A couple of entries ago we visited Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. In this installment, we will look at many more points of interest an adventurous RVer will want to visit while in the vicinity of the Medicine Wheel.
First off are two nearby waterfalls of considerable size. The first you will encounter is Porcupine Falls. The falls features a 200-foot thundering vertical drop into a pool at the base. The falls can only be viewed from the base requiring a short but relatively steep hike.
The small opening in the cliff-face, about a third of the way up to the right of the falls, is the remnant of a tunnel that used to power a mining operation.
Once you have explored Porcupine Falls, continue north down the road to Bucking Mule Falls.
Many consider Bucking Mule Falls the most impressive waterfall in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. The listed height of the falls varies depending on the source—some claim 300 feet, others say it’s up to a 600-foot drop.
Realistically, the falls are comparable in height to Porcupine Falls. The hike to the falls viewpoint is considerably longer than Porcupine Falls, but not as steep as the falls can be viewed from the top rather than the base.
While the Bighorn Mountains were never a major source of precious metals, some mining did take place in the Bighorns providing some historic places to explore.
Mixed among the beautiful places to boondock in the mountains you will find the remains of Bald Mountain City, the Fortunatus Mill, and a gold sluicing operation.
Here is a short description of the mining activity that occurred:
“Discoveries of fine-grained gold north of Bald Mountain were made in 1890. ‘Gold Fever’ brought many prospectors to the area over the next 10 years. In 1892, the Fortunatus Mining and Milling Company purchased a group of claims on the head of the Little Big Horn River and Porcupine Creek.
The excitement led to the establishment of Bald Mountain City, the most extensive attempt at a settlement in the Big Horn Mountains. Near Bald Mountain City are the remains of the old Fortunatus Mill. The gold rush ended by 1900 because yields were not enough to pay for the effort of panning.”
In addition to the waterfall and historical stops, be sure to keep a lookout for wildlife as you explore, as the area is a mecca for moose, deer, and other animals.
How to get there
The trailhead for Porcupine Falls is just off Forest Service Road 14 at N44° 51.465 W107° 54.770 — Click here for trail details.
The trailhead for Bucking Mule Falls is just off Forest Service Road 14 at N44° 53.049 W107° 54.345 — Click here for trail details.
A sign marking the remains of the Fortunatus Mill can be found along Forest Service Road 13 at N44° 49.394 W107° 49.917
A sign marking the remains of Bald Mountain City can be found along Forest Service Road 123 at N44° 48.393 W107° 47.537
Those wishing to explore the remains of the sluicing operation will find them a short hike off of Forest Service Road 15 at N44° 49.811 W107°44.301
You’ve heard it said, “It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.” Truth be told, with RVing, it’s both.
To enjoy either of those, you need to be able to find an accommodating campsite for your tent, trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome. Whether it’s a quick overnight stop on your way to a National Park, the park itself, or an elaborate full-featured RV resort, the RV Life app will help you get there.
For over a decade, savvy RV veterans have used RV Park Reviews as the definitive source for accurate campground reviews by actual campers. Now, RV Life brings the depth of that exclusive database to your mobile device within the RV Life app.
Unlike other review sources, real RV and camping enthusiasts contribute detailed reviews and photos of campgrounds and park locations they have visited. Over 200,000 unbiased experiences of these travelers are now at your fingertips within the RV Life mobile app.
Find. Review. Stay. Contribute.
Choosing a great campground starts with the excellent filtering capability built into the RV Life app. Tap the Filters button at the top of the map and start narrowing down your campground search. You’ll want to subscribe to the RV Life app to enable the Premium filters such as Park Types and Affiliations.
Work your way down the list and check those features you can’t live without. Whether you choose pets, pools, and pull-throughs or water and Wi-Fi, there is a filter for you. Perhaps you’ll choose to skip the niceties and select the BLM locations and go off-the-grid. The RV Life app lets you do it all.
Now that your choices are more refined you can review the sites that interest you. Tapping a green camper icon on the map reveals a banner at the bottom of the screen with the name of the campground, distance from your current location, and its RV Park Reviews rating.
Tap the banner for a detailed review of the campground, photos, maps, directions and much more. You can even switch to satellite view on the map and zoom in for a closer look to check for ease of access, or get a bird’s-eye view of the park or campground.
Tens of thousands of campers have taken the time to pass on information and opinions of the campgrounds you are interested in. Along with reviews and photos, many reviewers offer sage advice in the Tips for Campers section.
Notes about hosts, the roads, local attractions, and eateries are all found here. You can even use the Questions and Answers feature to find additional information. Tap the Ask a Question button and an anonymous request will go out to others that have stayed in the campground that might be able to provide the answer.
When you return from your trip, take a few minutes to reminisce and open the RV Life app on your mobile device and share your valuable opinions about the campgrounds you visited.
While you’re at it, save the campgrounds you enjoyed the most by tapping the Favorite button. Those favorites will then be identified by a heart icon on the map and listed in the Account section in the RV Life app.
With RV Life, you become a part of the RVing community. The RV Park Reviews integration in the RV Life mobile app ensures that you can have the easiest, most comprehensive way to find, review, stay, and contribute.
An important factor to consider when you’re in the market for an RV is to look at the weight. While purchasing a majority of the travel trailer warrants the purchase of a towing vehicle as well, it isn’t really necessary. There are ultra light travel trailers available in the market if you want to tow your camper with your current vehicle or just spend a decent amount in a towing vehicle that does the job. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 5 best ultra light travel trailers under 1800 lbs dry weight.
What puts an RV on the list: Apart from choosing the lightest towables in the market, we’ve also hand-picked the ones among that bunch which had good reviews among users and critics. Some of these even have more than one floorplan available, giving you some level of variety when you’re interested in one particular brand.
The Top 5 Best Ultra Light Travel Trailers Under 1800 lbs:
Why we recommend the TAXA Outdoors TigerMoth travel trailer: A single look at the specifications of the TigerMoth and its apparent that this camper is definitely one of a kind. It has 2 floorplans that are under 1800 lbs and also has an extremely positive rating: the TigerMoth Camp and the TigerMoth Trek.
The Tigermoth serves as a perfect balance between tailgating and interior features. On the inside, it has LED lighting, USB charging ports and birchwood kitchen. On the outside, you have a grill, bike rack, solar heated shower among features and a decent set of options/upgrades too! Some of those upgrades include but are not limited to a fully enclosed shower tent, a 5000 BTU window AC, mesh screen door for side and many others.
Why we recommend Forest River Rockwood Geo Pro travel trailer: Similar to the Tigermoth, Forest River’s Finest when it comes to ultra light travel trailers is the Rockwood Geo Pro, whose Rockwood Geo Pro 12RK floorplan goes as low as ~1100 pounds in dry weight. A bit more spacious and heavier floorplan is the Rockwood Geo Pro 12SRK, that weighs just shy of 1800 lbs and is 12 feet long.
This cozy camper is also packed with features that you’ll find useful when camping, and even some luxury ones to make your trip comfortable. Some of those features include a stove and grill combo, Wi-Fi booster, power awning, 20,000 BTU furnace among others. They even have options to upgrade its capabilities such as a 13,500 BTU AC and a bike rack!
Why we recommend the Jayco Jay Hummingbird travel trailer: If you need a lightweight travel trailer but one that’s still spacious, it doesn’t get any better than the Hummingbird 10RK travel trailer from Jayco. This sole floorplan that comes under the criteria of being under 1800 lbs dry weight is easily a top choice for anyone looking for ultra light travel trailers.
You’ll find this camper has quite a lot of features for tailgators. Exterior speakers, outside grill, exterior TV bracket and power awning are just some of the bells and whistles that it has. Further than that, it has a super comfy bed on the inside along with a picnic table and residential style countertops if you’re planning on spending the trip indoors. In short, Hummingbird has proved itself as a manufacturer of some of the best ultra light travel trailers in the market.
Why we recommend the Flagstaff E-Pro travel trailer: Akin to its Rockwood cousin, the Flagstaff E-Pro travel trailer by Forest River has an under 1800 lbs floorplan that’s so lightweight that it might as well be considered as a popup camper. The Flagstaff E-Pro 12RK is the one we’re talking about, that’s 11 feet long and sleeps 2 people.
There’s a different set of features provided for the Flagstaff E-Pro 12RK and every other floorplan, but the common ones include outside speakers, Wi-Fi range booster, microwave oven and coleman stove/grill combo among many others. The aforementioned floorplan can also be made better by adding rack mounting bars, 13,500 BTU AC, a 22-inch TV with DVD player and a few others. Hence, it goes without saying that you’re definitely picked the right choice if you prefer the Flagstaff E-Pro as your choice of a towable camper.
Why we recommend Aliner Ascape travel trailer: You probably know about the Aliner Ascape from our post of the top 5 travel trailers under 3,000 pounds. However, the Ascape, is much, much lighter than that. The Ascape MT itself is just 1170 lbs and spans 13 feet, making it quite spacious all things considered. Its other 4 floorplans such as the Ascape Camp are all under 1800 lbs dry weight as well.
This Aliner camper is also just as feature-rich as any other regular travel trailer, which is a feat given its size. From a bluetooth sound bar and a 23-inch TV to 3-way refrigerator and attwood furnace, the Ascape delivers and exceeds every expectation from an ultra light travel trailer!
Popup campers pose a lot of advantages, especially for someone heading into RVing for the very first time. Hopefully this list will provide a good starting point for you and let you know exactly what RVs have to offer without spending a ton of money right at the beginning.
Country music singer Willie Nelson croons about being “on the road again’ and goin’ places that I’ve never been.” When your travels take you on the road to Austin, Texas, be sure to visit Willie’s nine-hole Pedernales Golf Course in nearby Spicewood. The official course name is Willie Nelson’s Pedernales Cut N Putt. The par 36 course measures 3,330 yards.
There is no pretense of a country club feel to this popular course, just an overwhelming country feel! The course opened in 1968, and Willie purchased it in 1979, along with the adjoining recording studio, hence the Cut in Cut N Putt. Over the years, the singer has given the course its down-home feel.
How can you not like a course that allows you to bring your own cooler or wear flip-flops? Another local rule says that a foursome can have as many as a dozen golfers! Hmmm.
2. Pace Bend Park
While experiencing this unique golf course and the surrounding Spicewood area, park your RV at Pace Bend Park, formerly known as Pace Bend State Park. Offering great views of the Texas Hill Country, Pace Bend Park has nine miles of shoreline along Lake Travis.
Though the park features more than 400 primitive campsites, Pace Bend offers 20 improved campsites for RVs. These sites offer water, 30/50 electrical hook-ups, showers, and restrooms. These improved sites, as they are called, are all located on the east side of the park just above Levi Cove.
It’s an easy walk to the lake. They feature plenty of shade trees and flat, grassy areas. All sites are back-in only. Reservations are highly recommended.
3. The area wineries and vineyards
Worth exploring in the area is Spicewood Vineyards. They produce a variety of wines including reds, whites, and a few sweet wines as well.
Much like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu City in Western Arizona is a haven for snowbirds in the winter. This city along the Colorado River has year-round sunshine and endless ways to get outdoors. You can find lots of local shops to browse, restaurants to choose from, and RV resorts with 5-star amenities. The city also claims home to the iconic London Bridge, relocated from England, which now connects the mainland to an island on the river.
The area hosts over 300 events throughout the year, including a few RV rallies coming up soon in Lake Havasu State Park. Make sure you add these events to your calendar for January-February 2019!
1. Buses By The Bridge
Date: January 17, 2019
Cost: Admission: $2 per person (good all weekend). Camping: Thursday-Sunday: $40, Camping Friday-Sunday: $30, Camping Saturday & Sunday: $20
All kinds of Volkswagen buses will be rounding up at Buses By The Bridge. Over the last two decades, this event has become a popular VW rally with classic buses coming in from all over the country. Keep an eye out for panel vans, seven and nine-passenger microbuses, Kombis, and cab pickups.
Besides vintage eye candy, this weekend-long event will have activities for all ages. There will be a bouncy house for the kids while adults can partake in hot air balloon rides, raffles, a chili cook-off, and a cornhole tournament. On Sunday morning, the event will wrap up with a pancake breakfast.
There will be a parking area designated for RVs, campers, motorhomes, trailers, and non-VW vans. The 500+ spaces are first-come, first-served, and pre-registration is not required. You can learn more about the 23rd annual event and see the full schedule from Go Lake Havasu.
2. Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair
Date: January 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – January 13, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
Hot air balloons will again be soaring over Lake Havasu City at the 9th Annual Balloon Festival. You can watch mass ascensions of hot air balloons take off and float over the London Bridge and the Bridgewater Channel. There will also be a Balloon Night Glow, air shows, skydivers, special shape balloons, antique cars, and live entertainment.
Dry camping will be available at the festival just steps from the activities, carnival rides, and vendors. The RV parking includes pricing for 5 nights and 2 festival entrance wristbands.
Tickets are $15 through their website and will also be sold at the gates. Alternatively, they have Gondola VIP tickets available with exclusive food, drinks, VIP parking, and prime views of the balloons.
Vintage campers will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2) from 10am-3pm. They will have dry RV campsites with no hookups, restrooms and showers, and limited power for medical devices.
Pets will be permitted at the event on a leash, but they are not allowed on the beach. You can learn more about the upcoming Vintage Trailer Campout from Go Lake Havasu.
What is boondocking? Well, we’re here to share all about it!
If you love RV living and exploring the USA, boondocking will get you deeper into those rich experiences you desire. It will introduce you to new areas (where the tourists don’t go). And, best of all, it will be kind to your wallet!
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking has a ton of definitions. Almost every RVer defines it uniquely. Boondocking, also referred to as dry camping, free camping, overnight parking and freedom camping, is pretty much camping for free with no hook ups.
While you can sometimes “boondock” at Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Interstate rest stops and truck stops, today we’re focusing on boondocking on public lands.
Aside from being free – our definition also mentions camping “without hook ups”. That means no water connection, no electrical connection and no sewer connection.
Here’s a picture of what boondocking looks like:
How To Find Boondocking Spots
It’s pretty easy to find boondocking sites in the USA. Our favorite resource is Campendium. Once you visit their website, just type in the location where you want to camp and click search. You’ll see a ton of options. Narrow your search to “free” in the price menu and then you’ll see all the boondocking locations!
You can also find great boondocking sites on Free Campsites. Again, just enter the location you want to visit, click search, and SHAZAM, you’ll see all the free campsites!
We also use Allstays to find free camping sometimes. But, if you’re a newbie, just stick to the two above until you get your bearings.
Things To Prepare You For Boondocking
To boondock for more than one day, you’ll need to do a little preparation: make sure your water tanks are full, know the limits of your holding tanks and have a game plan for your power needs.
You can also use solar power. It requires more money and more battery space. If you’re a tech nerd you may want to research it. But, if you’re a total boondocking newbie, a generator is probably your best bet to get you started. You can always upgrade to solar in the future and your generator will still come in handy on cloudy days.
Sure, the list for boondocking etiquette could go on forever…but, we’re just going to cover a few basics.
First, don’t camp too close to the next guy. Fifty yards is a good rule of thumb, but really it all depends on the location. Sometimes you have to park close to your neighbor (like at this free camping spot near Zion National Park). If space allows however, keep your distance!
Second, keep your pets on a leash or under voice control. Your dog may be the nicest pup around, but if he runs over to a neighbors leashed dog, you never know what will happen. For the safety of your pup and everyone else – make sure you have control of it! AND, always pick up dog poop!
Lastly, leave the spot cleaner than when you arrived! Simple and important. Boondocking sites across the USA get shut down every year because of trash.
We publish lists of our favorite boondocking sites every year! You can find all of those below:
Whether you are camping in a National Park or glamping at your favorite motorcoach resort, the words “no internet” can be as scary as an empty fresh water tank or dead batteries.
Even in places with the oft-used but less often implemented “free Wi-Fi”, sometimes the internet can be so slow that consulting your favorite app for a campground or a map to your next stop is impossible.
With a subscription to the RV Life mobile app, the lack of an internet connection is no longer a problem. You can download maps and campground details for the entire US, Canada, and Mexico, or just choose a few key states within your travel path. The RV Life app gives you the ability to explore those maps and campgrounds while offline with no internet connection.
Whether you are in Devils Tower Wyoming or Devils Playground in Utah, you can have access to the rich database of campgrounds backed by RV Life’s exclusive integration with RV Park Reviews.
If it’s your plans that move you or just warmer weather, you’ll have the freedom to find a new destination, wherever you are.
The offline map access is just one of many features in the RV Life app. You’ll find the option to Download Offline Content in the Account section of the RV Life app. Custom built for both IOS and Android separately, the RV Life app uses the natural feel of your device’s native operating system to give you a unique experience on either platform.
Navigate over to the Parks section and the RV Life app will show you a vast array of parks and campgrounds. Too many choices? Narrow down your campground selection by tapping the Filters button and selecting the features that are important to you.
Whether you are looking for those rustic state and National Park sites, or the 50-amp big rig locations with full amenities, the choice is yours with RV Life’s flexible filtering options.
Tapping the green camper icons on the map will reveal a banner at the bottom of the screen with the name of the campground, distance from your current location, and its RV Park Reviews rating.
Just tap the banner for a detailed review of the campground. You’ll also find the address, phone number, and directions to the campground or park you have chosen.
The RV Life app gives you the ability to view maps and campground details on your mobile device, while offline without internet. Subscribe today. Watch for more articles in our RV Life feature series.
One hundred years ago, the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. A year later on the first Armistice Day, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to the American People which in part said,
“To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”
Since that first address in 1919, America and other countries have remembered those who have served in the armed forces via Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, and since 1954, Veterans Day. RVers owe the freedom we enjoy today to those that fought to keep America free.
In some ways, we also owe it to Veterans for the rise of the RV industry as it was G.I.s returning from World War II looking for time away with their family that drove the growth of trailers and truck camper manufacturers in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
I am thankful for those that have served this great country and I hope those of you reading this are too. Many of the fifty states that comprise the United States also wish to thank vets and/or disabled vets by offering them special camping rates to state-operated campgrounds.
By clicking here you can view an alphabetical listing of all fifty states to see what discounts, if any, are offered to veterans or the disabled and what the requirements are to receive the discount.
Are you an RVer who served in the armed forces? Please share what branch you served in and where you served. Thank you for your heroism, service, and sacrifice.
RVing in the home of the brave and land of the free, one of the best adventures in RVing!
Though John Feinstein’s latest release, a young adult novel called The Prodigy is geared to teenagers, the author’s quality writing will entertain any and all readers whether you’re a golf fan or not.
Briefly, the book focuses on golf Phenom Frank Baker. The Connecticut teenager is a fabulous golfer and earns a berth in the Masters, professional golf’s most prestigious tournament held annually in Georgia’s Augusta National every April.
Of course, a novel wouldn’t be a good novel without conflict or several twists and turns. All of which Feinstein marvelously weaves into every page of the 372-page book, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers.
The 17-year-old junior golfing sensation Frank Baker is set to earn a full-ride scholarship to play at the university of his choice. However, his single dad wants him to skip college and turn pro―golf has taken its toll on the family bank account, and his dad is eager to start cashing in on his son’s prowess.
Frank knows he isn’t ready for life on the pro tour―regardless of the potential riches―so his swing coach enlists a professional golfer turned journalist to be Frank’s secret adviser.
The final pages of “The Prodigy” are full of excitement resulting in a feel-good ending, but you have to read it to appreciate it, and it is well worth the effort.
Though the book is a work of fiction, many real-life professional golfers are woven into the story, including Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth to name a few.
In addition to “The Prodigy,” John Feinstein is the author of 35 books, including two number one New York Times Bestsellers: “A Season on the Brink” and “A Good Walk Spoiled.” He is also the author of 10 kids’ mysteries. His first young adult mystery, “Last Shot,” won the Edgar Allen Poe Award.
“The Prodigy” is available at all booksellers and on Amazon.
We bought our Nature’s Head Composting toilet about 3 years ago. We’ve had plenty of time to discover the pros and cons of this unit and we’re going to share our experience with you today. This is the only brand we’ve tried, but we’re currently renovating an Airstream Argosy and we plan to install an Airhead composting toilet, to see what the difference is. We will do a comparison between the Natures Head and Airhead in the future…shall we call it a “head to head”? 😅
What is a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?
A composting toilet is a toilet that treats human excrement by allowing microbes to break down the organic matter into compost. This happens under controlled aerobic conditions and usually in some sort of medium like peat moss or coco coir. However, this process takes months to fully compost, so most RV composting toilets are actually more of a dry toilet.
The biggest brands on the market are Natures Head and Air Head and both have a unique diverting system that separates the urine from the solids to prevent a foul odor from forming. Though to be honest, the urine reservoir can smell really bad when changed. We’ve tried the recommended vinegar and sugar and it doesn’t help much, but we only smell it when emptying the reservoir or after we’ve travelled with a full tank.
We hear a splash of bleach works best for the urine odor, but never use it in the solids compartment or it could kill those microbes doing all the compost work. The composting side typically just smells like soil and have never found it offensive, unless than fan goes out and isn’t able to evaporate the excess liquids.
Why did we Choose a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?
We went with a Nature’s Head composting toilet for a few reasons. We have a ridiculously small black tank on our 16ft 1985 Fiber Stream camper and the composting toilet needs to be changed less often than the original the black tank. It saves a ton of water, none is needed for flushing, so we can be extra conservative with our water and we can get rid of our black tank.
How do you Dispose of the Waste?
Ideally it would be added to a compost pile or bin, but while traveling it can be buried or disposed of in a bag. We wouldn’t recommend burying it, because of the potential of contaminating ground water, the size hole required and that it may not be allowed where you’re camping. We recommend a sturdy bio-degradable bag that can be disposed of in the nearest public use dumpster or trash can. Urine can be dispersed in nature, or emptied in public restrooms.
Is it safe? From all our research this seems to be the safest, recommended method for those of us who travel full time. Our friends Live Small Ride Free wrote a great blog post about proper disposal and the answers they found when contacting EPA and other government agencies.
Thoughts After 3 Years
Our composting toilet has suited our needs and method of travel well. I definitely think there are some design elements with the Nature’s Head that could be improved upon though, especially for the price point. We look forward to trying out the Air Head in our new rig and seeing how it differs. We will report back with our findings!
Overall, we’ve been satisfied with our experience and think we made the right choice in going with a composting toilet. Here are our pros and cons for this unit –
Can remove black tank or add extra gray tank
It’s self-contained, so it can be removed or moved easily
We’ve had to replace the fan about 4-5 times
The compost bin has to be opened to remove the urine bottle
The seat is not comfortable
The agitator does not reach the compost in the corners of the bin