The Ultimate Guide for Your Next RV Road Trip

A complete roadmap to explore the American Southwest

When John Steinbeck first loaded up his camper back in 1960 and set off on a cross-country trip with his black French poodle, Charley, recreational vehicles were an unusual sight. As he traversed America engaging the bemused people he encountered along the way, Steinbeck found a kinship. “I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation—a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here,” he later wrote in Travels with Charley.

Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That deep yearning would ultimately make RVs nearly as common as 18-wheelers on US highways. In recent years, however, these rolling embodiments of American wanderlust had developed a reputation as a bit passé. Who can forget the image of Cousin Eddie in his dilapidated RV to get Clark Griswold the perfect present in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That may not have been the look everybody was going for at the start of 2020. But cabin fever–stricken folks across the country having spent months in public-health quarantine became desperate for ways to get out of the house while staying safe from COVID-19—and they found an outlet in recreational vehicles. The trend has continued as we have all struggled to find ways to handle life—and vacations—in the midst of a pandemic. And it makes sense.

That’s right: the RV is back with families piling into camper vans, trailers, and motor coaches “to look for America,” as Paul Simon has aptly described it.

And, one of the best place in the country to do just that is the American Southwest with its vast expanses of canyons, mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers that are unrivaled in their majesty and variety. 

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re itching to get on board yourself we offer this RV guide to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the Southwest. In it we’ve got you covered with all the places to go and the attractions that you simply must see along the way. The most beautiful places in America include some little-known yet bucket-list-worthy natural wonders that include lush forests and towering mountains—and are sure to inspire your travels.

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

You don’t need to go very far to find stunning natural beauty in the United States but some places are just magical. The country is approximately 3.8 million square miles in size, so it should come as no surprise that its home to some spectacular scenery but sights like the Grand Canyon, the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, and the soaring peaks of Zion and Capitol Reef never fail to meet even the highest expectations.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Few landscapes warp the mind quite like Joshua Tree National Park, a lumpy, Seussian dreamscape that beguiles the imagination. There are a couple of ways to best explore the park and both take place on foot: hiking to points of interest and climbing.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park, Utah

Located in southwest Utah, Zion National Park is full of chasms, canyons, waterfalls, and red cliffs. What better way to cool off after a long day of hiking than dipping your feet at the base of a three-tier waterfall?

Red Rock State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock State Park, Arizona

Red Rock State Park offers a classic Southwestern outdoor experience for visitors to Sedona and Red Rock Country. The beautiful red rocks and local wildlife can be viewed and enjoyed as you hike the 5-mile trail network around this 286-acre park.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

White Sands National Park is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. Gypsum is rarely seen as sand since it dissolves in water but New Mexico’s dry climate has preserved the dunes. The pure white sand mounds stretch for 275 square miles near Alamogordo.

Organ Pipe National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

The remote Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a gem tucked away in southern Arizona’s vast Sonoran Desert. Thanks to its unique crossroads locale, the monument is home to a wide range of specialized plants and animals, including its namesake.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Unusual, elaborate cliffs and canyons shape the landscape of Capitol Reef. The Waterpocket Fold, the second largest monocline in North America, extends for nearly 100 miles and appears as a bizarre “wrinkle” in the Earth’s crust. Red-rock canyons, ridges, buttes, and sandstone monoliths create an outdoor retreat for hikers, campers, photographers, and rock climbers.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, Arizona

See just how lush the desert can be at this oasis of more than 3,000 types of Sonoran Desert vegetation. At 392 acres, Boyce Thompson is Arizona’s largest and oldest botanical garden founded in the 1920s. There are 3 miles of trails and the most popular is the 1.5-mile main loop that offers a perfect overview. 

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Bosque del Apache stands out as one of the country’s most accessible and popular national wildlife preserves—for wildlife and human visitors alike—providing a seasonal home, November through March, for up to 12,000 sandhill cranes, 32,000 snow geese, and nearly 40,000 ducks.

Natural Bridge National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Meandering streams cut through pinyon and juniper covered mesas forming three large multi-colored natural bridges with Hopi Indian names—Sipapu (the place of emergence), Kachina (dancer), and Owachomu (rock mounds). A nine mile one-way loop drive connects pull-outs and overlooks with views of the three natural bridges.

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

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly has sandstone walls rising up to 1,000 feet, scenic overlooks, well-preserved Anasazi ruins, and an insight into the present day life of the Navajo who still inhabit and cultivate the valley floor. From the mesa east of Chinle, Canyon de Chelly is invisible. Then as one approaches, suddenly the world falls away—1,000 feet down a series of vertical red walls.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monument Valley, Arizona and Utah

Providing a dramatic craggy backdrop for many a cinematic Western movie, Monument Valley runs along the border of Utah and Arizona within the 26,000-square miles of the Navajo Tribal Park. U.S. Highway 163 scenic byway barrels through red rock buttes and spires.

Madera Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Madera Canyon, Arizona

Madera Canyon is nestled in the northwest face of the Santa Rita Mountains 30 miles southeast of Tucson. A three mile paved road winds up the lower reaches of the canyon beside Madera Creek ending at a fork in the stream just before the land rises much more steeply. Along the way are three picnic areas, a side road to a campground, and five trailheads.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Eroded by wind and water over millions of years, the thousand-foot limestone and sandstone columns at Bryce Canyon are striped with orange, pink, red, and white layers. Rather than being an actual canyon, the odd-shaped spires are a geologic formation called hoodoos.

Painted Desert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

While many national parks around the country are home to vast forests this preserve comes with a twist—the trees here have all been dead for hundreds of millions of years transformed into colorful slabs of stone. A broad region of rocky badlands, the Painted Desert is a vast landscape that features rocks in every hue—from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges, and pinks.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A word to the wise, though: Pandemic safety precautions shift as the virus numbers go up and down in specific regions; check the frequently changing schedules and policies at parks, restaurants, and campgrounds before setting out. From there, just remember, once you’re on the open road, where it leads is entirely up to you. Yes, there will be surprises once you set out, but, as 2020 has continually reminded us, that’s life—so get out and enjoy it.

Worth Pondering…

In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.

—John Muir

Vacationing by RV this Summer? Here’s what you need to Know

Parks, scenic drives, and hiking trails all wait—all on your own terms

The wide open spaces never seemed more inviting than now. Fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and a healthy dose of freedom—it’s all waiting for you along the highways and byways of America. If you’re ready for a getaway with both wide-open spaces and a lot of autonomy, consider an RV road trip around America.

Motor coaches along Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you’re in your RV, or camping, you’re in control of your environment. You can spend as much or as little time as you want in any one place. You can go off on a hike all day and come back and never see a soul. Such trips literally and figuratively “put you in the driver’s seat”.

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As communities re-open after their COVID-19-related closures, keep in mind that some parks, businesses, and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Before traveling, familiarize yourself with local guidelines and regulations for the destinations you plan to visit.

Camping in a Class B motorhome at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pick Your Wheels

There are vehicles for every style of trip from the converted minivan–style Jucy vans that sleep four and have a kitchen to full-size RVs with a bathroom. If you’re new to RVing, start by getting acquainted with the various types of RVs available. Options range from pop-up, teardrop, travel, and fifth-wheel trailers to motorized RVs that range in size from vans (Class B motorhomes) and cab-over morothomes (Class C) to long, bus-style motor coaches.

Camping in a travel trailer at Whispering Hills RV Park near Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rent or buy something that works best work for you and your family. Think about the activities you plan to do. If your plans involve regularly traversing hairpin mountain passes or embarking on day-long hikes, a campervan or truck camper would best fit the bill. Conversely, 45-foot motor homes equipped with cooking appliances and large wastewater holding tanks work well for large family get-togethers or cross-country trips.

Camping at Bellingham RV Park, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose a vehicle that’s compatible with the area you plan to explore and within your budget. You’ll love having the extra space of a motorized RV if you’re exploring the desert or mostly traveling along major highways. That said, a smaller camper van might be better suited for the scenic drive along California Highway 1, Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone, and other winding roadways.  

Camping at Colorado River Thousand Trails Preserve near Columbus, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most rentals do not require a special driver’s license. Ahead of booking make sure to ask about rental insurance and roadside assistance plans. Take advantage of a quick RV training session before revving up. If you plan on bringing along a furry friend, check the pet policies specific to your rental. Perhaps most important is to book early.

On the road to Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose Your Scenery

There are hundreds—if not thousands—of amazing places to visit across the country. Do you want to do a coastal or mountain drive or go off the grid for a bit? State highways and county roads tend to feature scenic drives filled with more beauty than interstates, so stop and take some photos, smell the flowers, or just marvel at nature when venturing off the beaten path. Taking the scenic route can reveal some unexpected locally owned gems that get overlooked. Pecan pralines in Louisiana, BBQ in Texas, green chile cheeseburger in New Mexico.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Want the journey to be just as meaningful as the destination? Check out these scenic byways. Looking to do an epic cross-country road trip along a beloved American roadway? Check out our guides to Route 66, Gold Rush Trail, or the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maybe you’re a history buff or a foodie? You could plan your camping trip around either of those themes—and many more, to boot. Here are some of our best road trip ideas for patriots, wildlife lovers, and haunted house enthusiasts.

Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

California dreaming? Got Georgia on your mind? No matter what part of the country, there’s a road that can take you there—so go for it. And be sure to stop at neat little towns and roadside attractions along the way.

Camping at Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Start Browsing Campgrounds to Create Your Itinerary

Almost any destination can be made better—or significantly worse—by choice of campground. It’s hard to relax if you don’t have access to clean showers or if your neighbors keep you up all night with noise.

Camping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, don’t forget that we’re a great resource! Whether you’re camping out at a national park or just looking for the best RV park near your chosen national park, always turn to RVing with Rex for quality content to help you make your vacation great.

Worth Pondering…

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…

— John Muir

10 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Perfect RV for Your Family

The first barrier to living the RV life is discovering which type of RV is right for you

A comfortable bed to sleep in after the day spent playing at the lake? A kitchen to prepare your family’s favorite meals? A shower to clean up in after a long day on a hiking trail? A home away from home in all your favorite places?

Fifth-wheel trailer with tow vehicle at Leaf Verde RV Park in Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you want a big rig or a camper van? Will you drive a Class A or a bus conversion? Should you explore a Class C, or will a travel trailer work well with your truck? In the beginning, there are lots of questions. Yet asking questions is a good thing!

Class C motorhome at Wahweap RV Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona/Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ve decided you want to experience the RV lifestyle. Or maybe your family’s needs have changed and it’s time for an upgrade. With so many RVs to choose from it can be overwhelming. Don’t worry! Ask yourself these questions to help make the decision easier.

Travel trailer at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do You Have a Tow Vehicle?

If you have a tow vehicle then you’ll want to narrow your search to RVs within your vehicle’s towing capacity. Don’t forget to add the weight of passengers, cargo, and liquids to the dry weight of the RV. You don’t want to fall in love with an RV only to determine that it exceeds your vehicle’s maximum capacity to tow safely.

Toy hauler fifth wheeler and tent trailer at River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How Many Beds Do You Require?

Sleeping arrangements in RVs range from plush king size beds to fold out beds. Think about how many your RV needs to sleep, and also the bedtime routine. Some people don’t mind turning dinettes or sofas into beds every night while others consider a designated pre-made bed for each person a must.

Truck camper at Saguaro Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where Will You Camp?

When most people think of RVing they think of campgrounds, but RVs open up a whole world of different types of adventure and exploration. Some RVs are better suited for boondocking or off grid camping with larger holding tanks and generators or solar panels. Perhaps you plan to use your RV to tailgate at sporting events. If your goal is to spend as much time as possible in national and state parks then length will be a consideration.

Boondocking near Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Amenities Do You Require?

Some buy an RV because they no longer want to sleep on the ground and want more protection from than what a tent offers. But creature comforts don’t stop at a roof and a bed. RVs are available with numerous amenities including gourmet kitchens and state of the art entertainment centers. Make a list of your most important amenities and prioritize.

Full service site including 50-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Activities Do You Enjoy?

Hobbies and activities will help you narrow down your RV search. Sport utility RVs, or toy haulers, provide space for ATVs, golf carts, and bikes. Since some RVs offer more storage space than others, consider where all that gear will go.

Taking everything with you! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How Much Space Do You REALLY Need?

This is different for every family. Do you plan to use your RV every weekend all summer or for extended trips? Or is it going to be an every once in a while outing? Do your kids need their own bedroom? Do you need your own bedroom?

Scamp travel trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Is Your Preferred Floor Plan?

Visit RV shows and dealerships to get an idea of what floor plan will work best for you family. Spend time in the RVs. Sit on the couches. Lay on the beds. Walk into the bathrooms. Imagine cooking in the kitchen. Ask for brochures to take home. Most dealerships are happy to let you spend time in their RVs because they want you to be happy with the RV you choose.

Teardrop trailer at Distant Drum RV Park, Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider Maintenance and Repair

All RVs have maintenance and repair issues from time to time. New models come with a warranty where manufactures and dealerships take care of the repairs for a set amount of time. Pre-owned RVs are typically sold “as-is” meaning all repairs are your responsibly.

Class A motorhome (Diesel Pusher) at Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Is Your Style of Travel?

Do you like moving every night or do you prefer to set up and stay at one campground for a while.

Airstream trailer at The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What Is Your Budget?

Just as there is an RV for every lifestyle, there is an RV for every budget. Decide on a budget before beginning your search. Pre-owned RVs are a great option for a limited budget.

Taking it all with you at Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buying an RV will be one of the best decisions you’ll make for your family. At the end of the day or a long weekend, spending time together and creating memories are what is important and that will happen in any type of RV.

Worth Pondering…

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

—John Ruskin

Summer’s Not Cancelled: Before You Plan Your Summer Road Trip, Read This

Let’s face it: 2020 has been rough. That’s why we’re looking to find moments of joy and pleasure this summer.

Flights are mostly grounded, the Canada/U.S. border is shuttered, and after three months of mandatory staycation, cabin fever is at an all-time high. You need to get out of the house, we get it. But is it safe to travel this summer? Where can you travel to? And what do you need to know before hitting the open highway? Here, a guide to the great American (and Canadian) road trip of 2020 including the dos and don’ts of travel, what you need to pack, and the best places for a pee break.

Camping on Bartlett Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is camping a better option than staying in a hotel or renting a cottage?

Camping is definitely COVID-friendly since it involves zero time indoors and minimal interaction with other people outside of your bubble. Most national and state parks and campgrounds have re-opened in recent weeks, so go forth—just beware the communal campground bathroom.

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

RVs are the way to travel this summer

When social-distancing norms came into place, the RV industry looked at itself, blinked, and realized it was about to experience a silver lining in an otherwise tough global situation. If there’s any moment that RV life would take over the world, it’d be this one.

Waiting for service at the Freightliner Custom Chassis Service Center in Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And so far, “taking over the world” it just might. A recent survey conducted by the Cairn Consulting Group shows that Americans and Canadians are—more than ever—hard-pressed to find ways to travel, get into nature, and break from the daily chaos but with quarantine still in mind. In other words, we’re ready to hit the outdoors for RV adventures.

Getting back to nature on Avery Island in Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For starters, it’s just safer. You’re self-contained. No shared toilet seats, no stuffing into a flying sardine tube. And it’s cheaper than a lot of options—given the current economic climate, that’s a big no-brainer. You have your own space, plus many amenities offered at a resort.

The Lakes at Chowchilla Golf and RV Resort offers numerous amenities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs come in practically every shape and size because RVers are not one-size-fits-all. Some like rigs that help to disconnect for days in places like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) free dispersed camping areas and bring only the necessities with us. 

Truck camper at Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Teardrop trailer sales exploding

As with any crisis—locally, nationally or globally, people need to make adjustments. The long tentacles of COVID-19 are far-reaching. But people are resourceful; they roll with the punches including economic punches. There are people who are struggling to stay safe and isolated while others are just trying to keep a roof over their heads. 

A mini-trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even the most modest of trailers have become a sight for sore eyes. Teardrop trailer sales in particular, have boomed in the recent months. They’re simple, but they get the job done. They provide dependable shelter and a place to sleep. Some even come equipped with bathrooms and a mini kitchen.

A teardrop trailer at Distant Drums RV Park in Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are nine teardrops you can check out online that are popular with campers:

  • Micro Minnie by Winnebago
  • The Happier Camper
  • iCamp Elite Travel Trailer
  • The Little Guy Max Tear Drop Camper
  • Timberline Trailer by HomeGrown
  • The Scamp 13-Foot Teardrop Camper
  • The KZ Spree Escape Mini
  • 2019 nuCamp RV T@B 320 S Boondock
  • The Jayco Hummingbird
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What if I just want to hit the open road and see where the wind takes me?

With all due respect, summer 2020 is probably not the best time to live out your Jack Kerouac fantasy. Planning in advance is essential and that includes a pandemic-specific packing list. Make sure to stock up your COVID kit before departure. Face masks, Lysol wipes, sanitizer, and toilet paper as the new road trip essentials. These items are in high demand and may be out of stock.

Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s where to hit the road

If you’re lucky enough to have access to your home on wheels, where should you go? These options are beautiful and located along major road-trip routes in the US, meaning there are plenty of places to refuel and relax.

Bay St. Louis, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One important note: We do not want to suggest you bombard beautiful places, rural areas, or small towns. Ideally, you will gather all your supplies where you live and make minimal stops during your trip. Keep to yourself as much as possible, and have a plan B at the ready. If your destination looks busy, pass it.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Make it a good day! Get outdoors!

Best Places for RV Travel this July

Fill up the tires, top off the tank, and pile in the RV for the best summer road trip of your life

July is the birth month of Julius Caesar and that’s why the month was named after him. July is also the first month on the traditional calendar that isn’t named after a god or goddess of Roman or Greek origins, but is named after a real person.

Black Hills of South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With the Fourth of July this week, there is an extra emphasis on outdoor activities in the age of COVID-19—due to the open air as well as the ability to easily social distance. As such, a number of national and state parks around the country are open while others plan to do so just in time for the holiday. This is a very good social-distancing type of vacation. It’s just you and your family and your RV out there in the great outdoors.

Eleven Mile Range in Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s also a chance to catch North Dakota in a rare moment of warmth. Or just crash out on the beach. The sun is strong and temperatures soar far and wide—South Dakota, New Hampshire, even North Dakota, for god’s sake. Enjoy.

Due to changing advisories, please check local travel guidelines before visiting.

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

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out our monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in April, May, and June. Also check out our recommendations from July 2019.

Needles Highway in the Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

South Dakota

Road-trippers are too often guilty of blowing through South Dakota with a soda stop at Wall Drug and a quick gawk at Mount Rushmore, then back to I-90 and onward. Well, ease off the gas a bit. SoDak has a lot going on. The Black Hills would hold their own as a national park replete with winding scenic drives, deep forests (the “black” in Black Hills), sparkling lakes, world-class caverns, and the tallest mountain east of the Rockies. Even the farm-and-prairie country to the east, bisected by the Missouri River, is sprinkled with gems, particularly if you’re drawn to lakes and rivers.

New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is heavily forested and riddled with rocky crags and more than 1,300 lakes. The steep, rugged White Mountains are a collection of 4,000-foot peaks that dominate the northern portion of the state. Move south looking for mellower terrain and there’s barely enough time for those mountains to transition to hills before you’re at the coast which is almost as thrilling as the peaks on the other end of the state. The 18 miles of coastline are known for cold surf, rocky beaches, and jagged islands popping up from the Atlantic.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Step aboard the Cog Railway and climb to the Northeast’s highest summit, Mount Washington. The train travels the steepest railroad tracks in North America, passing through several climate zones before reaching the summit. With 93 state parks offering everything from surf breaks to mountain peaks, New Hampshire is a state built for adventure.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

For wildlife spotting opportunities away from the crowds head west to the littler-known Theodore Roosevelt National Park which sees just 749,000 annual visitors. Twenty-nine American bison were reintroduced here in 1956 with herd numbers today totaling several hundred between the park’s north and south units. For the best chance of seeing bison, make your way around the Scenic Loop Drive in the south unit but be sure to maintain a respectable distance from the massive creatures. Fortunately, bison prefer to graze the nutritious grasslands surrounding prairie dog communities, and thus, you may spot both species.

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Beyond the park’s critters, there is an abundance of scenic views and impressive rock formations to enjoy. Visiting at sunrise or sunset is an ideal time to appreciate the multitude of colors emanating from bands of minerals in the rugged rock face.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston

There are few better places to be for the Fourth of July than Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution. This richly historic, seafront state capital come alive with celebrations. Packed with museums and galleries, Boston was once hailed the Athens of America. Bostonians are proud of their food culture with classics like clam chowder and lobster rolls.

Forest Center, Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Everyone loves a two-for-one, especially when it comes to national parks. As Yosemite’s southern neighbors, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are often overlooked. Although Sequoia and Kings Canyon’s natural beauty rival its northerly neighbor, it only received 1.2 million visitors in 2018 compared to Yosemite’s four million. But as the famed naturalist John Muir once penned, “…southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is a grander valley of the same kind.” And we have to agree.

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”

—Walter Winchell

8 Reasons This Summer Is the Best Time to Try RVing

It’s summertime and the RVing is easy

There has never been a better summer than this one to get out into the great outdoors. We’ve all had a challenging few months. Nature is a tonic and we need it now more than ever. Traveling by RV, even if just a few hours from home to a state or national park, forest preserve, or RV park, may be the safest form of travel and the safest type of overnight stay.

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Millions of people enjoy RV travel in the summer. The weather can be ideal for being outdoors and the days are longer meaning more time for outdoor activities. Yes, there are mosquitoes and other bugs to contend with but there are also birds to watch, animals to spot, horseback riding, and campfires for cooking and enjoying the evening.

1. RVs Provide the Ultimate Travel Freedom

Traveling along Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Traveling in an RV gives you the ultimate freedom in traveling. You get in and you go. There are no airport security checks or crowds to navigate. Everything you need fits in the RV which is the biggest suitcase you will ever have. It’s all on board: clothes, food, kitchen, recreation gear, lounge, and the all-important restroom.

2. Summer RVing Is Better Than Your Backyard

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

Get away from the noise, the city light, and the traffic, and enjoy some wide-open spaces. Campgrounds at national, state, and local parks are designed for outdoor recreation. You can experience nature up close and personal in all its beauty when you open your RV door. Tranquility is abundant.

Fishing at Parker Canyon Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take your backyard fun with you. Many people bring their kayaks, bicycles, and other fun toys. Or you can often rent boats and bikes at or near your campground. Hiking and fishing are top activities for RVers in the summer.

3. Enjoy a Community of People

Camping at Eagle Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You will make friends and enjoy some great quality time with fellow campers. RVers generally are interested in enjoying their time camping. They open their campfire circle to new friends and enjoy a beverage or picnic with neighbors.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This summer, many campgrounds are practicing contactless site management (meaning you won’t have to go into the campsite office to check in). Social distancing is being practiced. Know the rules in the destination you choose to visit and honor the campground requests. We all want to and can be safe as we enjoy RV camping.

4. RVing Makes for a Great Getaway

Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVing is the ultimate road trip experience. You can go anywhere and stay as long as you like exploring and experiencing new places.  RVing affords a flexible itinerary and you will never be without a place to sleep.

Distant Drum RV Resort, Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs come in all shapes and sizes and how and where you plan to travel is the best determiner of which type of RV to use. The larger motorhomes can tow a car behind giving you the ultimate living experience as well as driving flexibility once you reach your destination. Smaller RVs are nimble and can get you into and out of interesting vistas. Think about your preferred road trip experience to make your RV selection.

5. Everyone Gets To Go On the RV Trip

Camping with the family pet at Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the best features of RVing is that you can bring your pet. Most parks and campgrounds allow pets. There are restrictions on breeds in some cases, plus leash and pooper scooper rules and sometimes vaccination documentation is required. But RVs enable everyone in your household to vacation together.

6. Enjoying the Outdoors

Enjoying the outdoors along La Sal Mountains Scenic Loop near Moab, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While RVs offer air conditioning, you will spend most of daylight hours outdoors. Be sure to stay hydrated and keep sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat (I recommend a Tilley) nearby. Bug repellent is a must. Bring quality outdoor footwear. Socks and shoes as well as long pants are your best protection in the woods from insect bites, poison ivy, scratches from bush and tree branches, and uneven surfaces.

7. Lots of Daylight and Starry Nights

Port Aransas, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The long days of summer offer bonus time for having fun outdoors. You will have ample access to a miraculous view of the night sky. If you are camping in the woods you may see hundreds of fireflies blinking and twinkling. It’s as if the fairies are just beyond your reach as you see their lights flash.

Sunset at Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nighttime also brings night sounds. Coyotes are commonly heard at night. If you are lucky, you’ll hear owls calling to each other. At twilight, you might hear elks bugling. Nighttime is a show all its own when you RV.

8. This Summer’s Bonus Reason

Gila Bend KOA, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Exceptionally low fuel prices make this the summer for an extended road trip. RVs obviously get less mileage than the family car and the bigger the RV, the lower the mileage. The big coaches use diesel fuel which is more costly but the lower prices help offset the increased expense.

The open road is calling you this summer. Answer the call in an RV.

Worth Pondering…

The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, visit new places, meet interesting people, and experience the freedom of the open road.

Living the RV Dream

Why RVing is the freedom lifestyle

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco and as RVers we also get to fall in love with attractive destinations and off-beat attractions. No matter where you love to roam, the U.S. and Canada have many spectacular road trips and terrific destinations.

Seaside, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, visit new places, meet interesting people, and experience the freedom of the open road. As we explore North America by RV, natural beauty abounds when least expected, and surprises wait at every turn of the road. Each journey we take represents a passage, whether it’s an adventure to a new province or state, a day trip to a new attraction, or an outing with friends!

Macon, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You may have found yourself aboard a commercial jet at one time or another and thinking to yourself, “I sure wish I was 30,000 feet below cruising down the highway in an RV.”

There’s a lot of country out there—big, beautiful, so much to see and explore. And when you fly to your destination, you’re missing most of it—the landscapes, the views, the quirky roadside attractions. You lose the chance to experience all the special little stops that exist along the roads and byways.

Raccoon State Recreation Area, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Everyone should experience traveling the country in an RV. There is no other way of travel that compares. You can enjoy the scenic wonders of nature without compromising on comfort no matter where you travel.

Living the dream of traveling throughout North America in an RV with freedom as the key word every day—freedom to travel, freedom to stop, freedom to enjoy life, and freedom to meet new and old friends. Freedom to do what we wish to do, when we wish to do it!

Historic Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to the freedom, spontaneity, and unrestricted pleasure I am able to photograph and write about our travels and the wonderful views and sights that we encounter and to share these experiences with others via a blog.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Freedom—this word holds different and perhaps quite disparate definitions for each person. What freedom means to me may be called lack of security or instability for another person.

Opportunities to explore new places or revisit favorite spots are experiences that we accept as challenging and rewarding. For others freedom may be very frightening, startling, and absolutely scary.

Historic Mesilla, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Non-RVers are often puzzled at our lifestyle and seemingly lack of security. My responses to their queries are much the same each time. My security is found in my freedom and in the spontaneity to move about the country when and where we prefer.

Freedom and independence are descriptive terms for the lifestyle of those who choose to travel without restraint and with no restrictions. We each make our own choices of where to go and what to do.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Freedom may require a great effort for many people, ample compromise, and significant life adjustments, but the resulting lifestyle makes the effort worthwhile.

Incidentally, the Freedom approach can be accomplished using virtually any type of RV from tent camper, old travel trailer or motorhome to a million dollar Prevost.

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

The attitude is in the heart and mind. After all, isn’t dreaming about places totally new to us—and seeing old favorites in a new light—why we travel in the first place?

Ansel Adams once said, “Sometimes I do get to places when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

Murphys, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remember to bring your camera.

Click.

Worth Pondering…

Enjoy your journey—RV living is the freedom lifestyle.

How Will People Travel After the Coronavirus?

With people still concerned about COVID-19, social distancing away from home can be easier in an RV

With travel restrictions loosening all around the country, where and how will vacationers get out and go? Many will get behind the wheel.

COVID-19 has left most travel industries like airlines, hotels, resorts, and cruise lines struggling for business. International travel is essentially dead on arrival now with numerous countries in Europe alone requiring or planning to require travelers to quarantine for 14 days after they arrive. Setting your sights on a tropical isle isn’t a good idea either.

Camping at Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But one is doing surprisingly well, the RV industry. We’re going to take a lot of road trips. Some one-tank trips where we can go just for the day and come back, not even do an overnight. Cooped-up Americans and Canadians desperate to get out after months of lockdowns are dreaming of doing something—anything—that resembles a vacation.

Camping at Edisto Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many are ready to get back to normal and travel. AAA predicts more Americans will hit the highway instead of the skies this year. A recent study by the U.S. Travel Association found 68 percent of people feel safe traveling in their own car but only 18 percent feel safe taking a flight to somewhere in the U.S. It’s good news for the RV industry.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Service Center, Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to recent Ipsos research examining consumer interest and planned actions on travel choices in light of the COVID-19 crisis, 46 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in the next 12 months. This positive news for RV manufacturers, dealers, and campgrounds reinforces what dealers are already seeing at the retail level.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resort, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV dealerships are seeing a surge in sales and campgrounds are seeing an increased number of reservations as people plan for summer vacation during the pandemic. The attraction to recreational vehicles is that no one’s slept in that bed except you, you’re using your own private bathroom, and you can still be outdoors. It’s hard for a virus to jump across a campfire.

The Old Bag Factory, Goshen, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With an RV you really know what you have. You can clean it to your personal standard and let the people of your choosing share the space with you. You have a lot more control and yet you still can be outside enjoying nature.

For decades, sales of motorhomes and travel trailers were a reliable indicator of the beginning—and end—of a recession. Sales would dip as a downturn approached and rise ahead of a recovery. But this time, it’s different: sales are rising as America enters its worst contraction since the Great Depression.

Historic Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most sales have been reflective of the desire to wring as much recreation out of a socially distanced summer as possible. While more than one in five workers has filed for unemployment, some people are shelling out upward of $100,000 so they can hit the road while staying away from everyone else. Social distancing is a lot easier when you can bring along your own kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.

Along Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to providing a personal space that allows people to maintain social distance in a safe manner, the RV life also allows people to connect with loved-ones, provides the ability to get away for short, frequent breaks or longer adventures, and helps people reconnect to nature or explore some of the many attractions that are often just a drive away. That’s what RVing is all about. It’s a lifestyle that you never can get going to a hotel or resort as far as camaraderie with other people and that sort of thing.

Arizona Oases RV Park, Ehrenberg, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And social distancing away from home for families can be easier in an RV.

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

The U.S. has about 13,000 private RV parks and an estimated 1.23 million individual campsites according to estimates from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (and that doesn’t include campsites in state and national parks). Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that 60,000 new camping spots would become available.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s not just purchases that are climbing according to Jen Young, co-founder of Outdoorsy which matches 40,000 RV owners with people who want to rent. Though bookings fell during the early stages of the pandemic, they have since skyrocketed.  Outdoorsy rival RVshare also reported a surge in reservations.

The Lakes Golf and RV Resort, Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People say “‘I won’t visit any place where a lot of people will go,’ so that pretty much (cancels) out all the big city centers and air travel,” she said. “There’s just so much more flexibility in recreation vehicle travel.”

Worth Pondering…

Our nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.

—Blaise Pascal

Is This The Summer Of The RV?

States across the U.S. are starting to open back up. What does that mean for when, where, and how to travel?

With the unofficial start of summer behind us and months before the kids go back to school—or not—many would-be-travelers with canceled plans are looking for ideas to travel safely. “Safe” does not mean the same thing to all people: While one person might be comfortable in an RV park because they have personal accommodations, another might find the campground itself too crowded for personal comfort.

Sea Breeze RV Resort, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In any typical year, the end of May marks the official start of road trip season. But 2020, as we’re all painfully aware is not a typical year. The COVID-19 pandemic is not just wreaking havoc on people’s health and livelihoods—in just a few months it’s all but decimated the travel industry as well. Airplanes are grounded, cruise ships are docked, hotels are closed, and several states still have stay-at-home orders in place. 

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

But for those of us who prefer road travel in our own vehicle over flights and cruises, the news isn’t all bad. According to recent headlines from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, LA Times, and many others, the American road trip is about to make a grand, splashing comeback. (Though, if you ask me, road trips never went out of style in the first place.)

Spirit River and Mount St. Helens, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summer vacation will look at lot different for many families this year but perhaps what no one saw coming was the rise of the RV. The spread of COVID-19 has made air travel and public transportation mighty unpopular options while personal vehicles feel like more of a safe haven. Recent studies have shown travelers feel more comfortable in a personal vehicle where they can control the scenario, unlike shared transportation.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The RV Industry Association says RV sales have increased 170 percent when compared to this time last year. Some dealers are reporting sales at any all-time high.

In an effort to keep things more contained, those renting RVs aren’t looking to hit the road and travel to crowded areas. RVshare said its study found 93 percent of respondents want to avoid crowds and 65 percent want to be surrounded by nature. We could see a far greater number of trips to national and state parks and wide-open spaces.

Along the Colorado River, Arizona side © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perhaps playing to Americans’ stir-crazy feelings of confinement, they’re planning to take longer trips, too. Almost half of those surveyed planned to get away for a week or more than 10 days. But, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge on an RV and socially distanced vacation, just know you’re not alone. Quickly, isolated areas could become the next popular destination.

Sedona, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roadtripping is a great way to explore some of the most beautiful places in the country while still avoiding big crowds, and after being cooped up at home many are understandably antsy to hit the road again. Remember to be mindful of risks, both to yourself and others.

Joshua Tree National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As we venture out consider that some of our fellow travelers are still adjusting to a new normal. To ensure everyone enjoys their chance to travel, keep these common-sense guidelines in mind:

  • Before heading out, check the status of the area you plan to visit
  • Phone ahead to determine under what conditions a park or attraction has reopened
  • Check the rules for recreation ahead of time for the specific area you’re planning to visit
  • Avoid high-risk activities like rock climbing or backcountry activities as law enforcement and rescue operations may be limited
  • Select low-traffic locations and times
  • Consider visiting less-traveled locations at off-peak hours to avoid potential crowding
  • Practice physical distancing outdoors by staying at least 6 feet apart
  • Avoid crowded locations where physical distancing may be difficult
  • Plan ahead, as services and facilities will be limited
  • If you are feeling even mildly sick, you should remain at home until you feel better
Historic Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If we learn anything from these last few months, it should be to behave respectfully toward any people you encounter or communities you visit during your travels. Be kind, act responsibly, and leave it better than you found it.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

—Okakura Kazuko

RVs Could Be the Answer to Your Summer Travel Plans

The coronavirus is making people rethink what a summer vacation looks like

As the country began locking down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus the entire travel industry was severely impacted. On April 7, the Transportation Security Administration recorded the lowest number of U.S. flyers screened in the agency’s history when it dropped to below 100,000—a 95 percent decrease from the same day in 2019. On May 20, the TSA screened 230,367 passengers, compared with 2,472,123 on the same day last year.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic and international travelers spent $1.1 trillion in the U.S. in 2019 which supported nine million jobs and generated $180 billion in tax revenue. One-third of coronavirus job losses in the U.S. are connected to the travel industry.

RV Park at Rolling Hills, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While many summer travel plans have been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus, one form of travel might be a viable way to go: RVs. As of May 19, bookings on RVshare, an RV peer-to-peer booking platform, were up 1,000 percent from early April. Yes, 1,000 percent.

SeaWind RV Resort, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the pandemic has halted most forms of travel, families are looking for safe ways to get out-of-doors after months of home isolation. But for some people—about a million, to be exact—living out of an RV is the norm.

Buckhorn RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many analysts expect summer 2020 to herald the return of the Great American Road Trip as travelers explore destinations closer to home in the comfort of their own vehicle. Mark Wong, an exec at Small Luxury Hotels of the World, told CNBC, “Road trips—the drive market—will be this summer’s trend. Travelers will be more comfortable hopping into their own RVs or rental units than commuting in mass transportation.”

Along Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nicholas Devane, owner of RV rental company Texino, told the LA Times he was doing good business until having to shut down because “I think corona is making people rethink what a vacation looks like. What is their ability to travel without going through airports? Camper vans and RVs are a great way to do that.”

Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An RVshare survey found that 77 percent of respondents were looking to make travel plans within the next three months. Sixty-five percent of travelers said they want to be in and around nature including locations like a national park (65 percent) or a lake (47 percent).

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVillage offers a place for RVers (and wannabes) to talk to one another. Whether you are considering purchasing an RV for an upcoming vacation, deciding to leave your conventional home behind, or have been on the road for years, about 3,000 crowd-sourced groups are available to field RV-related questions and discussions. Over 11,000 new RVillage accounts were created in the past month alone pushing RVillage to over 220,000 users.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the pandemic RVers also use the platform to help plan their next move safely. People are talking to each other and asking what’s open and what’s not open. What are best practices right now if you want to go with your family? Where to avoid? How does social distancing work in the RV?

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even before the pandemic, the RV industry had been showing significant growth. According to RV Industry Association data, beginning in 2009 RV unit shipments increased year over year through 2017 although the number began dropping in 2018 (down 4.1 percent) and even more in 2019 (down 16 percent). RV retail value was over $20 billion in 2018, the latest year for which a figure was available.

Another benefit of RV travel during a pandemic or any other time is the ability to have everything you need for travel within your own space.

Gulf Coast RV Resort, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Sir Richard Burton once put it, “man wants to wander, and he must do so, or he shall die.” That being said, traveling around the U.S. isn’t going to be a cakewalk. Different states are in very different stages of easing the pandemic restrictions. Ultimately, we need to know what is going on where. That means don’t travel to an area that has an active shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order. Period! Don’t travel if local communities don’t feel ready to welcome travelers, either.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin