Grand Canyon RV Park: Road Trip Heaven

Perfectly placed adjacent to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and within walking distance of the Route 66 historic district

Some of the happiest travelers are the ones who never leave home. Why? Because they take their home with them in the form of an RV!

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each year hundreds of thousands of these dedicated RV travelers map out their personalized Great American Road Trip and push a pin into one of the world’s great destinations, the Grand Canyon. As they wrap up their driving day, they find a great place to spend the night at the 5-star Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. But it’s not just the park’s many amenities that attract RV travelers. It’s the location, location … and history.

Historic Williams © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66 once stretched uninterrupted from Chicago to Los Angeles. Over time, however, it lost ground to the interstate system until, on October 13, 1984, I-40 bypassed the final, stubborn section of Route 66 in Williams, Arizona. Having outlasted every other mile of America’s Mother Road, Williams retained a retro-hip 1950s vibe highlighted by kitsch signage, neon lights, and cool diners—an absolute must-do for road trippers.

Grand Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perfectly placed adjacent to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and within walking distance of the Route 66 historic district, the highest rated and only all-paved RV park in the Williams area offers three levels of options, from pull-through sites to buddy spaces to back-ins. Each full-service site is equipped with 50-amp utility services and is large enough to accommodate big rigs.

Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And while the Tin Can Tourists who once traveled Route 66 would have been astounded to receive a Western Union telegram at their campsite, today’s guests can stay as connected (or as disconnected) as they wish, with free Wi-Fi as well as high definition digital TV. Other amenities include coin-operated laundry machines, updated shower facilities, a community picnic area with gas grills and fire pit, and access to the hotel’s indoor swimming pool and hot tub.

Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Guests of the RV Park and Railway Hotel enjoy an extra perk for their traveling pets, namely the animal equivalent of a luxury vacation. The Grand Canyon Railway’s Pet Resort is one of the area’s most comfortable and modern facilities where dogs and cats, both small and large, enjoy abundant indoor space for lazing about. This is especially useful since they must be leashed at all times at the Grand Canyon South Rim and are not permitted on trails below the rim, on park buses, or in park lodging (service animals are exempt).

Aboard the Grand Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But from their base in 28 clean, cool kennels at the pet resort, dogs will enjoy individual playtime in the outdoor exercise yard and dog run. Kitties, too, can enjoy a dog’s life in 16 sun-filled cat condos overlooking the basketball and volleyball courts. From atop their private sitting ledge, felines savor the setting as they take a catnap.

En route to the Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For both people and pets, the location and amenities of the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park is about as good as it gets — a welcome adjunct to the railway itself.

Arriving at the Grand Canyon Train Depot © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grand Canyon Railway takes passengers on one of America’s most picturesque train journeys. Departing each morning from the station beside the RV Park, the train chugs north out of Williams for a ride up and over the massive Colorado Plateau. At just over two hours, the journey gives RV travelers the chance to take a 65-mile shortcut and leave the driving to the engineer. It’s a perfect way to arrive at Grand Canyon National Park rested and relaxed without worrying about navigating an RV through the twists, turns, and often dense traffic that concentrates at the park’s south entrance.

Departing the train at the Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And it’s all made easier by a quiet night, modern conveniences, and the perfect location of Grand Canyon RV Park.

Worth Pondering…

The Grand Canyon…

Do nothing to mar its grandeur…

Keep it for our children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.

—Theodore Roosevelt

4 Pacific Northwest RV Travel Gems

The Pacific Northwest possesses an abundance of natural wonders. Here are four completely unique places you don’t want to miss.

Owning a recreational vehicle is the greatest way to explore all of the natural beauty, unique architecture, and diverse culture that exists throughout this magnificent world of ours. It’s a freedom unlike anything other, providing you and your family with countless opportunities for learning and growth.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Still, after several years of traveling, it can be difficult to branch out and identify new roads you’ve yet to discover. That’s why RVing with Rex is posting a series of blog articles—each one focusing on a different region or state. 

In today’s post we’ll focus on four favorite “lesser-known” travel locations in the Pacific Northwest including recommended RV parks. All selected parks have been personally visited.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Toutle River Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the largest landslide in recorded history, sweeping through the Toutle River Valley and removing 1,306 feet from the top of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The powerful lava flow, savage winds, and deadly heat destroyed much of the previous landscape. What the mountain left behind is the history of a violent eruption that shook the surrounding region on the tumultuous day of May 18, 1980.

Where to Stay: Toutle River RV Resort, Castle Rock

Toutle River RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Toutle River RV Resort is a 5-star resort built in 2009. The utility hookups are centrally located with 80-90 foot sites and adequate Wi-Fi. No large trees to obstruct satellite. The only negative is the park is located near train tracks and trains run all day and night. Toutle River RV Resort is located off I-5 at Exit 52, easy-on, easy-off.

La Conner, Washington

La Conner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Conner is one of those places that people love to visit—time and time again. The reasons are many, but one that stands out is that there are so many things to do in—and around—La Conner. A waterfront village in northwestern Washington, La Conner is nestled beside the Swinomish Channel near the mouth of the Skagit River.

La Conner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Conner is a unique combination of fishing village, artists’ colony, eclectic shops, historic buildings, and tourist destination. Relax by the water, enjoy fine restaurants, browse through unique shops and art galleries, and visit the beautiful tulip fields of Skagit Valley.

Where to Stay: Mount Vernon RV Park

Mount Vernon RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Full-service RV park with 30/50-amp electric service. 81 spaces including 8 pull-through sites.

Salem, Oregon

Willamette Valley Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the state capital, Salem is steeped in history—from the Capitol building itself to stately homes with storied pasts. Set in the fertile Willamette Valley, Salem is surrounded by world-class wineries as well as countless natural areas.

Willamette Valley Cheese Company © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to dozens of wine tasting rooms, the Salem area is also home to Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. This off the beaten path stop is a great place to sample nearly 30 varieties of handcrafted cheeses and then take some back to your RV.

Where to Stay: Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort

Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New in 2006, Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort is situated about a mile east of I-5 (Exit 258). The name literally means “A Fun Place to Be”. Big rig friendly with fairly wide paved streets, long /pull-through paved sites in the 75-foot range, and conveniently located 30/50-amp electric service, water, two sewer connections, and cable TV (69 channels).

Jacksonville, Oregon

Jacksonville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jacksonville has been called “One of America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns” by Frommers. Jacksonville got its start as a gold rush town. Gold was first discovered at Rich Gulch in 1851. 

Jacksonville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With over 100 structures included in the National Register of Historic Places most of Jacksonville is now a National Historic District. The boom was mostly over in 1884 when the railroad bypassed the town. The shops, boutiques, and restaurants are housed in the commercial buildings and historic home that comprise the historic district.

This quaint, historic gold rush region is the gateway to the Applegate Wine Trail’s 18 vineyards.

Where to Stay: Jack’s Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass

Jack’s Landing RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New in 2002, Jack’s Landing RV Resort is big rig friendly with pull-through sites in the 70-75 foot range (also back-in sites) and conveniently located 30/50-amp electric service, water, and sewer connections, and cable TV (22 channels). Paved sites and fairly wide paved streets.

Worth Pondering…

America is laced with nooks and crannies, good places that go undiscovered by many mainstream travelers.

6 Casino RV Resorts Where You Can Stay and Play

It is rare to go into a casino parking lot and not notice the large number of RVs

Casinos are known to be RV-friendly.

Many casinos are not only RV-friendly, but they have their own RV resort with an extensive list of amenities. These are some of the best places to park and try your luck at the slots or table games, to use as a home base to explore the area, or just relax in a five-star accommodation.

Each of these six resorts has a convenient location, top-quality amenities, and have been rated among the highest RV parks in the U.S. All resorts have been personally visited.

Jackson Rancheria, California

Jackson Rancheria RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This park with 100 full-hookup sites has earned a perfect 10/10*/10 rating from Good Sam. Amenities include heated pool and spas, free cable TV and Wi-Fi, a clubhouse, rest rooms with showers, a pet park, and laundry room.

Jackson Rancheria RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What a nice park, on a hill with miles of view. If you are looking for pure excellence in a R V Park, this is it. New in 2008, Jackson Rancheria RV Resort is part of a casino complex. Big rig friendly 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV are centrally located. Wide, paved interior roads with wide, level concrete sites. Back-in sites over 55 feet with pull-through sites in the 70-75 foot range. Grass between all the sites.

Jackson Rancheria RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lots of things to see and do in the area including Jackson and numerous other historic mining towns, wine tasting, and shopping.

Pechanga RV Resort & Casino, California

Pechanga RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pechanga RV Resort is a short drive from Temeculs Valley Wine Country and Old Town where you can find historic 1800s buildings, antique shops, and restaurants. Recently expanded the resort’s 206 full-service sites can accommodate any size RV and include access to their pool and laundry facilities. They also have presidential sites with estate-style fencing and gazebos.

Pechanga RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The casino has 24/7 gaming, and restaurants like a steakhouse, oyster and sushi bar, and a pub that serves high-quality BBQ. Play their 18-hole golf course or get a massage at their spa to unwind.

Hollywood Casino, Mississippi

Hollywood Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hollywood Casino has a hotel and an RV park with full hookup sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Their RV sites include a free shuttle service to the casino and two free wristbands to the pool area, which has a lazy river, hot tub, and a swim-up bar.

Hollywood Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The casino has several restaurants on-site, a marina, and an Arnold Palmer designed golf course.  There are also lots of local shops and restaurants only about 5-10 minutes away in Old Town Bay St. Louis.

Seven Feathers Casino RV Resort, Oregon

Seven Feathers Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This park across the Interstate from the Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino has 192 full hookup sites, a fitness center, showers and rest rooms, laundry facilities, indoor heated pool and hot tub, and a shuttle to the casino.

Seven Feathers Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big-rig friendly, 7 Feathers Casino RV Resort is a 5-star resort with a perfect 10/10*/10 Good  Sam rating. 191 pull-through and back-in sites. The park is well laid out and designed. Utilities including 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, two sewer connections (middle and back of site), and cable TV (25 channels).

Seven Feathers Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Interior roads are paved, pads are concrete. Landscaping between sites with birch trees and varying sizes of shrubs including flowering rhododendrons. Easy-on, easy off Interstate 5 at Exit 98.

Pala Casino RV Resort, California

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New in 2016 Pala Casino RV Resort offers 17 pull-through sites, 72 feet in length; 47 back-in sites, 55 feet in length; and 6 back-in sites, 60 feet in length. All sites are 30 feet in width with grass lawns and a picnic table. A 5-star resort, the park has wide paved interior roads and concrete sites. 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (48 channels) are located towards the rear of our pull-through site (#80); Wi-Fi works very well.

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Within a 20 minute drive you can enjoy Old Town Temecula, Temecula Wine Country wineries, several challenging golf courses, and of course trying your luck at the casino. There is no shortage of adventures or you can do nothing, that’s the attraction.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Washington

7 Tribes Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A brand new RV park, 12 Tribes Casino opened in 2018 with 21 pull-through full-service sites in the 75-foot range. Interior roads are asphalt and sites are concrete. Amenities include concrete patio with picnic table, individual garbage container, cable TV, and Wi-Fi. Guests of the RV Park are welcome to enjoy the pool, hot tub, sauna, and workout facility located in the hotel.

7 Tribes Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The casino also offers gaming, fine dining, and café. Several miles south of Omak on US-97, 12 Tribes is about 50 miles south of the Canadian border.

Worth Pondering…

Home is where you park it.

What to Look For in an RV Campground?

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds

Plans for your next RV road trip is mostly complete. You’re excited to hit the open road with your family, but haven’t given much thought to where you’re camping. Obviously, you know your destination. But, you aren’t sure how far you want to drive the first day, and whether you want to make some stops along the way. You’ll just Google the nearest campground when you feel the time is right to set up camp for the night.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But before you hit the road, you should be aware that not all RV campgrounds are created equal and no one park is perfect for everyone. Campers can find RV parks in state parks and national parks as well as privately owned campgrounds. And the quality varies from budget to high end resorts.

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds.

Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re thinking that all campgrounds are the same, think again. Every campground has its own set of rules and regulations, as well as different amenities. If you aren’t looking for full hookups, you can be less picky about what campground you choose for your stay. But if you’re looking for all the amenities including electric, water, sewer, cable TV, and Wi-Fi, there are several things you should look for before making your decision.

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together.

Before leaving home, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choices for RV parks and campgrounds include luxurious RV resorts, activity-filled family destinations, 55+ parks, secluded natural settings, and basic parks conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices also run the gamut.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a variety of campgrounds, each offering different amenities and activities. These include private RV parks; casino camping; national, state, and county park campgrounds; Army Corps of Engineers parks; and service club facilities.

Harvest Moon RV Resort, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are the best tips for choosing a campground and campsite that you and your family will love?

Irwins RV Park, Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing can make or break your RV vacation like choosing a campground not suited to your family’s needs and interests. When selecting a park, think about your camping style and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you camping with a young family?
  • Are you an active couple looking for outdoor adventures?
  • Are you snowbirds who enjoy on-site activities and the opportunity to meet new friends?
  • How large is your RV?
  • Consider your needs when choosing an RV park.
  • What amenities do you require? Full hook-ups? 30- or 50-amp electric service?
  • Are you looking for a rural or urban setting?
  • What is your nightly/weekly/monthly camping budget?
  • Do you travel with pets?
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are campgrounds throughout the U.S. and Canada to meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

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

Be aware that RV parks and campgrounds have varied rules for check in and check out. Although some parks have 24 hour check in, most have set times that you must check in and check out. Some parks do not permit check ins prior to noon. If you plan to stop after hours call ahead to make the necessary arrangements.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

The Perfect Campsite: 10 Questions to Ask

The key to enjoying campground bliss lies in knowing the exact type of site you want, and then making the effort to reserve that spot

Most everyone in the campground industry wants you to book your campsite online. And many of you do just that.

But RVing with Rex has one thing to say about this trend: Don’t do it. Seriously. Just don’t do it. Pick up the phone. Yes, and talk to a real person.

Back-in site at Jack’s Landing RV Park, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

All campgrounds are not created equal, and you should never blindly book an RV park without doing the research—not knowing if it has the space, amenities, the views, and the location that you prefer.

You might have to work a little harder and actually talk to someone on the phone (GASP!), but when you are sitting with a view of the creek, you’ll know it was worth it.

Pull-through site at Toutle River RV Resort near Mt. St. Helens, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Many research junkies just put in their travel dates and leave the actual campsite selection to an impersonal computer algorithm.

But, not us. We have stayed at hundreds of RV parks and campgrounds around the country and can say one thing for certain: even the best 5-star campgrounds and RV parks have some mediocre (or just plain bad) sites. Even more importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all ideal. The best campsite for a family with small children might be senior’s worst nightmare.

Back-in site at Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The key to enjoying campground bliss lies in knowing the exact type of site you want, and then making the effort to reserve that spot. Here are ten questions to ask before booking your next great RV adventure.

Pull-in site at Holiday Hills RV Park, Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Can I talk to someone who knows the campground layout?

Talk to a member of the staff who knows the campground well. These days, many want to take the easy way out and book online, but that won’t guarantee you a slice of camping heaven. Open up the campground map on your laptop, and settle in for a chat.

This site offers 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

What hookups do I want?

Campgrounds usually offer a range of hookup options. Some sites will have full hookups, with 30 or 50-amp electric service; other sites will offer just water and electric. If the campground is rustic, there may be no hookups available at all.

Pull-through site at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want a pull through or back in?

People with larger rigs or limited experience often prefer pull through campsites since they are easier to navigate. However, these sites can also be less private, less aesthetically pleasing, and more costly. A back in site might be trickier to get into, but it could also offer you the scenery and space you prefer.

Clubhouse at Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want to be close to the action, or far away?

Many RV parks have hubs of activity where playgrounds, pools, and shuffleboard courts are located. Study the campground map to determine your preferred location

Pull-through full-service sites near the water at Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want to be close to the bathhouses or far away?

If you plan to use the facilities in your RV, then there’s no reason to be located near the bathhouses where you might find increased traffic and noise.

Back-in sites at River Run RV Resort, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Can I hear road noise from this site?

RVers who travel in motorhomes and run the air conditioning at night may not care that their campsite is backed up to a highway. But pop up campers and hybrid travel trailers won’t block out that road noise at night. Light sleepers should make this issue a priority when choosing a campsite. Also, be on the lookout for any railroad tracks that run by the campground.

Traffic is not an issue at The Lakes at Chowchilla (California) due to the layout of the park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Will a lot of campground traffic pass this site?

Traffic flow through a campground will affect your camping experience. If you are near the entrance, consider that every single vehicle entering and exiting will likely pass by your site. Garbage disposal bins are another source of high traffic.

It’s all sun at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want shade or sun?

Are you looking for lots of trees where you can hang a hammock and nap under rustling leaves? Or do you dream of sitting in the sun with a glass of iced tea and a good book?

Waterfront site at Lake Pleasant, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want a waterfront site?

There is a reason why so many campgrounds are located on lakes, rivers, and streams. Sitting at your campsite and listening to the sound of rushing water may just be the most relaxing experience. But these sites are usually the most popular and fill up quickly. If you want to prime waterfront site, you need to book far in advance.

Waltons Lakefront RV Resort, Osoyoos, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want a buddy site?

If you are traveling with family or friends, then look for a buddy site. These campsites are set up so that your RVs can be parked awning to awning, with camper doors facing each other. This creates a wonderful shared space in the middle where you can comfortably gather with friends.

Long pull-through site at On-Ur-Way RV Park, Onoway, Iowa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is no such thing as the perfect campsite. Some RVers want rustic and private spots, while others seek out immaculate landscaping and access to amenities. The trick to finding your perfect site is knowing exactly what you want and doing some research to make it happen.

Lakeside sites at Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

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

—John Ruskin

Casinos Cash-In with RV Resorts

Southern California casinos are betting big on RV campers by catering to that demographic with full-service campsites, like the one at Pechanga Resort & Casino

RV camping is on the upswing.

In a report released last August, the RV Industry Association forecast that 505,900 RVs were expected to be shipped to dealers in 2018, “capping nine straight years of growth and resulting in the highest annual total for the RV market.”

And demographically speaking, with both boomers and millennials expressing an affinity for RV camping, it’s no wonder casinos have found a new market to woo.

Pechanga Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

As a result, casinos are now setting aside precious marketing dollars and physical space on their properties to attract the growing RV-campers-who-like-to-gamble clientele.

In southern California, two casinos—Pala and Pechanga—have carved out big chunks of their casino land to cater to RV campers. Here’s a look at Pechanga.

Pechanga Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Pechanga Resort & Casino

Location: 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula

Opened: March 1, 2000

How big: 16 acres

How many sites: 210, all full-service

Pechanga Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Site details: All sites have 12 feet of grass on either side with electrical, water, and sewer hookups and free Wi-Fi and cable television service. Of the 210 sites, 112 are deluxe back-in sites, 24 are deluxe pull-through sites, 17 premium pull-through sites, and four luxury sites. In addition, there are larger spaces—the “Chairman” is 2,400 square feet—that include fenced sites, each equipped with a gazebo and picnic table. For those camping with other RV enthusiasts, there are 22 buddy sites, which allow campers to position their RVs so their doors are facing.

Pechanga Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Amenities: If you want to relax beyond the RV, near the clubhouse you’ll find a swimming pool and two spas. The clubhouse is available for use for an extra fee. RV resort guests can use the driving range at the Journeys golf course for free. There’s a 24-hour Laundromat, and throughout the campground, there are three restroom facilities, two with showers. Outdoor amenities include a fenced dog park and a guest pavilion with outdoor seating for campfires or just relaxing.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Pets: The resort allows three pets per RV at a fee for $5 per pet per stay, up to seven days.

Forgot something?: The remodeled Pechanga Mini-Mart, adjacent to the gas station, has been remodeled and carries everything you might need while you’re camping at the resort—from produce to snacks to beer and wine. Inside the Mini-Mart is Baja Express, which serves traditional Mexican food.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Tip: Forget about making fresh guacamole. Let the folks at Baja Express do the work—just order a pint for $7.

Shuttle service: Shuttles are available 24 hours a day from the RV resort to the Pechanga hotel and casino.

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Discounts: 10 percent discounts available to members of Good Sam, AAA, AARP, and military.

Accolades: Good Sam has awarded Pechanga RV Resort perfect 10s for five consecutive years. In 2017, both Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines gave the resort a Silver Award.

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Dining tips: Those who don’t want to cook in the RV don’t need to go far for other dining options. Pechanga has everything for every taste—from grab-and-go and casual fare to fine dining.

The Lobby Bar & Grill, located in the atrium, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with prices that won’t deplete your gambling budget. The mostly American-centric menu serves up everything from soups and salads to burgers and seafood, but don’t miss the steak and fries (hanger steak, $27) and the crispy Brussels sprouts with apple glaze and asiago cheese ($6).

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Outside of the main hotel and casino area, there is Journey’s End. It has beautiful views of the golf course and serves breakfast and lunch. If you’re looking for something light to munch on for happy hour, swing by after 3 p.m. The happy hour menu has a varied appetizer selection—from quesadillas and nachos to wings and pot stickers—as well as wine from Temecula wineries ($5).

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Casino gambling is colorful and dramatic and theatrical.

—Steve Wynn

Find the Unexpected in Bakersfield

We went to Bakersfield to tour the home of the Bakersfield Sound

It might make sense to begin a story about RVing to Bakersfield with a disclaimer or two. We do not know anyone in Bakersfield, no family members who invited their relative down for a visit. The motorhome did not break down as we were making our way to the Coachella Valley.

We went to Bakersfield for Bakersfield.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

And at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace just off Highway 99—a long, flat highway packed with cars and other RVers speeding to places perceived as bigger and better—we found ourselves among people who came to Bakersfield for the same reason we did: to tour the home of the Bakersfield Sound.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The Crystal Palace is a country night club that was owned and operated by Buck Owens, a honky-tonk guitarist and singer who moved from Texas (by way of Arizona) in 1950 when he was 20 and had dreams bigger than the truck-driving career he’d landed. Like the oil town he’s helped enhance the reputation of, Owens suffers some misperceptions of his own.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Such as the one that his main contribution to the entertainment industry consists of his 17-year tenure as co-host of “Hee Haw”. There’s a whole lot more to Buck than those TV years joshing around with banjo player Roy Clark and a certain woman known for her dangling price tag.

The songs he made hit have been covered by the Beatles (“Act Naturally”) to Ray Charles (“Together Again”).

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Musicians including John Fogerty, Jerry Garcia, and Emmylou Harris have cited him as a major influence. His stretch of 15 consecutive No. 1 hits between 1963 and 1967 was unprecedented on country charts. Most significant, perhaps, he’s credited with giving rise to a new kind of country—the hard-driving, bare-bones honky-tonk style that came to be known as the Bakersfield Sound and spawned a fleet of successors, namely Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Buck opened his Crystal Palace, a $6.7 million nightclub and restaurant, in 1966. To be honest, the place is less palace than Disney-Does-The-Old-West. Outside, the peach-colored building is lined with signs like “Telegraph Office” and “Lulu’s Millinary”.

Inside, 646 seats at long tables surround a stage and scuffed dance floor.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Exhibit cases walk you through artifacts of Buck’s career from his 1966 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame to his Pontiac signed by Elvis Presley to a number of black-and-white glossies of Buck: There are signed photos from Presidents Nixon and Reagan.

Is there any other kind of music?

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Heck no—not as far as Bakersfield is concerned. Country music is the town’s trump card, the thing locals point to with pride when the rest of California dismisses their city as a good place to fuel up, maybe buy a coke and some fries and get back on the road.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace corrects the misconceptions about Bakersfield and eliminates the need for disclaimers of any kind. It memorializes not only Buck by Bakersfield’s music history, a history that runs rich as the oil beneath the thirsty-looking plains surrounding the town. The two are linked. Oil is what drew people here at the turn of the century. It’s what kept the Okies here during the depression years. And when they came—nearly doubling Kern County’s population—they brought their hillbilly music with them.

Bakersfield River Run RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

For RVers like us, Bakersfield is an excellent RV adventure destination with three 5-star, big-rig friendly RV parks and resorts.

Located one mile from the Crystal Palace, big-rig friendly Bakersfield River Run RV Park is a well-maintained facility with 123 sites including 31 pull-though and 46 river view (back-in) sites, wide paved streets, compacted gravel/sand sites, concrete patios, and large grassy area. 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (84 channels) are centrally located. Wi-Fi internet works well from our site (#50); no problem locating satellite. Back-in sites to the Kern River are 65 footers. The park also has a recreation room with a fitness center, computer work stations, and laundry facilities. Ample shopping including Costco are located nearby.

Benji’s French Basque Restaurant © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

On our way back to our home-on-wheels, we treated ourselves to some amazing food at Benji’s Basque Restaurant, conveniently located two blocks from River Run RV Park. Bakersfield is home to the largest collection of Basque restaurants in the U. S. Numerous Basque restaurants offer traditional Basque experiences, carrying on the traditions of their ancestors. A Basque meal is served family style with hearty courses and meat (often lamb) or seafood entree.

Benji’s French Basque Restaurant © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

We ordered the Set Up and a excellent choice it was for our first Basque food experience. The soup, pinto beans, and salsa brought out to be mixed at the table in accordance with our wants was the first. The cabbage filled soup along with French bread was delicious. We were served the salad next. The fresh garden lettuce and sliced tomatoes were heartily dressed and delicious as was the pickled tongue.

Everything was delicious. We rolled out full of amazing food. Would visit this diamond again.

Worth Pondering…

Streets Of Bakersfield
Hey, you don’t know me, but you don’t like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?
—lyrics by Dwight Yoakam; vocals by Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam

Casinos Bet Big on RV Resorts

Southern California casinos are betting big on RV campers by catering to that demographic with full-service campsites

RV camping is on the upswing.

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In a report released last August, the RV Industry Association forecast that 505,900 RVs were expected to be shipped to dealers in 2018, “capping nine straight years of growth and resulting in the highest annual total for the RV market.”

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

And demographically speaking, with both boomers and millennials expressing an affinity for RV camping, it’s no wonder casinos have found a new market to woo.

As a result, casinos are now setting aside precious marketing dollars and physical space on their properties to attract the growing RV-campers-who-like-to-gamble clientele.

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

In southern California, two casinos—Pala and Pechanga—have carved out big chunks of their casino land to cater to RV campers. Here’s a look at Palo.

Pala Casino Spa & Resort

Location: 11154 Highway 76, Pala

Opened: May 23, 2016

How big: 10 acres

How many sites: 100, all full-service

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Site details: 20, 30 and 50 amps of electrical service are available for RVs from 55 to 70 feet. Of the 100 sites, 77 are 30-foot-by-55-foot back-in sites, six are 30-foot-by-60-foot luxury sites equipped with barbecue grills, and 17 are 30-foot-by-70-foot premium pull-through sites. All have a grassy area with a picnic table, electrical, water, and sewer hookups and free Wi-Fi and cable television service.

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Amenities: Beyond site offerings, the campground has other special treats for campers. There are two heated swimming pools and two spas. Indoor amenities include the Registration Building, which has card tables, a billiard table, three TVs, a 24-hour Laundromat, and two restrooms with showers. Outdoor amenities include a fenced dog park, five barbecue grills, two horseshoe pits, and two ping-pong tables. On the resort’s western end, there is another restroom facility, which also has showers. A luxury clubhouse, across the street from the Registration Building, offers two kitchens. The clubhouse can be rented for an additional fee.

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Pets: The resort allows three pets per RV at a fee for $5 per pet per stay, up to seven days.

Forgot something?: Though there are grocery stores nearby, even more convenient is the Pala Mini-Mart across from the RV resort, adjacent to the gas station. It has everything from snacks and produce to alcohol and meats. The mini-mart’s deli also makes made-to-order sandwiches and pizzas.

San Antonio de Pala Ascistencia is located adjacent to the Casino © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Shuttle service: Shuttles are available 24 hours a day from the RV resort to the Pala hotel and casino.

Discounts: 10 percent discounts available to members of Good Sam, AAA, AARP, FMCA, and military.

San Antonio de Pala Ascistencia is located adjacent to the Casino © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Accolades: Good Sam has awarded Pala RV Resort perfect 10s for three consecutive years, and in 2016 and 2017, both Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines gave Pala RV Resort a Gold Award, naming it as Best RV Resort Casino and Best Campground Resort. And just this past summer, it received the Platinum Reader’s Choice Award from the national publication RV West, naming it the Best Snowbird Destination in California.

San Antonio de Pala Ascistencia is located adjacent to the Casino © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Dining tips: If you tire of cooking in the RV, the casino has so many dining choices you’ll think you hit the culinary jackpot. For quick and casual, there’s Coffee Amoré, which besides coffee also has pastries, salads, and sandwiches. Pala Cafe has a huge menu, offering everything from burgers and salads to soups and hearty entrees. If Asian is your cup of tea, there’s Sushi Sake, a sushi-style bar, and Noodles, which serves soups as well as noodle and rice dishes from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. If, on the other hand, you just can’t make up your mind, the casino’s expansive buffet, Choices, will give you more than food from which to choose—from salads and omelets to dishes from Mexico, Italy, Asia, and beyond.

San Antonio de Pala Ascistencia is located adjacent to the Casino © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

The contemporary casino is more than a gambling destination: it is a multifarious pleasure enclosure intended to satisfy every member of the family unit. —Colson Whitehead

More Highly Rated Snowbird Resorts, According To RVers

These five Sunbelt resorts have both convenient locations and top-quality facilities

You can learn a lot about campgrounds and RV parks by reading reviews by real campers and seeing photos of the property. It can help you find RV parks and resorts that offer spacious full hookup sites while avoiding crowded parks that get traffic noise all night.

RV Park Reviews provides information on what other campers have said and an overall idea of the park’s amenities. Reviews can also give you insider tips on what to see in the area and tourist traps to avoid.

These five Sunbelt resorts have both convenient locations and top-quality facilities that have ranked them the highest across the U.S. This list of top rated RV parks and resorts has been selected from parks personally visited.

Pechanga Casino RV Resort – Temecula, California

8.6 rating

Recently expanded Pechanga Casino RV Resort offers 168 full-service sites with 12 feet grass on either side. These sites include 24 pull throughs (76 feet x 18 feet concrete pads) and 142 back-ins (55 feet x 18 feet concrete pads). All sites have 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, cable TV, and Wi-Fi access. Amenities include heated pool with two spas and four cabanas, fenced dog run, security patrol, and on-property shuttle service 24/7.

Top tip: Be sure to visit Old Town Temecula and Temecula Wine Country.

Lakeside RV Park – Livingston, Louisiana

8.5 rating

Great park near Baton Rouge. Easy-on, easy-off, Lakeside RV Park is big-rig friendly with back-in and pull-through sites. The sites are good sized, especially the pull through sites. Our back-in site is in the 55-60 foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, and sewer centrally located.

Site amenities include picnic table and fire pit. The park is located around a lake, with boats, fishing, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and laundry room. The staff are great.

Top tip: Ambrosia Bakery sells around 20,000 king cakes during the Mardi Gras season. While the bakery offers a selections of pastries, cakes, candies, and chocolates, as well as a selection of deli items, Ambrosia is known for its cakes. This Baton Rouge shop is located at 8546 Siegen Lane (I-10, Exit 162).

Gulf Coast RV Resort – Beaumont, Texas

8.5 rating

Easy-on, easy-off, Gulf Coast RV Resort is big-rig friendly with pull-through sites in the 60-65 foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, and sewer centrally located. All sites are pull-through; sites #115 through 125 are 75 feet in length and sites #75 through 83 are in the 90 foot range. All interior roads and sites are concrete. Site amenities include picnic table.

Top tip: If you have the time, tour the McFadden-Ward House. It is only about six miles from the resort and well worth the time.

Poche’s RV Park – Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

8.5 rating

RV sites at Poche’s RV Park are located on several sides of the pond overlooking the water. A pleasant and unique location with excellent fishing and birding. Sites are concrete and level and separated by grass. Fire rings at every other site. Picnic tables at every site. Relaxing campground with fishing at your door. Major complaint are the rough roads.

Top tip: The owners also have a great little Cajun market with a really good restaurant a mile or so away on the road to Breaux Bridge. Check it out if you’re looking for the real deal; home-made boudin sausage, alligator, crawfish etouffee, andouille, crawfish jambalaya, cracklin, fried catfish, red beans, cornbread dressing, and a great assortment of other quality Cajun specialties to either take home or eat there. Casual, authentic, and reasonably priced.

Golden Village Palms RV Resort – Hemet, California

8.3 rating

Golden Village Palms is a Sunland Resort, not to be confused with the much larger Sun Communities. Golden Village Palms is an older park with mostly back-in sites that are rather tight. Our site is barely 50 feet long and under 30 feet in width. Water and sewer connections are near the rear of the site; 50/30/20-amp electric service and cable TV (50 channels) are behind the RV. Wi-Fi service was intermittent. Paved streets and gravel sites with 35 pull-through sites in the 85-90 foot range. Amenities include a clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center, volleyball courts, pickleball courts, and putting green. Passport America accepted for four nights.

Top tip: This might have been a nice place at one time but for the most part it is pretty ghetto.

Worth Pondering…

Home is where you park it.

Highly Rated Snowbird Resorts, According To RVers

Highly rated RV parks and resorts with the snowbird in mind

You can learn a lot about campgrounds and RV parks by reading reviews by real campers and seeing photos of the property. 

It can help you find RV parks and resorts that offer spacious full hookup sites while avoiding crowded parks that get traffic noise all night.

RV Park Reviews provides information on what other campers have said and an overall idea of the park’s amenities. Reviews can also give you insider tips on what to see in the area and tourist traps to avoid.

The following highly-rated snowbird resorts have both convenient locations and top-quality facilities that have ranked them the highest across the U.S. This list of top rated RV parks and resorts has been selected from parks personally visited.

Meaher State Park – Spanish Fort, Alabama

8.2 rating

This is a small campground located on Mobile Bay with tall, pruned pine trees providing shade.  Located in the wetlands of Mobile Bay near Spanish Fort, Meaher is a scenic 1,327-acre park. Meaher State Park is the perfect access point to Mobile Delta. A 300-foot fishing pier with a 200 foot “T” and boat ramp make the park an excellent location for fishing with Mobile Bay providing a productive estuary offering numerous species of fresh and saltwater fish. A boat ramp is located on the Blakeley River on the east end of the park.

Meaher State Park offers 56 modern campsites with 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, and sewer connections. Semi-circle pull-through sites exceed 100 feet in length. Most back-in sites are in the 60-65 foot range. The campground also features a bathhouse with laundry facilities.

Top tip: While camping at the park, take advantage of the abundant shopping and dining options in the Mobile area. The white sands of Alabama’s Gulf Coast are only an hour away.

Hollywood Casino RV Park – Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

8.2 rating

Hollywood Casino RV Park is located in Bay St. Louis approximately 10 miles south of I-10 (Exit 13). The RV park is big-rig friendly featuring 80 back-in sites and 14 back-to-back pull-through sites. Our site backs to a treed area on a bayou and is in the 55-60 foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV (42 channels). All interior roads and sites are concrete. Site amenities include metal picnic table and BBQ grill on concrete slab and garbage canister. There is now an office at the park. You check in at office, she assigns you a site, and meets you at site to unlock electricity.

Top tip: Touring the area, we drove along the Bay and wandered the pastel colored buildings and quaint, funky shops of historic Old Town Bay St. Louis including the (train) Depot (c. 1928).

Indian Waters RV Resort – Indio, California

8.1 rating

The park has an area with grassed sites and an area with gravel sites. Ample room to park your RV on a concrete pad and an adjacent spot for your tow or toad vehicle. All basic services worked fine but the Wi-Fi becomes only a teaser as the park fills with snowbirds in early January. The park is close to most places and is good value in an expensive area.

Top tip: Only 23 miles from Palm Springs so close to everything in between. Do not arrive until check-in time as gates do not open until then.

Cajun Palms RV Resort – Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

8.1 rating

A 5-star resort with all hookups including 50-amp electric service and cable TV centrally located together. The reception desk didn’t make us feel particularly welcome. All sites are concrete, level and double wide (with a handful of triple wide sites). They offer pull through, back in, and covered RV sites. The sites are 45 degree angles with strips of grass in between, but no landscaping except for one palm tree. Good power/sewer placement, good water pressure, 70+ cable channels. Trash picked up daily from your site. Bathroom/shower area large. They are currently building more cabins and will be adding another 130 RV sites in the near future.

Top tip: I-10 was under construction with the work extended near the park entrance.

Hacienda RV Resort – Las Cruces, New Mexico

8.7 rating

Hacienda Resort is popular among snowbirds who flock to the desert southwest each winter.  They’re located off Interstate 10 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and less than an hour drive from White Sands National Monument. Each site has full hookups and a privacy fence. Amenities include laundry room, club house, and hot tub.

Top tip: Nearby is Old Mesilla; great food at LaPosta.

Worth Pondering…

Home is where you park it.