32 Best Christmas Gifts for RV Owners (2023)

The best holiday gifts for RV owners include outdoor gear, interior decor, travel entertainment, kitchen gadgets, and much more. Here’s an ultimate list of gifts in all price ranges.

Whether your RVer likes practical gifts, fun gifts, or unique gifts, there’s something for every RVer on this list.

This article will be your one-stop shop for every RVer you want to buy a gift for!

Here is my ultimate list of the best Christmas gift for RV owners broken into the following categories:

  • Outside the RV: Camping essentials
  • Inside the RV: Home, bath, and storage
  • RV lifestyle tech: Remote workers
  • RV safety essentials
  • Fiction books, movies, and games for RVers
  • RV kitchen supplies

Each category has a range of options, big and small, cheap and luxurious! So be sure to skim the whole list to find the perfect gift for your RVer.

Outside the RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outside the RV: Camping essentials

1. Outdoor portable propane fire pit

This is a great gift for those RVers who love to enjoy an outdoor fire but do not want to lug or hassle with firewood. It can be turned on and off quickly so you only have to hassle with a fire when you are ready to enjoy it.

2. Wireless backup camera for motorhome

A backup motorhome camera can be the perfect gift to ease the tension of having to back up such a large vehicle. Not only does it cut down on the driver’s stress level but it can be safer for everyone.

If this gift caught your attention, you should check out 7 Pro Tips for Backing up a Motorhome.

3. Tool set

This is one of the best gifts for RV owners who like practical gifts. This toolset can come in handy for many issues an RV owner might face from a loose screen door to a stuck trailer hitch.

This universal tool kit can easily be stored in an outdoor hatch (on the curbside), utility closet, or cabinet. If you’d like to see more tool gifts for RVers, go to What Every RVer Needs in Their Basic Tool Kit.

4. RV state sticker map

One thing that most RVers love to do is track and talk about where they have been. This sticker map lets them track everywhere they’ve been in the United States in a visually appealing way (Canadian maps are also available).

It is weather-resistant so can be mounted outside or inside the RV. It’s a nice, decorative reminder of travels and a great ice-breaker for those wanting to make friends while camping.

Christmas gifts for RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Magnetic hide-a-key case

A magnetic hide-a-key case is a perfect stocking stuffer. This little box can save your RVer from being stranded (it happens way more often than it should).

It’ll also save you from having to frantically express mail or drive their spare RV key to them! Having some kind of hide-a-key is a must-have for every RVer.

6. Folding step stool

A step stool is a super practical gift for an RV owner making it easier to get in and out of the RV and to access the ladder and awnings among lots of other uses. A folding step stool is great because it collapses to easily store in the RV when it’s not being used. Interior folding steps are also available.

7. Hammock

Hammocks would make a fun gift idea for an RV owner to bring some comfiness to their outdoor space when they stop to camp. They can just keep the hammock in the RV and when they get to that epic campsite can set up a cozy reading or napping nook in the trees.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Georgia State Parks passes & Friends membership

Gift a year of the great outdoors with Georgia State Parks passes or annual membership to the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. The combo pass package grants access to more than 60 attractions across the state and memberships have several perks including complimentary nights at the campsites, discounted lodge rooms, and free picnic shelter rentals. Plan a getaway to a state park.

9. Give the gift of the outdoors

Join the Texas State Parks’ 100-year celebration with the 2023 Texas State Parks ornament. This special ornament is crafted on metal and features a laser-cutting technique used to create a distinct dot for every one of Texas’s 89 State Parks. Each ornament is $19.95 plus tax.

Gift cards can be used for park passes, entry and overnight fees, and in-store purchases. 

Inside the RV: Home, bath, and storage

Throw pillow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Cute and funny RV throw pillows

RVers love multifunctional items and throw pillows offer comfort while beautifying their RV. Plus, they can be easily exchanged when your RV wants to update their interior design.

11 Folding step stool

This practical gift would come in handy for any RVer. It folds flat for easy storage and can easily be stored under the sink or in a closet. It can even be tucked away under a couch or bed if they are elevated above the floor. If your RVer is vertically challenged this is a must-have.

12. Shower bag caddy

If your RVer regularly uses campground showers this is an excellent gift for them. It’ll make trudging to the shower that much easier and keep their items clean and organized.

You can also turn the bag into a gift basket by adding shower shoes and a travel hair dryer. But for those who mostly shower inside their RV…

13. Adhesive shower caddy

For RVers who mostly use their RV shower a caddy set helps make them feel at home.

Life is a beautiful ride in an RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Hanging closet organizer

Maximizing closet space is always a challenge for RVers. A hanging closet organizer is a game-changer.

15. Charcoal air purifier

If you’re spending an extended amount of time in an RV you might start to notice that it starts smelling a little less than fresh. Charcoal air purifiers naturally absorb odors without adding a fake scent. They can be stashed or hung around the RV to keep it smelling nice and it will be a much-appreciated gift for motorhome and trailer owners.

RV lifestyle tech: Remote work and RV office

Remote working (whether full-time or part-time) has seriously grown in popularity in recent years. More and more RVers are trading in their home office for a mobile office in their RV.

Throw pillow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. HP 2700 All-in-one printer

The wireless HP 2700 series allows you to easily print documents when you are on the go. It is lightweight, compact, and prints high-quality, crisp documents, and photos. 

17. Cell or Wi-Fi booster

Getting away from it all is important but when your family members are on the road for weeks at a time, staying connected is important, too. A Wi-Fi or cell booster will extend and expand any available signal. That could mean taking a campground Wi-Fi signal and making it stronger or improving cellular coverage when they’re out and about.

RV safety essentials

I know the safety of your RVer is of utmost importance to you. That’s why the following safety essentials can make great gifts for RVers.

For one, they bring peace of mind to you. For two, they fill in the void of often overlooked items your RVer sorely needs, an oversight that can leave them in a dangerous situation.

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

18. Natural gas and propane detector

Carbon monoxide poisoning is an all-too-real threat to RVers’ well-being. Most RVs come standard with CO detectors but some older models do not. Not to mention the ones that need replacement.

19. First alert EZ fire spray

In addition to their standard RV fire extinguisher every RVer should have this quick-and-easy extinguishing aerosol spray. It’s lightweight and as easy as pushing the top to use which is ideal for sudden BBQ or RV kitchen fires. Or even for campfires that jump the fire ring.

20. She’s Birdie personal safety alarm

Originally designed as a personal safety alarm for women, this loud siren is now popular among men, too. It’s a great gift for solo RVers and boondockers who often camp overnight in parking lots.

Many RVers attach it to their dog leashes or hiking backpacks in case they encounter a threat (whether person or animal) on their walks. But for bigger threats, your RVer will need the following…

21. Counter Assault bear spray

Encountering bears is a common occurrence while camping. And, unfortunately these encounters have led to more injuries and deaths than I care to mention.

This bear spray will give you peace of mind and truly help to protect your RVing loved one if they encounter a bear. We consider it a must-have for any RVer who camps in bear country (which covers a LOT of the U.S. and Canada).

Christmas gifts for RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

22. Emergency roadside kit

While you can’t always prevent roadside emergencies you can at least be prepared for them. That’s when a good emergency roadside kit comes in handy.

This post will also take you to 23 Must-Have Items for your RV Roadside Emergency Kit.

You can buy a premade kit, make your own, or buy individual items as stocking stuffers.

23. Emergency first aid kit

RVers are usually good at putting a first aid kit in their RV when they first buy it. However, we are often terrible about checking expiration dates and restocking used supplies.

That’s why an all-purpose first aid kit is great for any RVer. Even if they already have one in their RV, they can easily slide this one into their hiking backpack or bike pack.

Fiction books, movies, and games for RVers

Nature offers plenty of entertainment but RVers still need to entertain themselves on lazy afternoons, in the evenings, or on long road trips.

24. Thelma & Louise

Snuggling up to a movie after a great day on the trail is a perk of camping in an RV rather than a tent. There’s a movie for everyone on these lists that covers every genre including the classic Thelma & Louise.

25. Embroidery starter kit

If your RVer loves crafts or is looking for a new hobby an embroidery start kit is the way to go. It’s everything they need to get started in the world of embroidery.

But there are lots of crafty gifts and activities perfect for RVers!

Christmas gifts for RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV kitchen supplies

26. Portable ice maker

Ice is often a luxury while RVing and one that many RVers don’t like going without.

A compact and affordable ice maker is the perfect gift.

27. Instant pot

While it’s not just RVers that adore the Instant Pot, it’s especially useful in an RV kitchen where space is super tight. The smallest Instant Pot (6 quarts) will still take up some space but it packs such a punch with what it can do that it’s totally worth it.

Of course, you can make hearty stews, rice, and grains in it but did you know you can also bake banana bread, make hard-boiled eggs, and even cook dessert in the Instant Pot? This is the gift that will keep on giving delicious meals!

Bonus gift ideas

The following are more of the best gifts for RV owners. From gift cards to national park passes here are more gift ideas to go.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

28. America the Beautiful Pass

One of the greatest things about RV travel is visiting the national parks. The annual America the Beautiful Pass costs $80 and gives your camping loved ones access to more than 2,000 parks and recreation sites across the country. The pass is good for 12 months and covers park admission for everyone in the entire vehicle. It’s a gift that’s appreciated all year long.

29. Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas

Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas books are available for many states and the information includes backcountry roads, trailheads, campgrounds, points of interest, hunting units, RV parks, golf, and boating locations .

30. Dyrt Pro membership

RVers are always looking for great new places to explore and beautiful campgrounds and RV parks. One of my favorite parts of RV living is all of the beautiful places we get to see while we are camping. A great membership to simplify the process of planning a camping trip and saving money is the Dyrt Pro membership.

31. Harvest Hosts membership

Want to give experiences instead of things to your RVer? A Harvest Hosts membership is the perfect option. It is a unique membership service that lets RVers camp overnight FOR FREE at lovely outdoor venues such as wineries, breweries, museums, farms, orchards, and creameries. There are more than 2,000 such places across North America to choose from.

There is also an upgraded membership where you can also camp overnight at golf courses.

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

32. Costco

There are many benefits to having a Costco membership especially during the holiday shopping season. Sure, the advent calendars are fun and the variety of small items for stocking stuffers is superb but there’s something else that is a far better bang for your buck.

Buying gift cards from the retailer may save you hundreds.

Whether you’re looking for gift cards for restaurants, movie theaters, stores, or theme parks, Costco has it all. Here the best deals on gift cards are right now:

  • $500 Southwest Airlines gift card for $449.99
  • $100 worth of Fogo de Chao gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Domino’s gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Peet’s Coffee gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of California Pizza Kitchen gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Spafinder gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Chuck E. Cheese gift cards for $74.99
  • $100 Xbox digital download gift card for $89.99
  • $60 worth of Krispy Kreme gift cards for $44.99
  • $60 worth of Pinkberry gift cards for $47.99
  • $50 Cinemark Theatres gift card for $39.99

Make sure to periodically check the Costco website, especially during different holidays as the selection of gift cards may vary by season and could be temporarily out of stock at certain times.

Worth Pondering…

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.

—Dave Barry, Christmas Shopping: A Survivor’s Guide

Surprise, Surprise: A Ton of People Plan to Travel for the Holidays (2023)

Plus, most Americans say they don’t have much faith in airlines right now

Halloween is over, and pumpkins are being composted. And even if you aren’t someone who cues Mariah Carey’s holiday theme song as soon as the clock strikes midnight on November 1, you are already thinking about holiday travel.

And that’s going to be necessary considering that four different studies predict that most Americans will be traveling this season.

The 2023 holiday season is expected to be one the busiest on record with 122 million people or 63 percent of leisure travelers planning to travel between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Of those travelers, 20 million are planning to go RVing this holiday season, a 30 percent increase over 2022.

Christmas at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

55 percent of RVers plan to take a trip within three hours of home allowing for less time on the road and more time enjoying friends and family over the holidays. Millennials are more likely to stay closer to home with 61 percent planning a trip within 3 hours while 43 percent of Boomer respondents said they are planning trips more than 16 hours from home. 

According to the just-released RV Industry Association Holiday Travel Intentions Survey, the top reasons people are planning to go RVing are the love of road trips, the desire to travel in comfort, interest in exploring the great outdoors, and the affordability of RV travel. With RV vacations costing 50 percent less than comparable hotel and plane ride trips and a third less than hotel and car ride trips, RVing is an attractive option for people looking for the freedom to travel while also controlling their travel expenses.  

Another top reason people are choosing RV travel is their pets. 60 percent of RVers are planning to bring their pets with them rather than boarding them over the holidays. Of those sharing the trip with their furry family members, 87 percent will travel with at least one dog and 52 percent will travel with at least one cat.

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

Not all will hit the road though. 56 percent of those planning to use an RV this holiday season will park it at home and use it for guest accommodations. 49 percent will use it as an extra kitchen for food prep and storage.

“With the rush and stress that comes with traditional travel during the holidays, people are choosing RVing as a way to still travel and see friends and family but do so in a more relaxed and comfortable way,” says Craig Kirby, President & CEO of the RV Industry Association. “Whether using an RV for guests or bringing your pets along for the ride, RVing allows people to spend more quality time with those they love this holiday season.”

A second survey conducted by Enterprise Mobility found that 56 percent of Americans surveyed are planning at least one overnight trip 50+ miles away from home between November 2023 and January 2024 with 61 percent of those trips to take place in an owned or rented vehicle this holiday season.

48 percent of trips are planned to take place in a personal vehicle, just over one in ten (11 percent) are anticipated to be a rental vehicle, and 2 percent plan to utilize a rideshare service.

Just over a quarter (28 percent) plan to use loyalty points toward booking travel and a third of those plan to use their points toward a rental vehicle.​

Americans who are traveling are planning an average of two trips this season with Christmas being the most popular holiday for travel (66 percent) followed by Thanksgiving (49 percent).

RV decorated for the holidays © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of all holiday trips planned in the U.S. more than half are to visit friends and family (58 percent) but almost one quarter (23 percent) are purely for leisure, a vacation getaway without visiting friends or family. And December is the busiest month for travel over the holiday season with 46 percent of all travel days happening in this month (departures and returns).

In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of trips are less than 200 miles from home and slightly more than half (54 percent) are 200 or more miles away.

Generationally, Millennials (age 27-42) are the most likely to have travel plans this holiday season (62 percent) while Generation Z (age 18-26) is the least likely (43 percent) and 53 percent of both Generation X (43-58) and Baby Boomers (59+) are planning to travel this holiday season. Of all the trips planned this season, Gen Z is least likely to have a trip planned to visit friends and family (47 percent) but most likely to have a vacation getaway planned, not visiting friends or family (27 percent).

When taking a holiday road trip the majority of Americans (90 percent) enjoy listening to at least some holiday music.

The top three domestic destinations this year are warmer states including California, Florida, and Texas.

RV prepped for Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to a survey conducted by Motel 6 of 2,000 Americans, 84 percent of respondents plan to travel to at least one gathering this year with at least 52 percent of respondents expecting to take multiple trips.

In another survey conducted by The Vacationer which polled 1,013 Americans, 67.23 percent of respondents said they plan on traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both. For Thanksgiving, specifically, The Vacationer study found that an estimated 117 million American adults plan to travel which was 2 percent more than last year’s estimates.

While the Motel 6 data and the Vacationer data differ, both studies show that well over half of the population plans to travel for the holidays. Given how crowded roads and airports were in recent years during the winter holidays this information serves as an indicator that we can expect the same thing this year.

There’s not much confidence in airlines from those who plan on traveling for the holidays which isn’t too surprising considering the delays, cancellations, and general chaos of recent years. The Vacationer study revealed that 59.23 percent of respondents have little to no confidence in airlines being able to avoid excessive delays and cancellations during the holidays.

RV decorated for Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need destination guides or camping suggestions or make sure your RV is prepped for travel, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading for RV travel hacks and everything you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

Worth Pondering…

Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.

—Catherine Pulsifer

Fort Langley: The Fort, Charming Village, and Movie Set

Being in this fairytale town is like being the main character in a cozy romantic comedy

I’m not, nor have I ever been, a Gilmore Girls fan but the one thing that always stuck with me was the cozy village vibes where the girls lived. Something about it—the cordial neighbors, the movie-set appearance of the store-fronts, the small-town charm. Mmmmm yes, warm me up in that blanket.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, Fort Langley is that blanket. This is the place! Not literally, of course—Gilmore Girls was filmed in Burbank—but it has that same feeling like you’re walking around a movie set. It has antique shops and ice cream and a restaurant in an old cabin and an excellent book store on the corner of an old building that, again, feels like a movie set. Then, walk a few minutes east of there and you have the original settlement of Fort Langley, a national historic site reminiscent of another movie set, The Witch, with (I assume) far less horror. 

Fort Langley National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best of all are the parks bordering the village including Derby Reach which includes an easy hiking trail that takes about an hour to complete ending up at an old farmhouse and barn, if you’re into that kinda thing. 

Tracing its origins to the beginning of settling British Columbia, Fort Langley was a trading and military outpost, one of the Hudson Bay’s fur trading posts. Additionally, it also acted as a gateway to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is one of the oldest settlements in British Columbia—even before Vancouver itself. If you take a stroll in the Fort Langley community, it is very different from the ruggedness of just a few generations prior.

Easily accessible via the Trans-Canada Highway and Glover Road, today Fort Langley is a popular tourism attraction destination that continuously draws visitors from around the world.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Langley’s historic area is home to the Langley Centennial Museum, Fort Langley Community Hall, CN Station, and many beautifully restored vintage buildings that are rich in heritage and value.

The commercial and retail area of Fort Langley is referred to as the village by area residents. Both residents and visitors alike are attracted to its selection of high-end boutiques and quaint shops. Art galleries, bistros and brew-tasting houses, vintage antique shops, restaurants and cafes are all a part of what draws in daily tourists, shoppers and explorers.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Countless recreational activities are available in and around Fort Langley. From parks and camping to the Fort-to-Fort Trail, from golf courses to rowing on the Fraser River, from the outdoor pool to festivals, Fort Langley is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. Festivals and events are held year-round in Fort Langley including the popular Cranberry Festival, Food Truck Festival, May Day Parade, Canada Day, Jazz & Arts Festival, Fort International Film Festival, and Fort Beer & Food Festival just to name a few.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Langley’s beautiful streets, artfully appointed boutiques and charming, village-like atmosphere seem to have been tailor-made for a feel-good romance tale or festive comedy caper. That’s why many producers of made-for-TV features return to Langley, year after year.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Part of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas line-up, Five More Minutes: Moments Like These is a romantic movie set against the backdrop of the holiday season. Directed by Kevin Fair, the film revolves around a young widow whose Christmas wish unexpectedly comes true. Kaitlyn relocates to Los Angeles with her young son Adam in hopes of a new beginning after losing her husband unexpectedly one Christmas Eve. As a single mother, Kaitlyn worries about her son, Adam, who is becoming more reclusive and wishes he could have just five more minutes with his dad.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kaitlyn meets Matthew, a contractor and their feelings for one another begin to grow. The film ticks all the boxes of being the perfect heartwarming Christmas film with kids, families, and the holiday spirit. Additionally, the settings and backdrop elevate the festive spirit of Christmas, a colorful time that heals your heart and brings people closer.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Five More Minutes: Moments Like These was filmed in and around Fort Langley. The region is well known for its dynamic culture and active way of life which add to the holiday and festive feel of the holiday movie. The film’s story is set during winter while filming took place in October 2022. The crew had to create artificial snow in different ways like snow blankets, fire retardant foams, and other techniques. To film interior and outdoor sequences against suitable backdrops, it appears that the cast and crew traveled around the village.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Several other Christmas movies including A Kindhearted Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Nine Lives of Christmas, Christmas Getaway, When Christmas Was Young, Christmas Bridesmaid, and others, have also been shot in Fort Langley because of its beautiful neighborhood.

It may be cheesy and it may have totally tanked at the box office but there’s just something about I’ll Be Home for Christmas that brings that ’90s magic during the holidays. In case you missed it, I’ll Be Home for Christmas follows a California college student named Jake who winds up stranded in the desert a few days before Christmas. When everything seems to go wrong, Jake embarks on a cross-country road trip trying to make it home in time for Christmas. Especially since winning his father’s 1957 Porsche is on the line.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Production took place all over Metro Vancouver including Fort Langley, Port Coquitlam, and North Vancouver which stood in for the towns Jake travels through. Filming for the Santa Claus marathon scene was shot in Fort Langley. Fort Langley truly captures the Christmas spirit making the township one of the best places to shoot a holiday film.

Fraser River at Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Talking about it, Erinn Kredba, Executive Director at Tourism Langley, said, “Made-for-TV holiday movies herald the start of the festive season for many people. For me personally, it’s always exciting to spot Township-based businesses in these films. With our beautiful backdrops and charming businesses, including farms, restaurants and wineries, it feels like Langley was made for the movies!”

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kredba added, “We wanted to create a fun way for people to feel like they’re in a holiday movie by visiting these spots during this festive time of year.”  She added, “Our hope is that by visiting some of the locations where these feel-good holiday movies have been featured, it will ignite the holiday spirit.”

Worth Pondering…

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

—Henry Miller

National Parks Host Holiday Celebrations

The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit North America’s national parks which offer cooler temps, lighter crowds, and a peaceful serenity that comes during this relatively quiet time of year

The holiday season is a special time for the National Park Service. Many parks across the U.S. and Canada offer unique holiday programs and events that simply can’t be experienced at any other time of year. Chances are, there’s something exciting happening in a park near you!

Whether you’re seeking family-friendly entertainment and a visit from Santa, rousing celebrations featuring time-honored traditions, or a tranquil getaway that allows you to further immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, these national parks make the perfect destination for your holiday getaway.

Grand Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Hop aboard the Polar Express to Grand Canyon National Park 

Fans of the man in the red suit can ride the rails for a different Santa-themed adventure taking visitors from Williams, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park. Kids and kids-at-heart will flip for the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express which runs from mid-November through the end of the year. Travelers will have the honor of mingling with Santa and his reindeer before heading back to Williams with a keepsake present in hand. It’s a popular journey that fills up fast, so making reservations for this experience is a must.

El Tovar Hotel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park’s El Tovar Hotel which first opened in 1905 also gets in on the festivities with a massive tree, Santa hat-adorned taxidermy, and extravagant holiday wreaths spilling out of the century-old lobby. Don’t expect to leave without a full stomach. They’re always famous for their French onion soup but they also have specialty offerings like turkey that are unique to the holidays. The hotel also hosts a New Year’s Eve dinner each year (reservations required).

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Savor a traditional holiday atmosphere at Banff National Park

Canada is known for its long winters and the short summer season means heavy crowds in Banff National Park during warm weather. But a visit during the snowy season offers a Narnia-like wonderland with fewer tourists.

From carols to candles, cookies, and cocoa, the holiday season is full of robust rituals passed on from generation to generation. And at Alberta’s Banff National Park you can honor treasured traditions in an awe-inspiring snow-covered setting.

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Events held throughout the season include European-style Christmas markets filled with handcrafted wares and delicious treats, a delectable hot chocolate trail through Banff and Lake Louise, and a live Christmas story told through illuminated puppets, dazzling sculptures, and clever sound effects at the park’s Cascade of Time Garden. 

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Come January you can enjoy the Ice Magic International Ice Carving Competition at frozen Lake Louise. Here, delicate and beautiful ice sculptures take shape as they’re carefully carved by skilled artists. Grab a drink from the onsite ice bar then stroll through a literal ice castle as you view the creations.

3. A Smoky Mountain Christmas

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular of all the national parks in the United States. And if you’re looking for unspoiled natural beauty, it’s arguably the best place to visit in the Smoky Mountains.

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

But during the holiday season, the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains involve getting into the mountain towns and soaking in a different type of scenery. Some of the best views in the Smoky Mountains in winter aren’t of nature at all but of the Christmas cheer that seems to abound throughout the region. Christmas in the Smoky Mountains involves small-town parades, Christmas trains, Christmas lights, holiday craft markets, snow skiing and tubing, and a big heaping serving of music and theater.

Gatlinburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you choose to visit North Carolina, Tennessee, or both, a Smoky Mountain Christmas offers plenty of opportunities to get festive. Christmas in Gatlinburg gets magical at SkyLift Park with its beloved Lights over Gatlinburg event running from mid-November to the end of January. The entire park is bedecked with lights and trees including a 30-foot, multi-colored Christmas tree and a 300-foot tunnel of Christmas lights.

Pigeon Forge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Christmas in Pigeon Forge is all about the Winterfest Celebration which fills the town with Christmas light displays, holiday parades, trolley tours, and Christmas shows. The Winterfest Celebration spans several popular places to visit in the Smoky Mountains including Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Seek out songbirds at Zion National Park (and beyond)

Each December, natural areas throughout the country take part in the longest-running citizen science survey in the world during the Christmas Bird Count. This century-old, far-reaching effort allows bird watchers and avian enthusiasts to join in the efforts to identify, count, and record the bird population as part of what’s considered to be the most significant citizen-based conservation effort. 

The events at Zion and Bryce Canyon allow participants to join with family and friends to conduct their count throughout a designated zone within the park. Those who can’t make it to Utah for this endeavor can locate a Christmas Bird Count event at nearby national and state parks throughout the holiday season by visiting the National Audubon Society’s website.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Attend an epic winter festival in Bryce Canyon National Park

The iconic red rock spires that fill the landscape in Bryce Canyon National Park look even more ethereal when coated with a dusting of white snow. Visitors can delight in full-moon snowshoe adventures and Saturday astronomy programs at this certified Dark Sky Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, beloved, is this stunning destination come wintertime that it plays host to a kid-friendly Winter Festival each President’s Day weekend. Here you can attend a variety of themed events including cross-country ski tours, archery clinics, morning yoga, crafts and cookie decorating for kids, and more.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Go warmish weather sledding through White Sands National Park

If the thought of braving below-freezing temps for some winter fun frightens you, consider a getaway to White Sands National Park. With daytime highs hovering in the 50- to 60-degree Fahrenheit range, New Mexico winters offer a more palatable climate for sledding and creating snow angels—minus the snow. Glistening white sand tricks the eye into believing that the scenery is a true winter wonderland and the park’s hills are so popular for sliding down that plastic snow saucers can be purchased or rented at the White Sands visitor center.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Carlsbad Caverns National Park brings back history-inspired Rock of Ages tour

For six nights in December, Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers visitors an opportunity to experience special guided tours with staff in historical costumes. The tour times are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2-3, 9-10, and 16-17. The cost is $55 per person and reservations are required.

The tradition, brought back in 2000, gives visitors a chance to meet some of the men and women, so to speak, who helped weave the fabric of the national park. Park staff dressed in historical costumes guide visitors on a lantern-lit tour of the front half of the Big Room at the caverns.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The tour will feature a re-creation of the historic Rock of Ages Ceremony which was regularly conducted in the Big Room during the 1930s and ’40s. During this portion of the tour, visitors will experience a blackout, being immersed in total darkness as a mysterious voice fills the cavern, singing the hymn Rock of Ages.

Worth Pondering…

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

—Norman Vincent Peale

10 Amazing Places to RV in December 2022

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

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

—Proverbs 17:22, KJV Bible

This analogy from the Bible’s Book of Proverbs points out the link between emotional and physical well-being: Joy is a powerful emotion as beneficial for an ailing soul as medical treatments are for a sick or injured body. This passage from Proverbs 17:22 suggests that if we possess good cheer, our confidence, laughter, and trust are likely to radiate to those we encounter. Sharing kindness—be it through gifts, singing, rituals, or visiting loved ones—is a worthy and healthy practice this holiday season, and beyond.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in October and November. Also, check out my recommendations from December 2021 and January 2022.

The Barrio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Barrio Viejo

Barrio Viejo, meaning old neighborhood in Spanish, is an area near downtown Tucson that is an important, historical part of the community. This picturesque destination just south of the Tucson Convention Center lies between I-10 and Stone Avenue with Meyer and Main Avenues passing through the center.

The original Barrio neighborhood built between 1880 and 1920 was home to a diverse working class including Spanish, Mexican, Asian, and Hispanic. Using traditional Mexican Village architecture, houses were built of thick-walled adobe with a flat roof, wood beams, and ocotillo, or saguaro cactus ribs, coverings.

The Barrio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Begin your tour of Barrio Veijo at Five Points, the corner of Stone and 18th Streets. Over many decades the houses have been painted bold bright colors with doors/windows becoming works of art. Public buildings also have been treated with the same effect. The Barrio has become a major tourist attraction constantly drawing photographers, artists, and tour groups. In 1978, the Barrio was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Langley, British Columbia

Go for a festive stroll through this charming village in the Township of Langley to experience the best the holiday season has to offer. The picturesque village is often used as a backdrop for many Hallmark Christmas movies, so you’ll definitely feel like you’re a part of one. With twinkling lights brightening up the historic village, it’s like it was made specifically for the small screen.

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An Art Deco World Wonder

Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover.

Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water, and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc. which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and the lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.

Hoover Dam © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead and is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction with nearly a million people touring the dam each year. Heavily travelled U.S. 93 ran along the dam’s crest until October 2010 when the Hoover Dam Bypass opened. 

Goose Island State Park

Christmas in the Park

Experience Christmas on the Texas Gulf Coast at Goose Island State Park! See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and CAMP FOR FREE when you decorate your campsite.

Visitors are invited to enjoy a FREE drive through the Live Oak forest to see campsites decorated in lights and join the park rangers at Santa’s Village at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campers who agree to decorate their campsite will CAMP FOR FREE! Reservations for participating sites are available only by contacting the park via email at GooseIslandSP@tpwd.texas.gov. Participating campers may begin arriving on December 16 and are eligible for waived fees on December 16 and 17. Community groups are encouraged to decorate a dark spot.

The Peachoid © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Peach of a Water Tower

The Peachoid is a 135 feet tall water tower in Gaffney that resembles a peach. The water tower holds one million gallons of water and is located off Peachoid Road by Interstate 85 between exits 90 and 92 (near the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway). Usually referred to by locals as The Peach and by passing motorists as Mr. Peach or The Moon over Gaffney, the water tank is visible for several miles around these exits. An example of novelty architecture, the Peachoid is one of the most recognizable landmarks for travelers along I-85 between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

The Peachoid © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to official literature, the Peachoid boldly “sets the record straight about which state is the biggest peach producer in the South. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT Georgia.” Without a doubt, the best-known, most photographed water tank in America. It is painted to match the kind of peaches grown in the area using 20 colors and 50 gallons of paint.

San Antonio River Walk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Heart and Soul of San Antonio

The San Antonio River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is a public park, open 365 days a year. It is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River one story beneath approximately 15 miles of downtown San Antonio. Explore by foot along the river’s walking path or jump aboard a river barge for a ride and guided tour. Lined by bars, shops, and restaurants the River Walk is an important part of the city’s urban fabric and a tourist attraction in its own right.

San Antonio River Walk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The River Walk winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks, lined with restaurants, shops, hotels, and more. It connects the major tourist draws from the Alamo to Rivercenter Mall, Arneson River Theatre and La Villita, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Pearl Brewery.

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

Or, shop local favorites along the river’s Museum Reach at the historic Pearl. While at Pearl, dine and drink al fresco at The Food Hall at Bottling Department. Further south, immerse yourself in history at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park along the Mission Reach.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holiday Fun and Festivities at Bernheim

At 15,625 acres, Bernheim boasts the largest protected natural area in Kentucky. Bernheim contains a 600-acre arboretum with over 8,000 unique varieties of trees.

With the holidays just around the corner, the Bernheim calendar is full of events to celebrate with nature this December. Except for Christmas Day, Bernheim is open the entire month with activities for every age.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bernheim’s Holiday Open House takes place on Saturday, December 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Enjoy a festive day shopping in the forest. Browse the selection of gifts, locally-made crafts, Kentucky Proud and Giants merchandise, and other unique gifts for the nature lover in your life. Get in the holiday spirit with hot mulled cider and refreshments, hourly door prize drawings, holiday specials, and a 30 percent discount for Bernheim members.

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gnomes are known the world over. Legend has it they travel and live in the forest freely, seldom seen by humans. Add some seasonal magic to your home this season by joining the Bernheim staff at one of two Forest Gnome Workshops to create this mythical forest character on Saturday, December 4 from 9:30 to 11 a.m., or from 1 to 2:30 p.m. while enjoying some hot cider, treats, and hot chocolate. Make this a family activity and enjoy building your gnome together. Children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heaven on Earth

When it comes to standing in awe of nature’s magnificence, it’s hard to beat the Grand Circle Tour—especially the northern arc that carves across southern Utah and encompasses Zion National Park at the western edge and Arches National Park to the east. Of them all, it is Zion that offers outdoor enthusiasts the most varied, seemingly otherworldly terrain. At just under 230 square miles, Zion is relatively small by national park standards, and the park’s most memorable features are found in easily accessible Zion Canyon.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion was carved out of the Markagunt Plateau by the Virgin River which carved down a half-mile into the sandstone as it rushed to meet up with the Colorado River exposing rock layers from the middle periods of the earth’s geological history. 

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by shuttle bus only from March 15 to October 25 and on weekends in November. Take time to drive the beautiful Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. This 10-mile length of scenic highway sports a series of switchbacks and the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel en route to Checkerboard Mesa and the park’s eastern entrance.

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Besh Ba Gowah Festival of Lights

The City of Globe, Arizona’s Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum presents the 34th Annual Festival of Lights celebration on Saturday, December 3, from 5 to 9 p.m. The festival delights visitors with a beautiful scene, a festive combination of the Southwest holiday tradition of the luminaria lighting combined with the artistry of American Indian cultural presentations.

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This year’s festival will feature 4,000 real candle luminarias illuminating the archaeological park’s partly reconstructed 800-year-old Salado culture ruins. Guests are encouraged to walk among the luminarias and experience the magic of the season. The warm glow of the luminarias creates a dramatic backdrop for cultural presentations by the internationally renowned Yellow Bird Productions.

Yellow Bird is a family dance group under the direction of Ken Duncan, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The group specializes in cultural presentations that celebrate the unique spirit of American Indians. Presentations will run periodically throughout the night until the festival concludes at 9 p.m.

Besh Ba Gowah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Besh Ba Gowah Museum will be open to visitors for the duration of the event and guests are welcome to view the exhibits and browse the unique items available in the gift store.

The event will also have food trucks offering a variety of delicious treats and local specialty merchandise vendors.

Admission to the event has always been free although non-perishable food donations are encouraged in support of the Gila Community Food Bank.

Globe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since parking for the event fills up fast a free shuttle service is available. The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 4 p.m. until the last call at 9 p.m. Shuttle parking is located at Globe High School, 437 S. High Street.

Make it a fun-filled weekend by also attending Historic Downtown Globe’s First Friday, December 2. Globe’s First Fridays, from 3 to 7 p.m., have become a hugely popular monthly event that showcases local businesses, restaurants, artists, musicians, makers, bakers and more!

La Grande © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Schmeckenfest 2022

Schmeckenfest is a wassail tasting and Christmas extravaganza in La Grande, Texas. Celebrate 16 years of Schmeckenfest on Thursday, December 1 from 5-8 p.m. A true community event, it also attracts visitors to the Square to sample many different types of wassail (hot cider) made by various business owners and community leaders in which participants hope to win the coveted honor of being named Schmeckenmeister.

La Grande © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This small-town Christmas festival also includes music, delicious treats sold by local nonprofit organizations, a Christmas parade, the lighting of the County Christmas tree on the Courthouse lawn, children’s activities, and a visit from Santa. There are numerous Christmas card-worthy photo opportunities around the Square as well as pictures with Santa.

Worth Pondering…

Always maintain a kind of summer, even in the middle of winter.

—Henry David Thoreau

When You Are in Need of a Christmas Miracle

Do you need a Christmas miracle this year?

Most everyone has seen or knows the story portrayed by Charles Dickens in his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. Dickens describes Scrooge as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint…secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”

The Christmas Miracle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite having considerable personal wealth, he underpays his clerk Bob Cratchit and hounds his debtors relentlessly while living cheaply and joylessly in the chambers of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley. Most of all, he detests Christmas which he associates with reckless spending.

The Christmas Miracle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When two men approach him on Christmas Eve for a donation to charity, he sneers that the poor should avail themselves of the treadmill or the workhouses or else die to reduce the surplus population. He also refuses his nephew Fred’s invitation to Christmas dinner and denounces him as a fool for celebrating Christmas.

The Christmas Miracle is more than a festival of lights © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That night, Scrooge is visited by Marley’s ghost who is condemned to walk the world forever bound in chains as punishment for his greed and inhumanity in life. Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits hoping that he will mend his ways; if he does not, Marley warns, Scrooge will wear even heavier chains than his in the afterlife.

The Christmas Miracle is more than decorations © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The tale of his redemption by three spirits―the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come―has become known as the embodiment of the Christmas spirit.

Related: The Story of the Poinsettia

Christmas is all about miracles. The story of Scrooge is one of the many miracles at this time of year.

The Christmas Miracle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Search of a Miracle 

Anna Karenina is a brilliant study of humanity. It’s also the story of a miracle.

Many writers consider Anna Karenina the greatest work of literature ever. Aside from being a novel about betrayal, faith, family, and marriage, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is also a story about one man’s search for meaning in a complicated world. 

The Christmas Miracle is more than decorations © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Konstantin Levin, the story’s second main character, spends a large portion of the novel trying to figure out how his wife Kitty could believe in a higher power he’s never seen any signs of. 

The Christmas Miracle is more than decorations © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One day, he is listening to a peasant talk about two landowners—a stingy one and a generous one—and asked the peasant, Fyodor, how it could be that these two men are so different from each other. Fyodor replied that the generous landowner “lives for his soul” and “does not forget God,” leading Levin to realize the miracle that he’s been looking for this whole time—goodness. 

The Christmas Miracle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Levin reasons that it’s rational for a person to live for his needs like food and shelter but not for goodness. Yet, humanity knows about this concept called “goodness” and many people even give up their personal interests to be good. So, he reasons, where could this idea have come from if it wasn’t bestowed upon humanity by some higher force? 

Related: O Christmas Tree, Don’t Fall Off my SUV

Levin, the educated noble, likely never expected that an offhand comment by a simple peasant would be what gave him the epiphany he’d been hoping for. 

The Christmas Miracle is more than a festival of lights © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perhaps that’s also part of the miracle that Tolstoy points out—just like every person who still strives for goodness against the odds. Each righteous person is a manifestation of the goodness gifted to humanity and a testament to the strength of this miraculous gift. And perhaps, just like the generous landowner in Fyodor’s story, they can also awaken others to the miracle of goodness in unexpected and powerful ways during the Christmas season. 

The Christmas Miracle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Miracle of Christmas

For many of us, Christmas is one of the best times of the year. But for others, it can be one of the hardest. The holiday season has a way of bringing up emotions in a way that nothing else can. We can feel joy, love, peace, and contentment or we can feel great sadness, loneliness, stress, and unrest. The term Christmas miracle is often used this time of year. It’s a phrase used to define a miraculous event that is so amazingly spectacular it could have only happened at Christmas.

The Christmas Miracle is more than a tree with decorations © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is something about this holiday that brings out mainly the best in people. There seem to be more kindnesses extended, more courtesy expressed and many people find this time a good one to generously give so that those less fortunate also can experience the joy of the season.

Christmas reminds me again of the story of God’s love made incarnate in the miracle of a baby in a faraway spot in the Holy Land called Bethlehem.

Related: Christmas Gift Ideas 2021

It’s a story of hope for all who embrace its majesty and miracle.

The Christmas Miracle © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And, of course, the past 22 months have taught us all the need for the miracle of that presence which brings out the best in all of us.

Covered by masks, separated by 6 feet, and afraid to make contact, many have suffered from a feeling of disconnectedness. Many have experienced depression, anxiety, and sometimes anger comes out because of this scourge.

Yet, the miracle is, I believe, still around us.

Related: Christmas Gift Ideas 2019

The Christmas Miracle is more than decorations © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For many people, the holidays are a joyous time of year. Adults are eager to take off a few days to celebrate the Christmas Holiday and the New Year. Children are adding presents to their lists and anxiously watching the night sky for signs of Santa.

The Christmas Miracle is more than a festival of lights © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These are the hopeful days that the world should cling to. These are the times we need to remember when bad news clouds our memory. These are the moments that we can’t let pass us by.

Worth Pondering…

I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.

—Charles Dickens