10 Reasons Why the Super C Motorhome Is the King of RVs

Super C motorhomes have numerous benefits for travelers with specific needs. Let’s take a closer look at 10 of the reasons for owning one.

What’s so super about a Super C motorhome? Lots of things and I’ll go down the list one by one. Are they sturdy, powerful, and comfortable? Check, check, and check. In fact, they might just be the most versatile style of RVs.

With just a quick look up and down the highway or around the RV parks, you’ll see they’re growing in popularity. I’ll show why they’ve earned the crown as the king (or queen!) of all RVs.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is a Super C motorhome?

As the name implies, a Super C motorhome is a bigger, more rugged version of a Class C motorhome. They can be quite luxurious, too!

A Super C is a souped-up version of a traditional Class C motorhome.

Like the Class C, a Super C motorhome has a distinctive cab-over area in the front that’s usually a sleeping area. And that’s along with a bedroom in the back plus a kitchen, bathroom, separate shower, dinette, and living area. What’s different is the Super C is built on a heavy-duty truck chassis rather than a van chassis so it’s sturdier and can carry heavier loads. 

This opens up possibilities for better-quality furnishings and accessories—and more of them. The Super C has more storage space and more power under the hood. A Super C motorhome is big—typically ranging from around 33 feet to about 45 feet. It’s safe to say that many RV parks can accommodate them, even with a vehicle in tow.

➡ You might consider a Super C a big rig but some RV parks and campgrounds have a different opinion. Before you book a stay, find out What Does Big Rig Friendly Really Mean?

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10 reasons why Super C motorhomes are RV royalty

I’ve already checked quite a few boxes in favor of the Super C motorhome. I’ll expound on those a bit and add a few more to explain why they reign supreme.

1. They have a powerful engine and driveline

A Super C has its engine in the front and it’s usually a diesel (but not always). The engines pack a lot of power, too. These are large displacement engines with lots of horsepower and torque to carry heavy loads and tackle challenging terrain.

Many times Super C motorhomes have a more robust drive than even the biggest class A motorhomes. Like a semi, many of them have two sets of dual rear wheels and sometimes both are powered giving them far more carrying capacity and traction.

2. Safer in a crash

A Super C’s heavy-duty truck chassis will hold up better in a collision. With the engine in front (unlike a diesel pusher) you have more of a protective barrier in a head-on crash. And with a wider wheelbase they’re less likely to overturn.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. They drive like trucks

Super C motorhomes may have more muscle than what you’re used to but it’s probably within your comfort zone. Getting behind the wheel of a Super C is more or less like driving a big pickup truck with a truck camper on the back.

By comparison, there’s a bigger learning curve with the larger, lumbering Class A motorhomes. Driving a Class A is more like driving a bus because you’re positioned on top of the front wheels rather than behind them.

4. Straightforward maintenance

Those truck engines are easy to work on and most mechanics have experience with them. You won’t have to hunt down a specialist when you need to do some repairs. And it may be a while before you do. Heavy-duty truck engines are designed to go for hundreds of thousands of miles with routine maintenance.

5. Ride in comfort

When in transit, the extra weight and width of the Super C motorhome’s heavy-duty chassis give you tons of stability. Combine that with air suspension and you’ve got an exceptionally smooth ride. This is true on open highways as well as bumpy country roads.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Quality interiors

Because Super Cs can carry heavier loads, manufacturers don’t have to compromise by using lightweight materials. Many of these motorhomes have upgraded components and features like solid wood cabinetry, granite countertops, tile flooring, and electric fireplaces.

7. Spacious floorplans 

Those wider wheelbases are often a bit longer, too. A few extra inches here and there can add up to much more living space, even king-sized beds. In addition, some Super C motorhomes have multiple slide-outs so you can stretch out even more.

8. Significant towing capacity

With a Super C, you’ll be able to bring along a second vehicle to use as a daily driver. Or, you may want to tow your boat or other toys you can’t leave behind. Towing capacities of 10,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds are more typical but some models can tow up to 25,000 pounds.

9. Large holding tanks

Bigger tanks mean you can stay in one place longer even off the grid. It’s not unusual for a Super C to have a fresh water capacity of 100 to 150 gallons. Count on 75 gallons or so for black and grey tanks.

10. Increased storage (and cargo carrying capacity)

While Class C motorhomes are notorious for their limited storage space, their super-sized cousins have more room to spare. The roomy basement area is more like what you’d expect to find on a Class A motorhome. You’ll still need to pack wisely but you can definitely carry more things with you.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need a special driver’s license to drive a Super C?

In most places, you don’t need any kind of special driver’s license to drive a motorhome if you’re doing it for recreational purposes. However, if it’s for business, you should have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

These laws vary from state to state and province to province but most of them don’t have any particular restrictions on RVs that weigh less than 26,000 pounds. Most Super C motorhomes weigh more than that and you might need a special license so check your state or provincial laws.

How much does a Super C motorhome cost?

You can expect to pay $500,000 or more for a brand-new Super C off the lot. And when we say or more, it could be considerably more. The price could rise as high as $775,000 depending on the manufacturer and what kinds of extras it has. On the other hand, you may be able to buy a used one for $150,000 to $200,000.

While we’re talking numbers, you should also consider fuel costs. Unfortunately, many Super C motorhomes get less than 10 mpg.

Pro tip: Some motorhome buyers forget to factor in the cost of the RV lifestyle.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you considering a Super C motorhome?

As you can see, the Super C motorhome has a lot going for it. They’re spacious, easy to drive, and have high-end features. In fact, you might even feel like you’re riding on a cushion of air thanks to the suspension. 

Super C motorhomes are also powerful, safe, and dependable. And if you have a maintenance issue, they’re usually not difficult to repair.

It’s no wonder we see so many running the roads and settling in for long stays. They may not be the ideal rig for everyone but there are many Super C owners who wouldn’t want any other kind of RV.

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.

Tourist + Moron = Touron… And National Parks Have A LOT of Them

Invasion of the idiots

Ever see a video of a tourist at a National Park and all you can do is shake your head?

I mean, what is with these folks?

They go into completely wild environments and act like they know what’s going on.

No ma’am, that bull elk will kill you, the bison will hit you like a truck, and that grizzly bear is not a teddy.

It’s funny, annoying, and scary all in one when you see a tourist do some stupid crap trying to get a photo of wildlife. We all know you’re not a professional photographer so please tell me why you’re putting your life on the line for a few photos for the ‘Gram?

It just ain’t worth it, not even a little…

On a typical internet search for all things wildlife, a video surfaced on my feed. The video itself was nothing special but I came across a term I hadn’t seen or heard before, touron.

Don’t be a touron! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s pretty simple… Tourist + Moron = Touron!

Urban Dictionary defines it as “any person who, while on vacation, commits an act of pure stupidity.”

Not only does touron roll oddly smooth off the tongue but it also really is just the perfect description of all the people who ignore the painfully obvious signs of what to do and not do with the wildlife.

However, wherever there is a touron with a cell phone, there’s probably someone else close by capturing the stupidity.

These videos are living proof of the kind of idiots that walk into National Parks on a daily basis. It is not a zoo, there are no cages for a reason, and these animals have the ability to seriously harm you…

The one with a fella trying to scare a mother black bear off is insane. Rule number one is stay away from a mother and her young. You are just asking to get attacked.

Don’t be a touron! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can see a mother bear and her three cubs. The man walks around a vehicle to try and scare a bear. Two big no-no’s! Don’t approach a mother bear or try to scare any bear. That’s a good way to, oh, I don’t know… die?

In this case the man got off lucky. She just bluff charged and slapped at the man as he ran off.

Grade A Touron.

Here is some more helpful information on bear safety: You Come Across a Bear. Your Next Move Is Very Important. Do You Know What To Do?

Once you’re aware of the word touron, it seems to come up everywhere. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to visitors who hike off trail, get too close to wildlife, and bathe in the hot springs at Yellowstone National Park.

The popular Instagram account @touronsofyellowstone which posts videos and photos of park visitors misbehaving has amassed 486,000 followers while @touronsofnationalparks has 176,000 and dozens more accounts have popped up (there’s @touronsofhawaii, @touronsofthepnw, and @tourons_of_joshuatree just to name a few).

Instagrammer Jackie Boesinger Meredyk (@jaboes) posted video footage of a tourist getting too close to a herd of bison that caused a road blockage near Bridal Veil Falls at Yellowstone National Park.

The video was reposted on @touronsofyellowstone and the caption describes how the person got out of their vehicle about 20 cars back and walked along the mountain road, all while holding an iPad to get a unique picture.

The park’s law enforcement was trying to get the herd moving and they were stunned to see the tourist getting unreasonably close. After calling for the man to follow the park’s rules by standing at least 25 yards away, he retreated.

Don’t be a touron! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The comments section was not impressed.

“Entitled seems fitting,” said one Instagrammer with another adding, “The ranger needs to fine him.”

While getting in the personal space of bison is unwise at the best of times, this bunch featured a couple of calves increasing the risk to anyone who approaches.

“They had their babies with them,” another observed. “He’s lucky he’s still alive.”

The Government of the Northwest Territories advises never to get within a herd of bison or to come between two of the mammals, especially between a mother and calf.

Bison can be unpredictable and charge at any moment and threatening behavior from humans is sure to make this more likely.

Don’t be a touron! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Male bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, according to Yellowstone National Park while females can be as heavy as 1,000 pounds. Being charged by either isn’t likely to end well. The park says bison have harmed more people at the park than any other animal.

There are plenty of other reasons to be respectful of wildlife. Yellowstone has noted that feeding animals in its parks can lead to them getting too familiar with humans and reliant on the food they offer meaning they can become aggressive when trying to get it.

We can observe nature from a distance and still be amazed by what we see. Getting too close can be a recipe for disaster.

These reckless actions by uninformed or careless tourons put themselves, park resources, and others at severe risk of injury or death. Responsible behavior and respecting all park rules and regulations is crucial for safety.

These accounts and numerous news stories reveal that touron activity is often found in national parks and according to the Topical Dictionary of Americanisms, the term is considered “park ranger slang.” Urban Dictionary agrees. “The term has its roots in the resort, park service, and service industries and can easily be dated back at least as far as the mid-1970s,” the entry states.

Don’t be a touron! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The lists could go on and on…

Either way, I’m very happy to have stumbled upon the word Touron, it’s just so perfect.

Friggin’ Tourons….

Here are a few great articles to help you stay safe in national parks:

Worth Pondering…

I love the term touron. It’s a delicious portmanteau.

—Aspen Daily News

Outdoorsy Releases Generations in the Wild: The 2024 U.S. Family RV Travel Report

Teens drop tech and look to faith for meaning during family road trips. Baby Boomers beef up multigenerational camping plans this summer. Economic constraints and appetite for travel push GenZ to search for free campsites. Demand for developed campgrounds booms.

Outdoorsy, a leading outdoor travel and accommodation marketplace recently released Generations in the Wild: The 2024 U.S. Family RV Travel Report. The company’s inaugural independent research explores motivations behind travel, benefits of time on the road, and cultural values restoring human relationships across four generations of RVing American families.

“This independent research was deliberately designed to span not just generations, but to represent Americans from all walks of life who seek the benefits only the outdoors can provide,” said Outdoorsy Co-Founder Jennifer Young. “Resoundingly, every group acknowledged that RV travel provides a powerful way to strengthen family bonds, reconnect with themselves, and draw closer to their faith.”

Spending time in nature at Snow Canyon State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notably, Outdoorsy’s survey found that today’s always-on work culture is negatively impacting young families on the road—cutting into quality time and reducing enjoyment for GenZ parents in particular. GenZ is most likely to take work on the road with 74 percent saying they work at least sometimes during a trip and 96 percent of those who do reporting that their work hours negatively impact their time with family. By comparison, GenX has a healthier work life balance with only 53 percent reporting that they work during family trips.

“Creating time for a digital detox is closely correlated to better reported trip outcomes, but we found that only one in five families will always take the time to do so,” said Young. “However, we discovered that disconnecting from tech isn’t the only way to reliably improve your summer vacation. Our research showed that parents who involve their children in every aspect of trip planning—from meal planning to destination selection to activity mapping—report improved journeys across almost every metric.”

Families with children who are highly engaged in trip planning report lower stress (+21 percent), an increase in positive attitudes (+12 percent), and increased excitement (+16 percent). Families who engage their children in every aspect of trip planning are also more likely to report strengthened faith after a trip (65 percent vs. 39 percent) and a higher likelihood of tech-free time (66 percent vs. 52 percent).

Spending time in nature hiking Old Baldy Trail, Madera Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Additional key findings from this year’s report include:

  • GenZ: The changing face of RV travel: The youngest generation of RVers are notably different from their peers. They’re the most likely to travel with the majority (65 percent) saying they plan to take at least five RV trips this year. However, this cost-conscious generation is also the most likely (47 percent) to seek out free RV accommodations this year signaling that this cohort especially is feeling the strain of inflation. This group also tends to stay closest to home with an average trip length that is 100 miles less than that of older generations.
  • Developed campgrounds are the most in-demand in 2024: This year, developed campgrounds are in high demand with 83 percent of families preferring their RV campground to be packed with amenities like showers, pools, biking paths, pickleball courts, and more.
  • RV trips reduce tech time and increase spiritual connectedness for teens: Nearly half of all teens (48 percent) report reduced screen time during family RV trips and the vast majority (88 percent) report at least some level of spiritual connectedness with more than half (59 percent) engaging in prayer, reflection (34 percent), and reading sacred texts (21 percent) during family RV trips.
  • Baby Boomers beef up multigenerational camping plans this summer: In their youth, Baby Boomers popularized backcountry camping. However, over time they fell into travel patterns that were less likely to include outdoor experiences. Now that they’re entering their retirement years, they are much more likely to turn to RV trips as an affordable means of travel that can include their children, grandchildren, and extended family. Three fourths (74 percent) of Baby Boomers will include their adult children in their next RV trip and 31 percent will include their grandchildren.
  • Millennials: The experience-first generation: This formidable travel group started the trend of investing in experiences instead of things and their desire to fully lean into family travel shows up in a variety of ways. Seven out of 10 Millennials say RV trips are an important time to disconnect from technology and this generation is less than half as likely to always work while traveling as their GenZ counterparts (11 percent vs. 26 percent) signaling they have a better handle on work/life balance.
  • Nearer, my God, to thee: RVing families tend to be highly religious or spiritual with 96 percent of parents and 88 percent of teens reporting at least some connection to faith or spirituality. 82 percent of religious families report being Christian. And although teens are less likely to say they’re very connected to religion or spirituality, they’re just as involved (and in some cases more involved) as their parents in spiritual pursuits while in nature. 

Since I’m talking the outdoors, here are a few related articles:

Spending time in nature at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Methodology

The results of the first Outdoorsy U.S. RV Family Travel Report are based on a total of 3,200 surveys completed among a random sample of U.S. families and a corresponding sample of n=400 teens. Within the sample of families, quotas were established for each of the four primary census regions: Northeast (n=800), Midwest (n=800), South (n=800), and West (n=800). Overall, a sample of n=3,200 U.S. families is associated with a margin of error of +/- 1.63 percentage points and a sample of n=400 teens is associated with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. All surveys were completed only via an outbound solicitation sent to a randomly selected cross-section of families. The sample of respondents was statistically balanced to ensure that the results are in line with overall population figures for age, gender, and ethnicity. Some results may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

Spending time in nature at Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

About Outdoorsy

Outdoorsy transformed access to the outdoors with the launch of its RV and campervan rental marketplace in 2015 and expanded to offer marketplace insurance in 2018. Today, Outdoorsy’s partnership with its hosts has resulted in over 7 million travel days through RV rentals that are available in 4,800 cities across North America. Outdoorsy’s marketplace, insurance, and retreats provide life-changing financial benefits for RV hosts and retreat communities and offer guests the trust and guidance they need to enjoy memorable rustic travel experiences. Outdoorsy’s team is inspired by a mission to restore our relationship with the outdoors and each other by inviting guests to Live Outdoorsy.

Worth Pondering…

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is a society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

—Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

FREE National Parks to Visit (2024)

These national parks are free year-round, and not merely on certain days

The National Parks are some of the best places to visit in the country and one of the best excuses for a nature-filled getaway from the stress of the cities.

Many of the parks do require an entrance fee. On the other hand, there are many National Parks Service (NPS) sites that are free year-round and not merely on certain days.

Please note that at the end of this guide I list the national park free days that you can visit without having to pay. The free days pertain to all US National Parks and designated sites.

National parks are protected for everyone to enjoy, but a visit to one can be expensive. As an example, it’s $35 to bring a car full of people into Grand Canyon National Park, or $20 per individual if you hike in, and that doesn’t account for parking fees, camping costs, or the price of lodging and extra activities. 

However, a handful of national parks don’t charge admission fees at all. Here are 16 national parks in the U.S. that are always free to enter (but keep in mind that there might still be other costs including boat rentals, camping permits, or parking fees).

From Arizona to Virginia, these parks don’t charge admission fees and are always free to enter.

New River Gorge National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

America’s newest national park is indeed FREE. Not only is it free to enter the park but it is also free to go camping although it is only equipped for primitive camping.

The West Virginia national park spans over 73,808 acres and is located near Beckley.

The gorge is carved out by the New River and is the longest and deepest gorge in the Appalachians and throughout the park you will get to see exposed sandstone and shale alongside large boulders and other areas that are perfect for bouldering.

One of the most popular things to do in New River Gorge National Park is to fish. There is a lot of diversity in the waters there. Another popular thing to do is to go whitewater rafting. The Lower Gorge of the New River is the premier spot and you will find rapids ranging from Class III to Class V there.

As for rock climbing, you will find over 1,400 established climbs and it is one of the most famous places in the United States for rock climbing.

There are also around 50 miles of hiking trails in New River Gorge National Park that range from easy to difficult. Some of them are actually rail to trails and are perfect for biking.

Here are some helpful resources:

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

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

It’s not hard to see why this is America’s most-visited National Park; it’s a quick trip from many major cities in the South and Midwest, the Appalachian foothills are gorgeous, and it’s free. Drive or bike the serene hidden valley of Cades Cove, explore the ghost town of Elkmont, or take in the views from Clingmans Dome during the day and bask in the folksy kitsch of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge at night. Oh, and did I mention that the park is totally, 100 percent free?

Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

If you need ideas, check out:

Congaree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Congaree National Park is one of America’s free national parks and it can be explored on foot or by its waterways. Most visitors decide to explore the area either through the South Carolina national park’s nearly 25 miles of hiking paths or 2.4 miles of boardwalk. 

Weston Lake and other trails can be accessed via the boardwalk circle route. Hiking options in the park include short hikes on the Boardwalk Trail or longer backcountry ones.

You are free to choose based on your desire and abilities, of course. The pathway of almost all trails leads up to picturesque lakes, the Congaree River, or views of ancient trees that are part of one of the tallest forests in the US. 

Also, don’t underestimate the thrill of canoeing and kayaking in Congaree.

Here are some articles to help:

Appomattox Court House National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia

History comes to life at this historic park. Plan a national park trip to the scene of the end of the Civil War and experience history with your family.

Walk the old country lanes where Robert E. Lee, Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered his men to Ulysses Grant, General-in-Chief of all United States forces on April 9, 1865. Imagine the events that signaled the end of the Southern States’ attempt to create a separate nation.

The National Park encompasses approximately 1,800 acres of rolling hills in rural central Virginia. The site includes the McLean home—where Lee made his formal surrender—and the village of Appomattox Court House, the former county seat for Appomattox County.

Check this out to learn more: Appomattox Court House: Beginning Peace and Reunion

Aztec Ruins National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico

Explore the Aztec ruins, enjoy a half-mile walk through an original Pueblo House, and discover how ancient people built their homes in the desert.

Built and occupied over 900 years ago, 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

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

The Blue Ridge Parkway borders both the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park offering stunning views of Appalachia.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, noted for its relaxing pace and scenic beauty, also showcases a cross-section of Appalachian mountain culture and history. Stretching 469 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through North Carolina and Virginia, it encompasses some of the oldest pre-historic and early European settlements.

Visitors can trace much of the history of Appalachian culture through overlook signs, visitor center exhibits, restored historic structures, and developed areas, all of which reveal the many communities along the route that make the region so special. Fall leaf peeping is a hugely popular activity along the Parkway, as are hiking and wildlife viewing.

That’s why I wrote these four articles:

Gettysburg National Military Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania

Relive history in Gettysburg, where the largest battle ever waged during the American Civil War occurred and where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

Located 50 miles northwest of Baltimore, the small town of Gettysburg was the site of the largest battle ever waged during the American Civil War. Fought in the first three days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in a hallmark victory for the Union Army of the Potomac and successfully ended the second invasion of the North by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Historians have referred to the battle as a major turning point in the war, the High Water Mark of the Confederacy. It was also the bloodiest single battle of the war resulting in over 51,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured, or missing. To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, a Soldiers Cemetery was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line.

Check this out to learn more: Gettysburg National Military Park: A New Birth of Freedom

Canyon de Chelly National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Park Service units as it is comprised entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that remains home to the canyon community.

Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, the cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly including distinctive architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery exhibit remarkable preservation integrity that provides outstanding opportunities for study and contemplation.

Here are some articles to help:

Petroglyph National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Petroglyph National Monument, 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 may have only 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 all who appreciate them.

Check out Adventure in Albuquerque: Petroglyph National Monument for more inspiration.

Casa Grande Ruins National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, 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.

You are invited to see the Casa Grande and to 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

Boston National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Boston National Historical Park, Massachusetts

Boston National Historical Park tells the story of the events that led to the American Revolution including many sites found along the Freedom Trail.

Many of the historic sites that make up Boston National Historical Park tell the story of what kept the Navy strong. In downtown Boston, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, and Old North Church bring to life the American ideals of freedom of speech, religion, government, and self-determination.

In Charlestown, visit the Bunker Hill Monument, the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. Nearby is the Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the nation’s first naval shipyards and home to USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

That’s why I wrote these five articles:

Chiricahua National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Twenty-seven million years ago a volcanic eruption of immense proportions shook the land around Chiricahua National Monument, a mecca for hikers and birders.

One thousand times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Turkey Creek Caldera eruption eventually laid down two thousand feet of highly silicious ash and pumice. This mixture fused into a rock called rhyolitic tuff and eventually eroded into the spires and unusual rock formations of today.

Read more: The Otherworldly Wonderland of Rocks: Chiricahua National Monument

Free National Park Days in 2024

Throughout the year, there are days that are free for all national parks, not just the ones on this list. These are the already-designated free national park days for 2024.

January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

April 20 – First day of National Park Week

June 19 – Juneteenth National Independence Day

August 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act

September 28 – National Public Lands Day

November 11 – Veterans Day

Free National Park Week

In addition to free national park days, there is also National Park Week which celebrates the National Parks with special events all week long. 

In 2024, National Park Week runs from Saturday, April 20, 2024 to Sunday, April 28, 2024.

Additional National Parks Guides

Best National Parks by Month

Worth Pondering…

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

—John Lubbock

RV Weight Distribution Tips for Packing Your RV

When packing your RV, it’s essential to consider the weight distribution to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips to help you achieve optimal weight distribution.

Merriam-Webster defines weight as the force with which a body is pulled toward the earth. Everything around us feels this gravitational pull. Then you add the forces of movement which can magnify the effect of weight, and … well, you get the point.

Weight and loading are important for an airplane so it will lift off the ground and for a ship so it won’t roll over and they are important for your RV, not only to make sure it will last a long time without premature wear or component failure but also so it will be safe to drive on the highways and back roads.

Distribute weight evenly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are a number of resources for RVers to reference regarding the weight of their RV. Owner’s manuals usually provide weight and loading information as do numerous websites.

One organization, the RV Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF) has dedicated its existence to the issues of RV weight and loading. It’s an important topic that every RVer should understand.

RV weight distribution, however, is something not a lot of RV owners think about. This is unfortunate because ensuring that all of the weight in your RV is evenly distributed is incredibly important for safety reasons. 

Trailers with cargo that haven’t been distributed across the rig evenly are more likely to sway. Additionally, all RVs that are loaded unevenly (or even overloaded) can suffer from suspension issues, problems with tires, and in some cases, issues with steering.

These are not things you want to have trouble with while on a road trip. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to avoid. The solution is of course to ensure that everything is loaded into your rig properly. 

Here are my tips for packing up your motorhome or trailer with RV weight distribution in mind. 

Distribute weight evenly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know your limits

First and foremost, you want to know the limits of your rig. This includes the cargo-carrying capacity of your RV, the tow limits of your truck (if applicable) as well as the gross axle weight rating (the amount that can be put on any given axle).

Knowing these numbers and ensuring you stay well within the given boundaries is the first step in properly loading your RV. 

Pick and choose

Knowing your limits is a good starting point. The next step is deciding what you will take and what you’ll have to leave behind in order to stay within those limits. Packing light is the name of the game: versatile items that can serve multiple purposes, small items, and lightweight options are ideal.

Obviously, you will only want to take the essentials. Leave unnecessary items at home. But taking some toys or outdoor gear is probably fine. Just so in moderation and keep those weight limits in mind. 

Distribute weight evenly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep things balanced

Once you know the basic parameters you are working with and what you will pack, the next thing to do is actually move the items into the RV. Keep things as balanced as possible—from side-to-side and front-to-back.

Take note of where appliances and slides are. Those things are heavy and should be taken into consideration as you decide where items should be stored. Use all of your storage bays and spread things out evenly between them. If most of your cabinets are on one side of the RV, try to put heavy items on the opposite side to balance out what you’d store in the cabinets. 

Heavy items low and centered

Have some especially heavy items you need to pack? Those should be kept on the floor and on top of an axle. This will help prevent the heavy item from putting too much weight on the front or back. Storing on the floor also ensures the item doesn’t fall, break things, and/or hurt people while the RV is in transit.

If you can, pack an item of similar weight on the opposite side or pack the heavy item opposite your main kitchen appliances in order to even things out from side to side.

Distribute weight evenly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to load drawers and cabinets

Another thing to keep in mind as you’re loading up the RV is how to load the drawers and cabinets.

You want to make sure only lightweight things are in the overhead cabinets in order to help keep things balanced and keep your passengers safe if you’re in a motorhome. Meanwhile, the drawers should not be overloaded as this can break them—and if all of your drawers are on one side of the RV (as is often the case), you’ll be putting a lot of weight in one area and throwing off the balance of the rig. 

Keep tank locations in mind

Water is heavy. It weighs in at 8.34 pounds per gallon meaning a 40-gallon tank weighs over 333 pounds when full. That’s a lot of weight and it can easily put you over your cargo-carrying capacity and out of balance.

If you plan to drive with a full fresh water or waste tanks make sure you know where that particular tank is located and try to pack everything in such a way that the extra weight is balanced out and you aren’t over your RV’s weight limit. 

Distribute weight evenly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Observe before you drive

Once everything is loaded into the RV, it’s time for a visual inspection. Head outside and look at the rig. Make sure it isn’t obviously leaning to one side or the other. If you pull a trailer, make sure the trailer isn’t weighing down the truck and make sure the bottom of the trailer is parallel with the ground.

Essentially, you are looking for any signs that you’ve overloaded the RV or that the weight inside isn’t balanced. You will want to add this visual inspection to your pre-trip walk-around every time you drive. 

Go get weighed

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know whether you’re overloaded and almost impossible to know whether one axle is taking the brunt of the work without getting properly weighed. Even if everything looks good from the outside, you could still be totally out of balance. For this reason, it’s best to head to a nearby truck scale to be weighed after you’ve loaded up the RV. These can usually be found at truck stops and will give you tons of information about how your RV is loaded. 

Check this out to learn more: Should I Weigh My RV?

Yes, RV weight distribution is an incredibly important thing. Luckily, you know this now and can take the steps above to prevent any dangerous situations caused by uneven weight distributions from cropping up during your RV travels.

Worth Pondering…

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.

—C.S. Lewis

The Complete Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Retrace the steps of the Cherokee on quiet nature trails and witness autumn’s splendor in America’s most popular park

It’s not surprising that the Great Smoky Mountains is the most-visited of the nation’s 63 national parks welcoming more than 12.9 million visitors in 2022. Within driving distance of so many busy hubs in the eastern U.S., the massive natural expanse offers hard-to-match beauty with its unbroken chain of mist-shrouded mountain peaks rising more than 5,000 feet meandering streams, cascading waterfalls, flower-strewn meadows, and miles of old-growth forests.

Nearly evenly split between eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina the park has 62 species of mammals—including iconic black bears, bobcats, coyotes, red wolves and an estimated 200 elk—roaming its 522,427 acres. It’s also home to more than 67 varieties of fish, 234 species of birds, and dozens of species of salamanders (the park has been called the Salamander Capital of the World).

Members of the Cherokee Nation lived in these mystical mountains long before European settlers arrived—their roots here dating back more than 1,000 years. The ever-present fog circling the range prompted the Cherokee to name the mountains shaconage which translates to place of blue smoke. Euro-Americans later dubbed them the Great Smoky Mountains.

Chartered by Congress in 1934 and officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers near-endless outdoor fun from hiking (you can find trails for all ability levels) to boating, cycling, fishing, and horseback riding. You can also explore old farmsteads of the Appalachian people who once called these mountains home.

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

Plan your trip

Three major Tennessee cities are within an easy drive from Great Smoky Mountain National Park: Chattanooga is 108 miles southwest, Knoxville is just 32 miles north, and Nashville 194 miles northwest. From North Carolina, Asheville is just 37 miles east and Charlotte is 151 miles southeast. Atlanta is 175 miles southwest.

Located 42 miles southeast of Knoxville, Gatlinburg serves as the gateway to the main entrance on the park’s north (Tennessee) side. At the same time, the town of Cherokee leads visitors into the North Carolina sector on the southeast side. There’s no need to pull out your wallet at the park entrances: Great Smoky Mountains National Park has no entry fee.

Once inside, you’ll find four visitors centers—Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Oconaluftee, and Sugarlands—each provide park information and ranger-led programs. It’s a good idea to start your visit at the Sugarlands center just 2 miles from the Gatlinburg entrance for a 20-minute orientation film that provides a good overview.

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

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has 384 miles of well-maintained roads—most are paved but some are gravel. Remember you’re in the mountains so be prepared for many twists and turns plus occasional steep inclines and declines. (Note that some secondary roads have restrictions on large vehicles such as RVs.) The Newfoundland Gap Road winds 31 miles southeast from Gatlinburg to Cherokee connecting the two gateways.

In spring, the resident 1,600-plus black bears emerge from their winter slumber more than 1,500 species of wildflowers begin to bloom blanketing the park in multichromatic splendor and mating fireflies light up the night sky in brilliant synchronicity. Daytime temperatures average a pleasant 65 degrees with nighttime lows of 45 degrees.

Peak season runs from mid-June through mid-August when monthly visitor totals hover around 1.5 million. Temperatures peak, too, with highs often climbing above 80 degrees during the day. Summer afternoons often bring thunderstorms with July being the wettest month. By nightfall, the temperatures drop to a comfortable average of 55 degrees.

The humid summer weather subsides in September and crowds start to thin out. In October, even cooler temperatures arrive usually ranging from 40 to 50 degrees along with a new surge of visitors. When hues of red, gold, and orange spill down from the mountain peaks to the forest floor the park sees its second peak season. To view the autumn splendor without all the traffic, slip into the quieter North Carolina sector for a weekday visit.

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

Winter snow and ice close some of the driving routes including the popular road to Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest mountain (elevation 6,643 feet). But the area remains open for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or a winter walk through the high-altitude spruce-fir forest.

Plan to unplug when visiting the park: There are no cell towers making reception limited or nonexistent except at higher elevations where visitors can sometimes detect signals. Limited Wi-Fi may be available at some locations.

You’ll find restroom facilities at visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas, Newfound Gap, and Clingmans Dome. Don’t expect facilities on the trails except for a portable toilet on the Grotto Falls Trail and primitive facilities at the Rainbow Falls trailhead.

Accessible programs span from ranger-led explorations of the intricate forest floor to tours highlighting the park’s human history. You can explore much of the park by car with pull-off parking available to view the surrounding landscapes and short trails for venturing a bit farther.

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

Where to stay and eat

If you want to stay overnight in the park be prepared to give your quads quite the workout. Reaching the only in-park accommodations (besides camping) requires a 5.5-mile hike and physical endurance but you’re rewarded with stellar sunrises and sunsets and star-filled night skies. Designed for those summiting Mount Le Conte, the park’s third-highest mountain (elevation 6,594 feet), the Mount Le Conte Lodge can host up to 60 overnight guests in rustic one-room cabins and multiroom lodges. Day-trippers can break here for lunch as well.

The park also maintains 10 campgrounds for tents and RVs in a range of inviting locales from riversides to forests. All have restrooms, cold running water and flush toilets but no showers or electrical or water hookups. Each site has a fire grate and picnic table. Reservations are required (recreation.gov) from May through October with limited first-come, first-served sites also available from November through April.

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

Just 8 miles from the gateway town of Gatlinburg, Elkmont Campground is the Great Smoky Mountains’s largest and busiest camping destination with 200 campsites, nine of them ADA-compliant (wide concrete driveways, raised fire rings, and wheelchair-accessible picnic tables) alongside the Little River. A quieter alternative is Cosby Campground on the park’s northeast side: It offers 157 campsites nestled under a canopy of hemlock trees and the feel of backcountry camping with frontcountry amenities.

Backpackers can access primitive backcountry sites with a reservation plus five drive-in horse camps with primitive camping facilities and hitch racks provide easy access to backcountry horse trails. For backcountry permits ($4 nightly per person), call 865-436-1297.

You won’t be eating lavishly here. Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s only dining option is the snack bar at the Cades Cove Campground store which serves breakfast items, sandwiches, pizza, soups, wraps, and ice cream. You’ll also find vending machines at visitors’ centers. It’s best to bring your own food and enjoy one of the 12 picnic areas scattered throughout the park in forests and alongside rivers and creeks. They come with charcoal grills and picnic tables.

Driving Newfound Gap Highway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to do

From hiking on 150 trails covering 850 miles to cycling, fishing, and horseback riding, Great Smoky Mountains National Park delivers recreational options aplenty for all fitness levels. Or take it easy and sightsee from the comfort of your car on highways and motor trails (one-way scenic loops) that showcase park highlights.

On the Newfound Gap Highway take advantage of numerous pullouts to marvel at the scenic vistas. Along the drive stretch your legs and absorb nature’s soundtrack on short, easy trails marked as Quiet Walkways. The 0.3-mile Balsam Point Quiet Walkway slightly north of the Chimney Tops overlook, serves up views of the Steep Branch Creek, and the west prong of the Little Pigeon River. Take a seat on a bench in the clearing and soak in the scenery.

And consider some must-sees and must-dos in both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the park:

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

In Tennessee

You don’t have to go far beyond the main entrance for a leisurely walk in a forest. Just outside the Sugarlands Visitor Center the easy 1.1-mile Fighting Creek Nature Trail gives you an introduction to the park’s wildlife with possible sightings of black bears, elk, whitetail deer, and more.

If you’re up for a longer but still easy hike with plenty to keep you entertained consider the 4.9-mile round-trip Little River Trail in the Elkmont area about 6 miles west of the Sugarlands center. It’s a relatively flat, wide trail that follows the river and along with its natural beauty there’s a lot of human history to discover as you hike. Those include ruins of former resort cabins from the 1920s, remnants of the area’s history as a getaway for the Knoxville elite.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or try the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail which winds nearly 6 miles through old-growth forests alongside gurgling mountain streams. The trail begins 3 miles into the park from the Cherokee Orchard entrance a little more than a mile east of the Sugarlands center.

One mile before you get to the trail stop at the Noah “Bud” Ogle self-guided 0.7-mile nature trail for a walking tour of an authentic mountain farmstead with one of the park’s last remaining, fully operational tub mills. Then, if you’re up for more physical activity, tackle the 5.4-mile (round-trip), moderately strenuous hike to Rainbow Falls which begins just beyond the farmstead. This rock-strewn path gains about 1,500 feet in elevation en route to the 80-foot-high cascading falls named for the rainbow that often appears in the mist.

Thirty miles west of the Sugarlands center, scenic beauty and abundant wildlife make Cades Cove the park’s most popular area. An 11-mile loop drive winds through the cove and past early 19th-century homesteads, barns, churches, and a fully operational gristmill harkening back to the Appalachian way of life.

Hikers flock to Cades Cove to access popular trailheads including the 5-mile (round-trip) moderate Abrams Falls hike that leads through a gorgeous pine-oak forest alongside Abrams Creek to the namesake 20-foot waterfall that cascades into a long, deep pool.

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

Clingmans Dome near the park’s center straddles the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. The road to the soaring mountain detours from Newfound Gap Highway about 7 miles south taking you to within a half-mile of the namesake observation tower. If you’re physically able continue on foot for a steep uphill climb with a big payoff: stunning 365-degree views of the surrounding Smokies.

Want to go really gonzo and test your grit? Challenge yourself on Mount Le Conte, north of the Newfound Gap road near the park’s center where several trails lead to the 6,594-foot summit. On the Alum Cave Trail, the shortest and steepest you’ll hike up 5.5 miles passing Mount Le Conte Lodge.

Mountain Farm Museum at Oconaluftee Visitor Center (near Cherokee), Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In North Carolina

Escape the crowds on the busier Tennessee side and relish in the Smokies’ wild beauty in the isolated Cataloochee Valley in the park’s less-visited North Carolina section. Surrounded by mountain peaks the valley once served as hunting grounds for the Cherokee. Later, one of the area’s largest Appalachian settlements prospered here. Preserved late 19th-century and early 20th-century structures—including two churches, a schoolhouse, and several cabins—reveal this history. Pick up a self-guiding tour booklet from a roadside box near the valley’s entrance.

Black bears, deer, elk, and other wildlife roam this peaceful valley. For the best chance of spotting elk arrive about an hour before sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset. For anglers Cataloochee Creek teems with wild trout. Hike all or part of the moderate 7-mile Boogerman Trail loop for a restorative amble through lush old-growth woods and over the rushing waters of Caldwell Fork.

Experience the park’s beauty from a different vantage point on Fontana Lake on Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s southern border which gives you access to the park’s most remote areas and the adjacent Nantahala National Forest. From one of several marinas rent a pontoon boat for exploring on your own or take a hiking tour via boat with Sunny Day Adventure Company. Many trails surrounding the lake are relatively flat which makes them accessible for most visitors.

When the October peak season overruns the roads in other park sections this area is ideal for leaf-peeping and wildlife viewing. Lake traffic dissipates in the fall but that’s actually one of the best times to be on the water. There’s a bonus for taking the road (or lake) less traveled: Black bear sightings are likely as they come down from the treetops to feed on the roe left behind by spawning fish.

Gateway towns

Gatlinburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

With a fun, Orlando-like theme park vibe—coupled with a country twang—Gatlinburg and the adjoining town of Pigeon Forge flaunt attractions of every variety. Ideal if you have children or grandkids in tow: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies where a penguin cam keeps an eye on the tuxedo-clad charmers.

Nearby, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park’s elevator whisks you up to the SkyBridge for some exhilarating (maybe nerve-racking for some) sightseeing at cloud level on this pedestrian bridge stretching 680 feet across a deep gorge at a height of 140 feet.

A Tennessee classic, Dolly Parton’s Dollywood amusement park thrills with all the twists, turns, and spins expected—all served with a heaping side of country music.

Lodging options in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge range from resorts to chain motels. On the high end spoil yourself in a luxury suite at the Margaritaville Resort and Spa on the Pigeon River. For something budget-friendly settle into one of the basic rooms (breakfast included) at the Greystone Lodge on the River, where you can use the town’s trolley to easily access Gatlinburg’s attractions (there’s a stop across the street from the lodge).

Fuel up for a busy day of exploring at the Pancake Pantry, a longtime (since 1960) Gatlinburg favorite that serves a mouthwatering range of sweet offerings such as Banana Pineapple Triumph pancakes topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream.

Pigeon Forge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherokee, North Carolina

Located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, the town of Cherokee focuses on the tribal nation. Revisit the 18th century at the Oconaluftee Indian Village amid re-creations of traditional Cherokee dwellings, sacred ritual sites and workshops. Delve deeper into the tribe’s 11,000-year-old history through interactive exhibits and cultural displays at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. For outdoor recreation and an adrenaline rush, go white-water rafting on the Nantahala River in nearby Bryson City.

Splurge on a luxury cabin complete with fireplace, hot tub, and access to a private chef at Cherokee Mountain Cabins. Alternatively, the budget-friendly Cherokee KOA Campground rents both deluxe cabins (with full bathrooms and showers) and basic camping ones (with the use of the campground bathhouse). Roll the dice at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.

When hunger strikes, the family-owned Granny’s Kitchen dishes up generous portions of classic Southern cuisine. Fill up on barbecue ribs, pork chops, and black-eyed peas at the lunch and dinner buffet.

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

En route

Traveling from Atlanta to Cherokee on U.S. Highway 23, a 16-mile detour along Georgia Route 384 North leads to Helen, Georgia, a charming mountain town that replicates a Bavarian alpine village (yes, in the Deep South). Stroll along its picturesque cobblestone streets and you’ll find specialty shops showcasing everything from kitschy souvenirs to handmade candles, artfully blown glass, and cuckoo clocks. For dining, sink your teeth into a hearty plate of schnitzel at the Heidelberg.

If you’re coming from Asheville, carve out time to tour the opulent Biltmore Estate before leaving the city. Erected in the late 1800s for George Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the lavish country home sits on a 125,000-acre tract south of town.

Add a few extra days if you can to explore the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The southern end of this 469-mile linear park begins just 0.2 miles outside Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center and extends into Virginia connecting with Shenandoah National Park.

Great Smoky 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.

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

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

Fact box

Location: Split nearly even between eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina

Size: 522,427 acres

Highest peak: Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet

Lowest point: Abrams Creek at 876 feet

Miles/number of trails: 850 miles along 150 trails

Main attraction: Cades Cove

Entry fee: Free

Best way to see it: Along its well-maintained roadways

When to go for nice weather and fewer crowds: Before mid-June and in September

Worth Pondering…

Each year thousands of backpackers 
Climb the Great Smoky Mountains… 
Nature’s Peace flows into them
as Sunshine flows into Trees;
the Winds blow their freshness into them…
and their Cares drop off like Autumn Leaves.

—Adapted from John Muir

The National Parks Urge You to Keep Your Distance from Wildlife

A recent bear attack has prompted the NPS to remind visitors about its wildlife safety rules

Last year, a slew of TikToks showed visitors of Yellowstone National Park attempting to take selfies with, pet, and otherwise harass the bison in their natural habitat which prompted the National Park Service (NPS) to chime in in with a warning for all visitors thinking of getting cozy with wildlife in the parks:

Wildlife Petting Rules

1. Don’t

2. See rule number one

3. Brace for landing

Almost exactly one year later, the story isn’t much different—except now it is the relationship between bears and humans that we’re talking about. The NPS recently issued another warning after a man was seriously injured by a bear at Grand Teton National Park.

Bison © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the NPS, investigation has led officials to believe the man was caught up in a surprise attack by two grizzly bears with one of the bears injuring the man. Reportedly, the man was rescued by helicopter and ambulance and despite the injury he is expected to make a full recovery. 

While this is undoubtedly wonderful news, nobody wants to risk witnessing such an encounter again—especially the NPS. In order to prevent such attacks from happening again, the NPS issued a news release with guidance on human-bear conflict prevention providing a list of tips and helpful advice. The complete alert and guidance can be found at the end of this post.

As the NPS advises, it is important that visitors never leave food unattended and that they try to keep a clean camp to the best of their abilities. That includes storing all attractants such as coolers, pet food, toiletries, and cooking gear inside proper bear boxes which are containers that are bear-proof. Eating or cooking inside your tent is also a no-no and garbage should always be disposed of in a bear-resistant dumpster.

Most importantly, you should stay away from bears as well as other dangerous wildlife. “If you see a bear, please give it space,” says the NPS advisory. “Always stay at least 100 yards away. If you choose to watch or photograph the bear, use a spotting scope, binoculars, or telephoto lens.” 

Rocky mountain goat © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In case of close encounter, make sure to slowly walk away from the bear and definitely avoid running. You should also always carry bear spray—and don’t forget to learn how to use it properly. 

This definitely isn’t the first time the NPS has had to remind visitors about important wildlife rules. Last year, after the bison petting shenanigans, the NPS took to Instagram and via a cheeky post (See Wildlife Petting Rules above) the organization gave visitors a guide to petting the wildlife in national parks with the consensus being, DON’T

The caption goes into more detail reminding visitors that “wildlife in parks are wild and like your ex, can be unpredictable when they’re disturbed or surprised.” The page has even changed their Instagram bio to address the onslaught of visitors infiltrating the bison’s space at Yellowstone; it reads “Don’t pet the fluffy cows.”

While the NPS advice and posts might seem all fun and games, they actually come from very not-fun situations. Yellowstone has previously called on visitors to maintain distance from and respect the wildlife due to a number of recent incidents.

Elk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In mid-May, the NPS released another warning, this time urging visitors to be extra careful when in the presence of elk. Elk calving season has reportedly just begun and as the NPS explains, “Cow elk are much more aggressive towards people during the calving season and may run towards you or kick.”

Elk attacks are unprovoked and unpredictable and they may start running towards you for no apparent reason. In this case, if you see an elk running towards you, you should also be running away. To prevent this from happening, it’s good practice to always be keeping at least 25 yards of distance from them (roughly equivalent to the length of two full sized busses).

If a sassy Instagram post and ardent pleading from the National Park Service aren’t enough to get you to give their wildlife some well-deserved space, it might be time to revisit the golden rule, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” In this case, if you have no desire to be poked and prodded at, chances are wildlife feel the same.

Bison © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NPS News Release

Visitor Injured in Incident with Bear

Visitors reminded to be bear aware when visiting Grand Teton National Park

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 19, Teton Interagency Dispatch received a report of a 35-year-old male visitor from Massachusetts who was seriously injured by a bear in the area of the Signal Mountain Summit Road. Grand Teton National Park rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the scene to provide emergency medical care and air lifted the patient via helicopter to an awaiting ambulance where he was transported to St. John’s Hospital. The patient is in stable condition and is expected to fully recover.

Based on initial reports from the injured visitor and preliminary information conducted as part of an ongoing investigation of the site, law enforcement rangers and park biologists believe the incident was a surprise encounter with two grizzly bears with one of the bears contacting and injuring the visitor.
The Signal Mountain Summit Road and Signal Mountain Trail are currently closed to all public entry.

Rocky mountain sheep © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To prevent human-bear conflicts, visitors are reminded to:

  • Never leave your food unattended unless it is properly secured.
  • Keep a clean camp and adhere to all food storage orders. Store all attractants including coolers, cooking gear, pet food, and toiletries inside a bear-resistant food locker (i.e. bear box) or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • Properly store garbage until you can deposit it into a bear-resistant dumpster.
  • Do not eat or cook in your tent and never keep food or other scented items in your tent.
  • Please respect all wildlife closure areas.
  • If you see a bear, please give it space. Always stay at least 100 yards away. If you choose to watch or photograph the bear use a spotting scope, binoculars, or telephoto lens. Park in designated areas, and never block travel lanes. Follow the directions of staff in places where bears are sighted.

If you are exploring the backcountry:

  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Make noise, especially in areas with limited visibility or when sound is muffled (e.g., near streams or when it is windy).
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it readily accessible.
  • Hike in groups of three or more people.
  • Do not run. Back away slowly if you encounter a bear.
Elk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are some posts to help you learn more about bear safety:

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help finding low cost activities while RVing, tips for driving in windy conditions, or ways to keep your RV clean and tidy, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading for amazing places to RV and best camping this month to help you plan your next big adventure.

Also check our recent RV manufacturer’s recalls just in case your RV is on the list.

Worth Pondering…

GOD IS GREAT, BEER IS GOOD, and PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!

Go on a Donut Day Adventure on National Donut Day

The first Friday in June—June 7 this year—is National Donut Day

What is round, fried, makes your mouth water and has its own national holiday?

Donuts! The glazed, cream-filled, varied beauties are celebrated each year. While the taste alone is enough to celebrate, National Donut Day actually has a meaningful history rooted in the American spirit.

Today, most people celebrate without understanding the history. The holiday has been commercialized by donut shops nationwide with some serving up everything from free donuts to donut contests.

Keep reading to learn more about National Donut Day and when and how to partake in the festivities.

National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is National Donut Day?

You might be surprised but National Donut Day is a holiday. Its history which we trace below is much more than about the tasty treat.

But today the holiday is celebrated in many creative ways paying homage to the donut. Some donut shops have a special flavor, others, like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ gives everyone a free donut just for showing up.

When is National Donut Day?

National Donut Day falls on the first Friday of June every year. This year, Friday, June 7 is National Donut Day.

There is also a second, but less popularly celebrated National Donut Day. November 10 is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Americans convinced the Vietnamese to help them celebrate by giving out donuts in honor of the occasion.

Since then National Donut Day is also celebrated by some on November 5. The celebration is speculated to have originated from that event in Vietnam.

There was no shortage of donuts during November in Vietnam. The 200 female American Red Cross volunteers or Donut Dollies turned out about 20,000 donuts daily for GIs.

National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The history of National Donut Day

With so many food holidays out there, it’s pretty easy to trivialize their significance. But National Donut Day has a filling as rich as the custard of a Boston cream donut.

National Donut Day dates back to World War I. The female volunteers of the Salvation Army cooked donuts for American GIs overseas. The tradition carried on through the Great Depression.

During the Great Depression, the Chicago Salvation Army claimed National Donut Day as an official holiday in order to celebrate the female volunteers who championed the GIs during the war. It became official in 1938.

These female volunteers became known as Donut Dollies. They would each make upwards of 300 donuts a day—by hand.

The female volunteers who made donuts were called dough girls or dough lassies. They continued to serve donuts to GIs during World War II. Throughout various wars like the Vietnam War soldiers continued the tradition of eating donut-like food wherever they were serving.

Prisoner of war Orson Swindle had his soldiers observe the holiday during the Vietnam War by serving them sweet sticky buns. Eventually, bakeries and civilians alike started celebrating every year by eating a rich sweet donut.

National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The importance of National Donut Day

Beyond its historic importance, National Donut Day celebrates one of America’s most beloved treats. Although donuts are actually believed to be from the Netherlands and immigrated to New York with the Dutch. Nevertheless, 56 percent of Americans said they’ve taken donuts to their office.

Because it only comes once (and sometimes twice) a year, it is important for donut shops to seize the opportunity. Many shops celebrate and monetize National Donut Day by preparing marketing campaigns well in advance.

National Donut Day timeline

  • 1809: One of the earliest accounts of donuts are attributed to Dutch settlers that brought them over to New York
  • 1918: The Salvation Army sets up canteens in the frontlines of World War I to provide care and donuts for soldiers
  • 1920: Adolph Levitt, a refugee from Russia designs a gadget to help him keep up with the demand for donuts at his shop
  • 1989: The Simpsons is aired for the first time and the world is introduced to Homer, a true donut lover
National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Donuts by the numbers

  • 10 billion: Number of donuts made in the U.S. each year
  • 10: Number of people living in America with Donut as their surname
  • 13: Number of people who have Donut as their first name
  • 2,480: Boston has one donut shop for every 2,480 people
  • 20: Number of donuts Renée Zellweger ate every day to gain weight for the sequel of Bridget Jones’s Diary
  • 9: Guinness World Record for the most powdered donuts eaten in three minutes
  • 201.02 million: Number of donuts consumed by Americans in 2020
  • 100,000: Number of donuts churned out by Entenmann’s every hour
  • 3,660: Number of donuts it would take to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty
  • 55 million: Number of donuts it would take to get from Long Beach, California to Long Island, New York

Top 10 donut flavors

  • Glazed: 28 percent
  • Boston Cream: 17 percent
  • Chocolate Frosted: 16 percent
  • Jelly Filled: 11 percent
  • Chocolate Cake: 7 percent
  • Maple: 6 percent
  • Blueberry: 5 percent
  • Bear Claw: 4 percent
  • Powdered Sugar: 3 percent
  • Pink Frosted: 3 percent
National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top 10 favorite donut chains

  • #1: Krispy Kreme: 41 percent
  • #2: Dunkin’ Donuts: 40 percent
  • #3: Shipley Donuts: 4 percent
  • #4: Tim Hortons 3 percent
  • #5: Voodoo Donuts: 3 percent
  • #6: Daylight Donuts: 3 percent
  • #7: Entenmann’s Donuts in my own kitchen: 3 percent
  • #8: Winchell’s Donuts: 2 percent
  • #9: Lamar’s Donuts: 1 percent
  • #10: Honey Dew Donuts: 1 percent

National Donut Day activities

  • Go on a donut adventure: Visit a local donut shop but don’t go for your usual, instead allow yourself to experiment with different flavors
  • Share the love: Pick out a variety of donuts to share with family and friends
  • Fry ‘em up: Making your own donuts can be an exciting experience to share with friends and family

Worth Pondering…

With a doughnut in each hand, anything is possible.

—Jameela Jamil 

6 Things You Need To Do BEFORE Your Next RV Trip

One of the first things many new RVers discover is that planning an RV trip requires a lot of forethought. You can’t just hitch up your RV and head out for an adventure. A successful RV trip requires weeks and possibly months worth of planning.

The best parts of RVing are the trips themselves but many people are filled with dread when it comes to planning. To help you feel confident about navigating the challenges of travel logistics here are five important things to do before you take your next RV trip.

1. Plan your route

There are a handful of questions to ask yourself when choosing where to travel. What appeals to your lifestyle? Are you looking for hiking opportunities? Or would you prefer to relax? Some enjoy the tradition of returning to a favorite spot whereas others may be inclined to go somewhere new.

Of course, some people know exactly where they want to go next. Whether you’re traveling to the beach or the mountains, you will need to plan and budget your route. To make the most of your road trip, research scenic areas, historic sites, landmarks, and roadside attractions.

If you’re interested in efficiency, you can download an app such as GasBuddy to determine how much you’ll spend on fuel before you even hit the road. You can then figure out how long you want to be on the road or how long you’ll be staying in your desired location.

Here are some articles to help:

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Write your packing checklist

Once you know where you’re going—and for how long—you’ll have a better idea of what items to bring along with you.

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of your RV trip plans. However, if you’re not careful you could leave behind some important items. I recommend keeping a detailed packing list of everything you want on your trip.

Many RVers find it very helpful to list out the days and plan out their outfits and meals. This can help ensure they have enough clothes and food for the RV trip. You don’t want to hit the road and discover you only have two pairs of underwear for a week-long RV trip. If you do, your first stop will likely be a local Walmart.

Perhaps most importantly, you should make sure you have a first-aid kit on hand. Keeping a tool kit handy is never a bad idea, either. And always store on the curb side.

Besides clothes perhaps (everyone packs twice as much as they need), small personal items are easy to forget. These include your toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, toiletries, and accessories such as belts, hats, and sunglasses. Plenty of premade packing lists are available online but since everyone is different it’s a good idea to write your own list and check things off as you go. Just don’t forget toilet paper!

That’s why I wrote these two articles:

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

3. Secure RV protection

Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. That’s just the way things are so be prepared. Check the expiration on your insurance policy before you head out. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong only for you to realize your safety net has expired.

In addition, you may want to consider investing in an RV extended warranty policy. Although they aren’t legally required like insurance warranties will cover everything your insurance policy doesn’t. Unexpected breakdowns are often expensive and inevitable. Let your warranty policy administrator cover your repair bill.

Here are some helpful resources:

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Address routine maintenance

As mentioned in the previous section, prevention is important when it comes to protecting your RV. Before heading out, make sure your home-on-wheels is in good running condition.

In preparing for your next road trip check your roof, tires, and tow equipment (if applicable). You should check your RV tire pressure if your vehicle has been in storage longer than a month. Tires lose up to 2-3 psi per month in storage. To be extra cautious, this is also an opportunity to check for air leaks, lug nut tightness, and wear. Examine the tread and sidewalls for obvious signs of damage such as cracks or wear in the tread. Tires should be replaced every six years or earlier if there is obvious wear.

Don’t wait for it to rain—you’ll also want to inspect your roof for leaks. Over time, sun and air exposure weaken seals. You’re looking for cracked or broken seals. To check the integrity of the roof itself, you can do a hand test. If there is white residue on your palm after running your hand along the roof, this may indicate that it’s time to reseal your roof.

If you suspect any component may require attention, it isn’t a bad idea to get an RV inspection. The technician will alert you to any mechanical or electrical problems you may have missed. They will take a look at your filters, fluids, brake system, and so on. RVs continue to age in storage; it’s important to address any repair needs before your next trip.

Read more:

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Have snacks or meals on hand

On long travel days, the last thing you’ll want to do is stop to make an elaborate lunch to satiate your hunger. Always have a few road trip healthy snacks or meals prepared to make your breaks easier and make sure you’re not stuck eating greasy or highly processed fast foods on your route.

We love having leftovers from dinner the night before, salads that are pre-made and just in need of dressing, or sandwiches. Nuts, hummus, veggies, or fruit can be another great snack.

Since I’m talking snacks, here are a two related articles:

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Tie up loose ends

Now is the time to review your to-do list. Did I pack sunscreen? Did I check the oil? Are the slide outs functional? Is the sink working? There are so many factors to consider when embarking on a road trip. These may seem like obvious factors to address but planning trips can be stressful.

There are so many things to remember and there is so much to do! Make sure your awning is closed and secured. You also don’t want to take off with your leveling system deployed—that is an expensive repair. Items often shift around in transit so make sure loose items are secured and cabinets securely latched. If you’re worried about kitchenware rattling around, consider purchasing the special grippy mats that prevent this. Storage bins, bungee cords, and magnets are your friends.

Planning your road trip should be exciting, not stressful. The more informed you are, the better prepared you will feel on your journey. We want you to hit the road with peace of mind. Good luck and safe travels!

Read more:

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make some priceless memories on an RV Trip

Hopefully, these tips will ease a bit of the stress and headaches of planning an RV trip. Just remember, things can still go wrong even with the best of planning. It’s easy to get frustrated and stressed if that happens but don’t fret. It’s all a part of the experience. I can assure you that years from now, you’re going to look back and cherish the memories you’ll create while on RV trips with your friends and family.

Take advantage of every opportunity to go on an RV trip. Where are you planning your next RV trip?

Worth Pondering…

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey.

—Eric Hansen

Southern Utah State Parks near the Mighty 5

Utah’s natural beauty extends well beyond the borders of the Mighty 5 national parks. Visit some of the best state parks in Southern Utah offering a range of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery.

There are many ways to explore Southern Utah. Stunning images and the promise of big adventure lure travelers from around the world to The Mighty 5 National Parks. Once here, visitors soon realize Utah’s natural beauty extends well beyond their borders. Some of Utah’s best state parks dot the landscape of Mighty Five country swaddled by adventurous national forest or the rugged Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Here are eight enticing state parks along the The Mighty 5 road trip which means each day you’ll have the option to stop at the national parks if it’s your first time in Utah or leave them for the other travelers if you’re looking to see Utah from another angle. Best of all, most of these parks offer a wider array of recreation opportunities including mountain biking, ATV riding, kayaking, SUPing, boating and fishing (with a Utah fishing license of course).

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

1. Sights and bikes at Dead Horse Point

Get up early to start your trip on the right note: Sunrises are spectacular in Canyon Country. Many visitors find Dead Horse Point State Park to be even more captivating than the views at the Grand Canyon. Grab your camera. You’ll want to be sure to take lots of pictures to try and share the experience with your friends.

For mountain bike enthusiasts, Dead Horse has a splendid network of rolling singletrack trails over gentle slick rock domes and through the knee-high sage. The trails offer several opportunities to stop and savor the views before tackling the next leg of trails. Though technically mild by Moab standards, the trails are a hit for riders of all abilities.

In the neighborhood: Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park

Entrance fee: $20 per vehicle up to eight passengers; $15 for Utah seniors 65 and older; $10 per motorcycle; $4 pedestrian or cyclist

Camping: Reserve a Yurt for a unique overnight experience or overnight in one of two campgrounds (most sites offer RV electrical hookups)

2. Hoodoos, yurts, and slots of Goblin Valley

Sandstone goblins and fascinating formations cover Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park which Hollywood frequently turns for its unusual landscapes like alien worlds. Explore the geology and camp among the nooks and gnomes. Bring the family and experience this amazing place by hiking, camping, mountain biking, and exploring the surrounding canyons.

Three established trails through the Valley of the Goblins suit almost everyone. If you brought mountain bikes be sure to check out the nontechnical Wild Horse Mesa Mountain Bike Trail. If not, introduce yourself to the family-friendly canyoneering of Little Wild Horse Canyon (may not be suitable for smaller children).

In the neighborhood: Capitol Reef National Park

Entrance fee: $20 per vehicle; $10 for Utah seniors 62 and older; $10 per motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian

Camping: Goblin Valley also offers a couple of yurts in addition to standard back-in and tent sites (no hookups).

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Cool waters and kaleidoscopes at Escalante Petrified Forest

Explore the kaleidoscopic colors of wood reclaimed from the Earth and find yourself in awe at the ancient remnants at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Pause to take in the expansive vistas of the reservoir and surrounding mountains from the top of the hiking loop. Then, cool off in the refreshing waters of the reservoir, popular for boating, canoeing, and fishing.

The Sleeping Rainbows Trail is a .75-mile loop that is much steeper than the other trails but has the densest concentration of petrified wood in the park.

In the neighborhood: Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park

Entrance fee: $10 day-use pass; $5 for Utah seniors 62 and older

Camping: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park has 19 standard RV sites (some with electric hookups) and 1 group site.

4. Pillars and pictures at Kodachrome Basin State Park

If ever a state park was made to be photographed, it is Utah’s Kodachrome Basin State Park. Many of the gorgeous rock columns in the park can be seen while driving but it’s worth your time to get out and explore. Some of the popular sites include Chimney Rock, Shakespeare Arch, and Ballerina Geyser.

Kodachrome Basin covers 2,24 0 acres and is surrounded by Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument on three sides. With its close proximity to other popular destinations down Cottonwood Road, it makes for a spectacular base camp or a stop on an event-filled day in the desert. The park was certified as an International Dark Sky Park making it a great place for stargazing too.

In the neighborhood: Bryce Canyon National Park

Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle (max. 8 people per vehicle); $5 for Utah seniors 62 and older (max. 8 people per vehicle)

Camping: Kodachrome Basin has more than 30 stand sites and 14 sites with full hookups.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5 & 6. Get Out and Play at Sand Hollow and Quail Creek

Sand Hollow and Quail Creek state park are less than 10 miles apart where warm reservoirs play host to an array of water sports and quality fishing and the surrounding landscapes provide sites for camping and extensive off-highway action. Lovers of hiking, nature, and wildlife alike will want to visit one (or both) of these sister reservoirs. 

Quail Creek State Park lures swimmers, boaters, and anglers year-round with its exceptionally warm waters and mild winter climate. Spend a day on the water then retire to a campsite in a spectacular red rock desert setting. 

Sand Hollow State Park is a favorite destination for local off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts and provides 15,000 acres of perfectly sculpted dunes within the vast 20,000-acre park. The red sand is an incredible backdrop for Sand Hollow reservoir. At nearly twice the size of the nearby Quail Creek Reservoir, Sand Hollow offers boating and other water recreation in a spectacular setting.

In the neighborhood: Red Cliffs Desert Preserve and Zion National Park

Entrance fee (Quail Creek): $15 per vehicle (max 8 people per vehicle); $10 for Utah seniors 62 and older (max 8 people per vehicle)

Entrance fee (Sand Hollow): $15 per vehicle; $10 for Utah seniors 65 and older

Quail Creek State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Climb the dunes of Coral Pink

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is where weekend warriors can leave footprints in soft sand. Walk among old juniper and pinion and ponderosa pines. Then take your shoes off to leave footprints in the orange-red sand dunes.

These geological oddities were formed by the continual erosion of the nearby Navajo sandstone cliffs. Coral Pink Sand Dunes are open for hiking and kid-friendly playing. About 90-percent of the dunes are open for ATV riders, an attraction for which this state park has become ever popular.

Visitors to Coral Pink Sand Dunes have a world of outdoor adventure just around the corner: Several additional trailheads access Grand Staircase–Escalante along U.S. 89 in the extreme southern part of Utah. Explorers will discover some of the best slot canyons while lovers of the water have Lake Powell’s thousands of miles of shoreline just a little further along the road. 

In the neighborhood: Zion National Park

Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle; $5 for Utah seniors 65 and older

Camping: Coral Pink Sand Dunes has 16 standard campsites and 1 group site (no hookups).

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Mojave majesty at Snow Canyon

Located at the edge of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateau, Snow Canyon State Park explodes with dramatic geology perfect for your outdoor adventure. Snow Canyon State Park is a 20-minute drive from St. George and just an hour from the entrance to Zion National Park.

Snow Canyon is popular with road cyclists touring the park’s scenic drive and hikers exploring the network of trails through the main canyon and numerous side canyons. Numerous bolted routes throughout the canyon lure rock climbers.

In the neighborhood: Zion National Park

Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle (up to eight people); $5 for Utah seniors 65 and older per vehicle (up to eight people); $5 pedestrian/cyclists (up to eight people)

Camping: The Snow Canyon Campground has 27 total available campsites including accommodations for groups, pets and partial hookups.

Snow Canyon State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make it a road trip

With this many marvels of nature in such close proximity why not extend the fun and make it a road trip? Visiting these destinations makes for an unforgettable tour of southern Utah’s state parks. This trip assumes a start in Salt Lake City and heads toward Moab though travelers arriving via Las Vegas should reverse the order and launch their Utah trip from St. George.

Though they aren’t as highly trafficked as the national parks, you can still improve your trip by making reservations where permitted as some state parks near national parks are popular base camps. Please note some state parks close their gates at night.

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Worth Pondering…

A strange world of colossal shafts and buttes of rock, magnificently sculptured, standing isolated and aloof, dark, weird, lonely.

—Zane Grey