Why Edisto Beach is the Most Effortless Vacation

Two words: Effortless! Vacation!

Effortless vacation! Two words that define what travel dreams are made of.

Edisto Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the magnificently natural Edisto Beach in South Carolina, no planning is needed. Simply show up and let this hidden gem of a coastal destination draw you in with its slower pace and tourist-free feel.

There has never been a better time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors than now. Edisto Beach has long been a spectacular place to enjoy all of nature’s beauty while enjoying outdoor activities to keep your heart (and mind!) healthy. You can hike, bike, or run on Edisto whether you’re a seasoned fitness expert or just a fan of the leisurely stroll. There are walking paths, hiking, biking, kayaking, and paddleboarding options. Edisto is sure to offer something that matches exactly what you have in mind. 

Edisto Island Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Edisto Island National Scenic Byway

A self-guided tour along the National Scenic Byway is a must when visiting Edisto and you don’t have to go out of your way to find it. It’s simply a part of the drive on SR-174 onto the island. From man-made attractions like the Edisto Mystery Tree and the Edisto Swinging Mattress to structures with historical significance like beautiful churches and plantations, the National Scenic Byway takes you through more sights than a typical tour guide could cover in a day.

Allow yourself to be taken back by history as you pass under majestic live oaks paving your journey and don’t forget to scope out the vast intercoastal waterway as you cross the bridge onto Edisto.

Not a bad way to start an effortless vacation ripe with relaxation.

Edisto Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Event Calendar of Festivals and Fun

What do dancing, fishing, and BBQ all have in common? Edisto hosts several festivals to celebrate all the Lowlands. Dance under the stars at the Edisto Beach Shag Fest. Join in the competition or watch the weigh-in as larger-than-life billfish are brought to shore for the annual Edisto Governors Cup Billfish Tournament. Or, if eating is one of your favorite past-times, you won’t want to miss out on the mouthwatering BBQ competition that hosts world-renowned Pitmasters at the Cookin on the Creek BBQ Festival.

Edisto Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Endless Natural Wonders to Enjoy

From eco-tours to fishing charters, Edisto has something for everyone looking to be one with nature no matter what that entails for each individual.

Some ideas:

  • Explore Edisto Beach State Park’s 1,200-plus acres by bike or foot
  • Join a kayak creek tour
  • See natural relics of the past at the undisturbed Boneyard Beach
  • Ride horses through Botany Bay’s 4,500-plus acres of preserved plantation land or self-tour via car
  • Take a sunset cruise around the island
Edisto Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fun on the Beach

Edisto Beach has 37 public beach accesses located at each intersection on Palmetto Boulevard providing access to the Atlantic Ocean. Some provide off-street parking and dune walkovers. Most beach accesses cross over a dune feature. 

At Edisto Beach you can bring your dog and the leash law is only in effect May through October. Without hotels or crowded shorelines, Edisto offers miles of beach to explore and plenty of room to spread out.

Edisto Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Land of Turtles and Egrets

Wildlife is protected and plentiful on Edisto. Loggerhead Turtles return each year between May and August to nest. Through October, the baby sea turtles hatch and find their way back to the ocean. Dolphins, pelicans, egrets, herons, and other shorebirds are also plentiful on Edisto. Keep an eye on the ocean while you are here and you’ll likely earn a glimpse of dolphins gracefully breaking the water with their dorsal fins. Drive carefully at night on the Island’s side roads as deer may be crossing.

Edisto Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Explore Edisto Beach via Bike Paths

Edisto Beach is laden with opportunities to get out and stretch your legs or peddle along the many bike paths and hiking trails. More than four miles of paved bike paths meander throughout the area with views of the beach, marsh, and naturally wooded areas. The bike path also takes you past boutique shops, restaurants, and grocery stores.

Camping at Edisto Beach State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy Nature at Edisto Beach State Park

Edisto Beach State Park offers access to the Atlantic Ocean and beach. It also provides access to the saltwater marsh and creeks. The park is a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles. Edisto Beach State Park features trails for hiking and biking that provide an interesting tour of the park. The park’s environmental education offers exhibits that highlight the natural history of Edisto Island and the surrounding ACE Basin.

Birding at Edisto Beach State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For overnight accommodations, furnished cabins sit nestled in the woods and campsites can be found along the Edisto Island oceanfront or in the shaded maritime forest. Camping with water and electrical hookups is available ocean-side or near the salt marsh. Several sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Each campground is convenient to restrooms with hot showers.

Botany Bay Plantation © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy Nature at Botany Bay Plantation

If you want to see the South Carolina coast the way the original settlers did, take a step back in time to Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve located adjacent to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast corner of Edisto Island. The 3,363-acre preserve includes almost three miles of undeveloped, breathtaking beachfront. Botany Bay is very accessible; you can tour most of the property in half a day or less. The 6.5-mile route begins along a magnificent avenue of oaks interspersed with loblolly pine and cabbage palmetto.

Botany Bay Plantation © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take a Day Trip

There’s, even more, to do just a few miles from Edisto. Check out the surrounding beaches, state parks, wildlife areas, historic plantations in locations like Charleston, Beaufort, Port Royal, and Hilton Head Island.

Worth Pondering…

I am southern—from the great state of South Carolina. They say, ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.’ And it’s true.

—Ainsley Earhardt

8 Best Fall Vacations for your Autumn Getaway

We’ve rounded up the best fall vacations for every type of traveler

Crisp, cool weather and brightly colored foliage make fall the perfect time for RV travel. The road trip is quintessentially American, and, autumn is the perfect time to pack up and hit the open road to see this vibrant season change before your eyes. Whether you head to the mountains or elsewhere to spot the changing leaves or opt for an autumn activity, we’ve rounded up the best fall vacations for every type of traveler.

Travel restrictions and guidelines are changing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, so be sure to check with any destinations, RV parks, or attractions to ensure they’ll be open when you visit.

Here are the eight best fall vacations for your next autumn getaway.

Cradle of Forestry, Pisgah National Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Asheville, North Carolina

Nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has everything you could want in a fall getaway. The quaint downtown area is filled with unique shops, galleries, breweries, and restaurants. Go for a hike in nearby Pisgah National Forest to spot beautiful waterfalls among the changing leaves or take a scenic drive through part of the park to take in the beauty without working up a sweat. The Biltmore Estate is another popular Asheville attraction worth visiting; this Gilded Age mansion is the largest privately owned house in the US complete with gardens and a winery.

La Sal Mountain Loop Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moab, Utah

To be fair, we had to drive a little far afield of Arches National Park to see fall leaves in this corner of Southern Utah. But boy was it worth it. The La Sal Mountain Loop Road is a 60-mile tour well beyond the bustle of Moab and Arches that takes more than two hours straight-through and longer planning time for stops. Some of the best views are at overlooks pointed back over the red rock formations of Castle Valley as the road winds and climbs to more than 10,000 feet. Along the way, the vegetation changes from the juniper and pinyon common on the Colorado Plateau to the larger evergreen pines and colorful aspen blend that make this season so popular.

Brasstown Bald © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Blairsville, Georgia

When fall makes its much-anticipated appearance in North Georgia, in-the-know leaf peepers head to one spot: Brasstown Bald near Blairsville. As the state’s highest peak—4,784 feet above sea level—Brasstown Bald is also among the first to display the season’s fall colors. On clear days, you’ll see four states even without the help of the on-site telescopes. Nearby, take a scenic drive through the national forest via the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. From the byway, stop at Vogel State Park which offers ample camping, plus fishing, hiking, and lake swimming. The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail offers a bird’s-eye view of Lake Trahlyta and the golden vegetation that surrounds it.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is a nature lover’s dream in fall. This Arizona city is surrounded by national forests, monuments, and parks, so there’s plenty to see and explore at this time of year. Learn about Native American history and culture at Wupatki National Monument where you’ll find pueblos that were occupied 900 years ago and visit the Petrified Forest National Park to see petrified wood and the hills of the Painted Desert. Grand Canyon National Park is just an hour and a half away so you can easily take a day trip to this incredible national park and enjoy milder weather and fewer crowds compared to the summer months.

Sacramento River at Redding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Redding, California

The east coast gets a lot of credit for beautiful fall colors, but you’re in the West, well? West coasters deserve autumn splendor, too, and you don’t have to RV across the country just to enjoy some. Northern California has a fantastic fall season and it’s already blazing. The Shasta Cascade region is 25 percent of California’s area but with only 3 percent of California’s population. That means there are a ton of non-people, not-city space for trees, trees, and more trees. Plus, up there in far NorCal, those trees are arranged around wild and scenic rivers, mountain lakes, actual mountains, and even a handful of volcanoes. Less than an hour’s drive from Redding sits beautiful Lassen Volcanic National Park.

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

Bardstown, Kentucky

Bardstown might be best known for being the bourbon capital of the world. However, it was named the ‘Most Beautiful’ small town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today. If you’re not a bourbon fan, don’t let that stop you from visiting Bardstown. The distillery tours and tastings might make a convert out of you…as they did me. The history of bourbon making is fascinating as are the distilleries and sites themselves. For more than 225 years, the southern hospitality, historic surroundings, fine restaurants, and friendly accommodations in Bardstown have made folks feel right at home. Civil war history runs deep in these parts, and a tour of the various museums and sites will surely be an education you’ll not soon forget.

Lookout Mountain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Chattanooga, Tennessee

It’s no wonder Chattanooga’s nickname is “the Scenic City.” It’s tough to find a place in and around town that’s not a nature lover’s paradise. Chattanooga offers many options to see the brilliant changing colors by foot, boat, train, air, bike, or Segway. Take a cruise into the Tennessee River Gorge where you’ll see nature’s brilliant canvas of fall colors aboard the Southern Belle. Try something a bit more unique on the downtown Tennessee River with the Chattanooga Ducks or rent your own boat and go exploring on your own. Jump aboard the Tennessee Valley Railroad or Lookout Mountain Incline Railway for a variety of train rides that take you through the beautiful Tennessee valley or straight up Lookout Mountain.

Jacksonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Medford, Oregon

Fall in southern Oregon is absolutely stunning! Every tree bursts out in beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows making for the perfect weather to get outside and with that comes pumpkin patch fun and grape harvest celebrations. The aroma of autumn is carried through the Rogue Valley, across apple orchards, whistling through corn mazes, and rustling the orange, red, and yellow leaves falling from the trees. Steeped in history, the nearby entire town of Jacksonville is designated a National Historic Landmark. Explore the roots of the area from the days of the 1850s gold rush to now through a variety of historical tour options including a self guided walking tour and trolley tour.

Worth Pondering…

Early fall may be the most enjoyable time of year to travel. Summer crowds are gone and the weather is pleasant nearly everywhere—no longer hot but not yet cold.

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

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

After the Coronavirus: Your Next Vacation May Look Like This

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred quite a bit of interest in connecting with nature via RV travel

One thing is true with a large, extended, epic vacation: There is no flexibility. The dates are set. The hotel nights are purchased. The flights have been arranged. The pets have been boarded. Relatives or neighbors have been asked to collect the mail. These are the necessary evils that go hand in hand with planning a big trip.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For RVers the trip is easier to plan. No scheduling of flights. No searching for available hotels that meet your requirements. And you can even take your pets with you.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the travel industry, the demand for travel is slowly—very slowly—creeping back up again. But many remain wary of getting on a plane, a train, a bus, or a cruise ship and being packed tightly in with strangers and not knowing if somebody is carrying the virus.

Greenville, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Welcome to what could be the year of the recreational vehicle, more commonly known as the beloved RV. Americans and Canadians love the space and freedom of the outdoors and the enrichment that comes with living an active outdoor life. RVs not only enable this lifestyle, they also provide a self-contained existence that other forms of travel don’t allow.

Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After an indeterminate period of isolation families will be more enthusiastic than ever to get outside and see new places, even within their own local areas. RV travel allows people to sleep in their own bed, cook gourmet meals, and control where they go. As restrictions are lifted, you’ll be able to experience the endless range of outdoor wonders throughout the country and the freedom of independent travel that RVs offer.

Seabreeze RV Park, Portland, Texas

RVs provide travelers control: they allow people to travel where they want, when they want, and offer a unique travel experience that allows people to pursue their favorite activities and experience places they may have only seen in a coffee-table book or on Instagram. They can do this all with the ability to stay connected to family and friends.

Quail Gate State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These are all positive features but particularly attractive during this most unprecedented time. RVs provide a wonderful opportunity for people to continue to enjoy vacations with their families while still adhering to social distancing, which will likely stay in place in some form for the foreseeable future.

Bartlett Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s something about road trips that creates a nostalgic feeling. Beautiful scenery, regional cuisine, and good company are just some of the many things that make road tripping so awesome and there’s something profound about literally just driving away from it all to seek an adventure.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And with the U.S. packed with so many incredible road trips, there really is something for everyone! Whether you’re looking for a day trip or wanting to be out on the open road for a prolonged period of time, there are beautiful places both in your backyard and beyond proving you don’t have to get on a plane to have an epic vacation. So pack up the RV and keep reading to discover your next road trip.

Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grand Canyon is famous for its undeniable beauty, and I strongly believe everyone should see it in person at least once in their lifetime. Phoenix is a great place to start this journey and as you make your way north toward the Canyon be sure to stop and stretch your legs in Sedona and Red Rock Country.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Known as one of America’s best and most beautiful drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles across Virginia and North Carolina. It follows the Appalachian Mountains—the Blue Ridge chain, specifically—from Shenandoah National Park in the north to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south. Because the Blue Ridge Parkway connects two national parks, it’s easy to visit both during your drive.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Well-known among rock climbers and hikers, this road trip through Southern California’s desert is filled with opportunities to experience nature. With almost 100 miles of paved roads and an almost equal amount of unpaved roads, this road trip has much to offer.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A social distancing-friendly destination, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the colorful North Dakota badlands is a great place for hiking, camping, and sightseeing. Bison roam throughout the North and South units of the park and most visitors can see them as they drive along the park roads. Deer, elk, feral horses, longhorns, pronghorns, coyotes, and even bobcats can also be seen in various parts of the park.

Happy (and safe) adventuring!

Worth Pondering…

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

―Marie Curie

Family Vacation Spots for a Road Trip

Seven perfect family-friendly destinations you can visit as soon as summer rears its jolly head! (You can also visit earlier, but it may not be as fun, really.)

Most of us have been social distancing for weeks if not months now and between coronavirus anxiety and the weather getting warmer, a getaway sounds pretty nice right about now. It can be difficult to choose a place for a family trip. You want to consider cost as well as the interests of each of your family members. There are some destinations not suitable for young children and others that will sweep the whole gang off their feet.

Right now, without further ado, here’s the deal.

Pigeon Forge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

This destination is the perfect place to take your kids to experience the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. There are hiking trails, as well as guided horse tours, but the city also holds its own special brand of family activities. You can take a ride to Ripley’s Aquarium where your child can enjoy different species of fish or spend a day at Dollywood. This amusement park is great as all ages can find something interesting to do and the shows will keep anyone entertained.

Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Black Hills of South Dakota

There is nothing quite like the Black Hills of South Dakota. While they’re not super high in elevation, the centrally located Black Elk Peak does get up to and impressive 7,242 feet, the highest point east of the Rockies. And there are hiking trails and activities galore. Also, one finds numerous well-known sites including Mount Rushmore, the work-in-progress Crazy Horse memorial, and Deadwood (famous for its gold mining and heavy-handed gambling past, also the resting place of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane). But when it comes to natural beauty, few can match the Needles Highway.

Texas Hill Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas Hill Country

Ah, the Texas Hill Country. Imagine hills, soft and scrubby, green valleys, and limestone cliffs. Conjure up ranches and communities of German heritage, wineries, fields of wildflowers, and sparkling rivers lined with cypress and oak. No big cities, no hustle and bustle—just cafes with country cooking, water for fishing and inner tubing, and old places with timeworn comfort. Yes, it’s easy to feel at home in the Texas Hill Country. Prepare to be amazed.

Vogel State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved


What kind of mood is your family in? Want to climb mountains? Georgia has the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. Want to explore barrier islands? Check out Cumberland Island National Seashore. Like swamps? Rivers? Lakes? Gorges? Georgia has them all, along with almost 50 state parks fairly representing the state’s varied terrain. If you want dank forests and rugged mountains, head to North Georgia. If you’re looking for Spanish moss and jungle-like barrier islands, the coast is for you. Meanwhile, the southern end of the state feels downright Jurassic thanks to the meandering swamps and abundance of gators.

Goldfield Ghost Town © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona

This former mining hub at the base of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction was founded in 1892. Keep cool on a 25-minute tour of mine shaft as the guide talks about the good ol’ days before the gold played out. The town includes a museum, LuLu’s Bordello, a church, livery stables, a reptile exhibit, and a mystery shack where objects seemingly defy gravity. Panning for gold, a shooting gallery and rides on a zip line, train, or horseback are among the activities, and gunfights are held on Saturdays and Sundays. And a steak house and saloon offers chow and cold drinks.

Historic Jamestowne © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia

Colonial National Historical Park contains several iconic historic sites including the Colonial Parkway, Historic Jamestowne, the Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown Battlefield with Colonial Williamsburg nearby. Hiking and biking are popular outdoor activities within the park as well as kayaking, canoeing, and fishing on the rivers. You can also tour Yorktown Battlefield on a seven-mile Battlefield Tour, marked by red arrow signs, or a nine-mile Encampment Tour, marked by yellow arrow signs.

Incline Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ride the rail up to Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain features a nature-based triple threat: Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Inline Railway. It’s an all-day, all-ages adventure based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Start with a guided cave tour or a 700-foot zipline adventure through Ruby Falls, home of the world’s largest underground waterfall, before strolling through the diverse flora and fauna of the Rock City Gardens. Wrap up your day with a mile-high ride on the Incline Railway, one of the world’s steepest passenger railways. At the top: a bird’s eye from the Lookout Mountain observation deck.

Lookout Mountain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.

—Sir Francis Bacon

Life after Coronavirus: Ready to Travel as Soon as it’s Safe? So Is Everyone Else

How to stay safe but get somewhere too? Recreational vehicles are perfect for self-isolating at 65 mph.

The first half of 2020 has been filled with twists, turns, and roadblocks none of us expected. We’ve had to change our lifestyle … say good-bye … learn to wait. 

Make every day an adventure! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Everyone has a touch of cabin fever after the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns. So it’s no surprise that people want to travel soon. The travel industry took a hit during the crisis. Suddenly the idea of crowded airports made travel less appealing or even impossible for most people. It was no different for the RV industry. With campgrounds shutting down and stay-at-home mandates, RVing was also put on hold.

Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, this pandemic won’t last forever and it’s important to look to the brighter future. After spending months at home cooped up inside, many people are planning to book, or rebook, a much-needed vacation.

Near Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to a recent survey of RV travelers, 77 percent are looking to make travel plans within the next three months. While the rush back to airports or hotels in busy cities will take more time, many will turn to RV travel.

Mount Dora, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVing is the ideal way to travel to not only avoid large groups, but a way to escape into nature and spend time outdoors whether it’s hiking your favorite trails, reading a book beside the lake, or cozying up around a campfire. RVs not only enable the outdoor lifestyle; they also provide a self-contained existence that other forms of travel don’t allow.

St. Mary’s, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel allows people to sleep in their own bed, cook gourmet meals, and control where they go and when. As federal and state restrictions are lifted, they’ll be able to experience the endless range of outdoor wonders throughout the country and the freedom of independent travel that RVs offer.

Lava fields, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs are the ultimate self-contained units—it’s the reason why so many RVs are being used by medical professionals and others to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic. RVs range from small towables to large motorhomes and many of them are designed to be completely self-contained with generators, solar panels, and laundry facilities.

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

RVs provide travelers control: they allow people to travel where they want and when they want. And they do this with the ability to stay connected with family and friends. These features are particularly attractive during this most unprecedented time. RVs provide a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy vacations with their families while still adhering to social distancing which may stayin place in some form for a considerable time.

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

Trips that focus on outdoors/nature will be on the rise. People are ready to stretch their legs and get outside after months of being confined indoors with 65 percent of travelers reporting they will be heading somewhere in nature such as a national or state park.

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

Most RV parks provide site maps on their websites which offers the ability to note the general layout of the park along with the amount space between sites. Privately owned and operated parks usually offer numerous amenities including full hookups, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and laundry facilities. Public campgrounds offer fewer amenities and are typically found in national and state parks and local recreational areas. Visit recreation.gov to find listings of campgrounds on US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other public lands. 

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What kind of trips will be popular after the pandemic? 

RV travel, outdoor and nature style experiences like camping will likely see a surge of popularity. Vacations that minimize risks by avoiding crowded areas such as large cities and public transportation will provide a sense of comfort and security.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed this edition of RVing with Rex.

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Anticipating and Planning for the New Era of Travel

Rethinking travel and changing your perceptions is the key to getting the most out of your travel time

Flight delays. Flight cancellations. Lost luggage. TSA checkpoints. Baggage screening. Customs. Turbulence. Little leg room. Hotel rooms not satisfactory or not ready. These are a few of the inconveniences that can set a vacation up for failure.

Blue Elbow Swamp, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carnival Cruise Line is trying to weather a sea of ill-will by offering August trips for as little as $28 a day which for some is cheaper than staying home. Carnival has yet to disclose what precautions it will be taking to prevent further outbreaks. Until it does, $28/day cruises might not be enough to dispel passenger fears of jumping aboard another floating disaster. 

Reunion Lake RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is making people rethink what a vacation looks like. How can we get the adventure and connections we crave without going through airports or taking a cruise? RVs answer that call.

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

As we head into the summer months of 2020, the aftermath of the stay-at-home orders are affecting the way we think about travel plans and how we spend time outside our homes as safely as possible. 

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Numerous travelers have ditched an overseas vacation or cruise in favor of a road trip. When traveling in an RV, you don’t have to wait to get to the hotel to unpack and begin enjoying the trip, you aren’t affected by flight cancellations or delays, and every layover “stop” can be planned by you. You will never arrive at an unsatisfactory room because your luxury condo-on-wheels is your method of travel.

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

The idea of vacation has changed significantly over the last few decades—even in the last few weeks. We have to get creative and change our perceptions of what makes for successful time off. The idea of vacationing more often and exploring more frequently has been a growing trend in recent years.

Marietta, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as the world begins to return to some semblance of normal, it’s likely that “normal” will look and feel quite different. Our idea of getting away may shift in unexpected ways. Lavish, all-inclusive trips may give way to a minimalist approach in a desert expanse or a quiet forest. As we shift our expectations, some of the necessary lifestyle modifications may turn out to be exactly what we needed to achieve the relaxation we need.

Great Swamp Sanctuary, Walterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than ever before in recent history, people are cognizant of the safety requirements to maintain their health during the pandemic. The perception of walking into a hotel or restaurant with other people has changed simply because there’s an unseen risk that didn’t cross our minds a few months ago. An RV is a self-contained home on wheels that include a full kitchen, bathroom, sleeping and lounging areas, and entertainment which keep the family safe and healthy.

Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Few things having to do with travel will be unchanged in the post-coronavirus world but the road trip will be least affected—at least from a regulatory standpoint. No one will tell you to wear a mask or take your temperature before you hit the road this summer.

Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People will continue to be wary of crowded locations. Many will avoid the close quarters of airplanes, cruise ships, hotels, and restaurants with 93 percent of those polled stating they will avoid crowds.

Quail Gate State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s what your road trip of the future may look like. This will be the summer of road trips with the family including stops in national parks and state park and local recreation areas. It’s a controlled environment and a chance to spend time as a family and see the country—not just the airports or ports of call.

The roads are clear, fuel is a great bargain, and as places reopen they’ll be ready for you. Also, it’s easy to maintain social distancing.

Arkansas Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s nothing better than having your own space to come back to after a day of hiking or biking, lounging on the beach, or exploring a national or state park. Shower up, cook your own meal, relax with your favorite book or show, and settle down in your own bed.

Bartlett Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An RV is your self-contained home on wheels and gives you plenty of choices about how your travel experience looks and feels. Steering clear of busy public areas and eschewing the recycled air on a crowded flight will likely be smart decisions when trying to stay healthy in the coming months—and possibly for years to come

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Safe Summer Vacation Ideas: Find the Place Where Everyone Isn’t Going

Where can you safely go this summer?

Is it safe to go on a vacation this summer? Families across the country are grappling with this question as summer nears and COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to alter our daily lives, six weeks after the country began implementing stay-at-home orders. So what should you do about taking a real summer vacation?

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

Consider taking a road trip or going camping, suggests Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician for Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He says minimal-contact options like those will be the safest options this summer and ideal for people who want to keep their risk factors low.

Along Champlain Canal, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And even though state health departments may give the go-ahead to reopen facilities like amusement parks, he says people with underlying conditions should avoid them because they involve more contact with a larger number of people and thus a higher chance of being infected. 

Along Covered Bridges Scenic Byway, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing is without risk and it’s all going to depend on how much risk you want to tolerate. Some don’t want to leave home until there is a vaccine while others are eager to take a family road trip. It’s really about being smart about where you choose. You’re probably best to avoid the bucket-list places that are crowded.

So where can you safely go this summer? The key is to find the place that everyone isn’t going to.

Folly Beach, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The longing to get out of the house is perhaps stronger than ever. The coronavirus has forced us to cancel everything from spring break travel to weekend getaways. For now, the only way we’re traveling is virtually. If you haven’t already taken advantage of it you can tour a national park online. Many zoos, aquariums, even amusement parks are offering similar live-look experiences. But it’s not long before the virtual trend gives way to a revival of the good-old-fashioned road trip.

Palmetto State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We are ready to hit the road and get back to feeling like we have that freedom to travel how we want and when we want. The immediate desire is to keep those trips short, to keep them regional, to keep them easy, and to keep them affordable.

Fish Lake Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

People are going to be more inclined to road trip than fly. In fact, a recent study shows nearly 50 percent of people are second-guessing flights and looking at road trips instead.

Fall could be “the new summer” and small towns in many states can expect to see a boom.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are national and state parks and local recreation area and miles and miles of scenic highways and byways. These are the spaces travelers will gravitate toward right out of the gate where there will be a little more elbow room between ourselves and the traveler next to us. In other words, places that offer open space and physical distance will be very popular in our new social distancing era.

Borrego Springs, California

Borrego Springs sculptors © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A big part of any road trip is stumbling upon bizarre roadside attractions—and there are plenty to experience in the California desert. Just outside Borrego Springs and near the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, sculptor Ricardo Breceda assembled roughly 130 gigantic scrap-metal sculptures of animals, including dinosaurs and a saber-toothed cat. These fanciful creatures seem to march across the scruffy flats. It’s quite a remarkable menagerie with everything from desert bighorn rams in battle to a gigantic, 350-foot-long sea serpent that appears to be slithering through the desert sands.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

El Malpais National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The richly diverse volcanic landscape of El Malpais offers solitude, recreation, and discovery. Explore cinder cones, lava tube caves, sandstone bluffs, and hiking trails. While some may see a desolate environment, people have been adapting to and living in this extraordinary terrain for generations. Come discover the land of fire and ice!

The Pinal Pioneer Parkway, Arizona

Springtime along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Pinal Pioneer Parkway connected Tucson and Phoenix in the years before Interstate 10 was built. Now a little-traveled back road, it’s a much more picturesque route than the main highway. The parkway itself is a 42 mile-long stretch of Arizona State Highway 79, beginning in the desert uplands on the north slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains at about 3,500 feet and wending northward to just above 1,500 feet outside the little town of Florence.

Along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The parkway is marked with signs pointing out some of the characteristic desert vegetation—saguaro, for instance, and mesquite. Pack a picnic lunch and stop at one of the many roadside tables. Stop at the Tom Mix Memorial, 23.5 miles north of Oracle Junction, at mile post 116, to pay your respects to the late movie cowboy.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A social distancing-friendly destination, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the colorful North Dakota badlands is a great place for hiking, camping, and sightseeing. Bison roam throughout the North and South units of the park and most visitors can see them as they drive along the park roads. Deer, elk, feral horses, longhorns, pronghorns, coyotes, and even bobcats can also be seen in various parts of the park.

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

6 All-American Summer Vacations

Embrace amazing scenery and classic attractions on a road trip this summer

Summer on Siesta Key, roller coasters at Disney World, or a road trip on Historic Route 66—what could better describe Americana?

There are few things as iconic as an all-American summer vacation. The sun comes out, school lets out, and numerous destinations become ripe for exploration.

If you want a classic American getaway this summer, check out the following six road trips and destinations.

Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66 in Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As one of America’s first highways and its most important route west during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, Route 66 became an American icon. Built in 1926, “The Main Street of America” was designed to be the country’s first year-round intercontinental highway, connecting Chicago to Los Angeles via eight states. Though it met its downfall with the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, Route 66 still remains an American tradition and one of its most popular travel destinations.

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

Famous stops along Route 66 include Rock Fountain Court in Springfield, Missouri; 66 Drive In in Carthage, Missouri; Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; and Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook, Arizona.

Camp in America’s National Parks

Camping in Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are 61 National Parks in U.S. National Park System, each showcasing a unique corner of America’s natural beauty. If you want a seriously epic trip, take some time this summer to hike, bike, and camp your way through a few national parks. Maybe you’ll stick to the parks of Utah and hit up Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands.

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

Or maybe you’ll set across the Midwest exploring Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt. The choice is yours.

Reach for the Stars in Disney World and the Space Coast

Disney World © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A summer trip to Disney World is the dream of many American children. Whether you choose Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, or Magic Kingdom, you won’t be disappointed. One of Disney’s main rivals, Universal Studios, is just a few miles away and home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter if you want more thrills.

John F. Kennedy Space Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Join Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo Program. This year the commemoration continues with a series of on-site and community events honoring the historic Moon landing of Apollo 11, and giveaways on all milestone dates. Plus, new and redesigned exhibits will continuously be added to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, showcased in a big ceremony this July.

Travel Back to the Wild West in Tombstone, Arizona

Tombstone, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arguably America’s most infamous Old West town, Tombstone, is the perfect place to see what life was like during the days of the Wild West. Home of the O.K. Corral, location of one of the most notorious gunfights, Tombstone was dubbed “The Town Too Tough to Die” and with good reason.

OK Corral © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Live reenactments of the shootout are still a main attraction. The possibly haunted and always fascinating Bird Cage Theater is also still standing in Tombstone and is the location of the world’s longest poker game. Check out the bullet holes in the walls—shootouts in saloons were common.

Sunbathe on America’s Best Beaches

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America has some of the world’s greatest beaches and no matter where you live, you’re sure to find one that will give you the summer vacation of your dreams. The New York tri-state area alone has Cape May, the Jersey Shore, and Coney Island; but Florida and California top the list with the best of the best. In Florida, Siesta Key, Cocoa Beach, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, and St. Augustine are among the top 25 beaches.

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re feeling the West Coast, Coronado, Laguna, and Malibu offer gorgeous spots to kick up your feet and enjoy the sun. And, along the Gulf Coast there’s Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama white sand beaches.

Kick Back and Relax in California’s Wine Country

Ironside Vineyards in Calaveras County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing says relaxation like a sunset and a glass of wine. There are over 450 wineries in Sonoma Valley alone on more than one million acres. Sonoma and Napa are known for their tasting rooms and are among California’s most popular vineyard locations. Take a trip on the Wine Train for a unique experience that takes you through 36 miles of Napa Valley in style.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards in Temecula Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a more relaxing and less expensive wine experience consider Amador County, Paso Robles, or Temecula Valley.

Worth Pondering…

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.

—Emma Chase