This past summer our family took an RV trip out west. We had 2 adults, 4 kids, and a cat. Yes…we took the cat! We survived 15 days, 4,120 miles, and 8 stops. Not only did we survive, but it was the best vacation we’ve ever had! We stopped at the Kauau Ancient Ruins, Aztec Ruins, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Yosemite, Death Valley, and White Sands. If you have a chance to take a trip like this DO IT. You won’t regret it. Getting ready to go was hectic. I had a lot of lists of things to pack, things to buy, things to know…it was nuts. The end result was wonderful. Obviously I took my professional camera, but some of these are just iPhone images. They are all worth a million bucks to me. If you don’t have a fancy camera who cares?! Use whatever you have, but take lots of pictures. 🙂
Some of the APP’s we used that were helpful are:
BLM Campgrounds/USFS Campgrounds
That last app, MotionX GPS allowed us to track our entire trip. Here is what it looked like for us.
I know a lot of people make fun of people with selfie sticks, but get one. If you want to be in pictures on your trip you’ll need one. We were fortunate enough to run into kind people that would take a family shot for us once in a while, but I was glad to have the stick.
The Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. It was a gorgeous view! Our first stop was at the Kauau Ancient Ruins in New Mexico. This was the view when we pulled into the parking lot.
Our guide was wonderful. He had so much information. The picture on the bottom right is The Painted Kiva. He took us up on the roof, and then we climbed down inside. There were beautiful, story-telling painting that had be recovered and saved all over the walls of the Kiva. It is considered sacred, so no images were allowed.
Next stop was nearby. The Aztec Ruins, New Mexico. This was a really neat place to see. We were able to walk all through these ruins, and the main building had a short video to tell the whole story. You can read about this place at this link.
Monument Valley, Utah! What a gorgeous site. If you ever go here make sure you take a few hundred to spend. See that road that goes in front of the large rock forms?? You can take a tour on that road to get a much closer, eye level look. Only catch is they charge huge amounts to go.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona. Make sure you take the bus. Each stop along the Canyon has a different view. There are picnic tables as well, so if you want to eat and wait for sunset go for it! I’ve set myself a goal. Before I’m 40 (currently 36) years old I will hike the Canyon. I’ve already begun getting physically ready. It’s going to be amazing!
Thank you to the sweet man that offered to take a family picture for us! So happy I have this.
There were so many great campsites we stayed at!
Hoover Dam, Nevada. This was a last minute stop we decided to make. It was 108 degrees, and midday. We stopped, we saw, we left. Haha! I wanted to walk across, but it was something like 2 miles, 100 steps. There was no way my two little people were going to make it in that heat. I’m betting this would be a great stop in the fall. 😉
Cooking out was another fun time! Desert was always smores. 🙂 The campsite we stayed at in California was gorgeous, but the bears were a little too curious to eat too long outside. 🙂 See that image in the top right corner? That’s our Levi getting his National Parks Passport stamped. It was such a cool thing for him, and he’ll keep it always. Everytime he goes to any national park he can get it stamped, and get a sticker for the page.
Yosemite, California! What can I say? This is one beautiful place. This is a place we plan to go back to, and stay longer. So many things we didn’t have time to do.
Death Valley, California. There is a reason for that name. We planned to arrive by 8am, but got there at 9:30…it was already 109 degrees. There were signs that said ‘do not hike after 10am’, and ‘avoid overheating turn off A/C next 10 miles’. Constant signs that reminded you to drink water. They weren’t kidding. We had stopped before we got there, and got 6 gallons of water – most was drank by the time we left! Something we didn’t know ahead of time was in order to get to the area with the moving rocks you had to either have an offroading vehicle, or hire one of them. They happened to be closed that day, so no moving rocks for me. :/ I’d love to go back and spend more time at the Badwater Basin.
I can’t remember where this was, but I wanted a picture of a cactus so much! The kind we watched on cartoons as children. 🙂 I was not prepared for just how big they really are! That’s our 12 year old daughter standing next to an average sized one.
Our last stop on the way back home. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Another very hot, dry place. Very awesome to see! You have to either bring or buy a round snowsled to get the most of your visit. 🙂 Make sure you take lots of water with you when you walk up to the top to sled down. And wear hats! That sun is hot, and the white sand reflects it right back into your face.
Several places we are hoping to one day spend more time at, but our next RV trip we’ll be heading northwest. Happy Travels!