The Best RV Camping March 2024

Explore the guide to find some of the best in March 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, 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, 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 March: 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 February. Also check out my recommendations from March 2023 and April 2023 and 12 Best RV Parks in Arizona for Snowbirds (2023-24).

Cotton Lane RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cotton Lane RV Resort, Goodyear, Arizona

Cotton Lane is a pleasant +55 RV park with a golf course. The roads are paved and maneuvering through the park is easy for any size rig. Sites are gravel with cement patio and clean. The back-in sites are large and somewhat level. The pull-through sites are long but narrow with sites very, very close together. It takes some maneuvering so the slide outs don’t hit the power pedestal, water faucet, or trees but is quite doable. The park is clean and the staff was friendly. 

Barnyard RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina

Barnyard RV Park offers 129 level and grassy sites with paved interior roads. All sites include water, sewer, electric (30 and 50 amp), and cable TV. Most sites are pull-through and can accommodate large units including a tow car. Amenities include bath and laundry facilities, Wi-Fi available at site, and a dog park. Barnyard RV Park is located 8 miles from downtown Columbia. From Interstate 20, take Exit 111 west on US-1 to the park. On weekends, experience Southern hospitality at the huge Barnyard Flea Market. The RV Park is located behind the Flea Market.

Sunny Acres RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico

A 12 acre park, Sunny Acres RV Park offers big sites and lots of space. The park is away from interstate noise with access to I-10, I-25, and US-70. Amenities include large 40 foot wide sites, wide gravel streets throughout park, full hookups with 30 or 50 amp electric service, cable TV, free high speed Internet, laundry facilities, and private restrooms and showers.

Frog City RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana

Established in 2006, Frog City RV Park is located just off I-10 in Duson (Exit 92), a little town just 10 miles west of Lafayette and deep in the beautiful Cajun countryside. With 62 spacious pull-through sites, Frog City offers paved interior roads, 50/30 amp electric service, water, sewer, Wi-Fi, cable TV, swimming pool, dog walk areas, coin-operated laundry, and private hot showers. The RV park offers convenient adjacent facilities such as Roady’s Lucky Deuces Travel Plaza, with Maw’s Café located inside, and Lucky Deuces Casino. We stayed at Frog City in 2013 and 2019. The park has a friendly and welcoming feel.

Settlers Point RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Settlers Point RV Resort, Washington, Utah

Settlers Point is a lovely RV resort with all the amenities and more—sites are huge, mostly level, very clean and well-maintained, gravel, excellent Wi-Fi, helpful and friendly staff. Upon registration we’re given two bags of gourmet popcorn from a local company (Moore ‘n More) and they were delicious!

Easy-on, easy-off; though just off I-15 the park is quiet with no freeway noise. Settlers Point is conveniently located near St. George and an easy drive to Zion National Park and Sand Hollow State Park. The facilities are top-of-the-line and very orderly and clean: Two pools (one adult only), hot tub, pickleball, indoor lounge with TVs and table for games and puzzles, two laundry rooms, dog park, dog wash tub, and children’s playground. This place is top notch!

Palo Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California

A new facility, Pala Casino RV Resort offers 100 full-service sites with grass lawns and picnic tables. Site selection includes 30 feet x55 feet back-in sites, 30 feet x 60 feet luxury sites with barbecue grills, and 30 feet x 70 feet pull-through sites.

Amenities include 20/30/50 amp power, water and sewer hook-ups, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, restrooms and showers, heated swimming pool, two spas, fenced dog park, and 24 hour security patrol. Pala Casino RV Resort received top marks from Good Sam in every category including facilities, restrooms and showers, and visual appearance. The resort is located on SR-76, 6 miles east of I-15.

Harvest Moon RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, Georgia

Easy-on, easy-off (Interstate 77, Exit 306) in Historic Adairsville, Harvest Moon RV Park is big-rig friendly with newer sites at the front of the park added in 2005. Our pull-through site was in the 85-90 foot range. 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV are centrally located; a second sewer connection towards the rear of the site. Interior roads and individual sites are gravel. For overnighters, no need to disconnect the toad/tow here. Wi-Fi works well and no problem locating satellite.

Hilltop RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas

Hilltop RV Park offers all pull-through sites with picnic tables, extra long big rig spaces, full-service hookups at all sites, pool with spacious covered patio, 24 hour laundry room, leash free Puppy Patch, Wi-Fi, easy access to Interstate 10, and awesome West Texas sunsets.

Roosevelt State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roosevelt State Park, Morton, Mississippi

Conveniently located between Meridian and Jackson, Mississippi, Roosevelt State Park offers an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities in a picturesque setting. A variety of recreational activities and facilities are available at Roosevelt State Park including a visitor center, game room, performing arts and media center, picnic area, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, disc golf, softball field, swimming pool and water slide, tennis courts, and nature trails. Fishing, boating, and water skiing are available on Shadow Lake, a 150 acre fresh water lake.

The park offers 109 RV campsites, primitive tent sites, 15 vacation cabins, motel, and a group camp facility. These facilities are located in wooded areas with views of Shadow Lake. The RV sites feature a picnic table and grill. 27 campsites include electricity and water hook-ups. 82 sites have electricity, water, and sewer hook-ups. Many campsites feature views of Shadow Lake and some feature water front access. Campground roads and RV pads are paved. All of the RV pads are within easy access of a dump station and a bathhouse with hot showers.

Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picacho Peak State Park, Eloy, Arizona

Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak and, often in the spring, overlook a sea of wildflowers. The park offers a visitor center with exhibits and a park store, a playground, historical markers, a campground, and picnic areas. Many hiking trails traverse the desert landscape and offer hikers both scenic and challenging hikes.

The campground has a total of 85 electric sites suitable for RVs and/or tents. Four sites are handicapped-accessible. No water or sewer hookups are available. Access to all sites is paved. Sites are fairly level and are located in a natural Sonoran Desert setting.

Worth Pondering…

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

—John Ruskin

February 2024 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 18 Recalls Involving 6 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

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

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

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

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

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

NHTSA announced 18 recall notices during February 2024. These recalls involved 6 recreational vehicle manufacturers— Forest River (9 recalls), Winnebago (2 recalls), Tiffin (2 recalls), Jayco (2 recalls), Gulf Stream (1 recall), MCI (1 recall), and Foretravel (1 recall).

Campground USA, Apache Junction, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2020-2023 Coachmen Galleria, 2021-2023 Forest River Beyond, and 2021-2023 Coachmen Nova Class B motorhomes. The retractable awning may extend unintentionally during transit.

Dealers will install a wedge to support the internal components in the gearbox and replace the motor as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 5, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-6319. Forest River’s number for this recall is 225-1723.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Coachmen Clipper and Viking Travel Trailers. The tail light bezel may not have been installed on the vehicle. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Dealers will install the tail light bezel, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 6, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-269-467-4600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 120-1729.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Prism Class C motorhomes. The furnace may overheat and cause a crack in the burn chamber, which can allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabin.

Dealers will install the correct cold air return, grill, and heating ducts as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 6, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 215-1730.

Settlers Point RV Resort, Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Coachmen Prism Class C motorhomes. The furnace may overheat and cause a crack in the burn chamber, which can allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabin.

Dealers will install the correct cold air return grill as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 6, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 215-1733.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Salem and Wildwood fifth wheel travel trailers. The Federal Placard may have incorrect tire size information. As such, these trailers fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 120, “Wheels and Rims – Other Than Passenger Cars.”

Dealers will mail new federal placards, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 13, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-534-3167. Forest River’s number for this recall is 69-1731.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Coachmen Catalina and Forest River Aurora travel trailers. The tire may contact the slide adjustment bolt and puncture the tire.

Dealers will replace the slide adjustment bolt and install a shackle kit, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 20, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-4995. Forest River’s number for this recall is 205-1735.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Coachmen Concord motorhomes. The lower control arm bracket may fail and cause the axle to rotate or detach, resulting in a loss of vehicle control.

Dealers will replace the lower control arm mount, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 20, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-825-8602. Forest River’s number for this recall is 210-1734.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019-2024 Georgetown and FR3 Class A motorhomes. The liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank mounting brackets may break which can result in the LPG tank becoming dislodged and damaged.

Dealers will inspect and replace the brackets and welds as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 23, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 68-1736.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2015-2017 Sanibel SNF3550 and 2021-2023 Sanibel SNF3902WB fifth wheels. The hitch (pin box) may not be sufficient for the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and may fail.

Dealers will install a properly rated hitch, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 27, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-862-1025. Forest River’s number for this recall is 49-1737.

Winnebago

Winnebago Towable (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2024 Access travel trailers. The breakaway switch and trailer brakes may not activate when needed due to an incorrectly wired breakaway switch.

Winnebago will rewire the breakaway switch, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed February 9, 2024. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-825-5280 ext. 5220. Winnebago’s number for this recall is CAM0000034.

Winnebago

Winnebago Towable (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2022-2023 Micro Minnie, Micro Minnie FLX, Hike 200, and Minnie travel trailers. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 29, 2024. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-825-5280 ext. 5220. Winnebago’s number for this recall is CAM0000035.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Convoy and GH-1 motorhomes. The bracket that secures the solar panel to the roof may crack and break, which can cause the solar panel to detach.

Dealers will replace the brackets, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 22, 2024. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-136.

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Allegro Bay motorhomes. The standard house batteries may shift position during travel, which can cause the battery terminals to contact the steel hold-down bar.

Dealers will install a new battery hold-down bar and angle brackets, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 1, 2024. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-137.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2023 Entegra Expanse, Expanse LI, Jayco Solstice, and Solstice LI motorhomes. The retractable awning may extend unintentionally during transit.

Dealers will install a wedge to support the internal components in the gearbox and replace the motor as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed February 29, 2024. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9903601.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2020-2023 Entegra Anthem, Aspire, Cornerstone, and Reatta XL motorhomes. The pedestal mounting plate on the driver’s seat may be improperly welded, causing the plate to separate and the seat assembly to loosen or detach. As such, these seat assemblies fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 207, “Seating Systems” and number 210, “Seat belt assembly anchorages.”

Dealers will inspect for a missing weld and replace the pedestal as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 1, 2024. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9903602.

River Sands RV Resort, Ehrenburg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Stream

Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. (Gulf Stream) is recalling certain 2024 Trail Boss 160FK trailers. The incorrect tire size and tire pressure are listed on the federal certification label. As such, these trailers fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims” and 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Dealers will mail replacement federal certification labels to customers, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 1, 2024. Owners may contact Gulf Stream customer service at 1-800-289-8787. Gulf Stream’s number for this recall is 106FK/23

MCI

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) is recalling certain 2014-2018 D4000, 2013-2019 D4005, 2013-2023 D4500, 2013-2020 D4505, and 2021-2024 D45CRTLE coaches equipped with a Ricon wheelchair lift. The red beacon lighting on the Threshold Warning System (TWS) may not be bright enough. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 403, “Platform Lift Systems.”

MCI will work with Ricon to replace the TWS kits, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed March 29, 2024. Owners may contact MCI customer service at 1-800-241-2947.

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Foretravel

Foretravel, Inc. (Foretravel) is recalling certain 2023 Realm FS605 and Realm Presidential FS605P vehicles. The steering gear may have foreign material inside the gear that could build pressure within the system, resulting in a loss of power steering assist.

Foretravel will work with the chassis manufacturer, Shyft Group to replace the steering gears, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed April 03, 2024. Owners may contact Foretravel customer service at 1-800-955-6226.

Please Note: This is the 60th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

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

—Martin Van Buren

10 Amazing Places to RV in March 2024

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

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

—Martin Buber

When we set out on life’s journeys, we assume our plans and preparations will keep us firmly on course. But we are often blindsided by the twists and turns that the road takes and we hardly ever end up where we expected.

This observation comes from Martin Buber, a prominent German Jewish philosopher, educator, and political activist in the first half of the 20th century. He suggests that embracing these detours for the hidden benefits they bring is a critical part of learning, growing, and enjoying life.

With March comes the vernal equinox, the return of Daylight Saving Time, and beautiful flowering plants. The beginning of spring is a great time to hit the road and make memories and it also might be time to check a few things before you head out on your next big (or small) RV adventure.

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

Cedar Key © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Cedar Key, Florida

Don’t worry, I promise not every destination on the list will be in Florida but it’s undeniably one of the best places to travel in spring. March and April bring some of the best weather the state sees all year; the full, stifling tilt of Florida’s summer heat and humidity has not arrived quite yet. Even better, the beaches and springs are just a little less crowded than they will be in July and August.

While any spot along Florida’s endless shoreline will be a winner this west-coast island which is home to miles of hiking trails and unique wildlife is a winner. It’s especially popular amongst the bird-watching crowd.

Monument Valley at sunset © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Towering Monument Valley buttes display sunset spectacle

A sunset spectacle featuring two mitten-shaped rock formations plays out at Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation along the Arizona and Utah border. Twice a year, in late March and mid-September, spectators, photographers, and videographers get a visual treat. As the sun sinks, the West Mitten Butte’s shadow crawls across the desert valley floor before climbing up the side of the East Mitten Butte.

The spectacle draws people from around the world to Monument Valley Tribal Park which already is popular with tourists.

TV and movie critic Keith Phipps once described Monument Valley as having “defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.” It is a frequent filming location including a number of Westerns by the late American film director John Ford as well as the 1994 Oscar-winning film Forest Gump. In the movie, the character played by Tom Hanks is seen running on the road to Monument Valley, the park’s impressive landscape in the background.

The Alamo on Alamo Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Battle of the Alamo

The Battle of the Alamo’s finale is commemorated on Alamo Day which takes place on March 6 every year. The Battle of the Alamo came to a brutal conclusion on March 6, 1836, 13 days after a sporadic battle rounding off a critical milestone in the Texas Revolution. The fort was retaken by Mexican soldiers and virtually all of the Texan defenders including frontiersman Davy Crockett were killed.

Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led an assault on the Alamo Mission on February 23, 1836. On March 6, just before daybreak, the last onslaught occurred. The north wall was broken and Mexican forces surged into the enclosure rousing many of the Texans within. The fight spanned 90 minutes with considerable hand-to-hand action involved.

The Alamo (initially called the Mission San Antonio de Valero) was constructed in present-day San Antonio by Spanish immigrants in 1718.

4. Death Valley Dark Sky Festival, March 1-3

Death Valley is known for some of the best stargazing in America. It’s even designated a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park, the highest rating of darkness.

During the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival visitors can enjoy the stunning night sky as well as special events like the Exploration Fair, auditorium talks, astrophotography meetups, and more.

If you plan on visiting multiple national parks, you can save a lot of money by getting an America the Beautiful Pass.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Like No Place Else on Earth

If you ask me, the entire southwest is something of a hidden gem. And if you’re right about separating the sand from the sea, it’s a spring break classic: warm, sunny, and perfect for kicking back.

If you haven’t paid a visit to the White Sands National Park in New Mexico, this spring is the perfect opportunity. The largest field of gypsum dunes in the world, you’ll oscillate between feeling like you’ve stepped onto an alien landscape and wondering where the crashing ocean waves might be—all while enjoying the simple fun of sledding down the steep slopes all around you.

Macon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon

You know its spring in Macon when the city turns pink thanks to the blooms of 300,000-plus Yoshino cherry trees all over the area.

If you visit Macon in March, you can celebrate its colorful arrival during the International Cherry Blossom Festival scheduled for March 15-24, 2024. 

Enjoy an extravagant display of springtime beauty and dozens of fun family activities many taking place under a canopy of delicate pink blooms. Watch hot-air balloons, air shows, colorful parades, and fireworks displays, or go on historic tours and amusement rides.

Concerts feature top recording artists from a variety of musical genres. Dining at the Cherry Blossom Festival’s Food Truck Frenzy offers variety and adventure! While you’re in Macon, cruise around town on the Cherry Blossom Trail to see different neighborhoods showing off their cherry blossoms.

Lost Dutchman State Park east of Phoenix © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Arizona Spring Training

Are you a baseball fan who is craving a warm weather getaway? Then you need to check out spring training in Arizona—aka, the Cactus League.

A spring training trip is the perfect excuse to watch your favorite baseball team play a few no-stress games all while enjoying an amazing RV road trip somewhere warm and sunny while you’re at it. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

During spring training, Major League Baseball (MLB) teams hold a series of practices and exhibition games which allows them to try out new players and practice existing players before the regular season starts.

The Cactus League is one of two spring training leagues (the other is the Grapefruit League in Florida) that are home to the MLB during the baseball spring training season.

Phoenix and the cities in its metropolitan area (Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Goodyear, Glendale, Surprise, and Peoria) are home to the Cactus League. Within a 50-mile radius, you’ll find 10 facilities that host 15 major league baseball teams during spring training which typically runs mid-February through March (February 22-March 26, 2024).

Check this out to learn more: The Complete Guide to Arizona Spring Training (Cactus League)

St. Martinsville in Cajun Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Louisiana

New Orleans’s light burns so bright that it tends to cast a shadow on the rest of Louisiana but rest assured when you step away from the Big Easy things truly get wild. And you will likely get wet: more than 18 percent of the state is covered in water offering endless miles of rivers, coastline, bayou, and swamp to fish and explore.

But there’s also plenty of hiking with wooden platforms that guide you through Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, islands to explore off the mainland in the Gulf, and 21 state parks scattered throughout Cajun Country.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a unique park because it combines two desert ecosystems. Plants, animals, and fascinating views are all part of the deal at Joshua Tree. For the best views possible, catch the sunset at the park and watch the sky transform from stunning shades of pink and orange to a clear, dark blue canopy sprinkled with stars.

If you plan on visiting multiple national parks, you can save a lot of money by getting an America the Beautiful Pass.

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Savannah

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.

Worth Pondering…

In March the soft rains continued, and each storm waited courteously until its predecessor sunk beneath the ground.

—John Steinbeck, East of Eden 

10 Visitor Centers You Shouldn’t Miss

10 National Park Visitor Centers that are worth exploring

National Park Visitor Centers offer opportunities to explore the nature and history of the parks, watch park films, and get trip-planning information. Park stores within visitor centers offer books and other products related to the park.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Stopping at the National Park Visitor Center is a must!

Our first National Park Visitor Center experience happened by chance. We stumbled upon the visitor center on our way into a park. Stopping at the visitor center wasn’t even on my radar at the time. The visitor center is now the first place that we stop when going to a new national or state park, state, city, or town and I am saddened when I see people pass up on their opportunity to stop at one.

When I was a National Park newbie (for lack of a better word) I really didn’t know what to expect from park Visitor Centers. I thought that they were just a place to stretch your legs and maybe grab a quick snack from a vending machine. But, I was SO WRONG! The National Park Visitor Centers are so much more than any ol’ dingy rest area off of any ol’ winding interstate!

Below are a few reasons that I sing the praiss of National Park Visitor Centers and highly encourage you to not pass them up!

The ability to travel and explore new places is one of the best parts of the RV lifestyle. There’s no better way to truly experience the country. You get to know the areas you travel through and you have the opportunity to participate in local events and visit interesting landmarks.

Visitor centers are one of the best ways to learn about a new area. There are countless visitor centers scattered across the country and they serve a wide variety of purposes. Some of them educate, others entertain, and others showcase interesting features of the area. Lots of national and state parks have at least one visitor center but some businesses, churches, museums, and other interesting locations have them as well.

Since I’m talking visitor centers, here’s a great related article: Why Stop At Visitor Centers?

It’s hard to define what the best visitor centers are but I’ve selected 10 fantastic options below. Check out my list and consider adding one or two of these to your upcoming travel plans. For your convenience, I’ve also provided some additional resources.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitors Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

If you’re a fan of geology or just want to see something incredibly unique, it’s hard to top Carlsbad Caverns. The main attraction of this area is the caverns themselves and there are numerous guided tours available.

Enjoy the hands-on exhibits to help you understand how the cavern was formed, discover the animals and plants that make the desert their home, and be amazed by the history of the park.

Before starting on your cavern adventure you may want to enjoy the free, 16-minute, park film Hidden World showing at the visitor center every 30 minutes. Check at the information desk for times.

Browse through a variety of gift items including t-shirts, hat, mugs, and Native American art. You can also enjoy snacks, drinks, and hot and cold meals. The bookstore offers a variety of items including books, photos, passport books, and junior ranger products.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

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

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to many interesting historical sites and beautiful natural landmarks. Begin your exploration of the park at a visitor center. Here you can pick up a park map or newspaper, have your questions answered by a ranger, and purchase books and guides to the park. For current ranger-led activities, visit the park’s calendar for details.

Four visitor centers are located within the national park at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome.

Near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Sugarlands Visitor Center is an excellent starting point as you enter the park’s North District. Learn about the park’s plants and animals with natural history exhibits. Enjoy ranger-led programs conducted seasonally. Peruse the park bookstore and shop. Access public restrooms and drink vending machines. The Backcountry Permit Office is here, too.

Sugarlands is a top-rated visitor center.

Near Cherokee, North Carolina, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center is an ideal starting point as you enter the park’s South District. Explore cultural history exhibits. Enjoy ranger-led programs conducted seasonally. Peruse the park bookstore and shop. Find public restrooms and drink vending machines. The adjacent Mountain Farm Museum contains a collection of log structures including a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, applehouse, corn crib and others.

About half-way through the Cades Cove Loop Road, pause to speak with park staff and visit various exhibits at the Cades Cove Visitor Center. Learn about Southern Mountain life and culture and see a gristmill (operates spring through fall), the Becky Cable house, and other historic structures. Enjoy seasonal ranger-led activities and peruse the park bookstore and shop. Public restrooms are available.

Enjoy sweeping views of the Smokies, weather permitting, and get your park questions answered at the Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station Peruse a small bookstore and shop. Public restrooms are available.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

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

3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon draws crowds from all over the country. The park offers several visitor centers including the South Rim (Grand Canyon Village), Desert View, and the North Rim. Since they may be closed during different periods of the year, be sure to check their availability. All of the visitor centers provide a great experience but the South Rim center is especially noteworthy. Trip planning and hiking information is available through exhibit kiosks and sidewalk signs outside of the building.

Park in one of four large parking lots and get your first look at Grand Canyon by walking to nearby Mather Point. With your vehicle parked at the Visitor Center, you can also board free shuttle buses and be transported around the village and out to scenic overlooks.

Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder, the park’s 20 minute orientation film, is presented on the hour and half-hour on the large screen in the theater.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

Zion National Park Visitors Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, one of five national parks in Utah (Mighty Five) is known for its distinctive red rock and otherworldly geological formations.

Located near the South Entrance of the park, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center is an excellent place to begin your exploration of Zion Canyon. Park rangers and outdoor exhibits will help you plan your visit and make the most of your time. Inquire at the Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk about permits for backpacking, canyoneering, and other trips into the wilderness. Visit the bookstore for maps, books, and gifts.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

The Ultimate Guide to Zion National Park

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is the main facility in the North Unit of the park. Stop by to talk with rangers, explore museum exhibits, check out the Fossil Preparation Lab, or visit the Badlands Natural History Association bookstore. There’s something for everyone at the visitor center.

At the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, visitors to Badlands National Park can get answers to their questions from rangers at the information desk. There, park staff can distribute maps and other park materials, provide directions and local area orientation, hand out Junior Ranger booklets, and answer any questions you might have about earth science, wildlife, history, and more. There is also a self-serve passport stamping station at the information desk.

If you’re not stopping by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center during your trip to the Badlands, you can also access rangers at the White River Center, via email or by calling (605) 433-5361

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

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

6. Sequoia and Kings National Parks, California

The park’s visitor centers, ranger stations, and a museum offer opportunities to explore the nature and history of these parks, watch park films, and get trip-planning information. Park stores within visitor centers offer books and other products related to the park. All purchases in these stores support park programs through the Sequoia Parks Conservancy.

While the parks are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, not all visitor centers are open year-round. Some close seasonally.

Foothills Visitor Center is one mile past the Ash Mountain entrance station along the Generals Highway. Stop here for information, maps, books, gifts, and restrooms. Browse exhibits about the ecology and human history of the foothills and join a free ranger-led program.

Giant Forest Museum is housed in a historic market in the Giant Forest sequoia grove at 6,500 feet elevation. Explore exhibits about sequoias and learn why this landscape grows the biggest of big trees. Stop here before you explore the grove. During wilderness permit non-quota season, permits can be picked up at a self-issue station outside the museum.

Kings Canyon Visitor Center is in Grant Grove Village at an elevation of 6,500 feet. Learn about three regions in Kings Canyon National Park: giant sequoia groves, Kings Canyon, and the High Sierra. Watch a 15-minute movie. A park store sells books, maps, and educational materials.

Located in the conifer zone at an elevation of 6,700 feet, Lodgepole Visitor Center provides opportunities to view exhibits, get trip planning advice, get a wilderness permit, watch several park films, or shop at the gift shop. New exhibits immerse visitors in the wilderness environments of the parks, from the foothills to the highest peaks and to underground caves, as well as exploring the human history of the southern Sierra Nevada with tactile exhibits and soundscapes from every park environment.

Cedar Grove Visitor Center is next to the South Fork of the Kings River in mixed conifer forest at an elevation of 4,600 feet. Learn about the natural and cultural history of the Cedar Grove area. Nearby services include accessible restrooms and a pay phone.

Located in a mixed-conifer forest at 7,600 feet, the Mineral King Ranger Station houses some exhibits on Mineral King’s human and natural history. Food storage canisters are available. Obtain wilderness permits here.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park is separated into two districts: Rincon Mountain District (East) and Tucson Mountain District (West), each with their own visitor center.

Red Hills Visitor Center (Saguaro West) Tucson Mountain District has cultural and natural history exhibits of the Sonoran Desert.

The visitor center at Saguaro East is smaller and more rustic. There is an interesting and well done exhibit just outside the center that walks you past about 15 major plants that live in the Sonoran Desert. You can see the living plant and plaque with a name and description of each plant.

Both visitor centers are open all year from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday except Christmas where you can view  a 15 minute program called Voices of the Desert giving a Native American perspective of the Sonoran Desert. There is also a bookstore operated by the Western National Parks Association.Various Ranger guided programs are held throughout the year. During the winter months (November to mid-April) several different programs are offered daily.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

Congaree National Park Visitors Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

The Harry Hampton Visitor Center is open year-round. It is the main hub for Congaree National Park which is the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the U. S. and home to one of the largest concentrations of champion trees. The center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. 

Visitors can find the Congaree National Park Passport Stamp at the center. Restrooms and a small gift shop can be found at the center. The Whippoorwill Cafe & Bakery and A Charming Country Cottage Nestled in the Woods are restaurants near the center.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

Arches National Park Visitors Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Arches National Park, Utah

Arches Visitor Center is located at the entrance of Arches National Park just off U.S. Highway 191 about 5 miles north of Moab. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except December 25. The center offers indoor and outdoor exhibits, a bookstore, and restrooms that can be accessed 24 hours a day.Visitors can learn about the park’s history, geology, climate, and wildlife.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

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

10. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park is connected by the 28-mile-long Main Park Road which winds past viewpoints, trailheads, and other attractions. Visitors can get up close to petrified logs by wandering along trails in the park’s southern section. Petrified Forest National Park is a high-desert geologic treasure chest that features loads of petrified wood and eye-popping views of The Painted Desert, which sweeps through the park

Painted Desert Visitor Center is located at exit #311 off of I-40 in Petrified Forest National Park. It provides information, brochures, book sales, exhibits, restrooms, and a gift shop.The center is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm year-round with extended hours as staffing permits.

The Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center is located to the south and offers exhibits, books and gifts, limited food service, and restrooms.

Additional resources to enhance your visit:

Worth Pondering…

National parks are sacred and cherished places—our greatest personal and national treasures. It’s a gift to spend a year adventuring and capturing incredible images and stories in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

—Jonathan Irish, photographer

The Complete Guide to Zion National Park

Cathedral-like canyons and majestic sandstone cliffs create a wondrous landscape

A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man-made church—this is Zion.
—Isaac Behunin, 1861

Don’t be surprised if your first glimpse of Zion National Park with its vast red rock canyons and towering sandstone temples feels a bit like a spiritual awakening. You wouldn’t be the first person moved by its majesty.

The Southern Paiute called it Mukuntuweap meaning straight-up land. They found sanctuary and sustenance within the sheer walls of Zion Canyon harvesting plants and seeds for food and medicine and cultivating corn, squash, and sunflowers near the Virgin River. When Mormon settler Isaac Behunin built a cabin on the canyon floor in 1863 he was inspired to proclaim, “A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man-made church—this is Zion.”

Zion National Park’s more than 148,000 acres sit at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert in Utah’s southwest corner. The fusion of these distinct geographical regions created the park’s wondrous landscape which comprises six unofficial sections: the Main (Zion) Canyon, Desert Lowlands, Kolob Canyons, Kolob Terrace, Upper East Canyon, and Zion Narrows.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These ecosystems nurture verdant hanging gardens spilling with maidenhair ferns and high-country forests teeming with aspens and ponderosa pines. They provide refuge for abundant wildlife from tiny endemic Zion snails to bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and the critically endangered California condors. But despite the richness of its flora and fauna, the real star of Zion’s show is the scenery—Navajo sandstone cliffs, soaring rock spires, and a spectacular gorge carved over millennia by the Virgin River’s powerful surge.

Today Zion attracts 4.5 million visitors annually from the most adventurous rock climbers to laid-back sightseers looking to enjoy an easy hike and continues to evoke a profound sense of awe in all those who witness its splendor.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your trip

St. George offers the easiest access to Zion National Park. From there it’s only 45 miles northeast to the charming gateway town of Springdale and Zion’s main entrance. But many people drive 165 miles northeast from Las Vegas through vast swaths of the Mojave Desert to Springdale.

Zion National Park is open year-round and each season frames a unique view of the park’s beauty. Only a fraction of visitors come between December through February when daytime temperatures hover around 50 degrees and dip below freezing at night. Quiet trails and scenes of fiery vermilion sandstone dusted with snow reward those who brave the chill.

March and April deliver temperatures ranging from 35 to 70 degrees and an influx of spring-break travelers as snowmelt feeds waterfalls and wildflowers.

The mercury begins to rise in May and by mid-June daytime temperatures climb into the triple digits where they linger until September. Fortunately, they drop to 60 to 70 degrees late in the evening. An early-morning start, frequent water breaks, and seeking out shady trails are the keys to summer in the park.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the perfect mix of comfortable weather with temperatures ranging from 70 degrees during the day to 40 at night, fewer crowds and affordable lodging options, late September through November is ideal. Though the days are shorter, trails and services should be fully operational and the cottonwoods will be decked out in autumn’s golden glory.

The park’s visitor centers, shuttles, museum, restrooms, buses, picnic areas, and Zion Lodge are all fully accessible and several campsites in the Watchman Campgroumd are reserved for those with disabilities. Additionally, all shuttle stops have benches and many trails have flat rocks perfect for resting a spell. Rocking chairs on Zion Lodge’s porch offer a lovely place to while away an hour in the shade.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The bulk of the park’s action happens in Zion Canyon which visitors can access only via free park shuttles from March to November and during peak holiday periods. These shuttles make nine stops at major trailheads and points of interest along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Visitors are only allowed to drive on that road and access the canyon in their cars during those times of the year the shuttles aren’t running.

When they’re operating, park at the main entrance and board a bus at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center but be aware that lots fill early especially during the busy summer months. A second shuttle stops at multiple points along Zion Park Boulevard in Springdale, making it easy to leave your car at your hotel or in the town’s paid parking areas and avoid the hullabaloo at the main entrance.

Though most visitors never venture beyond Zion Canyon you can easily escape the masses in other park sections. You can drive to trailheads and viewpoints in seldom-explored areas along the Zion–Mount Carmel Highway (which links Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to the park’s East Entrance) and in Kolob Canyon, about 45 miles north of Zion Canyon.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to stay and eat

Built in 1925 and restored to its original stone-and-timber charm in 1990, the Craftsman-style Zion Lodge, the only in-park hotel sits right in the heart of Zion Canyon. Set against a majestic red rock backdrop, its 81 rooms and 40 cabins sprawl across a verdant expanse of lawn shaded by a 100-year-old Fremont cottonwood tree. Request a room or cabin with a porch overlooking the lawn and surrounding cliffs.

Dine on upscale fare with desert flair at the lodge’s Red Rock Grill—and sit out on the outdoor terrace for gorgeous canyon views. Two menu standouts: chili tacos made with Navajo fry bread and a locally sourced bison burger topped with cheddar cheese and jalapeños.

Open seasonally, the Castle Dome Café which serves snack-bar favorites such as hot dogs and ice cream on a shady patio makes for a good pit stop if you have wilting grandchildren in tow.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a heftier dose of the great outdoors, put down roots at one of two campgrounds for RVs and tents near Zion Canyon Visitor Center. The South Campground (open March–November) has 117 sites (three accessible) encircled by towering cliffs between the Virgin River and the popular Pa’Rus Trail. Tucked at the foot of Zion’s iconic Watchman rock formation, the eponymous Watchman Campground (open year-round) offers 197 sites (seven accessible plus additional flat sites with easy access). Both campgrounds have restrooms but only Watchman has some sites with electricity. Just outside the park entrance at Zion Outfitter in Zion Canyon Village you’ll find token-operated showers and laundry facilities.

Campsite reservations which are highly recommended can be made for the South Campground two weeks in advance; for Watchman up to six months in advance. Permits cost $20 to $130 nightly.

Backcountry camping is available May through September at the first-come-first-served Lava Point Campground off Kolob Terrace Road, about an 80-minute drive south from the park’s main entrance. It has just six (free) primitive campsites with pit toilets but no water.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to do

Zion Canyon section

Zion National Park’s main attraction is Zion Canyon. Fifteen miles long and nearly 3,000 feet deep in some spots the canyon wows visitors with some of the park’s most dramatic scenery including the Court of the Patriarchs, the Great White Throne, and the Towers of the Virgin. Walking among these sandstone monoliths with their massive, multilayered peaks streaked with iron oxide feels like being in a giant’s sculpture garden.

Get oriented at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center where you’ll find trail maps, helpful rangers, and the canyon shuttle. The shuttle ride and accompanying recorded narration is a relaxing way to experience Zion Canyon’s highlight reel. It takes about 40 minutes to travel the 6.6 miles from the visitor center to the last stop at the Temple of Sinawava, a soaring stone amphitheater named for the coyote god of the Paiute people. Hop on or off at any of the shuttle stops along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the second stop, don’t miss the new film We the Keepers created by the not-for-profit Zion Forever Project. The 23-minute film plays throughout the day at the Human History Museum providing a moving overview of the park and its stewards. Museum exhibits showcase the natural and cultural phenomena that helped make Zion what it is today. On the patio, park rangers give talks on everything from survival tactics of the park wildlife to Zion’s fascinating geology.

Visitors can best experience Zion’s beauty by trekking any of its 35-plus trails totaling more than 90 miles and in Zion Canyon those with mobility issues or those looking to go on an easy bike ride should set out on the Pa’Rus Trail. Named for the Paiute word meaning bubbling, tumbling water, the trail starts just north of the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at the South Campground and follows a paved, 1.7-mile path through beautiful open canyon.

Another easy, magical hike in the canyon, the 1.1-mile Riverside Walk (the first 0.4 miles fully accessible) begins at the final shuttle stop and traces the edge of the Virgin River. Along the way, lush foliage spills from weeping canyon walls and cathedrals of rock envelop you on all sides.

The trail ends at the entrance to the Narrows hike which leads into the legendary slot canyon that marks Zion Canyon’s narrowest section: About two miles into the gorge the sheer, 1,000-foot canyon walls flanking the Virgin River close in leaving just 20 feet between them.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re an adventure-seeker planning to hike the Narrows come prepared with closed-toed, waterproof hiking boots—you’ll be wading through the river much of the time—and a walking stick to help navigate the slippery riverbed. Some people liken it to walking on wet bowling balls. Don’t dismay if you decide to turn back early: Even a short foray into the canyon delivers a memorable experience.

You might also like saddling up and exploring the canyon on horseback, a fun way to cover more ground than you might on foot. At the corral for Canyon Trail Rides, across the road from Zion Lodge, join a one-hour excursion along the Virgin River to the Court of the Patriarchs, three towering terracotta-hued peaks named for the biblical figures Abraham, Isaacm and Jacob.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In other park sections

Some of the park’s other areas offer unsung hiking paths and gorgeous overlooks minus the canyon’s crowds and plenty are accessible by car.

One excellent option: a drive along the Zion–Mount Carmel Highway, a 10-mile stretch of twisting switchbacks and stunning vistas that links the Main Canyon to the park’s eastern boundary. Kick things off with a stop at the Canyon Junction Bridge—the view over the Virgin River with the giant rock buttress Watchman in the distance is particularly spectacular at sunset. In about 3.5 miles, you’ll reach the Zion–Mount Carmel Tunnel where six huge windows cut into its sandstone walls deliver a fleeting glimpse of the canyon below.

For another splendid drive, take the road even less traveled and head 45 miles north of Springdale to the park’s Kolob Canyons section, a vast maze of towering crimson finger canyons replete with solitude and breathtaking wilderness. The Kolob Canyons Viewpoint, a 10-minute drive from the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center makes a perfect picnic spot. From there, a gentle jaunt on the half-mile-long Timber Creek Overlook Trail leads along the ridgeline and boasts scenery that rivals anything you’ll see in Zion Canyon.

Springdale © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gateway towns

With its small-town atmosphere, sweeping canyon views and location just outside the park’s South Entrance, Springdale makes an ideal home base for exploring Zion National Park and offers multiple diversions including art galleries when your feet need a break from hiking.

For accommodations, you’ll find everything from chain hotels to boutique resorts, cozy inns, and vintage motels along Zion Canyon Boulevard, the town’s main drag.

For lunch-to-go on your way to the park, pick up gourmet panini from Café Soleil. Later, reward a day of hiking and exploring with a cold craft beer at Zion Brewery then head to local favorite Oscar’s Café for its huge burgers and delicious, Mexican-inspired pub grub. Or wash off the dust and go upscale at King’s Landing Bistro. Whet your appetite with a King’s Ol’ Fashioned made using Utah-distilled High West Campfire Whiskey before tucking into dishes such as rabbit cacciatore over polenta.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

En route

Many Zion visitors drive north from Las Vegas. For the first 100 miles or so the highway beelines through barren desert lowlands passing through a small corner of the rugged swath of land between the Grand Canyon and the Utah border known as the Arizona Strip.

About 40 miles outside Vegas take a short detour to visit Valley of Fire State Park. On the 10-mile Scenic Byway that winds through the park several easy hikes lead to arches, petroglyphs, and pinnacles. Two popular ones: Fire Wave and Rainbow Vista.

Nestled into Utah’s southwest corner, the Greater Zion region is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and culture seekers alike. Spend some time here before going on to the park basing yourself in the vibrant hub city of St. George. Check into the family-owned Inn on the Cliff for panoramic views of the red rock landscape, or the Advenire, a luxe new downtown property.

At Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, 18 miles northeast of St. George, try stand-up paddleboarding on the reservoir during warm-weather months or head into the dunes on a guided ATV excursion with ATV Adventures year-round.

Sand Hollow offers a variery of camping amenities. Westside, Sandpit, and Lakeview campgrounds have fire pits, tables, and access to restrooms with showers. Westside Campground offers full hook-up sites at $50 per nighy. Lakeview Campground has partial hook-ups ($45) and full hookup sites ($50).

 In Ivins, nine miles northwest of St. George, browse the galleries at the Utah-centric Kayenta Art Village and take in a show at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts, a natural sandstone amphitheater featuring a seasonal lineup of Broadway-caliber performances.

Zion National Park offers a unique and unforgettable experience. I hope this guide helps you plan your adventure and that you’ll soon discover the magic of this park.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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

Fact box

  • Location: Utah’s southwest corner
  • Acreage: More than 148,000 acres
  • Highest peak: Horse Ranch Mountain, 8,726 feet
  • Lowest point: Coalpits Wash, 3,666 feet
  • Miles of trails: More than 90 miles along more than 35 trails
  • Main attraction: Zion Canyon
  • Entry fee: $35 per vehicle, valid for seven consecutive days; $20 for an annual Senior Pass (62+)
  • Best way to see it: The Zion Canyon Shuttle (from mid-March through November) which makes nine stops on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
  • When to go to avoid the crowds: Late September through November

Worth Pondering…

It is a place where a family can rest at streamside after a pleasant morning hike.

It is a vast labyrinth of narrow canyons where one can become hopelessly lost, shrinking to invisibility beneath dark, towering walls of stone.

One may feel triumph and exhilaration, or awesome smallness atop Angels Landing; thirst and fatigue, or a rewarding weariness, on the return trek from the backcountry.

Perhaps one’s view of Zion is in the eyes of the beholder.

—Wayne L. Hamilton, The Sculpturing of Zion

RV Battery Basics

When shopping for deep-cycle batteries for your RV, you’ll see both lead acid RV batteries and lithium RV batteries. What’s the difference between a lithium RV battery vs a lead acid battery? I tell you here!

Lithium RV battery and lead acid battery differences

Both serve the same basic function: to provide power to your RV over a long period of time. Both are designed to be discharged until almost empty then recharged (this is what deep-cycle refers to). However, when comparing a lithium RV battery to a lead acid battery there are plenty of differences. 

First, let’s look at what specifically a lead acid RV battery is and what a lithium RV battery is. Then we’ll compare the differences between them.

What is a lead acid RV battery?

The lead acid RV battery like all lead acid batteries uses flat plates of lead submerged in an electrolyte. This allows it to store a charge and provide power in many applications especially in cars and RVs. 

Lead acid batteries are fairly old technology. Over time, a number of different kinds of deep-cycle RV batteries have been developed.

Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flooded lead acid batteries

The first kind is the flooded lead acid battery. They’re called this because the lead plates are completely covered by a liquid electrolyte. They’re cheap and fairly reliable but they have several downsides:

  • They need to be regularly topped off with distilled water
  • Freezing temperatures destroy them
  • They’re very big and bulky
  • They don’t have a very long lifespan
  • Lead acid batteries can emit toxic gases in a process known as off-gassing
  • They must be stored upright or you risk spilling the electrolytes 

To overcome these limitations, new lead acid battery technologies were created: gel and absorbed glass mat.

Campground USA, Apache Junction, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gel batteries

The first is the gel battery. Instead of a liquid electrolyte, these use a semi-solid gel. These batteries are designed to be used in any orientation. They are completely sealed meaning they don’t experience off-gassing and are resistant to spillage. 

Absorbed glass mat batteries

The next is the absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery. AGM batteries use fiberglass mats to absorb the electrolyte. This arrangement makes them spill-free and gives them other advantages. For example, these batteries can be charged faster, be discharged more deeply (up to 80 percent), and are resistant to off-gassing and freezing temperatures.

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

What is a lithium RV battery?

Lithium batteries also called lithium-ion batteries use the metal lithium in place of lead. There several different types. In most cases, your lithium RV battery is going to be a lithium iron phosphate battery. These are usually referred to as LiFePO4 batteries.

LiFePO4 batteries have many benefits over lead acid batteries:

  • They can store more energy in a smaller space because they have a higher energy density than lead acid batteries
  • They have a flat discharge curve which means they provide a consistent current for longer
  • They have very low self-discharge so even if these batteries are stored without use for long periods they’ll still hold a charge.

LiFePO4 RV batteries also have advantages over other kinds of lithium batteries. 

For one, they’re much safer. Some kinds of lithium batteries are unstable and pose a risk of fires and even explosions! LiFePO4 batteries, however, are highly stable and safe and won’t explode or catch fire. 

LiFePO4 batteries don’t require the use of nickel or cobalt. This makes them somewhat cheaper to produce as these materials are very expensive and hard to find. It also avoids the ethical concerns surrounding cobalt mining.

Lastly, a lithium-ion RV battery can be discharged by as much as 100 percent before recharging. They can also be recharged very quickly because you can use very high charge rates. 

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

Lithium RV battery vs lead acid RV battery

Now that we’ve covered the nuts and bolts of both lithium and lead acid batteries, we can compare them directly. Let’s look at the big differences between a lithium RV battery vs a lead acid RV battery. 

Performance

In every measure of performance, the lithium ion RV battery comes out on top. A lithium battery provides more (and more consistent) power—and for longer!

At the low end, some flooded lead acid batteries can only discharge up to 30-50 percent of their capacity. Even for the more advanced AGM battery you’re only looking at 60-80 percent discharge.

By comparison, a lithium RV battery will provide 80 percent (to as much as 100 percent) of its capacity before you need to recharge it. Plus it can recharge more quickly than a similar lead acid RV battery.

Lifespan

When it comes to the lifespan of a lithium RV battery vs a lead acid battery, lithium wins again.

A battery’s lifespan is measured in cycles—a.k.a. the number of times it can be discharged and recharged. For a lead acid RV battery, the lifespan is usually in the hundreds range. Some will have as few as 300 cycles whereas only some batteries survive over 1,000 cycles. 

A lithium RV battery, meanwhile, delivers thousands of cycles over its lifespan. Some batteries can provide as many as 5,000 cycles!

To put the number of cycles in a battery’s lifecycle into a time perspective: a lead acid RV battery will last 2 to 5 years; a lithium RV battery can last 10 years or more.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cost

This is one of the few cases where a lead acid RV battery might come out on top in the debate of lithium RV battery vs lead acid. 

A lead acid RV battery will generally cost between $200 and $700 (depending on the size and type). The cost of lithium RV batteries starts at around $900 and can go up to multiple thousands of dollars. So for your initial investment, you’re spending as much as 5 times more for a lithium RV battery vs a lead acid.

However, while a lead acid RV battery may be cheaper upfront, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Remember that a lead acid battery only lasts a few years while lithium batteries can last a decade or more. Over the same time span, you’ll likely spend the same amount (or even more!) replacing your lead acid batteries every few years. 

To boil it down, a lead acid RV battery may save you some money in the short term. But, in the long run, a lithium RV battery could ultimately save you money.

Weight

The last category for comparing the lithium RV battery vs lead acid is weight. And once again, the lithium RV battery is our winner. 

Because of their higher energy density, lithium batteries are much, much lighter than lead acid. In fact, lithium RV batteries are half the weight of lead acid batteries or even lighter!

Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

Lead acid batteries have some perks because they’re such old technology. They’re cheaper upfront and while they may require some maintenance, they’re highly reliable. But when you compare a lithium RV battery vs lead acid, lithium is almost always better.

A lithium battery will be lighter, more efficient, and more powerful than lead acid. And while they cost more they also last much much longer so they save you money over time. Because of all these factors, lithium RV batteries are the best choice for most RVers.

Worth Pondering…

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

—Henry Ford

What Is A Big Rig RV?

In the world of RV enthusiasts, the term big rig friendly carries significant weight. It’s more than just a catchphrase; it’s a fundamental consideration that can make or break a road trip experience.

We’ve all heard the term big rig tossed around from time to time and those of us in the RV community have often heard the term big rig RV and we’ve seen RV parks and campgrounds described as having big rig access or being big rig friendly.

But what exactly constitutes a big rig RV? And what does big rig access really mean?

I’ll answer these questions and a whole lot more in today’s post all about big rig RVs. Let’s go!

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a big rig RV?

Essentially, a big rig RV is classified as any RV over 40 feet long. Regardless of the type of RV (motorhome, fifth wheels, travel trailers) if your rig is over 40 feet long, you’ve got yourself a Big Rig.

If you have a big rig RV, you have lots of living space and you’ve also got to consider a few things owners of smaller rigs don’t have to think about like navigating city streets, your turning radius, and merging in traffic, among other issues.

You also need to carefully consider the size of your campsite and how to move in and out of it. This is why owners of large RVs search for campsites with big rig access. (You may also see the term big rig friendly used to describe campsites.)

Read more: 25 Questions to Ask When Booking a Campsite

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What does big rig access mean?

Big rig access is a term used to describe the approach to a campsite that large RVs should be able to access. While a campsite may be big rig friendly and thus wide enough and long enough to accommodate your RV, if the approach to the campsite requires maneuvering through tight, narrow twists and turns around trees and large rocks, under low hanging branches, requiring masterful three-point turns to back into a site, then you’re not going to get your big rig RV into that campsite without risking damage to your rig.

So big rig access is supposed to mean that you’ll be able to approach the campsite and pull in or back in as needed, safely.

But hear me out…

Just because a campsite or RV park advertises a site or sites as having big rig access there are a couple of extra steps it makes sense to take every single time you plan your camping trip.

1. Always read reviews from other owners of large RVs who have accessed the campsite to get a sense of the reality of the situation. Again, a campground owner or marketer can measure a site and determine that adding the phrase big rig access is sensible because the site will accommodate a 43-foot diesel pusher. But if it’s tough to maneuver the rig to the campsite without risking damage to a large RV, you may not want to be there.

2. Walk to the site before driving to the site. When we arrive at a campsite, we’ll pull the rig over and walk the route we’ll have to drive to get our big rig into the site. We walk the route before we drive it (or scope it out from our easy-to-maneuver toad car). This is the best way to prevent yourself from getting into a situation that could not only damage your rig but could also be difficult to get out of once you’re in there.

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the biggest RV size?

Generally speaking, Class A motorhomes are the largest RVs on the road though there are also very large Super C motorhomes and fifth wheels that top out between 40 and 45 feet that are most definitely big rigs!

But there are also some extremely large, custom-made big rigs out there as well.

Rumor has it that Will Smith is the proud owner of a big rig RV with 1,200 square feet of living space. That’s a pretty big rig! For reference, the rig has 14 televisions (including a 100-inch roll-down movie screen in a 30-person screening room), is two stories tall, 55 feet long, has 22 wheels, and is essentially a yacht on wheels.

But Will Smith’s 55-foot land yacht, behemoth though it is, appears small in terms of length (and only length) next to the Powerhouse Ultra Line Coach, a rig that stretches to 122 feet long with its two separate RV cabins (one towing the other).

Again, these rigs are custom-made.

But the longest Class A motorhomes on the market are 45 feet long. Manufacturers such as Newmar and Entegra make several 45-foot models. Other big forty-five-footers include bus conversions often built on Prevost chassis.

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the biggest RV you can rent?

Why, it’s Will Smith’s rig, of course! You can rent Will’s big rig RV for a mere $9,000 a week. But, seriously, just about any length RV is available for rent via the many peer-to-peer rental platforms like RVnGo, RVshare, Outdoorsy, and RVezy. From big rig to small, they pretty much offer them all (sorry, didn’t mean to rhyme… it just happened).

Big rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are big rig RVs considered Class A RVs?

Some custom-made RVs that are pulled by tractor-trailers are in a class all their own. But in terms of traditional RV types and classes, a typical big rig RV is most often a Class A Diesel Pusher (though, as mentioned above, there are 40+ foot fifth wheels and Super C motorhomes that also earn the title).

But, while a big rig RVs could be a Class A motorhome not all Class A motorhomes are big rigs! (There are some Class A RVs that are barely over 24 feet long.

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.

15 Fascinating Historic Sites in the American Southwest 

The American Southwest blends nature and history in a beautiful way. Coyotes, canyons, and brilliant sun-kissed rock formations mark the region’s desert terrain. It’s also home to hundreds of national parks and monuments including the Grand Canyon. While there are a number of places you will want to see on your trip, be sure to stop and check out these Historic Sites in the Southwest.

The stories of the American Southwest extend well beyond the history of the United States. From the Indigenous peoples who built cliffside castles to the Spanish explorers who established missions and the cowboys of the Wild West—the history of this region is incredibly diverse.

To learn more about what makes the Southwest so captivating, check out 15 of the region’s best historic sites and the fascinating stories behind them.

Montezuma Castle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Montezuma Castle, Camp Verde, Arizona

Embedded into the side of a sheer limestone cliff, Montezuma Castle dates back to around 1100 BC and was established as a national monument in 1906. The cliffside abode was named incorrectly by settlers who believed it to be of Aztec origin. In reality, the Sinagua peoples who inhabited the Verde Valley of Arizona for thousands of years, built and occupied the castle. Naturally warm in the winter and cool in the summer, the site of the cliff dwellings was chosen due to preexisting caves and nearby water resources; inhabitants used wooden ladders to move throughout the settlement’s five levels.

To see the historic monument, start at the Visitor Center before walking up to the base of Montezuma Castle on a 0.3-mile loop trail. Then, you can drive to Montezuma Well, a naturally occurring sinkhole and the site of more cliff dwellings. The land around the well was home to prehistoric groups of people approximately 1,000 years ago before being settled by Anglo-Americans in the late 19th century.

Check this out to learn more: Apartment House of the Ancients: Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Well © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Four Corners Monument, Teec Nos Pos, Arizona

Located in Navajo Tribal Park, the Four Corners Monument is the only point in the country where four states meet. Marking the point where the Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah state lines coalesce, the historic landmark also marks the boundary between the Navajo Nation and Ute Mountain Tribe Reservation. 

However, the monument’s history goes further back than just statehood. During the Civil War, Congress created several new territories—including Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico—to discourage residents from joining the Confederacy. In 1861, Congress voted for a marker to be placed in the monument’s exact location to demonstrate the southwest corner of the Colorado territory.

Palace of the Governors © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dating to 1610, the Palace of the Governors is the oldest public building in the contiguous U.S. still in continuous use. For nearly three centuries, the building was home to a rotating roster of Spanish, Mexican, and American governors as control over the New Mexico territory shifted and changed. Additionally, the native Pueblo peoples took over the palace during the Pueblo Revolt of the 17th century while the Confederacy occupied it during the Civil War.

Today, the Palace of the Governors is part of the New Mexico History Museum with interpretive galleries displaying its history and a palatial courtyard that connects to the rest of the museum. For visitors to Santa Fe, the palace features a block-long portal where Native American vendors sell their artisan wares and crafts.

Plan your next trip to Santa Fe with these resources:

Whiskey Row © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Whiskey Row, Prescott, Arizona

This legendary block in Arizona earned its moniker in the late 19th century when the street consisted of whiskey saloons favored by the local cowboys and miners. After a lit candle burned most of the downtown area in 1900, a group of locals famously rescued the actual bar from the Palace Saloon and began drinking their sorrows away. A year later, a new downtown was erected in a more fire-safe brick and the same bar was installed inside the new Palace Restaurant and Saloon.

Today, visitors can belly up at the historic bar or visit myriad other notable sites located on the city block. Rumored to be haunted by a lady in white, Hotel St. Michael has housed a number of famous guests over the past century including the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Doc Holiday. And while galleries and shops now decorate the historic square, famed establishments like the Jersey Lilly Saloon still embody the historic spirit of Whiskey Row.

The Alamo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

Before it became the site of perhaps the most infamous battle in the Southwest, the Alamo was known as the San Antonio de Valero Mission. In 1724, Spanish colonizers established the church to convert the area’s Native American peoples.

It wasn’t until the 1835 Texas Revolution that the former mission became a war fortress and battle site. Stationed in the Alamo in 1836, Texas revolutionaries fought against Mexico in the Battle of the Alamo, a bloody 13-day squirmish that resulted in the deaths of all the defenders. Although they lost the battle, Texas later won independence from Mexico and would eventually become an American state nine years later.

Today, the Alamo is open and free to visitors although reservations must be made in advance. With guided and self-guided tours available, the Alamo is also part of the San Antonio Missions Trail giving cyclists easy access to the city’s network of historic missions.

If you need ideas, check out:

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum, Globe, Arizona

One mile southwest of the City of Globe, Arizona, stand the remains of a large pueblo village constructed by the Salado culture who occupied the region between 1225 and 1450.

The pueblo is known today as Besh Ba Gowah, a term originally given by the Apache people to the early mining settlement of Globe. Roughly translated, the term means place of metal

The partially reconstructed pueblo structures along with the adjacent museum provide a fascinating glimpse at the lifestyle of the people who thrived in the ancient Southwest.

Besh-Ba-Gowah had about 400 rooms of these about 250 were ground floor rooms. Precise numbers are impossible due to modern destruction of sections. Entrance to the pueblo was via a long narrow ground level corridor covered by the second level. The corridor opened onto the main plaza. This may have had a defensive purpose.

Check this out to learn more: Exploring a Remarkable Pueblo: Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park

Mesa Verde © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Mesa Verde National Park, Mancos, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park’s cliff dwellings are just one wonder to be found at this national park in Colorado which also includes protected wilderness.

Located in Southwestern Colorado, Mesa Verde, Green Table in Spanish, National Park offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural and physical landscape. Including more than 4,000 known archeological sites dating back to A.D. 550, this national treasure protects the cliff dwellings and mesa top sites of pit houses, pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structures of the Ancestral Pueblo peoples who lived here for more than 700 years. This national park gives us a glimpse into the places and stories of America’s diverse cultural heritage.

The cliff dwellings are some of the most notable and best preserved sites in the United States. After living primarily on the mesa top for 600 years, the Ancestral Pueblo peoples began building structure under the overhanging cliffs of Mesa Verde—anything from one-room storage units to villages of over 150 rooms. Decades of excavation and analysis still leave many unanswered questions, but have shown us that the Ancient Pueblans were skillful survivors and artistic craftsmen.

By the way, I have a series of posts on Mesa Verde:

Canyon de Chelly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle, Arizona

For nearly 5,000 years, people have lived in these canyons—longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. In the place called Tsegi, their homes and images tell us their stories. Today, Dine’ families make their homes, raise livestock, and farm the lands in the canyons. A place like no other, the park and Navajo Nation work together to manage the land’s resources.

Canyon de Chelly sustains a living community of Navajo people who are connected to a landscape of great historical and spiritual significance—a landscape composed of places infused with collective memory. NPS works in partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage park resources and sustain the Navajo community.

Explore a 900-year old ancestral Pueblo Great House of over 400 masonry rooms. Look up and see the original timbers holding up the roof. Search for the fingerprints of ancient workers in the mortar. Listen for an echo of ritual drums in the reconstructed Great Kiva.

Here are some helpful resources:

Aztec Ruins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec, New Mexico

Aztec Ruins National Monument is the largest Ancestral Pueblo community in the Animas River Valley. In use for over 200 years, the site contains several multi-story buildings called great houses, each with a great kiva—a circular ceremonial chamber—as well as many smaller structures. Excavation of the West Ruin in the 1900s uncovered thousands of well-preserved artifacts that provide a glimpse into the life of Ancestral Pueblo people connecting people of the past with people and traditions of today. 

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Aztec Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge, Arizona

Casa Grande Ruins, the nation’s first archeological preserve, protects the Casa Grande and other archeological sites within its boundaries.

For over a thousand years, prehistoric farmers inhabited much of the present-day state of Arizona. When the first Europeans arrived, all that remained of this ancient culture were the ruins of villages, irrigation canals, and various artifacts. Among these ruins is the Casa Grande, or Big House, one of the largest and most mysterious prehistoric structures ever built in North America. See the Casa Grande and hear the story of the ancient ones the Akimel O’otham call the Hohokam, those who are gone.

Check this out to learn more: The Mystique of the Casa Grande Ruins

Petroglyph National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Petroglyph National Monument protects one of the largest petroglyph sites and features volcanic rock carved by Native American and Spanish settlers.

Petroglyph National Monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including five volcanic cones, hundreds of archeological sites, and an estimated 25,000 images carved by native peoples and early Spanish settlers.

Many of the images are recognizable as animals, people, brands, and crosses; others are more complex. Their meaning, possibly, may have been understood only by the carver. These images are inseparable from the greater cultural landscape, from the spirits of the people who created them, and from all who appreciate them.

If you need ideas, check out: Adventure in Albuquerque: Petroglyph National Monument

12. Coronado Historic Site, Bernalillo, New Mexico

Home to the partially reconstructed ruins of the ancient Pueblos of Kuaua, this historic site dates back to 1300 DC. Inhabited by the ancestral Puebloans, Kuaua was the largest Pueblo complex in the region with roughly 1,200 ground-floor rooms and 10 to 20 large kivas. Each kiva (underground ceremonial room) is painted with layers of intricate murals revealing stories of the Pueblo peoples and representing some of the best examples of pre-Columbian art in the U.S.

Today, the village is known as the Coronado Historic Site named for Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado who discovered the village in 1540 during his search for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. The Puebloans were gracious toward their guests at first although their hospitality eventually faded and Coronado and his troops moved on. History buffs can visit these reconstructed kivas to see the well-preserved murals, as well as walk the site’s interpretive trails, complete with views of the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande.

Hovenweep © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Hovenweep National Monument, Utah and Colorado

Noted for its solitude and undeveloped, natural character, Hovenweep National Monument was once home to more than 2,500 people in 900 A.D. In 1923, Hovenweep was proclaimed by President Warren G. Harding a unit of the national park system. The name Hovenweep is a Paiute/Ute word meaning deserted valley.

A group of five well-preserved village ruins over a 20-mile radius of mesa tops and canyons, these ancient Pueblo ruins include towers that remind visitors of European castles. Straddling the Utah-Colorado border, the ruins were built about the same time as medieval fortresses.

The largest and most accessible of the six units of ruins is Square Tower where several well-preserved structures are located. The area was home for several prehistoric farming villages. Throughout the ruins, visitors may find castles, towers, check dams (for irrigation), cliff dwellings, pueblos, and houses. Petroglyphs (rock art) can also be found in the area.

Here are some helpful resources:

Tuzigoot Ruins © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona

The Southern Sinagua built a ridge-top pueblo at Tuzigoot around 1100 AD and continued to add new rooms until the 1400s. This pueblo housed about 50 people. The Sinagua would often use a large pueblo as a dwelling and community center surrounded by additional smaller dwellings and outbuildings connected to agriculture.

While the region has a mostly arid climate, the marsh and river provide a source of fresh water, wild game, fish, and turtles to the Sinagua. Although summers are hot, a very long growing season allowed for the organized cultivation of crops as a supplement to food taken from the marsh and the river.

Despite the comfortable natural setting, the Sinagua left the pueblo at Tuzigoot for unknown reasons around the year 1450. Possibly the valley became overcrowded and the Southern Sinagua moved to different locations or were absorbed by other tribes. When the Sinagua abandoned Tuzigoot, they left behind many artifacts, some of which are on display in the visitor center.

Today, much of the ruin at Tuzigoot has been reconstructed to provide a safe and stable environment for visitors; however, the main tower is mostly original and is open to the public. The pueblo is accessible as part of a short loop trail. An additional trail leads out to a viewing area overlooking the marsh that was so important to the Sinagua.

Read more: An Ancient Village on the Hill: How Life was Lived at Tuzigoot

Tumacacori © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Tumacácori National Historic Park, Tumacácori, Arizona

Tumacácori sits at a cultural crossroads in the Santa Cruz River valley and is where O’odham, Yaqui, and Apache people mixed with Europeans.

From his arrival in the Pimería Alta in 1687 until he died in 1711, Padre Kino established over twenty missions. The Jesuit missionaries administered them until the time of their expulsion in 1767. From 1768 until after Mexico got her independence in 1821 the missions were operated by the Franciscan missionaries. Some are still in use today while others have fallen into ruin.

Tumacácori National Historical Park in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley of southern Arizona is comprised of the abandoned ruins of three of these ancient Spanish colonial missions. San Jos de Tumacácori and Los Santos Angeles de Guevavi, established in 1691, are the two oldest missions in Arizona. San Cayetano de Calabazas, was established in 1756.

Check this out to learn more: Tumacácori National Historic Park: More Than Just Adobe, Plaster & Wood

Worth Pondering…

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

—Miriam Beard

What Is Travel Decision Fatigue? + How to Overcome It

Travel decision fatigue results from having to make too many decisions in a short time. This affliction is common among RVers who have to make more decisions than usual as they travel.

While traveling, RVers can become overwhelmed by the number of decisions they must make. These can be big decisions, everyday things, or tiny decisions like where to stay, what to do, what to eat—whether to turn left or right.

These decisions no matter how small pile up and a lot of people experience negative effects mentally and emotionally. It can put a damper on how much you and your travel companions enjoy your trip.

In this article, I’ll explain what decision fatigue is and how to identify symptoms. I’ll also share tips that will help you prevent or overcome decision fatigue as you travel.

Let’s dig right in.

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

What is travel decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue also known as ego depletion is the idea that after making many decisions a person’s ability to make additional decisions becomes worse. This increasing difficulty in making decisions taxes our brain and our emotions which is not a great combination.

The psychological effects of decision fatigue can vary but they often lead to making poor decisions, impulse buying, or other avoidance behaviors.

Travel decision fatigue is simply decision fatigue that you experience while traveling. Since you are outside of normal daily routines and more predictable daily life at home, you are more likely to experience decision fatigue while traveling.

Eating lunch at La Posta in Mesilla, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Symptoms of decision fatigue

Many RVers experience decision fatigue and don’t even realize it. More accurately, they feel the effects of decision fatigue but don’t realize it is the cause.

So, it’s good to know the symptoms to help you identify if you’re succumbing to decision fatigue. If you can identify it, you can combat it and overcome it!

The most common symptoms are:

  • Brain fog (inability to think clearly)
  • Frequent procrastination even on simple decisions
  • Irritability and a short temper
  • Impulsivity (Forget it! Let’s just do this!)
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time making a decision
  • Feeling dissatisfied with whatever choice you ultimately make
Touring the Painted Churches of Fayette County, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How RVers can prevent or overcome travel decision fatigue

Living the RV lifestyle for 25+ years after retiring from a long career in education as a Principal, I know a few things about travel decision fatigue. I’ve spent my life out of routine and have learned tricks along the way to help me avoid this unique kind of burnout.

It comes down to two strategies. The first is to learn how to make better decisions faster. The second is to minimize the amount of decisions you have to make as much as possible.

The first strategy requires you to exercise your choice-making muscle, so to speak. You practice making decisions quickly and give yourself a small reward when you do even if that reward is a nice pat on the back. This practice can be as simple as giving yourself one minute to decide where to eat.

The second strategy is what I’m going to focus more on today because I have actionable advice specifically for RVers. As RVers, certain kinds of decisions come up often that we can tackle in different ways.

So, let’s jump into those!

Exploring Sand Hollow State Park in southern Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for overcoming travel decision fatigue

The most common decisions RVers have to make revolve around what to eat, buy, pack, and do. There are ways to systemize these decisions even if you’re traveling to different places and climates.

1. Delegate decisions

One of the best ways to save your mental energy is to delegate decisions to others. If you have travel companions, take turns making decisions. For instance, you decide one meal and your spouse decides on the next.

When you delegate decisions set the rule that the delegate has the final say! It’s their decision and you go along with it. Or, there’s another great tactic you can use…

One person narrows it down to three options they’d be happy with and then another person makes the final decision. That way, everyone is happy.

2. Minimize your wardrobe

What to wear is one of the daily decisions that can add quite a bit to decision fatigue. After all, deciding what to wear is actually requires many small decisions. You have to consider the weather, your comfort, what looks good, and more.

By minimizing your wardrobe you’ll have fewer options and thus fewer decisions. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Remember, less is more when packing
  • Make a packing list and edit it down as much as possible
  • Build a capsule wardrobe of interchangeable outfits
  • Make a master list of items you use as you travel (noting climate, activities, etc.)
Wandering Joshua Tree National Park in southern California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Systemize grocery shopping

Grocery shopping is always packed with a lot of decisions. And it’s just made that much harder when you’re shopping in a different grocery store every week as you travel.

To make your shopping trip to the grocery store less mentally taxing have a shopping list ready to go.

If you want to take this to the next level have a standard shopping list you take on every trip that includes items you always buy. Things like bread, eggs, milk, cheese, your favorite ice cream, snacks, and drinks. Laminate it and keep it on your fridge!

Then you can make a separate short list of items you need or want for this particular shopping trip.

To further help you avoid a state of mental overload, ask a store associate for help as soon as you enter a new store. Don’t wander around and then ask. You can even take a minute of their time and have them tell you all the aisle numbers for the items on your list.

4. Streamline deciding where to eat

Finding a good place to eat while camping or on a road trip is another thing RVers have to decide daily. The difficulty of making the decision is exacerbated by not knowing what’s good in the area.

I have a few tips to help you decide where to eat more easily.

Tip #1: Assign a type of cuisine to certain days (i.e. Taco Tuesday or Wednesday is Mexican food day). This strategy narrows down all the restaurants in the area to a more manageable number. In remote locations, it might even narrow it down to one!

Tip #2: Let a local decide. Stop at a gas station or find the nearest local and ask them what their favorite restaurant is. Don’t ask questions. Eat there.

Tip #3: Don’t get overwhelmed by Yelp reviews. Look at overall star ratings but don’t read the reviews. Reading too many opinions makes it harder to decide.

Time to relax at Meaher State Park on the Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Follow a travel itinerary

One of the best ways to avoid travel decision fatigue is to try to make as many decisions in advance as possible. You can make as detailed a travel itinerary as you think you’ll need. (Just be sure to always leave room for serendipity!)

Worth Pondering…

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

—Anne Lamott

Taking Delivery of your RV: Do’s & Don’ts

What to expect when taking delivery of your new RV

The process of buying and taking ownership of an RV can be a bit confusing if not downright daunting especially for a first-time RV buyer. Many folks expect the process to be similar to purchasing an automobile and in some ways it is. Shopping, negotiating, and financing will be very familiar to anyone who has ever bought a car. But after that, things get a bit more complicated.

Remember, you are purchasing a house on wheels so the process might take a little longer than you initially expected. Don’t get frustrated. If your dealer takes time to inspect and prep your rig and you take time to learn how to use it your RV experience will be that much better in the long run.

Taking ownership of our new motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most likely, you will sign a purchase agreement, put down a deposit, and then make an appointment to return and actually pick up the RV. If it’s already on the dealer’s lot your appointment might be a week or two in the future. If you are ordering from the factory, you may have to wait months.

Here’s a list of a dozen do’s and don’ts for taking delivery of your new RV.

Do: Search for a reputable dealer with a robust service department

Sure, you want to get a great price but you also want to buy from a reputable dealer who will service warranty issues in a timely manner and at a convenient location. RV prices are definitely negotiable but you do not want to sacrifice customer service for rock-bottom pricing.

Read online reviews of the sales and service sides of the dealership. You will most likely need to take advantage of the RV’s warranty and you’ll want to be confident that the dealer will be there for you at that time.

Taking ownership of our new motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t: Expect to take delivery on the day you decide to buy the rig

First-time buyers are often surprised that they can’t take ownership on the day they decide to buy an RV but this is an industry norm. Remember, an RV has a lot more components than the typical automobile and there is quite a bit of work involved in getting it ready for the road and RV park. The dealer will do a complete predelivery inspection (PDI) checking over all the RV systems, cleaning the interior and exterior, and handling dealer-installed accessories and options.

If you buy at an RV show, it’s important to know that you probably won’t be towing the RV home with you. Instead, you will make an appointment to visit the dealership after the show to actually take delivery.

Shoppers, especially first-time buyers, should look for a dealer who is willing to educate them. They should also look for a dealer with a robust service center with positive online reviews.

Do: Research additional equipment you will need to safely tow the RV

Some first-time RV buyers are surprised to discover how much equipment is needed to drive a motorhome or tow a travel trailer or fifth-wheel.

When we bought our first fifth wheel trailer, our truck needed a hitch and brake controller installed. We had to get that work done before we could safely tow the trailer home for the first time.

Even if your vehicle is already equipped for towing, you’ll still want to research towing equipment in advance—for instance, sway bars and weight-distributing systems if you’re buying a travel trailer. Some buyers are successful with including this equipment in their RV price negotiations so it’s definitely worth a try.

On the other hand, some dealers will install the cheapest equipment when it’s included in the purchase order so it’s worthwhile to know the most effective and efficient equipment on the market, rather than relying on package deals.

Check this out to learn more: The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

Taking ownership of our new motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do: Compare interest rates if you plan on financing the RV

First-time buyers are often surprised at the differences in auto and RV financing. Typical RV loans will range from 10 to 20 years and the interest rates will likely be higher than those for a new car purchase. Avoid being captive to whatever loan terms are offered by the dealership. Arrange for financing in advance. Then you can use these preapprovals to better negotiate with the RV dealer’s finance department.

Do: Research extended warranties in advance

Everyone has an opinion about purchasing extended warranties but the bottom line is that there is no obvious answer to the question of whether or not you should buy one of these service packages. The key to purchasing an extended warranty is to research providers with good track records.

Handy people may prefer fixing problems with their rig on their own though buying a replacement appliance can be pricey so figure that into the equation when considering a warranty purchase. Other buyers will enjoy the RV only if they have the peace of mind an extended warranty can offer.

Either way, you want to do your research ahead of time and have an educated response to the high-pressure sales tactics that sometimes occur during the purchase process. Be aware of what is included in the warranty and what is excluded.

Here is a helpful resources: Best RV Roadside Assistance Plans for Peace of Mind

Do: Set aside time for a thorough RV walk-through

I get it. You want to get that RV on the road. But now is not the time to rush out of the dealership. When you show up to take delivery of your RV, the dealer will give you a walk-through of your new rig, demonstrating the systems and appliances from extending down the stabilizer jacks to filling up the freshwater tanks and opening the awning. We’ve purchased three Class A motorhomes from a wonderful dealer and every walk-through has taken over two hours from start to finish.

Taking ownership of our new motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do: Record the walk-through on a smartphone or other device

There’s a lot of information to take in on an RV walk-through and even seasoned RVers get overwhelmed. Don’t rely on your memory to take it all in. I highly recommend using a smartphone or other device to record the RV tech’s lessons on every system. Record each RV component individually so they are easy to reference in the future. For example, have separate videos on the automatic leveling system and the macerator for dumping the holding tanks, both new pieces of technology that we knew would take us awhile to learn how to operate.

While recording, also ask your service tech to demonstrate how to winterize and dewinterize the RV. Having reference videos for your personal rig is priceless.

Do: Ask the dealer to test all the RV systems

A reputable dealership will allow you to test the systems including running water and checking that the water heater is actually heating the water, the water pump is actually pumping water, and all the electrical outlets are working. The dealer will also take time then and there to fix any small issues that are found.

I’ve heard complaints that some dealers balk at testing everything during the walk-through. I encourage buyers to be persistent with this request as it is incredibly frustrating to uncover problems on your first outing that could have been fixed at the dealership.

Taking ownership of our new motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do: Test the air conditioning, refrigerator, and other appliances

Make sure that you run the air conditioner (and heat pump or strip) and turn all the appliances on and off and then on again during your walk-through. I highly recommend testing the refrigerator on both the electric and LP-gas settings. Ask to do this at the beginning of your walk-through and then check in at the end to make sure the fridge is cooling down (in most cases, it will not be down to the proper temperature during that time since that generally takes hours). This is a great time to ask the service tech to show you the fuse box and to ask about spare fuses. Some manufactures provide spare fuses with a new coach.

Don’t: Take ownership until the RV is in tip-top operating condition

An RV is a big purchase and there is a huge learning curve even for experienced buyers. If you don’t feel like the dealer has given you a complete walk-through or if you have concerns regarding anything operating correctly, do not take ownership of the RV. No issue is too small to address.

Do: Schedule a shakedown trip as soon as possible

Some of the best dealers have on-site camping for customers to fully test their new rigs and get any bugs out of the system. Our dealer provides four full-service sites for delivery of new RVs and other customers with service appointments. We stayed on site several days to have all issues resolved and questions answered. Since we were on our way south for the winter we wanted to ensure that we were knowledgeable of all aspects of our new coach.

Of course, not everyone is so lucky to purchase from one of those dealers but a close-to-home camping trip is always a good idea with a new RV. Find a full-hookup site near your home or RV dealer and put the RV through its paces. It’s better to discover issues on a shakedown weekend than hundreds (or thousands) of miles away on a bucket-list adventure.

Read: RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm

Taking ownership of our new motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t: Sweat the small stuff

Even if you do everything right, something may go wrong soon after your RV purchase. RVs are homes on wheels and they pack a ton of technology into a really small space and then we haul it around the country. Things are going to break. Don’t let a loose cabinet or a faulty Bluetooth stereo keep you from having the time of your life in your brand-new RV. If it’s not a big problem, don’t turn it into one. Keep a running list of small warranty items to address on your next visit to the dealer and head back out on the open road.

Worth Pondering…

I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.

—Sir Winston Churchill (1874–1965)