Must-See Mountainous RV Parks of the U.S.

A trip into the mountains is an unforgettable one! When you start getting close enough that you can see the mountains looming in the distance, it’s hard to not let the excitement take over. You feel like you’re pulling up to a larger-than-life attraction that goes on and on for as far as the eye can see. It’s because of the awe-inspiring mountain ranges across our country that I support protecting the national parks from action that would harm them. These gorgeous peaks need to be around for our kids and grandkids to enjoy for generations to come! For now though, hitch up your RV and head to one of these top mountainous RV parks of the U.S. and enjoy a getaway that will take your breath away.

Mountain Lake Camping Resort, Lancaster, New Hampshire

Head into the White Mountains in northeast New Hampshire for a lakeside vacation in the mountains! The Mountain Lake Camping Resort in Lancaster is a great place to set up camp and spend a week bonding with your family. The 30-acre lake is perfect for fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking, and there is a hiking trail in the White Mountains nearby. This RV park also has a heated pool, playground, and planned activities. Choose from a lakefront or wooded site; they all have full hookups. The reviews speak for themselves—this is a clean, friendly, top-notch RV park!

Anchor Down RV Resort, Dandridge, Tennessee

Gaze out at the Great Smoky Mountains from your beautiful campsite in Anchor Down RV Resort in eastern Tennessee. This lovely campground is located right on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, which was voted best small town on the water in 2013. As if having the Great Smokies as your view from your campfire isn’t enough to make you want to book a stay, the resort is over the top with awesome amenities, including a swimming pool, dog park, pickleball & basketball courts, a sandy beach, golf cart rentals, and so much more. While there are over 170 campsites, you’ll want to book early if you desire a lakeside one.

Tiger Run Resort, Breckenridge, Colorado

If you’re looking for a rugged RVing experience in the Centennial State, you can skip this RV resort. But if you desire exceptional accommodations in a pristine setting, then you’ll want to check out the Tiger Run Resort. Located in Breckenridge, it’s the perfect spot to stay for amazing winter skiing in Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, or Keystone. During the warmer months, you can hop on your bikes and ride (or hike) the 60 miles of trails between Breckenridge and Vail. Upon your return to the campground you can relax in the pool or hot tub, hang out in the clubhouse, work out in the fitness center, or just kick back around your campfire and gaze up at the marvelous mountain views that surround you. If your RV is too small or too old (according to the county ordinances), unfortunately there won’t be a spot for you here. But if you make the cut you’ll be in for an unforgettable stay!

Mama Gertie’s Hideaway Campground, Swannanoa, North Carolina

If touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, is on your bucket list, then consider staying at Mama Gertie’s Hideaway Campground! This year-round campground has excellent ratings from past visitors thanks to its fantastic Blue Ridge Mountain views, well-kept grounds, friendly staff, and clean amenities. The area offers tons of recreation including biking, hiking, skiing, fishing, golfing, and more. There are beautiful waterfalls and cold mountain streams for water lovers. It’s even pet-friendly, so you don’t have to say goodbye to Muggins through a stream of tears when you leave—she can come too!

Jackson Hole Campground Fireside Resort, Wyoming

Nestled in Jackson Hole right near the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, this gorgeous RV park offers year-round camping to accommodate campers who love to go horseback riding, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, or hiking. The town of Jackson Hole is trendy and fun with lots of upscale shops, amazing restaurants, and the occasional celebrity visit. We walked right into Bill Clinton (and his secret service detail) when we were there! This RV park is the only one in Jackson Hole that offers winter camping, so book early for your ski vacation!

Savage River Campground, Denali National Park, Alaska

This 33-site campground offers stunning views of Mt. McKinley (Denali) on a clear day! While it doesn’t offer hookups (none of the campgrounds in the park do), it does have flush toilets and fire rings. Since Savage River Campground lies right in the heart of Denali, you’re living among the bears, caribou, and moose that call this 6 million acre national park home. So beware of your surroundings, but enjoy the abundant wildlife that makes Denali so spectacular. It’s a good thing there are approximately 20 hours of sunlight during the summer months so you can see and do everything there is to do here, such as go on glacier tours, go hiking, biking, canoeing, rafting, even sight-seeing Mt. McKinley.

Take your RVing to new heights with a trip to one of these great mountainous RV parks! Have you visited any of these? If so, share some pictures of your trip with us on our Facebook or Instagram pages. Or do you have a favorite mountain RV destination that we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments!

Cool Off This Summer with the Best Swimming Holes in the U.S.

The mercury is rising, which means we’re all looking for fun ways to beat the summer heat! Skip the crowded community pool this weekend and choose a more natural way to feel refreshed and renewed when the temps start to soar by taking a dip in a swimming hole! Known as Mother Nature’s swimming pools, swimming holes can be found in almost every state across the country and offer an eco-friendly way to fizzle the sizzle. Cool off this summer by visiting some of the best swimming holes in the U.S.

Cummins Falls, Tennessee

Located within Cummins Falls State Park, the Cummins Falls swimming hole is among the most gorgeous around! A 2.5-mile hike will get you to the river gorge and then you head upstream to the falls. With a vertical drop of 75 feet, Cummins Falls creates a magnificent scene with a large curtain of water that descends past ledges that look like rock gardens. The pool below is deep and wide, making it a great place to cool off on a hot Tennessee summer day. Voted one of the 10 best swimming holes in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure a few years ago, the secret is out!

Jacob’s Well, Texas

Not for timid swimmers just looking to cool off in the Texas heat, Jacob’s Well is actually the largest underwater cave in Texas! Holding a cool 68° temperature year round, I can see how taking a dip in it would be enticing on a sweltering day in Texas’s Hill Country, but beware that the hole is extremely deep. If you’re not a strong swimmer, a life jacket is recommended. This swimming hole is filled from an aquifer that’s 140 feet below ground and it releases thousands of gallons of water per minute that eventually flows out of the hole and into the Cypress Creek. For those of you looking to stay on the surface, you’ll enjoy the stunning landscape that includes cliffs and lush, green banks surrounding it, making it feel otherworldly. If you’re a thrill-seeking diver, there are at least 4 chambers in the cave that can be explored. However it’s advised that only experienced divers give it a try as at least eight divers have died trying to find their way around in the cavernous chambers.

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Hop aboard a mule, helicopter, or put on your hiking shoes and venture 8 miles (each way) into the Grand Canyon to experience Havasu Falls. Located in Supai Village, an occupied Native American settlement, Havasu Falls has a main chute that drops over a 90-100 foot cliff into a series of plunge pools below. The stunning blue-green waters contain calcium carbonate that forms natural travertine dams near the falls. Guided tours are available, or you can try it on your own.

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska

Mush, mush! Don’t forget your swimsuit when you hop on a dogsled and head over to the Chena Hot Springs, about an hour northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. Discovered over 100 years ago by two gold mining brothers, these hot springs are a soothing 106° year round, perfect for thawing out on a chilly Alaskan day (even though July sees temps near 70!). Although it may smell a little like rotten eggs because of the sulfur in the rocks, the water contains sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, perfect if you want to return home looking and feeling younger!

Homestead Crater, Utah

If you’re looking for the Fountain of Youth, we might be able to point you in the right direction. Homestead Crater near Salt Lake City is known as having high levels of calcium and magnesium. A dip in this 96° pool might just reveal a younger you! This swimming hole is a family-owned attraction and you can swim, scuba dive, snorkel, or just soak. Reservations are required!

Sliding Rock, North Carolina

If you’re looking for a slip ‘n slide waterfall experience, Sliding Rock is it! Located in western North Carolina near Brevard, this 60-foot mountain waterslide is like a water park on steroids! Nearly 11,000 gallons of water per minute rush down the layers of rock (this kind of puts using your garden hose on your slip n’ slide to shame, doesn’t it?) as you slide down it on your bum into the large pool below it. The pool is 8-feet deep, so only those who know how to swim may enjoy it! It’s recommended to wear pants since the rocks can tear swimsuits or cut skin. And it’s noted that the water is definitely refreshing (aka cold!), but it feels good on a hot summer day. This is definitely a Bucket List item, even if you do end up with a few raspberries on your tush.

Now that you’re cooled down, let’s heat things up with a new RV from Gillette’s Interstate RV in East Lansing, MI! Our selection is huge, our prices are unbelievable, and the adventures you’re going to have with it are amazing! Call, click, or visit us in person to shop travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, or park trailers that’ll be the perfect home away from home on your unforgettable vacations! We offer special no-money-down financing and amazing nationwide delivery!

Calling All Nature Lovers To Congaree National Park, SC!

While Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone get most of the glory, there are several other incredible national parks in the U.S. that you should take the time to see! Congaree National Park, located in Hopkins, South Carolina, is definitely one of the more underrated national parks! It’s the perfect place for nature lovers to visit, with great activities you can try, including camping.

About Congaree National Park

If you love to explore nature, Congaree is the place for you! Once a logging community, this area was dubbed a national monument in 1976, but wasn’t granted national park status until 2003, making it one of the newer national parks around! Not only will you love exploring the trails and rivers, but you’ll love seeing the biodiversity within the park, including the largest intact old growth bottomland hardwood forest still standing in the U.S. Some visitors out there may gripe that this national park doesn’t feature anywhere near as much grandeur as other national parks, but it doesn’t claim to! It’s just perfect if you’re looking for a rugged, fun adventure, and there are plenty of other nearby attractions that will give you a full, fun itinerary!

Things To Do In Congaree

Congaree National Park isn’t as much about the breathtaking views as it is about the adventure! This doesn’t mean there aren’t some beautiful sights, but there is just so much fun to be had!

Canoeing and Kayaking

If you love being on the water, Congaree is the perfect park for a good float. The Congaree River borders the park, and a network of lovely creeks are great for exploring. There are several different routes to take, with trips that can last from a couple hours to three days long!

Congaree River Blue Trail

Ready for the ultimate water adventure? Floating down the Congaree River Blue Trail is a great multi-day trip. This route spans 50 miles from South Carolina’s capital of Columbia, and delivers paddlers right to Congaree National Park! It is suggested that you take two to three days to complete this float, that way you can get the most out of this amazing trip.

Since RV camping isn’t permitted in Congaree National Park, it’ll take some careful planning for this excursion. Depending on your time frame, you could plan to camp along the way and spend a night tent camping in Congaree before returning to your RV. Talk about fun!

Hiking

If you’d like to explore by foot, Congaree features a great trail system where you can get a firsthand view of what this lovely park holds! There are 20 miles of trails for all levels of hikers, including a 2.4-mile boardwalk trail where you’ll be able to see several tree species, and is wheelchair and stroller accessible! Just be warned: flooding in the park isn’t uncommon, especially in the spring, so be sure to plan around the wet season, and be sure to pack a lot of mosquito repellant if you choose to come when the water is high!

Weston Lake Trail

A hike around the 4.4-mile Weston Lake Loop Trail will give you a great look into the diverse ecosystems of Congaree National Park! You’ll pass by Cedar Creek, where river otters and several species of birds have been known to hang around! Continue through a neat dried up river bed, where cypress trees can be seen jutting up, which is a cool sight to see.

Guided Walks

Although exploring on your own is great, one of the best ways to learn about Congaree is to take a guided walk! Ranger led programs are available in almost every national park, and provide interesting facts and tidbits about the history and nature of the parks. If you have the time, taking a guided tour is worth it!

Camping

As mentioned before, RV camping is unfortunately not permitted in Congaree National Park, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting! Our recommendation is that if you’d still like to bring your RV along, set up camp at a nearby RV park, float down the Congaree River Blue Trail, and spend a night or two tent camping!

Camping In Congaree

Congaree features two small tent-only campgrounds, the Longleaf Campground and Bluff Campground, as well as free backcountry camping with a permit! If you’re comfortable leaving your RV alone for a night or two, it’s inexpensive to set up camp in Congaree for a night with a $10 per night fee in Longleaf and $5 per night in Bluff.

Magnolia Campground

As one of the closest RV-friendly campgrounds to Congaree National Park, Magnolia Campground is a great choice! It provides a nice, quiet atmosphere where you can relax after your Congaree adventures! It’s only 15 minutes from Columbia too, and features both 50 and 30 amp service, full hookups, a dog park, and more. The Magnolia Campground website says there is only a two-person-per-site maximum, which is pretty impractical if you’re traveling with a large group.

The Barnyard RV Park

If you’d like to stay closer to Columbia, the Barnyard RV Park makes it convenient to get to both the capital city and to Congaree! You’ll love the comfortable grassy sites, full hookups, laundry facilities, and affordable weekly rates (especially with your Good Sam, AAA, or AARP discounts). Make a reservation well in advance as this park tends to fill up on the weekends, especially in the busy summer months!

Tour South Carolina the classy way with a new RV from Gillette’s Interstate RV! From luxury rigs to versatile pop-ups, we have just what you need to adventure the way you like! Go ahead and plan more stops on your getaway, as you’ll save thousands when you choose Gillette’s as opposed to any other RV dealer in Michigan!

What else do you like about Congaree National Park? We want to hear from you, nature lovers! Comment with the best trails to take, about how excited you are to visit, or if there are any other great spots to visit while in South Carolina!

Top 10 Most Awesome Spring Break Destinations For College Kids

Spring break is coming up fast! Where are you headed? If you don’t have plans, why not consider taking an RV from Gillette’s along for the adventure? You’ll save hundreds on food and hotel costs, as campground rates are a fraction of the cost, and you can pack the RV with your favorite snacks. Check out these top 10 most awesome spring break destinations for college kids.

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

Get away from the beach and have some fun this spring break! New Orleans is the perfect blend of party atmosphere and tourist destination, so there’s something for everyone. You’ll want to set aside time for tours, like exploring the interesting plantations, taking a city-wide tour, and visiting the French Quarter, which is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and features a unique atmosphere with everything from jazz music to voodoo shops. On the other hand, day or night, you’ll want to set aside a considerable chunk of time to hit up the countless bars peppered throughout New Orleans! You can even take drinks to go and enjoy them as you make your way to the next bar, as long as it’s in a plastic cup. For some amazing suggestions, check out this list of top New Orleans Bars.

New Orleans West KOA

If you want comfort, convenience, and friendly accommodations, this is the campground for you! The New Orleans West KOA sits just outside the city, and has electric and water, Wi-Fi, a fun pool, and even a complementary shuttle service so you don’t have to drive. Visit their website for more information.

2. Savannah, Georgia

If exploring and history sound better than drinking your spring break away, check out Savannah. This beautiful city is lauded as one of the most beautiful places in America! The city is like a museum in itself, with beautiful parks and a stunning historic district, but you’ll want to take some time to stop at the numerous historical buildings, informative museums, and charming shops too! Savannah also has a fantastic public transportation system so it’ll be easy and inexpensive to get around.

Red Gate Campground and RV Resort

This pretty campground is the perfect place to rest up. The scenic, serene grounds add a welcome touch of southern charm and hospitality, which you’ll love coming back to after a day of exploring. It is also the closest RV park to historic Savannah, and features full hookups, farm animals, a pool, and so much more. Click here fore more information.

3. Nashville, Tennessee

This is the perfect spring break destination for music majors, music lovers, or those just looking to have a good time! You’ll have a grand time exploring amazing sites like the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, RCA Studio B where Elvis and other big-name artists have recorded, and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage (for all those interested in history). Make sure to set aside time to shop, see some shows, and hit the bars for some honky tonk fun.

Two Rivers Campground

You can rest up and enjoy a great night’s sleep at Two Rivers Campground. It’s only a mere couple miles away from Opryland, so it’ll be easy to access the fun of Nashville. The rates are pretty fantastic too, since you’ll still get the lower winter prices. Sure beats shelling out your precious cash for a hotel for spring break.

4. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

It may seem a bit backwards to head to a cold and snowy destination for spring break, but a ski trip to Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat ski area will be well worth it! Zip down Mount Werner and other peaks, which span just short of 3,000 acres. It features 16 lifts (including an eight-passenger gondola), thrilling terrain parks, a great trail system, and is located near other fantastic resorts. It’s also just a two-hour drive to Denver, so you can visit the Mile High City on spring break too!

Steamboat Springs KOA

We have included a lot of KOA options not only because they are usually well-maintained and hosted by friendly people, but many locations are open year round. This KOA is both comfortable and scenic, with the Yampa River running through it, and nearby mountains for hiking. You can even take a tour shuttle so you can see even more. Visit their website for rates and other information!

5. South Padre Island, Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, including spring break fun! Not only is this beach town a warm and beautiful sight for sore winter eyes, but a huge party takes over the island this time of year! It officially becomes “spring break island” and is nothing but nonstop parties, music, and events. It’s a total haven if you’re looking to party your way through spring break!

Andy Bowie Park

Stay right on the beach at Andy Bowie Park! It’s super affordable, and you’ll be super close to the spring break festivities. This campground sits in a gorgeous park that has easy access to the beach, so you can splash in the ocean and relax. Click here for more information.

Underground Exploration: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

For a destination that is just as beautiful above ground as it is below, check out Carlsbad Caverns National Park! Spanning 46,000 acres, this park is located in Eddy County in the southeastern corner of New Mexico and it offers some unbelievable opportunities for underground exploration! Carlsbad Caverns was officially recognized as a national park on May 14th, 1930 and today it remains as a breathtaking natural wonder that continues to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year!

What To Expect

When you pull through the main entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, you’ll be greeted by the visitors center. Here you’ll find a kennel where you can board your pets as you explore the caves. You’ll also find a gift shop, a collection of educational exhibits, and the Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company which is a restaurant serving everything from made-to-order meals to grab-and-go snacks!

Exploring the Caves

There are 119 known caves hidden beneath the surface of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. These caves form from sulfuric acid that dissolves the surrounding limestone to create expansive underground rooms. Three of the 119 caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park are able to be safely explored by visitors.

The first and most popular cave is the main section of the cavern known as the Big Room. This section spans approximately 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet tall at its highest point, making it the fifth largest chamber in North America and the 28th largest in the world. There is elevator access to get into and out of the cave, or guests can hike into the cave using the natural entrance which requires a steep 1.25-mile descent.

Visitors are also welcome to explore Spider Cave and Slaughter Canyon Cave as well, although it is recommended that you be in good health to do so as some areas require you to crawl through narrow passageways. As you prepare for your journey underground, make sure you wear appropriate footwear, and dress warm as the caves are at a constant 56º F.

Bat Flight Program

If you’re in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, you’re not going to want to miss out on the Bat Flight Program! This free presentation takes place at dusk in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater near the mouth of the cave. Here, rangers lead a discussion and present educational information on the bats, and attendees witness the bats as they make their nightly exit out of the cave in search of yummy insect dinners! To get the best bat flight viewing, plan your trip sometime between August and September.

Other On-Site Activities

  • HikingWalk the trail system, tour the vibrant desert scenery, and catch a glimpse of the active wildlife population in this thriving ecosystem.

  • Star GazingSee a spectacular nighttime sky and marvel at the endless display of stars which shine over the Chihuahuan Desert after dark.

  • PicnickingThere are three picnic areas within the park that offer shade and tables so you can enjoy a pleasant meal in the fresh, open air.

Overnight Accommodations

While backcountry camping is allowed in the park for those who have obtained a free permit from the visitors center, not everyone is so keen on roughing it in the great outdoors. So for RV-friendly accommodations, check out these two campgrounds located near Carlsbad Caverns National Park:

White’s City RV Park

Located just 7 miles from the visitors center, you won’t find another campground closer to the caves than White’s City RV Park. While its proximity may be ideal, reviews slam this park for its poor upkeep, dirty bathrooms, and tightly-packed sites. It is located on a flat, open field so privacy is limited. Guests who stay here claim there are no doors on the shower, and virtually no managerial presence on site. The location of this RV park is by far its biggest advantage, and if you’re just looking for a place to crash while you check out the caves, this place might not be a bad idea. But we wouldn’t recommend an extended stay!

Carlsbad RV Park and Campground

If you want more hospitable accommodations than what White’s City RV Park has to offer, just head 15 minutes up the road to Carlsbad RV Park and Campground. Here you’ll find over 100 RV sites with different hookup packages to choose from. Pull-through sites are offered, as well as free Wi-Fi, a video game room, a community fire pit, and a heated indoor pool. Two large pet areas give you a place to exercise your dog off leash, and this campground is conveniently located right next door to a fully-equipped RV service center in case your rig is in need of some maintenance.

Nearby Attractions

If you’re visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park and you’re looking for other fun things to do in the area, check out some of these nearby attractions and activities:

Sitting Bull Falls—Located a little more than an hour away from the visitors center, this series of waterfalls is simply beautiful and well worth the drive!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park—Located 40 minutes from the visitors center, just over the border into Texas, this national park is bursting with pristine wilderness areas!

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park—Located roughly 45 minutes from the visitors center, this park is home to more than 40 species of native animals!

Have you ever explored beneath the surface of Carlsbad Caverns National Park? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment!

Whale Watching Destinations: Pacific and Atlantic

Break away from the traditional and head to the ocean! Whale watching is an incredible activity that allows you to witness some of the earth’s most tremendous and awe-inspiring creatures in their natural habitat! With some patience and some know-how on where and when to go, it’ll be an experience you will never forget! Here are some fantastic whale watching destinations on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans!

Pacific Ocean

Kodiak Island, Alaska

Not only will you get to admire the beautiful gray whales, which frequent this area around April, but Kodiak Island is also rich in wildlife from red foxes to brown bears! Humpback and fin whales are plentiful from June to November, so pay Alaska a visit and you’ll be in awe of how amazing nature truly is!

Bring your RV to the Buskin River State Recreational Site, which will surely thrill any nature enthusiast! There are plenty of trails for hiking or mountain biking, the Buskin River is filled with sockeye and coho salmon, and you’ll see plenty of wildlife! Sites are available on a first come, first served basis, so get out and adventure more!

San Juan Islands, Washington

If you’d love a glimpse of orca whales, San Juan Islands is the spot for you! Specific families, or pods, of orcas frequent these waters so much that watchers and tour guides can identify them easily! Some pods stick around all year, while some stay only from the spring to the fall, usually through October. San Juan even named an island Orcas, so these whales feel right at home! Keep an eye out for gray, humpback, and minke whales, as well as porpoises, seals, sea lions, and more!

Since islands make it difficult to bring an RV along, feel free to explore the islands and head back to the mainland and stay at Pioneer Trails RV Resort in Anacortes! This comfortable RV park features ample pleasing vegetation, laundry, a playground, 50 and 100 amp hookups, and is widely regarded for their super-roomy RV sites! Click to find out more!

Monterey Bay, California

One of the best locations on the west coast for whale watching is Monterey Bay, California! Head out on a boat tour and you’ll witness humpback and blue whales from April to December, and gray whales from December to April! It’s not to uncommon to see killer whales in the area either! The colder water makes this area rich in food, so whales take advantage on their migrations!

Can’t get enough of the ocean? Marina Dunes RV Resort is the destination for you! You’ll have access to 10 gorgeous miles of undeveloped Monterey Bay beaches to explore, as well as a beautiful clubhouse, exercise facility, modern restrooms, and lovely, leveled sites! You’ll also be close to all the amazing activities of the Monterey Peninsula, with golf courses, restaurants, and countless other attractions! For a full list of amenities and rates, visit their website!

Santa Barbara, California

Whales love California’s west coat, especially Santa Barbara! It is typical to see gray whales from February to early April, and blue, minke, and humpback whales May to September! That’s just a teaser of what you might find here though, as it’s not unheard of for 27 different species of dolphins and whales to pass through at any given time!

Although there are plenty of campgrounds to choose from, Rancho Oso RV and Camping Resort is a great choice for camping! Complete with a fantastic clubhouse, swimming pool, store, restaurant, game room, laundry, hiking and horse trails, it’s a whole new adventure after a day of whale watching! Find out more on their website!

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Created by Congress in 1992, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary serves as protected water where thousands of humpbacks end their migration southward! As many as 20 or more other species can been seen in this area too, but humpbacks frequent this spot for feeding and mating, so keep an ear out for their calls to potential mates, which is rarely heard anywhere else! Take a boat tour, or check out these great places for shoreline viewing! If you’re exploring Hawaii, you’ll probably have to leave the RV at home since it can be costly and impractical to transport it all the way there, so spring for some tent camping or pamper yourself with a hotel!

Atlantic Ocean

Bar Harbor, Maine

There is so much to see and do around Bar Harbor, Maine, but make it a point to set aside a few hours for an unforgettable whale watching tour! Minke, right, and fin whales can be found about 20 miles off the coast around mid April through October, and are attracted to the cool waters and plentiful food! You might also see dolphins, seals, sharks, harbour porpoises, and even Atlantic puffin if you’re visiting June through August!

Bar Harbor is also home to Acadia National Park, which is a haven for environmental explorers! Whether you take a scenic drive, do some tidepooling, go swimming, or just take a look around, you’ll fall in love with the beauty of this gorgeous national park! There are three different campgrounds to choose from, ranging from rustic non-electric RV sites to modern sites with water and electric! Click here for more information!

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Another area of protected waters between Cape Cod and Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is an incredible spot for whale watching! The waters of Cape Cod were named one of the top ten whale watching spots in the world by the World Wildlife Fund! The sightings of humpback, fin, and minke whales are so frequent between April to October, that many companies in the area claim a 99 percent success rate for whale viewing on any given trip! Check out this list of whale watch companies for some enjoyable tours!

A stay at Bay View Campground is a comfortable one indeed! It puts you at the heart of the activity of Cape Cod, and close to many locations for whale watching tours! It’s very family friendly with tons of activities, a pool, and a dog park for your furry friends! Modern campsites include 30/50 amp service, water, picnic tables, fire rings, WiFi, and much more! Click here to find out more!

Long Island, New York

Whales in New York? The coast off of Long Island is actually an amazing feeding spot for a variety of whales! It’s really incredible, with North Atlantic right, sei, minke, blue, sperm, humpback, and fin whales visiting in droves from July to early September. If you’re touring the Big Apple and the surrounding area, take some time to appreciate the whales!

End your day of exploring at Indian Island Park, which is nestled in the heart of Long Island, and is comfortable and relaxing with incredible views overlooking Flanders Bay! Check out their website for more information, but be sure to look around too, as there are a number of other incredible campgrounds on Long Island!

Virginia Beach

If you’re visiting along the coast farther to the south, Virginia Beach has been known for some impressive whale sightings too! Although not as plentiful, spectators will still enjoy sightings of humpback whales December through March, but some activity is still prevalent in the summer when dolphins are out and about too!

Pay a visit to the Virginia Beach KOA, which is open year round, making it the perfect campground to stay during your whale-watching adventures! You’ll appreciate WiFi, 50 amp max power, a dog park, and plenty of fun activities for the kids in the summer! Visit their website for more information! With so many opportunities for whale watching, what’s stopping you? Whether you choose the Atlantic or Pacific, you’ll get to experience these unbelievable creatures in an incredible way! Have you been whale watching before, or are you excited to go? Share your experiences and let us know where you’d like to go to see the whales!

Take A Dip! The Best Hot Springs Of America

Does the cold weather have you dreaming about warm getaways? You don’t always have to seek out a tropical destination to surround yourself with toasty warmth! Check out this list of some of the best hot springs of America and you’ll be ready to pack your bags and take a dip!

Chena Hot Springs Resort – Fairbanks, Alaska

Hot springs are just part of the amazing overall experience you’ll have at Chena Hot Springs Resort! Not only will you be able to soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the hot spring lake, but you’ll enjoy a slew of fun activities! Biking, horseback riding, hiking, ATV tours, and more are fun in the summer, but the winter is when this resort comes to life! Let a team of sled dogs guide you on a dogsled tour, or just visit them at their kennel! Snowmobile, snowcoach, and flightseeing tours are perfect for seeing the wintery landscape too! Be sure to visit the awesome Aurora Ice Museum, which is open year round and made entirely of ice! Top your day off with a view of the incredible Aurora Borealis and it’s the perfect hot springs stay! Camping is even available on a first-come, first-served basis. No hookups are available, so plan ahead!

Dunton Hot Springs – Dolores, Colorado

With a quaint air and western vintage flair, Dunton Hot Springs is a destination you won’t want to miss! This resort is the ultimate adventure and relaxation destination, established in a restored 19th century ghost town! It’s all-inclusive, so guests will enjoy wonderful luxuries like soaking in this resort’s six therapeutic pools, featuring a soaking pool located inside a restored 19th century bath house! Intimate meals at the communal dining table in the repurposed saloon, skiing, fishing, biking, and twelve charming retrofitted cabins definitely make this stay worthwhile!

Yellowstone National Park

As one of the world’s most geothermally-active regions, Yellowstone National Park is home to a number of amazing hot springs, as well as countless other beautiful natural wonders!

Grand Prismatic Spring

One of the most beautiful sights of Yellowstone is the famed Grand Prismatic Spring! It’s the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, and the third largest in the world at approximately 370 feet in diameter and over 121 feet deep! It’s definitely one of those sights that make you stop and marvel at the beauty of nature!

Boiling River

Formed where a large hot spring enters the Gardner River, this is a hot spring of Yellowstone that you can actually swim in! Take a break from your adventures to splash and soak in one of nature’s best hot tubs!

Mammoth Hot Springs

You’ll definitely want to head out to the Mammoth Springs area of Yellowstone, where you’ll drink in the beauty of the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces! These tiers of gorgeous travertine formations are ever-changing, as soft limestone builds up and is easily washed away, demonstrating the present volcanic forces of Yellowstone! Camp close to the terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, which is open year-round without hookups and available on a first come, first served basis!

Hot Springs State Park – Thermopolis, Wyoming

Wyoming is quite the hotspot for hot springs! Travel to nearby Hot Springs National Park and you’ll be delighted! This park features the world’s largest mineral hot spring, which features at least 27 different minerals! Take a stroll through this lovely park, which features 6.2 miles of trails, and you’ll see the springs, and maybe even a glimpse of the managed bison herd that roams the park! After your adventures, spend some time in the State Bath House, which is filled with 104 degree mineral water!

Hot Springs National Park- Hot Springs, Arkansas

If you just can’t get enough hot springs, pay a visit to Hot Springs National Park! You’ll learn a lot about how the presence of hot springs has influenced the nearby town of the aptly named Hot Springs, and you can tour the historic bath houses of Bathhouse Row, check out some of the pools, and even take a bath in the therapeutic waters at Buckstaff, or enjoy a luxurious soak at the Quapaw Baths and Spa! The park also features 26 miles of trails for hiking, and scenic mountain driving! Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the park at the Gulpha Gorge Campground, which features full hookups, pedestal grills, modern restrooms, a dump station, and other conveniences! Explore the nearby town of Hot Springs where you’ll find plenty of luxurious spas, shops, restaurants, and more!

Conundrum Hot Springs – Aspen, Colorado

If you’re willing to work for your hot springs, and you like to have a good time, Conundrum Hot Springs is the destination for you! Located just outside Aspen, these springs are nestled between the peaks of the Maroon Bells area, and are only accessed by a 8.5 mile long hike, scaling more than 2,000 feet in elevation. The result? A soak in heavenly warm waters with a life-changing view! It should be noted that this is a popular area, and it is not uncommon for drinking, partying, and the discarding of bathing suits to occur! Set up camp at one of the 18 campsites, but please clean up after yourself and respect the land!

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort – Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Yes, there are hot springs outside of Colorado, but we couldn’t get away without mentioning Glenwood Hot Springs Resort! This luxurious destination features the world’s largest hot springs pool, which spans 405 feet long and 100 feet wide. Containing 1,071,000 gallons of water, this soothing site is open all year! Water slides, cabanas, and kiddy pools are available in the summer, making it great for all ages! Complete with over 100 rooms, an excellent athletic club, and relaxing spa, it’s a wonderful place to get away! It’s also close to shops, restaurants, and other fun activities!

If reading about hot springs has warmed you, go ahead and plan a trip to see the best hot springs of America! The rejuvenating properties of these pools will make you feel young, revitalized, and warmed to your core! Have you visited hot springs before? Which is your favorite? Comment to share!

Storm Chasers: Regions and Seasons to Chase (or Avoid) Storms

When it comes to severe weather, I think most people fall into one of three categories: they either love severe storms, they’re scared to death of them, or they’re fascinated by them until they start to get a little too close for comfort. I tend to fall into the latter category. I love the thrill of an impending storm, but when it actually arrives and drops hail the size of golf balls and brings winds that snap large tree limbs, I run for cover. After experiencing a tornado-like derecho storm that bent 20’-tall treetops all the way to the ground right in front of my eyes, I don’t want to be around if severe weather is on its way. But for people who love the excitement of severe weather, they are probably great candidates for the hobby of storm chasing. For those of us who run away from storms, it’s hard to believe that people would purposely head into a storm, but storm chasing is a popular pastime for weather researchers and thrill seekers alike.

The Start Of Storm Chasing

Widely known as the pioneer of storm chasing, David Hoadley began chasing storms in 1956 in his hometown in North Dakota. He founded Storm Track magazine, which aimed at bringing storm chasers together to form a community of “chasers.” With the movie Twister and the rise of the Internet, storm chasing has soared in popularity and has become one of the ultimate adventures for risk-takers and daredevils. A number of severe weather-related shows on cable networks, such as Storm Chasers on Discovery and Storm Stories on The Weather Channel, have piqued the interest of viewers and have helped grow the nationwide community of storm chasers. Every spring hundreds of meteorologists, scientists, nature lovers, and hobbyists take to the open roads of the Great Plains in hopes of tracking and capturing on film the magnificence of a great storm. But with the Great Plains stretching out for thousands of square miles and severe storms being relatively rare in the U.S. (around 10,000 per year), being in the right place at the right time comes down to research, science, experience, and a little bit of luck. The following areas of the U.S. are great regions to be in if you want to chase (or avoid) storms during the most active storm months, which are typically March through July. But proceed with caution, as storm chasing isn’t a hobby that should be jumped into on a whim. Professional storm chasers risk life and limb to garner valuable storm research that helps scientists and meteorologists better understand and predict violent storms, thus helping to save lives. It’s possibly one of the most dangerous jobs out there and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Best Regions to Chase (or Avoid) Storms

Tampa Bay

Believe it or not, the Tampa Bay area, which includes Clearwater and St. Petersburg, was named by The Weather Channel as having the most tornadoes per square mile in the U.S. a few years ago. Some say the numbers are skewed by the occurrence of waterspouts, which are water-based tornadoes that touch land only for a few minutes but have to be counted as tornadoes in data. But the data shows that Clearwater came in first in the nation with 7.1 tornadoes per year per 1,000 square miles. Due to the prevalence of thunderstorms and the fact that tropical storms and hurricanes are a way of life along the Florida peninsula every year, it’s no surprise that Florida is at the top of the list for tornadoes. When the tropical storms move in over land and converge with inland temps and storms, they often produce tornadoes. Luckily, these tropical storm-born tornadoes are often weaker than ones further inland.

Tornado Alley

Oklahoma City, ranked number two by The Weather Channel in frequency of tornadoes per square mile, is in the heart of “Tornado Alley.” Although the exact boundaries of Tornado Alley are debatable, it’s commonly thought to stretch from northern Iowa down to central Texas, and from western Ohio to central Kansas and Nebraska. This area of the Great Plains sees 1,200 storms annually. In 2011 over 500 people were killed in this region by tornadoes, cyclones, and dust devils, making this the deadliest year since 1953. The Great Plains region is host to a number of storm chasing tours. Not for the faint of heart, these tours offer adventure and excitement like no other for people who want to see first-hand the force and destruction of severe storms. For about $3000, you can spend a week chasing storms throughout Tornado Alley with the best storm chasers in the business.

Eastern New Mexico/West Texas

This very rural area is located just west of Tornado Alley. Located on about the same longitude as eastern Colorado, this southwestern region sees about 3-5 tornado events per year. The area between I-10 and I-20 features some of the best visibility anywhere in the Plains, making this a great region to camp out when severe storms are imminent. This is about as far west as you can go in the U.S. and still expect to see about one significant tornado per year.

Eastern Dakotas

Later in tornado season, tornado activity is possible in the eastern Dakota area. Head this way in May and/or June to experience less-congested storm chasing. Located pretty far north of Tornado Alley, not many storm chasers head this way, despite the roads being wide open and easy to travel for chasing twisters. Recent tornado activity in South Dakota includes one in Bowdle in 2010 and another in Alpena in 2014.

Illinois

Known for its long tornado season, Illinois is the most popular state east of the Mississippi in which to chase storms. Not only are the roads easy to navigate, especially in southern Illinois, but the season stretches from April into August. Tornadoes have even been known to occur into the fall months as well. However don’t count on a strong tornado season every year. Illinois experiences its ups and downs with tornadoes. Some years may be quiet, while other years it seems like Illinois has a target on its back.

Northern Indiana/NW Ohio

Just south of Michigan in northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio you’ll find land that is especially great for chasing tornadoes. This area sees tornadoes from April through November, although late spring into summer is its prime tornado time.

Dixie Alley

The lowlands on either side of the Mississippi River offer great road networks and viewing of tornadoes. Generally referred to as Dixie Alley, scientists say this region is deadlier than Tornado Alley, its northwestern cousin. Stretching from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Upper Tennessee Valley, this region has the most days per year with a tornado within 25 miles! The tornadoes that occur in this region tend to move faster, last longer, and occur at night, resulting in more damage and deaths than the ones in Tornado Alley. Due to a more lush landscape than the Great Plains, taking photos of twisters here is more difficult, which may also explain why Tornado Alley is more widely known for tornadoes. Prime tornado season is longer here than in the Plains states, with tornadoes occurring from spring into fall.

Are you interested in chasing storms? Do you have any storm stories to share? Tell us about them in the comments!

Your Dog’s Favorite Winter Destinations

The snow and the cold is coming, and that means it’s time for some fun with your furry best friend! Whether you choose to stay and play in your own wintery wonderland or pack up and experience something new, this list of your dog’s favorite winter destinations will be ultra fun for both you and your pup!

Skijoring In Grayling, Michigan

Skijoring, which is essentially a blend of cross-country skiing and dog sledding, is the perfect wintertime activity if you have a high-energy, yet well-behaved, dog over 40 pounds! It’s a great way for both you and your pooch to get some exercise and enjoy the winter landscape! Grayling is a fantastic spot where you can enjoy skijoring right here in Michigan! Miles of ungroomed trails are perfect for skijoring the day away! Check into nearby River Park Campground, which is a comfortable place to stay with your RV while you enjoy Grayling, and is open year round with electric available, and bath houses open throughout the winter! Check out their website for more info!

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen has become quite the pet-friendly city! It was named GoPetFriendly’s most pet-friendly city in 2010, with several hotels, restaurants, and hiking trails that welcome dogs, and even a special pet shop where you and your pet can visit and pick up some quality food and toys for your stay!

St. Regis Aspen Resort

If you want to feel the most elegant you’ve ever felt in your life, book a stay at the St. Regis Aspen, which is the ultimate in luxury and is super dog friendly! Not only will you be able to get out and explore Aspen with your dog, but you’ll be right in the mix of all the winter fun that Aspen has to offer! Book some times to go skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and more! Your dog will also feel pampered with amenities like a comfy, upscale dog bed, ceramic food dishes, and turndown service! It’s definitely on the pricey side, but your dog can’t help having a taste for the finer things! For rates, reservations, and other information, visit their website!

Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon, Michigan

Another one of your dog’s favorite winter destinations lies in the beautiful Upper Peninsula here in Michigan! It’s the perfect spot for adventuring during winter and summer! Your pup will love exploring along the trails throughout the Porcupine Mountains area! You’ll also be able to enjoy some skijoring on the extensive cross-country ski trails, or head out to go snowshoeing! Backcountry camping is available in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park year round, so pack your tent and get out there!

Barkwells Pet-Friendly Retreat, Mills River, North Carolina

If you’re looking for the perfect getaway this winter and want to treat your dog, this amazing vacation spot caters specifically to canines! Each cabin has a wonderful gated porch and fenced-in yard, extra-large dog doors, dog beds, and more! Don’t worry, humans will love these spaces too! Not only will you appreciate the amenities of a luxury hotel, you’ll get to kick back and relax in the hot tub spa! The entire property is also fully fenced in, so you can let your dog explore without worry! They’ll love roaming free and socializing with other pups! Check out their website for rates and other info!

Dog Sledding In Michigan And Alaska

Just like skijoring, if your dog is full of energy and responds well to commands, becoming part of a dog sled team may be the perfect winter activity for them! Michigan’s extensive trail networks provide plenty of areas for teams to get out and practice their skills and head out for runs! One kennel to check out for more information on dog sledding is Nature’s Kennel in northern Michigan. If your dog’s team does well with travel, Anchorage, Alaska, is one of the best spots in the country for dog sledding, so a puppy field trip could be in your dog’s future! If not, keep things close to home and have fun!

No matter where you and your pup decide to travel, the snow and cold will be fun for your furry four-legged friend! Honestly, your pooch will probably be just as happy running around the backyard or going or a walk, but these winter destinations will surely become your dog’s favorite! There are plenty of destinations that are pet-friendly, so explore and find the perfect vacation spot for you! Where is your dog’s favorite winter destination? Leave us a comment with your suggestions!

Ultimate Stargazing: Dark Sky Parks of the U.S.

There are over 30 certified IDA dark sky parks in the United States ranging from California to Pennsylvania. After doing our research, we’ve narrowed down the top 10 best dark sky parks of the U.S. based on their aversion to light pollution and their commitment to resisting infrastructure development in protection of an authentic night sky. So if you want to experience some of the most ultimate stargazing opportunities available, grab your red-filtered flashlight, wait till the sun goes down, and head out to any one of these 10 amazing stargazing destinations!

Cherry Springs State Park | Pennsylvania

This 82-acre park is one of the best spots for stargazing on the eastern side of the country. All the lighting in the park is intentionally shielded and all white light has been converted to red for better night vision. A night sky viewing area can be found in the park, along with several informational kiosks and a backlit summer sky map. Their astronomy field offers an amazing 360º view and the location of the park is perfectly positioned to provide exceptional views of the Milky Way Galaxy!

Death Valley National Park | California

This park spans well over three million acres and contains some of the darkest night skies around. The park service has taken specific actions to reduce excessive outdoor lighting in the park to create an even better environment for untarnished stargazing. Although the park does pick up on some of the distant Las Vegas lights, you can still see amazing displays of meteor showers and lunar eclipses during a visit to this dark sky park.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park | New Mexico

An amazing night sky isn’t the only thing you’ll find in this historic park which contains nearly 34,000 acres of canyons, deserts, and historical structures built by ancestral Pueblo peoples. Over 99% of the park is considered a natural darkness zone which means that no permanent outdoor lighting exists. In order to preserve the park and prevent light pollution, a number of initiatives have been enacted to keep the night sky as undiluted as possible.

The Headlands | Michigan

Located at the tip of the mitten near Mackinaw City, this 550-acre park is the perfect destination for catching a colorful glimpse of The Northern Lights. A county-wide outdoor lighting ordinance helps to curb the effects of artificial light on the night sky so visitors can experience the stars just as they appeared centuries ago! If you time your visit right, you might even be able to participate in one of the events that are regularly hosted at the park, such as star parties or nighttime storytelling.

Big Bend National Park | Texas

This 800-acre park is nestled near the Rio Grande River and situated beneath an awe-inspiring night sky. As one of the least visited parks in the lower 48, with the least amount of light pollution, this national site will be a secluded destination to gaze and wonder without any distractions! Come here to see the Milky Way in its full glory or to witness a dazzling display of stars stretched across an endless black backdrop.

Blue Ridge Observatory and State Park | North Carolina

Although it only spans six acres, this state park and observatory is the perfect site to visit for some top-notch stargazing! While you wouldn’t know it by visiting today, the side was previously used as a landfill just decades before! An observatory facility is currently being built and when complete, it will feature 360º viewing opportunities as well as 34 telescopes. Although the park is managed by Mayland Community College, it is open to the public.

Goldendale Observatory Park | Washington

This five-acre educational facility is dedicated almost entirely to astronomy-related topics. In addition to offering daily programs and presentations, the park is also home to one of the nation’s largest public telescopes which provides impressive views of star clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy. During your visit you can also peer through one of their safely-filtered telescopes to get an incredible view of the sun!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park | Colorado

Spanning over 30,000 acres, this national park is a haven for astronomy enthusiasts and amateur stargazers alike, as well as photographers hoping to snap a picture of its amazing night sky! Boasting a massive expanse of canyon carved out by the Gunnison River, this vast stretch of land is ideal for experiencing the night sky in its natural habitat! The edge of the canyon’s rim provides an exhilarating and jaw-dropping viewpoint from which to observe the stars like never before!

Capital Reef National Park | Utah

This national park‘s commitment to protecting natural darkness has earned it a spot among the gold-tiered dark sky parks. The unique landscape of the area draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but despite its popularity, the park has continued to resist development in order to protect its standing as one of the best dark sky parks in the country. In addition to offering great viewing opportunities, you’ll also find lots of educational opportunities and outreach programs here as well!

Oracle State Park | Arizona

Although this nearly 4,000-acre state park is just 20 miles away from the bustling metropolis of Tucson, the city’s skyglow is conveniently blocked by the Santa Catalina Mountains. Without artificial light inhibiting visitors’ abilities to observe the stars, this destination has become a hotspot for those hoping to witness an authentic night sky. In addition to the Milky Way, stargazers who flock to this wildlife refuge can also marvel at a range of other astonishing celestial wonders. Have you visited one of these dark sky parks before, or are you planning to visit one? Share your night sky photographs with us on Facebook or Instagram and let us know where you went!