The Absolute Best Places to RV This November

The eleventh month of each year brings beautiful fall foliage, a pre-holiday calm, and tons of things to give thanks for—especially when it comes to RV travel

November may seem like an inconvenient time to vacation due to Thanksgiving at the end of the month, but there are benefits for RV travel during this shoulder season. Crowds at popular destinations are a thing of the past.

From cool fall breezes to pre-holiday calm, November offers plenty of reasons to give thanks while RVing.

Okenenokee National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With these five November travel ideas, you’ll be plenty relaxed before all the holiday hoopla.

And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in August, September, or October.

Civil War Battlefield

Gettysburg National Military Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Though all the survivors from the Civil War are now gone, it’s still a great way to honor veterans and learn some history at the same time. Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, is perhaps the epitome of Civil War battlefields. It was the largest, bloodiest battle of the Civil War with 50,000 casualties.

Gettysburg National Military Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Though the conflict took place more than 150 years ago, it’s still a powerful reminder of the sacrifice and strife that took place and that almost tore apart the nation.

Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Lake Okeechobee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sometimes referred to as Florida’s inland sea, Lake Okeechobee is central to a region of Florida historically known for its agriculture, but in recent times also equated with superior fishing, boating, and trails. Waterways on either side run into the “Big O,” as the lake is called, making it part of a152-mile boating passage way through the middle of the state known as the Okeechobee Waterway.

Sugar cane harvesting © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clewiston, on the 750 square-mile lake’s southern shore, has the most to offer travelers, especially those intent on hooking into the lake’s legendary largemouth bass and speckled perch. Fishing guides and resorts help out with that goal. Blue gills, Okeechobee catfish, and black crappies are other local catches.

Clewiston Inn © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clewiston is also known as “America’s Sweetest Town,” so be sure to do the Sugarland Express tour of a local farm and mill (you even get to chew on some sugarcane) and a three-hour boat cruise that explains the lake’s historic and natural heritage.

Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina

Cowpens National Battlefield © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On Jan. 17, 1781, the Americans won a decisive battle against the better-trained British Army. The battle was over in less than an hour. This victory gave the Patriots the moral support needed to continue fighting and win the Revolution just nine months later. Featured at the battlefield are a walking trail and marked road tour, picnic grounds, and a visitor center with exhibits, memorabilia, and a multi-image presentation.

Cowpens National Battlefield © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The British sustained one of the worst disasters of their Southern campaign, and the Patriots finally defeated “Bloody” Tarleton. General Daniel Morgan displayed brilliant tactics in the disposition of his forces, making effective use of both militia and Continental troops to envelop and rout the British. Most of Tarleton’s army were killed or captured, and the rest fled. The Battle of Cowpens was the event which started Cornwallis on his road to Yorktown.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

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

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.

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

Many thousands of bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers from around the nation and beyond follow them here. And there’s no better time or way to appreciate all that the 57,000-acre refuge has to offer than attending the annual Festival of the Cranes, the week before Thanksgiving.

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia

Okenenokee National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Imagine a place where unusual creatures swim through mirror-top waters and exotic plants sprout from floating islands—a place where thousands of creatures serenade the setting of the sun each day.

Okenenokee National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Okefenokee offers so much, one could spend a lifetime and still not see and do everything. Spanish moss-laced trees reflect off the black swamp waters, while cypress knees rise upward from the glass-like surface. Here, paddlers and photographers enjoy breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

Worth Pondering…

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.

—Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Absolute Best Places to RV This October

October is one of the absolute best months for RV travel

October is here and that means Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day weekend on the States side, trips to the countryside to enjoy the autumn leaves and spooky Halloween decorations, fall activities, and parties. Many campgrounds have amazing Halloween activities planned so if you’re looking for a unique experience, check out one of the parks to get your scare on!

Consider the following destinations where fewer crowds or special events make this the right time to go.

Here are five great places for RV travel in October 2019.

And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in July, August, and September. Also check out our recommendations from October 2018.

Crowley, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Louisiana

Louisianians can always find a reason to celebrate. Throughout the year, music, food, history, and holidays inspire more than 400 Louisiana festivals and events of all sizes occurring throughout the state and each one is an opportunity to #FeedYourSoul.

Home of Tabasco on Avery Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tamales are toasted in Zwolle each October when the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta celebrates the Spanish and Native Amerian heritage. Still hungry? Head to LaPlace for the Andouille Festival, Crowley for the Rice Festival, and Bridge City for the Gumbo Festival, all held in October.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another hands-down favorite food item makes the festival roster at the NOLA Beignet Festival. Held early October, the Crescent City pays homage to the famous pillowy pastry while raising awareness for autism.

Ambrosia Bakery in Baton Rouge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another fall festival that celebrates Louisiana’s one-of-a-kind culture is the free, three-day Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in Lafayette’s Girard Park in mid-October. This is really three festivals in one, each celebrating a different aspect of Cajun and Creole culture.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ask anyone to name Utah’s five National Parks, and odds are Capitol Reef is the one they forget among its arched-and-canyoned cousins. You should remember Capitol Reef for the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile wrinkle in the earth and a feature you won’t find elsewhere in the state.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s also been designated as a “Gold Tier” Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, so camping here will yield some of the prettiest stars you’ve ever seen. At just over a million visitors last year, it offers much of the red rocks and striking geology of other Utah parks, without the crowds.

Texas Hill Country

Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Austin is obviously great, but it’s also obviously saturated with hipsters. Hill County, on the other hand, is a whole other bag. Head a half-hour out of town and you’ll find yourself in the midst of true Texan quirk. Once you’ve put Austin in the rearview mirror, consider this area your next epic road trip.

Gruene Dance Hall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop in the historic town of Gruene for live music and imbibin’ at Gruene Hall, which is pretty much everything you want from a Texas roadhouse. Fredericksburg is a bizarre little haven of German culture, complete with biergarten; after that, we say you whip out the inner tube and spend hours floating down Guadalupe River.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cowboys, German beer fests, and lazy rivers, check—now it’s on to the 15 wineries along Fredericksburg Wine Road 290. To wrap it all up, head to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to climb an ancient pink granite peak and survey all that you’ve just visited. 

New River Gorge, West Virginia

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For 364 days out of the year, West Virginians occupy their time with backwoods activities that sometimes involve eating squirrels (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But one day in October—the aptly named Bridge Day—they toss themselves off a big-ass bridge overlooking the New River Gorge. It’s an event that draws about 80,000 extreme-sports enthusiasts and onlookers annually, but it’s only one of the reasons to experience the New River Gorge.

New River Gorge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

See also the gorgeous views of a river winding around monolithic rock formations like Endless Wall and Junkyard Cliff. In terms of potential things you will ever see, the gorge is pretty spectacular.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even though the town has been named the “Best Town EVER” by Outside Magazine twice, the indoor options here are becoming just as formidable as those out of doors. Plus, it doesn’t really seem that people are getting the message about how great this place is.

Chattanooga Choo-Choo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not only is the Tennessee Aquarium home to baby penguins, but the Tennessee Stillhouse literally got laws rewritten so it could become the first legal distillery in Chattanooga in over a century. And, the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel has reopened (after a $20 million renovation) with two restaurants, a live-music venue, and even a comedy club.

Worth Pondering…

Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

—Confucius

More Under-the-radar Gems to Discover

Don’t miss these eight underrated travel spots

From sleepy small towns with loads of culture and character to natural wonders, be sure to check out these secret travel spots before they blow up. And be sure to catch up on our under-the-radar gems from an earlier post.

Mississippi: Bay St. Louis

Bay St. Louis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s St. Louis, and then there’s Bay St. Louis, which dubs itself “a place apart.” Here, beach life collides with folk art. The arts, sense of community, unique dining opportunities, local downtown shops, beautiful sprawling beaches, and stunning bay views all make for a highly desirable destination, which is reflected in the decision to include Bay St. Louis in this list of under-the-radar gems to discover.

Alberta: Writing-on-Stone

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

A sightseeing and historic destination, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is located on the banks of the Milk River in south-central Alberta. The incredible landscape of hoodoos, coulees, and native rock paintings is a photographer’s paradise. The Blackfoot First Nation people used sharp rocks, horns of animals, and wood from trees to carve their drawings into the sandstone cliffs. For color—like red, orange, and yellow—they would use a mixture of crushed iron ore and animal fat.

Georgia: Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cumberland Island National Seashore includes one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. The park is home to a herd of feral, free-ranging horses. Most visitors come to Cumberland for the natural glories, serenity, and fascinating history. Built by the Carnegies, the ruins of the opulent 59-room, Queen Anne-style Dungeness are a must-see for visitors. The stories of the people weave a captivating tale of wealth, poverty, privilege, and sacrifice.

British Columbia: Okanagan Wine Country

Okanagan Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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

New Hampshire: Castle in the Clouds

Castle in the Clouds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Built on a mountainside overlooking New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, the Moultonborough mansion originally named Lucknow has aptly been called Castle in the Clouds since it opened to the public in 1957. The beautiful Arts and Crafts–style home was built in 1913 as the luxury Ossipee Mountain retreat of Thomas Plant, a millionaire shoe-manufacturing mogul.

New Mexico: Mesilla

Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although the town of Mesilla, in Southern New Mexico, is home to a mere 2,196 people, it’s a fascinating place to visit. Here you’ll find well-preserved architecture, history worth delving into, and high quality restaurants.

Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The plaza is the heart of Mesilla and that’s a good place to start exploring. In fact, it’s a national historic landmark. The San Albino Basilica dominates one side of the plaza. This Romanesque church was built in 1906 although its bells are older, dating back to the 1870s and 1880s.

Kentucky: My Old Kentucky Home State Park

My Old Kentucky Home State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My Old Kentucky Home State Park honors the home that was the symbol of Stephen Foster’s most endearing song, the stately mansion on the Rowan Estate known as Federal Hill. Tour the estate and admire the beautiful grounds from the 39-site campground near Bardstown.

Indiana: Shipshewana

Shipshewana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Shipshewana area is celebrated for being home to the third largest Amish community in the United States, for having the Midwest’s largest flea market, and for its reputation of hand-crafted wares. Enjoy buggy rides, visit an Amish working dairy farm, and experience delicious Amish cooking in beautiful Northern Indiana-Amish/Mennonite Country.

Worth Pondering…

The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, experience the freedom of the open road, and discover under-the-radar hidden gems.

10 Alternatives to Crowded Outdoor Instagram Spots

Skip the masses at popular vistas and landmarks and opt for these nearby (empty!) locales instead

We’ve all been there—you’re huddled onto the crowded summit of a popular peak, at the base of that iconic waterfall, or crammed into a tiny pullout along that scenic road through a well-known national park, and everyone is snapping the same photo. You followed the masses and found yourself a beautiful vista. Well done. Now wouldn’t you like a little solitude to go with the view? It’s time to get off the beaten path. Here’s where to go. 

Sequoia & Kings Canyon

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Aside from being home to the world’s largest tree (by volume) and protecting vast areas of towering inland redwoods, a big part of Sequoia’s appeal is that it isn’t all that crowded. Take a stroll under the big trees in the Giant Forest, view wildlife in Crescent Meadows, or climb to the top of Moro Rock.

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Valley of the Gods is a scenic backcountry area is southeastern Utah, near Mexican Hat. It is a hidden gem with scenery similar to that of nearby Monument Valley. Valley of the Gods offers isolated buttes, towering pinnacles and wide open spaces that seem to go on forever. It is located on BLM land and is open for hiking, backpacking, and camping.

Big Bend Country

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over 150 miles of hiking trails are available to explore the peaks of the Chisos Mountains or Santa Elena Canyon, but you can also take a short stroll and soak in therapeutic hot springs after a long day of sightseeing. Not up for hiking? No problem! Take a scenic drive along 100 miles of paved road that stretches through Big Bend National Park.

Bayou Teche

Bayou Teche at Breaux Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following the path of a former channel of the Mississippi River, Bayou Teche Byway winds its way through lush swamps and moss-draped bayous. From its southernmost point in Morgan City to its northern end in Arnaudville, the byway crosses beautiful marshes and fields of sugar cane, connecting lovely towns that have well-preserved historic districts.

Newspaper Rock

Newspaper Rock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newspaper Rock is located 15 miles west of U.S. 191 along the Indian Creek Corridor Scenic Byway en route to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The rock is called Tse’ Hane in Navajo, or “rock that tells a story.” There are hundreds of petroglyphs here that feature a mixture of forms, including pictures resembling humans, animals, tools, and more esoteric, abstract things.

Head Underground  

Caverns of Sonora © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Halfway between San Antonio and Big Bend National Park off Interstate 10, the Caverns of Sonora is a prime locale to hide from the blazing Texas sun. Keep in mind: While the temperature 155 feet below the surface is 72 degrees year-round, high humidity levels mean it can feel more like 85.

Bernheim Forest, Kentucky

Bernheim Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you looking to connect with nature? Bernheim is the place to do it. With 16,137 acres of land, there is an adventure waiting for everyone. Purchased by German immigrant Isaac W. Bernheim in 1929, the land was dedicated as a gift to the people of his new homeland.

Whitehall, New York

Whitehall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whitehall is the town at the junction between the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain and is considered the birthplace of the American Navy. The Skenesborough Museum located right at the terminal wall is a must stop for anyone interested in the history of the formation of the U. S., early travel, early wars, and the building of the canals. Also the Skeene Manor located atop the hill across from the terminal wall offers tours and meals.

Feel the Beauty and Serenity of an Ancient Forest

Frances Beidler Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Frequented by photographers and nature lovers from around the world, Audubon’s 18,000-acre sanctuary offers a beauty unsurpassed in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Frances Beidler is the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest—a pristine ecosystem untouched for millennia. Enjoy thousand-year-old trees, a range of wildlife, and the quiet flow of blackwater, all from the safety of a 1.75-mile boardwalk.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You won’t find Teddy at the top of the national parks most-visited list. But since the 26th president was a pioneer of the national parks, the least we can do is appreciate his namesake chunk of land in North Dakota. You’ll want to keep your eyes open for wildlife—bison, pronghorns, elk, wild horses, mule deer, and prairie dogs frequently roam the landscape.

Worth Pondering…

Life is short and the world is wide.
—Simon Raven

10 Family-Friendly Road Trip Destinations

Here are 10 of our favorite family-friendly destinations for summer travel

With the summer days already getting shorter, families across the country are packing up their RVs and heading outdoors to experience the country via a road trip. From the massive sequoias of California to the caverns of New Mexico to the charming streets of Charleston, South Carolina, the U.S. offers countless stops that can make a road trip unforgettable.

Here are 10 family-friendly road trip destinations worthy of travel this summer.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend National Park, a vast, isolated national park along the Texas-Mexico border, is home to mountains, deserts, canyons, and hundreds of bird species. Visitors can see dramatic canyons, historic sites, and wildlife in one of the less-visited national parks in the U.S. Its isolation makes it ideal for stargazing and visitors can hike through deserts and along rivers in over 150 miles of trails.

Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A must-see destination in the American heartland, the reservoir of Lake Powell lies on the Colorado River, mostly in Utah but with some of it stretching into Arizona. Two million people come here every year to bask in endless sunshine, warm water, and spectacular scenery and to marvel at the surrounding Mars-like terrain.

Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Aside from being home to the world’s largest tree (by volume) and protecting vast areas of towering redwoods, a big part of Sequoia’s appeal is that it isn’t all that crowded. Take a stroll under the big trees in the Giant Forest, view wildlife in Crescent Meadows, or climb to the top of Moro Rock

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The horseshoe-shaped, russet rock hoodoo formations of Bryce Canyon National Park are a true sight to behold. This is one of the world’s highest concentrations of hoodoos and their colors alternate between shades of purple, red, orange, and white. One of the most rewarding ways to admire these geological wonders is to hike to Sunrise Point and its panoramic lookouts where you can witness the magic of the sunlight hitting the rocks.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The red rock majesty of Utah is on triumphant display on State Route 12 winding between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks. The 124-mile strip has funky small towns and very few entry points, so it takes a map and determination to witness the steep sandstone canyons and bluffs of purple sage and to tackle the narrow cliff-hanging ridgeline road called The Hogback.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just two trails (and an elevator) exist for visitors to explore Carlsbad Caverns on their own. The Big Room Trail, the largest single chamber by volume in North America can be accessed via a 1.25-mile trail or a .6-mile shortcut. The relatively flat terrain weaves through a series of curious hanging stalactites and passes through park gems like the Hall of Giants, Bottomless Pit, and Crystal Spring Dome. The park also offers a few ranger-guided cave tours and star walks.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s no secret that Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on a family-friendly beach or explore the history of this Southern gem, a Charleston getaway is one you’ll never forget. Walk alongside Charleston harbor on the Battery and in White Point Gardens, visit the Holy City’s famed St. Philips graveyard, or experience what life was like in the Lowcountry hundreds of years ago at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

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

Drive four hours east of the Grand Canyon (and its 6,254,238 annual visitors) and explore the considerably quieter (just 825,660 visitors) Canyon de Chelly. As a bonus, park access is free and so are the ranger-led tours that introduce you to the canyon’s remarkable history and the indigenous tribes that have called it home for centuries.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Blue Mountains from 75 overlooks along the 105-mile scenic Skyline Drive, fish in one of 70 mountain streams, or take your pick of over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Park highlights include Rapidan Camp, President Hoover’s summer White House, Hawksbill Mountain (the highest point in the park), and Dark Hollow Falls, a popular walk to a 70-foot waterfall.

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

Cumberland Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cumberland Island National Seashore includes one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. The park is home to a herd of feral, free-ranging horses. Most visitors come to Cumberland for the natural glories, serenity, and fascinating history.

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.

The Absolute Best Places to RV This Summer

Nothing says summer travel like a road trip, whether you’re venturing to a nearby favorite spot or setting out in search of distant adventures

Deciding where to take that long-anticipated summer RV vacation can be a daunting challenge.

Where will you be this summer? Here are five destinations that promise to deliver family adventure and magical memories.

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, New Mexico

El Moro National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re in the mood for dry heat and history up close, the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway is calling. West of Albuquerque is Chaco Canyon, an important ceremonial site for the Pueblo peoples between 850 and 1250 A.D. After taking in the incredible expanse of the canyon, drive south to El Moro National Monument. Ogle the 2,000 or so signatures weary travelers have carved into the sandstone over centuries.

Aztec Ruins National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Continue east through the Zuni Reservation to Zuni Pueblo, an arts community still practicing ancestral traditions and ways of life. Cap off this winding 360-mile desert tour in Farmington, where you can see Aztec Ruins National Monument and Salmon Ruins, both of which date back to the 1050s.

The Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Together, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park in South Dakota offer 5 million acres of grassland, forest, and rock formations. Might we recommend not hitting it all in one day? Instead, start out on the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway near the town of Interior. Check out the millions-year-old (literally) jagged geographic deposits before heading north to Spearfish Canyon, home of sky-high pink limestone and gorgeous waterfalls.

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meander down through Black Hills National Forest to check out Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Set aside a few days for the entire 232-mile journey because you’ll probably find yourself either driving slowly to take it all in or stopping every few miles to hike or take photos.

Lake Powell, Arizona

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Northern Arizona is the home of red rocks and stone formations, but Lake Powell is where things start to get really interesting. It’s like visiting the Grand Canyon, if the Grand Canyon was underwater. Stretching the Utah/Arizona border, this 186-mile lake houses 96 canyons, many of which you can drive down and have all to yourself. 

Rafting the Colorado River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll also find the Rainbow Bridge (the world’s largest natural bridge) on the water, as well as free-flowing waterfalls, if you’re lucky enough to catch some rain. 

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spend a week on the lake with your friends and family, boating through slot canyons, anchoring on deserted beaches, and camping under the stars. Most houseboats come with waterslides attached to the back of them, and many have BBQs and hot tubs on the roof, too.

Don’t miss Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, just outside of the town of Page, on your way in or out.

Amador County, California

Amador Flower Farm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

California is awash in world-class wine regions. And while classy restaurants and dozens of breweries make the other areas—like Santa Rosa—great places to spend some time, little Amador County southeast of Sacramento is a throwback to what Napa and Sonoma once was.

Cooper Vineyard © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here you can drive through the tiny towns of Plymouth and Jackson and visit tiny, family-owned wineries tasting vinos you won’t find elsewhere. The restaurants in Amador might not boast the famous chefs, but Taste in Plymouth can hold its own against any spot in Napa. And a stop at the Amador Brewing Company will help add a little variety to your wine-heavy routine.

Sutter Creek © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Road trips have beginnings and ends, but it’s what’s in between that counts.

Where Do You Want To RV This Summer?

There is nothing that compares to the freedom of the open road, especially when following it takes you to some of the most magnificent scenery and interesting places in the United States and Canada

The toughest question in the English language, other than “Who’s texting you at this hour?” is the old saw: Where do you want to RV this summer? The United States and Canada are vast.

So in a year like this, when everyone could use a quick timeout from our fellow travelers, are you still daydreaming of the same old spots? Even if you haven’t done the Grand Canyon and Yosemite yet, it’s worth asking whether they’re really on your must-hit list—or if it’s a list you’ve inherited from past travelers.

This year, do travel by RV. Be the change you want to see in the world—by going out and seeing the United States and Canada. But don’t get stuck looking only as far as the old standbys. If you find yourself in Zion, or at the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone, you’ll also find gobs of tourists. There are ace destinations that fly under the radar of many RVers and other travelers. In any of these locales, if you do go, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the trip sooner.

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Edisto Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Underdeveloped beaches that are actually warm have become harder to find in America than a pay phone. One of the best on the East Coast, however, is on this tiny island, where campsites outnumber vacation rentals and the day’s main activity usually involves sitting around on the beach.

Edisto Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Edisto is a place for beach purists, for families who want to get away from somewhere small but still enjoy the isolation. Aside from one fantastic golf course, Edisto is pretty much all about relaxation. And that’s how anyone who lives there or visits likes it.

Jasper National Park, Alberta

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

As you’d expect from the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, this 6,527-square-mile park has lots to offer. Like sawtooth mountain peaks, crashing waterfalls, and nearly 600 miles of hiking trails.

Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Though 97 percent of the park is considered wilderness, there’s still plenty to see off the Icefields Parkway, including the soak-worthy Miette Hot Springs, thundering Athabasca Falls, and the Columbia Icefields, which include the Athabasca Glacier, where you can hop a ride onto the glacier itself aboard the massive six-wheel Ice Explorer buses.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyonlands, near Moab, has always been upstaged by its more famous neighbors, Grand Canyon to the south and Arches to the north; and yet it merits a visit just as much as they do. Ancient waters and relentless winds have carved intricate canyons, pillars, stairs, and narrow paths through the sandstone, creating a stunning park that’s best explored on foot or bicycle. There are very few paved roads throughout the park’s 527 square miles.

Chattanooga, Tennesse

Chattanooga on the Tennessee River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sure, it’s a fun place to say out loud, but that’s probably the extent of thought you’ve given to Chattanooga. Your loss. Its current tourism tagline is “Best Town Ever,” which is actually not far off. Absolutely plan on climbing around on Lookout Mountain (a trip up on the steep Incline Railway is worth the line).

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The indoor options here are becoming just as formidable as those out of doors. Plus, it doesn’t really seem that people are getting the message about how great this place is.

The Chattanooga Choo-Choo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not only is the Tennessee Aquarium home to baby penguins, but the Tennessee Stillhouse literally got laws rewritten so it could become the first legal distillery in Chattanooga in over a century. And the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel has reopened (after a $20 million renovation) with two restaurants, a live-music venue, and even a comedy club.

Black Hills, South Dakota

The Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Driving through this corner of South Dakota takes you through some of the most rugged, distinctive, and beautiful land in America.

The Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Black Hills are home to the giant stone faces of Mount Rushmore National Monument and the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is the land of Deadwood and the final resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and hundreds of American Indians killed at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890. It’s also steeped in a rich gold-mining history.

The Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

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

—Lewis Carrol

8 Destinations You Should Explore By RV This Summer

Life on the open road in an RV is about discovery of your surroundings and a new route

Summer offers an ideal time to shake up your usual vacation with a trip to a new-to-you RV destination. Want to learn more about an area’s history? See incredible natural beauty or regional culture? Visit a new national park or state park?

Pull out the maps, start taking notes, and get stoked for a summer road trips. Here are eight unique spots to inspire your summer travels.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than 2,000 sandstone arches dot the 47,000-acre landscape of this national park. Within this rugged, high desert setting, these delicate sandstone structures bear the imprint of geological history over millions of years. The most famous landmark within the Arches National Park is Delicate Arch, which provides a sweeping vista of mesas, canyons, and the Colorado River from its lofty location. Other notable stone monuments include Landscape Arch (the longest), Fiery Furnace, and Courthouse Towers.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This pretty city sits on a bend of the Beaufort River in the heart of South Carolina’s Port Royal Island. If you want antebellum charm then you’ll find bags of it here. The streets of the historic downtown district are lined with grandiose examples of 19th-century neoclassical mansions. Movie buffs will delight in visiting sites from Forest Gump. And it’s just a 25-minute drive to the beaches, lagoons, and marshland of Hunting Island.

Gold Rush Trail, California

Along the Gold Rush Trail in Jackson © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The California Gold Rush expended 125 million troy ounces of gold, worth more than $50 billion by today’s standards. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of the gold in the Mother Lode is still in the ground. Many of the historic and picturesque towns that developed in the area still exist linked by California Highway 49, the Gold Rush Trail.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s iconic. It’s dramatic. It’s historic. The Grand Canyon, a craggy 277-mile-long, one-mile-deep gorge carved by the Colorado River eons ago, is also home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. And in 2019, the section preserved as Grand Canyon National Park marked a key milestone: It turned 100. Too many people satisfy themselves by standing on the edge, taking a few photos, and leaving. But there are many other ways to get to know the park’s 1.2 million acres.

Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is Canada’s first (and arguably most beautiful) National Park. A World Heritage site, Banff offers pristine wilderness, glacial-fed lakes, and dramatic vistas. Chances are, it won’t take much convincing to push this rugged landscape to the top of your bucket list although it can be difficult to narrow down your list of things to do once you arrive.

Red Rock State Park, Arizona

Red Rock State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock State Park isn’t your everyday desert landscape. In fact, this 286-acre nature preserve is home to lush green meadows, juniper, Manzanita, and is adorned with miles of striking red rock formations. The park offers 5 miles of interconnected, family-friendly trails that traverse a variety of unique desert habitats.

Old Friends, Kentucky

Old Friends © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled in the heart of Bluegrass country amongst the planked fence lined horse farms, rolling hills of green fields, and bourbon distilleries is Old Friends at Dream Chase Farm. Old Friends is a retirement farm for Thoroughbred racehorses that too often are discarded after their money earning days are over. Now a “living-history museum of horse racing”, the farm attracts nearly 20,000 visitors annually. With over 175 horses on the farm, the heartwarming stories of these once prime athletes are as endless as the compassion for those who care for them in their sunset years.

Colonial Parkway, Virginia

Colonial Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Colonial Parkway not only illustrates the English colonial experience in America, but is also an outstanding example of American parkway design. Retaining its original scenic and historic integrity to a remarkable degree, the 23-mile route connects the historic sites of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.

Worth Pondering…

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

—St. Augustine of Hippo

Where to RV the Second Half of 2019?

I cannot believe we are officially over halfway through 2019!

We’re halfway through 2019 and that means there’s only six months left until we wrap up another year of fantastic RV travel. Have you made a dent in your travel resolutions yet? If not, we’ve got a few trips you should consider adding to your queue. From sandy shores to national parks to fall foliage, here are four North American trips to take before this year closes out.

Trek through the Canadian Rockies

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With spectacularly craggy peaks, serene alpine lakes, grand park lodges, and blue-edged glacier fields, Banff and Jasper national parks are favorite destinations for the RV traveler. You’ve perused breathtaking photos of the Canadian Rockies, and now it’s time to act on your Instagram scrolling. Explore the unbelievable landscape of the Canadian Rockies in one fabulous trip.

Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Banff is Canadian Rockies on steroids—all snow-capped peaks and sky-mirroring lakes. Plus, it has all the adrenaline-fueled options including white-water rafting, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, and mountain biking. Check out Lake Louise and Moraine Lake as we do the old National Park switcheroo: it’s bye-bye Banff and hello Jasper.

Glacial Skywalk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Admire the remarkable blue-green hue of Peyto Lake, get up on the Athabasca Glacier in a Snow Coach tour, and then look down from the Glacial Skywalk. From wildlife-filled forests to lakes, waterfalls, and mountains, Jasper National Park is just begging to be explored.

Immerse Yourself in the National Parks of the West

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some of the nation’s most jaw-dropping national parks can be found in the Wild West. Tour the Western National Parks and explore the breathtaking vistas. Encounter the crimson-striped cliffs of the Grand Canyon. From the red-rock cliffs of Zion to the towering tree trunks of Sequoia, explore the wonders of the American West. Then drive through the desert to discover one of the most majestic places on earth, Monument Valley.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hike through Bryce Canyon, famed for its multi-colored rock pinnacles called hoodoos. Be sure to have your camera ready to snap shots of these spectacular, natural towers that cover the canyon floor. Continue on to Page, Arizona, home to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and the beautiful Lake Powell. Drive along isolated Scenic Byway 12 through Grand Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park en route to Moab to hike through the surreal rock formations of Arches National Park.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other: a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. The 469 miles of America’s Favorite Drive links Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A quintessential Southern road trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway meanders around the lofty peaks of the Appalachians, and its fragrant meadows make Peaks of Otter a particularly popular and scenic stretch of the drive. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers an exceptional glimpse of the regional flora and fauna. It is world-renowned for its biodiversity.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most of the national parks in the Southwest are about the landscapes, but Mesa Verde in southern Colorado is more cultural than natural. There’s still plenty of rugged scenery, but there is also more than 4,000 archaeological sites contained within the park.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table”, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. These master builders constructed elaborate complexes tucked into sandstone cliffs.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some held just a few people, while others, such as the Cliff Palace and Long House, have 150 rooms and could have housed up to 100 people. Mesa Verde does not lend itself to a hurry-up visit. It takes time to savor the magic of its eight centuries of prehistoric Indian culture.

Worth Pondering…

Road trips aren’t measured by mile markers, but by moments.

—Anon

Discover These Under-the-radar Hidden Gems

Don’t miss these eight underrated travel spots

So you’ve done the Grand Canyon, Disney World, and Vegas. When you are in the mood for less “been there, done that” and more “under-the-radar hidden gem,” we have your back.

Alabama: Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When it comes to hidden vacation spots, you can’t get much more hidden than an island. Known as the “sunset capital of Alabama,” the island town of Dauphin is home to quiet, lapping waves, the 164-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary, plenty of boat launch sites, and the educational Dauphin Island Sea Lab for the kiddos.

Georgia: Jekyll Island Club Resort

Jekyll Island Club © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The South is rife with underrated vacation spots. Once named the “South’s best hotel” by Southern Living, this historic island resort is a balmy, romantic slice of the Gilded Age. Follow in the footsteps of visitors like J.P. Morgan and the Pulitzer family as you golf, bike, boat, swim, or trot along on a horse-drawn carriage.

South Carolina: Botany Bay

Botany Bay © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want to see the South Carolina coast the way the original settlers did, take a step back in time at Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve on Edisto Island. The 4,600-acre preserve includes almost three miles of undeveloped, breathtaking beachfront that you’ll never forget. This wildlife management area exhibits many characteristics common to sea islands along the southeast coast: pine hardwood forests, agricultural fields, coastal wetlands, and a barrier island with a beachfront.

South Dakota: The Black Hills

Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the four faces carved high on Mount Rushmore and the Cathedral Spires of Custer State Park to the wondrous caverns of Wind Cave, from the otherworldly Badlands in the east to Devils Tower in the west—the Black Hills are home to many truly monumental places. But that’s only some of what you’ll find there.

Tennessee: Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After you take a Tennessee vacation, your friends might expect stories of country music and BBQ. Instead, regale them with stories of Chattanooga’s Incline Railway, which takes you and family up a 72.7-percent grade on Lookout Mountain. It’s like driving up an insanely pretty wall. At the bottom incline station in St. Elmo, you will find a great collection of unique shops, restaurants, and attractions including a microbrewery and collection of cafes and small-batch boutiques.

British Columbia: Wells Gray Country

Wells Gray Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Imagine a place where three rivers roar and wildlife sightings are common. The place you imagine is Wells Gray Provincial Park with more than 1.2 million acres of alpine wilderness, borne from volcanoes and carved by glaciers. One of the most unique landscapes in B.C., Wells Gray is a world class destination for canoeing, rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, hiking, camping, and horseback riding. Ancient volcanoes and slow-moving glaciers carved the rivers and lakes that fuel the Park’s 39 named waterfalls.

Utah: The Backcountry of Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For hardcore hikers and those in search of sumptuous solitude, the Backcountry of Bryce Canyon National Park boasts strenuous trails surrounded by red cliffs and pink plateaus at elevations up to 9,115 feet. The 22.9-mile Under-the-Rim Trail is a highlight, connecting Bryce Point to Rainbow Point.

Arizona: Canyon de Chelly

Spider Rocks in Canyon de Chelly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A comparatively little-known canyon, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “de shay”) 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. The northernmost and southernmost edges are accessible from paved roads. The South Rim Drive offers the most dramatic vistas, ending at the most spectacular viewpoint, the overlook of Spider Rocks—twin 800-foot towers of rock isolated from the canyon walls.

Worth Pondering…

The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, experience the freedom of the open road, and discover under-the-radar hidden gems.