20 Travel Bucket List Destinations

What is on your bucket list?

There are many people who have a bucket list. Sometimes it’s in the form of a vision board or a long list of things to do before they “kick the bucket”.

Are you one of them? Do you keep a bucket list with all the places you would like to visit and things you would like to see and do? 

This list may inspire you to make your own bucket list or add to your existing list. Enjoy!

Saguaros in Saguaro National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Celebrate the desert in Arizona in a surprisingly vertical way

Tall, lanky saguaros are the state symbol. Saguaros grow very slowly. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall. When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3,200-4,800 pounds.

There are countless places to bring your RV in southern Arizona where you can get up close and personal with these amazing beasts.

Along the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Discover the majestic beauty of the Canadian Rockies

If you love the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Montana you’ll absolutely have to tour the Canadian Rockies for stunning scenery filled with turquoise glacial waters and craggy mountain peaks. Be sure to visit Glacier National Park (Canadian version), Banff National Park, and Jasper National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Tour two deserts in one at Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is a diverse area of sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, rugged mountains, granitic monoliths, and oases. The park is home to two deserts: the Colorado and the Mojave.

Madison Square in Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Walk down the cobblestone streets of Savannah

Steeped in history, antebellum beauty, and architectural treasures, Savannah begs to be explored on foot and by trolley. Much of Savannah’s charm lies in meandering through the Historic District’s lovely shaded squares draped in feathery Spanish moss—all 22.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Test your hiking limits at the Zion National Park

Zion is filled with impressive canyons, sheer cliffs, and wide expanses of slick rock. This is the type of place where you can take your hiking ability to the limit and beyond.

Carlsbad Caverns © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Find the beauty down under at Carlsbad Caverns

Have you ever visited a cavern? How about the cavern of all caverns? Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico is not just a hole in the ground—it’s a mind-blowing hole in the ground. You will spend hours exploring the depths of this cave and come out full of wonder and awe.

Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Eat your way through the BBQ Capital of Texas

A trip to this flavor-packed smoke town should be on any food lover’s bucket list. Dubbed the “BBQ Capital of Texas,” Lockhart is one of the most legendary barbecue destinations in the world. The Big Three of BBQ are Black’s Barbecue (open since 1932), Kreuz Market (est. 1900), and Smitty’s Market (since 1948). You’ll consume a lot of meat so be sure to stop for breaks.

Organ pipe cactus in Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Celebrates the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Extreme temperatures, intense sunlight, and little rainfall characterize this Southwest region. Twenty-six species of cactus live here including the giant saguaro and the park’s namesake. This is the only place in the U. S. where the organ pipe cactus grows wild.

Tabasco Factory © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Tour Tabasco and Jungle Gardens

Avery Island is the home of Louisiana’s iconic hot sauce: Tabasco. See how it’s made during a factory tour, pick up a few souvenirs at the Tabasco Country Store, and tour the island’s Jungle Gardens.

The Okefenokee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Discover a swampy wonderland in the Okefenokee

The Okefenokee is an area of swampland in southern Georgia. It is a maze of watercourses, cypress swamps, and swamp grassland. From the little town of Waycross there are boat trips into the swamp.

Appalachian Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Show off your hiking skills on the Appalachian Trail

Enjoy an abundance of wildlife and plants. With 2,180 miles of trail, there are plenty of entry points.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Run amongst the wild horses on Cumberland Island.

Take the ferry from St. Marys to Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia and enjoy this quiet, charming island that’s protected by the National Park Service.

Wild Turkey Distillery Tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

If you love traditional Kentucky bourbon aged in charred oak barrels, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is about as close to heaven as you’re going to get. The trail links distilleries including Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Wild Turkey.

Along Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway near Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Moab

Mountain bike, hike, and climb your way around the stunning red rocks and then go to Moab Brewery for a cold one and some tasty pub fare.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Tour the Blue Ridge Parkway for 469 miles

A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other: a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachians.

Historic Downtown Yuma © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Winter in the sunniest city on Earth

With nearly 330 days of sunshine a year (4,300 sunny hours), Yuma, Arizona holds the world record for most recorded annual sunshine. All that sun comes at a price in the summertime though, because guess what? Yuma is also the hottest city in the nation. But you sure can’t beat that sunshine in the winter. Ask any snowbird who winters here!

Creole Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

17. Tour the Louisiana Outback

Life is everywhere along the Creole Nature Trail. Birds, mammals, fish, crabs, and alligators make their home in the four wildlife refuges that can be found along the 180 mile-long byways that make up the Trail.

The Big Tree after Hurricane Harvey © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

18. Discover a natural treasure that weathered a calamitous storm

With a height of 44 feet, circumference of 35 feet, and crown spanning roughly 90 feet, the Big Tree, massive coastal live oak has survived Mother Nature’s fiercest storms including Hurricane Harvey (August 25, 2017) for more than 1,000 years.

Mount Lemmon ski run © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

19. Ski above the Saguaros

Skiing in Arizona? Yep, down south. Tucson’s Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains is home to the southernmost ski runs in the U.S.

Bishops Palace in Galveston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

20. Come to the island

Come to the island to stroll the beach or splash in the waves. Or come to the island to go fishing or look for coastal birds. No matter what brings you here, you’ll find a refuge on Galveston Island. Just an hour from Houston, but an island apart!

Be daring enough to do what your heart desires and the memory of these places will forever hold a special place in your heart. Make your own RV bucket list and go where no one has gone before.

Worth Pondering…

I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list!

Bucket List Trip for Your Lifetime: America’s Ultimate National Park Road Trip

Are you looking for a special bucket list destination? An inspiration for an once-in-a-lifetime trip?

This is part of an ongoing series. In the original feature, I posed the question, Why Do You Travel? Many of us, I suggest, travel for the wrong reasons, putting the ‘where’ ahead of the ‘why’. We have a perfect opportunity to change all that with a new travel paradigm.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In a follow-up article, Why NOW is the Best Time to Plan Your Travel Bucket List, I explain why you should sit down and map out a multi-year travel plan to make sure you get to see and do all the things that are most important to you.

In today’s article, I present a Once in a Lifetime experiences and destinations for you to consider. Obviously everyone’s dream list will be different and whatever it is that you feel you really want or need to do should be at the top of your list.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The sheer number of choices in the National Park Service is so staggering it can be hard to pick where to go and it only gets more confusing when you add notable state and Native American park options. While there are “only” 62 places with the actual title National Park, the inventory of National Park Service sites is well over 400 including National Historic Sites, National Monuments, National Seashores, and National Recreation Areas. Often there is not much practical difference. Standouts such as Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Organ Pipe National Monument, and Cumberland Island National Seashore are not “national parks” but might as well be.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So where to go? I can only speak from experience but having been to many of the most famous and most visited National Parks including the Grand Canyon, Zion, Great Smoky Mountains, and Sequoia as well as more far flung and varied National Parks from South Carolina to Washington State, I can say that to me, no area of the country has as uniquely beautiful and unusual natural wonder as the red rock canyon country of Southern Utah.

Hovenweep National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But it’s not just a matter of what I consider to be the best-looking nature this region also has a concentration of significant sites that is simply unrivalled anyplace else. Spend a week and you scratch the surface, spend two and you still have to make hard choices. In the span of one road trip you can visit five different mind-blowing National Parks, any of which might be the most amazing scenery and ruins you have ever seen plus several other equally impressive National Park Service sites and state parks.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If that’s not enough, world famous Monument Valley, a Navajo Nation Park, sits on the Utah/Arizona border in close proximity to the others.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where? Having driven across America numerous times and after visiting many very different National Parks Service sites, my personal favorite is Arches whose Delicate Arch is one of the most iconic and oft photographed natural wonders of the world—but Arches so much more. Arches as an absolute can’t miss!

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But as amazing as Arches is, it is relatively small by Southwestern National Parks standards while that is certainly not the case for immense Canyonlands located right next door. Both are very easily accessed from Moab, the world’s most famous mountain biking destination and longtime hub of outdoor activities from river rafting to off-road jeep tours and rock climbing. You could spend several weeks and not run out of things to see and do and places to go.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, in the southeastern part of the state. Travel south and you will hit stunning Natural Bridges National Monument with Arches-like geology, Hovenweep National Monument with impressive Puebloan ruins reminiscent of Mesa Verde National Park and Monument Valley across the Arizona border as well as nearby Navajo National Monument with still more impressive cliff dwellings and rock formations.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or head west and visit Capitol Reef National Park, another jaw-dropping example of the region’s “Canyon country” geology before running into Bears Ear and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Continue to the corner of southwestern Utah and you have another huge critical mass of staggering natural beauty in the form of Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks plus Cedar Breaks National Monument, Snow Canyon State Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and Kodachrome Basin State Park. The names kind of give these away.

Cedar Breaks National Monuments © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In this corner of the state, the biggest town is St. George which has a surprising array of standout golf courses, a bit of a hidden gem for golf fans.

Worth Pondering…

Nothing can exceed the wonderful beauty of Zion…

In the nobility and beauty of the sculptures there is no comparison…

There is an eloquence to their forms which stirs the imagination with a singular power and kindles in the mind a glowing response.

—Clarence E. Dutton, geologist, 1880

Get in your RV and Go! Scenic Drives in America

Are you ready to pack up and hit some of the most scenic drives in America? Then get in your RV and go. These highways and byways are high on our bucket lists.

No mode of travel is more American than the road trip. It’s a national rite of passage. Getting tired of sitting at home? Get in your RV and go for a drive. America offers beautiful and breathtaking scenic drives you can take with the family. Some of the roadside attractions may still be closed because of the pandemic but the vistas are ever-present and beautiful as always.

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are dozens of travel quotes we could use to preface this list, but we’re going to assume that you already know that traveling isn’t always about where you end up―it is just as much about how you get there. With travel restrictions due to COVID-19, there has never been a better time to take a scenic drive just for the experience.

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dating back to Model T days, folks have been hitting the wide-open road to explore every nook and cranny of the 3,000 miles that lie from sea to shining sea. From mountain roads with hairpin turns to stunning seaside escapes to good ol’ Americana history, here are six epic road trips to travel this summer.

Historic Route 66 between Kingman and Oatman in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 66: Illinois to California

During the 1940s and ’50s, the 2,500-mile stretch of road from Chicago to Santa Monica, California was the American road trip. That changed with the development of the interstate system which rerouted large portions of the highway to larger interstates.

Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even so, tourists from around the globe still follow the famous path (or at least sections of it) past vintage neon signs, retro roadside motels, multiple national parks including the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, as well as kitschy Americana stops such as Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, Arizona and cool art installations such as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia and North Carolina

Spanning 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this stunning parkway winds its way through the forested peaks that belong to some of the oldest mountains in America.

Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The area is lush and green through the spring and summer months, but the road is most spectacular in autumn when the rolling landscape is painted with fiery shades of red, yellow, and orange usually at its crest late-October to mid-November.

Route 89 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Route 89: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana

Far less famous than Route 66 but just as gorgeous, Route 89 is sometimes called the National Park to Park Highway. Truly ambitious road warriors can take the road less traveled by starting in Arizona, moving through Utah and up to Wyoming and Montana.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The highway passes 150 towns, cities, and reservations, seven national parks (including the Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Yellowstone), and three giant geographic regions (Basin and Range, Colorado Plateau, and the Rockies).

Amish Country Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Amish Country Byway: Ohio

The 72-mile Amish Country Byway boasts views of natural vistas along winding curves and over rolling hills. On a map, routes 39, 62, 515, and 60 form a sort of “eyeglasses” shape throughout Holmes County. That’s fitting, because exploring these four roads is a great way to explore Amish Country.

Amish Country Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along these roadways, you will be treated to the typical, yet breathtaking sights of Amish Country: teams of huge, blonde Belgians pulling wagons of hay, farmers working in the fields, large white houses, and red barns. In addition, this charming country byway offers visitors a fine selection of Amish country cooking as well as historic sites featuring the history of Amish and German people.  Because of the unique agriculture and culture of Amish Country, you must share the road with Amish buggies, agriculture equipment, and cyclists.

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byway 12: Utah

Utah is a place unlike anywhere else in the world! With so many sights to see, Scenic Byway 12 is the perfect road to take you right through the heart of it all. It passes through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Boulder Mountain with gorgeous views at every turn in between.

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This highway cuts right through the center of the state, making it the ideal route to take when you’re on an RV trip visiting Utah’s “Mighty Five” National Parks—Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, and Capitol Reef. 

El Camino Real: New Mexico

Historic Mesilla along El Comino Real © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1598, Don Juan de Onate led 500 colonists through the remote and unfamiliar country now known as New Mexico. The route Onate followed became El Camino Real, “the royal road.” 

Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe along along El Comino Real © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The byway begins just north of Las Cruces, in Fort Selden, built in the mid-1800s to protect local settlers and travelers on El Camino Real and continues to cross 90 miles of flat but waterless and dangerous desert, the Jornada del Muerto (“journey of the dead man”) before reaching Socorro. The road then heads north to Albuquerque and Santa Fe reaching its end at San Juan Pueblo, the first capital of New Mexico and the end of Don Juan de Onate’s journey. 

 Worth Pondering…

The journey, and not the destination, is the joy of RVing.

Why NOW is the Best Time to Plan Your Travel Bucket List

Have you been dreaming of destinations that you’d like to be quarantined in?

As we travel again, having had time to consider how much we miss traveling and exploring, will we do anything differently? Will we make better use of our time by ensuring that our travels have a defined goal in mind?

I posed the above question in an earlier post titled, Why Do You Travel? Many of us, I suggest, travel for the wrong reasons, putting the ‘where’ ahead of the ‘why’. We have a perfect opportunity to change all that with a new travel paradigm.

Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A renewed and surging interest in travel suggests that many people (including myself) are starving for travel and as it becomes safe to travel again, many of us will embrace it— and we should. But will we travel better than before?

Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This pandemic is not the first major disruption to travel and besides other outbreaks from SARS and Swine Flu to MERS and Ebola there have been volcanic eruptions, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, and wildfires. But because this is so widespread and long lasting, I for one will emerge with a newfound sense of seizing the moment.

World’s Only Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life is short enough without one not knowing when the next shoe will drop. A lesson to be learned is that if there are things you want to do in your life, you should put a plan in place and Just Do It.

In terms of travel, this is not a new idea since the pandemic. Each trip we create is by definition unique. What all of our trips share in common is the belief that any journey worth taking should be a rich personal story set within the larger narrative of life itself.

Lady Bird Wildflower Center, Austin, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Why Do You Travel? I concluded that in this time of reflection we can make the most of the opportunity to plan our future travels by first asking why rather than where. Because travel is so freely available we tend to rush through this question.

Fort Jackson State Historic Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The bulk of travel that puts the where ahead of the why follows a predictable blueprint that hasn’t changed since the days of the Grand Tour; we visit the Louvre, tour the Pantheon, and ride the London Eye. We do all these things automatically because they’re what you’re meant to do.

Laughlin, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That is why you need to think about what you really want to do and see? Create your own Bucket List and do it in multiple categories that could focus on family trips and personal passions that could include an interest in history, architecture, food and wine. Then plan a realistic timetable to accomplish your goals.

Fountain Hills, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the pandemic, time is the one thing we have in abundance which makes travel planning even more desirable. This forced break is the optimal time to begin planning those big trips that require considerable research and forethought. We may also see tighter restrictions in place in terms of visitors to some of the most coveted sights which makes advanced planning even more important.

Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This multi-year calendar approach makes a lot of sense for many reasons. Bucket list sporting events such as the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, Daytona 500, Masters Tournament, Rose Bowl Parade, and Superbowl benefit from booking a year out.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition, some trips can be done by just about anyone while others require a modicum of fitness and mobility that may mandate simply not waiting too long. If you want to hike the Appalachian Trail or heli-ski in Rocky Mountains, these should be closer to the front of your list.

Fort Frederica National Monument, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But besides these logistical issues the biggest reason to plan a multi-year bucket list calendar is to ensure you do what you want to do while you’re physically able and in a way you can afford. Since the world is just too big and diverse not to explore, use some of your downtime and emerge from this crisis with a better sense of all the things you want to do and see with the time you have remaining.

Rebecca Ruth Chocolates, Frankfort, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.

—Hilaire Belloc

Bucket List RV Trips for 2020

Where to RV in 2020

The open road awaits but the time you have to travel it isn’t open-ended. Traveling the country in a recreational vehicle frees you from constraints, but it’s a bit of a bummer if you haven’t figured out where you want to go while you’re still healthy enough to get there.

We took a spin around the navigable portions of North America and found several spots worth adding to an RV bucket list. The destinations are worth the trip, but so are the paths you’ll take to get to them.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearly 280 miles long and up to 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon and its national park are a wonderland of rim hiking, donkey riding, and whitewater rafting. Though the North Rim of the canyon is closed until mid-May, the South Rim is open all year and features Trailer Village, where RV sites start around $55.

The Grand Canyon Bonus

Williams © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The opium dens, bordellos, and other landmarks of Williams’, rough-and-tumble past are long gone. But some kinder, gentler vestiges of this town’s Wild West era remain. And that’s fortunate for Grand Canyon-bound visitors seeking a fun, full-service spot as a base before and after a trip to the Canyon’s South Rim, 56 miles north.

Grand Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The town of 3,000 residents, considered the gateway to the Grand Canyon, is also home to the Grand Canyon Railway, an excursion train that traverses the scenic, high-desert plateau between a historic depot and the Canyon. Make the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park your home base where sites start around $36 and walk to the adjacent depot.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You could simply drive Route 9 through this national park in Utah and get a tremendous view of the natural beauty around you. But if you want to trek the Zion and Kolob canyons, visit the Zion Human History Museum, hike Kolob Arch, or take in the mountains, stay a while. Granted, you could bounce around to Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument to the northeast or the Grand Canyon to the southeast, but there’s a lot to absorb here. Also, your RV would need a permit to get through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.

Zion National Park Bonus

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The South and Watchman campgrounds in the park itself have RV access, but only Watchman has electric hookups. Neither has sewer, water, or Wi-Fi, so if those things are important, you may want to consider a place such as the Zion River Resort, the highest rated RV park near Zion. It offers full-service sites with cable TV and wireless internet service starting at $37 a day. You also get access to a spa, a fully air-conditioned social hall, and a concierge.

The Canadian Rockies

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We really don’t want to make you choose between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. Instead, if you have limited time to take this trip, drive your RV from Banff to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. Though named for the Columbia Icefields, its views of the Rockies, the valleys, the wildlife, waterfalls, glacial-silt lakes, and Icefields Skywalk are well worth the trip.

The Canadian Rockies Bonus

Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parks such as the Hinton/Jasper KOA are an option for your stay, but the national parks themselves offer RV sites in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. They start taking reservations in mid-January for the peak summer season, so it helps to plan well in advance especially if you desire a site with utilities.

Albuquerque

Rio Grande River at Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a lot more to do here than look at filming locations for “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.” Nob Hill, the ABQ BioPark, and the 2.7-mile Sandia Peak Tramway just scratch the surface of this place’s natural beauty, and the Petroglyph National Monument and Cibola National Forest are easy to explore. With nearly two dozen RV parks to choose from, it’s also an ideal destination for your home on wheels.

Albuquerque Bonus

Petroglyph National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s the best reason to come to Albuquerque in an RV? The Balloon Fiesta that puts hundreds of hot air balloons over the city. Not only can you park your RV right near the Fiesta site, but you can stay overnight for $40 to $250 and watch the balloons from right outside your front door. Take in the sites, smell the roasting chiles, and enjoy the festivities from your own accommodations. Just be prepared to stay the minimum three-night reservation.

Albuquerque © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

The journey not the arrival matters.

—T. S. Eliot

Flash Bucket List of Cool End-of-Summer Activities

What’s still left on your end-of-summer bucket list?

Memorial Day is but a faint memory. Independence Day came and went. Now, with Labor Day looming, you’re wondering where the heck summer went—exactly. But don’t stop yet. You can curl up in a blanket on the couch in January and February, promise—unless, you’re a snowbird basking in the sunshine and warm temperatures of a Sunbelt state.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not to fret, it’s not too late for a last-hurrah to close the summer out right.

There is no shortage of must-see destinations throughout the U.S., and late summer is an opportunity to witness America’s beauty at its best.

But where to go? A flash bucket list of Great American Summer activities follow. So hop in the RV for one final road trip and head to the one nearest you, or get inspired to recreate some of this summer magic in a state park or local recreation area near your own fair city. Either way, you’ve got a few final weeks of heat and sun to make this summer one for the books. Don’t waste it.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This austere landscape is home to a surprisingly dense population of wildlife. Bison, pronghorn antelope, elk, white-tailed and mule deer, wild horses, and bighorn sheep inhabit the park, as do numerous smaller mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And perhaps best of all is the shortage of human beings. This relatively isolated park is hardly ever crowded (753,880 visitors in 2016), so you can experience the gorgeous loneliness of the badlands much the way Roosevelt did more than a hundred years ago.

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Custer State Park in the beautiful Black Hills of western South Dakota is full of lush forests, quiet and serene meadows, and majestic mountains. Few truly wild places remain in this country. Custer State Park is one of them.

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today, nearly 1,300 bison wander the park’s 71,000 acres of mountains, hills, and prairie, which they share with a wealth of wildlife including pronghorn antelope, elk, white-tailed and mule deer, big horn sheep, mountain goats, coyotes, wild turkeys, a band of burros, and whole towns of adorable prairie dogs.

Adairsville, Georgia

Adairsville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A visit to this Norman Rockwell kind of town is a must for anyone who loves history, antiquing, and good food.

Adairsville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adairsville, nestled in the Oothcalooga Valley, is listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places. More than 130 homes and businesses are designated as historic properties. Adairsville still has its 1847 frame depot and many historic homes and old business blocks. The depot displays over 100 years of history.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Chattanooga lies in a valley in southeastern Tennessee between the Appalachian and the Cumberland mountains. Chattanooga sits on both banks of the Tennessee River at Moccasin Bend and is bordered by Signal Mountain on the north and Lookout Mountain to the south which shelters the city from major weather systems.

Chattanooga © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tennessee’s fourth largest city with a population of 175,000, Chattanooga has a downtown elevation of 680 feet; Lookout Mountain is 2,388 feet in height. The city is a great family destination with lots of things to do and see.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At an elevation of over 10,000 feet, Cedar Breaks National Monument looks down into a majestic geologic amphitheater, a three-mile long cirque of eroding limestone, shale, and sandstone.

Cedar Breaks National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park is known for its spectacularly colored cliffs, bright blue skies, and breathtaking 100-mile views of the Great Basin. Take the scenic drive, wander among timeless bristlecone pines, ponder crystal-clear night skies, experience the richness of a subalpine forest.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table”, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects these sites, some of the most notable and best preserved in the U.S.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than 4,000 archaeological sites have been preserved, including hundreds of homes and villages that date back to the 12th century.

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

Mesa Verde National Park: 14 Centuries of History

Mesa Verde offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people

Most of the national parks in the Southwest are about the landscapes, but Mesa Verde in southern Colorado is more cultural than natural.

There’s still plenty of rugged scenery, but there are also more than 4,000 archaeological sites contained within Mesa Verde’s boundaries.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table”, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects these sites, some of the most notable and best preserved in the U.S.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fourteen centuries of history are displayed at Mesa Verde National Park, 10 miles east of Cortez off U.S. Highway 160. More than 4,000 archaeological sites have been preserved, including hundreds of homes and villages that date back to the 12th century.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These master builders constructed elaborate complexes tucked into sandstone cliffs. Some held just a few people, while others, such as the Cliff Palace and Long House, have 150 rooms and could have housed up to 100 people.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde is a World Cultural Heritage Park, a designation granted by UNESCO to preserve and protect the cultural and national heritage of certain international sites. Mesa Verde has also been selected the number one historic monument in the world by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, and was chosen by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “50 places of a Lifetime—The World’s Greatest Destinations.”

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde does not lend itself to a hurry-up visit. To truly appreciate the park and to visit several of the cliff dwellings, plan to spend a minimum of two days at the park. It takes time to savor the magic of its eight centuries of prehistoric Indian culture. As a vintage slogan at the park advises: “It’s a place where you can see for 100 miles and look back in time 1,000 years.”

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The intricate architecture is as awesome to behold today as it was when cowboys and ranchers first saw it. Two men looking for lost cattle, Richard Wetherill and Charles Mason, came upon the most spectacular site, the 150-room Cliff Palace, in 1888. Mesa Verde was designated as a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt 18 years later, in 1906.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From Mesa Verde’s entrance a two-lane paved road winds upward 2,000 feet through piñon-juniper forests and canyons. At Park Point, on the northern edge of the mesa at 8,600 feet, the visitor is treated to a panoramic view of the Montezuma Valley to the west, and the Mancos Valley, framed by the 14,000-foot San Juan and La Plata mountains to the east.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At Far View, the road divides. The west fork leads to Wetherill Mesa and a number of major cliff dwellings, including Long House, second largest at Mesa Verde. The south fork leads to Park Headquarters on lower Chapin Mesa and the major cliff dwellings of Cliff Palace, largest in the park, Spruce Tree House (closed to the public), Balcony House, Square Tower House, and others.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spruce Tree House is the best preserved cliff dwelling in the park, but falling rocks from a sandstone overhang have kept the more than 700-year-old structure closed since October 2015.

Due to the complexity of the project and the significance of Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling, there is a four-phase sequential approach planned.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In early 2017, the park service contracted with a geotechnical firm to conduct Phases One and Two. This assessment will result in recommendations for treatment that, if necessary, will use modern engineering technology to ensure that the alcove is stable and safe for public visitation.

Currently, Spruce Tree House can be seen from overlooks near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde offers great camping just 4 miles inside the park at Morefield Campground. Because there are 267 sites, there’s always plenty of space. The campground rarely fills. But if you want one of the 15 full-hookup sites, reservations are a must.

Mesa Verde is open year-round, but actual schedules vary with the season. The campground and some sites are closed during the winter. The current entry fee to visit Mesa Verde National Park is $15-25 (fee is good for 7 days); all federal lands passes are accepted.

Worth Pondering

(The cowboys’ discovery of Cliff Palace) was the beginning of the mystery which is still a mystery. Who were these people, where did they go, and why?

—Diana Kappel-Smith, Desert Time

7 UNESCO Heritage Sites for RV Travel

Discover these seven UNESCO heritage sites on your next RV road trip

Since its inception, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified and preserved dozens of natural and cultural sites around the world. From historical buildings to natural marvels, each heritage site is spectacular in its own right.

Many UNESCO sites are staples for world travelers including the Taj Mahal in India, the wilds of the Serengeti of East Africa, and the pyramids of Egypt. But many heritage sites in the US and Canada can be visited by the RV traveler. Be sure to add these seven UNESCO heritage sites in North America to your bucket list.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A great concentration of ancestral Pueblo Indian dwellings, built from the 6th to the 12th century, can be found on the Mesa Verde plateau in southwestern Colorado at an altitude of more than 8,500 feet. Some 4,400 sites have been recorded including villages built on the Mesa top.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some 600 cliff dwellings built of sandstone and mud mortar have been recorded including the famous multi-storey Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Square Tower House. The cliff dwelling sites range in size from small storage structures to large villages of 50 to 200 rooms.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Alberta and British Columbia

Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Renowned for their scenic splendor, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff and Jasper national parks in Alberta, Kootenay and Yoho national parks in British Columbia, and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber provincial parks in British Columbia.

Mount Robson Provincial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies form a striking mountain landscape. With rugged mountain peaks, icefields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive karst cave systems, and deeply carved canyons, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks possess exceptional natural beauty attracting millions of visitors annually.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carved by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is the most spectacular gorge in the world. Its horizontal strata retrace the geological history of the past 2 billion years.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grand Canyon is among the earth’s greatest on-going geological spectacles. Its vastness is stunning, and the evidence it reveals about the earth’s history is invaluable. The 0.9-mile deep gorge ranges in width from 0.3 mile to 18.6 miles. It twists and turns 276.5 miles and was formed during 6 million years of geologic activity and erosion by the Colorado River on the upraised earth’s crust.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

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

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

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

This exceptionally beautiful park is home to more than 3,500 plant species, including almost as many trees (130 natural species) as in all of Europe. The park is of exceptional natural beauty with scenic vistas of characteristic mist-shrouded (“smoky”) mountains, vast stretches of virgin timber, and clear running streams.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This karst landscape in New Mexico comprises over 80 recognized caves. They are outstanding not only for their size but also for the profusion, diversity, and beauty of their mineral formations.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The more than 100 limestone caves are outstanding and notable because of their size, mode of origin, and the abundance, diversity, and beauty of the speleothems (decorative rock formations). On-going geologic processes continue to form rare and unique speleothems that include helictites forming underwater, calcite and gypsum speleothems.

San Antonio Missions, Texas

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The San Antonio Missions are a group of five frontier mission complexes situated along a 7.7-mile stretch of the San Antonio River. It includes architectural and archaeological structures, residencies, churches and granaries, as well as water distribution systems.

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The complexes were built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century and illustrate the Spanish Crown’s efforts to colonize, evangelize, and defend the northern frontier of New Spain.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In a dramatic landscape of steep-sided canyons and coulees, sandstone cliffs, and eroded sandstone formations called hoodoos, Indigenous peoples created rock art. Thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs at more than 138 rock art sites graphically represent the powers of the spirit world that resonate in this sacred landscape and chronicle phases of human history in North America including when Indigenous peoples first came into contact with Europeans.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

7 Things To Do at Least Once in Your Lifetime

You haven’t truly lived until you’ve tried these experiences

Chances are you’ve dreamed of visiting far-off places like the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China. But the truth is there are many amazing things to do right here in North America.

To make the most of your travel time be sure to take advantage of what our home countries have to offer and check these amazing places off your bucket list.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Historic Route 66 on the road to Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Though an official Route 66 no longer exists—it was decommissioned in 1984—the legendary path from Chicago to Long Beach, California remains a draw for many adventurers. Fortunately, about 85 percent of the original route is still intact, including many famous roadside attractions. Visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, stop at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo (Texas), stay at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook (Arizona), and feed the wild burros in Oatman (Arizona).

Discover the Historic Wonders of the Freedom Trail

Paul Revere House on the Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston’s Freedom Trail includes 16 of the most historical places in the US from the site of the first Boston Tea Party meeting to the home of Paul Revere. You can do the 2 ½-mile route on your own but why not take a guided tour? Let historians in period dress explain what life was really like back then. You can even opt for a historic pub crawl which includes some very on-the-nose Sam Adams brews.

Remember the Epic, Bloody History of the Alamo

The Alamo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You probably know the phrase “Remember the Alamo”—but what exactly does that mean? If you’re not from Texas you might not be familiar with its bloody history. The Alamo, a former mission located in San Antonio, was the site of a major event in the Texas Revolution (1835-36). On April 21, 1836 Texians defeated the Mexican Army and won Texas’ independence. Today, the shrine is open to visitors offering battlefield tours, summer camps, and exhibits year-round.

Take a Horse and Buggy Back to Simpler Times in Amish Country

Lancaster County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Speaking of going back to a bygone age, try Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The area offers tours, museums, children’s activities such as doll-making, and, of course, buggy rides. It’s an excellent opportunity to disconnect from technology and see how a resilient, devout group of people get by just fine without everyone’s favorite ladies, Alexa and Siri.

Tour an Overlooked, Affordable & Scenic Wine Region

Okanagan Wine Country at Penticton © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where can you drink great wines amid breathtaking natural beauty without blowing out a couple of credit cards (think Napa)? Easy: go to Canada to the Okanagan wine region in British Columbia. It’s possibly the most scenic wine region in North America and a place where RVers and other normal people can afford to taste wine. Two towns are standouts for their concentration of vineyards and wineries: Oliver and Osoyoos. Together they boast 39 wineries that extend from the lush valley into the semi-arid mountains that surround the area.

Thrill to Whitewater Rafting on the New River

New River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River is renowned for its recreational opportunities including whitewater rafting, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, bird watching, camping, picnicking, and biking. A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The Lower Gorge of the New River is a premier whitewater rafting location with imposing rapids ranging in difficulty from Class III to Class V, many of them obstructed by large boulders which necessitate maneuvering in very powerful currents.

Tour a Massive Dam Constructed During the Great Depression

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colorado River’s Hoover Dam is a sight to behold with the American Society of Civil Engineers dubbing it one of the “Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders” in the U.S. The dam is also a testament to American resilience, as it was built during the height of the Great Depression. The dam is open to the public year-round from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. if you want to visit on your own but you can also take guided tours of the facilities.

Worth Pondering…

Stuff your eyes with wonder…live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

—Ray Bradbury

Grand Canyon National Park Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary Today

One of the world’s great natural wonders, the Grand Canyon National Park, turns 100

John Wesley Powell said it best, “The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.”

A universally recognizable iconic destination, Grand Canyon National Park is a true marvel of nature that’s on every RVer’s bucket list. A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

Although the Colorado River has been carving the Grand Canyon for over 6 million years, the Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday today!

During 2019, the Park will commemorate its past and work to inspire future generations to experience the majesty and resources that the Park provides.

The first sighting of the Grand Canyon always comes as a surprise. It’s not one giant slot in the desert but a staggering series of splinters dominating the horizon. The colored layers in the rock, though, remain strikingly consistent.

A deep gorge carved by the Colorado River about seventeen million year ago, the Grand Canyon stretches for more than 250 miles and is up to 18 miles in width and more than a mile deep in some areas. Just about everywhere you look the views are amazing and the sheer size of it can be overwhelming. One look over the edge and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

There are two public areas of Grand Canyon National Park, the North and South Rims. At 7,000 feet above sea level the Grand Canyon South Rim is the most accessible section of the national park with numerous places where visitors can admire the views.

The Grand Canyon is perhaps the most famous of American parks, and was the second most highly visited national park in 2017 with over 6.26 million visitors. Most visitors see it from overlooks along the South Rim. Crowds are usually thick along the canyon’s South Rim but quickly lighten the deeper into the canyon you hike.  

A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim which lies just 10 miles (as the condor flies) directly across the Canyon from the South Rim. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a 220 mile drive from the more easily accessible South Rim, rises a thousand feet higher and offers a different perspective of the park. The North Rim generally closes at the end of October through the middle of May due to snow.

If you’re seeking a secluded escape to Mother Nature, you should be prepared: The Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim—home to the Grand Canyon Village and the well-worn Bright Angel Trail—is particularly popular for sightseers and hikers. It is on this side that you’ll find the most amenities. However, for a true escapist experience, head to the North Rim. This is the place for backwoods camping and hardcore hiking.

Grand Canyon Village is the center of activity and the transportation hub for the South Rim of the park. The Village is the only place where the Grand Canyon Railroad reaches the rim of the canyon. 

Within Grand Canyon Village, there are three main areas of interest: Visitor Center/Mather Point, Market Plaza, and the Historic District.

The Visitor Center/Mather Point is where most visitors park and get their first look at the Grand Canyon. Four large parking areas are located here as well as the transit center for the free shuttle buses.

Market Plaza is the business center where the general store, bank, and US Post Office are locate.

The Historic District with the railroad depot and original lodges is where the pioneer village started. 

To get around the Village, the Village Shuttle Bus (Blue Route) connects the Visitor Center/parking areas with the lodges, campground, restaurant, and shops. 

From the Visitor Center, the easiest and fastest way to get out and see Grand Canyon is to take the scenic Kaibab Rim Shuttle Bus (Orange Route). This bus provides the only access to the South Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point. The Scenic Hermit Road Shuttle Route (Red Route) operates March 1 through November 30 and stops at nine canyon overlooks along the scenic 7 mile Hermit Road (west of the village).

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