Heading West – Making our way to the Grand Canyon (March 12- April 3, 2017)

Lost Alaskan RV Park (Alpine, Texas)

March 12-14, 2017:  Leaving Big Bend we stopped at the Lost Alaskan RV Park in Alpine for a quick stay. It is a quiet park and was alright for a night or two.  This park accommodates all sizes of campers, has a pool, playground, laundry, recreation room, and a small gift shop in the office. Not much to say, just a quick stop to resupply.

See the campground review here.

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Mountain View RV Park (Van Horn, Texas)

March 14-15, 2017:  Another quick one night stop on the side of the interstate.  It was a dusty little RV park (just a big parking lot with connections) and while there we were surrounded by several full timers that worked at the local police department.  It was convenient and some place to cut our traveling time in half.

See the campground review here.

Rockhound State Park (Deming, New Mexico)

March 15-21, 2017:  This was one of the most unique parks we have ever visited.  It is located outside of Deming, New Mexico on the side of the Florida Mountain range.  The sites were large and private and the trails were breathtaking.  It was beautiful and we were encouraged to go anywhere in the park (on trails and off) and to collect and keep any rocks that we found. This was a great place for hiking or just kicking back. Every evening in the park we would go to our favorite spot to watch the beautiful sunsets.

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New Mexico has it’s own flair!

I have to admit this park made me very nostalgic.  When I was a little girl, my family lived in a town called Gladstone in Queensland, Australia.  While we were there my mom became an avid rock hunter.  She loved it and all I could think about was how much she would have enjoyed Rockhound State Park, sweet memories of Mom.

See the campground review here.

Butterfield RV Resort & Observatory (Benson, Arizona)

March 21-23, 2017:  This park was a wonderful surprise.  It offers a year round warm pool, spa, workout room, laundry, and library.  However, the best part was the observatory led by an “Astro-Nerd” where daily the guests are led on a two-hour tour of the night skies.  This was a nice stop to relax in the pool/hot tub, catch up on laundry and shop for groceries.

See the campground review here.

Kartchner Caverns State Park (Benson, Arizona)

March 23-26, 2017:  Another beautiful park with a secret.  Our site was large and had full hook-ups.  It was warm during the day and cool at night.  Hiking trails throughout the park range from easy to very strenuous so be sure you are prepared.  And, as the ranger reminded us, all the vegetation in Arizona has self-defense mechanisms, so watch out!

The secret in the park is the huge Kartchner Caverns which are a highly protected cavern that you can tour on a ranger led guided walk. On your guided walk you pass through multiple air lock doors and the ranger watched the group very closely so they could mark any areas that visitors touched so they could be cleaned that night by the rangers so as not to introduce any new bacteria into the cavern.  It is impressive that this cave system is so well-preserved and maintained. We were treated to sights we have not ever seen anywhere, such as, bacon drapery formations.  (Sorry, we were not allowed to take any pictures on the way to, during, or after the tours.) We did find this photo on-line that looks similar.

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See the campground review here.

Catalina State Park (Oro Valley, Arizona)

March 26-30, 2017: The Catalina State Park is at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains and is right outside Tucson. We are so lucky to live this life and to get to visit so many beautiful places and this park is not an exception.  This 5,500 acre park is known for its foothills, canyons, and streams.  It is also known for its desert plants, wildlife, and bird watching.  There are over 5,000 saguaros within the park and more than 150 different bird species call it home. Hiking ranges from easy to strenuous.  The local area has many cycling paths and an active cycling community. We really enjoyed our time at this park.

See the campground review here.

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Picacho Peak State Park (Eloy, Arizona)

March 30 – April 1, 2017:  This park is along I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix in southern Arizona. As you drive down the interstate you can’t miss the 1,500 foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park.  It is known for its unique geological significance, varied desert growth, and historical importance.

The park has a visitor center, a park store, hiking trails, playground, historical markers, picnic areas, ramadas, and a campground.  Before you go for a hike be sure to plan well, you will need plenty of water as the temperatures can be high, and the trails are steep and challenging.

While we were there the night-time winds were gusting and it made for a couple of nervous nights. We decided it would be best to retract the slide to ride out the wind storm. Luckily the wind was coming at us from head on and the only thing that was blown around was the solar night-lights.

See the campground review here.

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Dead Horse Ranch State Park (Cottonwood, Arizona)

April 1-3, 2017:  We left Picacho Peak early to try to get through Phoenix (it was Final Four weekend). Wow, Phoenix is huge! The drive on I-10/I-17 was uneventful and we made it through before the madness began. This was another breathtaking drive through high mountain passes to get to Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. Poor VanGo (our RV), she got stuck behind a struggling 18-wheeler and had to creep up the mountains.  We were worried she would overheat, but she did just fine.

While we were at Dead Horse Ranch State Park the weather was cold at night and cool during the day.  We knew there had to be a story behind the name of this state park and this is what we found out:

The story of the park’s name begins with the Ireys family, who came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy in the late 1940s.  At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best.  The kids said, “the one with the dead horse, Dad!” The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and later, in 1973, when the Arizona State Parks acquired the park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale.

  • Excerpt from the park website – I think I would have gotten along with the Ireys family.

We didn’t see a dead horse but the park does lie along a six-mile stretch of the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area and offers kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The park also caterers to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians with trails ranging from a quarter of a mile to more than twenty miles. It’s very family friendly and lots of kids were in the park for the weekend.

We can’t help but think of family (and friends) whenever we camp in a park that caterers to equestrians since so many of our extended family circle are horse-people.  It always makes us a little homesick, we miss the people but love our new life.

On our final day here, we noticed another silver Leisure Travel Van Unity pull into the campground just a few spots away. Later after they had a chance to get set up we walked down and had a great visit with Claude and Joanne from Quebec. We knew each other from the LTV Facebook page, but it was nice to be able to visit and share our experiences.

See the campground review here.

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Farmers Market in Sedona

Next Stop – The Grand Canyon

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