RV Planet | Grape Creek RV Park | San Angelo, Texas | Rv Parks

10 Reasons to Opt for a Folding Pop-Up Camper This Spring

Spring blooms with flowers and the promise of adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. As the seasons shift, the folding pop-up camper emerges as the unsung hero for those seeking to embrace nature fully. Its unique blend of convenience, comfort, and versatility makes it an ideal choice for spring getaways. Let us dive into the ten compelling reasons to choose a folding pop-up camper this season.

Flagstaff Flagstaff Pop Up 425M Folding Pop-Up Camper
Get the most out of your adventures with this Flagstaff Flagstaff Pop Up 425M Folding Pop-Up Camper.

Affordability

Folding pop-up campers are an economically savvy choice, providing a budget-friendly way to enjoy the RV lifestyle. Their lower price point than traditional RVs makes them accessible entry points for first-time buyers or those looking to downsize.

Ease of Towing

Their lightweight design makes pop-up campers a breeze to tow, often not requiring a specialized vehicle. This translates to better fuel efficiency and less wear on your car, making the journey to your destination as carefree as your stay.

Forest River RV Flagstaff MACLTD Series 205S Folding Pop-Up Camper
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Simple Setup

Gone are the days of battling with traditional tents. The mechanism of folding pop-up campers is designed with convenience in mind, ensuring that your setup can be quick and effortless. This means more exploring, relaxing, and less time fiddling with poles and stakes.

Coachmen RV Clipper Camping Trailers 108ST Sport Folding Pop-Up Camper
The folding dinette in this Coachmen RV Clipper Camping Trailers 108ST Sport Folding Pop-Up Camper.

Close to Nature

One of the beauties of a pop-up camper is the feeling of being closer to nature. The canvas sides allow you to enjoy the sounds, scents, and breezes of the outdoors while still providing shelter from the elements, offering an immersive outdoor experience.

Comfort Amenities

Compromise on space, not on amenities. Folding pop-up campers cleverly squeeze comforts into their compact structure, with features such as beds, dinettes, and sometimes even a kitchenette and toilet. You will experience the comforts of home while on your spring retreat.

Space Efficiency

Once unfolded, you’ll be surprised by the amount of space inside. Pop-up campers maximize their footprint by expanding vertically and horizontally to provide roomy interiors perfect for families, couples, or solo campers.

Coachmen RV Clipper Camping Trailers 12.0 TD PRO Folding Pop-Up Camper
You’ll love this Coachmen RV Clipper Camping Trailers 12.0 TD PRO Folding Pop-Up Camper!

Versatile Accommodations

Whether you’re heading to a developed campground or off the beaten path, pop-up campers are up to the task. Their versatility shines in various settings, allowing you to camp wherever your adventures lead.

Storage Simplicity

Folding pop-up campers won’t dominate your driveway or garage when not in use. They fold down into a compact, easy-to-store unit. This makes them perfect for those with limited storage space or stricter HOA regulations against full-size RVs.

Forest River RV Flagstaff OTG F14OTG Folding Pop-Up Camper
Get sleeping for up to five in this Forest River RV Flagstaff OTG F14OTG Folding Pop-Up Camper.

Variety of Options

The range of pop-up campers available means that there is a model to fit each traveler’s needs. From basic models for the minimalist camper to deluxe versions for those who enjoy a few extras, you can choose the perfect match for your spring journey.

Community Experience

Folding pop-up camper owners often share a sense of community, with clubs and gatherings standard. Sharing experiences, tips, and stories adds a rich social dimension to pop-up camping, endearing it to many enthusiasts.

As we shake off the chill of winter and step into the freshness of spring, a folding pop-up camper is your ally in discovering the rejuvenated landscapes and the joy of the open road. It’s not just about where you go; it’s about making memories along the way with a travel companion that brings out the essence of adventure with simplicity and joy.
Are you looking to embark on a spring adventure but need help figuring out where to start? Our knowledgeable team is ready to assist you in finding the perfect folding pop-up camper to match your adventurous spirit this spring. With a pop-up camper, your spring story is just a road trip away. Let’s make it happen together. Shop with RVing Planet today!

The Essential Guide to RV Maintenance: Top Products for Prolonging Your RV’s Life

Proper maintenance is the backbone of a worry-free RV experience. Whether you are a full-time RVer or a weekend warrior, taking good care of your recreational vehicle ensures safety, comfort, and longevity. With many products on the market, knowing which are essential for keeping your RV in prime condition can be challenging. Let’s explore the must-have maintenance items every RVer should consider stocking up on.

Quality RV Sealants: Protecting Against the Elements

An RV has to endure various weather conditions, and over time, the seals around windows, doors, and seams may crack or deteriorate. High-quality sealants are vital for patching these areas to prevent water damage, which can lead to mold, rot, and other issues. Look for durable, flexible sealants explicitly designed for RV use—such as silicone or polyurethane-based products—to ensure a watertight seal that can move with your vehicle.

Specialty RV Cleaners: Keeping Your Rig Pristine

From the rubber roof to the gleaming exterior, each part of your RV requires a specific type of cleaner to keep it looking its best. Harsh general-purpose cleaners can damage finishes and materials, so investing in specialty RV cleaners is worth investing in. These are formulated to tackle dirt and road grime on the exterior without stripping away waxes or protective coatings. At the same time, interior cleaners should be safe for all surfaces, including wood, fabrics, and plastics, ensuring a thorough and damage-free cleanup.

Water Filtration Systems: Ensuring a Clean Water Supply

Water quality can be inconsistent at different campsites, so a water filtration system is necessary for every RVer. A dependable system can remove sediment, bacteria, and other contaminants, safeguarding your health and the condition of your RV’s plumbing. Options range from simple on-faucet models to more elaborate under-sink installations. With the right system in place, you can drink confidently from your RV’s taps and protect the longevity of your water-using appliances.

Odor-Control and Waste-Digesting Toilet Chemicals

Efficient waste management is essential for a pleasant RV environment. Specialized RV toilet chemicals help digest waste, control smells, and preserve tank sensors and seals. These additives are available in liquid, powder, or drop-in pod form and should be biodegradable and formaldehyde-free to protect your vehicle and the environment.

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems: Ensuring a Smooth Ride

Tire maintenance goes beyond appearance; it’s about safety and performance. Underinflated or overinflated tires can lead to poor handling, decreased fuel economy, and even dangerous blowouts. A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) provides real-time updates on the pressure of each tire, alerting you to potential issues before they become severe. These systems are invaluable for peace of mind and promoting even tire wear, extending the life of your tires.

Battery Chargers and Maintainers: Keeping the Power On

Your RV’s battery is crucial for starting the engine and powering on-board systems. A battery charger and maintainer are essential tools, especially during long storage periods. They keep the battery fully charged and apply a maintenance charge to hold it at peak performance without overcharging. Quality chargers can adjust for temperature variations and battery type, ensuring a proper and efficient charge every time.

By equipping yourself with these essential RV maintenance products, you can tackle most routine tasks and some unexpected repairs. Regular maintenance keeps your travels smooth, your RV reliable, and your investment preserved. So, stock up on these vital supplies and keep your recreational vehicle road-ready for your next adventure. Reach out to us today if you are ready to find the next RV for your family adventures.

RV Maintenance Essentials: Products You Need for a Healthy Rig

One of the joys of RV ownership is hitting the open road with confidence, knowing your mobile abode is as ready for adventure as you are. Achieving this peace of mind requires regular maintenance, and the right products are crucial. RV Maintenance 101 is not just about fixing things when they break; it’s about proactive care that prevents issues from arising. Here are the essential products you should always have to keep your RV in top shape.

Woman RVing

Leak Prevention with Roof Sealants

Your RV’s roof is vulnerable to the elements and regular wear and tear. Inspect it regularly and keep roof sealants handy to immediately address any minor cracks or leaks. Quality sealant not only fixes leaks but also prevents water damage and mold growth, which can be costly.

Tire Pressure and Care

Tires are your RV’s foundation, and their care is non-negotiable. Keep a high-quality tire pressure gauge in your toolkit to ensure tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level. Also, invest in tire covers and UV protectants to shield your tires from weathering and cracking when parked for extended periods.

The Cleanliness of Water Systems

Clean water is critical for a healthy RV experience. Stock up on water filters to ensure your supply is pure and safe for drinking and cooking. Use specialized cleaning solutions periodically to sanitize your water system and prevent bacterial buildup.

Slide Out and Seal Lubricants

Slide-outs increase your living space but require regular maintenance to operate smoothly. Use a lubricant designed for RV slide-outs to protect and maintain their mechanisms. Additionally, apply rubber seal conditioners to preserve the integrity of slide-out seals and prevent them from drying out and cracking.

Battery Maintenance

Your RV battery is like its heartbeat. Keep corrosion at bay and ensure optimal connection with anti-corrosion sprays and protectants. Always have a reliable battery tester and charger to monitor health and charge levels, avoiding unexpected power issues.

Solar

These are just a few essential products to maintain your RV. Establishing a regular maintenance schedule and utilizing high-quality products will extend the life of your RV and enhance the overall travel experience. Are you curious about other RV maintenance tips or need recommendations on the best products for your specific model? Our team is equipped with the expertise to guide you and the products to keep your RV journey smooth and enjoyable. Reach out for personalized advice and support to make the most of your RV lifestyle.

Navigating Your First RV Purchase: A Step-by-Step Guide for Buying an RV

For many, owning an RV is a ticket to freedom, adventure, and making lasting memories with family and friends. As a first-time buyer, choosing the right RV might seem daunting. From understanding different RV types to figuring out what features you need, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to consider, ensuring your introduction to the RV lifestyle is as smooth as possible.

Understand Your RV Types

RVs come in various shapes and sizes, each designed to suit different needs and travel styles. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Travel Trailers: These are towed behind a car and come in various sizes. They are ideal for those who want to use their vehicle for separate excursions.
  • Motorhomes: These are divided into Class A, B, and C units. Class A is the largest and most luxurious. Class B, or campervans, are smaller and more agile. Class C is mid-sized and offers a blend of comfort and maneuverability.
  • Fifth Wheels: These are similar to travel trailers but with an in-bed hitch connection, offering more living space and stability.
  • Pop-Up Campers: Compact and foldable, these are the simplest and lightest RVs, great for casual and infrequent campers.
  • Toy Haulers: Feature a garage space to haul motorcycles, ATVs, or other equipment.
Coachmen RV Encore 325SS Motor Home Class A
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Define Your Budget

Your budget will significantly influence your choice of RV. Remember that the purchase price is just the beginning. Consider additional costs such as fuel, insurance, maintenance, and campsite fees. Decide on a price range that’s comfortable for you and explore financing options if necessary.

Grand Design Imagine 15BH Travel Trailer
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Consider Your Travel Lifestyle

Ask yourself these questions: How often will you use your RV? Will you be weekend warriors or full-timers? Your usage frequency and desired comfort level are pivotal in making the right choice. If you plan to live in your RV for extended periods, look for one with ample living space and home-like amenities.

Dutchmen RV Aspen Trail 260THLOFT Travel Trailer
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Check the Towing Capacity and Amenities

If you decide on a towable RV, ensure your current vehicle can handle it. Verify your car or truck’s towing capacity to avoid any road mishaps. Also, list the amenities you need. Do you want a full kitchen, separate sleeping areas, or a full-size bathroom? Prioritize features based on your comfort needs and the type of traveling you plan.

Review Warranties and After-Sales Service

A comprehensive warranty can save you money and headaches down the line. Learn about the warranty coverage for various models and the reputation of manufacturers for after-sales service.

Explore and Experience

Visit RV shows dealerships and read online forums. Rent an RV similar to the type you’re considering to get first-hand experience.

woman smiling in RV

Leaping into RV ownership is exciting, and finding the perfect model for your adventures should be a fun experience. With this guide, you can confidently navigate the path to finding your home on wheels. If you still have questions or need guidance on specific models that suit your adventurous spirit, our team is ready to help you. Shop our RVs today, and let us assist you in making your RV dreams a reality.

Unleashing Solar Power RVs: Top Picks for Off-the-Grid Adventures

Embarking on off-the-grid RV adventures opens up a world of exploration and self-sufficiency. For RVers seeking the freedom of uncharted territories, harnessing the sun’s energy through solar power is revolutionary. In this blog, we’ll delve into the myriad benefits of RVs with solar power and showcase some of the top solar solutions available on RVingPlanet.com.

Grand Design Imagine 2600RB Travel Trailer
Get the most out of your stays with the Grand Design Imagine 2600RB Travel Trailer!

Energy Independence

Solar power grants RVers unparalleled energy independence. Solar panels provide a continuous and renewable power source by capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity. This liberates RVers from the constraints of traditional power grids, allowing them to roam freely and experience the beauty of remote locations.

Grand Design Reflection 370FLS Fifth Wheel
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Economical Sustainability

   Despite the initial investment, solar power offers substantial long-term cost savings. RVingPlanet.com features a range of solar products that enable RVers to tap into free energy from the sun, eliminating the need for costly campground fees or reliance on noisy generators. It’s an economically sound and environmentally friendly solution.

Grand Design Momentum MAV 27MAV Toy Hauler Travel Trailer
You’ll love the flexibility of this Grand Design Momentum MAV 27MAV Toy Hauler Travel Trailer.

Quiet and Green Operation

   Unlike conventional generators, solar power systems operate silently. This preserves the tranquility of off-the-grid locations and minimizes the environmental impact. Solar energy aligns perfectly with the eco-conscious values of RV enthusiasts, providing a clean and sustainable alternative.

Thor Motor Coach Tranquility 19L Motor Home Class B - Diesel
Get an amazing experience when you travel in the Thor Motor Coach Tranquility 19L Motor Home Class B.

Extended Boondocking Opportunities

   Boondocking enthusiasts will appreciate the extended stay possibilities that solar power affords. Solar panels continuously charge batteries during the day, ensuring RVers have ample power for lighting, appliances, and electronic devices, allowing them to extend their stay in picturesque locations.

Coachmen RV Encore 325SS Motor Home Class A
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Low-Maintenance Reliability

   Solar power systems for RVs are designed for minimal maintenance. With no moving parts, the risk of mechanical failure is drastically reduced. Routine cleaning and occasional checks ensure optimal performance, making solar power a reliable and hassle-free choice for RVers on the go.

Ember RV Overland Series 170MBH Travel Trailer
Get off-roading capabilities in this Ember RV Overland Series 170MBH Travel Trailer!

Choosing the Right Solar Solution

Selecting the ideal solar power solution depends on individual preferences, energy consumption, and available roof space. RVingPlanet.com ensures a diverse selection, whether you opt for a portable kit, a roof-mounted panel, or a complete solar system.

As the sun sets on traditional power sources, RVers embrace the dawn of solar energy. Navigate off-the-grid confidently, powered by the sun’s energy. Embrace sustainability, relish the cost savings, and revel in the freedom that solar power brings to your RV lifestyle. The road less traveled has never been brighter, thanks to RVingPlanet.com’s top-notch solar solutions.

Elevate Your RV Lifestyle: Trendy Décor Ideas for 2024

Embarking on an RV adventure is not just about the journey; it’s about creating a home on wheels that resonates with your style and comfort. As we step into 2024, the RV interior design landscape is evolving, presenting exciting opportunities for enthusiasts to upgrade their mobile abodes. In this blog, we’ll delve into the latest trends in RV interior décor for 2024 and, along the way, discover the unique benefits of opting for a used RV from RVingPlanet.com.

RV decor

Nature-inspired Themes

Nature-inspired décor will make a significant impact in 2024. Think earthy tones, botanical prints, and natural textures. Bring the outdoors inside with leafy patterns, wooden accents, and stone-inspired surfaces. It creates a serene atmosphere, connecting you with the beauty of the destinations you explore.

decor

Multifunctional Furniture

Space optimization is crucial in an RV, and multifunctional furniture is a game-changer. If you’re revamping your RV’s interior or furniture, look for pieces that serve dual purposes – a sofa that transforms into a bed or a dining table that doubles as a workspace. This not only maximizes space but also adds versatility to your RV interior.

Bold Colors and Geometric Patterns

Step away from muted tones and embrace bold colors and geometric patterns. Vibrant hues like deep blues, emerald greens, and rich reds are on-trend. Combine these with geometric patterns for a modern, visually striking interior that reflects your personality.

geometric plant pot

Tech Integration

2024 brings a wave of technological advancements in RV interiors. Smart lighting, touchscreen controls, and integrated entertainment systems are becoming standard features. Embrace these tech-savvy additions to enhance convenience and create a futuristic ambiance in your RV. Look for RVs with these built-in or talk to your dealer about upgrading your vehicle with newer technology where you can.

Vintage Revival

Nostalgia meets modernity in the form of vintage revival. Incorporate retro-inspired furniture, décor, and color schemes for a touch of timeless charm. This trend allows you to infuse character into your RV while embracing the simplicity of the past.

Gulf Stream RV Vintage Cruiser 17RWD Travel Trailer
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Sustainable Materials

Sustainability is not just a buzzword; it’s a lifestyle. Opt for interior décor items from sustainable materials like bamboo, recycled wood, or eco-friendly fabrics. Not only does this contribute to a greener planet, but it also adds a unique touch to your RV.

Upgrading your RV interior to align with the latest trends is an exciting journey that can complement the unique advantages of choosing a used RV from RVingPlanet.com. Dive into the world of trendy décor, make your RV reflect your style, and set forth on your adventures with comfort and flair. Happy travels!

Grape Creek RV Park | San Angelo, Texas | RV Parks San Angelo Tx

Visiting a Seasonal Destination in the Shoulder Season

Seasonal travel destinations are considered "seasonal" for a reason. So what is it like visiting a traditionally seasonal destination during a shoulder season? What exactly is a shoulder seaon? Were we crazy to visit Northern Michigan in early May?? Listen to this week's episode to find out!...

Hearthside Grove Luxury Motorcoach Resort

This week we're visiting with brothers Craig Rose and Kirk Rose, the founders of Hearthside Grove Luxury Motorcoach Resort in Petoskey, Michigan. We talk about what it was like growing up in Petoskey, their family history of RVing, and how they evolved from making chocolate and ice cream to building a destination Class A motorcoach resort in their hometown...

The Good and Bad of Summer RV Travel + Tips!

Traveling by RV during the summer is a tradition for generations of Americans. This week, on our podcast, we're talking all about the good and the bad of Summer RV travel, plus we're sharing tips to stay safe and comfortable during the summer months...

The Cajun RV Rally

This week, we sit down with Don and Sandie Grutzmacher, organizers of the Cajun RV Rally. This rally is held annually in South Louisiana and is a celebration of music, food, culture and all things Cajun. Definitely add this rally to your list of things to do...

Wingin' It With Our Journey in Myles

You never know who your neighbors will be in a campground. Recently, we pulled into a campsite next to Mark and Sue from Our Journey in Myles. In this 100th episode of Wingin' It!, they share their full-time RV journey and some things that have surprised them about life on the road...

RVing the National Parks

Over the years, we've visited several National Parks as well as Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, Seashores,... Sometimes we've camped inside the national park and other times we've stayed at an RV park nearby. This episode is all about RVing the National Parks...

Grape Creek RV Park | San Angelo Tx | RV Parks San Angelo Tx

Grape Creek RV Park San Angelo, Texas | Blog 

RVers Love Late Winter Escapes: Top Warm Places Revealed!

We’ve nearly made it through the winter and things are starting to thaw out a bit in certain parts of the country. There’s no reason we all need to be taking winter RV trips as far south as possible at this point, but it’s still early enough in the year that the northern states aren’t ideal places to RV just yet. 

So, you’ll want to seek out winter RV destinations that are warm this time of year. That doesn’t have to mean heading to the Florida Keys, but it does mean paying attention to where the sun has started to show its face and where it hasn’t. 

Here are some of our favorite places to RV in late winter:

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is an absolute gem of a city. The food scene here is absolutely amazing and we highly recommend trying as many local eateries as possible. We especially love Leopold’s Ice Cream, as well as Shabazz Seafood for some incredible fried fish. 

Of course, the history of the place is also wonderful, and simply wandering through the city to admire the historic buildings is a fun way to pass some time. The American Prohibition Museum is absolutely fantastic if you’re looking for an attraction to check out, and the carriage rides through town are lots of fun. 

In late winter you shouldn’t have big crowds to contend with, since most snowbirds are still in Florida. Just know that when Spring Break season starts in mid-March, this will change. Savannah is one of the most popular places to RV.

Savannah Weather in Late Winter

The average high temperature for Savannah in February is 64 degrees. In March, that goes up to 70 degrees, making it a wonderful place to be in later winter. Just be aware that the temperature can dip occasionally, so you will want to pack layers!

Where to Stay in Savannah

Hilton Head National RV Resort is technically located across the border in South Carolina, but is an excellent home base for exploring Savannah, as well as Hilton Head. The park features an exclusive adults-only section, a golf course, an onsite eatery, a gorgeous pool, a dog park, and a playground. 

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Looking for something more central? Big Bend National Park is one of the best places to RV in late winter! This is an absolutely stunning national park that everyone should see at least once, and thanks to mild temperatures and low crowd levels, late winter is one of the very best times to check it out. 

While in the park, make sure to take at least one scenic drive to see some of the amazing vistas the place has to offer. We also highly recommend hiking the Lost Mine Trail for even more amazing views. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular activities, and it should be warm enough to do either of them in late winter. 

Big Bend Weather in Late Winter

How warm is Big Bend National Park in late winter? Generally, the highs are around 64 degrees in February and around 70 degrees in March. This isn’t swimming weather obviously, and nights will still be chilly, but it’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy some sunshine. 

Where to Stay in Big Bend

When it comes to places to stay in Big Bend National Park, we highly recommend Rio Grande Village Campground. This campground is located on NPS property, so you won’t have to drive far to see anything and everything the park has to offer.

Some sites are dry camping only while others have full hookups, but all campers have access to potable water and a dump station. 

Dune in White Sands National Park
Image source: Unsplash

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Heading even further west, the next stop on our list is White Sands National Park in remote Alamogordo, New Mexico. This otherworldly place features the biggest mounds of pure white sand you’ll ever see, and it’s all just waiting for you to dive in and play. The best part? February and early March are slow times in White Sands, so you’ll likely have it almost to yourself!

Make sure to start your visit at the park visitor center in order to get an understanding of what you’re looking at when you see that incredible sand. From there, grab a sled and some wax (both available in the gift shop) and hit the sand.

Visitors are allowed to leave the marked path, and every single dune is available for climbing, sledding, rolling, and playing on. 

White Sands Weather in Late Winter

One of the biggest issues with visiting White Sands is that it is beyond hot in the late spring and summer, making it impossible to fully enjoy the place. For this reason, we think late winter is an ideal time to visit. In February you can expect highs around 63, and in March you’ll see highs closer to 71. 

Note: Nights will still be below freezing, so prepare your RV and yourself before you go!

Where to Stay in White Sands

Unfortunately there are no campgrounds in White Sands National Park itself, and there are actually very few RV parks nearby. The place we recommend is Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, which offers hookups as well as clean bathhouses, and is about 30 minutes away.

Tucson, Arizona

Last on our list of late-winter RV destinations is Tucson, Arizona. This awesome little city features a wide variety of fun things to see and do. These include the Pima Air and Space Museum, the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and the Reid Park Zoo

Those aren’t even the best part, though! In addition to all of that fun, this city also plays host to the amazing Saguaro National Park. The park is split into two sections and each one is set just outside of the city, giving you the feeling of being out in the Arizona wilderness without requiring much driving at all. Take the scenic drives and do a nature walk or two in order to get the full experience. 

You will need to be prepared for some crowds in Tucson, as it is a popular destination for snowbirds. That said, the RV crowd is friendly enough, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. 

Tucson Weather in Late Winter

Honestly, the weather in Tucson is great year-round, and one could totally visit in December or January if they wanted to. That said, we think February and March are ideal, making this one of the best places to RV in late winter. During this time, you will see highs around 70 or 75, with nighttime lows in the 40s. 

Where to Stay in Tucson

One problem with Tucson is that it doesn’t have a lot of family-friendly RV parks. Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort is a great option for people of all ages though! This campground is located near all the best attractions and offers full hookups, well-maintained pools and hot tubs, and pretty much anything else you could want from an RV park. 

These are four winter RV destinations you won’t want to miss. All of them offer tons of fun and plenty of warmth and sunshine in February and March, making them perfect places to RV in late winter specifically. Which one will you choose for your getaway?

The post RVers Love Late Winter Escapes: Top Warm Places Revealed! appeared first on RV LIFE.

Scenic Six RV Park: A True Idaho Gem

Roughly 75 miles south of Spokane, Washington, is the small town of Potlatch in the Idaho Palouse region. The town was developed by lumber magnate Frederick Weyerhaeuser at the turn of the 20th century. Today, with just under a thousand residents, the picturesque town is also home to Scenic Six RV Park, a quality city-owned RV park with 22 sites.

Scenic Six RV Park entry sign.

One of the prides of Potlatch, Scenic Six RV Park offers pull-through sites and full hookups, including 20/30/50-amp electrical. The park also offers water, Wi-Fi, sewer, restrooms, showers, a clubhouse, and a camp store. Plus, there’s a pet area, playgrounds, and recreation trails that include the walking path surrounding the park. Scenic Six RV Park is a great place to set up camp and explore this beautiful natural area.

The town of Potlatch is located in a bucolic and scenic area called the Palouse, which draws many visitors to the region for a variety of sun and fun activities. The Palouse is a distinct geographic region and a major agricultural area that primarily produces wheat and legumes. The Palouse region should not to be confused with the small town of Palouse, which is seven miles from Potlatch.

The Palouse is also home to two land-grant universities which opened in the early 1890s. Located just eight miles apart are the University of Idaho in Moscow and Washington State University in Pullman. Frank James designed the U of I golf course which opened in 1936.

The U of I course is less than 20 miles from Scenic Six RV Park. The par-72, 18-hole track measures 6,701 yards from the tips, and features a stunning layout in the rolling hills of the Palouse. Hole 4 is the longest hole on the course, measuring 556 yards from the championship tees. One of four par 5s, this is also the signature water tower hole. Visit the U of I golf course website for specifics.

The post Scenic Six RV Park: A True Idaho Gem appeared first on RV LIFE.

Find An Affordable Campground with Hookups Near You!

Traveling around the US in your RV is great for retirees, families, singles, and anyone who wants to hit the open road. The best part is you don’t have to break the bank to RV. You can find an affordable campground with hookups near you.

Check out some of our picks to help you RV on a budget with these affordable campgrounds with hookups.

white pickup truck with topper pulling a teardrop camper at an affordable campground in New Mexico.
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

1. Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Located near Carrizozo, New Mexico, the Valley of Fires Recreation Area is adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow. Water and electric sites are $18 per night. Book through recreation.gov. Remaining sites are first-come, first served.

The spacious sites at this affordable campground have a great view of the lava flow and don’t miss out on the amazing sunsets.

More than 5,000 years ago Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is 4-6 miles wide, 160 feet thick, and covers 125 square miles. The lava flow is one of the youngest in the continental US.

As you walk through the Malpais nature trail, you will see many varieties of flowers, cacti, trees, and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. Animals include bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails, barberry sheep, mule deer, and lizards. It’s also a birdwatcher’s paradise with the chance to see great horned owls, burrowing owls, turkey vultures, hawks, gnatcatchers, golden eagles, and more.

Check out the visitor’s center, watch an interpretive program, or see nearby petroglyphs, arches, or a slot canyon.

white and black Class A camper in campground site with black dog outside
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

2. Cave-in-Rock State Park

At just $20 for weeknights and $30 for the weekend, Cave-in-Rock State Park is a great place to connect with nature. The affordable campground features 30-amp hookups and a centralized area where you can get water and dump your RV’s holding tanks. The park is located on the Ohio River in Hardin County, Illinois.

The park is named for the 55-foot-wide limestone cave which was carved out of water. Don’t miss the beautiful views overlooking the Ohio River, hiking trails for exploration, as well as shaded picnic areas, a playground for the kids, and a fishing pond. The river is accessible from two boat ramps.

On the property is the Cave-in-Rock Restaurant and Lodge which features southern-style cooking.

3. Three Rivers Petroglyphs Site

According to one reviewer, this affordable campground is off the main road and is a “hidden gem” with beautiful views. The sites are large, but they are first-come, first-served. There are only two with electric and water hookups. The sites are big-rig friendly with plenty of room to maneuver. Each site has a cement patio with a covered table.

The campground is located 17 miles north of Tularosa, New Mexico, and 28 miles south of Carrizozo, where you can check out the Valley of Fires Recreation Area.

The site has some 21,000 petroglyphs including masks, sunbursts, wildlife, handprints, and geometric designs. This is one of our notable affordable campgrounds because its one of the few locations in the Southwest set aside for its rock art. It is also one of the few sites that gives visitors direct access to petroglyphs. A rugged .5-mile trail begins at the visitor shelter and showcases many of the most interesting petroglyphs. Another short trail begins on the east side of the picnic area and leads to a partially excavated prehistoric village.

The petroglyphs here date back to between 200–1450 AD. They were created by the Jornada Mogollon people.

Make sure to take both sides of the loop trail. Don’t miss the Trading Post to browse beautiful art, jewelry, textiles, and a used book collection.

Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

4. Clark Canyon Recreation Area

This affordable campground (FREE!) has full hookups with 30- and 50-amp service. It is located on the Beaverhead River south of Dillon, Montana, and is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The campground is the site of Camp Fortunate, a significant spot along the Lewis and Clark Trail. It was here that the expedition met the Lemhi Shoshoni Tribe and Sacagawea was reunited with her people. The Camp Fortunate Interpretive Site provides information about the Lewis and Clark journey.

The Clark County Reservoir has 17 miles of shoreline with great fishing for rainbow and brown trout. There are concrete boat ramps, picnic areas, and picnic shelters. The nine campgrounds include one RV-only lot for a total of 96 campsites. The Cattail Marsh nature trail offers wildlife-watching opportunities.

Dillon is only 15 miles north of the campground and has plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. Also check out the Dillon Visitor Center, Bannack State Park, Beaverhead River, or the Beaverhead County Museum.

5. Fort Kaskaskia Campground

Located in Ellis Grove, Illinois, the Fort Kaskaskia campground is south of St. Louis near the border of Missouri and Illinois. Electric-only sites at this affordable campground are $18 a night. There is water and a dump station nearby.

green grass in foreground with stone pillars overlooking a river
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

Fort Kaskaskia and the grounds of the Pierre Menard home are open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. Tours are offered during seasonal hours and are also available by reservation.

The area is somewhat isolated, but there’s plenty to do. Enjoy the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and explore the fort or an old cemetery. There are also picnic areas, a playground, and more beautiful views.

Fort Kaskaskia was constructed by the French in 1759 to defend the town of Kaskaskia, founded in 1703. It served as the first capital of Illinois from 1818–1820. Also, check out the Pierre Menard home. Menard was a French-Canadian businessman and fur trader, and was presiding officer of the Illinois Territorial Legislature from 1818–1822. He also served as the state’s first lieutenant governor.

white pickup truck with white travel trailer in heavily wooded campsite
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

6. Huckleberry Campground

Huckleberry Campground is located near Calder, Idaho, along the shores of the St. Joe River, 29 miles east of St. Maries, Idaho. Make your reservation at recreation.gov. RV sites at this affordable campground with electric and water are $23 per night. Sites are paved (some gravel) and feature picnic tables and fire rings. There is a dump station available.

The campground is a hub for campers, hunters, fishermen, and ATVers. Nearby are US Forest Service and Idaho Department of Lands roads. It is also a central location for fishing and floating trips.

There is no cell service here. Unplug and enjoy nature and the abundant wildlife. Make your reservation well in advance and secure a river access site. It is a popular campground.

Calder is about 9 miles from the campground and has plenty of modern conveniences. Check out Avery, which is about 23 miles away, for local cuisine and hike the route of the Hiawatha.

white and black Class A camper parked next to a black pickup truck with firewood in the bed and picnic table in the foreground
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

7. Kil-So-Quah – J. Edward Roush Lake

The J. Edward Roush Lake, Kil-So-Quah campground is near Huntington, Indiana, and is managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There are 41 electric sites at this affordable campground at $15 per day. There are 20 primitive sites at $12 per day. Water is available seasonally and there is a dump station. All campsites have fire rings and picnic tables. Camping is open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. The maximum stay is 14 days after which you must leave for 48 hours.

This wildlife area provides outdoor recreational activities on its 7,347 acres of land and 900 acres of lake. The property is a 15-mile-long band along the Wabash River. Huntington Lake was constructed in 1967 to control floodwaters along the Wabash River basin.

There are a number of activities provided at the Lake. Fishing, hunting, trapping, and wildlife observation are all popular. So is biking, hiking, and water recreation. There is a nearby shooting range for archery, handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

Huntington is only 7 miles away and home to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. You can also check out a murder mystery detective experience, scavenger hunt, or the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center.

More Options To RV On A Budget

Maybe you prefer campgrounds with lots of amenities and don’t mind paying for those options. If you are a little more budget-minded, check out more affordable campgrounds or free camping options that can provide you with plenty of adventure and stories to tell your families and friends.

Harvest Hosts

The annual $179 fee includes both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. It grants access to thousands of sites across the US. While most of these sites do not have hookups, you will find a few that have electricity and water. When you sign up you can access the information about sites and find out whether they provide hookups. Sites include farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other unique camping spots.

BLM land

The Bureau of Land Management manages millions of acres of land across the US. Camping on BLM land is a valid way of camping for free, but most do not have hookups. Some BLM land campgrounds do require a fee and will have some utilities available. Go to recreation.gov for more information.

Camping on these public lands away from developed recreation areas is called dispersed camping. It’s a great way to RV on a budget. There is a ton of dispersed camping in the western half of the US. Make sure a spot you pick isn’t designated for other use or is posted “closed to camping.” Dispersed camping is generally not allowed on public land for more than 14 days within a 28-day period.

Most dispersed campsites are located along secondary roads and may not be marked. If possible, use existing sites to avoid creating new disturbances in natural areas.

Department of Natural Resources

There is a Department of Natural Resources website for all 50 states. Check it out here to find campgrounds, lakes, and reservoirs that are guided by these state agencies.

Final Thoughts On How To RV On A Budget

Hopefully, you found some great low-cost campgrounds on our list. Also check out Top 10 Places to Find Free Hookup RV Sites or go to campgrounds.rvlife.com site to see more than 20,000 campgrounds with all the details, reviews, and photos.

The post Find An Affordable Campground with Hookups Near You! appeared first on RV LIFE.

Dewinterizing An RV’s Plumbing

After being cooped up through a long, cold winter, spring blossoms and warmer weather energizes RVers. Our thoughts inevitably turn toward getting our RVs ready for takeoff.

A Toyota SUV towing a lightweight trailer on a mountain road. Photo: Bruce W. Smith.
Photo: Bruce W. Smith

Before hitting the road for that first outing, one essential task must be completed: Dewinterizing your RV. It’s necessary maintenance for RVs that have set idle over the winter months. It’s a normal aspect of owning an RV in regions of the country where temperatures dip below freezing.

Winterizing an RV water system boils down to draining water from the plumbing, water heater and holding tanks. Next, you pour non-toxic RV anti-freeze into sinks, drains, and toilet to protect susceptible plastic components. These include P-traps and low points in the lines, which can be damaged by standing water freezing during the winter.

Dewinterizing an RV’s plumbing is simply reversing everything in the winterizing process so the RV is ready for camping. We should mention this process focuses solely on dewinterizing an RV’s plumbing system. The general maintenance, checking systems, cleaning, etc. are a story for another time.

The Basics Of Dewinterizing An RV’s Plumbing

A winterizing compartment on an RV. There is a hose attached to the filler, and various levers to aid in the process. Photo: Bruce W. Smith
Photo: Bruce W. Smith

“There are basically two tasks in dewinterizing any RV,“ says master RV technician Tony Salazar of Carrier RV Service in Eugene, Oregon. “One is to refill the water system and bleed it of air, while flushing it to remove all traces of anti-freeze. The other is thoroughly checking the entire plumbing system (and water heater) to make sure there are no leaks, cracked filters, or other damage so the RV is mechanically ready for camping.”

Salazar says a first-time RV DIYer should be able to accomplish dewinterizing an RV in less than an hour.

Salazar approaches the task by closing all the low-point drain valves. He makes sure the drain plug is reinstalled in the water heater, the heater is off, and the bypass valve closed. Next, he removes the aerator screens from faucets and shower heads and closes all faucets.

This is also the time to replace the trailer or coach’s water purification filter(s). These filters are removed during the winterization process, and new are ones installed during dewinterizing.

Bleed The Water System

The next step to dewinterizing an RV is to recharge the RV’s water system. This is accomplished by hooking up to a water supply, turning on the RV’s water pump, and then turning on the water heater.  

Next, slowly open each faucet, cold and hot, one at a time, for a couple minutes to bleed out any air trapped in the lines. Start in the galley and then go to the bathroom(s). Let the water flow through the entire system until there’s no air coming out. Do the same with any exterior water fixtures.

An RV sink with running water to help bleed the system of air. Photo: Bruce W. Smith
Photo: Bruce W. Smith

Make sure the dump valve on the blackwater tank is closed, then flush the toilet multiple times to push the antifreeze out of the P-trap. Run the shower for several minutes for the same reason.

Note: This is also a good time to open the graywater tank valve open and drain the tank into the sewer. The dewinterizing process may fill it quickly as the RV’s water system is charged and flushed.

Check For Water Leaks

During this filling/flushing part of dewinterizing an RV it’s important to carefully inspect every filter and shutoff valve for leaks. This includes those at the toilet, under the sinks, at the water pump, the water filter and water heater. Don’t forget any that are located under the RV.

“I’ve had numerous customers that do the winterization themselves who miss something, and then that item becomes an issue during the dewinterizing process,” says Salazar.

“For example, they forget to drain the water filter and empty the little pre-filter feeding into the water pump. When the temperature dips below freezing, the water in those filters turns into a block of ice and cracks the filter.”

Dewinterizing an RV plumbing system is one of the simpler maintenance tasks of being an RV owner. All it requires to do properly is to pay attention. That way, a water leak won’t put a damper on your spring outings. 

The post Dewinterizing An RV’s Plumbing appeared first on RV LIFE.

Majestic Encore Lake Magic RV Resort

Lake Magic RV Resort swimming pool
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

Lake Magic RV Resort is the perfect place to make your base camp while you are spending some time in central Florida. Located in Clermont, Florida, Lake Magic (on the shores of Lake Davenport) is spread over almost 70 acres. It’s located minutes from some of the state’s most popular attractions including Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios. The resort will give you a peaceful place to recharge after exploring all that Orlando has to offer.

RV Sites

With almost 500 sites to choose from, you will find the perfect spot to call home during your vacation. All sites feature full hookups, and Wi-Fi and and cable TV are available. Large sites means the resort can handle rigs of any size. You can choose from three categories of sites: Elite (back-in or pull-through), Premium (back-in only) and Standard (back-in or pull-through). Regardless of which site you choose, the Lake Magic management team will make you feel welcome. Additional amenities include restrooms, a shower house, laundry facilities, RV storage, a ballroom, and a private mailbox and mail center. There is also a dog park so your puppies can run off their excess energy.

Activities

There are plenty of activities at Lake Magic to enjoy without even stepping foot off of the resort. Head down to the courts where you can play outdoor group games such as basketball, tennis, horseshoes, shuffleboard, badminton, pickle ball and volleyball. Beat the heat by splashing around in the swimming pool, participating in co-ed water aerobics or spending some time relaxing in the hot tub. Want to get out of the heat for a little while? Head over to the clubhouse. You can make new friends, enjoy a game of billiards, bingo or card games in the game room, or lose yourself in a good book in the library. Of course, you can also head down to Lake Davenport and enjoy some time on the water.

Lake Magic’s activities director ensures there are plenty of planned activities to keep everyone happy and entertained. There are weekly church services, live entertainment, a dance hall, meetings of the Red Hat Society, potluck dinners, a computer club, and various arts and crafts projects.

Orlando

Orlando Skyline. Photo: Shutterstock.

Orlando is just a few minutes away, and has world-class shopping, restaurants r, amusement parks and enough attractions that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Popular theme parks include Universal Studios, Volcano Bay and Islands of Adventure, Walt Disney World, Resort, Legoland and SeaWorld. Water parks are a great way to beat the heat, and each of the theme parks have their own.

There are many water parks close by that are not affiliated with the theme parks, including CoCo Key Water Park, Nona Adventure Park, Treasure Cove Water Park, Orlando Watersports Complex, and Ship Wreck Island Water Park.

Other great places to visit include:

Museums

Orlando is also home to some great museums. Be sure to explore the Orlando Museum of Art, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Mennello Museum of American Art, Rollins Museum of Art, the unique Museum of Illusions Orlando, and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. Also, save time for the Mead Botanical Garden, Harry P Leu Gardens, Kraft Azalea Garden, and the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. For a view of the area that most people will never get to experience, take a ride on an airboat, fly high in a helicopter, or take a sunset cruise on a boat. There are numerous tours available in the area that will show you the best parts of the Orlando area.

Ready to shop until you drop? Orlando has a wide variety of shopping opportunities. Check out the Orlando Outlet Marketplace for some great deals, the Mall at Millenia for upscale shopping, or Old Town for unique stores. After all that shopping, you will probably be ready to sit and have a bite to eat. You’re in luck, because Orlando has been named the number two “foodie”’” city in the country. Check out The Ravenous Pig (received Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award), great Mexican food at Hunger Street Tacos or Black Rooster Taqueria, or a Michelin-starred steakhouse at Capa.

Plan Your Trip

It’s never too early to start planning your next road trip to Lake Magic RV Resort. But no matter your destination, or the route you decide on to get there, both RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard will help you plan a spectacular vacation. RV LIFE Campgrounds is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews written by your fellow camping and RV enthusiasts. Alongside its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV LIFE Trip Wizard will get you to your camping destinations using RV-friendly routes customized to your RV and travel preferences. We will help you take the guesswork out of finding great places to stay, as well as the perfect route to get there.

Been to a campground lately? Reviews help other RVers like yourself, and they help the campground. Leave a campground review today!

Always remember: When in doubt, travel!

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9 Things to Consider on an RV Test Drive

An RV test drive is much more than a trip around the block.

When you think about test driving an RV you’re probably thinking of test driving a motorhome. But an RV test drive should not be limited to motorized RVs. Equally important is the need to test tow a travel trailer or fifth-wheel, or test haul a or truck camper. When you arrive home with your new RV is not the time to discover that the truck with which you intend to tow is incompatible.

Truck towing a travel trailer during an RV test drive.

1) Is your tow vehicle set up correctly?

It’s important to know in advance if your vehicle is set up correctly for your new RV. This includes everything from the truck’s hauling capacity to its towing capacity. You need to know if the electrical connection for the trailer’s braking and electrical system is compatible with your towing vehicle. Also, whether you’re going to need anti-sway stabilizers for the trailer. Or even if will you need to replace the tow-vehicle suspension or tires with more heavy-duty options.

2) Look for defects in towing hardware

An RV test drive will reveal if your tow vehicle is set up correctly. It will also forewarn you of any defects in the coupling hardware mounted on the trailer or camper. We repeatedly see people in RV parks, struggling to unhitch the truck from the trailer. An RV test drive will quickly expose any defects in the hardware if you have trouble hooking up unhooking the trailer. If you’re buying a used RV from a private party, it is also an excellent time to have the current owner demonstrate any unique aspects of the whole process.

a black truck with a white truck camper fitted over the bed of the truck
An example of a poor fit between the truck and camper. The balance seems to be off, indicating that better rear suspension is needed. Photo: P Dent

3 Test hauling and towing are part of an RV test drive

An RV test drive will allow you to evaluate the compatibility of your intended purchase with your existing vehicle. Additionally, if you’re purchasing a truck camper, it would also be prudent prior to purchase to have it mounted on your truck. That way, you can ensure the fit is right, and that the descending jack legs (if equipped) don’t rub on the outside surface of the truck. Once the camper is mounted on your truck, you should still take it on an RV test drive. The RV test drive will reveal whether your truck and camper are well balanced. It will also reveal if the truck has the appropriate suspension and engine capacity to manage the extra weight. 

a motorhome towing a huge trailer
It would be ideal to test drive a set up like this, before you pay $1 million for it. This trailer was almost as long as the motorhome and there were two cars in the trailer. Finding out in an RV test drive that the motorhome could handle the extra weight would be a relief. Photo: P Dent

4 Towing a dinghy behind a motorhome

In the case of a motorhome: If you’re going to tow a dinghy vehicle, hook up the tow vehicle as you would after the purchase is complete. That way, you can test drive the whole unit. This will give you a better idea of the overall towing experience that should be evaluated during your test drive.

5 Allow plenty of time

Whether you’re testing a motorhome, trailer, or a truck camper, allow plenty of time for a lengthy test drive. The RV test drive should not be a short, around-the-block low-speed endeavor. If possible, take the vehicle to a large empty parking lot where you can assess the handling characteristics. Safely test the RV’s acceleration and stopping distance at different speeds in the parking lot. We’ll talk about highway speeds later.

6 Use all your senses during an RV test drive

Be hyper-aware when conducting an RV test drive. Ask your spouse or friend to watch the vehicle from the outside. Listen to the sounds of the engine and the brakes. Also listen for any detectable sounds coming from the steering column, drive line, or hitching hardware. In a motorhome, listen for unusual sounds coming from the living areas of the RV which might indicate a defective installation of some components. Specifically, things like the water heater, microwave, or shower doors.

After driving the RV for a while, stop, get out and look all around the RV for any visual evidence of defects. While you’re conducting this visual assessment also be aware of any possible odors emanating from the tires or engine. Use your sense of touch to determine if any components seem to be overheating. Feel the tires, engine area, and the hitch. Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to get out on the open road to test acceleration and stability. 

a class C RV traveling at highway speeds
Taking an RV test drive at highway speeds is as important as driving it slowly around a parking lot. Photo: P Dent

7 Test drive at highway speeds

Driving the RV at highway speeds will expose any vibrations or shuttering that may occur as the RV (or tow vehicle) transmission shifts from one gear to the next. Be aware of how long it takes to accelerate to highway speeds. Is this greater than your expectation?  Does the motorhome or tow vehicle seem to be straining to achieve highway speeds?  If you’re towing a dinghy or trailer does it feel like the tow vehicle is able to manage the extra weight? Does the towed vehicle look like it’s following in a straight line behind the towing vehicle or is it drifting back and forth in the lane?

8 Does the driver’s area fit your frame?

If the test drive is in a motorhome, another important thing you should pay close attention to is how well you fit in the driver’s seat. Is it the right height and shape? Do you have enough legroom? Does the driver’s seat have enough adjustments to maximize comfort? Do you have good vision out the front window and clear vision of all the mirrors? Does the driver’s seat seem to be appropriately aligned with the steering column and foot pedals? Can you easily reach all the controls? 

9 Use test-drive time for a full inspection

While you’re doing the RV test drive, pull over in a safe area and check the functionality of all the components in the RV. This includes things like the water heater, microwave, flush mechanism of the toilets, doors and windows, the gas range, refrigerator, entertainment center, and even the Sleep Number bed (if equipped). Ask the salesperson or previous owner about the operation of all the components. You may never get another chance to fully inspect before purchase. Remember, if you end up buying this RV, you’re going to have it for many years. For most people the purchase of an RV represents a large personal investment. Therefore, you have the right to assess every detail, component, and feature of the RV. If one test drive is not enough, schedule a second one.  

An RV test drive may prevent a regrettable purchase.

The point of an RV test drive and inspection is that you want to be sure you’re purchasing a motorhome, trailer, or truck camper that fits your needs. It should be in good working order, reliable, and will provide years of enjoyable camping experiences. Forgoing this step could result in a purchase you regret.

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RV LIFE | Grape Creek RV Park

RVers Love Late Winter Escapes: Top Warm Places Revealed!

We’ve nearly made it through the winter and things are starting to thaw out a bit in certain parts of the country. There’s no reason we all need to be taking winter RV trips as far south as possible at this point, but it’s still early enough in the year that the northern states aren’t ideal places to RV just yet. 

So, you’ll want to seek out winter RV destinations that are warm this time of year. That doesn’t have to mean heading to the Florida Keys, but it does mean paying attention to where the sun has started to show its face and where it hasn’t. 

Here are some of our favorite places to RV in late winter:

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is an absolute gem of a city. The food scene here is absolutely amazing and we highly recommend trying as many local eateries as possible. We especially love Leopold’s Ice Cream, as well as Shabazz Seafood for some incredible fried fish. 

Of course, the history of the place is also wonderful, and simply wandering through the city to admire the historic buildings is a fun way to pass some time. The American Prohibition Museum is absolutely fantastic if you’re looking for an attraction to check out, and the carriage rides through town are lots of fun. 

In late winter you shouldn’t have big crowds to contend with, since most snowbirds are still in Florida. Just know that when Spring Break season starts in mid-March, this will change. Savannah is one of the most popular places to RV.

Savannah Weather in Late Winter

The average high temperature for Savannah in February is 64 degrees. In March, that goes up to 70 degrees, making it a wonderful place to be in later winter. Just be aware that the temperature can dip occasionally, so you will want to pack layers!

Where to Stay in Savannah

Hilton Head National RV Resort is technically located across the border in South Carolina, but is an excellent home base for exploring Savannah, as well as Hilton Head. The park features an exclusive adults-only section, a golf course, an onsite eatery, a gorgeous pool, a dog park, and a playground. 

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Looking for something more central? Big Bend National Park is one of the best places to RV in late winter! This is an absolutely stunning national park that everyone should see at least once, and thanks to mild temperatures and low crowd levels, late winter is one of the very best times to check it out. 

While in the park, make sure to take at least one scenic drive to see some of the amazing vistas the place has to offer. We also highly recommend hiking the Lost Mine Trail for even more amazing views. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular activities, and it should be warm enough to do either of them in late winter. 

Big Bend Weather in Late Winter

How warm is Big Bend National Park in late winter? Generally, the highs are around 64 degrees in February and around 70 degrees in March. This isn’t swimming weather obviously, and nights will still be chilly, but it’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy some sunshine. 

Where to Stay in Big Bend

When it comes to places to stay in Big Bend National Park, we highly recommend Rio Grande Village Campground. This campground is located on NPS property, so you won’t have to drive far to see anything and everything the park has to offer.

Some sites are dry camping only while others have full hookups, but all campers have access to potable water and a dump station. 

Dune in White Sands National Park
Image source: Unsplash

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Heading even further west, the next stop on our list is White Sands National Park in remote Alamogordo, New Mexico. This otherworldly place features the biggest mounds of pure white sand you’ll ever see, and it’s all just waiting for you to dive in and play. The best part? February and early March are slow times in White Sands, so you’ll likely have it almost to yourself!

Make sure to start your visit at the park visitor center in order to get an understanding of what you’re looking at when you see that incredible sand. From there, grab a sled and some wax (both available in the gift shop) and hit the sand.

Visitors are allowed to leave the marked path, and every single dune is available for climbing, sledding, rolling, and playing on. 

White Sands Weather in Late Winter

One of the biggest issues with visiting White Sands is that it is beyond hot in the late spring and summer, making it impossible to fully enjoy the place. For this reason, we think late winter is an ideal time to visit. In February you can expect highs around 63, and in March you’ll see highs closer to 71. 

Note: Nights will still be below freezing, so prepare your RV and yourself before you go!

Where to Stay in White Sands

Unfortunately there are no campgrounds in White Sands National Park itself, and there are actually very few RV parks nearby. The place we recommend is Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, which offers hookups as well as clean bathhouses, and is about 30 minutes away.

Tucson, Arizona

Last on our list of late-winter RV destinations is Tucson, Arizona. This awesome little city features a wide variety of fun things to see and do. These include the Pima Air and Space Museum, the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and the Reid Park Zoo

Those aren’t even the best part, though! In addition to all of that fun, this city also plays host to the amazing Saguaro National Park. The park is split into two sections and each one is set just outside of the city, giving you the feeling of being out in the Arizona wilderness without requiring much driving at all. Take the scenic drives and do a nature walk or two in order to get the full experience. 

You will need to be prepared for some crowds in Tucson, as it is a popular destination for snowbirds. That said, the RV crowd is friendly enough, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. 

Tucson Weather in Late Winter

Honestly, the weather in Tucson is great year-round, and one could totally visit in December or January if they wanted to. That said, we think February and March are ideal, making this one of the best places to RV in late winter. During this time, you will see highs around 70 or 75, with nighttime lows in the 40s. 

Where to Stay in Tucson

One problem with Tucson is that it doesn’t have a lot of family-friendly RV parks. Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort is a great option for people of all ages though! This campground is located near all the best attractions and offers full hookups, well-maintained pools and hot tubs, and pretty much anything else you could want from an RV park. 

These are four winter RV destinations you won’t want to miss. All of them offer tons of fun and plenty of warmth and sunshine in February and March, making them perfect places to RV in late winter specifically. Which one will you choose for your getaway?

The post RVers Love Late Winter Escapes: Top Warm Places Revealed! appeared first on RV LIFE.

Scenic Six RV Park: A True Idaho Gem

Roughly 75 miles south of Spokane, Washington, is the small town of Potlatch in the Idaho Palouse region. The town was developed by lumber magnate Frederick Weyerhaeuser at the turn of the 20th century. Today, with just under a thousand residents, the picturesque town is also home to Scenic Six RV Park, a quality city-owned RV park with 22 sites.

Scenic Six RV Park entry sign.

One of the prides of Potlatch, Scenic Six RV Park offers pull-through sites and full hookups, including 20/30/50-amp electrical. The park also offers water, Wi-Fi, sewer, restrooms, showers, a clubhouse, and a camp store. Plus, there’s a pet area, playgrounds, and recreation trails that include the walking path surrounding the park. Scenic Six RV Park is a great place to set up camp and explore this beautiful natural area.

The town of Potlatch is located in a bucolic and scenic area called the Palouse, which draws many visitors to the region for a variety of sun and fun activities. The Palouse is a distinct geographic region and a major agricultural area that primarily produces wheat and legumes. The Palouse region should not to be confused with the small town of Palouse, which is seven miles from Potlatch.

The Palouse is also home to two land-grant universities which opened in the early 1890s. Located just eight miles apart are the University of Idaho in Moscow and Washington State University in Pullman. Frank James designed the U of I golf course which opened in 1936.

The U of I course is less than 20 miles from Scenic Six RV Park. The par-72, 18-hole track measures 6,701 yards from the tips, and features a stunning layout in the rolling hills of the Palouse. Hole 4 is the longest hole on the course, measuring 556 yards from the championship tees. One of four par 5s, this is also the signature water tower hole. Visit the U of I golf course website for specifics.

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Find An Affordable Campground with Hookups Near You!

Traveling around the US in your RV is great for retirees, families, singles, and anyone who wants to hit the open road. The best part is you don’t have to break the bank to RV. You can find an affordable campground with hookups near you.

Check out some of our picks to help you RV on a budget with these affordable campgrounds with hookups.

white pickup truck with topper pulling a teardrop camper at an affordable campground in New Mexico.
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

1. Valley of Fires Recreation Area

Located near Carrizozo, New Mexico, the Valley of Fires Recreation Area is adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow. Water and electric sites are $18 per night. Book through recreation.gov. Remaining sites are first-come, first served.

The spacious sites at this affordable campground have a great view of the lava flow and don’t miss out on the amazing sunsets.

More than 5,000 years ago Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is 4-6 miles wide, 160 feet thick, and covers 125 square miles. The lava flow is one of the youngest in the continental US.

As you walk through the Malpais nature trail, you will see many varieties of flowers, cacti, trees, and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. Animals include bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails, barberry sheep, mule deer, and lizards. It’s also a birdwatcher’s paradise with the chance to see great horned owls, burrowing owls, turkey vultures, hawks, gnatcatchers, golden eagles, and more.

Check out the visitor’s center, watch an interpretive program, or see nearby petroglyphs, arches, or a slot canyon.

white and black Class A camper in campground site with black dog outside
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

2. Cave-in-Rock State Park

At just $20 for weeknights and $30 for the weekend, Cave-in-Rock State Park is a great place to connect with nature. The affordable campground features 30-amp hookups and a centralized area where you can get water and dump your RV’s holding tanks. The park is located on the Ohio River in Hardin County, Illinois.

The park is named for the 55-foot-wide limestone cave which was carved out of water. Don’t miss the beautiful views overlooking the Ohio River, hiking trails for exploration, as well as shaded picnic areas, a playground for the kids, and a fishing pond. The river is accessible from two boat ramps.

On the property is the Cave-in-Rock Restaurant and Lodge which features southern-style cooking.

3. Three Rivers Petroglyphs Site

According to one reviewer, this affordable campground is off the main road and is a “hidden gem” with beautiful views. The sites are large, but they are first-come, first-served. There are only two with electric and water hookups. The sites are big-rig friendly with plenty of room to maneuver. Each site has a cement patio with a covered table.

The campground is located 17 miles north of Tularosa, New Mexico, and 28 miles south of Carrizozo, where you can check out the Valley of Fires Recreation Area.

The site has some 21,000 petroglyphs including masks, sunbursts, wildlife, handprints, and geometric designs. This is one of our notable affordable campgrounds because its one of the few locations in the Southwest set aside for its rock art. It is also one of the few sites that gives visitors direct access to petroglyphs. A rugged .5-mile trail begins at the visitor shelter and showcases many of the most interesting petroglyphs. Another short trail begins on the east side of the picnic area and leads to a partially excavated prehistoric village.

The petroglyphs here date back to between 200–1450 AD. They were created by the Jornada Mogollon people.

Make sure to take both sides of the loop trail. Don’t miss the Trading Post to browse beautiful art, jewelry, textiles, and a used book collection.

Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

4. Clark Canyon Recreation Area

This affordable campground (FREE!) has full hookups with 30- and 50-amp service. It is located on the Beaverhead River south of Dillon, Montana, and is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The campground is the site of Camp Fortunate, a significant spot along the Lewis and Clark Trail. It was here that the expedition met the Lemhi Shoshoni Tribe and Sacagawea was reunited with her people. The Camp Fortunate Interpretive Site provides information about the Lewis and Clark journey.

The Clark County Reservoir has 17 miles of shoreline with great fishing for rainbow and brown trout. There are concrete boat ramps, picnic areas, and picnic shelters. The nine campgrounds include one RV-only lot for a total of 96 campsites. The Cattail Marsh nature trail offers wildlife-watching opportunities.

Dillon is only 15 miles north of the campground and has plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. Also check out the Dillon Visitor Center, Bannack State Park, Beaverhead River, or the Beaverhead County Museum.

5. Fort Kaskaskia Campground

Located in Ellis Grove, Illinois, the Fort Kaskaskia campground is south of St. Louis near the border of Missouri and Illinois. Electric-only sites at this affordable campground are $18 a night. There is water and a dump station nearby.

green grass in foreground with stone pillars overlooking a river
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

Fort Kaskaskia and the grounds of the Pierre Menard home are open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. Tours are offered during seasonal hours and are also available by reservation.

The area is somewhat isolated, but there’s plenty to do. Enjoy the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and explore the fort or an old cemetery. There are also picnic areas, a playground, and more beautiful views.

Fort Kaskaskia was constructed by the French in 1759 to defend the town of Kaskaskia, founded in 1703. It served as the first capital of Illinois from 1818–1820. Also, check out the Pierre Menard home. Menard was a French-Canadian businessman and fur trader, and was presiding officer of the Illinois Territorial Legislature from 1818–1822. He also served as the state’s first lieutenant governor.

white pickup truck with white travel trailer in heavily wooded campsite
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

6. Huckleberry Campground

Huckleberry Campground is located near Calder, Idaho, along the shores of the St. Joe River, 29 miles east of St. Maries, Idaho. Make your reservation at recreation.gov. RV sites at this affordable campground with electric and water are $23 per night. Sites are paved (some gravel) and feature picnic tables and fire rings. There is a dump station available.

The campground is a hub for campers, hunters, fishermen, and ATVers. Nearby are US Forest Service and Idaho Department of Lands roads. It is also a central location for fishing and floating trips.

There is no cell service here. Unplug and enjoy nature and the abundant wildlife. Make your reservation well in advance and secure a river access site. It is a popular campground.

Calder is about 9 miles from the campground and has plenty of modern conveniences. Check out Avery, which is about 23 miles away, for local cuisine and hike the route of the Hiawatha.

white and black Class A camper parked next to a black pickup truck with firewood in the bed and picnic table in the foreground
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

7. Kil-So-Quah – J. Edward Roush Lake

The J. Edward Roush Lake, Kil-So-Quah campground is near Huntington, Indiana, and is managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There are 41 electric sites at this affordable campground at $15 per day. There are 20 primitive sites at $12 per day. Water is available seasonally and there is a dump station. All campsites have fire rings and picnic tables. Camping is open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. The maximum stay is 14 days after which you must leave for 48 hours.

This wildlife area provides outdoor recreational activities on its 7,347 acres of land and 900 acres of lake. The property is a 15-mile-long band along the Wabash River. Huntington Lake was constructed in 1967 to control floodwaters along the Wabash River basin.

There are a number of activities provided at the Lake. Fishing, hunting, trapping, and wildlife observation are all popular. So is biking, hiking, and water recreation. There is a nearby shooting range for archery, handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

Huntington is only 7 miles away and home to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. You can also check out a murder mystery detective experience, scavenger hunt, or the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center.

More Options To RV On A Budget

Maybe you prefer campgrounds with lots of amenities and don’t mind paying for those options. If you are a little more budget-minded, check out more affordable campgrounds or free camping options that can provide you with plenty of adventure and stories to tell your families and friends.

Harvest Hosts

The annual $179 fee includes both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. It grants access to thousands of sites across the US. While most of these sites do not have hookups, you will find a few that have electricity and water. When you sign up you can access the information about sites and find out whether they provide hookups. Sites include farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other unique camping spots.

BLM land

The Bureau of Land Management manages millions of acres of land across the US. Camping on BLM land is a valid way of camping for free, but most do not have hookups. Some BLM land campgrounds do require a fee and will have some utilities available. Go to recreation.gov for more information.

Camping on these public lands away from developed recreation areas is called dispersed camping. It’s a great way to RV on a budget. There is a ton of dispersed camping in the western half of the US. Make sure a spot you pick isn’t designated for other use or is posted “closed to camping.” Dispersed camping is generally not allowed on public land for more than 14 days within a 28-day period.

Most dispersed campsites are located along secondary roads and may not be marked. If possible, use existing sites to avoid creating new disturbances in natural areas.

Department of Natural Resources

There is a Department of Natural Resources website for all 50 states. Check it out here to find campgrounds, lakes, and reservoirs that are guided by these state agencies.

Final Thoughts On How To RV On A Budget

Hopefully, you found some great low-cost campgrounds on our list. Also check out Top 10 Places to Find Free Hookup RV Sites or go to campgrounds.rvlife.com site to see more than 20,000 campgrounds with all the details, reviews, and photos.

The post Find An Affordable Campground with Hookups Near You! appeared first on RV LIFE.

Dewinterizing An RV’s Plumbing

After being cooped up through a long, cold winter, spring blossoms and warmer weather energizes RVers. Our thoughts inevitably turn toward getting our RVs ready for takeoff.

A Toyota SUV towing a lightweight trailer on a mountain road. Photo: Bruce W. Smith.
Photo: Bruce W. Smith

Before hitting the road for that first outing, one essential task must be completed: Dewinterizing your RV. It’s necessary maintenance for RVs that have set idle over the winter months. It’s a normal aspect of owning an RV in regions of the country where temperatures dip below freezing.

Winterizing an RV water system boils down to draining water from the plumbing, water heater and holding tanks. Next, you pour non-toxic RV anti-freeze into sinks, drains, and toilet to protect susceptible plastic components. These include P-traps and low points in the lines, which can be damaged by standing water freezing during the winter.

Dewinterizing an RV’s plumbing is simply reversing everything in the winterizing process so the RV is ready for camping. We should mention this process focuses solely on dewinterizing an RV’s plumbing system. The general maintenance, checking systems, cleaning, etc. are a story for another time.

The Basics Of Dewinterizing An RV’s Plumbing

A winterizing compartment on an RV. There is a hose attached to the filler, and various levers to aid in the process. Photo: Bruce W. Smith
Photo: Bruce W. Smith

“There are basically two tasks in dewinterizing any RV,“ says master RV technician Tony Salazar of Carrier RV Service in Eugene, Oregon. “One is to refill the water system and bleed it of air, while flushing it to remove all traces of anti-freeze. The other is thoroughly checking the entire plumbing system (and water heater) to make sure there are no leaks, cracked filters, or other damage so the RV is mechanically ready for camping.”

Salazar says a first-time RV DIYer should be able to accomplish dewinterizing an RV in less than an hour.

Salazar approaches the task by closing all the low-point drain valves. He makes sure the drain plug is reinstalled in the water heater, the heater is off, and the bypass valve closed. Next, he removes the aerator screens from faucets and shower heads and closes all faucets.

This is also the time to replace the trailer or coach’s water purification filter(s). These filters are removed during the winterization process, and new are ones installed during dewinterizing.

Bleed The Water System

The next step to dewinterizing an RV is to recharge the RV’s water system. This is accomplished by hooking up to a water supply, turning on the RV’s water pump, and then turning on the water heater.  

Next, slowly open each faucet, cold and hot, one at a time, for a couple minutes to bleed out any air trapped in the lines. Start in the galley and then go to the bathroom(s). Let the water flow through the entire system until there’s no air coming out. Do the same with any exterior water fixtures.

An RV sink with running water to help bleed the system of air. Photo: Bruce W. Smith
Photo: Bruce W. Smith

Make sure the dump valve on the blackwater tank is closed, then flush the toilet multiple times to push the antifreeze out of the P-trap. Run the shower for several minutes for the same reason.

Note: This is also a good time to open the graywater tank valve open and drain the tank into the sewer. The dewinterizing process may fill it quickly as the RV’s water system is charged and flushed.

Check For Water Leaks

During this filling/flushing part of dewinterizing an RV it’s important to carefully inspect every filter and shutoff valve for leaks. This includes those at the toilet, under the sinks, at the water pump, the water filter and water heater. Don’t forget any that are located under the RV.

“I’ve had numerous customers that do the winterization themselves who miss something, and then that item becomes an issue during the dewinterizing process,” says Salazar.

“For example, they forget to drain the water filter and empty the little pre-filter feeding into the water pump. When the temperature dips below freezing, the water in those filters turns into a block of ice and cracks the filter.”

Dewinterizing an RV plumbing system is one of the simpler maintenance tasks of being an RV owner. All it requires to do properly is to pay attention. That way, a water leak won’t put a damper on your spring outings. 

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Majestic Encore Lake Magic RV Resort

Lake Magic RV Resort swimming pool
Photo courtesy RV LIFE Campgrounds.

Lake Magic RV Resort is the perfect place to make your base camp while you are spending some time in central Florida. Located in Clermont, Florida, Lake Magic (on the shores of Lake Davenport) is spread over almost 70 acres. It’s located minutes from some of the state’s most popular attractions including Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios. The resort will give you a peaceful place to recharge after exploring all that Orlando has to offer.

RV Sites

With almost 500 sites to choose from, you will find the perfect spot to call home during your vacation. All sites feature full hookups, and Wi-Fi and and cable TV are available. Large sites means the resort can handle rigs of any size. You can choose from three categories of sites: Elite (back-in or pull-through), Premium (back-in only) and Standard (back-in or pull-through). Regardless of which site you choose, the Lake Magic management team will make you feel welcome. Additional amenities include restrooms, a shower house, laundry facilities, RV storage, a ballroom, and a private mailbox and mail center. There is also a dog park so your puppies can run off their excess energy.

Activities

There are plenty of activities at Lake Magic to enjoy without even stepping foot off of the resort. Head down to the courts where you can play outdoor group games such as basketball, tennis, horseshoes, shuffleboard, badminton, pickle ball and volleyball. Beat the heat by splashing around in the swimming pool, participating in co-ed water aerobics or spending some time relaxing in the hot tub. Want to get out of the heat for a little while? Head over to the clubhouse. You can make new friends, enjoy a game of billiards, bingo or card games in the game room, or lose yourself in a good book in the library. Of course, you can also head down to Lake Davenport and enjoy some time on the water.

Lake Magic’s activities director ensures there are plenty of planned activities to keep everyone happy and entertained. There are weekly church services, live entertainment, a dance hall, meetings of the Red Hat Society, potluck dinners, a computer club, and various arts and crafts projects.

Orlando

Orlando Skyline. Photo: Shutterstock.

Orlando is just a few minutes away, and has world-class shopping, restaurants r, amusement parks and enough attractions that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Popular theme parks include Universal Studios, Volcano Bay and Islands of Adventure, Walt Disney World, Resort, Legoland and SeaWorld. Water parks are a great way to beat the heat, and each of the theme parks have their own.

There are many water parks close by that are not affiliated with the theme parks, including CoCo Key Water Park, Nona Adventure Park, Treasure Cove Water Park, Orlando Watersports Complex, and Ship Wreck Island Water Park.

Other great places to visit include:

Museums

Orlando is also home to some great museums. Be sure to explore the Orlando Museum of Art, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Mennello Museum of American Art, Rollins Museum of Art, the unique Museum of Illusions Orlando, and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. Also, save time for the Mead Botanical Garden, Harry P Leu Gardens, Kraft Azalea Garden, and the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. For a view of the area that most people will never get to experience, take a ride on an airboat, fly high in a helicopter, or take a sunset cruise on a boat. There are numerous tours available in the area that will show you the best parts of the Orlando area.

Ready to shop until you drop? Orlando has a wide variety of shopping opportunities. Check out the Orlando Outlet Marketplace for some great deals, the Mall at Millenia for upscale shopping, or Old Town for unique stores. After all that shopping, you will probably be ready to sit and have a bite to eat. You’re in luck, because Orlando has been named the number two “foodie”’” city in the country. Check out The Ravenous Pig (received Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award), great Mexican food at Hunger Street Tacos or Black Rooster Taqueria, or a Michelin-starred steakhouse at Capa.

Plan Your Trip

It’s never too early to start planning your next road trip to Lake Magic RV Resort. But no matter your destination, or the route you decide on to get there, both RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard will help you plan a spectacular vacation. RV LIFE Campgrounds is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews written by your fellow camping and RV enthusiasts. Alongside its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV LIFE Trip Wizard will get you to your camping destinations using RV-friendly routes customized to your RV and travel preferences. We will help you take the guesswork out of finding great places to stay, as well as the perfect route to get there.

Been to a campground lately? Reviews help other RVers like yourself, and they help the campground. Leave a campground review today!

Always remember: When in doubt, travel!

The post Majestic Encore Lake Magic RV Resort appeared first on RV LIFE.

9 Things to Consider on an RV Test Drive

An RV test drive is much more than a trip around the block.

When you think about test driving an RV you’re probably thinking of test driving a motorhome. But an RV test drive should not be limited to motorized RVs. Equally important is the need to test tow a travel trailer or fifth-wheel, or test haul a or truck camper. When you arrive home with your new RV is not the time to discover that the truck with which you intend to tow is incompatible.

Truck towing a travel trailer during an RV test drive.

1) Is your tow vehicle set up correctly?

It’s important to know in advance if your vehicle is set up correctly for your new RV. This includes everything from the truck’s hauling capacity to its towing capacity. You need to know if the electrical connection for the trailer’s braking and electrical system is compatible with your towing vehicle. Also, whether you’re going to need anti-sway stabilizers for the trailer. Or even if will you need to replace the tow-vehicle suspension or tires with more heavy-duty options.

2) Look for defects in towing hardware

An RV test drive will reveal if your tow vehicle is set up correctly. It will also forewarn you of any defects in the coupling hardware mounted on the trailer or camper. We repeatedly see people in RV parks, struggling to unhitch the truck from the trailer. An RV test drive will quickly expose any defects in the hardware if you have trouble hooking up unhooking the trailer. If you’re buying a used RV from a private party, it is also an excellent time to have the current owner demonstrate any unique aspects of the whole process.

a black truck with a white truck camper fitted over the bed of the truck
An example of a poor fit between the truck and camper. The balance seems to be off, indicating that better rear suspension is needed. Photo: P Dent

3 Test hauling and towing are part of an RV test drive

An RV test drive will allow you to evaluate the compatibility of your intended purchase with your existing vehicle. Additionally, if you’re purchasing a truck camper, it would also be prudent prior to purchase to have it mounted on your truck. That way, you can ensure the fit is right, and that the descending jack legs (if equipped) don’t rub on the outside surface of the truck. Once the camper is mounted on your truck, you should still take it on an RV test drive. The RV test drive will reveal whether your truck and camper are well balanced. It will also reveal if the truck has the appropriate suspension and engine capacity to manage the extra weight. 

a motorhome towing a huge trailer
It would be ideal to test drive a set up like this, before you pay $1 million for it. This trailer was almost as long as the motorhome and there were two cars in the trailer. Finding out in an RV test drive that the motorhome could handle the extra weight would be a relief. Photo: P Dent

4 Towing a dinghy behind a motorhome

In the case of a motorhome: If you’re going to tow a dinghy vehicle, hook up the tow vehicle as you would after the purchase is complete. That way, you can test drive the whole unit. This will give you a better idea of the overall towing experience that should be evaluated during your test drive.

5 Allow plenty of time

Whether you’re testing a motorhome, trailer, or a truck camper, allow plenty of time for a lengthy test drive. The RV test drive should not be a short, around-the-block low-speed endeavor. If possible, take the vehicle to a large empty parking lot where you can assess the handling characteristics. Safely test the RV’s acceleration and stopping distance at different speeds in the parking lot. We’ll talk about highway speeds later.

6 Use all your senses during an RV test drive

Be hyper-aware when conducting an RV test drive. Ask your spouse or friend to watch the vehicle from the outside. Listen to the sounds of the engine and the brakes. Also listen for any detectable sounds coming from the steering column, drive line, or hitching hardware. In a motorhome, listen for unusual sounds coming from the living areas of the RV which might indicate a defective installation of some components. Specifically, things like the water heater, microwave, or shower doors.

After driving the RV for a while, stop, get out and look all around the RV for any visual evidence of defects. While you’re conducting this visual assessment also be aware of any possible odors emanating from the tires or engine. Use your sense of touch to determine if any components seem to be overheating. Feel the tires, engine area, and the hitch. Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to get out on the open road to test acceleration and stability. 

a class C RV traveling at highway speeds
Taking an RV test drive at highway speeds is as important as driving it slowly around a parking lot. Photo: P Dent

7 Test drive at highway speeds

Driving the RV at highway speeds will expose any vibrations or shuttering that may occur as the RV (or tow vehicle) transmission shifts from one gear to the next. Be aware of how long it takes to accelerate to highway speeds. Is this greater than your expectation?  Does the motorhome or tow vehicle seem to be straining to achieve highway speeds?  If you’re towing a dinghy or trailer does it feel like the tow vehicle is able to manage the extra weight? Does the towed vehicle look like it’s following in a straight line behind the towing vehicle or is it drifting back and forth in the lane?

8 Does the driver’s area fit your frame?

If the test drive is in a motorhome, another important thing you should pay close attention to is how well you fit in the driver’s seat. Is it the right height and shape? Do you have enough legroom? Does the driver’s seat have enough adjustments to maximize comfort? Do you have good vision out the front window and clear vision of all the mirrors? Does the driver’s seat seem to be appropriately aligned with the steering column and foot pedals? Can you easily reach all the controls? 

9 Use test-drive time for a full inspection

While you’re doing the RV test drive, pull over in a safe area and check the functionality of all the components in the RV. This includes things like the water heater, microwave, flush mechanism of the toilets, doors and windows, the gas range, refrigerator, entertainment center, and even the Sleep Number bed (if equipped). Ask the salesperson or previous owner about the operation of all the components. You may never get another chance to fully inspect before purchase. Remember, if you end up buying this RV, you’re going to have it for many years. For most people the purchase of an RV represents a large personal investment. Therefore, you have the right to assess every detail, component, and feature of the RV. If one test drive is not enough, schedule a second one.  

An RV test drive may prevent a regrettable purchase.

The point of an RV test drive and inspection is that you want to be sure you’re purchasing a motorhome, trailer, or truck camper that fits your needs. It should be in good working order, reliable, and will provide years of enjoyable camping experiences. Forgoing this step could result in a purchase you regret.

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RV Lifestyle | Grape Creek RV Park San Angelo TX

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