It is that time of year when as we are making plans for the new year, we also like to take a look back over the past year at some of our favorite experiences as fulltime RVers. As RVers, we can certainly cover a lot of ground in the course of a year, and looking back at the diversity of our experiences from surfing to Cajun food, from mountains to the Pacific Ocean, from dry deserts to the Gulf of Mexico; we are reminded of how grateful we are for this lifestyle of change, newness, exploration and opportunity.
Over the past year, our life as fulltime RVers took us to 23 different states and Victoria, British Columbia. While we do believe that every state has outstanding, unique experiences to offer; we also like to evaluate the events of our lives before filing them away in our memories to be pulled out again years from now with a smile. This article is written with the intention to not only remind us later of our adventures, but to inspire you and help you to add places to your own bucket list.
Our Best of 2016 as Fulltime RVers (in no particular order)…
#1 Glacier NP, Montana – This is America the Beautiful: a national park with remote glaciers, alpine meadows, crystalline turquoise water, the Rocky Mountains, aquamarine lakes, mountain goats, roads more like roller coasters, and need I say more? Its name “Crown of the Continent” sums it up. In addition to all that Glacier boasts, it is also a “less” crowded national park due to the treacherous roads that large tourist buses can not use. Don’t get me wrong – it is crowded in the summer, but still much more reasonable to visit than Yosemite, Yellowstone or even Utah’s Mighty 5.
#2 Monterey, California – California is cunning. It entices you with its jewels of Sequoia NP, Yosemite & the Pacific Ocean while quickly siphoning your travel budget behind your back. Since you will be paying more for your experiences in California, you may want to be a little more selective. Monterey was one of our favorite places due to the fact that we could kayak in Monterey Bay for free! We viewed the Pacific all over California, Oregon and Washington; but the best place for us to kayak with seals, sea otters and sea lions along the kelp beds was Monterey Bay.
#3 Yosemite & Sequoia/Kings Canyon NPs, California – While you are visiting California, head inland to these three national parks to get the best of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the largest living trees on the entire planet, and Yosemite – the granddaddy of all national parks first set aside by President Lincoln. Yosemite is typically found on bucket lists, so this shouldn’t be a surprise, but do make time for Sequoia and Kings Canyon during your visit.
#4 Gulf Shores, Alabama – I think all RVers need a place like Gulf Shores on the road; a place where you feel like a part of a great community. Being RVers can sometimes make you miss your sense of community, so finding it on the road can help balance your experience. Gulf Shores is a pleasant experience from beginning to end where some of the best southern hospitality meets delicious oysters and beautiful beaches with warm Gulf waters. While the Florida Gulf coast can at times feel overly commercial and touristy, Gulf Shores feels like Alabama – tradition, friendliness, southern accents and alligators.
#5 Laguna Atoscosa Wildlife Refuge, Texas – If you want to go on an African safari without the expense of the plane ticket, then this is the place for you. Inland from South Padre Island, this refuge is home to neo-tropical birds, nilgai, ocelots, alligators, chacalacas, cara caras, and I am just getting the list started. Have no idea what I am referring to? Then, click here to see Laguna Atoscosa for yourself!
#6 Big Bend NP, Texas – Staying in Texas, make sure that you add Big Bend to your bucket list if you are interested in national parks that are remote, enormous, and have very few visitors. I like to think that Big Bend represents what the creators of national parks envisioned years ago. Big Bend features extreme remoteness allowing the best night sky in the lower 48; the biodiversity of the Chisos Mountain range, the Rio Grande River, and the Chihuahuan Desert; and its “out-of-the-way” location have kept it unspoiled and allow visitors to take in its beauty quietly and in solitude.
#7 Crater Lake NP, Oregon – The water. Enough said.
#8 Florence, Oregon – This was our favorite spot on the Oregon coast for multiple reasons: 1. it was a great location for adventures specific to the Oregon coast such as tidepooling and sandboarding, 2. the town is an authentic, small fishing town, 3. it had a friendly, neighborly atmosphere (not as good as Gulf Shores, but somewhat similar) that is appealing as long-term travelers. This is the type of place that you can visit but still feel like it would be easy to call home.
#9 Superstition Mtn. & Sonoran Desert, Arizona – Superstition Mountain is for adventure-lovers. The rich history and mystery surrounding the mountain, along with the spectacular sky and views are what beckon hikers and fortune-seekers to this part of Arizona. What really enhanced our visit was our RV park, which was in the Sonoran desert and where we experienced coyotes and other wildlife from the comfort of our home on wheels. Chris and I learned that we have a big place in our hearts for the desert that we did not know about prior to RVing. The still heat, blazing sunsets, unique plant life, hard-living wildlife, and Wild West reminiscences have set up lodging in our hearts continuously drawing us back to the deserts we have visited. The Sonoran resides in us.
#10 Victoria, B.C. – And to wrap up our list, I give you Victoria, British Columbia. This was our only trip outside of the U.S., which is part of the reason that it made the list. Victoria is a case-in-point that just by being an American RVer, you can visit Europe! Well, at least a place that reminds you of Europe. Victoria is a beautiful city where you can enjoy wild caught salmon to your hearts content while strolling through the historic British buildings. We left our RV in Washington and took the ferry to Victoria for an overnighter and our only stay in a hotel on the road!
We hope our list inspires you in your travels for this new year!