A trip to Yellowstone National Park is practically a right of passage for any RV owner. If you have an RV in the United States and you haven’t yet traveled to the original National Park, you might not know what you are missing. Yellowstone is simply spectacular, with stunning scenery around nearly every corner. While getting to Wyoming is not exactly convenient for most people, the trip will be worth the effort when you see what Yellowstone has in store.
Of course, real-life has a way of interfering with dream vacations. While you might like to park your RV for a week or two around Yellowstone so you can see everything there is to see, an itinerary that leaves that kind of time just might not be in the cards. So, should you skip Yellowstone altogether? Absolutely not. Even if you only have a day or two, you can still get a good look at what makes this part of the country so special.
Below are three of the must-see spots within Yellowstone National Park that you should make an effort to visit while you are in the area.
#1 – Old Faithful
This is probably the most famous feature in the park, and you certainly don’t want to miss it. Old Faithful is a geyser which, as its name would indicate, erupts on a predictable schedule. The geyser itself it quite impressive, as is the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin. Watching geysers do their thing in a person is a rare opportunity and something that is a big part of what makes Yellowstone the attraction that it is.
#2 – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
For perhaps the most spectacular sight in the entire park, you will want to head to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This canyon is highlighted by Yellowstone Falls, which includes Upper Yellowstone Falls and Lower Yellowstone Falls. The canyon is up to 1,000 feet deep in some places, and the views that can be enjoyed from around the rim are nothing short of breathtaking. If you aren’t satisfied with simply looking into the canyon from the rim, you can get a better view by taking Uncle Tom’s Trail down a series of stairs that leads into the canyon itself. Pictures taken from around the Yellowstone Falls area will likely be some of the best pictures you take on your entire trip.
#3 – Mammoth Hot Springs
You aren’t going to see the dramatic eruptions at Mammoth Hot Springs that you will see in the Upper Geyser Basin, but you will see an incredible set of hot springs that dates back thousands of years. The water that fills Mammoth Hot Springs comes to the surface at around 170* F, and a variety of algae living in the water has led many different colors being represented throughout the springs. Just as is the case with so many spots in Yellowstone, you will want to have your camera ready when you arrive that this popular destination.
It’s hard to imagine a nicer place in the world than San Diego, California. The weather is nearly perfect, the scenery is incredible, and there is plenty to do and see all around the city and surrounding areas. Most people, after visiting San Diego for a few days, have just one reaction – why don’t I live here?
Many places advertise great weather, but San Diego is one that truly delivers. The average high temperature in July is 74.6*. The average high temperature in December? 65.1*. There isn’t much difference between summer and winter, other than shorter days and cooler nights. In all, San Diego receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year on average, and barely over 10’’ of rain. Whether coming for a week or a lifetime, you are likely to experience plenty of beautiful weather.
Nearly Endless Activities
If you are coming in to San Diego in your RV for a vacation, you just might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of things there are available to do and see. There is a great military history in the city, and the USS Midway Museum is a popular attraction. Balboa Park is a must-see for visitors, and the San Diego Zoo is a world-renown destination. Like to play golf? Torrey Pines is among the top public golf facilities in the entire country. Want to take in a baseball game? The San Diego Padres play at Petco Park, considered one of the prettiest ballparks in the league. Safe to say, there is no reason for you to ever be bored when spending time in San Diego.
Plenty of RV Parks
Another nice feature of San Diego is the many RV parks that you will have to choose from when you visit. It can be hard to find good options for parking your RV in and around big cities, but you shouldn’t have much trouble in this area. In fact, there are even a couple of waterfront RV parks that will place you just steps from the amazing San Diego beaches. Naturally, you aren’t the only person thinking of traveling to San Diego, so be sure to book your reservations well in advance.
Don’t Forget to Eat!
San Diego is also well-known for its impressive cuisine. While many RV owners like to cook inside the RV in order to save money, you will want to eat out around town at least a couple times during your stay. Specifically, if you love Mexican food, San Diego is the place to be.
Should you be interested by any of the attractions north in the Los Angeles area, you can easily make a day trip up to see things like Disneyland, Hollywood, and more. Staying in or near San Diego will provide you with a slightly more laid back setting than the L.A. area, but you can still take a side trip up the coast to see a specific destination. After one trip to San Diego, there is a good chance that you will be booking a return vacation just as soon as you have the chance.
Washington State is one of the prettiest states in the country, with plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities for RV travelers. What you might not know, is that the state doesn’t all look like you probably are picturing your head. When you think of Washington state, do you picture lush green terrain with countless evergreen trees? That is accurate – in the western half of the state. However, if you head east of the Cascade Mountains, you get an entirely different scene. For the most part, the trees are gone and you will encounter a landscape that looks more like a desert than anything else.
It doesn’t rain nearly as much in Eastern Washington as it does on the western side of the state, but water still plays a prominent role in what you will find when you come to visit. Specifically, the Columbia River is one of the great rivers in the country, and recreational opportunities exists up and down the river – all the way out to the coast where it meets the Pacific Ocean. The river enters the United States in the northeastern corner of Washington, and it winds its way throughout Eastern Washington before forming the border with Oregon and heading out to the coast.
If you like to use your RV to head to beautiful places for fishing trips, the Columbia River offers plenty of those opportunities. The river is far too big and complex to list all of the fishing opportunities here, so you will need to do a little research in order to locate the perfect spot for the kind of fishing that you like to do. Of course, before you head out on a trip, be sure to acquire all of the necessary licenses that you will need to fish legally in the state of Washington.
Plenty of RV Options
RV travel is popular in the Pacific Northwest, meaning you will find many great RV parks – both public and private – that you can consider for your stay. In some places these RV parks will be right along the banks of the river, so you can enjoy great views from right outside your RV window. Since there are numerous dams along the length of the Columbia – many of which provide power to the residents of the state – the river more closely resembles a series of lakes or reservoirs than it does an actual, free-flowing river.
Don’t be fooled by the desert-like appearance of the Eastern Washington landscape – this area is still very cold in the winter months. For the most part, you will want to plan any trip to see the Columbia River for the spring, summer, or early fall. From November through to February you will find that most of Eastern Washington is extremely cold and often covered in snow.
The Columbia River is one of those destinations that you certainly aren’t going to see all at once. However, once you take that initial trip to stay along the shores of the river and perhaps do a little fishing or boating, you just might find yourself wanting to come back again and again.
When you think about traveling to California, what do you picture? For most people, there is a specific list of locations that first spring to mind when California vacations are discussed. Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, San Diego, Napa Valley, Yosemite, Death Valley, Monterey, Big Sur, and the Redwoods are just some of the popular attractions located across this large state. While each of those is a worthy destination in its own right, there is another area that deserves consideration – the Shasta region in northern California.
Both Mount Shasta and Shasta Lake offer stunning scenery just a short drive north from Redding. There are a variety of recreational activities available in the Shasta region, from hiking and climbing to fishing, boating, and more. Those who love the outdoors come from all around California and beyond to enjoy everything that the region has to offer.
Shasta Lake is actually a reservoir formed behind the Shasta Dam. The dam is the ninth tallest in the United States, and it provides both electricity and irrigation water for the Central Valley. It is actually the water of the Sacramento River that creates the lake, which is the third largest body of water in California when it is at full capacity. It is common to see house boats on the lake, along with boaters enjoying water skiing, fishing, and more.
Even if you have traveled extensively around the western half of the United States, Mount Shasta is still likely to be one of the most impressive sights you have seen in person. It is the second-tallest peak in the Cascade Mountains (behind Mount Rainier in Washington), as it stands more than 14,000 feet tall. However, unlike many other tall peaks, there is very little around Shasta in the way of other peaks, making it look even taller as it stands guard over the surrounding lowlands. Whether you are driving along I-5 from the north or south, you will be struck with an incredible view of Shasta on a sunny day – which there are plenty of in this part of California.
A Rural Experience
While you can expect stunning scenery at just about every turn when you visit the Shasta region, don’t expect to find a plethora of amenities or urban surroundings. This part of California is decidedly rural in nature. Once you get past Redding if you are coming from the south, or Yreka if you are coming from the north, you will get to experience a truly natural vacation. The town of Weed sits near the foot of Mount Shasta, but it has a population of under 3,000 people. Despite the rural setting, however, there are plenty of RV parks and campgrounds throughout this region. With a little bit of planning prior to your departure, you should be able to have a great time traveling in your RV exploring Shasta Lake, Mount Shasta, and beyond.
When most people pack up the RV to head to Wyoming, they have one destination in mind – Yellowstone National Park. There is good reason for that, of course. Yellowstone is the original National Park, and it is truly an incredible place. Anyone who loves the outdoors and the natural world should strive to make at least one trip to unforgettable Yellowstone.
With that said, there is another destination within Wyoming that is very much deserving of your attention. Grand Teton National Park is just south of Yellowstone, and it contains many stunning sights of its own. A different landscape than Yellowstone, Grand Teton presents beautiful peaks, abundant wildlife, rivers and lakes, and much more. While it will never be as famous as its neighbor to the north, there is plenty to love about Grand Teton.
Plenty of Bears
One of the first things to know about Grand Teton National Park is that there is an active bear population which must be respected. There are black and grizzly bears within the boundaries of the park, and you should understand proper bear safety before heading out for any hikes or other activities. Of course, it can be a great thrill to see a bear in person, but only from a safe distance. In addition to bears, some of the other wildlife that inhabits the park includes moose, elk, bald eagles, gray wolves, coyotes, and more.
Grand Teton National Park is a wonderland of outdoor activity and adventure. Among the many opportunities that you could find inside the park including fishing, biking, hiking, bird watching, climbing, horseback riding, and more. Some of these activities may be seasonal, so check with the park before planning your trip. Although the park is open year-round, many of the roads within the park will be closed during the winter months.
Pair with a Trip to Yellowstone
As long as you are making the drive in your RV to Wyoming, you might as well see both of these great National Parks in one visit. Plan your stay to include time for exploring both Yellowstone and Grand Teton. While it is unlikely that you will be able to see all of the parks in just one trip, you can at least hit the highlights and hopefully come back another time to see even more.
It might seem like a long trek to take your rig out to Wyoming, but the drive might not be as bad as you think – especially in the summer months when traveling tends to be easier. For instance, the drive is under 15 hours from Los Angeles, under 13 hours from Seattle, and just under 20 hours from Dallas. With good planning, you should be able to incorporate a few other stops along the way depending on where you live, making this a road trip that you will remember for many years to come.
Have you recently purchased your first RV? Congratulations! RV ownership can be a ton of fun, especially once you learn how to use your rig properly. In order to help you get off to the best possible start with your RVing experience, we have listed ten helpful ‘newbie’ tips below. Keep these tips in mind as you plan and embark on your inaugural trip in the new RV.
#1 – RVs Take a Long Time to Stop
Forgive us if this should go in the ‘obvious’ category, but it is a point that needs to be made anyway. Most people are used to driving around town in cars or pickup trucks, but piloting an RV is a different kind of experience altogether. Make sure you give yourself as much room to stop as possible since the weight of these vehicles means they need far more runway than the average sedan.
#2 – You Don’t Need to Pack Your Entire House
It is tempting to pack a ton of gear for an RV camping trip, as you will have quite a bit of space available in the rig. Don’t fall victim to that temptation. Only bring what you need, just as you would when camping in a tent. It is no fun to have to squeeze yourself into tight corners of your RV because you have packed a whole bunch of gear that will never be used.
#3 – Pack from Bottom to Top
Speaking of packing, make it a habit to keep heavier items down low while moving the lighter stuff into higher spaces. Remember, you are going to be driving your RV on the open road, so you want to be logical about weight distribution. Moving heavy stuff up high is going to make the rig less stable overall.
#4 – Buy Food Close to Camp
When possible, plan a stop at a grocery store close to your destination in order to pick up most of your items. You don’t need to haul all of your food the whole way if there is a store near the campground, and it will be easier to keep your food fresh this way.
#5 – Happiness is Being Level
You are only going to be able to enjoy your RV to the fullest if you are able to get it level once in your campsite. Bring along the right equipment for leveling, such as jacks and leveling blocks, and take time to get this task right.
#6 – Master the Sewer
One of the best things about owning an RV is the fact that you have a bathroom on board. One of the worst things about owning an RV is the fact that you are responsible for emptying the tanks associated with that bathroom. Learn how to handle this chore like a pro so you don’t have any smelly problems later on.
#7 – Not Every Road is an RV Road
Just because a road shows up on your GPS as a viable option for your trip does not mean it’s a good choice for your RV. Be smart, avoid narrow, windy roads, and always do your research before setting out.
#8 – Your Checklist is Crucial
Every RV owner should have a checklist of things to pack and review before hitting the road. This list should be a constant companion at the start and end of every trip. There is a lot to remember when traveling by RV, and a good checklist can take the stress out of the process.
#9 – Other RV Owners Are Usually Friendly – But Give Them Space
You should expect to make plenty of friends along the way when traveling by RV. You should also expect to meet some people who would rather be left alone. Be sure to give others the space they request, and enjoy chatting with those who want to make new friends.
#10 – Patience Goes a Long Way
Don’t rush when you are traveling by RV. You shouldn’t be trying to make record time getting to your destination, and you shouldn’t be in a hurry when packing either. This is supposed to be your recreational time, so enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity.