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There are many amazing places to visit in New Zealand and it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular countries to travel.

Its diverse landscapes, friendly people, and pristine environment are just some of the reasons why.

Aside from that, the place is just so beautiful.

A stunning sunset in Milford Sound

From the airy mountain tops of the Southern Alps to the stunning beaches in the north, there are so many breathtaking things to do in New Zealand.

I was lucky enough to spend an entire year traveling New Zealand and during that time I fell in love.

And I ventured on hundreds of adventures and visited a vast number of places.

Where is New Zealand?

Located in the south-west Pacific, New Zealand (NZ) consists of two main islands – the North Island and the South Island.

It lies approximately 1,200 miles east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly 600 miles south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga.

There are a few specific places in New Zealand that stand out from the rest – the ones that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Here they are!

Places to Visit in New Zealand (South Island) Milford Sound Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of those places you simply can’t miss when you visit New Zealand.

Located in Fiordland National Park about a 4 hours’ drive from Queenstown, Milford Sound is often referred to as the 8th wonder of the word, and after visiting a few times I must say that I totally agree!

Boat cruises are the best way to explore Milford Sound but there are also other options such as kayaking trips or scenic flights.

Some kayaking trips are full day adventures and others run for an hour. The great thing about Milford is that there’s room to personalize your own trip.

The most common way to travel to Milford Sound is from Queenstown via a scenic coach tour and cruise. This day trip involves a lot of driving and usually runs for 13 hours.

However, if you want an even better experience you can actually stay in Milford Sound or do a Milford Sound overnight cruise!

These allow you to see Milford from a whole new perspective once the tourists have left and Milford Sound returns to the quiet place it once was.

In my opinion, spending the night in Milford was one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

Queenstown The view from Queenstown Hill

I called Queenstown home for seven months and it’s one of my favourite places in New Zealand, I loved every second of it.

And it’s just one of the most amazing places to go in New Zealand regardless of what you’re here for.

There are so many things to do I Queenstown it’s crazy, but, Queenstown is well-known as the adventure capital of New Zealand.

This means there are tons of adventure sports offered such as skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoning, jet boating, skydiving, and bungee jumping – all world class!

In Queenstown, there is also a huge range of stunning hiking trails suited to all fitness levels.

If you’re keen to tackle one of the harder hikes then consider hiking to Ben Lomond Summit. This 8-hour hike isn’t for the faint hearted but from the top, the views are out of this world!

For a shorter hike, I recommend Queenstown Hill.

This hike only takes around 2-hours return and leads you to spectacular views overlooking Queenstown.

Queenstown’s not just about adrenaline filled activities though, and there are plenty of the finer things in life to enjoy such as a wine tour through the stunning Gibbston Valley or a scenic cruise on the famous Lake Wakatipu!

With so much to offer, its no wonder this town of 28,000 people sees over 3.2 million visitors every year!

Queenstown Trip Planning:
Franz Josef The first glimpses of Franz Josef Glacier on the valley walk

The west coast is one of the best places for a New Zealand road trip and at the center of it is Franz Josef, one of the top New Zealand landmarks.

This small town offers a range of places to visit and hiking trails to explore.

From the trails that lead to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers to the peaceful Franz Josef Hot Pools, this small town is quite the place to explore!

One of my favorite hikes in New Zealand to do is the Lake Matheson Walk. This short 2-hour walk leads to one of the most amazing views.

From the viewpoint, the Southern Alps reflect perfectly off the lake. I’m not the only one who thinks this trail is amazing though, so to avoid the crowds be sure to set off at sunrise when it’s less crowded and the water is more likely to be still!

No trip to Franz Josef would be complete without a visit to one of the two very accessible glaciers in the region.

Both the Franz and Fox Glacier are located within 15-minutes of the town and both have short 1-hour hikes that lead to viewpoints of the glacier.

These viewpoints once walked right to the face of the glacier, however, in recent years both glaciers have retreated massively.

With that said you can still catch a glimpse of the glaciers from the viewpoints.

If that’s not close enough to the action for you, then there are also companies that offer glacier trekking with a helicopter flight to land on the glacier!

This is hugely popular but it does come with a hefty price tag!

Franz Josef Trip Planning:
Mount Cook National Park The views on the way to the Mueller Hut

If I had to rank my favorite New Zealand National Parks, Mount Cook would be number one!

Not only is the park easily accessible, but the one-hour drive from the main highway to Mount Cook Villages is, in my opinion, the most beautiful drive in New Zealand.

Once you arrive in the village the park just keeps getting better and now it’s time to ditch the car and explore Mount Cook’s stunning hiking trails.

The two most popular trails are the Hooker Valley Track and the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint.

The Hooker Valley leads to the Hooker Lake at the base of Mount Cook – New Zealand’s tallest mountain. This trail takes around 3 hours return and is a very well maintained and easy, flat trail.

The Tasman Glacier lookout is even shorter and the hike to the Tasman River mouth only takes around 10-minutes one way. From the river mouth, you can look out at the Tasman Lake and watch icebergs float towards the river and see the Tasman Glacier.

If you’re after even more adventure then the Mueller Hut is a great choice.

The Mueller Hut is an alpine hut situated near the Mueller glacier high above the valley floor.

The hut sits at an elevation of 1,800m and the hike there takes 5 hours one way. The hut has 36 beds for hikers and is one of the best places to spend the night in New Zealand.

Mount Cook Trip Planning:
Christchurch Image by Deposit Phoitos

Christchurch is the largest city in the New Zealand South Island.

However, despite its large city feel it’s actually a really cool place to visit during your New Zealand vacation.

Some of the best things to do in Christchurch include exploring the epic street art or visiting the Canterbury Earthquake National Museum.

For the best street art check out Brockworth Street. Here, you can find the Brockworth Street Art Gallery and it’s where some of the best murals in the city are located!

Another cool thing to do in Christchurch is taking the gondola up to Mount Cavendish. The gondola is 1km long and at the top of Mount Cavendish, you can enjoy stunning views of the city.

If your feeling more adventurous, then from the top you can explore some of Christchurch’s best hiking trails such as the Crater Rim Trail and Bridal Path.

Moving further out of the city you’ll find even more amazing places to visit.

The Godly Head hiking trail is arguably the most popular and spectacular. This trail hugs the rocky coastline and from the cliffs, you can spot a range of natural wildlife including dolphins and penguins.

During certain times of the year and with a little luck on your side, you can even see whales (June to July) or Orcas (November to February).

Christchurch Trip Planning:
The Catlins Koropuku Falls

The Catlins Region is one of the most underrated places to see in New Zealand.

Located in the very south of the South Island between Invercargill and Balclutha, the Catlin’s is a place filled with both stunning landscapes such as waterfalls and forests, and of course an abundance of wildlife.

One of my favorite places to visit in Catlin’s is Curio Bay, one hours drive from Invercargill.

At Curio Bay, you can see not one, but two penguin species! They are the Little Penguin, and one of the rarest penguins in the world, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin.

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin can be hard to spot and in fact, the only chance you’ll get to see them is at sunset when they head home after a day catching fish.

There is a lookout at Curio Bay for this and it’s a really cool thing to see.

If you’re satisfied with just spotting a Little Penguin then you’re in luck. At night can you usually find these guys walking around the Curio Bay Campsite.

As mentioned, it’s also a great place to see waterfalls and some of the best that you need to check out are Koropuku and Mclean Falls.

Mclean Falls is super popular and you’ll often see large crowds of people visiting, however, Koropuku Falls is almost unknown and I personally think that it is far more beautiful.

The Catlin’s Trip Planning:
Marlborough Sounds Seal watching in the Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds is located at the very top of the South Island across the Tasman Sea from Wellington. And the town of Picton is known as a gateway to the islands and inlets.

Marlborough Sounds is another place that showcases New Zealand’s abundance of wildlife.

From birds to marine life, the Marlborough Sound is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand for nature lovers!.

The most popular way to explore the sounds is on a boat cruise.

These cruises head out to explore the small islands and rugged coastlines in search of seals, rare birds, and even Kiwis (the bird – not the fruit or the people!)

Of course, it’s almost impossible to spot a Kiwi bird during the day but if you’re lucky enough you may witness the DOC (Department of Conservation) releasing Kiwis into the wild on one of the predator-free islands in the Marlborough Sounds.

The DOC use these islands to raise the birds in the wild until they are one-year-old and big enough to survive on the mainland.

This increases there survival rate from 5% to over 80%!

On the predator-free islands, you can also see Little Penguins nesting. As you explore the island your guide will check the nesting stations on the island in hopes to spot one.

Of course, the middle of the day is fishing time for Penguins so you’ll only see one if they’re being a little lazy!

  Marlborough Sounds Trip Planning:
Kaikoura Swimming with Hector Dolphins is an experience in New Zealand like no other! Photo credit – Emma Southwell

Kaikoura is a beautiful little town located on the east coast just north of Christchurch.

Although out of the way on most visitor’s road trips in New Zealand, this places is well worth checking out for one major attraction – swimming with the world’s smallest dolphin, the Hector Dolphin.

When it comes to wildlife interactions New Zealand is one of the most ethical places to do it.

With strict laws in place to protect the dolphins, it is a great experience that you don’t have to feel bad about.

Dolphins are so common in the area you don’t even need to do a tour to have an encounter and a trip to one of the many beaches could give you the experience you wanted for free.

Aside from the dolphins, you can also enjoy the stunning beaches and other marine life such as whales, stingrays, and Orcas.

Kaikoura isn’t as well established on the tourist route yet but it was becoming one of the best places in New Zealand to visit.

Kaikoura Trip Planning:
Places to Visit in New Zealand (North Island) The Coromandel Peninsula Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel

There are few things to do on the north island that are as iconic as visiting the Coromandel Peninsula.

From the moment you enter the peninsular the landscapes around you begin to change dramatically.

From stunning beaches, amazing hikes and unique things to see and do, the Coromandel Peninsula is a New Zealand must see!

One of the most famous things to do in Coromandel is to dig your own spa on Hot Water Beach. It sounds crazy, right? But thanks to three thermal vents you can dig a small hole that fills with hot water and create your own hot springs.

There is a catch though, and you need to do 2 hours either side of low tide. Any time after or before and the vents are under water.

Some other really cool places to check out are Cathedral Cove (a film location in the Narnia Films) and the Pinnacles hike.

The Pinnacles hike takes around 4-hours one way and if you want to break it up you can stay the night in the largest, and arguably the nicest, DOC hut in New Zealand.

A night at the hut will set you back $15 per night and is located only an hour for the top making it perfect for a sunrise mission!

Coromandel Peninsula Trip Planning:
Northland The stunning beaches in Northland

The Northland Region is one of the most popular New Zealand destinations for the locals during their summer holidays.

Not only do the beaches there rival those in places like Australia, but it is also its remote and somewhat uncharted vibe that draws people here.

The Bay of Islands is without a doubt the most popular place to visit in the region but to me, it’s not the best spot.

In fact closer to Auckland you can find even better beaches and attractions.

One of my favorites is Matapouri Bay. The beach here is not only pristine but nearby you can swim in natural pools called the Mermaid Pools.

The pools sit in the reef between the sand and the ocean and provide the perfect spot to relax.

Another great place to visit is the Waipu Caves where you can see glow worms.

From the car park, you can explore the caves safely without a guide and wander into the darkness to see these amazing creatures light up the sky, or cave I should say.

I preferred this experience to other glow worm caves in New Zealand as it was much more personal and far less crowded!

Northland Trip Planning:

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I feel like I’m stuck in the Land of Eternal Winter.

We’ve been teased by glimpses of the end of it for a month now.

Sunny days that require only a t-shirt and shorts that have been followed by days of bitter cold where I’m digging deep into our Yakima SkyBox for my thick winter tracksuit pants I thought I had long packed away.

I find camping in winter so draining and it makes me want to cry each time I return to the sweater.

Noooooo. Please just give me warmth. I’ll take 100 degrees any day!

This week on the Burr Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

It’s May and we nearly had snow the other day. That’s how cold it is!

I refused to leave Goldie (our RV) when we were back at our boondocking spot after our days hiking. I can’t step out there and feel it for another minute.

We’ve just had several days of rain and Goldie is coated in a nice shade of orange and brown mud. More rain is coming.

Did I mention we are in the desert!!

Camping this week near St. George, Utah

I love how travel teaches you don’t know much.

The American Desert is vastly different to the Australian one – no snow, little precipitation and little chill around. I guess the driest continent in the world is going to be true to the desert definition.

We’ve had so much rain since we’ve been in the South West. It’s mind boggling.

I can be impressed and awestruck by it at the same time I’m shivering. Long winters just aren’t in my DNA.

I find it amazing that we’ve even traveled for nearly 5 months in an RV over winter. We’ve done well, but I’m ready to change things up.

I fear though, as we move soon into Northern California and the Pacific Northwest that the heat I’m craving just won’t’ arrive.

Pit stop on Hwy 24 in Utah recently

It’s verified for me one of the reasons I love living in Raleigh so much. I know that now it is May the warm sweaters are packed away in those boxes for the next 5 months. They won’t be seen.

Everyday and every evening will be hot. Warm blanket, sweaty hot – just the way I like it. I like waking up and never having to check the weather.

Today will be hot, hotter or hottest.

I love how travel helps you to know what you like and don’t like. If you only know what you know then how can you know if it’s truly what you love and why!

Yep.

After spending 20 years traveling and living in various climates, I truly know what I love and what works best for me. 4 seasons with a short winter and long, hot, humid summers.

That’s my jam’.

The good news is the cold is not stopping us from having an incredible time and doing amazing things.

You’ve just got to know how to dance in the rain and cold!

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This week 23 wrap up of our USA road trip shares our adventures from Saturday to Friday.

I publish the posts on Sunday (I need a few days to prepare it!) More in-depth posts on each region with loads of tips and suggestions will be coming soon.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we share the current day-to-day adventures

The Saddest News of our RV Travels so far On the road past Bryce Canyon this week

Our beautiful email community already know this (as they get the insider stuff first. Jump in our virtual suitcase if you haven’t already. It’s free!)

We made the heartbreaking decision to skip Bryce Canyon in Utah.

It is by my favorite National Park in the USA (so far). We have been circling it now for 6 weeks waiting to get in. The Universe is against it.

Horse riding wasn’t available (for over a week). This was the number one thing we wanted to do. Craig and I did this in 2006 and it was one of our favorite travel adventures ever and we had been talking to the girls about it since before we left Raleigh in November.

Horse riding in Bryce Canyon in 2006

A couple of the trails we wanted to hike were also still closed due to winter weather damage. And it was due to have cold temps and rain ALL week!

We didn’t want to go to this magical fairy land and have half an experience. Since Utah is pretty central, we’re sure we’ll be able to fit it in somewhere else on the trip at a better time.

In Bryce in 2006 pre-kids

If not, we will fly into Las Vegas or Salt Lake City and road trip in from there at some stage.

One of the benefits of my 22 years of long term travel is that I’ve learned to easily accept what is and let go.

We did get a glimpse of it as we drove through. My God it’s beautiful.

on the road past Bryce Canyon

With this never ending winter surrounding us, I’m ready to drop anything that doesn’t’ give me warmth at the moment.

Don’t miss my post this week on 8 reasons why travel helps you live a life that is good.

RV Travels this week in Utah Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon

When we left you last week, our friends Mike and Anne from Honeytrek were sitting with us around the campfire drinking way too much wine.

I felt it the next day when we all went on one of our best adventures yet – Peek-a-boo and Spooky Canyon.

None of us knew what we were in for.

The kids had a blast and did not want this 3.5 mile long adventure to end as they climbed and scrambled over rock faces, small holes and boulders.

It was full of explosive moves which pounded my head and body.

After the tough climb through Peek-a-Boo we entered into Spooky Canyon, called that for how deep and dark and narrow it gets – 11 inches wide.

It was backpacks off backs, and bums and boobs tucked in.

We donned our Flat Stanley personas and slid our way through the crack climbing down further into the canyon as we went. Can’t wait to show you the video for this adventure.

What a way to spend it with our friends!

Hells Backbone Drive

After two intensive hikes in a row (the Slot Canyons and Lower Calf Creek Falls), a much needed rest day was had sitting in the car and enjoying the stunning scenery from our window.

First we started with a coffee and a view at Kiva Koffeehouse on Highway 12 and then drove half of the Hells Backbone Drive, which really wasn’t anything too amazing.

Kiva Koffeehouse

Perhaps the part that was closed was better.

Burr Trail Scenic Drive

The 64 mile Burr Trail was next which goes through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and into Capitol Reef National Park.

We knew immediately we had arrived back into Capitol Reef NP as the colors turned into the rainbow and the water pocket fold appeared.

Driving down the switchbacks was just stunning. Look at the red, chocolate, white and yellow colors of the rocks.

Slow Camp Life

The rest of the week has been spent attending to errands, catching up on work, repairing our vans, and enjoying camp life.

This week we got hit with the rain and mud and had to leave our first boondocking spot for fear we were all going to get stuck in the churning mud. It was pretty gross.

I am waiting until we get out of the desert to scrub the orange dirt off Goldie.

We met some new friends, the family from EcoWomb who are living an incredible no impact life on Mother Earth. The kids had fun running around the campfire playing with their kids.

It was great to come out of the wilderness and have access to a major town, St George. Our first stop was haircuts, followed by Target, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Albertsons and Wal-Mart!

The return to civilization was good.

RV and Road Trip Lessons

  • Always check the road around you in a Wal-Mart parking lot. You never know when you may drive over a big arse bolt and flatten the tire on your Ford 250. The tires on our Beast are massive but were no match for the BOLT. $279 later…. Craig changed to the spare tire on the side of the highway. Be sure to put your hazards on and know where your warning triangle is (if you have one) so you can put that out. We had no idea.

  • If you’re boondocking spot looks a little rutty, you can be sure when it rains – even the smallest bit, it will turn into a mud pit only pigs will love. We escaped before more rain by putting The Beast into 4×4 L but were slipping and sliding out of there even with the Beast dragging Goldie out.
  • Boondocking can take up a LOT of time driving into town to get water, gas, propane, do laundry, dump trash, find showers etc. Think about that before deciding to do it full-time if you run a full-time business. Boondocking has many benefits that we love, but it’s time consuming and we sometimes wonder would we be better using that time in other ways, like working on our business? Just an FYI.
  • Boondocking, or maybe just RV travel, also costs a lot of money initially in getting set up for it AND maintenance. I cannot keep our weekly costs under $1,000. Something is always coming up that needs attention. Hopefully now when our batteries are replaced we can stop using our generator which also adds to the gas bill.
  • We just bought 4 x 6 volt golf cart batteries for the RV at CostCo which come with a 12 month replacement guarantee – Love you CostCo! They will give us 205 amp hours instead of the 110 amp hours we currently have with our 12v deep cycle batteries.

  • Americans call Goldie a travel trailer. Australians would call it a caravan. Americans call a group of travel trailers traveling together a caravan. Australians would call it a convoy. I could possibly confuse you a lot with the different terminology I use. If you hear me refer to Goldie as a van you know why (short for caravan. Aussies shorten every possible word).

I’ve heard those in the van life movement would be upset with me trying to hijack that term as van is meant for sprinter type combi vans.

My reply to the van lifers – Get over it. Call it what you want. Just enjoy the lifestyle!

Where we Stayed Hole in the Rock Escalante Boondocking Spot

We had a few more nights in this wonderful camping spot. You can read more about it in last week’s wrap. 

Hole in the Rock Boondocking Hurricane on Hwy 59

We’re sitting on a plateau surrounded by the spectacular mounts of Hurricane and St George region. Zion National Park is not far away so you can imagine how beautiful it is.

The only problem is we’re on clay which turns to mud with just a sprinkling of rain. And as mentioned, we’ve been getting a lot of it.

We had to move from spot number 1 and go 2 miles down the road to a not as muddy spot on the edge of the main graded dirt road so we could easily get out if necessary.

Our second camping spot

The first spot was a challenge. And on our first night nearby tent campers were shooting clay pigeons!! Can you believe it? I was stunned they could just shoot firearms on BLM land near other campers.

It’s the Wild West y’all.

Made me a little nervous with the kids playing cricket nearby and I’m pretty sure they were all drinking. Lucky the rain came pelting down for the entire night to stop their party.

Both these posts are free, about 30-minutes drive from St George and super fast internet. You gotta still love free.

Travel Costs Burr Trail, Capitol Reef National Park

Each week, I include our travel related costs for the week.

I don’t include things like business costs, insurance, and souvenirs etc. That’s so personal that whatever I told you wouldn’t necessarily be true for you and your budget.

The following, apart from perhaps our groceries, will give you a reasonable estimate of costs related to travel.

If you are new to our weekly wrap, our costs each week are usually around $1,000 – $1,300. We’re really trying to stay under $1,000

My 30 days to Money Mindfulness Course helps you learn how to master your money (and do things like weekly spending checks no matter how much they hurt!) You can’t change what you aren’t aware of.

Vehicle Costs
  • Fuel: $153
  • Parking: $ 
  • Uber: $

The generator is costing us a bit extra in fuel. We only use it for about an hour a day to top up. Once we get our broken batteries replaced it will be better.

Accommodation Costs
  • Camping: $0 (yay)
Attractions
  • Park Fees: $
  • Tours: $
  • Tickets: $
  • Tips: 
Food Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee drive through in Panguitch, on the road from Escalante to St. George
  • Restaurants: $
  • Coffee: $66
  • Groceries: $389
  • Take out/ snacks: $177

We eat a mostly whole foods, organic diet, which means our grocery bills are higher than what would be typical.

Don’t forget with eating out costs, tip will be included in the prices and the odd glass of wine or two.

RV Supplies and Living
  • Laundry: $12
  • Firewood: 
  • Propane: $
  • Supplies: $
  • Dump: $13
  • Postage: $

This week we had to buy 4 new batteries – our broken ones will be refunded so it will balance out. (Thank you Costco). We also had to replace a tire AND buy a few other supplies to fix things in the travel trailer.

Total paid by us: $1,605

Without all the RV supplies, we would have come in at $798. Which is under budget but still not satisfactory as we’re spending too much on eating out and coffee. #Beinglazy

If this was your full time lifestyle, you’d be more careful. But, we’ve planned for an epic short term trip of the USA (1 year) so we’re okay with spending a little more on indulgences.

Where to Next? Burr Trail, Capitol Reef NP

We are back in the land of not sure.

We’re waiting to hear back from possible blogging partnerships and are dancing around weather so it’s a bit of a limbo land.

Hopefully we’ll have a bit more clarity tomorrow. But, we are headed in the general direction of Northern California.

Do we go to Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Yosemite, even though it’s still freezing?

Or do we head to San Francisco which maintains consistent cold weather year round?

OR do we just say stuff it we’re going back to Vegas for some dry warmth?

Or, perhaps just jump on a plane to the Bahamas?

We’ll let you know!

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You can find our previous RV weekly wrap posts here.

Our latest in-depth blog post is on 8 Awesome Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Videos of the trip coming out soon.  Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it. We’re now releasing our road trip videos.

Check out our latest video of our time in Joshua Tree National Park

Week 23: One of Best Adventures in Utah yet in the Escalante Slot Canyons
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Travel is not easy.

With all the dreaming, planning, saving, and then taking the giant leap towards something that is out of your comfort zone and filled with endless potential problems, it’s a massive drain of resources.

Travel involves huge sacrifice.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

In order to make travel a reality, acceptance of the sacrifice is a must.

Otherwise, it will be too hard, you’ll be too tired, there’ll be too much to be afraid of and you’ll always see it as being too expensive.

We’ve been on this USA road trip with Goldie and the Beast (our travel trailer and Ford F250) for nearly six months.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been putting the F250 truck in reverse to head back home to Raleigh to stability, comfort and routine.

With endless winter, endless travel trailer maintenance, a heavy workload (including homeschooling), and finding a way to parent without messing up your kids (I’m sure the parents reading this get it) exhaustion often walks beside me.

But, I don’t quit because something will happen that will remind me of WHY I travel.

Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park, Texas

It can be a simple moment, like Savannah’s sudden shock at seeing the flamingos standing with one leg and asking why they don’t have another.

I’m reminded that I get to stand in these moments with her as she absorbs the world around her.

I get to see how she thinks, what she’s learning, and how she’s growing.

It’s like I become a child again and awe and wonder become the forefront of my perspective.

Then it’s the bigger moments like zipping around in an ATV in Utah over the brilliant orange sand dunes amongst some of the most spectacular and colorful desert backdrops I’ve ever seen.

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah

WOW!

Travel is a gift of adventure, discovery, and thrill and I never want it to end.

We named our blog y Travel for a reason.

It’s because travel is about the WHY. Everything in life is about the why, the fuel that creates.

If your WHY is not big enough, or strong enough, or clear enough for you then you will NEVER achieve your dreams because the sacrifices will loom to heavy.

I reached out to our community to share why they travel, and I was blown away by the number of email responses I had and felt so inspired and joyful reading them all.

I’ve shared snippets throughout the post and our Instagram update where even more people shared with us

This blog post is written in partnership with our sponsor Allianz Travel, who apart from helping to keep your investment in travel safe, are committed to helping you connect to those very important reasons for travel.

You can share those reasons with Allianz using the hashtag #ITravelBecause and #TravelHappy.

Be sure to tag us (@yTravelBlog) as we’d LOVE to read your responses.

If you’re a blogger and you’d like to write a post yourself on your reasons for travel be sure to leave it in the comments below so we can read it.

I Travel Because… 1. Living a Good Life Filled with Rich Memories Ryan Mountain, Joshua Tree National Park, California

First and foremost I’m about living a good life. As Deacon Claybourne would sing,

At the end of the day
Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good

I don’t want to look back and know that I wasted my finite, precious years on earth living a life that does not fill me with joy and give me years and years of incredible memories.

That’s all I want from life and travel gifts that to me.

As a result of my years of travel and knowing THIS was the only life for me, it has gifted me the opportunity to create a thriving business that I LOVE so much.

I spend my days doing what I love and encouraging other people to live a good life and do what they love.

Oh yes. That is WHY I travel!

Email Member Response:

A recognition that tomorrow is not promised has inspired me to not wait for travel with our children. One of the reasons I value travel so much is that I have an intimate perspective on how fleeting time can be.

2. Connection: to Self, to Others, to Mother Nature, to Life Grand Canyon South Rim

If I’m not traveling it feels like I’m trying to drink water through a straw with holes in it!

I find it hard to connect to anything: joy, wonder, discovery, relaxation the list goes on.

Travel is a return to yourself and to life.

Because travel is constantly exposing us to new experiences it’s so easy to stay connected to the present – the only place life exists.

Travel offers me greater opportunity to connect to Mother Earth – if you follow our travels you know we are always playing in nature. As you’ll see in my points below, it helps me find so much peace, joy and wisdom.

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Through travel I can better connect to myself, my values.

I understand more of who I am and what is important to me, so I have more freedom to pursue only those things.

That’s where true freedom lies. Not in the ability to pack a suitcase and travel wherever you want, but to take that suitcase towards the things you value most. (click to tweet)

Living a life that connects to those values is what will bring you true joy.

Travel helps me connect to those I love.

A year ago, we traveled for a month with my parents. I helped them connect to many of their dreams visiting places like:

With my parents at the Statue of Liberty, NYC

The connection I had with my parents over those shared experiences and memories contributes to living a rich life.

It’s all that matters.

We spend 24/7 with our kids, but lately we’ve been traveling with friends, and they are out playing all day, and when they return I give them big hugs.

“I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages. I miss you so much.”

That’s the deep connection travel has given me with my girls. I feel I truly know them, not just know them but actually enjoy their company.

Monument Valley, Utah

I’m not sure the busyness of a normal life would give me that. I have many people questioning my sanity traveling with the girls full time and ask how I do it?

It all comes back to understanding the value of the experience.

It helps me overcome the very real challenges of traveling full time with your family. For now, the rewards of traveling with them are greater.

Email Member Response:

Travel is my form of meditation. It is the time when I am most connected to myself with no thoughts but that of present running on my mind. It reminds me to live and appreciate every moment. It helps me stay put with myself and not get consumed by work.

3. Constant Learning and Growth Walking around Uluru in Outback Australia

From a young age, I’ve always had books in my hand, participated in courses and sought out spiritual native wisdom to help me live a good life.

I just found the exact book I had when I was younger and is in a box in my mother in law’s garage the other day. I bought it for the girls and it thrills me that they read it every day!

Travel helps me to continue to learn about nature, other cultures and different belief systems.

You only know what you know.

The more you expand on what you know, the more enriching your life becomes and the better YOU ARE.

Lessons from Nature Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

The more I travel with Mother Nature the better I can understand the cycle of life.

How everything has its interdependent place and perfection can be created with patience and time.

I now not fear the low periods in life as I know it’s just a part of the cycle where I am absorbing and changing and gathering all I need to soon enough blossom again into a better version of me and life.

Learning from Life Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

The more I travel the more I realize I DON’T know.

Just the other day in the swimming pool showers, I kept hearing this strange noise like a washing machine that people were standing beside.

My friend informed me that it was a swimsuit dryer. You put it in and it spins really fast for about 20 seconds and dries your swimsuit!!!

Of course, living in Australia, we’d never have anything like this as the sun dries your swimsuit pretty quickly! You only know what you know and there is so much more to learn about life.

Is there a greater way to learn then to be out exploring the far corners of the earth and learning through first hand experiences?

Bugger the classroom and the school books.

Hiking the Bell Rock Path in Sedona, Arizona

I am amazed and delighted each day watching my two girls thrive as a result of our travels and what they learn and how they engage with the world around them.

When I think of them one day possibly returning to school, my energy becomes restricted and quite ill.

I know that the box of school will take away the natural wonder and awe and curiosity they have with learning on the road.

We don’t do any formal schooling with them but their knowledge of the world is phenomenal and their imagination and creativity is still in tact.

Learning About Yourself Boynton Canyon, Sedona

The more you learn about the world around you, the more you understand yourself.

Understanding yourself is the most powerful thing you can do.

With that knowledge you can go out and create greatness, hatred and envy will disappear from your life and you will be an expansion of love, tolerance and joy.

Only when I know who I am I can honor those different from me. Only when I honor those different from me can I be truly civilized” – Anne Wilson Schaef

Email Member Response:

I travel so I can understand the world around me. I don’t believe you can ever really know something until you experience it first hand.

I used to think I traveled to see the natural beauty around the world—and I admittedly still choose destinations based on pictures—but to be honest, I’m starting to realize that learning how people think and live differently around the world is even more fascinating than just seeing stunning landscapes.

4. Expression of Joy Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

I remember a few years ago struggling with this travel lifestyle and business we had created.

I spoke to my energy healer and spiritual mentor friend Belinda about it. I felt quite unworthy, or self indulgent to have created a life that involved me traveling all the time.

I knew that we were helping thousands of people go reach for their dreams and create amazing travel memories with those they loved, but I still felt like that me spending my days feeling joyful was a terrible thing!

She helped me overcome this by saying,

Caroline, the very purpose of life is to experience joy. You will do so much more for the world just by doing this. Think about what you can spread through the world just by being an expression of joy.

It made so much sense to me.

I travel because it helps me express my JOY. And that in turn puts a powerful energy back into the world and all those I come in contact with.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

When I travel there is so much I can feel joy about.

All of the points I have listed in this post as to why I travel, help me to experience and express joy – the most powerful emotion we can experience and the true purpose of life.

Joy is a completely separate emotion to happiness. Don’t confuse the two and don’t pursue happiness over experiencing joy.

Happiness depends on external circumstances and can change at a whim.

Joy is a state of being that you can feel even when you don’t experience happiness!

For example, my daughters could be driving me crazy about one thing or another, in that moment I don’t feel happy at all. But in the same moment I can look to the side and see a red desert wildflower in an orange sandy field and exclaim, “Oh my goodness, look at how beautiful that is.”

If you weren’t joyful, and only focused on the pursuit of happiness, you’d miss that connection to the simple things that can let you express joy even when you feel unhappy with current circumstances.

Joy is a state of being and an inner outlook.

It’s who you choose to be despite what is going on around you.

ice skating at Bryant Park in New York City at Christmas

I don’t think joy is a normal or natural state of being for most people. I stand corrected. It was when you were a baby, but you know how that story went.

Amongst the chaos and stresses and routines of everyday life it is more challenging to experience and express joy.

But travel can make it much easier, and in the process, hopefully, allow you to return to your natural state of being for life.

Choose Joy. Choose Living a God Life.

5. Wonder/ Awe Airport Overlook, Sedona, Arizona

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein

It is difficult to stay connected to wonder and awe when you live a “normal’ life.

The reason being is that we’re usually operating on comfort and routine. We’re not doing much to discover newness. With that newness comes wonder.

That’s why if I am not traveling, I’ve always felt a little dead inside.

It’s because my connection to wonder has been harder to find. Now I understand the importance of wonder to feeling alive, I seek it out in my everyday life when I am not traveling.

Torrey Pines State Park, San Diego

But experiencing the newness that comes with travel is an easy portal to standing rapt in awe and feeling most alive.

Wonder and Awe begets joy, love and gratitude.

All of those emotions will set your life on fire and create endless opportunities to feel more of these things.

6. Vibrant Health Stand up paddle boarding at Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

When I travel I feel vibrant and healthy.

It’s because we tend to travel with a focus on outdoor experiences. The weight strips away and my body hardens with each new hike, bike ride, and kayak trip.

My mental and spiritual health is also usually high, which contributes to overall vibrancy.

My travels aren’t without challenges and occasional stresses, but I feel I can pass through them quickly, easily reset and return to wonder and joy.

How can you not, when after a day of mad hustling to fix the trailer, do some school work, and tidy up some loose work ends, you hit the orange and pink rocks and cliffs of Utah and come across a stunning arch like this…

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

It can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road, but when I put in the effort I feel better than I ever would when I’m not traveling.

7. A Return to Humility Monument Valley, Utah

There is nothing more humbling than sitting under a big sky in the expanse of a desert.

Nothing can hide out there. everything is stripped away to reveal truth.

The grandeur and mystery of a sunrise, sunset, expansive horizon, towering mountain range, vast ocean, and night time sky makes me feel small and insignificant.

I don’t mean this in a way to feel bad about my worth and existence. It has the opposite effect.

It helps me to feel magnificent. Because in this smallness I am apart of something so great.

My ego – that part of me that needs to feel large and superior – diminishes, and I’m left with just the part that is ego free. The true essence of peace and love.

I feel humbled, yet powerful.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

I feel like I’m being guided on a path to amazing things and if I can just let go of controlling that I can let the stars guide me to that greatness.

It also helps me to see that on that path to greatness I am not alone, I am always being helped by others. We all stand on the shoulders of giants and I love how staying connected to the wonder and awe of travel helps me appreciate that.

Let the stars help you remove your ego and return to humility.

Email Member Response:

It helps me realize how amazing this world is and gives me confidence that there is a God who created it – and how amazing all of creation is.

8. It’s the People You Meet: compassion, acceptance, tolerance We spent a week with 20 friends in an Orlando Vacation home

I don’t think there is a traveler you haven’t heard say this. It’s not cliché, it’s just truth.

Travel breaks down the barriers of fear and hatred.

The greatest travel memories I gave usually are surrounded by the people I have met and spent time with. Sometimes it is people from my own culture, many times it’s not.

Being a foreigner offers me endless opportunities to engage with others and learn. It’s incredible how much my Australian accent opens up doors of conversations.

As an introvert, who also loves meeting people, this is hugely helpful for me as it makes the initial outreach so much easier.

with our friends in Bangkok, Thailand

My suitcase of memories with others is so full:

  • the Swedish rock climbers I met in Thailand who helped me discover the joy and power of physically stepping out of my comfort zone
  • being a private..
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Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is special.

In the 1930s desert lover and community activist, Minerva Hoyt recognized the human threats of the nearby ecosystem and persuaded President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim Joshua Tree a National Monument in 1936.

It was renamed the Joshua Tree National Park in 1994 and now protects 792,510 acres – mostly wilderness – where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts converge.

Thanks to Minerva, we have this national treasure where we can disconnect from the chaos of our busy lives to unwind and relax amongst the stark beauty and unique desert trees.

In Saguaro National Park in Tucson, we fell in love with the saguaro cactus.

Here in South East California, we fell in love with the Joshua Tree, which reminded me so much of the truffula trees in the Lorax.

It has a similar playful, unique and striking presence and aura.

It helped me keep in the forefront of my mind as we explored this National Park, the dangers that can come when humans turn their backs from Mother Nature, thinking they can supersede her.

Never, it’s where we find our sustenance, not just for our bodies, but more importantly our soul.

About Joshua Tree National Park

What’s special about Joshua Tree?

It’s not just the Joshua Trees to love here but junipers, scrub oaks, Mojave yuccas and prickly pear cactus, one of our favorites from Big Bend National Park.

So what is a Joshua Tree?

One of the interesting Joshua Tree facts is that it isn’t really a tree, but a species of yucca!

They can grow over 40 feet tall at the leisurely rate of an inch a year – typical of a desert plant.

In February through April it blooms clusters of cream-colored flowers. We just missed it!

It’s also home to a wide variety of animals  such as ground squirrels, woodpeckers hawks, and ravens.

We saw a couple of jack rabbits and ground squirrels in our visit.

It’s only in the Mojave Desert section of the park (the northwest section) where you’ll see most of the Joshua trees.

The south is dominated by the flora and fauna of the Colorado Desert which has lower elevations. Here is where you’ll find cholla, creosote and ocotillo.

You won’t see any more of those beautiful piles of rock boulders either, created as a result of volcanic activity.

There are a few fan–palm oasis within the park. Fan-palms are so majestic and magnetic. I loved them as much as the Joshua’s.

The oasis will also have cottonwoods and mesquites, more plants of the desert I love.

The longer I live the more I love the desert!

The desert used to bore me as a child and wondered why anyone would want to visit as wasteland. Now I know it as a place full of life and the chance for spiritual awakenings and soul love.

When you’re at the oasis, know you are a top a crack in the earth’s crust!!

But try not to think about the shakes that have to occur along the faultline here!!

Where is Joshua Tree National Park?

The park is situated in San Bernardino County in South East California and within a few hours’ drive of several major cities:

  • LA to Joshua Tree is 140 miles
  • Palms Springs to Joshua Tree is 49 miles
  • 175 miles northeast of San Diego
  • 215 miles southwest of Las Vegas
  • 222 miles west of Phoenix
Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park Hidden Valley Trail

Hidden Valley is named after the cattle rustlers who used to hide their stolen cattle in here.

Easy to see why when you walk through a narrow passage in the outcropping or rocks into a huge area bordered in a circle by more rock outcroppings.

You would never know it’s there if you didn’t walk though the rocks.

It’s a very easy 1-mile loop walk around the perimeter of the valley, and one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree with kids. 

The scenery is spectacular with it’s white boulders and Joshua Trees dotting the landscape.

Act like Savannah and find a rock to sit on and reflect.

Use your five senses to appreciate the park. Thank goodness for the Junior Ranger program that inspired her to do this.

This area is popular for rock climbers.

For beginning rock climbers with no equipment you may wish to join this rock climbing tour

Barker Dam

Another easy hike for the kids and you!

Another 1-mile loop walk leading you past Barker Dam Joshua Tree which was created as a watering hole for the cattle.

It opens up to a gorgeous expansive vista of the surrounding mountains, rocks and Joshua Trees making it one of the prettiest things to see in Joshua Tree National Park.

Don’t miss the petroglyphs and pictographs on the rocks near the end of the trail. They are very vivid and interesting to look at.

It’s sad reading how some vandals had drawn over several in an area nearby. I just don’t understand why people want to destroy such natural treasures.

Ryan Mountain Trail

One of the more exciting Joshua Tree hikes is to the top of Ryan Mountain.

We had many people recommend this to us as one of the top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.

Of course we decided to take the girls up there on the windiest day in the world, which only added to the adventure.

If you’re kids are used to hiking, they will be fine with this walk and will love the thrill of it.

The Ryan Mountain Trail is 3-miles return and gains an elevation of 1,000ft to the 5,458 foot summit.

One one side of the mountain (the start of the tail) you get beautiful views of the rocky outcroppings in Lost Horse Valley, and on the other side of the trail you get views of Queen and Pleasant Valley.

Other Joshua Tree National Park hiking trails I would have liked to do:

  • Fortynine Palms Oasis – a 3 mile walk to a shady beautiful oasis
Pinto Basin Drive

If you’re looking for things to do in Joshua Tree besides hike, do this drive. 

We only drove the Pinto Basin road to a little beyond the Cholla Garden.

It’s quite a long drive and time was running short. We’re glad we made the call to turn around as it meant we experienced the extraordinary sunset at Key Views.

The drive is worth doing and if you have time, I recommend going all the way to Cottonwood Springs which was used by the Cahuilla Indian for centuries.

The landscape changes quite dramatically along the way.

You lose the Joshua Trees and rock outcroppings and instead have a wide open expanse with mountains as the background as the Mojave Desert begins to meet the Colorado Desert.

Cholla Garden

Remember when Kalyra was attacked by a cactus in the Sonoran desert in Saguaro National Park?

We returned to her foe, the jumping cholla. We hadn’t seen them since Tucson.

Along the Pinto Basin Drive you will come to a field of them. There are thousands. And it’s one of the most popular things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.

There is a boardwalk and path winding through the garden to protect you from them.

Don’t stray off the path. They’re called jumping for a reason, and they do like to embed themselves in your skin.

You are close enough to admire them from the boardwalk. They really are beautiful and with the mountains in the background it makes for a gorgeous setting.

Skull Rock

Be ready to line up for your photo with the haunting Skull Rock, the rounded shaped rock with a pair of shallow caves that resemble eye sockets.

It’s just off the side of the road so no hiking required although there is a 1.7 mile nature trail around here you can take to the Jumbo Rocks should you wish.

Keys View

Be sure to end your day with a Joshua Tree sunset at Keys View, the highest point in the park.

It’s just a short walk from the parking lot, and is one of the best spots in Joshua Tree to watch the sun go down! 

You get a stunning 360 views of the a vista over the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Salton Sea and on a very clear day you can even see a mountain in Mexico.

The sun sets behind Mt San Jacinto. Don’t forget to look behind to see the colors as well.

Keys View Joshua Tree is a sunset to remember for your entire USA road trip.

Junior Ranger Program

Don’t forget to stop in at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center with your kids to grab your Junior Ranger program.

This is the best way for children to engage with the National Park experience. We LOVE this program, and it’s one of the essential things to do in Joshua Tree National Park with kids. 

The girls take charge of their own learning and are becoming fantastic stewards of the earth as a result.

The activities will help them learn in an effortless and fun way about the flora and fauna of the park and what makes it so special.

It’s a great way for them to reflect on what they have learned and accomplished at the end when they turn their booklet in to receive their badges. A ranger will talk to them about their answers and experiences within the park.

Kane, the ranger on duty was so funny and wonderful in how he interacted with the girls.

We all found it especially funny when Savannah shared the smells she experienced in the park: rosemary and farts!!

The kids say a pledge with the ranger at the end promising to protect the park and then they receive their badges!

We’re doing our best to collect as many as we can on this trip.

We have two Grand Canyon badges and would have had Saguaro National Park and Big Bend National Park, had the government shutdown not gotten in the way.

Bonus video of Joshua Tree National Park
Can You Visit Joshua Tree in a day?

Yes. You can.

Joshua Tree NP is small enough to see most of it in one day.

It will involve an early start and late finish however, and you’ll want to take your food and drinks inside the park with you.

However, there is plenty to do to extend it over several days and I always say, why not?

What can you do in Joshua Tree in one day? My recommendations would be:

  • Ryan Mountain
  • Skull Rock
  • Hidden Valley Trail
  • Barkers Dam
  • Cholla Garden
  • Keys View for sunset
Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

  • Watch where you put your hands and feet – rattlesnakes live here
  • Only rock climb if you know what you are doing
  • Be careful of flash flooding
  • Off road driving is not permitted in Joshua Tree California
  • There is no cell phone coverage in most of the park – yay. Enjoy being present!
  • Camping is allowed only in designated areas or with a a backcountry permit
  • Joshua Tree Visitor Center, Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms, and Cottonwood Visitor Center are open daily.
  • Blackrock Nature Center is open October through May
Getting to Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is easily accessible from Los Angeles (140 miles).

There is an entrance at Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree Village, and in the south near Cottonwood Springs.

You can rent a car from nearby Los Angeles, or Palm Springs.

Although we recommend traveling to Joshua Tree National Park independently, if that is not possible for you there are Joshua Tree tours you can take.

Learn more here

Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Where to stay in Joshua Tree?

There are nine Joshua Tree campgrounds inside the park, plus a handful of campgrounds near Joshua Tree.

Only Black Rock, Indian Cove, Sheep Pass and Cottonwood Group campgrounds accept reservations from September through May.

The rest are first come first served.

Finding a campsite mid-week is easier than weekends in peak Joshua Tree camping season (Jan – May, Oct – Dec).

Joshua Tree campgrounds have (basic) toilet facilities. All campsites have picnic tables and fire rings, but you must bring your own firewood!

Hotels near Joshua Tree National Park 29 Palms Inn at Oasis of Mara

Established in 1928, the 29 Palms Inn offers an eclectic mix of guest accommodations looking out to the mountains of Joshua Tree National Park.

Oasis of Mara is also home to the park headquarters and the Oasis Visitor Center.

American Indians were the first people to live here, followed by prospectors than homesteaders. It’s really beautiful and a serene place to stay here in a cute desert cottage.

We ate here for lunch and had a look around the grounds and learned a little about the organic gardens where they grow a lot of the produce for their kitchen.

Click to read reviews on Tripadvisor

Campbell House

Oh this place is divine! What a great way to relax after a long hot day in the desert.

I loved the outdoor sitting area shaded by those gorgeous fan palm trees.

There’s also an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool and you can stay either in a room in the main colonial home or cottages on the property.

Campbell House is a Philadelphia-style Colonial house situated in Twentynine Palm. The original homestead was built in the 1920s by Bill & Elizabeth Campbell and is still present today attached to the main house as the lobby.

Book your stay at the Campbell House here. 

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

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Got any questions about what to do in Joshua Tree? Or have any of your own tips? Leave a comment down below!

8 Awesome Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park, California
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One of the greatest gifts travel has given me is the opportunity to  form wonderful friendships all over the world.

I am so grateful that Facebook has enabled me to keep in contact with my friends, so I can always know what they are up to, and if we are in the same area, reconnect.

Travel blogging has expanded my friendship world even more. I get to meet and hang out with really cool people.

For the past month, we have been traveling with our friends, Crazy Family Adventure, who we met online way back in 2014 when Bryanna joined B-School through my mentoring program.

Of course, we connected in real life when we came over to the US (2 years ago now).

With the Crazy Adventure Family crew in Utah

We connected with them in Nashville, Clearwater Beach Florida, Universal Studios Orlando, our Top Villa vacation home in Orlando for a week, Thanksgiving in Raleigh, Asheville for a week, and now the past month in Utah.

Not just with them though, but her sister’s family, and her parents!

What an enriching experience it has made our travels. All of our kids get along so well – a few arguments here and there, but that’s normal and they sort it out themselves pretty quick.

Capitol Gorge hike in Capitol Reef National Park

On Friday, our friends Mike and Anne Howard from Honeytrek were nearby so joined us at our boondocking spot in Escalante for the evening (and AWESOME Saturday adventure. I’ll share that in next week’s post).

With Mike and Anne at our camping spot in Escalante, Utah

We met them online way back in 2011, then met in real life on our New England road trip in 2017, then a couple of times in New York City for conferences.

We had a fun evening around the fire catching up and coming up with plans to help save the world. You know how that goes!

It’s wonderful to have like minded people you can share the journey of life and its many adventures with.

Be open to forming new friendships as you travel, it is life’s greatest reward, and the reason we are all here – to connect, share, support, and love.

(Oh and even if you are not a honeymooner or couple’s traveler, you will love Mike and Anne’s Book: Ultimate Journeys for Two: Extraordinary Destinations on Every Planet)

This week 22 wrap up of our USA road trip shares our adventures from Saturday to Friday.

I publish the posts on Sunday (I need a few days to prepare it!) More in-depth posts on each region with loads of tips and suggestions will be coming soon.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we share the current day-to-day adventures

Canyonlands – Shafer Trail Drive

Our last day in Moab saw us take on the famous Shaffer Trail Drive down into Canyonlands National Park.

Most known for the Shaffer switchbacks which you can get a good look at from above at the Shafer Trail Overlook. They wind down into the canyon over steep drop offs.

It wasn’t as scary as it looked from above, and it was a beautiful way to experience Canyonlands.

I loved how we passed by the Colorado River right underneath where we experienced sunset the week before at Dead Horse Point State Park.

The Shafer Trail takes you back out to Moab.

After over two weeks in Moab, we were happy to leave. Getting out of there was a nightmare though and took over two hours to dump, refill with water, and get out of the Moab traffic.

Moab does not have the infrastructure to manage the huge numbers of people visiting.

Hide and Seek in Goblin Valley

Okay. Hidden Secret time.

Most people haven’t heard of this. I hadn’t until Bryanna told us it’s worth a visit. And it is!

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah is a magical land of hobbit hiding places, goblins, and mythical creatures.

The kids are sure to say it is one of their favorite places. It’s the playground that exists in their minds. Places to crawl, climb, and hide.

It’s a small valley, but large enough for you to go on a few hikes and explore further afield.

We chose to let the kids run wild playing hide and seek and tag. We joined in or watched perched on top of a Goblin and enjoying a much needed rest.

Things we did in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is so beautiful.

It has to be up there as one of my favorites, especially since it seems so undiscovered. It was so quiet and peaceful.

There are loads of fun hikes, scenic drives, and even a lovely grassy, shady picnic area with orchards and horses surrounding it and a store with the most delicious raspberry ham gluten free cookies.

We had a wonderful three days exploring Capitol Reef and will write a more in-depth post on it for you.

For now, here is a little glimpse into what we did.

Cassidy Arch Trail

Not an easy walk, but a fun one that your body will love.

It’s uphill all the way to the Cassidy Arch, which you are allowed to walk on top of. Make sure you know before you walk on any natural arch or bridge as most are protected and you cannot.

We were proud of the kids for managing a challenging hike so well!

Hickman Bridge Trail

I LOVED this walk.

The landscaped changed so much through it from stunning valley views, to multi-colored rock country, to sandy beach type trails, all leading to this natural bridge.

We even saw a herd of deer at the end along the river.

Scenic Drive

We did the 10-mile Scenic Drive which winds it’s way past stunning rock formations and deep along The Capitol Gorge road which gets a bit winding and narrow and surround by cliffs, but totally fun!

Note to Craig: remember to put the truck in “park” before jumping out to take photos, lol.

Capitol Gorge Trail

This was a fun one for the kids walking along the bottom of the canyon at the end of the scenic drive road.

Super easy and only 2 miles return. We couldn’t find the tanks (water pockets) up a short trail into the mountains. We got distracted and took a wrong turn somewhere.

But the views were incredible.

We wanted to hurry out instead of finding it as there was a storm brewing and a few drops started. There are warnings everywhere not to be in these gorges during a thunderstorm due to potential flash floods.

Grand Wash Trail

A gentle five mile return hike through the Grand Wash gorge. It comes to a section called the Narrows, where the walls come closer together.

Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument Drive part of Scenic HWY 12

It’s Utah’s only road that is recognized as An All American Road, which tells you how beautiful this scenic drive must be as Utah has incredible drives all over the state.

We have only driven the first part from Torrey near Capitol Reef to Escalante. We will drive the rest this week.

Craig and I did it back in 2006 and I was blown away by the lunar like landscape mixed in with every color of the rainbow and style of rock formation you can think of.

I was unsure whether, because I have since seen so many incredible things in the US, this drive may not be as impactful as in 2006, when it was not the norm for me.

But, I think beauty like this can never be understated nor underappreciated.

Lower Creek Calf Falls

What a wonderful surprise Lower Creek Calf Falls was!!

Can you believe this beautiful waterfall gushing down over the cliff in a tranquil, tropical feeling place?

This reminded me so much of Emma’s Gorge in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

It was a big hike for us to do with the kids to get here. It was six miles return with an elevation gain of 500 ft. which wasn’t too bad.

The views along the valley and rainbow colored escarpment walls the entire way were beautiful. Most of it was a sandy track which made it a little more challenging.

But so worth it when we arrived.

The kids contemplated swimming in the pools underneath the falls until they felt the very chilly water.

RV and Road Trip Lessons

  • I’m enjoying boondocking more and more. It’s a bit of work staying on top of things and your supplies, but I have no desire to return to the ease of an RV park. You mean you want me to pay $60 a night for something I can get with more space and beauty for FREE?
  • Getting forced off internet is a good thing. It helps you focus better on the tasks that are important. It feels weird to not have any idea of what is going on in the world and takes awhile to get used to the freedom and peace of that. But, I love how then my only available tasks becomes writing. I get a lot done and, thanks to only three days without internet (and me only working a couple of hours each day). I am caught up on a ton of posts that were waiting my presence, and I have organized all my video files to the current day, ready to be sent for editing. Now to get better at it when I am connected.
  • Traveling with other kids makes everything easier and more joyful. I love how they kids are playing together every day. They play imaginary games, are writing movie scripts together, cook cupcakes, and enjoy hiking with each other. Somewhat. We still have a few complaints on the longer, harder ones, but you know that’s the way it goes. Often they are having so much fun together they forget to complain. I LOVE how they rarely go on their computers and the internet anymore. YAY for the reduction of the YouTube influence!
  • If you drive on the opposite side of a washboard road (dirt road with corrugations) it is much smoother. Be sure you can see what is coming down the other side of the road though so you avoid any accidents!
  • The Beast (Ford F250) is allowing us to explore many off the beaten path destinations. We LOVE our F250!
Distance Driven

Where we Stayed? Goblin Valley Boondocking

Oh my what a spot to camp for free!!

I loved being tucked away into a little crevice at the base of the vibrant orange cliffs here. The kids also loved this spot and could be found high in the cliff faces climbing and exploring.

A little further back in the nook was a campfire ring. Sadly, we didn’t get to have a fire as the wind was blowing up a a dust storm here.

We only stayed one night, but would have loved to have stayed longer here.

It’s a little past Goblin Valley at the Little White Horse Canyon area.

No cell or internet service available here.

Boondocking spot near Capitol Reef

Just outside the Capitol Reef National Park and only five minutes from the town of Torrey was our boondocking spot for Capitol Reef National Park.

It was off the side of the road.

Again, the kids were happy with the nearby cliffs to scramble over and go on exploratory hikes. No campfires once again due to windy conditions.

It was also FREEZING here. We nearly had snow. What? It’s MAY already!

There was no Verizon phone or internet service here, but there was Sprint.

Hole in the Rock Escalante Boondocking Spot

What a treat this place is after spending so long in the dirt.

It’s fields of grass and decent sized trees. The kids are loving the open spaces, trees to create their own secret hideouts, and the field to play cricket in.

I’m so happy that after teaching then how to play last week, they grab the cricket kit for a bash!

There are spots here along the cliffs edge with beautiful views, but we couldn’t find one to fit us all, so we grabbed this great piece of grass instead. Closing in our circle around the campfire.

We also had great internet service here, which was much appreciated after going 4 days offline.

This boondocking spot is right off the beginning of Hole in the Rock scenic drive which goes all the way down to Glen Canyon.

Travel Costs

Each week, I include our travel related costs for the week.

I don’t include things like business costs, insurance, and souvenirs etc. That’s so personal that whatever I told you wouldn’t necessarily be true for you and your budget.

The following, apart from perhaps our groceries, will give you a reasonable estimate of costs related to travel.

If you are new to our weekly wrap, our costs each week are usually around $1,000 – $1,300. We’re really trying to stay under $1,000

My 30 days to Money Mindfulness Course helps you learn how to master your money (and do things like weekly spending checks no matter how much they hurt!) You can’t change what you aren’t aware of.

Vehicle Costs
  • Fuel: $202
  • Parking: $ 
  • Uber: $

The generator is costing us a bit extra in fuel. We only use it for about an hour a day to top up. Once we get our broken batteries replaced it will be better.

Accommodation Costs
  • Camping: $0 (yay)
Attractions
  • Park Fees: $15 (Goblin Valley State Park)
  • Tours: $
  • Tickets: $
  • Tips: 
Food
  • Restaurants: $
  • Coffee: $10
  • Groceries: $328
  • Take out/ snacks: $20
  • Alcohol: $

We eat a mostly whole foods, organic diet, which means our grocery bills are higher than what would be typical.

Don’t forget with eating out costs, tip will be included in the prices and the odd glass of wine or two.

RV Supplies and Living
  • Laundry: $15
  • Firewood: 
  • Propane: $25
  • Supplies: $
  • Dump: $
  • Postage: $15

Total paid by us: $635

So happy our costs have come way down this week. Hoping to keep that trend up!

Capitol Reef National Park would have cost us $20 for a 7-day pass. We have a National Parks Pass which gives unlimited access to federal lands. It costs $80 a year.

It’s absolutely worth it for a trip like ours and saves us hundreds of dollars.

Where to Next?

I am so excited for what this week will bring. We are planning to visit Bryce Canyon!

This is my favorite National Park in the USA. I wonder if I will still feel the same wonder and awe as we return.

We’ve promised the girls a horse ride through the canyon as it still remains one of the best things I’ve ever done on my travels.

————————————————————————————————————–

You can find our previous RV weekly wrap posts here.

Our latest in-depth blog post is on things to do in Lake Mead.

Videos of the trip coming out soon.  Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it. We’re now releasing our road trip videos.

Check out our latest video of our last adventure in Sedona, spotting mule deer in the wild and hiking the Boynton Canyon.

Week 22: Hidden Gems and All..

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Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is special.

In the 1930s desert lover and community activist, Minerva Hoyt recognized the human threats of the nearby ecosystem and persuaded President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim Joshua Tree a National Monument in 1936.

It was renamed the Joshua Tree National Park in 1994 and now protects 792,510 acres – mostly wilderness – where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts converge.

Thanks to Minerva, we have this national treasure where we can disconnect from the chaos of our busy lives to unwind and relax amongst the stark beauty and unique desert trees.

In Saguaro National Park in Tucson, we fell in love with the saguaro cactus.

Here in South East California, we fell in love with the Joshua Tree, which reminded me so much of the truffula trees in the Lorax.

It has a similar playful, unique and striking presence and aura.

It helped me keep in the forefront of my mind as we explored this National Park, the dangers that can come when humans turn their backs from Mother Nature, thinking they can supersede her.

Never, it’s where we find our sustenance, not just for our bodies, but more importantly our soul.

About Joshua Tree National Park

What’s special about Joshua Tree?

It’s not just the Joshua Trees to love here but junipers, scrub oaks, Mojave yuccas and prickly pear cactus, one of our favorites from Big Bend National Park.

So what is a Joshua Tree?

One of the interesting Joshua Tree facts is that it isn’t really a tree, but a species of yucca!

They can grow over 40 feet tall at the leisurely rate of an inch a year – typical of a desert plant.

In February through April it blooms clusters of cream-colored flowers. We just missed it!

It’s also home to a wide variety of animals  such as ground squirrels, woodpeckers hawks, and ravens.

We saw a couple of jack rabbits and ground squirrels in our visit.

It’s only in the Mojave Desert section of the park (the northwest section) where you’ll see most of the Joshua trees.

The south is dominated by the flora and fauna of the Colorado Desert which has lower elevations. Here is where you’ll find cholla, creosote and ocotillo.

You won’t see any more of those beautiful piles of rock boulders either, created as a result of volcanic activity.

There are a few fan–palm oasis within the park. Fan-palms are so majestic and magnetic. I loved them as much as the Joshua’s.

The oasis will also have cottonwoods and mesquites, more plants of the desert I love.

The longer I live the more I love the desert!

The desert used to bore me as a child and wondered why anyone would want to visit as wasteland. Now I know it as a place full of life and the chance for spiritual awakenings and soul love.

When you’re at the oasis, know you are a top a crack in the earth’s crust!!

But try not to think about the shakes that have to occur along the faultline here!!

Where is Joshua Tree National Park?

The park is situated in San Bernardino County in South East California and within a few hours’ drive of several major cities:

  • LA to Joshua Tree is 140 miles
  • Palms Springs to Joshua Tree is 49 miles
  • 175 miles northeast of San Diego
  • 215 miles southwest of Las Vegas
  • 222 miles west of Phoenix
Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park Hidden Valley Trail

Hidden Valley is named after the cattle rustlers who used to hide their stolen cattle in here.

Easy to see why when you walk through a narrow passage in the outcropping or rocks into a huge area bordered in a circle by more rock outcroppings.

You would never know it’s there if you didn’t walk though the rocks.

It’s a very easy 1-mile loop walk around the perimeter of the valley, and one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree with kids. 

The scenery is spectacular with it’s white boulders and Joshua Trees dotting the landscape.

Act like Savannah and find a rock to sit on and reflect.

Use your five senses to appreciate the park. Thank goodness for the Junior Ranger program that inspired her to do this.

This area is popular for rock climbers.

For beginning rock climbers with no equipment you may wish to join this rock climbing tour

Barker Dam

Another easy hike for the kids and you!

Another 1-mile loop walk leading you past Barker Dam Joshua Tree which was created as a watering hole for the cattle.

It opens up to a gorgeous expansive vista of the surrounding mountains, rocks and Joshua Trees making it one of the prettiest things to see in Joshua Tree National Park.

Don’t miss the petroglyphs and pictographs on the rocks near the end of the trail. They are very vivid and interesting to look at.

It’s sad reading how some vandals had drawn over several in an area nearby. I just don’t understand why people want to destroy such natural treasures.

Ryan Mountain Trail

One of the more exciting Joshua Tree hikes is to the top of Ryan Mountain.

We had many people recommend this to us as one of the top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.

Of course we decided to take the girls up there on the windiest day in the world, which only added to the adventure.

If you’re kids are used to hiking, they will be fine with this walk and will love the thrill of it.

The Ryan Mountain Trail is 3-miles return and gains an elevation of 1,000ft to the 5,458 foot summit.

One one side of the mountain (the start of the tail) you get beautiful views of the rocky outcroppings in Lost Horse Valley, and on the other side of the trail you get views of Queen and Pleasant Valley.

Other Joshua Tree National Park hiking trails I would have liked to do:

  • Fortynine Palms Oasis – a 3 mile walk to a shady beautiful oasis
Pinto Basin Drive

If you’re looking for things to do in Joshua Tree besides hike, do this drive. 

We only drove the Pinto Basin road to a little beyond the Cholla Garden.

It’s quite a long drive and time was running short. We’re glad we made the call to turn around as it meant we experienced the extraordinary sunset at Key Views.

The drive is worth doing and if you have time, I recommend going all the way to Cottonwood Springs which was used by the Cahuilla Indian for centuries.

The landscape changes quite dramatically along the way.

You lose the Joshua Trees and rock outcroppings and instead have a wide open expanse with mountains as the background as the Mojave Desert begins to meet the Colorado Desert.

Cholla Garden

Remember when Kalyra was attacked by a cactus in the Sonora desert in Saguaro National Park?

We returned to her foe, the jumping cholla. We hadn’t seen them since Tucson.

Along the Pinto Basin Drive you will come to a field of them. There are thousands. And it’s one of the most popular things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.

There is a boardwalk and path winding through the garden to protect you from them.

Don’t stray off the path. They’re called jumping for a reason, and they do like to embed themselves in your skin.

You are close enough to admire them from the boardwalk. They really are beautiful and with the mountains in the background it makes for a gorgeous setting.

Skull Rock

Be ready to line up for your photo with the haunting Skull Rock, the rounded shaped rock with a pair of shallow caves that resemble eye sockets.

It’s just off the side of the road so no hiking required although there is a 1.7 mile nature trail around here you can take to the Jumbo Rocks should you wish.

Keys View

Be sure to end your day with a Joshua Tree sunset at Keys View, the highest point in the park.

It’s just a short walk from the parking lot, and is one of the best spots in Joshua Tree to watch the sun go down! 

You get a stunning 360 views of the a vista over the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Salton Sea and on a very clear day you can even see a mountain in Mexico.

The sun sets behind Mt San Jacinto. Don’t forget to look behind to see the colors as well.

Keys View Joshua Tree is a sunset to remember for your entire USA road trip.

Junior Ranger Program

Don’t forget to stop in at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center with your kids to grab your Junior Ranger program.

This is the best way for children to engage with the National Park experience. We LOVE this program, and it’s one of the essential things to do in Joshua Tree National Park with kids. 

The girls take charge of their own learning and are becoming fantastic stewards of the earth as a result.

The activities will help them learn in an effortless and fun way about the flora and fauna of the park and what makes it so special.

It’s a great way for them to reflect on what they have learned and accomplished at the end when they turn their booklet in to receive their badges. A ranger will talk to them about their answers and experiences within the park.

Kane, the ranger on duty was so funny and wonderful in how he interacted with the girls.

We all found it especially funny when Savannah shared the smells she experienced in the park: rosemary and farts!!

The kids say a pledge with the ranger at the end promising to protect the park and then they receive their badges!

We’re doing our best to collect as many as we can on this trip.

We have two Grand Canyon badges and would have had Saguaro National Park and Big Bend National Park, had the government shutdown not gotten in the way.

Can You Visit Joshua Tree in a day?

Yes. You can.

Joshua Tree NP is small enough to see most of it in one day.

It will involve an early start and late finish however, and you’ll want to take your food and drinks inside the park with you.

However, there is plenty to do to extend it over several days and I always say, why not?

What can you do in Joshua Tree in one day? My recommendations would be:

  • Ryan Mountain
  • Skull Rock
  • Hidden Valley Trail
  • Barkers Dam
  • Cholla Garden
  • Keys View for sunset
Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

  • Watch where you put your hands and feet – rattlesnakes live here
  • Only rock climb if you know what you are doing
  • Be careful of flash flooding
  • Off road driving is not permitted in Joshua Tree California
  • There is no cell phone coverage in most of the park – yay. Enjoy being present!
  • Camping is allowed only in designated areas or with a a backcountry permit
  • Joshua Tree Visitor Center, Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms, and Cottonwood Visitor Center are open daily.
  • Blackrock Nature Center is open October through May
Getting to Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is easily accessible from Los Angeles (140 miles).

There is an entrance at Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree Village, and in the south near Cottonwood Springs.

You can rent a car from nearby Los Angeles, or Palm Springs.

Although we recommend traveling to Joshua Tree National Park independently, if that is not possible for you there are Joshua Tree tours you can take.

Learn more here

Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Where to stay in Joshua Tree?

There are nine Joshua Tree campgrounds inside the park, plus a handful of campgrounds near Joshua Tree.

Only Black Rock, Indian Cove, Sheep Pass and Cottonwood Group campgrounds accept reservations from September through May.

The rest are first come first served.

Finding a campsite mid-week is easier than weekends in peak Joshua Tree camping season (Jan – May, Oct – Dec).

Joshua Tree campgrounds have (basic) toilet facilities. All campsites have picnic tables and fire rings, but you must bring your own firewood!

Hotels near Joshua Tree National Park 29 Palms Inn at Oasis of Mara

Established in 1928, the 29 Palms Inn offers an eclectic mix of guest accommodations looking out to the mountains of Joshua Tree National Park.

Oasis of Mara is also home to the park headquarters and the Oasis Visitor Center.

American Indians were the first people to live here, followed by prospectors than homesteaders. It’s really beautiful and a serene place to stay here in a cute desert cottage.

We ate here for lunch and had a look around the grounds and learned a little about the organic gardens where they grow a lot of the produce for their kitchen.

Click to read reviews on Trip Advisor

Campbell House

Oh this place is divine! What a great way to relax after a long hot day in the desert.

I loved the outdoor sitting area shaded by those gorgeous fan palm trees.

There’s also an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool and you can stay either in a room in the main colonial home or cottages on the property.

Campbell House is a Philadelphia-style Colonial house situated in Twentynine Palm. The original homestead was built in the 1920s by Bill & Elizabeth Campbell and is still present today attached to the main house as the lobby.

Book your stay at the Campbell House here. 

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

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Got any questions about what to do in Joshua Tree? Or have any of your own tips? Leave a comment down below!

8 Awesome Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park, California
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Part of the joy of travel is not only learning about other cultures, but sharing your culture with others.

Part of being a good traveler is being a good ambassador for your country.

As Carson from Crazy Family Adventure said after a day of celebrating ANZAC Day with us,

“I want to travel with people from other countries more often as you can celebrate their holidays with them too.”

On our jeep tour in Moab this week

Which is exactly what we were doing: sharing our traditions, the soul of our white Australia culture, our idea of mateship, our food, games and of course, our lingo!

I just happened to find an Aussie lingo book the night before our celebration and our friends took great delight in studying it and learning our secret language.

I love how Australians can be talking English, yet other English speaking foreigners have no idea what we’re saying. Our slang is just so unique.

They also fell in love with our national sport – cricket. I ordered a plastic set off Amazon especially for the day.

We headed out for the cactus field with gorgeous snow capped mountain views (very un Australian) for some backyard cricket – off course with our thongs on and Fosters tinnies in hand. (I know. It was our only Aussie option here in Moab.)

Craig ended up with smashed feet and stepping on a cactus as it had a plugger blow out. Everyone got a handle of the game quickly and had a blast staying out there for a couple of hours.

I loved how the kids got the cricket set out the next day and took themselves off down to the pitch to play together.

We had a sausage sizzle with potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. Tim Tams and Caramello Koalas for dessert. and Kalyra and Melia made ANZAC biscuits for everyone.

All of them were a hit. The vegemite not so much. I just don’t understand why!

We had every intention to play 2 UP but completely forgot once we settled in our chairs around the fire.

All in all it was a great day sharing our culture with our American mates.

This week 21 wrap up of our USA road trip shares our adventures from Saturday to Friday.

I publish the posts on Sunday (I need a few days to prepare it!) More in-depth posts on each region with loads of tips and suggestions will be coming soon.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we share the current day-to-day adventures.

Things we did in Moab, Utah

Moab is madness. Jeep week moved into Car show week and there were still loads of people around. The town is super crazy busy. But, no wonder as there is just so much to do in the surrounding areas.

Here’s what we got up to:

Jeep Off Roading in Moab

I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up to join the group off-roading adventures with 13 families from Full Time Families group we are boondocking with in Moab.

We got a great group discount on jeep hire and I knew it would be loads of fun exploring the backcountry roads of Moab – this area is famous for it.

I’m sure Moab would have the highest number of jeeps in the world.

The drive started pleasant and scenic through the La Sal Mountains, and then we hit the trail and our first rock.

OMG. We have to crawl over that?

For the next 7 hours we learned how to be pros at managing our fears, enjoying our screams, and crawling up and down rock faces.

Man jeeps are awesome!! I want to own one now and do more of this. It’s incredible how sturdy and flexible they are.

I’m really glad we were in a group and one of the experienced jeepers, Matt was excellent at guiding us over the rock faces.

The scenery was spectacular and reminded me of Sedona. We ended our day in the sand dunes having fun driving the jeeps up and over the hills.

This was an epic Moab adventure for sure!

Canyonlands – The Needles District

We set off early to head into the Needles District of Canyonlands. It’s separated from Island in the Sky by the Colorado and Green River so takes just over an hour to get in.

The drive in through the valley is spectacular.

It is very different to Islands in the Sky, which is the mesa overlooking the canyon. This area is famous for its pink and white striped rock pinnacles that look like needles.

To explore the needles you need a 4WD high clearance vehicle (experience necessary) and all hikes in there are 6 miles or longer. For that reason, it wasn’t as great as I hoped, as the shorter hikes (more family friendly ones) are quite a distance form the Needles.

It was still beautiful and we enjoyed the hikes we did do, but it’s something to consider if you  have young children, it may not be worth the detour down there.

Although, because of its remote location you will have the place almost to yourself.

We did the following hikes:

Slickrock Trail

This trail went over the rim of a much smaller canyon with beautiful views the entire way,

Pothole Point

You get some views of the Needles in the distance.

Cave Spring

An easy walk around the edges of some caves, past an old cowboy camp, some petroglyphs and then up some ladders at the end for views.

You can read last week’s wrap for our adventures in Island in the Sky.

Arches National Park

We headed back into Arches National Park to finish exploring. You can read last week’s wrap for the Delicate Arch hike we did then.

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch was such a pretty hike and you get to see a few other arches while there. A short detour takes you to  Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

The walk to Landscape Arch is so colorful with the orange, yellow, pink and white rock formations, the green valley in front and the blue skies. Delicious!

Landscape Arch has the longest span of the arches. Just off to the right of it you can see the Double O arches. You can walk and extra 1.2 miles to get closer. We only walked a little further up the rocks for beautiful views.

Sand Dune Arch

This is a great place to play for awhile with kids. It’s basically a giant sand pit in between rock walls.

Go a bit further in and you will see a small arch in amongst the sand. The kids loved playing in the sand here, climbing up on the rock and jumping off and wrestling each other.

We loved sitting in the shade and resting after Landscape Arch. it was a pretty hot day so this is where you can get relief from it.

North and South Window

I love this hike in Arches – if you can call it that. You are surrounded by arches – double arch, turret arch and then the windows – north and south. It’s a very short hike which also makes it so good.

Make sure you hike over to turret arch from north and south window and look back.

That’s where you’re going to see The Face.

This is probably my favorite view in Arches National Park – so mystical and ancient.

Bluegrass Music at Moab Backyard Theater

Oh this made me miss North Carolina, home of Bluegrass! Every Wednesday night (may be seasonal) the Moab Backyard Theater puts on live free bluegrass.

It’s in a tiny theater outside under a beautiful tree. The bluegrass was really good although we found the crowd oddly quiet and still.

We were up the back dancing and bopping and the kids were out the front playing. There was was space for them to play,  but it was difficult to keep them quiet, and since the crowd was so sedate it felt really crazy so we left a little early. It was fun though.

When full time families rock into town.

We have definitely found the night time experiences in Utah to be very sedate.

I don’t think you come to this state for that kind of thing. If that was North Carolina there would have been some whooping and two stepping happening for sure!

Camp Life

What a great week at camp.

The girls had loads of friends to play with. They had fun activities with the Fulltime Families group like Easter Egg hunts and games, a glow worm dance party and movie nights.

We had a relaxed Easter at camp, and the girls said it was the best ever. Probably because we didn’t see them much!!!

Craig, Jake and Craig went for a boys night out in Moab at Eddie Mcstiffs.

A fellow camper had a hot air balloon with him and kindly let the kids have free rides early one morning,

It was tethered to the ground and he took them about 100 feet up in the air. We could barely see the top of Savannah’s head peeking over the basket.

I was so amazed at how brave the kids were in going up. They had a blast.

As we’ve hot air ballooned a couple of times, and felt we’ve stretched the odds enough, Craig and I were happy to watch.

We also helped Knox celebrate his seventh birthday with a pizza party and a special visit to see the new Marvels Avenger Movie: End Game.

Can you believe this is the first Marvel movie I have watched, I think the last superhero movie I watched was when Michael Keaton was Batman!!!

I have no idea about DC or Marvel or what superheroes are about. I was stunned at how many there were in that movie.

I was also stunned by how much I enjoyed it. I was super impressed with the star line up, the story line and the wow factor. Of course  in keeping with our Aussie them of the week, Thor was the best!

RV and Road Trip Lessons

I think we had a largely uneventful time this week in relation to the RV. She was parked the entire time so not a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.

We’re just learning that it’s exhausting boondocking. It takes a lot of extra time to keep your water topped up, do your dumps, and discard your trash.

But it does save you money and I’m dreaming of my lovely settled life in Raleigh with my own home, so I want to save money for a house deposit!

Travel Costs Arches National Park

Each week, I include our travel related costs for the week.

I don’t include things like business costs, insurance, and souvenirs etc. That’s so personal that whatever I told you wouldn’t necessarily be true for you and your budget.

The following, apart from perhaps our groceries, will give you a reasonable estimate of costs related to travel.

If you are new to our weekly wrap, our costs each week are usually around $1,000 – $1,300. We’re really trying to stay under $1,000

My 30 days to Money Mindfulness Course helps you learn how to master your money (and do things like weekly spending checks no matter how much they hurt!) You can’t change what you aren’t aware of.

Vehicle Costs
  • Fuel: $61
  • Parking: $ 
  • Uber: $
Accommodation Costs
  • Camping: $0 (yay)
Attractions
  • Park Fees: $
  • Tours: $ 236 (jeep rental)
  • Tickets: $
  • Tips: 
Food
  • Restaurants: $
  • Coffee: $
  • Groceries: $444
  • Take out/ snacks: $59
  • Alcohol: $30

We eat a mostly whole foods, organic diet, which means our grocery bills are higher than what would be typical.

Don’t forget with eating out costs, tip will be included in the prices and the odd glass of wine or two.

RV supplies and living
  • Laundry: $15
  • Firewood: $ 15
  • Propane: $
  • Supplies: $
  • Dump: $
  • Postage: $31

Total paid by us: $891

Arches and Canyonlands would have cost us $30 each for a 7-day pass. We have a National Parks Pass which gives unlimited access to federal lands. It costs $80 a year.

It’s absolutely worth it for a trip like ours and saves us hundreds of dollars.

Where to Next? Arches NP

We’re on the move again. After more than two weeks in Moab, we’ve decided it’s time to see more of Utah.

Today, we head to Goblin Valley State Park followed by Capitol Reef National Park, Escalante, and my favorite national park in the USA – Bryce Canyon.

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You can find our previous RV weekly wrap posts here.

Our latest in-depth blog post is on things to do in Lake Mead.

Videos of the trip coming out soon.  Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it. We’re now releasing our road trip videos.

Check out our latest video of our 4×4 adventure to the thrilling Devil’s Bridge:

Week 21: Rock Crawling & Bluegrass in Moab
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Do you find the flashing neon lights of Las Vegas a little overwhelming and are seeking a natural respite?

One of the best day trips from Las Vegas is to drive about 40-minutes south east from The Strip and discover all the cool things to do at Lake Mead.

The striking desert scenery and brilliant blue waters of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a true oasis in the desert.

Well, it is a man made lake, so maybe not true as in an oasis provided by Mother Nature. But she did provide the mighty Colorado River that was controlled by man to create this incredible lake for your enjoyment.

We loved seeing the Colorado River again after leaving it a month earlier in the Grand Canyon and on the shores at The Needles California.

It flows pretty much straight out of the Grand Canyon into Lake Mead.

About Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Where is Lake Mead?

It’s about 30 miles south east of Las Vegas, or 290 miles north east of Los Angeles.

Lake Mead Nevada became a National Recreation Area for those looking for relaxation and fun in the desert since the Hoover Dam was created in 1936 and in 1951, Lake Mohave joined the recreation area when the Davis Dam was completed in 1951.

Both lakes became part of the first National Recreation Area in the National Parks Service in 1964.

Lake Mead is one of the largest and cleanest reservoirs in North America, with the water levels supplying over 25 million people with their drinking water.

And in the desert too! Don’t forget to be mind boggled over that and fall in love with the Colorado River.

Across this gorgeous area sits the Mojave Desert, which makes up 87% of the park and gives you an abundance of activities to experience and enjoy.

Within this playground there are nine wilderness areas to explore, making it one of the best things to do near Las Vegas.

You can fish, swim, boat, bike, hike and enjoy scenic drives. Or just relax with gorgeous desert views surrounding you.

We spent a week camping right on the shores of Lake Mead. We couldn’t have asked for a more serene and naturally beautiful setting.

Look at these views from the girl’s bedroom. Not bad to wake up to each morning right?

The glow on the rocks as the sun rose each morning was stunning.

We spent several days not doing much other than exercising, playing, cooking s’mores over the fire, catching up on work, and enjoying these views and delighting in the wild calls of the coyotes each night.

It sounded like there were packs of them and we saw a jack rabbit bolting off across the desert floor. But we couldn’t spy the coyotes.

We had one day of heavy rain all day – a desert rarity – which didn’t dampen our time there at all.

We did venture out for a few days though to explore the region.

Things to do at Lake Mead Lake Mead Cruise

Don’t miss the opportunity to get out on the water and do one of the Lake Mead cruises. If you have your own boat that works well too!

If you don’t, find a friend, rent one, or join a 90-minute Desert Princess Cruise,  a paddle wheeler boat.

We joined one in combination with our Hoover Dam tour that was included in the Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass (see bottom of blog post on saving money on Las Vegas attractions).

The cruise took us past Boulder Rocks into the beginning of Black Canyon to the edge of Hoover Dam.

It was interesting to see it from this perspective. I was more enamored with the orange and black rocks – stunning.

There was informative commentary on the dam and Lake Mead during the cruise and a sandwich lunch was provided.

Hoover Dam

A Hoover Dam visit is a highlight for many people visiting Las Vegas.

You can easily go from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam as a day trip, join a tour, or, if you are staying on Lake Mead, it’s right in your neck of the woods.

Hoover Dam was just around the corner from our campground.

However, we joined a Hoover Dam tours from Vegas (picked up at the Hoover Lodge) as it was included in our Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass (see the bottom of the post for more information on this pass).

The elevators weren’t working when we visited so we could not go down into the dam to explore the power plant.

Apparently this happens frequently. It reopened while there but the line was too long.

There is a free museum at the top of the dam which was interesting enough and it’s great to walk over the Colorado River from Arizona to Nevada and back.

Don’t Miss The Northshore Drive

One of the best land-based things to do at Lake Mead is this road trip!

We went for an afternoon drive and discovered the stunning beauty of the Northshore Drive.

This is on the way to the Valley of Fire State Park along the north western part of Lake Mead. You can easily combine it if you’re planning on visiting Valley of Fire from Vegas.

The drive is almost 50-miles but you can go as far as you like. We went as far as the Redstone Hiking Trail.

Be sure to stop off at the Northshore Summit Trail for a short hike up to a spectacular viewpoint from the mountain.

I loved looking out for miles over the Muddy Mountains, the Bowl of Fire, and the road we just drove along.

Redstone Hiking Trail

200 million years ago these red rock formations were sand dunes and the area looked very much like the Sahara Desert.

The iron particles holding the sand together oxidized over time to turn the rocks red. Now we have this beautiful desert walk where we can appreciate it.

The walk is less than a mile loop. There is no real trail, you kinda just walk around and explore at your leisure.

You can book your tour from Vegas here.

River Mountains Loop Bike Trail

For adventurous things to do near Las Vegas, you may like to take on the entire 34 mile river mountains loop bike trail.

16.70 miles of the trail are in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and surrounds the River Mountains connecting the park, Hoover Dam, Henderson, Boulder City and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley,

With a gain in elevation in one section of about 500 feet in less than a mile, it’s not going to be an easy bike ride, but I’m sure you’ll have fun.

We met a couple doing it who raved about it, even the one steep hill they had to get off and push their bikes up.

We cycled a short 2.5 miles one way from our campground to the start of the Historic Railroad Trail.

It was slightly uphill on the way but nothing too difficult and the girls managed it super well. We especially loved the return journey – we didn’t have to turn the pedals too much just let gravity push us all the way down.

You’ve got beautiful views the entire way.

Historic Railroad Trail

One of the most unique things to do at Lake Mead is walk the Historic Railroad trail – it’s superb for views of Lake Mead and for a bit of history.

It is the old railroad tracks that once transported workers and goods from Boulder City to Hoover Dam.

There are five tunnels on the trail you can walk through and the trail will take you to Hoover Dam.

The Historic Railroad Trail is 3 miles return. However, only the first two tunnels were open when we went due to the third tunnel being unsafe.

It was a short hike that took us just over 30-minutes in total. It’s a very easy walk and great for families.

Other things to do around Lake Mead

  • Black Canyon is named for the dark volcanic rock that flowed and cooled here 13 million ears ago. This steep-walled canyon begins below Hoover Dam and you can explore several sites around Lake Mohave in it by water. Water heats up below the surface of the earth and percolates up through the rocks to form hot springs.
  • Willow Beach is a popular place to explore in Black Canyon and the Liberty Bell Arch can be hiked to on the rim of the canyon. The Black Canyon retains a feel of the old Colorado River and provides a different perspective of the area.
  • Valley of Fire State Park is one of the best Las Vegas day trips and is just outside the northern borders of Lake at the end of the Northshore Drive. Stay tuned for a post on that.
  • Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area is also just beyond the park, which is another popular things to do around Las Vegas
  • If you like ATVs you may love this ATV tour of Lake Mead that takes you to Hoover Dam
Where to Stay at Lake Mead Recreational Area Camping at Lake Mead

We loved our Lake Mead camping spot at the Lake Mead RV Village Boulder Beach.

Get a lakeside spot if you can, it’s the ultimate. We stayed two nights at another spot and it was nowhere near as good.

The sites are spacious, and very clean.

They also have sites at Echo Beach which is the north end of Lake Mead.

Next door to the RV Park is a NPS Boulder Beach campsite. They have tent camping and full RV hookups. You can reserve in advance or turn up for their first come first served but I loved their campsites under the shade of some gum trees!!

There are various other NPS campsites in the Lake Mead Recreational Area. Click here for more details.

Other Lake Mead Accommodation

  • Hoover Dam Lodge is just behind the Historic Railroad Trail and around the corner from Hoover Dam.

Read reviews and book your stay on Booking.com

  • For a more luxurious stay, you can’t go past the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort on the north western edge of Lake Mead Recreation Area. You also have two outdoor pools and a private beach and loads of space.

Read reviews and book your stay on Booking.com

  • Likewise, the boutique Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa is also on Lake Las Vegas at the north west edge of Lake Mead Recreation Area. It’s Mediterranean-inspired architecture, outdoor pool and restaurants will give you a relaxing Vegas vacation. It’s only 17 miles from The Strip.

Read reviews and book your stay on Booking.com

  • Airbnb has a range of historical homes and cottages in the Lake Mead region.

Click here to find your perfect Airbnb rental.

Rental Cars from Las Vegas

If you want to explore beyond Vegas and tick off this list of things to do at Lake Mead, and check out all the stunning places to visit near Las Vegas by car (which we highly recommend), then you will want to rent a car.

Unless you join a tour from Las Vegas

Check rental car prices here.

How to Save on Las Vegas Attractions

The Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass, is a city attractions pass that offers savings on popular attractions.

We’ve used them for New York, LA, and New Orleans and find they offer great savings.

You can choose from a wide variety of tours and attractions and either a certain number of attractions on the card OR a certain number of days.

The day pass entitles you access to all attractions on the pass but you’ll have to plan your day well to fit in as much as you can.

It’s important to do your research and plan your trip carefully.

Choose the activities or attractions you most want to do and then do the math to see if the day pass or attraction pass would suit better and what time frame you’d want it for.

The 7 attraction Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass costs $379.

The 3 attraction pass costs $229

And the 3 day Las Vegas pass would cost $369.60

Click here to see how you can save with the Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass

Some of the Las Vegas attractions that we used on the card were:

  • Hoover Dam and Lake Mead tour
  • Downtown Las Vegas Walking tour
  • Matt Franco Magic Reinvented Nightly Show
  • The Mob Museum

Some other attractions included on the card worth mentioning:

  • Grand Canyon South Rim tour
  • Cowabunga Bay Water Park
  • Vegas Nights Helicopter tour

It’s worth noting that the children’s pass for Vegas cost the same as the adults. I think this is because Vegas has mostly “Adult” attractions.

There are many the kids can still do though, including some of the night shows. It’s worth thinking about.

Definitely do careful research so you know you’ll get the savings from it.

The Sightseeing Pass also has a USA pass if you plan to travel through multiple US cities in 30 days.

We work with The Sightseeing Pass as affiliate partners and they provide us with the passes. We share them because they offer great savings.

We’ll be doing more of the attractions on the pass on future Vegas trips.

The Bellagio Fountains

Alternatively, the Las Vegas Pass is also another discount city attraction card designed to help you save money on Las Vegas Attractions.

Click here to see what attractions are included and the prices.

The Go Las Vegas Card also gives access to 35+ attractions.

You can click here to see what attractions are included on this card and the prices

We don’t have experience with either of those cards, but I know the brands have a good reputation.

The 6 Best Things to do at Lake Mead, Nevada
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No matter how many days I spend outside exploring, Mother Earth still surprises me and offers me moments of awe.

A life without awe is bleak and empty.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. Albert Einstein

It’s with awe that we can fill up our souls with joy, wonder, love and curiosity. It’s our connection to life.

Corona Arch, Moab, Utah

When I’m traveling and constantly finding reasons to feel awe, I feel as if I am completely alive and there is no other way for me to live.

This week it was the moon suddenly appearing behind the snow capped mountain. It peaked out as a sliver of luminosity which bought exclaims as to, “what is that? is that the moon rising.”

We all watched in awe as it very quickly appeared in full over the peaks.

Then the next night, the same awe appeared, this time leading to curiosity for us.

How come it is appearing now an hour or so after it did last night?

Proving to us that we still have so much to learn and to not worry too much about the science behind it, just appreciate the magic it carries.

Our group of about 30 people chatting around the fires stopped to watch and for five minutes there was silence as we watched that full moon peak out to let us know it was watching and happy that we saw her brilliance.

I will take care of you tonight.

These simple moments are what keep me exploring.

The ones that allow us to secretly connect with something so magnificent, yet really is never secretly hiding from us.

Create experiences that leave you in awe, for these will be the highlights of your life.    

Ryan Blair

This week 20 wrap up of our USA road trip shares our adventures from Saturday to Friday.

I publish the posts on Sunday (I need a few days to prepare it!) More in-depth posts on each region with loads of tips and suggestions will be coming soon.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we share the current day-to-day adventures.

What we did this week in Moab Arches National Park

Of course, we maintained a good sense of balance this week between exploring and enjoying camp life.

Bike Riding the Colorado River

Is there anything more freeing and enjoyable than a bike ride beside a river through a beautiful canyon?

It was blissful to jump back on the bike for a little exploration down the scenic highway UT 128. There’s a 4 mile return paved bike path along the way.

So pretty and serene.

Oh, and we had Tim Tams as a snack break!! Bought off Amazon in preparation for our ANZAC Day party!!

Canyonlands National Park – Islands in the Sky

Canyonlands National Park is divided into three sections naturally by the Green and Colorado Rivers.

You can’t get to one section from the other from within the park. This week we explored the Islands in the Sky section, which is a plateau that feels like is in the sky.

It’s an easy place to explore.

There is a 34 mile round trip scenic drive that branches off into two roads. We only had time to explore one of the drives.

There are plenty of gorgeous viewpoints overlooking the canyon.

Across from the visitor center

Shafer Drive Overlook

We are now talking about taking the Beast down on those switchbacks. Well worth taking a gaze!

Green River Overlook

I was expecting a bit more wow here, especially as it’s considered a great sunset spot. I can see how it can be. The Green River was just a small sliver in the distance though.

I was hoping to see it more up close.

Buck Canyon Overlook

This offers quite an expansive view out over the canyon. It’s worth a look.

Grandview Point

This is a 2 mile return hike along the rim of the canyon.

From here, you can see the White Rim, features in The Maze and The Needles, and distant mountains.

You can’t see both rivers at the end point as they are still far out in the distance but you can see the path they have carved.

Mesa Arch Trail

The best thing to do at Canyonlands Islands in the Sky is the Mesa Arch trail.

It’s an easy 0.5 loop trail. You’ll have gorgeous views the entire way and it’s fun getting your photo taken with the arch and peering over the edge of it.

Make sure you do it lying down on the outcropping of rocks so they protect you from falling and be safe about it!

Sunset at Dead Horse State Park

One of my favorite experiences in the USA is sunset at Dead Horse State Park.

While it was busier than when Craig and I did this in 2006, it’s still quite a hidden secret with few people around.

Pack a picnic, find a spot on the rim, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy one of nature’s greatest gifts.

It’s an experience to remember.

Arches National Park – Delicate Arch Hike Delicate Arch

We’re spending a couple of days in Arches National Park so this week we focused on the famous Delicate Arch.

It was a mildly challenging 3 mile return walk – challenging because it is uphill most of the way and it was our first real hot day in a long time and we were in high altitude.

We were all a little knackered after it, but it was well worth it.

Just look at this view:

I loved how you can get various perspectives from Delicate Arch from up close to far away and many different angles.

We also enjoyed the beautiful scenic drive to Delicate and several viewpoints.

Camp Life

We had a couple of days at the swimming pool, getting work done and working out at base camp while the kids played with many new friends that kept rolling on in for the Fulltime-Families Easter hangout.

There were plenty of campfires, s’mores, yoga, movies and games of dominoes.

We even enjoyed a couple of nice restaurant meals without kids!!

The benefits of traveling with friends is that we have a village helping to raise the kids. It meant Craig and I could go out for a delicious meal at Desert Bistro, the number 1 rated restaurant in Moab.

Although on the pricey side, the quality and ambiance was worth it, especially for a special occasion.

Desert Bistro, Moab Desert Bistro, Moab

The girls went out for a equally delicious Thai meal at Thai Bella in Moab.

I was shocked this restaurant has only been open for three months, it was very well run, and the Thai was authentic. (Speaking from having lived in Thailand).

RV and Road Trip Lessons Arches National Park
  • We have our four 125w solar panels working and fixed permanently on our roof!! It’s so awesome to now be energy efficient and have our batteries naturally charging all day long and when we tow. We still have two dead batteries we need to exchange so they can stay full for longer as we still have to run the generator for an hour or so each day to top them up. Thanks again to Craig Royal from Crazy Family Adventure all his solar help!

  • Our 18 gallon portable waste tank (Thetford Smart Tote) we bought has been a lifesaver for helping us dump our grey and black tanks so we don’t have to pack up Goldie and move her. We’re learning how long we can last before they get full and are getting better each day at reducing our grey waste.
  • Our two Igloo 6 gallon water jugs have also been a lifesaver for helping our water stay topped up. Every time we go into town we fill them up and all of our drinking bottles.
  • We have two other small plastic jugs that we can easily fill up at drinking stations and then we use that water to fill up our Berkey water filter each day. That water we use for all our drinking. It’s quite a good system we have set up. The more water you can leave in your faucet and tanks the easier life is.
Igloo water jugs & Berkey water filter
  • The scrap yard can be a good place to find a fire pit. Jake found a cool fire pit so we could switch from the propane fires for wood ones here at the airport strip as you can’t build a wood fire on the ground.
Where we Stayed in Moab Airport Strip

For two weeks of the year, the old airport just south of Moab opens up for free camping.

RVs of all shapes and sizes line the sides of the airport strip. We arrived as a group of Escapers were finishing their meet up, and the Fulltime-Families were starting theirs AND the jeepers came in with all their models of jeeps and friends.

It’s Jeep Week in Moab, the biggest week of the year.

I think every jeep in the world is in town enjoying the incredible off-roading you can do here. They don’t mind parading them up and down the strip.

While the strip is nothing to get excited about, the surrounding mountain views are gorgeous. And those moon rises are something else.

Of course we are boondocking so no real amenities.

Travel Costs

Each week, I include our travel related costs for the week.

I don’t include things like business costs, insurance, and souvenirs etc. That’s so personal that whatever I told you wouldn’t necessarily be true for you and your budget.

The following, apart from perhaps our groceries, will give you a reasonable estimate of costs related to travel.

If you are new to our weekly wrap, our costs each week are usually around $1,000 – $1,300. We’re really trying to stay under $1,000

My 30 days to Money Mindfulness Course helps you learn how to master your money (and do things like weekly spending checks no matter how much they hurt!) You can’t change what you aren’t aware of.

Vehicle Costs
  • Fuel: $109
  • Parking: $ 
  • Uber: $
Accommodation Costs
  • Camping: $0 (yay)
Attractions
  • Park Fees: $20 (Dead Horse State Park)
  • Tours: 
  • Tickets: $
  • Tips: 

Arches and Canyonlands would have cost us $30 each for a 7-day pass. We have a National Parks Pass which gives unlimited access to federal lands. It costs $80 a year.

It’s absolutely worth it for a trip like ours and saves us hundreds of dollars.

Food Food truck park in Moab
  • Restaurants: $206
  • Coffee: $22
  • Groceries: $470
  • Take out/ snacks: $22
  • Alcohol: $30

We eat a mostly whole foods, organic diet, which means our grocery bills are higher than what would be typical.

Don’t forget with eating out costs, tip will be included in the prices and the odd glass of wine or two.

RV supplies and living
  • Laundry: $15
  • Firewood: $ 10
  • Propane: $
  • Supplies: $1
  • Dump: $
  • Postage: $43

Total paid by us: $1022

Where to Next? Colorado River running through Moab

We’re staying in Moab for another week.

There is so much to do in this area and we want to soak up a little sun and relax a little more. And there are loads of kids here for this Fulltime-Families Rally so the girls are having fun.

This week we’ll be exploring more  of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, and possibly doing a 4×4 jeep tour and canyoneering!

————————————————————————————————————–

You can find our previous RV weekly wrap posts here.

Videos of the trip coming out soon.  Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it. We’re now releasing our road trip videos.

Check out our latest video of the incredible Verde Canyon Railroad journey in Sedona

What it's like riding the Verde Canyon Railroad - a TOP Arizona Attraction - YouTube

Week 20: More Exciting Adventures in Moab, Utah
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When you travel often, whether for work or fun, it can be tricky to find a destination and travel style that’s truly unique and beyond expectations.

Introducing island hopping in Croatia on a sailing adventure!

You don’t need to limit yourself to exploring the mainland (even though it’s incredible), and island hopping is one of the best things to do in Croatia.

There are several ways to sail Croatia islands and plan a Croatia sailing trip like this and endless possibilities for the activities you can include.

Sail Croatia – 5 Can’t Miss Croatia Islands Image credit: Daluma Travel

There are many ports throughout Croatia’s Dalmatian Isles.

But planning an island hopping trip in Croatia doesn’t need to include all of them, even though that would be a dream.

Below are our top five picks for ports and places to visit in Croatia with the best activities for planning a diverse experience when you sail Croatia islands.

Split: not just a port town View from bell tower at Cathedral in Old Town Split Croatia sail

Prior to starting our Croatian sailing adventure we’d heard and read that Split wasn’t a spectacular place to visit.

And that, my friends, is why you should take every negative travel statement with a grain of salt.

Wow!

Split was not only a fascinating place to explore on foot, but it was also picturesque in every sense of the word.

Known for its old town, Split still has most of its city wall intact, and what you find both within and just outside are wonderful European gems unlike other cities.

Narrow ancient bridges over passageways in Old Town Split Croatia

Of course there are tourists, but Split is also an active community of thriving Croatian culture.

On any given day you’ll find the locals enjoying the cafes and theatre just as much as visitors.

Bonus Activity:

Climb the steps heading north out of the old town. You’ll get views down through the Dalmatian Isles and a workout before you head out sailing.

Vis: our favorite Dalmatian Isle Colorful water at city wall Port of Vis Croatia

We wanted to drop everything and move to Vis the moment we came into port.

Very much basking in its centuries old dreaminess, Vis is exactly the sort of town you’d hope to visit on your Croatia cruise.

It’s picturesque with the turquoise waters lapping at the docks and the golden sunlight making the old stone buildings glow.

Built around a bay, the town of Vis has several neighborhoods to explore, either on foot or bike.

Biking around the town and up to Fort George is a great afternoon activity with strolling the side streets and shopping for truffle products taking up the rest of your time.

This is a great spot for looking for tartuf products. OMG, the truffle cheeses…

Swimming Spots

Vis has several swimming beaches and coves.

We recommend renting bikes when you’re in port to get to some of them. They are a great addition to exploring the town and island.

Hvar: a photographer’s dream View of Hvar from Fortica Fortress Spanjola Hvar Croatia

Being a popular island with Croatian locals, Hvar is a hot spot!

It’s definitely the most trendy and fresh of the many Croatia islands you can stop at on your Croatia sailing trip, but it also has a wonderful, historic side.

The combination and narrow, maze-like streets and fortress high above the town makes for a photographer’s dream.

Every angle and ever facade is worth a moment of appreciation.

At night, the harbor glows with street lamps and neon, while visitors relax in outdoor lounges and cafes.

Whether you’re looking for nightlife or historic charm, Hvar is a must-visit for Croatia island hopping.

Best Activity:

Climb the hill to Fortica Španjola.

The views of the town and city wall are breathtaking and touring the fort is both interesting and creepy.

Mljet: two perfect ports to visit Benedictine Monastery of St Mary from the water at Mljet National Park Isle of Mljet

Maybe I shouldn’t share about Mljet. It’s such a perfect place and I don’t think anybody should visit…but that’s just it!

It is still one of those quiet, serene Croatia islands that both captures a bygone way of life AND provides for great tourism opportunities.

The Island of Mljet is home to one of Croatia’s national parks, Mljet National Park, which takes up half of the island.

Another wonderful island for biking, making port in Polače puts you just on the edge of the park and in perfect position to ride through Roman ruins, past vineyards and to a chain of salt water lakes.

An ancient monastery is a boat ride away once in the national park and the gorgeous surrounds will make you so glad you visited.

The other port you can add to your itinerary when you sail Croatia is Okuklje. If this were a town on a highway, if you blinked you would miss it.

Truly, a special place, Okuklje is a slice of heaven on earth.

A perfect port for swimming and hiking through the hills, it may be the quietest place we’ve visited in all of Europe.

Very few boats can fit in this tiny cove town, but if you’re lucky enough to call it home for a night, you’ll be glad you did.

Best Find:

Locally made olive oil and grappa are two of the best souvenirs you can find on your Croatia cruise, and Okuklje has a few residents that make them and sell them to the small number of visitors the town gets.

Lokrum: Dubrovnik’s escape View of Old Town Dubrovnik from Fort Royale Otok Lokrum Island Dubrovnik Croatia

No matter how you plan your itinerary for Croatian island hopping, you’ll most likely have a day or two in Dubrovnik.

The city is one of a kind, and with Game of Thrones using it as the backdrop and filming location of King’s Landing, it’s become wildly popular.

You will for sure want to explore the city and take in the sunset from the city wall, but getting away from it is a refreshing option as well.

Otok Lokrum is a short sail or boat ride from the old town marina of Dubrovnik.

What will you find?

Lokrum is covered in ruins, hiking trails, swimming access spots and peacocks.

Also, it’s got its own Game of Thrones filming sites and views of Dubrovnik from the fortress, Fort Royale.

Lokrum Tip:

Wear or bring your swimming clothes when you visit Lokrum as there are plenty of spots to jump in and enjoy the perfect Mediterranean water.

Tips for Planning a Croatian Island Hopping Adventure Credit: Daluma Travel

Whenever you’re considering any sort of holiday or vacation, you always need to consider three things.

This applies to Croatian island hopping too:

  1. Activities / interests
  2. Destination location
  3. Budget

1. Vary your island hopping itinerary to include destinations that offer more than food tours and photography walks.

Those are wonderful activities and will for sure be different in each port, but there are many other ways to see and experience the destination.

While many islands have similar activities and charm, each has a very different history or cultural product that’s unique to it. And that’s our first tip!

Visit ports that YOU can be your own guide and discover your own favorite spots!

Another tip is to include physically active days in your plan.

2. Incorporate biking, hiking and kayaking to change your perspective and energize your trip.

It is very easy to set up shop in a cafe and watch the world go by. Mix it up by including a morning hike or afternoon bike rental with your stops.

Also, when island hopping, take advantage of being on the water by getting into the water!

Enjoy your time sailing by actually swimming.

3. Drop anchor in quiet coves and near beaches so you can swim in the Mediterranean waters.

From late spring to early fall the water is plenty warm and is perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding (SUP).

The view from the water is wonderful and refreshing.

Remember that European beaches are very different from American or Caribbean beaches. If you want to experience a clothing optional beach go for it.

The culture of beaches in Croatia ranges from family-friendly swimming areas to publicly noted nude beaches.

Be respectful wherever you are and allow yourself to enjoy the beach at whatever level you’re most comfortable.

Sailing is a fantastic way to visit many destinations, but time between destinations may surprise you.

4: Plan your itinerary to have short sailing days for more time in each port.

There are plenty of resources online and sailing skippers know the routes that will give you the best experience on land. Be smart about choosing your top priorities to minimize travel time.

Our last tip is regarding your budget

5. When it comes to budgeting, allow enough room to splurge and try new things.

Money is a stress in everyday life that you don’t want to have impact your time traveling.

When you’re planning and budgeting, build a cushion to have unexpected expenses, both fun and emergency, so that you don’t have to scramble to enjoy the remainder of your trip.

Enjoy planning a Croatian island hopping trip. Enjoy exploring Dalmatia. Have a marvelous adventure!

Croatia Cruises & Tours Image credit: Daluma Travel

For 29 years Daluma Travel Croatia Cruises and Tours has been organizing unique and unforgettable vacations for travelers.

They specialize in one day sailing tours and 4-8 day small ship island hopping tours in Croatia.

You can even have your own private Croatia sailing tours with a professional skipper.

Let them take care of the logistics and organization of your Croatia cruise so you can relax on the deck, soak up the beauty of the Adriatic Sea and explore the incredible Croatia Islands.

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Sail Croatia – 5 Can’t Miss Croatia Islands For A Sailing Adventure
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