront campsite along the Colorado River, book early at Buckskin Mountain State Park in western Arizona near the California border. There are 80 spots, many of which sit at the water’s edge. While away the hours with picnics, swimming, watching wildlife, playing basketball or volleyball or simply enjoying the views along this 18-mile stretch of river between Parker and Headgate dams.

Overnight camping near Tucson is available at the 120 electric and water sites in Catalina State Park. Each campsite has a picnic table and BBQ grill. Roads and parking slips are paved. Campgrounds have modern flush restrooms with hot, clean showers, and RV dump stations are available in the park. There is no limit on the length of RVs at this park.

Alamo Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best Arizona State Parks for Fishing

Couched in the Bill Williams River Valley, 37 miles north of the town of Wenden, Alamo Lake State Park gives anglers an opportunity to catch largemouth bass, black crappie, or tilapia in the 3,500-acre lake.

For a lesser-known gem, Dankworth Pond State Park in Safford—about two hours east of Tucson and three hours east from Phoenix—features a fishing dock and quiet environs for a peaceful day of tossing in a line. You’ll likely snag largemouth bass or rainbow trout in the small but mighty pond.

BONUS: Most unique State Parks

Ten miles north of Payson Tonto Natural Bridge State Park showcases a true Arizona treasure: the world’s longest and largest travertine bridge. Most natural bridges found throughout the world are created from sandstone or limestone which makes the travertine aspect of Tonto especially unique. You can see the bridge from any of the four trails in the park.

Witness the underground beauty of Kartchner Caverns, a living cave that discoverers kept secret for years until they could ensure its preservation. The caverns are carved out of limestone and speleothems, which have been slowly growing for 50,000 years.

Worth Pondering…

The trip across Arizona is just one oasis after another. You can just throw anything out and it will grow there.

—Will Rogers

Let the Good Times Roll in Mobile: Birthplace of Mardi Gras

Everywhere else, it’s just a Tuesday

When you think of Mardi Gras you likely think of New Orleans, beads, and the rowdiness of the French Quarter. The Big Easy has a long and illustrious history with Fat Tuesday, but, believe it or not, it’s not the birthplace of the celebration in America. For that, you have to go about 150 miles east to Mobile, Alabama.

Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to ancient Rome and pagan celebrations of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When the Roman Catholic Church rose to power, Church leaders were looking for ways to make it easier for pagans to adopt the faith. Rather than the winter and spring festivals they encouraged a carnival on the day before Lent which starts 46 days before Easter.

The practice migrated to other countries with large Catholic populations at the time including France, Germany, Spain, and England. Traditionally, people would binge eat and drink, scarfing down all the meat, eggs, milk, and cheese in their homes.

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The gorging was celebratory since fish and fasting were close to the only things on the menu until Easter. The practice came to be called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday in France.

In 1699, a French Canadian explorer with a mouthful of a name, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on the coast of present-day Louisiana. The spot is about 60 miles south of where New Orleans would eventually be founded and Bienville named the place Pointe du Mardi Gras because of the impending holiday. The crew celebrated though it was likely a quieter celebration than today.

In 1702, Bienville founded another town, Fort Louis de la Louisiane. The small settlement celebrated the first official Mardi Gras in what is now the United States in 1703. Fort Louis de la Louisiane eventually turned into Mobile, Alabama, and served as the first capital of the original Colony of French Louisiana. The city of New Orleans, for comparison, wasn’t even established until 1718, 15 years after the first Mobile Mardi Gras.

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The French, Spanish, British, and, eventually, Americans all came through and left their mark on Mobile changing how the festival is held. Celebrations waxed and waned over the years as the economy rose and fell, wars came and went, but still, Mardi Gras lives on.

Now on Mardi Gras, clusters of costumed people travel from the banks of Mobile Bay on Government Street, up old and tightly crowded Dauphin Street, and into the center of the city.

The secret societies that dominate the celebration organize themselves on floats just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did before them. Crowds along the street cheer them on and marvel at the costumes catching trinkets and MoonPies thrown from above.

Fewer balconies line the streets of Mobile than New Orleans and fewer tourists come to the city for Mardi Gras but the look and feel is familiar. There are kings and queens, princesses, and debutants. Mobile’s Mardi Gras drinking scene lacks 24-hour bars and a rich cocktail history like New Orleans but it has its own perks.

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People can buy 16-ounce to-go drinks in plastic and styrofoam cups from licensed bars and restaurants in the downtown district. MoonPies get more attention than cocktails but bars make MoonPie-inspired cocktails like the ice cream heavy Chrissy (basically consists of vanilla ice cream, vodka, and the hazelnut flavored liqueur, Frangelico) and MoonPie Martinis (served in three popular MoonPie flavors—orange, banana or mint chocolate).

“There is no way to truly tell you what it’s like. You have to experience it,” says Steve Joynt, who runs Mobile Mask, the Mardi Gras guide for the area. “From parades to balls to block parties and parties in private homes, Mardi Gras is what each individual makes it.”

Joynt adds, “Mobile’s Mardi Gras is different from others in a thousand different ways and it’s the same in a few very important ways: It’s a community celebration and an excuse to come together, enjoy each other’s company, and have some fun.”

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mardi Gras 2024 FAQs

When is Mardi Gras 2024? Mardi Gras 2024 or Fat Tuesday is on Tuesday, February 13.

What does laissez les bons temps rouler mean? Parisians are not likely to understand this Cajun French phrase but when you visit the Gulf Coast during Mardi Gras season you’ll hear the locals use this literal translation of the English phrase let the good times roll.

Who can go to a Mardi Gras ball in Mobile? Mobile Mardi Gras ball attendance is invitation only. Members of Mardi Gras Crews who organize the balls can invite non-members to the lavish celebrations.

When did Mobile first celebrate Mardi Gras? Mobile is proud of its Mardi Gras heritage and claims the first official Carnival celebration in the United States. It was started in 1703 by Frenchman Nicholas Langlois when Mobile was the capital of French Louisiana.

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a mystic society? Mystic societies are secret societies that organize parades and balls during Mardi Gras season. They date back to 1704. The oldest existing parading society is the Order of Myths. Mystic societies each have their own traditions, rich with symbolism and ritual.

What is King Cake? A King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras pastry with roots in Christian tradition. Traditionally, you start enjoying King Cake on January 6, an epiphany. The pastry is a cakey bread dough formed into a ring and decorated with Mardi Gras colors, gold, purple, and green. Bakers do get creative. A bakery in Daphne, for example, offers a crawfish King Cake.

What are MoonPies? MoonPies come in many different flavors including chocolate, banana, mint, and peanut butter. A MoonPie is made up of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. The MoonPie got its name in 1917 when a coal miner asked a traveling salesman from the company for a snack as big as the moon. The MoonPie website reads, “It was filling, fit in the lunch pail, and the coal miners loved it. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mardi Gras language: Learn the lingo before the big day

Fat Tuesday, King Cake, Carnival, and Krewes are all popular terms during the Mardi Gras season but what do they mean?

Learn some of the most popular lingo before hitting the parades:

  • Epiphany: Held on January 6, this is a Christian holiday that celebrates the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus. This is also known as the start of the Mardi Gras season.
  • Lundi Gras: This is the French term for Fat Monday which is the day before Mardi Gras.
  • Mardi Gras: The French term for Fat Tuesday which is the day of the Mardi Gras celebrations.
  • Ash Wednesday: This signifies the end of the Mardi Gras season. All the craziness of Mardi Gras comes to an end when the clock strikes midnight on Ash Wednesday.
  • Carnival: The term Carnival means farewell to meat which signifies the temporary period before lent. Those who take part in lent can indulge in their humanly desires. The Carnival season begins on Epiphany and ends on Fat Tuesday.
  • Mardi Gras Ball: A ball is held after each parade float rolls through the streets of Downtown Mobile. At the balls the royal court is introduced along with dancing and costumes.
  • Floats: Mardi Gras floats are extensively decorated trailers driven by trucks during the parades. Many floats throw an assortment of beads, candy, and Mardi Gras-themed items. Each year, those participating in the parade make sure ensure that their floats and costume match the year’s theme.
  • Krewe: These are the people that make up the different Mardi Gras organizations. They ride on the floats while also funding and creating the parade.
  • Royal Court: These consist of honored members within an organization or krewe. The court normally includes a king, queen, dukes, maids, grand marshals, and more. The royal court is presented at the organization’s balls where they wear elaborate costumes. In order to become part of a royal court, most people have to be on a waiting list for years.
  • King cake: This is a festive-looking cake that uses Danish dough, cinnamon, glaze topping, and sprinkles. There is also a plastic baby that is hidden within the cake which is meant to represent baby Jesus on the Epiphany.
  • Moonpie: MoonPies are dessert sandwiches that come in multiple different flavors and sizes. These are very popular to use as parade throws.
  • Doubloon: There are large coins that are made out of aluminum and used as Mardi Gras throws.
  • Throws: These are the material goods that krewes throw from floats during the parades.
Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And last but not least:

Laissez les bons temps rouler: This is a popular Cajun-French saying during the carnival season that means Let the good times roll.

Worth Pondering…

It’s a great party, and anyone who doesn’t enjoy Mardi Gras is not of this world.

—Franklin Alvarado

Gas or Diesel Motorhome: Which is Better?

Which is better, a gas or diesel motorhome? That’s one of the biggest questions RV buyers need to answer. It’s important to ask and answer before buying a motorhome.

“Should I get a gas or diesel motorhome?” It’s a question that will repeat itself through the ages as long as we have fuel.

Maybe electric or another option will be added to the comparison charts in the future. In other countries, propane is a cheaper fuel. It’s used in many hybrid cars although it is rarely used in the U.S. and Canada  For now, it’s gas versus diesel.

RVers love to argue about the best RV fuel. Gas versus diesel motorhomes is the topic of many campfire circles. But we can’t argue until we understand the features and benefits of each type.

Let’s take a look.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gasoline powered motorhomes

Gasoline is the most used fuel.  It is easily combustible which allows for quick starts and fast acceleration.  It is also the leading contributor to pollution. According to AAA, nearly 1/5 of all emissions come from vehicles. Your engine determines which grade of gasoline you can use. You have regular (87), premium (91), and mid-grade (89).

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Diesel powered motorhomes

Diesel is more fuel efficient. In traveling, you can usually go about 20 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than gas-powered vehicles. This is one reason why you will see most truckers with diesel engines. It also produces less carbon dioxide. But, it still creates nitrous oxide which causes smog.

There are six things to consider. I’ll go through them one by one.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. The mechanical basics

For those who might not know the difference between diesel and gas engines, it’s worth spending a little time talking about the basics.

Without being overly technical, the first and perhaps most notable difference is the thermal efficiency of diesel engines which refers to the work that can be expected to be produced by the fuel put into the engine. As mentioned above, a diesel engine is about 20 percent more thermally efficient than a gas engine. That means a 20 percent increase in fuel economy.

Diesel engines also run at a much slower RPM (revolutions per minute) than gas engines. Slower RPM translates to less wear and tear and a longer life cycle for the engine.

Further, increased thermal efficiency also translates to more power and torque. A diesel engine’s high torque application is very beneficial for hauling heavy loads.

Gas engines, on the other hand, deliver a much higher volatility point but a lower flashpoint. A spark controls the combustion of a gas engine. Diesel engines do not use a spark but what’s called a compression combustion engine.

Essentially, a gasoline engine is a spark-fired combustion and a diesel engine utilizes compression.

Now that you have some background on the differences between gas and diesel engines, let’s look at the pros and cons of each about RVing.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Costs of gas vs diesel motorhomess

The first consideration for many people shopping for a new RV is the price. Simply put, does it fit your budget?

On the whole, diesel-powered motorhomes are much more expensive than gas-powered motorhomes. For that reason, first-time motorhome buyers often decide to go with a less expensive gas-powered RV rather than a diesel or luxury unit.

However there are various degrees of quality within each type. Depending on what you are looking for, the best gas motorhomes on the market stack up against some lower-quality diesel units.

However, well maintained diesel engines have a longer life than gasoline ones and can still perform reliably after extensive mileage. This means diesel-powered motorhomes tend to retain their value longer and have higher resale values than gas-powered units.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Differences in mileage

As mentioned above, the second factor to take into consideration is the fuel economy. After all, fuel is expensive and adds up over time. Here are the main differences in mileage between gas-powered and diesel-powered rigs.

Gas-powered motorhomes:

  • Depending on chassis, gas motorhomes will have between 80-100 gallon tanks (Class A) and 20-30 gallon tanks (Class B)
  • Average of 6-10 mpg (Class A), 10-14+ mpg (Class B and Class C)
  • Widespread availability at all fuel stations
  • Less expensive than diesel
  • Gas has an odor when burned; the smell can fill the cabin
  • Gas has a shorter shelf life due to evaporation

Diesel-powered motorhomes:

  • Depending on the chassis will have between 80-150 gallon tanks
  • Average of 6-18 miles per gallon with Class Cs and A motorhomes getting less, Class Bs and B+ RVs getting more
  • More expensive than gas
  • Diesel is available at most but not all stations but maneuverability presents a problem for most diesel pushers (Class A motorhomes)
  • Diesel has better fuel efficiency meaning less frequent refills at the pump
  • Diesel burns cleaner than gas
A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Maintenance

Gas engines are easier to maintain and repair compared with their diesel counterparts. If you have a general knowledge of gas engines, you can probably do the bulk of the repairs and maintenance yourself.

A downside of a gas engine is that it runs at higher RPMs meaning it will always be working harder than a diesel engine. Running at higher RPMs allows for a smoother, quieter ride with faster acceleration but more frequent upkeep is required.

Diesel engines are considerably more expensive to maintain and require specialized training to service. Diesel engines run at a lower RPM meaning slower acceleration and lower top speeds but less strain on the engine and you can drive more miles between servicing.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Oil 

All engines require oil. Diesel-powered engines use a lot more oil than gas-powered engines but the oil only needs to be replaced once a year or every 12,000-15,000 miles (depending on the chassis). You’ll need to change the oil in a gas engine every six months or less.

In a gas engine, if you know how to change oil you can do it yourself. Diesel oil changes are more complicated, so you’ll probably have to take it to a professional mechanic to do the work.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Speed and towing ability of gas vs diesel RVs

Gas-powered engines typically have higher horsepower and less torque so you can accelerate and maintain higher speeds. However, having less torque adds more strain on the engine while towing and climbing inclines.

Diesel-powered engines are designed for higher torque at lower speeds but are not as fast as gas engines. More torque means slower acceleration speeds but greater towing power and ease in steep inclines.

As you can see, there are some pros and cons to both styles of engines but ultimately the decision for you boils down to personal preference and your budget.

Are you planning on carrying a toad? Do you frequent the Rockies and the Northwest Mountains? Having the power to climb hills with a load lends to diesel-powered engines.

Or are you planning on RVing without a toad and in relatively flatter areas such as Florida and Louisiana? In that case, a gas-powered engine would work well for you.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gas or diesel: The bottom line

Simply put, the bottom line on gas or diesel comes down to your particular situation and preference.

YOU are the most important factor when it comes to the best RV fuel option. 

All the miles you drive, where you drive, how you manage your fuel usage, cost of ownership, how long you plan to keep your RV, resale value, and your RV maintenance habits affect you more in the long run. Hopefully, if you already own an RV, it meets your needs. 

We are RVers! We aren’t like everyone else already and neither does our fuel use have to be like everyone else’s. Whether we choose a motorhome that uses gasoline or one that uses diesel, the RV itself should match our travel needs. 

Every RVer’s bottom line is different. If you don’t plan to travel as many miles or aren’t concerned about resale value then a gas-powered RV might suffice for you.

Worth Pondering…

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space.

Born To Be Free, words and music by Mars Bonfire

On This Day: Gold Found at Sutter’s Mill

January 24: Gold!

California’s most famous gold rush dates to the morning of January 24, 1848 when James Marshall made his customary inspection of the sawmill he was building for John Sutter. During the previous night, Marshall had diverted water through the mill’s tailrace to wash away loose dirt and gravel and on that fateful day he noticed some shining flecks of metal left behind by the running water.

He picked them up and showed them to his crew and, as he later told the story: “My eye was caught by something shining in the bottom of the ditch. . . . I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold. . . Then I saw another.”

Amador City © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

James Wilson Marshall, a foreman at John Sutter’s lumber mill near Coloma, California was on the edge of the American River when he spotted something glittering in the sun on January 24, 1848. When he brought the shiny flakes to his boss, Sutter ordered him to be quiet while they secretly tested the material.

As Sutter feared, Marshall had found gold. The two men did not know it yet but California’s fabled Gold Rush was about to explode and California and the United States would change forever.

Sutter was dismayed because he owned nearly 50,000 acres and knew that his dreams of an agricultural empire would be ruined if crazed gold prospectors rushed in and overran his property. Despite all his efforts at secrecy, however, rumors started spreading.

Men began to write letters; by the summer newspapers on the East Coast were announcing the news and in an address to Congress on December 5, 1848, President James Polk—a strong supporter of America’s Manifest Destiny—officially confirmed the discovery of gold in California helping to spur the Gold Rush and ensuring the acceleration of America’s westward expansion.

Sutter Creek © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

California was still part of Mexico at the time Marshall discovered gold but Polk took care of that by acquiring California with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War on February 2, 1848. At the end of the year Polk delivered his address to Congress and the California Gold Rush erupted the next year as 90,000 49ers rushed to California in 1849 looking for the gold Polk confirmed was there. California was admitted into the Union the next year as part of the Compromise of 1850.

Between 1848 and 1855 about 300,000 prospectors flooded into California, mostly Americans but tens of thousands also came from as far away as China, Hawaii, Europe, Peru, and Australia. It is estimated they recovered over $7 billion in gold. It all began with that January 24, 1848 discovery by Marshall, a find that touched off an irresistible gold fever that made men abandon what they were doing and head off to California to strike it rich.

Today, a few mines and the remains of several boom towns have been preserved in a variety of state parks. Most of them, including the Marshall Gold Discovery site, the fabulous Empire Mine, the historic town of Columbia, the rich gold deposits at Plumas Eureka, and the controversial hydraulic mining pits at Malakoff Diggins are located in or near the Mother Lode region of the central Sierra Nevada foothills.

Jackson © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The riverfront embarcadero and commercial district of the Gold Rush preserved at Old Sacramento teemed with activity as would-be miners disembarked from riverboats and regrouped before setting out for the Mother Lode. Outfitters and other merchants there thrived on the gold trade portrayed in the re-created Huntington & Hopkins Hardware Store. The mining boom that Captain John Sutter himself set in motion nearly destroyed his Nuevo Helvetia agricultural empire headquartered at Sutter’s Fort. A portion of his Mexican land grant became the bustling Gold Rush boomtown of Sacramento.

While gold-seekers were pouring through Sacramento and into the Sierra, deposits of the precious metal were also discovered in the Klamath Mountains of northwest California. Today, ruins of the historic town of Shasta and the Chinese temple at Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park recall the days of the Klamath gold rush.

In combination, the Mother Lode and the Klamath gold fields produced the modern-day equivalent of more than $25 billion in gold before the turn of the century with operations continuing at Empire Mine until as late as 1956.

Placerville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Between the 1860s and the turn of the century, prospectors found gold in a number of locations in California. One of the Wests largest authentic ghost towns is Bodie in the eastern Sierra Nevada, now a state historic park that preserves the abandoned buildings of the rough-and-tumble mining town that sprang up in response to a gold strike in 1877.

In Southern California, three historic gold mining areas lie within the state parks. Park headquarters at Red Rock Canyon State Park is on the site of what was once an important community in a region that produced several million dollars in gold primarily in the 1890s -including one 14-ounce nugget.

At Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, visitors can tour the remains of the Stonewall Mine which produced $2 million worth of gold between 1870 and 1892.

At Picacho State Recreation Area on the lower Colorado River, visitors can view Picacho Mill, the last visible remnant of Picacho, a gold mining community that boasted a population of 2,500 in 1904.

Angels Camp © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check out these articles to learn more:

Worth Pondering…

All the gold in California

Is in the bank in the middle of Beverly Hills

In somebody else’s name.

So if you’re dreamin’ about California,

It don’t matter at all where you’ve played before.

California’s a brand-new game.

Tryin’ to be a hero, winding up a zero,

Can scar a man forever right down to your soul.

Living on the spotlight can kill a man outright

‘Cause everything that glitters is not gold.

—written by Larry Gatlin and recorded by Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers Band in 1979 

Common RV Interior Design Flaws + Solutions

The most common RV interior design flaws and what the RV design industry should do about it is the topic of this timely post

As a nearly $30 billion dollar industry, you can only imagine how much money and man-hours go into designing functional and attractive interiors in the RV Industry. But sometimes even the best plans don’t translate to the best real-world results. The only real way to know what works and what doesn’t is to turn to the people using it.

RVers learn to adapt to the tiny lifestyle coming up with all kinds of clever solutions and hacks. God bless the RV designers who have given us a good head start but there’s always some kind of impracticality to overcome.

Living room and kitchen areas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The most common issues with RVs

Most issues revolve around the kitchen, laundry, shoe storage, and accessibility.

I think the solutions for these problems are certainly achievable even if they’re offered as options instead of standard features.

Impractical oven

Some people love their oven but many find the oven to be too small or too ineffective to be worth the space it takes. It seems many RVers are content to use convection microwaves or air fryers in their place.

Here are some suggestions for RV designers:

  • Option for convection microwave and dishwasher drawer instead of an oven
  • Option for 9-in-1 built-in air fryer instead of an oven
  • Larger oven that can hold at least a small turkey

Understandably, preferences can vary widely when it comes to ovens and cooking. So, it really seems the best solution is to have more options! Let the RVer have more of a say in their cooking appliances when they purchase an RV.

Micro-wave and kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More counter space

RV designers have tried to maximize counter space without encroaching into the living space too much. Two main solutions they’ve come up with are boards that cover the stovetop and sink when not in use. While these are helpful sometimes, they aren’t really useful when you’re in full cooking mode.

After all, isn’t it while you’re cooking when you need the most counter space? You end up having to push those boards aside when, say, sauce is simmering on the stove and pasta is draining in the sink. That just takes up more room, not create more.

The most sensible solutions seem to be:

  • Sturdy pull-out boards
  • Sturdy flip-up boards from side of cabinet
  • Pull-down shelf from underneath the cabinets

I particularly like the pull-down shelf idea as it seems we just need more room to set things down that we take out of the pantry or fridge. The pull-down shelf takes advantage of the vertical space making a pseudo-double-decker counter. Once the ingredients are put away, the shelf hinges right back underneath the cabinet.

Living room with pull-out table and built-in desk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adjustable shelves (and more shelves)

Adjustable shelves seem like such a simple solution… because they are! I’d bet it’s one of the cheapest yet most effective changes every RV manufacturer could implement in every class and model. This problem came up with both pantry and closet storage.

Take advantage of vertical space and what better way to do that with shelves. Being able to customize the height based on the products you store would be a HUGE help.

And designers shouldn’t be stingy with the shelves!  Give us at least a couple more shelves to work with!

Drop-down upper storage

A lot of storage in RVs is in the form of small cabinets above the couch. It turns out that a lot of people either because of their height or their age have a hard time reaching these spaces. They’re high up plus we have to reach over a couch. Yet, these cabinets often store the everyday items we need to get to often.

It seems like one of the best solutions follows that same idea as the pull-down kitchen shelf―make these small storage cabinets hinge down and out towards us.

Bedroom with overhead cupboards © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dirty laundry hamper

Where do we put the dirty laundry?

Maybe RV designers haven’t heard that we’re not supposed to air our dirty laundry because they haven’t given us a good place to put it.

We need a designated place for dirty laundry that’s not the shower space!

Shoe storage

Where to put all the shoes?

Shoe storage! Shoe storage! Shoe storage!

It seems everyone agrees we need more of it. Yes, there are after-market door hangers but why not integrate shoe storage into RV design?

It makes sense to incorporate shoe storage by the front door. We all end up leaving shoes by our doors and they become a tripping hazard. A cubby or space for a couple of pairs of shoes by the entrance door would be ideal.

Some models have this near-the-door shoe storage now. If this is important to you, make sure you check to see if the model you are viewing has it.

Living room with pull-out table and built-in desk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Better accessibility

The RV Lifestyle is about freedom and discovery and it should be possible for people with disabilities and mobility issues. Not to mention, a big part of the RV community is seniors that are only getting older.

Newmar has wheelchair accessible luxury diesel motorhomes and Winnebago has several models they called accessibility enhanced.

One of the biggest obstacles for people with disabilities and seniors with more limited mobility is the front entrance. The big steps become a serious safety hazard if not a complete blockade to the inside.

RVers would like more options when it comes to how they enter their RV. Some suggestions include:

  • An electric lift (like a miniature version of moving truck lifts)
  • A slide-out ramp
  • More graduated steps
  • Swing-out or collapsible hand rail alongside steps

The next biggest area of concern in this area was a more realistic emergency exit for seniors. Many older people worry about the idea that they might someday have to escape through the escape window. Would they really be able to get out the window? Would they hurt themselves doing so?

A second emergency exit door in lieu of an emergency window seems like an option many people would pay extra for.

Worth Pondering…

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

—C.W. Ceran

Life Threatening Winter Blast: Dumb Winter RVing Mistakes to Avoid

Even the best home on wheels can only give limited protection from cold weather. The rest is up to you. Don’t learn winter RVing mistakes the hard way. If severe weather is approaching, it’s time to get serious about keeping warm, safe, and enjoying this year-round lifestyle.

RVing is now a year-round activity. Many RV owners are bypassing the RV storage lot to take part in winter camping.

According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), “RV ownership has increased over 62 percent in the last twenty years with a record 11.2 million RV owning households.” A University of Utah study reflects these findings by revealing that more visitors are exploring the state’s national parks in winter than ever before.

Here are some helpful resources:

Can you be comfortable RVing in winter? And safe?

Winter RV camping doesn’t have to be brutal. But even snowbirds that travel south for winter can get caught in unexpected snow storms. You can be warm, safe, and comfortable in cold temperatures if that happens to you. Just don’t wait to learn how to do it the right way. If you’re planning an RV trip during the winter but are unprepared for winter weather you may never want to do it again.

12 dumb winter RVing mistakes you want to avoid

Wherever you travel in your RV, make it your goal to avoid these common cold weather blunders. Don’t learn them the hard way so that you can enjoy four seasons of fun.

Clean snow off slide toppers before retracting © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

1. Not clearing snow off the slide-out roof (before retracting it)

In winter, carry a ladder and something that easily removes snow from RV rooftops. This lesson will hit home if a sudden snowstorm catches you by surprise. Don’t forget to look up before retracting your slideout. A massive pile of heavy snow accumulated on the slide-out will cause the motor to stall, sometimes with disastrous results.

2. Delaying RV generator maintenance

Is your RV generator prepped for winter weather? Make sure it operates efficiently before your comfort depends on it. Even starting a well-maintained generator can be tough in freezing weather. Generator starting is especially rough if you have an external model.

Understand your RV maintenance needs. A well-running machine may be the only thing between you and freezing temperatures inside the RV.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

3. Keeping the fresh water hose connected

Don’t wait for the first hard freeze to teach you the agony of thawing your drinking water hose with a hair dryer. When the weather starts to go bad, fill your RV fresh water tank with water and disconnect and stow your RV drinking water hose. You’ll be glad you did when you can still use water from your water tank and not the campground bathroom.

Alternately use a heated water hose available at most RV dealers and stores selling RV supplies.

Read more: Winter RV Camping Must-Have: Heated Water Hose

4. Forgetting to check propane levels before departure

Use a propane safety tool like the GasStop to alert you when your RV propane supply runs low. Always carry two full tanks especially if you’ll be cold weather boondocking in remote areas. If not, you could end up getting stranded in a remote campsite without fuel to keep you warm.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

5. Not carrying an alternative heat source

If your RV’s propane furnace isn’t keeping your RV comfortable enough (or if you’re running low on propane), it’s time to purchase another heat source. Just be sure to choose a space heater that is safe and practical for your situation. Some can be dangerous if knocked over and will require electric power. Be sure to review the safety risks of using electric heaters before making your purchase.

Check this out to learn more: How to Prevent and Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV

7. Skipping extra insulation

You aren’t throwing money down the drain by purchasing extra insulation. Add it to your rig and you’re already better off. The RV insulation most commonly used to retain indoor warmth during cold temperatures is Reflectix insulation material.

This lightweight stuff can be cut to the size of your RV windows and ceiling van vents. Lay it over them and you have one more way to keep cold out. Many RVers also use Reflectix in summer to keep the heat out.

8. Plugging an electric space heater into a 20-amp circuit

Using electric space heaters inside an RV is not inherently dangerous. But not being smart about how you use supplemental heat sources can sometimes end in an RV fire. Don’t leave a space heater turned on when you’re away from your RV or overnight. A pet could easily knock it over and burn your RV down. Or an electric cord can overheat and start a fire. That’s why we never use the high setting on our space heater.

Read more:

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

9. Not opening cabinet doors on freezing cold nights

Keeping RV cabinet doors open at night is one of the best tricks to prevent frozen water lines.

Leaving your cabinet doors open allows for warm air from within your RV to circulate exposed pipes under sinks and vanities. When you keep your cabinets closed, you prevent air from warming them, essentially keeping them isolated in cooler air.

By keeping cabinets that contain pipes open whenever possible and maintaining adequate heat levels throughout your RV, you’re taking crucial steps towards ensuring that your plumbing system remains intact even during winter’s worst conditions.

10. Check your seals and furnace vents

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to help prevent a cold RV is to keep up with your maintenance! Make sure there are no cracks or gaps in the seals around your windows to avoid unnecessary drafts in your RV. You can repair the seals with some caulking or completely replace the seals if needed. 

11. Blindly following Google trip directions without checking road conditions

We’ve all read about drivers who don’t invest in an RV trip planner and end up paying the price by getting lost, or worse. Don’t tempt fate by blindly following your GPS as it can lead to deadly consequences. Always verify that road conditions are safe for us before heading out.

Here are some articles to help:

Winter camping © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

12. Don’t learn RV lessons the hard way

Create enough camping checklists and soon the list of summer and winter RVing mistakes grows shorter. The positive side of learning from common mistakes is that you will have plenty of great campfire stories to share with friends and family.

Cold climate winter camping is not the best time to attend the RV school of hard knocks. It pays to talk to more experienced RVers about winter camping. Learn from everyone else’s mistakes, so you can avoid them in your awesome RV travels.

Worth Pondering…

No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.

—Hal Borland (1900-1978)