America’s Most Popular National Parks Are…

The top 10 national park sites attracted more than 4 million recreation visits each

More than 318 million people visited the National Park Service (NPS) sites in 2018, the fourth consecutive year that numbers exceeded 300 million, according to officials with the National Park Service. The 318.2 million recreation visits total is the third highest since record keeping began in 1904.

The National Park Service (NPS) oversees 418 sites covering more than 84 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Those 418 sites include the 61 headliner national parks as well as national recreation areas, seashores, parkways, memorials, battlefields, and more.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

With more than 15.2 million visitors in 2018, Golden Gate National Recreation Area took the top spot back from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 2017 leader, which came in second place with 14.7 million visitors last year. The two park sites have been swapping the top and second place slots since 1979, the park service said.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (11.4 million) came in third place, followed by Gateway National Recreation Area (9.2 million) and the Lincoln Memorial (7.8 million).

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

The top 10 park sites attracted more than 4 million recreation visits each, including Lake Mead National Recreation Area, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Grand Canyon National Park, Natchez Trace Parkway, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Among the 61 national parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park came in first place, followed by Grand Canyon National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Zion National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

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

Great Smoky Mountains and Grand Canyon have held the top two spots since 1990.

Most popular National Park Service sites

Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area: 15,223,697 visits

2. Blue Ridge Parkway: 14,690,418 visits

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 11,421,200 visits

4. Gateway National Recreation Area: 9,243,305 visits

5. Lincoln Memorial: 7,804,683 visits

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

6. Lake Mead National Recreation Area: 7,578,958 visits

7. George Washington Memorial Parkway: 7,288,623 visits

8. Grand Canyon National Park: 6,380,495 visits

9. Natchez Trace Parkway: 6,362,439 visits

10. Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 4,719,148 visits

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Most popular National Parks

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 11,421,200 visits

2. Grand Canyon National Park: 6,380,495 visits

3. Rocky Mountain National Park: 4,590,493 visits

4. Zion National Park: 4,320,033 visits

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

5. Yellowstone National Park: 4,115,000 visits

6. Yosemite National Park: 4,009,436. visits

7. Acadia National Park: 3,537,575 visits

8. Grand Teton National Park: 3,491,151 visits

9. Olympic National Park: 3,104,455 visits

10. Glacier National Park: 2,965,309 visits

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…


National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983

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

The Absolute Best Places to RV This April

April is an amazing month for RV travel

April pops to life after a long stretch of colder months and it welcomes outdoor exploration before the heat and humidity of summer step in. April is all light showers, cool breezes, and flowers galore, making it the perfect time to hit the road in an RV.

Here are five of the absolute best places to find you and your family in the merry month of April.

Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Texas

There is a lot to see in Texas, and you’ll definitely want to take it in before May, that’s for damn sure. Texan summers range, but you can bank on serious heat rolling through the cities and countryside—and it’s not like a coastal breeze tumbles across the state. So April’s your last month to do up Texas right for a good spell.

San Antonio Riverwalk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Don’t worry, though, because April features an incredible score of festivities throughout the entire Lone Star State, including the Andrews Wild Wild West Fest, Fiesta San Antonio, Austin Reggae Festival, Celina Cajun Fest, Dallas International Film Festival, Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival, Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival, Grapevine Jazz Wine Train, Houston Comedy Film Festival, Katy Jazz Festival, Kilgore Film Festival, and on and on and on. The whole state is a party in April and anyone’s welcome.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is regularly described as one of America’s most beautiful places. Nowhere else will you find a landscape as dramatically colorful. The towering red rocks and jagged sandstone buttes matched against an almost always blue sky have beckoned to professional and budding artists for years

Sedona Red Rock Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The best time to visit Sedona is from March to May when the temperatures are warm—but not scorching—and the area is in full bloom. Hikers love this season, as desert flowers add a pop of color to the rust-colored trails.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park encompasses a collection of red rocks that make visitors feel more like they’re on Mars than near the northern edge of Moab. Sandstone monuments like Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock scatter the park, which spans nearly 77,000 acres.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The otherworldly atmosphere draws avid photographers in droves, while the wonky landscapes attract adventurous hikers and rock climbers. Note that Arches National Park is in a high desert region, meaning temperatures can vary widely throughout the day, sometimes by as much as 40 degrees.

Parker Canyon Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Parker Canyon Lake, Arizona

This medium-sized 132 acre lake is nestled in the gentle Canelo Hills east of the Huachuca Mountains. Just seven miles north of Mexico, Parker Canyon Lake was created in 1966 by the Coronado National Forest and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Parker Canyon Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Ringed with cottonwoods, juniper, piñon pine, scrub oak, and manzanita, Parker Canyon Lake offers a number of recreational possibilities for those willing to drive the dirt roads that lead to it.

From just about any point along the shore, Parker Canyon Lake doesn’t look very big. Take off on the trail around the lake, though, and you’ll find it’s a heck of a lot bigger than you thought.

Mount Dora, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Florida

Before the entire state turns hot, humid, and expensive, you can have the time of your life in Florida. There are an estimated billion things to do across the state, though Orlando’s metropolitan area obviously holds many of the big-time sights—Walt Disney World, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Blizzard Beach, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios Florida, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, to name a few. There’s also the Florida Film Festival as well as the Florida Music Festival and Conference in April.

Lake Okeeochobee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you’re looking for less chaos, though, spring is also the best time to visit the Everglades. It may be peak season, but it’s still the best stretch of months weather-wise for such a swampy (and seriously beautiful) national park. Meanwhile, the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral will blow your mind, Busch Gardens will bring you to Tampa, and the reef islands of Dry Tortugas National Park is definitely something to see, and the Florida Keys are unreal fun and wonderful—especially Key West.

Worth Pondering…

Beauty is before me, beauty is behind me, beauty is below me, beauty is above me. I walk in beauty.

—ancient Navajo poem

Coronado National Memorial: A Journey of Conquest and Exploration

For Wealth, For God, For Empire

These were the driving motivators of a journey through the arid desert and rugged mountains of the southeastern Arizona landscape now designated as Coronado National Memorial.

This exhilarating initial expedition left the Spanish with none of the gold they’d expected to find but opened a way for later Spanish explorers and missionaries to colonize the Southwest, developing the distinctive Hispanic-American culture we know today.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Early in the 16th century, Spain established a rich colonial empire in the New World. From Mexico to Peru, gold poured into her treasury and new lands were opened for settlement.

The northern frontier lay a few hundred miles north of Mexico City; and beyond that was a land unknown. Tales of unimaginable riches in this land had fired the Spanish imagination ever since their arrival in the “New World”.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

After Cabeza de Vaca arrived in Mexico City in 1536 with a story of mythical seven cities of Cíbola “filled with gold, streets lined with goldsmith shops, and doorways studded with emeralds and turquoise,” Viceroy Mendoza planned an official expedition and chose his good friend Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to lead it.

On February 23, 1540, Coronado’s crew of over 300 Spanish soldiers, over 1,000 Aztec/Mexica allies, a handful of Franciscan priests, and scores of servants and slaves set out to unearth the cities for themselves.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

On July 7, they reached Háwikuh, south of present-day Gallup, New Mexico, and first of the fabled Cities of Cibola. But a major disappointment awaited the Spaniards. Instead of a golden city, they saw only a rock-masonry pueblo occupied by Indians who were prepared to defend their village. After failed peace negotiations, the Spaniards attacked, then used the ravaged village as their headquarters, sending troops as far west as the Grand Canyon.

As they went east near modern-day Santa Fe, they met “The Turk,” a Plains Indian who astonished them with his tales of unbelievably great wealth further to the east in a land called Quivira.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

While they waited to launch their next expedition in the spring, a hostile situation developed. A series of battles followed, resulting in the Spaniards killing the occupants of one pueblo and forcing the abandonment of several others. However, The Turk remained friendly with the Spaniards and in 1541 led them to Quivira, near modern-day Salina, Kansas, and they were disillusioned once again.

It was here that the Spaniards’ belief in the seven cities of gold vanished. Although The Turk had indeed led them to Quivira, it was a village of primitive grass huts with no gold to be found.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The Turk was eventually executed after admitting his deception. Coronado and his men soon after began their long grueling return march back home mired in bitter disappointment at having failed their mission

They finally reached Mexico City in the spring of 1542, where they were publicly scorned and discredited.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Ten years after his return, at the age of 42, Coronado died in relative obscurity. He could not know, however, that his courage had set the stage for the larger-than-life saga of the great American West.

The site of the Coronado National Monument features panoramic views of the United States-Mexico border and the San Pedro River Valley, which was the route believed to have been taken by Coronado’s expedition. Today, the park stands as a reminder of the geographical and cultural bonds between the two countries.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you’re interested in life in this region before the Coronado Expedition, take a tour of the Coronado Cave, which may have housed inhabitants from 8,000 years ago. One of the few undeveloped caves in southern Arizona it stands 600 feet long and up to 70 feet wide, making for a moderate hike followed by as much exploring as you wish. 

For those looking to stay above ground, the scenic overlook at Montezuma Pass (elevation 6,575 feet) provides breathtaking views of the San Raphael Valley, the San Pedro Valley, and Mexico. The park also features over 8 miles of trails that run the gamut from an easy 1-mile hike down Coronado Peak Trail to a difficult 4 miles through Crest Trail toward the highest point in the range, Miller Peak.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Even though the Coronado Expedition was inspired by a grand myth, the discoveries it yielded (or lack thereof) impacted the entire region for years to come. Take a road trip to Arizona and witness the stunning, natural beauty and rich history of Coronado National Memorial for yourself.

Coronado National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

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

The Old Pueblo: Tucson

The Old Pueblo has attracted visitors for centuries

First occupied by ancient Paleo-Indians as far back as 12,000 years ago, Tucson, known as the Old Pueblo, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in America.

The ancients were followed by the Hohokam, then the Pima and Tohono ‘O’odham tribes. Next came the Spanish in search of gold. Missionaries followed in the early 1600s in search of natives to convert to Christianity.

Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Tucson dates its official beginning to 1775 when an Irishman named Hugh O’Connor established the Presidio de San Agustin near present-day downtown Tucson. And then in 1854, the Gadsden Purchase brought Tucson under the jurisdiction of the United States.

Sabino Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Today, snowbirds flock to Tucson. In late fall, when cold weather begins to settle across most of the nation, RVs in all sizes and vintages roll into Tucson. Drawn by the warm winter sun and the beautiful Sonoran Desert, these snowbirds become an active and vital part of the Tucson culture.

Tucson from the Mount Lemmon Highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Tucson is diverse in its geography as well as its history. While the area is well-known for its abundant saguaro cacti, a drive to the top of nearby Mount Lemmon offers a snow-covered peak with a pine forest and the southernmost ski area in the U.S.

Mount Lemmon Highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Arizona’s second-largest city is surrounded by five mountain ranges. The colorful landscape, rich history, and pleasant winter temperatures draw us to Tucson.

Tucson Mountain Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Having visited Tucson on numerous occasions, we have set up camp at a variety of area RV parks and campgrounds that include Tucson Lazydays KOA, Valley of the Sun RV Resort, Desert Trails RV Park, Catalina State Park, and Mission View RV Resort.

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The giant saguaro cacti grows nowhere else. Growing very slowly, it may take 50 years or more for branching to begin. These symbols of the Southwest have lent their name to Saguaro National Park, its two units bracketing Tucson on the east and the west.

Old Tucson Studios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

North of Saguaro Park’s East Unit and part of Coronado National Forest, Sabino Canyon is a popular recreation area. Carved into the Santa Catalina Mountains by its namesake stream, the canyon is a desert oasis supporting riparian habitat including willow, ash, oak, and Arizona sycamore. A paved road runs 3.8 miles into the canyon, crossing nine stone bridges over Sabino Creek. It begins at an altitude of 2,800 feet and rises to 3,300 feet at its end.

Mission San Xavier del Bac (White Dove of the Desert) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Sabino Canyon Tours offers two tram routes that provide access to Sabino and Bear Canyons. Along both routes riders are free to get off at any of the stops along the way. Sabino Canyon tram is a narrated, educational 45-minute, 3.8 mile tour into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The trams have nine stops along the tour with several restroom facilities and picnic grounds located near Sabino Creek

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Plenty of cowboys can be found at Old Tucson Studios. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are among the Hollywood legends who starred in some of the 300-plus movies and TV projects that have been filmed at Old Tucson since 1939. Today it’s a movie studio and theme park.

Titan Missile Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is just a few miles past Old Tucson. “Museum” is a bit of a misnomer; it’s as much zoo and botanical garden as it is natural history museum. About 85 percent of the museum is outdoors, with exhibits re-creating the natural landscape. Native plants and animals, including American black bears, mountain lions and endangered Mexican wolves, roam in enclosed desert habitats. The Earth Sciences Center houses a fascinating collection of minerals from the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona, Sonora and Baja, California. The cool air in the center’s artificial cave offers a welcome respite from the warm desert temperatures.

Mission View RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Mission San Xavier del Bac, also known as the White Dove of the Desert, is a magnificent building that blends Moorish, Byzantine, and late Mexican Renaissance architecture. In 1692 Father Kino, a Jesuit missionary, came to the area. Eight years later he laid the foundation for the first church. The current church, completed in 1797, serves an active parish. Standing in the plaza, I could imagine generations of baptisms, marriages, and funerals being performed there.

Western Way RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever.

Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area.

Early symptoms include a burning desire to make plans for the next trip “south”.

There is no apparent cure for snowbirds.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Lake Powell and So Much More

Lake Powell is a major center for many leisure activities including fishing, swimming, water sports, houseboating, backcountry hiking, and four-wheel drive trips

The Colorado River is dammed on both sides of the Grand Canyon, forming two huge artificial lakes: Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

Encompassing over 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The National Recreation Area offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based and backcountry recreation amid scenic vistas, geologic wonders, and a vast panorama of human history. Outdoor activities are what Glen Canyon is all about. There is something for everyone’s taste. 

The second largest man-made lake in the U.S., Lake Powell is without doubt the most scenic, stretching 186 miles across the red rock desert from Page, Arizona to Hite, Utah.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

What makes Lake Powell so memorable is the contrast between the deep clear blue waters and the surrounding landscape—stark red sandstone rocks with little or no vegetation and innumerable steep remote side canyons. Spires, ridges, and buttes that once stood high above the Colorado River now form cliffs at the lakeside or are semi-submerged as small islands.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Lake Powell has become a major center for many leisure activities including fishing, swimming, water sports, houseboating, backcountry hiking, and four-wheel drive trips.

It began filling in 1963 following the completion of a dam across the Colorado River near the south end of Glen Canyon, and was not completely full until 1980. In 1972 Lake Powell and the surrounding countryside was incorporated into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Access to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon by road is very limited. Activities are concentrated at the western edge, near Page, where various beaches, resorts, marinas, and campsites are found along the shoreline.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

At the far northeast end of the lake there are basic services and a few tracks leading to the water at Hite, though decreasing water levels have left this village quite far from the shoreline.

The only other paved approach roads are to the Bullfrog and Halls Crossing marinas two thirds of the way up the lake, which are opposite each other and linked by a car ferry.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is open year-round. The highest visitation is during the summer season.

Carl Hayden Visitor Center offers tours of the dam, exhibits, video shows, a relief map of the entire Glen Canyon area, restrooms, and a bookstore.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Bullfrog Visitor Center offers exhibits relating to geology and the human and natural history of Glen Canyon, pioneer artifacts, a life-size model of a slot canyon, bookstore, and restrooms.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center, near Lees Ferry, offers a bookstore, outdoor exhibits, and self guided walks across the historic Navajo Bridge.

Lake Powell is abundant with camping opportunities, whether you seek developed campsites with RV pads, putting a tent up on a secluded beach, or anchoring your boat in a quiet cove.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is a National Park Service campground at Lees Ferry. Concessioner operated RV campgrounds are available in Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Halls Crossing. Primitive camping is available at the following vehicle accessible shore line areas: Lone Rock (Wahweap area), Stanton Creek, Bullfrog North and South (Bullfrog area), Hite, Dirty Devil, and Farley Canyon (Hite area). These sites have no facilities except for pit toilets.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Bullfrog Marina RV Park & Campground offers 20 pull-through sites and 4 back-in sites for RVs up to 50 feet in length. All sites have full hook-ups with 30-amp electric service.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Centrally located adjacent to Wahweap Marina near Page, Wahweap RV Park & Campground offers 139 full hook-up sites with 30/50 amp electric service and free Wi-Fi. With a stunning view of Wahweap Bay, sites accommodate RVs up to 45 feet in length. All campsites have charcoal grills and picnic tables. Only a short distance to boat launch ramps, swim beaches, boat tours, and small boat rentals. Our home base while exploring the National Recreation Area, we would return to this 5-star RV park in a heart-beat.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

With 1.2 million acres of golden cliffs, lush hanging gardens, impossibly narrow slot canyons, and the brilliant blue of Lake Powell to visit, you may find yourself coming back again and again. 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Your road is everything that a road ought to be…

And yet you will not stay in it half a mile, for the reason that little, seductive, mysterious roads are always branching out from it on either hand, and as these curve sharply also and hide what is beyond, you cannot resist the temptation to desert your own chosen road and explore them.

—Mark Twain, American author

March 2019 RV Manufacturer Recalls

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

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

What is a recall?

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

NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The number of RV recalls has increased significantly in recent years: 169 recalls were issued during 2016, 203 recalls during 2017, and 230 for 2018.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality.

NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

NHTSA announced 16 recall notices during March 2019. These recalls involved 7 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (7 recalls), Keystone RV Company (4 recalls), Heartland Recreational Vehicles (2 recalls), Winnebago (2 recalls), Airstream (1 recall), Motor Coach Industries (1 recall), and Trail King (1 recall).

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Glaval Entourage motorhomes and 2017-2018 Berkshire Coach Ultra motorhomes built on a Ford chassis and equipped with an engine block heater. Water and contaminants may get into the block heater cable’s splice connector causing corrosion and damage to the connector, which can result in an electrical short.

Forest River has notified owners, and Ford dealers will inspect the block heater cable and replace it if damage is found. If no damage is found, the terminal connector will be packed with grease and reconnected. The repairs will be performed free of charge. The recall began on February 6, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-343-5111 or Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-0940.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018 XLR recreational trailers, models XLT26HFS, XLT26HFS-W, and XLT27KW. The affected trailers were not equipped with a liquid propane (LP)/carbon monoxide (CO) detector.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will install an LP/CO detector, free of charge. The recall began February 6, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-0432. Forest River’s number for this recall is 45-0931.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Flagstaff and Rockwood recreational trailers. The break-away safety switch may be improperly wired, and as a result, the trailer brakes will not apply in the event that the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle.

Forest River will notify owners, and dealers will install a new wiring harness to maintain the supply of power to the brake system, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-2640. Forest River’s number for this recall is 10B-0943.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Forest River Columbus recreational trailers, equipped with MORryde Rubber Pin Boxes. The pin box mounting bolts may have been insufficiently tightened, possibly resulting in the trailer separating from the tow vehicle.

Forest River has notify owners, and Forest River or MORryde dealers will replace the mounting bolts, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-821-1487 or MORyde customer service at 1-574-293-1581. Forest River’s number for this recall is 410-0954.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Forest River Wildwood recreational trailers. The Federal Placard indicates an incorrect front tire pressure of 110 PSI. The correct PSI of the front, rear and spare tires is 80 PSI. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire selection and Rims.” Additionally, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Forest River has notified owners, and supplied a corrected Federal Placard, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-534-6127, extension 10917. Forest River’s number for this recall is 69-0949.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Rockwood and Flagstaff recreational trailers. The bunk bed door latch fasteners that secure the bunk bed door closed may fail, allowing the door to open while moving.

Forest River has notified owners, and dealers will install the correct fasteners for the bunk bed door latches, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-574-642-8943. Forest River’s number for this recall is 10D-0950.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2019 Cherokee recreational trailers. The Federal Placards indicate incorrect tire size information of ST205/75R15, when the vehicles are actually equipped with ST225/75R15 tires. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.” Additionally, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Forest River has notified owners and sent them a new Federal Placard that has correct tire size information, free of charge. The recall began February 25, 2019. Owners may contact Forest River customer service at 1-541-644-8072, extension 4022. Forest River’s number for this recall is 64-0948.

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Dutchmen Endurance and 2017-2019 Dutchmen Voltage Travel Trailers. The tires may contact with the rear floor support, affecting the trailer’s handling.

Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will cut a notch in the floor support to provide sufficient clearance between the tire and the floor support, free of charge. The recall began on January 15, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone RV’s number for this recall is 19-338.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Montana recreational trailers, models 3855BR and 3854BR. The adjustment bolt for the kitchen slide may be too long, allowing it to make contact with the tire while moving.

Keystone had notified owners, and dealers will replace the adjustment bolt with a correct length adjustment bolt, and replace the dinette slide room adjustment mechanism, free of charge. The recall began on February 7, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-341

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Keystone Bullet Crossfire recreational trailers equipped with a rear-wall mounted spare tire carrier. The spare tire carrier was improperly mounted, possibly resulting in the carrier detaching from the rear wall.

Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will inspect the trailers and correctly install the tire carrier, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began on March 8, 2019. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-345.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Keystone RV Company

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2019 Crossroad Redwood recreational trailers, equipped with MORryde Rubber Pin Boxes. The pin box mounting bolts may have been insufficiently tightened, possibly resulting in the trailer separating from the tow vehicle.

Keystone has notified owners, and dealers will properly tighten the mounting bolts for the pin box, free of charge. The recall began on February 28, 2019. Owners may notify Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 19-346.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2019 Prowler and Trail Runner recreational trailers. The trailers were equipped with Load Range D tires instead of Load Range E tires.

Heartland has notified owners, and dealers will replace the tires with ones of the correct load range, free of charge. The recall began February 14, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032. Heartland’s number for this recall is 99.01.46.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Heartland Recreational Vehicles

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2019 Prowler and Trail Runner recreational trailers. The Federal Certification Label may contain incorrect tire size, load range and tire pressure information. As such, these trailers fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Heartland has notified owners and provided replacement certification labels, free of charge. The recall began February 14, 2019. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032. Heartland’s number for this recall is 99.01.45.

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2012-2018 Winnebago ERA motorhomes. The overhead cabinet shelf may have been improperly attached, allowing the cabinet face to detach and fall into the cab area.

Winnebago will notify owners, and dealers will install two support brackets, additional screws, and a maximum capacity warning label, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a recall start date. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2014 Metro Link vehicles equipped with Ricon S-Series and K-Series Titanium Wheelchair Lifts. The wheelchair lift positioning input cam may fail while the lift is in use, allowing the platform to travel higher than the vehicle’s floor height. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 403, “Platform Lift Systems.”

Winnebago will notify owners and Ricon dealers will replace the lift positioning input cam, free of charge. The recall began on February 28, 2019. Owners may contact Ricon customer service at 1-800-322-2884. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 157.

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2019 Airstream Basecamp X recreational vehicles. The Federal Certification Label and Tire Placard may have incorrect information stating that the vehicle is equipped with 235/55R18 Load Range D tires needing 80 psi, when the vehicles are actually equipped with 235/75R15 Load Range D tires needing 51 psi. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Airstream has notified owners and will send them a new corrected Federal Certification Label and Tire Placard, free of charge. The recall began on February 22, 2019. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 extension 7401 or 7411.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Motor Coach Industries

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) is recalling certain 2001-2015 J4500 and 1997-2013 102EL3/E4500 coaches equipped with a hydraulic rear axle (tag axle) steering system. The axle’s alignment and low hydraulic pressure in the steering system may cause the steering system to lock, causing a loss of steering control at highway speeds.

MCI will notify owners. The manufacturer has not yet finalized the recall remedy. The recall is expected to begin in March 2019. Owners may contact MCI customer service at 1-800-241-2947. MCI’s number for this recall is SB 469.

Trail King

Trail King Industries, Inc. (Trail King) is recalling certain 2016-2017 ACS and AACS drop deck fifth wheel trailers equipped with fifth wheel plates that have a 14″ king pin setting and 1/4″ plate. The fifth wheel coupler plate on these vehicles may crack, potentially allowing the trailer to detach from the tractor.

Trail King has notified owners, and dealers will replace the coupler plate, free of charge. The recall began on March 1, 2019. Owners may contact Trail King customer service at 1-800-843-3324. Trail King’s number for this recall is TK201901.

Note: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Has your RV been involved in a safety recall? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

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

Worth Pondering…

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

—Martin Van Buren

Exploring Globe-Miami

The community of Globe-Miami is rich in copper, culture, and a pleasant climate

In the middle of the 32,000 acres that are the Salt River Canyon Wilderness, U.S. Route 60 is a narrow ribbon buckling through the harsh terrain.

Salt River Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

By starting in Apache Junction you’ll traverse the 1,200-foot-long Queen Creek Tunnel cutting through the mountain at a 6 percent upward grade. Now you’ll climb 4,000 feet via tight bends, S-curves, and the three consecutive switchbacks plunging into the canyon. The highway twists through the Tonto National Forest with views of the Superstition Mountains.

Salt River Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The community of Globe-Miami is rich in copper, culture, and a pleasant climate. Globe was named from the legend of a 50-pound “globe” shaped silver nugget. Numerous antique shops and art galleries are situated in historic downtown Globe. Located in the foothills of the Pinal Mountains at an elevation of 3,500 feet, Globe-Miami enjoys cooler summers than its metropolitan neighbors while still having sunny, pleasant winters.

Globe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is much to see and experience, as the area’s mining history, Old West traditions, and Native American culture offer a wide-ranging Southwestern experience. The historic downtowns, copper mining, the neighboring San Carlos Apache Reservation, and abundant outdoor recreation throughout the Tonto National Forest combine to make Globe-Miami much more than the sleepy community many expect to find. Mining still holds a significant role in the local economy, along with tourism.

Globe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The Cobre Valley Center for the Arts is located in the landmark former Gila County Courthouse of 1906 at the heart of Globe’s historic downtown district. Since 1984, this non-profit entity has been restoring and rejuvenating this architectural treasure, while presenting regional artists, community theater, and dance and music academies. The Center is located at the corner of Broad and Oak Streets.

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

One mile south of Globe stands the ruins of the ancient Salado people who occupied the site nearly 800 years ago. This ancient village is known today as Besh Ba Gowah. The term was originally given by the Apaches to the early settlement of Globe. Roughly translated, the term means “Place of Metal.” 

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum offers visitors a chance to explore the ruins of this relatively advanced culture, a museum which houses a large collection of Salado pottery and artifacts, botanical gardens, and a gift shop. The adjacent Ethno-Botanical Garden illustrates native Arizona plants that were used in their daily lives.

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Located at the confluence of Pinal Creek and Ice House Canyon Wash, Besh-Ba-Gowah Pueblo has one of the largest single site archaeological collections in the southwest and is one of the most significant finds of Southwest archaeology.

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Archaeologists consider Besh-Ba-Gowah a ceremonial, redistribution, and food storage complex. Salado Culture is identified as the cultural period from 1150 to 1450 in the Tonto Basin.

Visitors walk through a 700-year-old Salado Culture pueblo, climb ladders to second story rooms, and view the typical furnishings of the era.

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

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

Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The present day interpretive trail uses plaques to inform the visitor. It begins with the ancient entrance way to the main plaza. The main plaza measures 40 x 88 feet. About 150 elaborate burials were placed under the plaza. Hereditary high status is suspected from burial evidence in the plaza. The ruins had very few doors. Room access was by roof hatchways with ladders. Several reconstructed rooms with prehistoric contents are featured.

Peridot Mesa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The San Carlos Apache Reservation is located 12 miles east of Globe-Miami on U.S. Highway 70. Throughout this beautiful land you will find rich Apache culture, hunting and fishing opportunities, as well as other recreational delights. A tribal land permit is required for activities on tribal lands.

Wildflowers in the spring on Peridot Mesa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Peridot Mesa, about 20 minutes east of Globe, is one of Arizona’s hot spots for wildflower viewing and one of the very first places in the state to kick off the spring wildflower season.

Spring Wildflowers on Peridot Mesa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

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

—Aldo Leopold, 1937

Temecula Valley: Historic Old Town, Wine Country and More

The Southern California wine region was named one of the best destinations for 2019

For many visitors, the Temecula Valley wine country is a surprise. After all, a lot of people just don’t expect to see gently rolling hills blanketed with rows of vineyards so close to the California desert.

But the Temecula Valley has been producing top wines since the 1970s. And like the best vintages, this wine country just gets better with age.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

For years, the Temecula Valley wine country has been somewhat of an under-the-radar destination. But it’s a secret no longer. Wine Enthusiast has named Temecula Valley one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2019” shining a spotlight on the area’s winning combination of notable wines and top-notch hospitality.

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

It’s a diverse growing region, home to everything from cooler climate grapes like Chardonnay to such warm-weather loving varieties as Syrah and Grenache. The tasting experience is varied, too. Visit posh wineries with lavish restaurants overlooking the vines, and summer concerts featuring top performers.

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Stroll the streets of Old Town Temecula, with quality boutiques, eateries, and a relaxed Old West feel. Take a hot-air balloon ride or tasting tour in a chauffeured limousine, or play a round of golf. Or just hang out in a tasting room gain insights into this unique and surprising region.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Centrally located just east of Interstate 15, Temecula Valley is within an hour’s drive from San Diego, Orange County, and the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area. 

The name Temecula comes from the Luiseño Indian word “Temecunga” —“temet” meaning “sun” and “-ngna” which means “place of”.

The Spanish interpreted and spelled the word as “Temecula” translated to mean “Where the sun breaks through the mist”. Temecula is the only city in California to still retain its original Indian name.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

History buffs can wander the streets of Old Town Temecula viewing rustic buildings, sidewalks, and storefronts reminiscent of the historic golden west in the 1880s.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Located in the heart of Temecula, the Old Town district is a unique blend of historic buildings, shops, restaurants, museums, hotels, weekly farmers market, and special events in one walkable, easy-to navigate area.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Taking a step back in time, we strolled along the wooden boardwalks past rustic western-era buildings, antique shops, and specialty boutiques. We checked out the shops with a stop at Temecula Olive Oil Company.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Once the site of a stopover on the historic Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Line, scenic Vail Lake was created in 1948 when the owners of the Vail Cattle Ranch constructed the 132 foot high Vail Lake Dam. Owned and operated by the Rancho California Water District since 1978, the 1,000+ acre lake is a well known mountain biking destination and recreational mecca.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Today Vail Lake RV Resort offers camping and activities for the whole family, including camping, mountain biking, hiking, miniature golf, swimming, horseshoes, and just plain relaxing under the oaks. Offering both privacy and security, Vail Lake RV Resort is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature in over 8,000 acres of ancient, shady oaks, and natural California chaparral hillsides.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Temecula Valley, at an elevation of 1,400 feet, with warm days and cool nights, is an ideal location for growing high quality wine grapes.

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

No matter which varietal of wine you’re looking for, you can probably find it in Temecula Valley Wine Country. Wineries here in the Temecula Valley grow and produce over 50 different varietals of wine; from Cabernet Sauvignon to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot to Mourvedre, Viognier to Chardonnay.

Temecula Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Temecula Valley is particularly well-suited to growing Italian, Spanish, and French grapes such as Sangiovese, Syrah, Montepulciano, Viognier, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo.

The majority of Temecula Valley wineries make only a small quantity of each vintage—not enough for national distribution. So, you won’t often find their wines in grocery stores or wine shops; they’re mostly available to visitors via winery tasting rooms. That means, when you buy a bottle to take home, you’re bringing back something truly unique.

Pechanga Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Where to Stay: Pechanga Casino RV Resort, Temecula

Worth Pondering…

Products from the soil are still the greatest industry in the world.

—Dick Cooper, 1966