A Guide to Respecting Our National Parks

Millions of people visit the National Parks every year, but with this many people visiting you should be aware of how to preserve the environment for future visitors. Following these simple do’s and don’ts will help you stay safe, respect other visitors and keep the parks beautiful for several years to come. Read on to learn more about our duty and responsibility as visitors of the National Parks.

Leave No Trace

This is one of the most common rules you will hear when visiting any of the National Parks. The saying is, “Leave only footprints, take only pictures”. Sometimes you might stumble across a gorgeous wildflower, a set of antlers or an arrowhead, but removing these things is prohibited. When traveling with kids you might find that they sneak an extra “souvenir” into their pockets. If you discover they took something from the park you are visiting, it is vital that you return the item back to the park service team. Before exiting the park, make sure that all of your trash is deposited in its respective bin. A great tip for minimizing the risk of leaving trash behind is to pack food and snacks in reusable containers.

Come Prepared

The number one thing you absolutely need to pack with you when going out on the trails for a hike is water. You would be surprised by the number of people who forget to pack water with them when going on hikes, even when visiting National Parks within desert regions! Proper footwear is another essential item to remember. You never know what might happen while on the trail so wearing protective footwear is vital. Some additional items to remember to pack when visiting a National Park include extra food, a map or GPS, rain gear, a first aid kit, a knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, a backpack, and various safety items.

No Smoking on the Trails

Smoking is prohibited on all trails at any of the National Parks. Visitors of the park come to enjoy a breath of fresh air while enjoying nature, not to smell and breathe secondhand smoke. Plus, smoking is a major fire hazard. Always remember to follow the wise words of Smokey the Bear, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!” Together we can protect, maintain and keep these parks flourishing. 

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

Animals are adorable, but feeding them is not a smart idea as it can cause serious health problems and is prohibited within the National Parks. Feeding the park’s wildlife also causes them to lose their fear of humans which in turn compromises the safety of both humans and animals. Regulations on the best way to store your food differ for each park, so make sure to check out each park’s guidelines before you embark on your adventure.

Please No Drones

Drones can get great images of the landscape from an aerial view, but the National Park Service banned these devices back in 2014. Many people find the buzzing annoying, and you can imagine how they affect the various wildlife. Violating the ban on drones in National Parks not only disrupts other visitors but is a misdemeanor resulting in up to six months in prison and fines up to $5,000.

Don’t Veer Off Path

Hiking etiquette is super important! Collectively, the National Parks have thousands of miles of marked hiking trails, and Yellowstone alone has over 900 miles of trails to explore. With that many trails, no one should have a need to veer off the designated trail. Going off the marked path can be dangerous to you and to the environment. For instance, some parks have fungus that can spread vastly if you go off the trail into other areas of the park. Remember to follow the common saying, “Forests Grow by the Inch and Die by the Foot.”

Have Fun!

Although it sounds a bit cheesy, just get outside and have fun! The National Parks are beautiful places to explore and hold many unique stories, treasures, and recreational opportunities within each one. Having been preserved for so many years, they continue to bring joy and wonder to each person that enters them. The time is now to hit the road and find out what each National Park has to offer!

10 Must See Stops Along Route 66 in California

The golden state of California may be best known for pretty beaches and movie stars, but did you know that along this state’s strip of Route 66 lies some of the oldest, most historic, and wondrous destinations? California is the last stop when traveling east to west along Route 66, so before you end your road trip be sure to check out one of these ten stops.

Bottle Tree Ranch

Located in Helendale, California, Bottle Tree Ranch combines a mixture of “bottle trees”, old road signs, broken rifles, retro toys and more. This attraction is sure to provide a quirky, yet memorable experience to kids and adults alike. This spot is open from dawn until dusk, and donations are welcomed at entry. Come stretch your legs and take a picture of one of the many tree-shaped sculptures made from glass bottles and vintage items.

Calico Ghost Town

Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore from their 500 mines in a 12 year time period. However, the town lost its population when silver’s value declined in the 1890s. When the miners left and abandoned this area, this town became a “ghost town.”  Today Calico Ghost Town features mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, the Calico & Odessa Railroad and various merchandise stores.

Amboy Crater

This Amboy Crater is an extinct volcano located 1.5 miles south of Route 66 near the town of Amboy. This volcano is roughly 79,000 years old and its last eruption was about 10,000 years ago. The drive to this spot is absolutely astonishing and offers some of the most amazing scenery. Make sure to bring a camera because the sunsets here are some of the best!

Hollywood

Hollywood has a lot to offer, but when visiting this famous city, be sure to check out Kodak Theatre, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the iconic Hollywood sign, and the many stars along the walk of fame. Although this area is known for being very touristy, it is easily made justifiable by the amount of things to do, places to see and attractions nearby. If spotting celebrities, joining a guided bus tour of movie stars’ homes or touring
Warner Bros Studios interests you, this stop is for you!

Galco’s Old World Grocery

This attraction is dedicated to the art of soda pop and supporting the various small businesses behind each bubbly bottle. Galco’s Soda Pop Stop features over 700 flavors of pop at its Los Angeles storefront and nationwide thanks to its online shop. There is a rainbow of soda colors, and most of them are in glass bottles.

Wigwam Motel

Built in 1949, this motel is the final of seven Wigwam Motels originally constructed and one of the only three still in existence. This friendly motel features 19 refurbished wigwams, renovated by the Patel family, who were awarded the National Historic Route 66 Federation’s 2005 Cyrus Avery Award due to their efforts in the restoration of this landmark. It is a great example of Americana and makes for the perfect stay in San Bernardino, California.

Original McDonald’s Museum

This McDonald’s restaurant opened in 1940 and changed the face of fast food forever. The location is packed with original menus, news articles and memorabilia. The museum does a wonderful job at documenting the history of such an iconic and loved restaurant. There are also exhibits that represent all corners of the world, displaying thousands of items such as Happy Meal toys and historical artifacts.

Cucamonga Service Station

The Cucamonga Service Station is a historic gas and automobile service station built in 1915 located in Rancho Cucamonga. After closing in the 1970s, it was renovated and reopened as a museum in 2015, making it a worthwhile visit for those who want to get a sense of how much times have changed in the last 100 years. Gas stations definitely aren’t like this anymore!

Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum

This museum is ranked #1 of 17 things to do in Barstow, California. It is home to a large collection of historical artifacts of the “Mother Road” Route 66 and the Mojave Desert communities. Be sure to check out the retro jukebox and gift shop filled with books, DVDs and a wide selection of gifts.

Santa Monica Pier

Where is Route 66 in California? In 2009, the Route 66 Alliance and the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation came together and decided that the end of the iconic pier would be the western terminus of Route 66. It is now marked by a sign that says, “The End of the Trail”, and is a very popular photo location for travelers. This sign is actually a replica of the one that once stood on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Ocean Ave before its
mysterious disappearance 50 years ago.

10 Must See Stops on Route 66 in Arizona

Arizona boasts itself as one of the few states along the historic Route 66 that has several miles of the original roadbeds still open, and the traffic congestion is minimal! A majority of the cities along the way are small, but the largest stop is the city of Flagstaff which is home to roughly 72,000 residents. Check out these 10 fascinating stops that you can make when traveling Route 66 through Arizona!

Petrified Forest National Park

If you are traveling from the starting point in Illinois, the first stop you will want to take is at the Petrified Forest National Park within the Painted Desert. You and your family or friends can stroll through colored badlands that are dotted with logs from millions of years ago. If you are a fan of museums check out the Painted Desert Inn. It used to be a popular stopping point for Route 66 travelers but has since been converted into a museum. A few must-do things are hiking the Blue Mesa Trail, taking in the views at Tawa Point and visiting Newspaper Rock to observe over 600 ancient polygraphs. The Rainbow Forest contains the highest concentration of petrified wood and you will also find the Agate House here.

Little Painted Desert County Park

To get to this little park known as, Little Painted Desert County Park, you have to take a 15 minute detour that is well-worth your time. The Painted Desert is a large range of colorful badlands that go on for over 160 miles from the eastern end of the Grand Canyon to the Petrified Forest National Park. Unlike the Petrified Forest, this park offers a glimpse of this colorful landscape for free. Although there are no designated trails, visitors are free to explore and hike around the park.

Holbrook Wigwam Village Motel

The Wigwam Motels are a chain of motels that were constructed during the 1930s and 1940s. Vintage cars and cozy tipis are the highlights of these structures. Of the seven original locations, two were built along Route 66 in Holbrook and San Bernardino. These two locations and an additional one in Kentucky are the only three that remain and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Winslow

Do you love the popular Eagles song, “Take It Easy”? Well now you can be like the lyrics and stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona! This famous song is what helped put this old railroad town on the map and there is even a statue to commemorate the song. As you walk down the streets of this town you will feel like you were transported back in time while being in one of the most iconic stops of Route 66. There are several cafes lining the block, and if you want a sandwich and an old-fashioned malt make sure to stop by the Sipp Shoppe.

Two Guns

This is a fascinating yet tragic and obscure attraction along the Route 66 roadside. This ghost town is located at Canyon Diablo, which is the site of the Apache Death Cave. It is rumored that Billy the Kid also hid out in Canyon Diablo and that the money he stole during a train robbery is still buried somewhere within the canyon. When Route 66 began to boom, Two Guns became a popular trading post and the death cave was marketed as a tourist attraction by Harry Miller. As a town rumored to be haunted by ghosts, you won’t go without noticing the eerie feeling in the air while visiting here!

Meteor Crater

Here you will find the best preserved meteor impact site in the entire world. This crater was formed roughly 50,000 years ago and is nearly a mile wide. The discovery center is interactive and is packed with hands-on exhibits and loads of information, but the highlight is the observation deck that overlooks the crater. An interesting fact is that in the 1960s and 1970s, Apollo astronauts actually trained at this sight because of its similarity to lunar craters.

Flagstaff

Route 66 runs right through the heart of this town where lots of the nostalgia and charm has been preserved. At the visitor center you can pick up a map for a free Route 66 walking tour and a haunted historic Flagstaff walking tour. You will come across original diners, vintage motor lodges and murals that nod to the original road. As you explore the town you will find many Route 66 landmarks including the Western Hill Motel that looks just as it did when it first opened its doors in the 1950s. Stop by Miz Zips, serving pies since 1952, or if you are a lover of brunch and fun decor, head over to the Toasted Owl.

Williams

This is the last Route 66 town that was bypassed by I-40 leaving its main street filled with classic Route 66 souvenir shops, retro diners and neon signs. If you are hungry after a long day of traveling, grab a hearty American breakfast at Jeff’s Place at Goldie’s. While in Williams, make sure to check out Bearizona, which is a drive-through wild animal park. There is also a traditional zoo that you can walk through and see the different animal habitats. This town is also considered the gateway to the Grand Canyon, so if you have the time try spending a day there.

Seligman


Here you can find the Route 66 shield painted along an open stretch of road and see one of the cities that inspired the movie Cars. Radiator Springs was heavily influenced by various Route 66 towns, but particularly Seligman. If you are a fan of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, you can find one of the featured restaurants here, Roadkill Cafe. Guy Fieri enjoyed the “Buffalo Burger”, which is a very popular menu item for good reason!

Peach Springs

On your way to this town, stop by the Grand Canyon Caverns which are the largest dry caverns in the world. You can also dine 21 stories below the ground at the Caverns Grotto Restaurant. You can even stay at the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite which is the darkest, deepest and oldest motel room in the world. Peach Springs was previously one of the busiest cities along Route 66 between Flagstaff and Kingman. Two notable attractions here are the historic Peach Springs Trading Post and the preserved John Osterman Shell Station.

RVing with Kids Made Simple

Choose the Perfect Campground or RV Park

Not every RV park, resort or campground is created with kids in mind. When RVing with the entire family it is vital that you find a place that will accommodate your families needs and camping style. Before hitting the open road, make sure that you do your research on the different parks in the area you are traveling to. You can use apps and websites such as KOA to look up RV parks and read reviews. If you are a ROUTE 66/RV Care Promises member or a member of the RV Club, you can receive 10% off each night.* The best place for your entire family is going to have lots of space for your kids to run around and get their energy out. Plus being in a close proximity to fun activities or sites is a bonus!

Be Prepared for Rain

No matter how perfectly you plan your RV adventure, you can’t control the weather and unexpected rain can occur. Luckily you can plan for the unexpected! Packing card and board games, such as UNO or Monopoly, is always a great idea for entertaining your kids when stuck inside. Many people put a multiplayer game console in their RV which adds to the level of family fun during times like these.

Map Out Stops

RVs are big, especially in small parking lots. Before your trip, do some research on places that are easy to eat at when traveling in an RV. Truck stop gas stations are a great stop for when you are needing a quick pit stop to stock up on snacks. Many McDonald’s have RV parking and play areas for the kiddos which helps release their energy on longer travel days. Rest areas are another great spot to stop when traveling with your whole family since several have small walking trails.

Shorter Travel Days

You might love the excitement of road trips and cruising long open roads, but they can be hard for young adventurers. Long travel days can be extremely boring and uncomfortable for kids. To help keep your kids excited about the destination consider traveling in shorter periods of time such as 3-5 hours a day. Shorter travel days also allow for the driver to rest, and allows the passenger to provide everyone with snacks. Also make sure to add 10-15 minutes to each hour of travel for bathroom breaks.

Buckle Up

Don’t forget to buckle up! When traveling in a motorhome, your kids might have the urge to roam the cabin freely when traveling – this can be very dangerous. When the RV is moving, everyone should be seated and buckled up. Learn more about safety while traveling in an RV!

Have Fun!

Just like when you’re at home, sometimes things don’t go as planned. There might be more rainy days than sunny ones making your kids restless and no longer entertained by games like Uno or iSpy. Always remember that you are adventuring with your family! Make the most of every moment with keeping spirits light and happy and omitting the need for perfection. Remember to be patient and flexible with your time and always appreciate the time you are getting to spend surrounded by the people you love. RVing is about having fun and seeing nature in a whole new way!

A Guide to RVing With Your Dog

Want to know the secret to making your next RV vacation even better? Bringing your dog along with you! When you have an RV with all the comforts of home, traveling without your furry four-legged friend just doesn’t seem right. Before you load up the family dog and hit the road, there are some precautions and travel tips that you should follow to ensure that you and Fido have the best camping experience possible. Here are our top tips for RVing with your dog!

Pack for Your Pup

Just like packing for yourself, you will want to make sure that you bring all the necessary items to ensure that your pet has a comfortable vacation with you. What you need to pack for your dog can vary depending on your dog’s favorite things and their unique care needs, but here is a look at some important things to pack:
– Leash and Collar
– Favorite Toys
– Bed
– Food
– No-spill food bowl
– Any necessary medications
– Proof of vaccination

Designate Your Dogs Travel Spot

When bringing your RV from one adventure spot to the next, it is essential that you choose a spot for your dog to ride. If you are towing a fifth wheel or trailer, you will need to have your dog ride in the truck with you because it is not safe for anyone to ride in the trailer when it’s being towed. If your RV is a motorhome, then your dog may have some initial anxiety when riding since the feeling of being inside a motorhome is much different from a car. Try considering putting their bed close to you or try to have them rest on the couch. It’s important to travel safely in your RV with your pet!

Be a Good Neighbor

It is essential to be a good neighbor when bringing your dog with you so that you can ensure that you will always have the privilege of having them accompany you. To do this make sure you keep your dogs barking to a minimum and that you clean up after them.

Start Slow

It is a huge adjustment for your dog to go from being home the majority of the time to being on the road in your RV. Having their first excursion be an extended RV stay might not be the best idea. It’s smart to start out with small trips so that your pup can gain comfortability while traveling in an RV. During these short trips you can also establish a permanent spot for their food and water as well as where they will be sleeping to establish a routine.

Stay at a Dog-Friendly Campground

Pet policies exist at nearly every campground across the U.S. and they are something you must follow. Some National Parks don’t allow any pets and some just require that they be on a leash while outdoors. Check out some dog-friendly national parks! To make things simple and easy, call the campgrounds ahead of time to make sure that they allow dogs. At KOA Campgrounds you will find Kamp K9 where your dogs are given a fenced area to be free from their leash and left to run around. They also include clean up stations which makes things even simpler for you.

Locate a Local Vet

Even if your furry friend is up to date on all their shots and seems to be in perfect health, unexpected things can happen while out on the road. Although you can search for a vet easily from your phone, it’s smart to do some research before you embark on your adventure so that you can find the best vet for you. You will also want to be mindful of your RV route so that it isn’t too far away from towns if you need to quickly get to a vet in instances of an emergency.

                                                       Exercise Daily

Dogs are active animals and need daily exercise. Having them sit in the car for hours without the chance to run around and exert energy can be unhealthy. If your furry friend can’t comfortably run around the RV, head outside and play fetch with them! You can also find dog-friendly parks along your route so that your dog can get out and stretch their four legs. You might even meet other
pet parents and their pups!

Be Prepared to Run Into Wildlife

It is a given that you will run into wildlife when traveling. No matter the size of the animal you encounter, make sure that you know how to keep control over your pet. This includes being careful on what they are sniffing out because you don’t want to have a run in with a mountain lion or bear! You will also want to make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and that you have the medications necessary to keep from flea and tick problems.

Decide Where to Leave Your Pet

When you are engaging in activities that aren’t pet friendly, such as dining at a local restaurant, it is important to plan where you are going to leave Fido. RV’s tend to have plenty of space for your dog to wander, and the majority of dogs will be okay if you leave for a little while. To help your dog stay calm and comfortable, consider closing the blinds and playing some soothing music to drown out any extra noises or light. This will also help encourage them to spend more time sleeping than barking.

Traveling Route 66

Taking a road trip down the most celebrated stretch of asphalt in the USA is bucket list worthy. Route 66, the “Mother Road” winds through endless farmland, deserted towns, and of course, the beautiful desert in the west. The scenery is next to none, but the stops and sights along the route make it even better. In total this route travels through eight different states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. From Chicago to Los Angeles, traveling this 2,400-mile route in your RV will make memories that will never be forgotten!

Must See Attractions Along U.S. Route 66

Some must see attractions along Route 66 include Grant Park (Chicago, IL), Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, TX) and Milk Bottle Grocery (Oklahoma City, OK). Grant Park features historic signage and the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain. This location also marks the eastern terminus of Route 66. Route 66 is full of gimmicky attractions and stops, and the large milk bottle sitting on top of a grocery store in Oklahoma City is a crowd favorite. The physical building has been around since 1930, but the milk bottle was placed in 1948. This store was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Cadillac Ranch is a popular art installation that has plenty of quirks. The sculpture is composed of ten old Cadillacs, partially buried nose down in the countryside. Graffiti of the vehicles is encouraged and these cars are consistently going through changes of design because of travelers passing by.

Overnight Stays Along U.S. Route 66

Camping along Route 66 is a dream of several RVers, but knowing where to stay can be a challenge. St. Louis West/Historic Route 66 KOA in Eureka, MO is located just 30 minutes from downtown St. Louis offering RV sites with full hookups, tent sites and even cabin rentals. This RV park is full of amenities such as a pool, a dog park, bike rentals and more. Further west, in the town of Williams, AZ, the gateway into Grand Canyon National Park, you will find the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. This park offers over 100 pull-through sites with full hookups. Guests also have access to laundry facilities, hot showers and a dog park. And let’s not forget, Route 66 RV Resort in Albuquerque, NM which features great amenities, like pickle ball, and spacious sites. This resort is also just steps away from the Route 66 Casino Hotel which features Route 66 memorabilia and casino games.

Best Food Spots Along U.S. Route 66

If you are traveling with a foodie there are some places that you must stop at on your travels. Local landmark, Lou Mitchell’s, has been in operation since 1923 and serves fantastic omelets and fluffy pancakes. Big Vern’s Steakhouse, in Shamrock, TX, is famous for their ribeye, New York strip and filet mignon dinners. Diners also love their
homemade beer bread and fruit cobblers. If you are craving comfort food from a cozy, informal restaurant then Miz Zip’s is the stop for you. Norma and Bob Leonard opened
this restaurant in 1952 and continue to serve classic American diner food, including delicious pie a la mode.

If you have been thinking about embarking on this road trip then the time is now. Consider stopping at one of these fun attractions, staying at one of these RV campsites or eating at one of these fantastic restaurants. It’s time to hit the road and discover what Route 66 has to offer!