When 2016 burst upon us last year, our only goal for the year was to take our RV to the Canadian Rockies. As it turned out, on the way there and again on the way back, our year of full-time RV travels took us to a slew of National Parks.
By mid-year, we had visited so many that we gathered all of our National Parks adventures from our nearly 10 years of travels onto one page:
We always keep a list of our most recent posts at this link (under “Latest” in the menu bar). But we also wanted to share our yearlong journey from 2016 on one page for RVers and other travelers who would like to follow in our path.
Living as we do is a dream come true for us, and we began the year with some reflections on what it takes to live the dream. We were in Phoenix, Arizona, to ring in the new year where we enjoyed some wonderful encounters with wild (feral) parrots that take up residence in the saguaro cacti.
From Phoenix we made our way to Quartzsite, Arizona, the RV gathering place.
From Quartzsite we headed east to Tucson, Arizona, where the historic part of town is filled with wonderful old adobe doorways.
We visited the beautiful Xavier Mission in Tucson which evokes the days of the Spanish explorers.
We found even more ancient history among Saguaro National Park’s ancient Indian petroglyphs. This was our first National Park visit of the year, and we discovered wonderful native Arizona animals in their habitats at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum there as well.
Despite being February, temps suddenly hit 90+ degrees in Tucson, so we began our trek north, stopping in Sedona, Arizona, to ride our bikes on the Bell Rock Pathway and hike The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek.
We took in some sunsets under stormy skies.
The ancient Indian ruins at Navajo National Monument and Monument Valley beckoned, and we learned about the proposed (and staggeringly massive) Bears Ears National Monument. For the next few weeks we would travel in and around the land area that would become Bears Ears National Monument by year’s end.
At Valley of the Gods and Goosenecks State Park, we were swept us up in the otherworldly red rock beauty of southern Utah.
It was only mid-March, so a surprise snowstorm at Newspaper Rock wasn’t really a surprise.
Southern Utah is peppered with stunning scenery and National Parks, and our eyes were popping as we hiked the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.
Nearby, we witnessed a stunning sunrise at Dead Horse Point State Park, a spit of land that is embraced by the much bigger Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park where we enjoyed brilliant night skies.
It was now April, and it was warm enough to take our trailer further north through southeastern Idaho’s picturesque mountains and farmland.
We traveled along US-93 following the Salmon River through Challis and Salmon, Idaho.
Driving up through the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, we watched a herd of elk cross the highway in front of us.
We had a chance to sample a little cowboy life and cattle ranching too.
In Phillipsburg, Montana we discovered a sweet town that’s been dubbed one of “America’s Prettiest Painted Places.”
Early May found us on the western side of Montana’s Glacier National Park before the park was really open for the season. Placid Lake McDonald shimmered lovely reflections.
Crossing into British Columbia, Canada, we had finally arrived in the Canadian Rockies. We were blown away by the casual attitude of the big horn sheep who wander all over the roads in and around Kootenay National Park.
We took several trips up and down the southern half of the Icefields Parkway, a scenic drive like no other.
We were stunned by the majesty of the towering snowcapped mountains all around us in Banff National Park.
On the Icefields Parkway, which included a stop at royal blue Peyto Lake, we felt like we were driving on a highway right across the pages of a brochure for the Alps.
In contrast, we reached picture perfect Moraine Lake in Banff National Park by bicycle, and we had it almost to ourselves because the road to it was still closed for the season.
Canada has four National Parks that are adjacent to each other in the heart of the country’s best Rocky Mountain scenery, split between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. On our trip to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, we bumped into the fabulous waterfall at Natural Bridge.
Banff, Alberta, has been a resort town since its inception, and we met an inspiring pair of young artists at the historic hotel in town.
But there was still more to come with a scenic drive through jaw-dropping Kananaskis Country, where some of the 1988 Winter Olympic events were held.
Dropping south from there, we visited Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada’s sweet little sister to Montana’s Glacier National Park.
Waterton Lakes National Park is a beautiful jewel in Canada’s National Park system. Taking the Waterton Shoreline Cruise on a historic ship to the southern side of the lake in Montana gave us even more incredible views.
We were now well into June, yet when we arrived in Saint Mary on the east side of Glacier National Park, we were surprised to learn that the Going to the Sun Road that traverses the Park was just opening!
The heat of the summer was on in full force by the 4th of July, and after all those National Parks we were ready to spend some time in quiet, less visited communities. We found just that in pretty Libby, Montana, where we spent happy days watching eagles and hummingbirds.
We met some special travelers while we were there: a lady who had traveled cross country by horse for many years and a couple sightseeing by bicycle.
Nearby, we visited Kootenai Falls and Ross Creek Cedars, Montana’s answer to California’s sequoias.
As we dropped down along the back roads of Idaho, we visited the charming small towns of Sandpoint, Moscow and McCall.
What an absolute delight it was to find a summer beach town in the middle of Idaho’s mountains perched on Payette Lake.
Unfortunately, the summer months in America’s west always bring huge wildfires, and we soon found ourselves dodging fires and smoke. We had planned to spend several weeks in beloved Sun Valley Idaho, but were chased away by smoke.
Dashing far down south, we landed in Cedar City, Utah, where we witnessed a most moving event: the release of a golden eagle in honor of America’s First Responders.
Just like the Banff area in the Canadian Rockies, we were once again situated in a sea of National Parks. Cedar Breaks National Monument is a lesser known gem in the area, but it is Bryce Canyon National Park that really knocked our socks off (as it always does, no matter how many times we see it).
After walking along the Rim Trail with our eyes popping, we then explored special parts of Bryce Canyon we’d never visited before.
We even discovered a year-round waterfall in the Park.
Mother Nature was in grand form while we were there, letting loose several August hail storms that pelted the area, but rainbows appeared and the sun shone as we wandered among the thousand year old bristlecone pine trees at Rainbow Point.
Satiated with red rock scenery, we were ready for some fall color, so we spent much of September crossing Utah from west to east. Scenic Byway 12 is a stunning drive, and we stopped along the way to do the wonderful Lower Calf Creek Falls hike.
A little further on, we drove between the towering cliff walls of the Burr Trail.
Arriving in Colorado in late September, we drove the fabulous San Juan Skyway through the dazzling fall color.
A surprise snow storm turned the world into a spectacular landscape filled with orange and yellow and a dusting of snow.
Heading west across northern Arizona, we drove alongside the Vermillion Cliffs where we took a peek at the “Cliff Dwellers” roadside stop.
Then we continued on to the majestic scenery of Zion National Park.
Exploring an area in Zion National Park that we hadn’t visited before, we did a hike into the autumn colors of Kolob Canyons on Taylor Creek Trail.
November and December saw us flitting between Arizona, California and San Luis Rio Colorado Mexico as we made several visits to our dentist and spent time socializing with friends.
During 2016 we published quite a few non-travel posts as well. The links are below:
RV Tips, Tricks and Tech Topics:
- How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes
- How to Beat the Heat of Summer in an RV
- How to Keep an RV Warm in the Winter
- RV Internet and Phone Communication (updated to reflect changes at Verizon)
- Power Inverters
Truck Related Topics:
- Dodge Ram 3500 Dually Truck for Fifth Wheel Towing
- B&W Companion OEM Fifth Wheel Hitch Installation
- How to Change the Inner Rear Tire of a Dually Truck
- How to Put DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) in a Truck
RV Warranty & Repairs:
- Learn the RVing Lifestyle with a Cheap and Small RV
- Choosing a Trailer for Full-time RVing – Cargo Carrying Capacity
- Going Full-time – Sell or Lease the House?
- Full-time RV Pioneer & Escpaees RV Club Co-Founder Kay Peterson
Dental Care on the Road:
Mexico’s Gold Coast:
OUR TRAVELS IN PREVIOUS YEARS
- 2015 – A Thrilling Journey East
- 2014 – A Year of Beauty
- 2013 – A Year of Transition
- RV and Sailing Travels 2007-2012
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Our most recent posts:
- One Day in Bangkok – A trip on the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat! 01/18/17
- Our New Column in Trailer Life Magazine – Roads to Adventure! 01/12/17
- A Visit to the Dentist in Mexico 12/29/16
- RV Trip to Zion National Park “West” – Gorgeous Kolob Canyons! 12/22/16
- Zion National Park RV Trip – One AWESOME Canyon! 12/15/16