Best Places To Visit In Southern Arizona For RVers: Patagonia, Arizona

Located in Southern Arizona between Sonoita and Rio Rico on Route 82, the small town of Patagonia is one of Arizona’s best-kept secrets.

Patagonia sits along the Sonoita Creek and is surrounded by the Santa Rita and Patagonia mountain ranges of the Coronado National Forest.

Patagonia
San Raphael Grassland and the Santa Rita Mountains (Photo by Magnus Manske)

Mountain peaks rise nearly 2,000 feet from the desert floor, creating Sky Islands, and provide incredibly diverse geographic environments to host amazing biodiversity.  In a short time, you can explore creeks, canyons, deserts, plateaus, mountains and one of the only remaining high desert short-grass prairies in America, the San Rafael Valley.

The town of Patagonia was originally founded in the early 1900s as a mining town.  Many of the old mining districts are now ghost towns like Mowry, Harshaw, and Duquesne.

Patagonia
The Patagonia Railroad Depot station, built circa 1900 (Photo by Old Pueblo/Wikipedia)

If you have a vehicle that can drive on the narrow, dirt mining roads, it is worth a drive through these old mining camps.  Modern Patagonia is home to around 900 residents and is a thriving community of artists, botanists, weavers, authors, and cowboys.

  • The Patagonia Museum is located in the old grammar school building (1914) and offers opportunities to help preserve the history and culture of the area with community events and activities.
  • The Creative Spirit Artists Gallery is a collective of local artists and authors work.  You will find everything from spiritual to whimsical for every taste.

This diversity of the area also provides world-class birding.  With over 300 bird species (including several rare species) migrating through the area each year, the months of March through September are known as some of the prime birding opportunities.  Hummingbirds, warblers, vireos, orioles, tanagers, songbirds, raptors, finches, and longspurs are just a few of the birds that pass through the area.

For those looking to connect with the natural environment, the Patagonia area offers wide open spaces for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and exploring.  Patagonia is a gateway community for hiking or biking along the Arizona National Scenic Trail, which spans over 800 miles from Mexico to Utah.

patagonia
The Arizona National Scenic Trail with Picketpost Mountain in the distance (Photo by Sonoradocent/Wikipedia)

The surrounding Coronado National Forest is a great place to camp, with both campgrounds and dispersed locations available.  There are also great biking and hiking trails, horse-friendly areas, and lake recreational areas, such as Parker Canyon Lake and Peña Blanca Lake.

Patagonia and the surrounding area offers a wonderful array of activities and interests.  A trip through the area is well worth your time if you are in the Tucson area.

See also: 8 Scenic Lakes For Camping In The Southwest



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4 Best Places To Visit In Great Falls, Montana For RVers

Great Falls sits along the Upper Missouri River and has been inhabited since about 10,000 years ago when the area was used as hunting grounds by the Salish and Blackfeet tribes.

The infamous Lewis and Clark Expedition brought the first white people to visit the area in 1805.  The town developed and was founded in 1883 as an industrial city that could be reached by steamboat and powered by hydroelectricity provided by the series of five waterfalls in close proximity.  Today, each of these waterfalls supports a hydroelectric dam that helps provide power to the city.

Great Falls is known for its diverse landscape, historical significance, and emerging art and cultural scene.  Ranchers, artists, students, and outdoor enthusiasts intermingle creating a unique cultural fabric in Montana’s third largest city.  If you are visiting or traveling through Great Falls, there are some fantastic parks that you should visit.

Great Falls
The duck ponds at Gibson Park in Great Falls, MT (Photo by Montanabw/Wikipedia)
1. Take a Walking the Dead Tour.

A great way to explore some of the local history of the Great Falls area is to hear the stories of the past residents.  Great Falls hosts an annual Walking the Dead tour at the Highland Cemetery.

You can walk or take a hayride to visit the featured graves and hear from storytellers who have delved into the authentic history of each person’s legacy to tell their story as accurately and respectfully as possible.  Often it is a family member telling the story.

Proceeds from the tour go to the People’s Park and Recreation Foundation to be used for civic improvements like planting trees at the cemetery and painting the bandshell in Gibson Park.

2. Visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Another great way to explore Great Falls history is to visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, where you can visit the largest collection of artifacts, information, and exhibits of the Lewis and Clark trail around the Great Falls area.

The expedition spent more than a month exploring the area, encountering hardship and danger as they trekked 18 miles, carrying their canoes, equipment, and supplies to bypass the five waterfalls along the Missouri River.

3. Stroll around Giant Springs State Park.

Located next to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, this beautiful area includes one of the largest freshwater springs in the United States.  The spring is formed by an opening in the Madison Aquifer that discharges about 240 cubic feet of water per second.

Great Falls
The Giant Springs next to the Missouri River near Great Falls (Photo by Montanabw/Wikipedia)

Some of the water is bottled for human consumption and is also used for a trout hatchery.  The park stretches along the banks of the Missouri River and includes several hiking trails and fishing areas.

4. Unwind at the Sip ‘N Dip Lounge at the O’Hare Motor Inn.

The Sip ‘N Dip takes you back to the era of tiki theme bars.  It opened in 1962 and has become a bit of a cultural destination in recent years thanks to being mentioned in GQ magazine as the “#1 bar worth flying for”, on the CBS Sunday Morning show, and the New York Times as the “Campiest Place on Earth”.

Great Falls
Tiki mermaids swim at the Sip N Dip Lounge (Photo by VSmoothe/Wikipedia)

As strange as it may seem to have a northern land-locked area known for a tiki bar, the Sip ‘N Dip features attractions like swimming mermaids and mermen that can be viewed through a window from the bar to the pool, and “Piano Pat”, the octogenarian jazz piano player that has been playing at the bar since 1963.

There are several RV parks in and around Great Falls, including Dick’s RV Park, the Malstrom AFB FamCamp, as well as boondocking sites in the Little Belt Mountains a short drive away.

See also: Golfing In Great Falls, Montana



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Tips For New RVers, First RV Camping Trip Checklist

Did you take the plunge and buy your first RV at one of the RV shows this winter? Are you getting ready to hit the road and head out on your first camping trip? Listed below is a brief, yet important checklist to ensure a great and safe season without any problems.

RV checklist
Follow these key tips and start your first season without any issues.

1. Choose the right route

If your choice was a larger rig, be sure to plan your trip to avoid traveling roads that have overpasses too low for you to safely clear or twisty roads and streets that are too narrow to comfortably navigate.

Plan ahead and research the most favorable route to get to the campground without having to deal with these challenges along the way. It’s also a good idea to book a campground in advance as well. You can easily plan your travels and find campgrounds on RV Trip Wizard.

2. Level your RV upon arrival

Always take the time to level your RV upon arriving at your destination. This is essential to do, even after the longest of journeys.

Not only can it be very uncomfortable when you are trying to relax or sleep inside the RV, but it can cause your unit (especially the refrigerator) to not function properly. Level your RV when you arrive at camp so you don’t have to be concerned with any issues later on.

Remember To Pull The Wheel Chocks
Remember to pull the wheel chocks

3. Remove the wheel chocks before departing

You just enjoyed the weekend camping, and everything is all packed up, put away and ready for the drive home.

However, when you shift into drive, your rig doesn’t want to move. Resist the temptation to step on the gas a little harder as it is very likely your wheel chocks (which prevented your rig from rolling away during the weekend) are still in place.

If you are lucky, other campers weren’t watching and you can covertly go remove them. Putting chocks away is typically one of the last things you will do before heading out, and it happens more than you think.

4. Don’t drive away while still connected

If you have been hooked up to water, sewer, power, or all three while camped, it is obviously important to ensure you are disconnected before departing the campsite with the RV.

This could prove expensive to your RV or campsite utilities in the process of trying to drive away. Always double check that your RV is free and clear and ready to hit the road before you actually pull out of your campsite.

5. Don’t stay at home too often

If you make the commitment to buy an RV, then you should make the commitment to set time aside and use it as frequently as possible. Even if you can only escape for short trips, look for fun and interesting places to RV that aren’t too far from home.

In Western Washington, where I live, we are blessed with so many places to RV close to home. Ocean beaches, Puget Sound, the Cascades, and Eastern Washington are all within easy reach for a weekend RV getaway.

While making mistakes is just human nature, you can avoid them with a little forethought and effort, which can possibly save you from costly repairs or operating your RV in an unsafe manner. Damaging your RV during your first outing is one adventure in RVing nobody needs to experience.



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6 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME RVERS TO GUARANTEE A GREAT RV TRIP

We’re the Hambricks, a family of four with a two and four-year-old. While we’ve traveled a lot, we’d never had the pleasure of taking an RV trip. As excited as we were, we knew it would be different than any other trip we’ve been on and might call for more preparation. Here are some things we learned planning and during our trip that will be useful for other first time RVers.

 

You Don’t Have to Buy an RV to Get the RV Experience, Just Rent One!

Did you know you could have an RV experience without owning an RV? Renting an RV is really simple! We rented ours from Outdoorsy, it’s like an Airbnb for RVs. The process was easy and the owner we rented from told us everything we needed to know before we drove off. We recorded what he said and showed us so we could reference back in case we forgot something on the road.

 

 

The Different Types of RVs and How to Choose the Right RV for You

There are three different types of motorhomes: Class A, Class B, and Class C.

 

Class A Motorhomes are the biggest ones and resemble coach buses. In all honesty they probably aren’t the best option for first timers unless you’re used to driving tour buses or tractor-trailers.

 

Class B Motorhomes are camper vans. They are sprinter vans that have been converted into a living space. This means the bathrooms and walking space is extremely tight. Your shower and toilet will be in the same space and the max sleeping capacity is typically two people.

 

We rented a Class C Motorhome. It is a motorhome on the chasse of a truck or a van. They provide a good amount of space and come with multiple beds, dining table and full bathroom. Here’s the inside of the one we rented.

 

 

In addition to the motorhomes there are also multiple types of RVs that are towable units, meaning that you pull it with a truck or SUV.

 

Do You Need a Special License to Drive an RV?

In most states, RVs weighing under 26,000 pounds don’t require a special license. But Class A RVs are the only ones that could potentially weigh more than 26,000 pounds so if you plan on driving a Class B or C you should be fine. You can double check with the state’s DMV for updated information and these rules sometimes change.

 

Know the Height of Your RV

Why is knowing the height of your RV important? Depending on where you are driving you may have to go through tunnels or drive under bridges. Your hood scraping the ceiling and you getting stuck is not the time to learn your RV is taller than the height limit. While driving through Zion National Park there is a tunnel that RVs over a certain height can only go through during certain times of the day. If you need to drive through and miss the cut off time the roundabout way adds 2 hours on to your journey!

 

Making an RV Camp Reservation: Do You Really Need To and What Type of Spot Should You Reserve?

I am a big planner so naturally I wanted to make sure we had all our RV camp reservations secured before getting on the road. Was this really necessary? I think it depends on when and where you are going.

 

We traveled out West in late November when the weather starts to get very cold. While the weather meant there were fewer RVers and making a reservation wasn’t really necessary to get a spot it also meant not all RV camps were open. When calling some closer to Bryce Canyon I discovered they were closed for the season. Had I not called ahead to make a reservation we could have been left in a situation of having spotty cell phone service making it difficult to find another RV camp to stay at. The nearest one open one was 90 minutes away so I’m really happy we planned ahead.

 

When making your reservation some parks will give you the option of a pull-through or back in spot. Always go with the pull-through, they are much easier to get in and out of.

 

 

 

Some RV parks have different hook up options. When booking your RV campsite, you need to know if your RV is 30 or 50amp to make sure you book the correct spot. Some RVs do come with an adaptor to hook up to either, but many don’t so make sure ahead of time if you’ll need one or not.

 

 

Know Where You Can Replenish Your Propane Along Your Route

Depending on the RV you have your stove and central air including the heat may run on propane only. This means even if you are hooked up to electricity, without propane you will not be able to cook or stay warm in the winter. Filling up the propane in an RV can only be done by a professional and not all propane refill stations service RVs. It’s imperative you know where you can fill up along your route or you could be hungry or freezing!

 

 

Double Check Your Destination Has RV Parking

If you’re not pulling a travel trailer and have a motorhome like us parking can be a little tough in some locations. Make sure each of your destinations has parking for RVs. Even if they do, space might be limited so always give yourself extra time to find parking in case you have to go to a different RV parking lot.

 

These tips should help make your first RV trip one without many hiccups. One thing we learned was the RV community is very helpful. When in doubt just ask a fellow RVer and they will usually be happy to assist you. Enjoy your first RV trip and good luck with not wanting to immediately purchase one when you get back home!

 

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Tips For New RVers And Seasoned RVers

New Years is a time to reflect back upon the year that has passed and a time to anticipate what the coming year holds. I have been writing this blog for over ten years and as I reflect on the hundreds of thousands that have read my blog entries over those years, I really have no idea who my readers are.

Are you old, young, male, female, longtime RVers, just entering the lifestyle, live in the west, live in the east, maybe you live abroad, pet owner, some may just be looking for interesting places to travel? I suspect there is a mix of everyone I just listed.

resolutions
Boondocking in the sun. Photos via author

As I shared in my last post, I have been camping and enjoying the RV lifestyle my entire life. I can remember the days before RVs had gray tanks, you didn’t need a battery to operate your furnace or refrigerator, and most travel trailers were pulled by cars.

On the RV industry side of the equation, I have held every position in an RV dealership other than bookkeeping (my wife handled that end of things), so I understand how the industry (sales and service) works, its strengths and weaknesses.

In those ten years that I have been blogging, millions of new RVs have been purchased, some by those already enjoying the RV lifestyle and others just joining in the fun. While I don’t have statistics to confirm it, I bet there have been over a million first time RV owners during that time.

New Years
Author speaking at FMCA Convention

That said, I would love to help my readers (whoever you are—old, young, seasoned, or new to the RV lifestyle) reach your New Year’s RV resolutions by addressing items you are looking to tackle in the months to come.

Maybe it is camping more often, being a better dry camper, finding out-of-the-way places to explore, keeping certain parts of your RV maintained, what type of RV is best for me, etc.

Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to give me a rough idea of who you are and what you would love to hear about in future blog posts.

While it is unlikely I can respond to everyone’s request, I will do my best to write entries that address the subjects I am qualified in and of interest to many. Hope to hear from you soon and may your New Year hold many adventures in RVing!

See also: 5 Free Resources For Your New Year’s Resolutions



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Gift Ideas For RVers For Christmas And Birthday Presents

Looking to buy a gift for a seasoned RVer? The problem with buying a gift for someone that RVs full-time or has been on the road for years is they either already own it or don’t have room for it in the RV.

Therefore, consider gifts that are small and/or consumable. Let’s take a look at a few ideas:

1. State recreation passes

The majority of RVers enjoy exploring and camping on public land. Consider buying them a pass that allows them to recreate in their home state.

A majority of states require a day pass to enter their state park system, some even provide a discount on overnight camping. In Washington State, a Discover Pass also allows entry into Fish and Wildlife Areas and Department of Natural Resource land where there are thousands of free places to camp.

gift ideas
Free camping via Discover Pass. Photo by author

In Arizona, there are thousands of acres of land held in trust that can be accessed via an annual permit that allows day use and free overnight camping.

2. A Forest Service Pass

A Forest Service Pass allows the pass holder access to developed amenities on forest service land like trailheads, boat launches, and points of interest.

On occasion, they even take the place of overnight camping fees. Passes are available for different regions and are good for 12 consecutive months.

3. An all-access pass to National Parks & more

An America the Beautiful Pass will allow your RV friends access to National Monuments, National Parks, fee access sites managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and more.

gift ideas
These interagency passes are good for one full year from the month they’re purchased. Read more on Do It Yourself RV.

Those with an America The Beautiful Pass typically can access all (USFS) sites so they won’t need a Forest Service Pass as well. The America the Beautiful Pass expires annually until the age of 62 at which time the recipient is eligible for a lifetime pass.

4. Emergency services membership

Another gift that expires annually is a membership for Emergency Roadside Towing, which will bring peace of mind to you and your RVing friends.

Be certain to purchase them a policy that covers RVs. AAA and Good Sam both offer policies designed for RV owners and have lots of discounts and rewards for their members.

5. Fuel gift cards

Consider getting your RVing friend a Flying J/Pilot gift card they can use to buy motor fuel, propane, or pay for dump station fees.

gift ideas
Fuel gift cards are perfect for RVers. Photo by bamaspiveys on iRV2 Forums

Gift cards are available from most any store that offers gift cards or from a variety of online sources.

6. A roll of quarters

Every RVer has to do laundry while on the road, so why not save them a trip to the bank to pick up a roll of quarters for the laundromat?

Buying the perfect gift for an RVing friend will help them enjoy their next adventure in RVing!



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Easier Permits for Arizona’s BLM Boondocking RVers and Campers

Are you one of the thousands of BLM boondocking RVers flying south to Arizona this winter? If so you’ll love having one less thing to do before setting up camp in Yuma or Quartzsite.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) short and long term visitation area (LTVA) permit system is now digital at YourPassNow.com.

BLM Boondocking Permit Changes in Arizona, Other Destinations

Quartzsite LTVA
Arizona BLM boondocking just got easier.

Whether you’re joining snowbird crowds and headed to a Quartzsite RV rally, boating on the Colorado River or making family road trip plans to the Grand Canyon, now you can buy your recreation permit before ever leaving home.

“Purchasing a permit through YourPassNow offers our visitors improved access to recreational opportunities on public lands,” said William Mack, Jr., BLM’s Colorado River District manager. In a recent press release outlining the service,Mack reported that “This digital service will greatly improve the convenience of visiting LTVA sites for our visitors and streamline our internal BLM fee collection process.”

Between September 15 and April 15, BLM permits are required in many camping areas. For example, any camper who enjoys cheap or free BLM boondocking in popular BLM Long Term Visitor Area dispersed camping destinations like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu and Yuma must have visible BLM parking decals on their rig. Boaters cruising along the 155 miles of lower Colorado River managed by the agency must also have permits.

How the New BLM Permit System Works

Remember when you had to arrive at a BLM LTVA during business hours to get a permit before setting up camp? The new YourPassNow.com website gives you the ability to secure a permit online before ever leaving home.

After completing the online purchase process, you must print the receipt as proof of your purchase. Upon arrival in LTVA areas, you then trade it for visible BLM parking stickers. Buyers can obtain the decals during normal business hours at three LTVA stations:

  • La Posa LTVA – Tyson Wash Contact Station
  • Imperial LTVA Contact Station
  • Yuma Field Office

Once exchanged for the official permit and decal, the LTVA permit is valid for BLM boondocking at all of the Bureau of Land Management LTVAs:

  • Hot Spring
  • Imperial
  • La Posa
  • Midland
  • Mule Mountain
  • Pilot Knob
  • Tamarisk

The LTVA permits are special recreation area permits authorizing permit holders to use the LTVAs. These areas that designated as highly impacted “special areas” by the BLM. The new permit system website makes life easier for the tens of thousands of BLM boondocking enthusiasts who enjoy low cost winter camping in Arizona. Buyers must keep in mind that no discounts apply to the LTVA long term or short-visit permit fee. Unused or unwanted permits are non-refundable.

Get Permits for Many Other Destinations

BLM boondocking permits

The system is the result of a partnership between the BLM Yuma Field Office and NIC Inc., a digital government services provider. YourPassNow is the latest big news from the BLM. It’s the easiest and fastest way for road trippers to purchase advance permits. The service is good for many other popular camping destinations like Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park and Colorado National Monument.



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2019 Winter Events In Lake Havasu City, Arizona For RVers, Campers

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!

Lake Havasu City
Buses by the Bridge. Photos via Facebook

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
  • Location: Lake Havasu State Park

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
  • Cost: $15+ tickets, Camping costs TBD
  • Location: Lake Havasu State Park

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.

Lake Havasu City
Havasu Balloon Festival. Photos via Facebook

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.

Map via Go Lake Havasu

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.

Tents are not permitted and single nights are not available. Learn more about camping at the festival.

3. Lake Havasu Vintage Trailer Campout

  • Date: January 31, 2019 – February 2, 2019. Trailers are open to the general public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2), 10am-3pm. 
  • Cost: Park entry is $3 per person; Camping costs TBD

If you love vintage trailers, you won’t want to miss the 5th Annual Vintage Trailer Campout hosted by Tin Can Tourists. This year’s event will be held by the white sandy beach in Lake Havasu State Park and have lots of cool antique trailers on display.

Vintage Trailer Campout. Photo: Tin Can Tourists

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.

Lake Havasu
Vintage Trailer Campout. Photo: Go Lake Havasu

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.

See also: 8 Southwest Towns You Need To Visit This Winter



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Top 5 Best Pop-Up Campers for First Time RVers

Getting into RVing is definitely a very exciting experience, partly due to being away from technology and enjoying fresh, unpolluted air when camping and partly due to RVs of 2018 actually offering some pretty exciting features and being really affordable for first timers to get a gist of this life before getting a more expensive rig or upgrading their current one. Keeping that in mind, here’s a list of the top 5 best pop-up campers for first time RVers.

What puts an RV on the list: In our list of the possible candidates, the pop-up campers that made this list were the ones that provided a good sleeping capacity, were the most recent ones for state-of-the-art features and have a decent amount of options for upgradability. After all, you don’t purhcase an RV everyday!

The Top 5 Best Pop-up Campers For First Time RVers:

  1. Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Campers
  2. Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper
  3. Sylvansport Go Pop-up Campers
  4. Jayco Jay Series Sport Pop-up Campers
  5. Forest River Rockwood Premier Pop-up Camper

#1. Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Campers

The Diverse And Novice-Friendly Camper!

View All Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
15 1503-3065 lbs 2-7 12-21 feet

Why we recommend the Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Camper: Coachmen’s clipper is one of the few pop-up campers out there with a huge number of floorplans as well as an extremely positive rating, which is quite a feat in itself. They’re obviously lightweight as well, tipping the scales at 1503 lbs in the Clipper floorplan to 3065 lbs in the Clipper floorplan. I can also hold 7 people at once in a few floorplans, which is great if you’re traveling with many people and need a place to kip at night but spend most of your other time outdoors.

As far as features go, the clipper features a sturdy tubular steel frame coupled with laminated aluminum skin walls on the outside. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by the walnut cabinetry, LED lighting, residential countertops amongst other bells and whistles you don’t normally notice in a pop-up camper. In essence, it’s one of those pop-up campers that’s great for first time RVers as well as for the ones who wish for a little more luxury in their RV.

Key Features:

  • 15 different floor plans available
  • Tubular steel frame
  • LED exterior lights
  • Walnut cabinetry
  • 12-Volt LED interior lights
  • Residential laminated countertops

Video Overview:

 

#2. Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper

Mobile Luxury Available in 3 Flavors!

View All Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
3 3249-3721 lbs 6-7 19-21 feet

Why we recommend Forest River Flagstaff High Wall pop-up camper: Forest River’s flagstaff series is a series you’ve probably heard of as they feature brands in various RV categories. It also has over 5 different brands in the pop-up categories of which we found the Flagstaff High Wall to be the best not only because of its sleeping capacity, but also due to the fact that it its quite roomy as well, spanning 19 feet even in the shortest of its 3 floorplans; the Flagstaff High Wall, the Flagstaff High Wall and the Flagstaff High Wall.

Apart from the bare essentials, the Flagstaff High Wall has a few extra features thrown into the mix. Examples include the three-speed ventilation fan, USB charging ports, microwave, 3-burner cooktop among others. If you want more out of this rig, they also have a few options available. Check out their website for more details on this awesome pop-up camper for fist time RVers.

Key Features:

  • 3 different floor plans available!
  • Electric water pump
  • Residential style raised panel doors
  • Wood drawers with full extension metal guides
  • USB charging ports
  • Three speed ventilation fan

Video Overview:

 

#3. Sylvansport Go Pop-up Campers

Lightweight Camping Made Affordable and Easy!

View All Sylvansport Go Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
2 840 lbs 4 11 feet

Why we recommend the Sylvansport Go pop-up camper: The Sylvansport Go gained quite a lot of popularity among those who are on the lookout for a pop-up camper that is affordable and is quite portable. Weighing at a super light 840 pounds, it features 2 floorplans: the Go Standard Model and the Go Go floorplan. Both of them are identical in nearly every aspect, with the Standard model offering a little more transport capabilities.

The Go also offers many features in a compact space such as stargazing windows, insulating bed platforms to keep you warm if camping during winter, awnings in the entrance and the rear among many others. It even has a few options available such as an extension kit, self-inflating camp mattress, camp and travel organizer, and the list goes on. Needless to say that the Go is definitely one of, if not the best pop-up campers for first time RVers.1

Key Features:

  • 2 different floor plans available
  • Waterproof gear storage in top camping pod
  • Self lubricating hubs
  • Cast aluminum wheels
  • Multiple configurations for carrying gear
  • Excellent ventilation

Video Overview:

 

#4. Jayco Jay Series Sport Pop-up Camper

An Example of What Makes a Perfect Pop-up Camper!

View All Jayco Jay Series Sport Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
4 1720-2385 lbs 4-7 11-18 feet

Why we recommend the Jayco Jay Series Sport pop-up camper: Similar to the Flagstaff, the Jay Series has its roots in the pop-up camper line as well, and the Sport brand over here is nothing short of impressive, akin to its travel trailer cousin that goes by the same name. It has 4 floorplans that offer a maximum sleeping capacity of 7 and is 18 feet long (Jay Series Sport). If you’re looking for a cozier and an even lighter option, then the Jay Series Sport is the one for you.

The Jay Series Sport offers a lot in the features department as well. It primarily focuses on tailgators (which is common for people who buy pop-up campers anyway), which is clear when you notice the canopy awning wide enough to hold a table and some chairs completed with a dedicated space for an outside stove. However, head on inside and it’s just as comfortable with stereo speaker, A/C, bunk lights, 2 cubic feet refrigerators among others. As with our other choices of the best campers for first time RVers, the Sport also features many expansions, which we recommend taking a look at by clicking on the link above!

Key Features:

  • 4 different floor plans available
  • Integrated A-frame by norco
  • Removable bed braces with storage bag
  • Acrylic sink and faucet
  • Reversible dinette cushions
  • Area prepped and wired for stereo

Virtual Tour:


 

#5. Forest River Rockwood Premier Pop-up Camper

Short and Sweet!

View All Forest River Rockwood Premier Pop-up Camper Floorplans!

No. of Floorplans Unloaded Weight Sleeps Length
4 2698-2831 lbs 7-8 19 feet

Why we recommend Forest River Rockwood Premier pop-up camper: Another one of Forest River’s crazy successful lineup is the Rockwood which offer versatility, durability and are priced reasonably. The Rockwood Premier pop-up camper is a perfect example of this. It has 4 floorplans which are under 3,000 pounds dry weight and under 5,000 pounds GVWR. It also has a sleeping capacity between 7-8 people meaning this is definitely the one for you if your camping trips always involve a group of people. We recommend checking out the Rockwood Premier and the Rockwood Premier floorplans.

The Rockwood Premier has a lot to offer which is clear when you head on inside and notice the tinted vinyl windows, maple interior, USB charging ports and other doodads. It goes without saying that such a great pop-up camper also features lots of upgrade options such as 15,000 BTU air conditioner, bike rack, 40W solar panel and a screen room with privacy panels for instance. All in all, the rockwood premier is another solid choice if you’re looking for great pop-up campers.

Key Features:

  • 4 different floor plans available
  • 12V safety breaker
  • LP leak and carbon monoxide detector
  • Solar panel prep
  • Five piece sectionalized vinolon supreme tenting
  • Tinted vinyl windows

Virtual Tour:


Check out these similar RV reviews!

Top 5 Best Class A Motorhomes With Slide Outs

Top 5 Best 2018 Motorhomes With Bunk Beds For The Kids

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Pop-up 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.

BEFORE you head to a dealer to see these trailers, download your FREE RV Buyers Worksheet for help keeping track of:

  • The feature must-haves that are important to you and your family
  • Which brands or manufacturers you like
  • Budgeting tools including a payment calculator resource
  • Multiple well spaced pages with room for lots of your notes
  • BONUS Resources: Trade-in values, tow vehicle ratings, and finance options

Share with us your favorite pop-up campers for first time RVers in the comments below!



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Emergency Gear For RVers, Campers, And Travelers

You’ve probably had people tell you to “be positive” or “don’t worry.” While optimism is a valuable trait in many situations, you shouldn’t let it prevent you from knowing what to do in a crisis or buying the right emergency gear.

emergency supplies
When setting out on the road, you should always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Photo by Mark Holloway/Flickr

In-the-moment emergency supplies

  • Window breaker/Seatbelt cutter tool: If your RV is in an accident and ends up sinking in a body of water, this tool is a lifesaver (literally). It is capable of slicing cleanly through a locked seatbelt and easily breaking glass windows. The tool attaches to a keychain for easy access.
  • First-aid kit: From minor cuts and scrapes to large-scale injuries, it always pays to be prepared. You should always keep a first-aid kit in your car and RV for unexpected emergencies.
  • Fire extinguisher: This is an obvious one, but always make sure you keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible spot in your RV. In addition to purchasing a standard extinguisher, you can install an automatic extinguisher system in the engine compartment, behind the fridge, or throughout the rig.
  • Emergency information card: In case you are involved in an accident and are unconscious when help arrives, be sure to keep an emergency information card in your wallet or pocket at all times. You can buy one to fill out, or make your own with a laminator. Make sure to include your blood type, allergies, and emergency contacts.
  • Pepper spray: You should always have a way to defend yourself, especially while camping. Who knows when some creep is going to sneak out of the woods in the middle of the night? This pepper spray attaches to your keychain and sprays up to 10 feet.
  • Bear spray: Bear spray can be a valuable asset when camping in the woods or mountains, especially in Alaska. With a range of 35 feet, it allows you to stop wild animal attacks before they happen.
emergency equipment
Glowsticks and/or a good flashlight are essential. Photo by Félix Batista/Flickr

Long-term emergency supplies

  • Bottled water: In the event that something happens to your holding tanks and you are stranded far from civilization, it’s important to have an extra water supply. Keep enough bottled water for your group stored away in your RV.
  • Water purification tablets: If you’re low on storage, an alternative to packing bottled water is to pack water purification tablets. These can cleanse natural water sources of harmful bacteria and make them safe to drink in just 30 minutes.
  • Flash drive: It t may not seem like an emergency item, but a waterproof flash drive containing a will, vehicle titles, and other emergency documents is much more practical than carrying around loads of paperwork.
  • Analog compass: If you end up stranded in a remote area, a good old-fashioned compass is a necessity. Yes, a compass app is available for most smartphones, but if your phone dies, you’ll want a backup navigation system. A paper map of the area is a good idea as well.
  • Glow sticks: During a long-term emergency without electricity, glow sticks are a reliable and waterproof way to produce light. Use them to find your way through the RV, make necessary repairs, or get the attention of rescuers.
  • Batteries: Make sure you pack extra batteries to power devices like flashlights, radios, and walkie-talkies. The last thing you want is for the batteries in all your emergency electronics to die.
  • Portable smartphone charger: A portable smartphone charger can be useful if you wind up with a dead RV battery, especially when you can get a cell signal. This one is waterproof, solar powered, and features a built-in compass and flashlight.
  • Hand crank radio: When you don’t have cell service, you’ll need another way to get weather updates. This hand crank emergency radio warns you about threatening forecasts and requires no battery. It also features a USB port for charging your smartphone.
  • Solar battery charger: Prevent your RV battery from dying by hooking up a weatherproof solar trickle charger. Even on cloudy days, this solar panel can convert sunlight into electricity and keep your battery fully charged.
emergency
Warning triangles. Photo by StockUnlimited

Roadside emergency supplies

  • Jumper cables: Jumper cables are an essential part of any roadside emergency kit. If your RV or tow vehicle battery dies, you’ll want to restart it. Just hope that another car comes along and is willing to help.
  • Tow strap: There’s always the chance that your RV could get stuck, especially if you’re camping on the beach. This tow strap can pull up to 11,000 pounds and save your vehicle.
  • Emergency flares: Although traditional roadside flares are a common choice, these electronic ones are brighter and last for up to 12 hours. They are also safer and more environmentally friendly, as they don’t release dangerous chemicals or create a fire hazard.
  • Wheel chocks: Use wheel chocks when parking your trailer to prevent it from rolling away, either at the campsite or on the side of the road during an emergency. They might seem like an unnecessary precaution, but the second your trailer starts to leave without you, you’ll wish you had used the chocks.
  • Warning triangles: Give other drivers time to slow down by placing emergency warning triangles along the road behind your broken-down vehicle. You can use these during the day or at night.
  • Safety whistle: If your vehicle malfunctions and you end up stranded without cell service, a safety whistle can save your life. Use it to signal to anyone within a mile.
  • Motor oil: Don’t get stuck without motor oil. Bring some with you so that you can change it if you need to, and bring a funnel to make it easier on yourself.
  • Extra fuel: When camping, it’s easy to run low on fuel far from a gas station. Keep a supply of extra gas or diesel with you, and avoid becoming stranded in the wilderness.
  • Cash: Not many people carry cash with them these days, but you should definitely keep some in your tow car or RV. You never know when you’ll want to thank someone for their help in an emergency (or bribe them to help you).
emergency
When you’re out in the boondocks, you can’t always call AAA. Photo by Jeremy Holmes/Flickr

Emergency repair supplies

  • Extra fuses: It may not be a life-threatening emergency, but blowing a fuse in your RV can definitely make your trip less enjoyable than you planned. Pack extra fuses and avoid the issue altogether, but be sure to check what type of fuse your vehicle uses.
  • Toolkit: It’s good to have some basic tools with you for any minor repairs you have to make on your trip. With this 79-piece, multi-purpose toolset, you can fix everything from loose screws to leaky faucets.
  • Multi-tool pocket knife: For small but crucial repairs, you might not want to lug around your toolkit. Keep this multitool pocket knife handle to fix any small problems your RV might be having.
  • Duct tape: Never underestimate the value of duct tape, no matter where you are. Shattered window? Prevent shards of glass from falling back into the RV by taping it up. Broken taillight? Use this transparent duct tape to fix it and keep you and your family safe on the road.
  • Battery terminal cleaner: Prevent your RV battery from malfunctioning with a battery terminal cleaner. Use it at least once a month to remove all corrosion from the terminal.
  • Headlamp: You never know when you might need to make some nighttime repairs on the road. A headlamp frees up both hands and allows you to see what you’re working on.
  • Disposable gloves: When making repairs in the engine compartment and other grimy areas, it can be very helpful to have a pair of nitrile gloves on hand. You should always keep a pair in your first-aid kit as well.
  • Rain poncho: A rain poncho can also be helpful for those drizzly roadside repairs. The last thing you want is to be soaking wet while trying to fix a tire.
  • Tire repair kit: When you’re out in the boondocks, you can’t always call AAA. This tire repair kit comes with everything you need to fix a punctured tire. As a last resort, always carry a spare tire for your car and RV as well.
emergency
Stay safe this winter. Photo by oddharmonic/Flickr

Cold weather emergency supplies

  • Ice scraper: Be prepared for a windshield full of ice in the morning whenever you camp in a snowy spot. This ice scraper/snow brush combo lets you scrape off that frozen layer and drive safely.
  • Tire chains: When driving in icy areas, be sure to fit your motorhome or trailer and tow car with chains. You’ll be grateful for the extra traction when you no longer have to slide around dangerously on the road.
  • Snow shovel: Always remember to bring a snow shovel when traveling in chilly weather. No one wants to be snowed into their campsite with no way to dig themselves out.
  • Hand warmers: In the event that your heater should fail when you’re stuck somewhere cold, hand warmers can provide heat inside clothing or sleeping bags. This pack of 40 air-activated heating packs will warm the whole family.
  • Rainproof blanket: You should always keep a rainproof emergency blanket tucked away in case you find yourself stranded in a freezing environment. You might break down on the side of the road with a broken heater, so make sure you have a way to keep you and your family warm and dry.
  • Waterproof matches: If your RV breaks down and you are stranded without electricity or propane, a fire can keep you warm and heat up your food. Keep a pack of these waterproof matches in your RV at all times.

Accidents happen, and you should always be ready for the unexpected. Having the right gear can be helpful and even save your life in the event of an emergency. Stay safe and add these supplies to your packing list.

See also: Be Prepared For Disaster On The Road



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