Helpful info for popular destinations

One of our goals in having this blog is to be able to share everything we learn when it comes to RVing and travel. Below is a list of the popular destinations we have been to so far as well as useful travel information. I will continue to add to this list as we travel and give as much feedback as we can. We want to be as helpful of a resource as we can be to make traveling with your family, a smooth experience! Please feel free to contact us anytime if you have any questions. We are still new this RV life and are learning as we go but will try to help in anyway we can!

First off, if you have a 4th grader in your family, your WHOLE family can get into all the National Parks for FREE! You simply go online, fill out a quick form, print it out, bring it to the first park you arrive at and they will give you an official card to get FREE access into all the National Parks. Here is a link to the website. http://http://www.nationalparks.org/ook/every-kid-in-a-park

Destinations we have traveled to:
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Arches National Park: Utah

Closest city- Moab, 5 miles away

Cost to get in- $25.00 per vehicle

Pets-prohibited on all hiking trails and in the backcountry

Visitor center-the visitor center includes interactive exhibits, educational kiosks, a 150-seat auditorium, and a bookstore featuring guide books, maps, and more. The park is open 24 hours/day, 365 days/year; however the visitor center hours vary by season. (435) 719-2299

Accessible services-Visitor center and restroom are wheelchair accessible as well as Park Avenue and Delicate Arch View Points.

Things to see/do- There are over 2,000 arches, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, spires and pinnacles all throughout the park. We took the first road off to the right to see the “Windows” and boy were we not disappointed!! It is worth parking and hiking to get pictures of!

Must do activity outside the park- You have to stop at the giant sandhill located across from the entrance to Arches National Park! You will see lots of cars parked there off hwy 191 with kids and adults alike trying to climb to the top! It looks way easier than it actually is. Everyone must get out of the car and try this! We did this 2 different times because we had so much fun plus it wore the kids out! Win-win! 🙂

FREE camping near Arches- Willow Springs Road, 10 miles from the Arches National Park. Tons of pull off sites for vehicles of all sizes along the road. The road goes way back so just keep driving until you find your perfect spot! This area is known for ATVS but it did not bother us one bit.

Pay campgrounds-ONE campground named Devils Campground is located 18 miles from the park entrance. 7-day limit

Helpful Tips- Hiking up to the “Windows” is not wheelchair or stroller accessible due to the many stairs you have to climb to get to them. However you can enjoy the views from around the parking area. Bring a backpack of snacks and drinks because you will probably be here awhile! Not only did we hike a lot but we also just sat and admired the views for a long time! There are MANY other areas to explore in this park, this is just the only place we explored and we were there for about 3 hours.

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Four Corners National Monument-
(This is the quadripoint where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah all come together)

Closest city-the populated settlement closest to the center of Four Corners is Teec Nos Pos, Arizona.

Cost- $5 per person over 6 years old. Make sure you bring cash because that is all they accept!

Visitor center- there is no visitor center

Hours of operation- Peak Season (Friday of Memorial Weekend – Sept. 15) 8:00am – 8:00pm, 7 Days a week
Off Season (September 16 – October 31) 8:00am – 6:00pm, 7 Days a week
(November 01- March 31) 8:00am – 5:00pm, 7 days a week
(April 1 – May – Thursday before Memorial Weekend) 8:00am – 7:00pm, 7 days a week
* Park CLOSED – Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Things to do here: Wait in line to get the famous picture of being in 4 different states at the same time! Then you can enjoy looking at all the MANY booths the Navajo Indians have set up with all their authentic turquoise and silver jewelry and homemade artifacts.

FREE camping- In order to find a place to camp for FREE, you have to drive a bit to find a place since this area is all Indian reservation. We took US-160 and drove a little over an hour west to Kayenta. We camped overnight behind the McDonald’s in the grocery store parking lot. There were other RVS camping there as well.

Helpful tips-Again make sure you have cash because that is all they take here, even for purchasing souvenirs.

 

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Antelope Canyon (Upper Canyons – the prettiest part of the canyon for photographing!)

Closest city- Page, Arizona

Cost- adults-$48 children over 6-$28 children under 6-$18, again this is CASH ONLY

Recommended tour company-Adventurous Antelope Canyon and ask for Mr. Preston to be your tour guide! http://http://www.navajoantelopecanyon.com
This company was amazing and everyone working there was super sweet. They made us feel like family! There are other tour companies in Page but the ones in downtown clearly let me know they do not like taking children on their tours. Well fine then we don’t like you either. 😉

Helpful tips- The only way to get back to view these canyons is by a private tour because they are on the Navajo reservation.The ride in takes about 15 minutes and is very bumpy! There are NO bathrooms there so make sure you go before you leave for the tour! The tour itself takes about 90 minutes from the time you leave till the time you get back to the parking lot area. I do not think strollers are allowed due to the tight spaces you have to walk through and the many people inside. Plus the ground is loose sand. If you or your child is in a wheelchair you could go inside the first part of the Antelope canyon but probably not too far in due to it getting more narrow. (and again consider the loose sand) If you have a backpack or carrier to wear your child, this is the place to do it! Make sure you have plenty of CASH since that is all they take. Also, the tour guides here will ask to use your camera during the tour. Let them because they know how to get the perfect pictures on the right settings.

Is it worth the money?-Yes!!

FREE camping- We did not camp here in Page but drove towards Jacob Lake on Alt-89 and boondocked on the side of the road. There are several great pull off points along Alt-89 around Jacob Lake as you head towards Fredonia. This took us closer to our destination of Zion National Park!

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Horseshoe Bend: Arizona

Closest city-Page, Arizona

Cost-FREE!

Hours of operation-24 hrs a day, all year round

Visitor Center- There is no visitor center, just a huge parking lot

FREE camping- We did not camp here in Page but drove towards Jacob Lake on Alt-89 and boondocked on the side of the road. There are several great pull off points along Alt-89 around Jacob Lake as you head towards Fredonia. This took us closer to our destination of Zion National Park!

Pay Campgrounds- TWO campgrounds, Squaw Flat and Willow Flat. 14-day limits

Helpful tips- The hike to Horseshoe Bend is about a 3/4 mile walk to the view point and then 3/4 Mike back. Strollers and wheelchairs would not be able to reach the viewpoint due the dirt/rocks and steps. There are no bathrooms along the trail or at the view point. There are also NO guard rails which makes it quite scary!! The view of the Colorado River was spectacular and def. worth the walk there! Horse bend is about a 10 minute drive from where we went on the tour of the Antelope Canyons.

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Zion National Park: Utah

Closet city to the East entrance- Orderville is at the end where US-9 runs into US-89. Kanab, Utah is south 20 miles off US-89.

Cost- $30 per vehicle

Hours of Operation- Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Some services and facilities may close or reduce hours during parts of the year.

Visitor center-You can park at the visitor center or at the History museum just a little ways down if the visitor center is full. At the visitor center you will enjoy walking around the mini village. There is an infomation center, a movie theatre, a brew pub, coffee shop, gift shops and more! You can catch the FREE shuttle buses from the visitor center by crossing over the bridge and heading to the bus pickup area.

FREE shuttle buses- A bus will come to each stop location every few minutes to pick up and drop off. Once on the bus you can decide which stop you want to get off at next based on what trails you want to hike and the sites you want to see! There are bathrooms located at the bus stop locations.

Must see at Zion- The Emerald Ponds is a must see, particularly the middle and upper ponds.This is at stop 5 which is also where the Zion Lodge is located. Most people just hike to the lower pond and go back. I promise you it is worth it hike up to both the middle and upper ponds if you are able to. There is a map at the very beginning of the trail that shows you the distance to each pond and about how long it would take to reach each point. We have never seen anything like these Emerald ponds and the waterfalls coming off the giant canyon walls. If our kids can all do it, ages 1-10, then so can you! Just take your time and enjoy every minute of the hike. The scenes at every turn are magnificent! There are NO bathrooms along the trail so make sure to go before heading up. It took our family about 3-4 hours to go all the way up and then back down. We stopped and played a lot along the way. 🙂 Strollers and wheelchairs could get to the lower Emerald Pond but after that there are stairs to climb to go up further.

FREE camping near Zion- about 20 miles to the east of the East entrance is a great area to boondock. It is on BLM land. I have a separate blog posting showing this amazing FREE campsite. Click here for more info http://www.simplelifefullhearts.com/campgrounds/boondocking-location-near-zion/

Pay Campgrounds-THREE campgrounds, Watchman, South and Lava Point- 14-day limits

Accessible services- visitor center, museum, shuttles and some trails and restrooms are wheelchair accessible.

Helpful Tips- Another reason to enter Zion National Park’s east entrance is you will get to go through 2 awesome tunnels! One tunnel is just over a mile long with windows throughout overlooking the canyon! It cost 1/2 million dollars to build back in the 1920s! Driving through the tunnel itself is an amazing experience! There is a free 22 minute education video about the park that plays at History museum. It plays continuously throughout the day and could be a great option to take a small break. This is at stop 2.

vegas

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

Closest city- Las Vegas

Cost to get in- FREE, take in all the sights as you walk up and down the famous strip here in Las Vegas!

Pets- from what I have read they are allowed from 5am-noon

Visitor center-3150 Paradise Road Las Vegas, NV   – open Monday-Friday 8am-5:30pm    Phone-877-VISITLV

Accessible services-elevators located along the strip if you are not able to sue the escalators

Things to see/do- Beautiful architectural buildings, amazing restaurants, concerts, shows, plays, movies, casinos, museums and more!

FREE camping near the strip- There is a big parking lot behind the Ballys / Paris Casino – 5 minute walking distance to the Strip. GPS coordinates- 36.113059, -115.16587

Pay campgrounds-ONE campground named Devils Campground is located 18 miles from the park entrance. 7-day limit

Helpful Tips-If you are going with your family (kids), go during the day when it is not as crazy and risque!

 

Website where we find majority of our free camping locations. http://www.freecampsites.net

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We have been to a few more neat places over the past week that I want to talk about soon such as our visit to Las Vegas strip,  Joshua Tree National Park and Los Angeles,CA! Here are a few more destinations that are still on our list to explore this next year. I can’t wait to travel to these destinations and share more helpful tips and info in the near future! 🙂

Joshua Tree
Yosemite
Redwoods
Crater Lake
Mt. Rushmore
Death Valley
Yellowstone
Badlands
Mt. Ranier National Park
Space Needle
Denali National Forest in Alaska
Acadia National Park
Finger Lakes
And many more! (We have already traveled and seen a lot of the east coast in the past few years which is why you wont see the cool east coast destinations on the list.)

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