Beehive Trail in Arizona – A “Mini Wave” hike by Lake Powell

May 2024 — On our recent RV trip to Lake Powell we came across a fun little hike that is near Lake Powell, just over the Glen Canyon Dam from town of Page, Arizona. It’s called the Beehive Trail, and it’s pretty obvious why: the predominant rock formation resembles a beehive!

Beehive Trail Arizona - hiking in the red rocks by Lake Powel

Hiking the Beehive Trail is lots of fun!

The whole area is a wide expanse of relatively flat boulders, and you can head in any direction from the trailhead. However, if you like to follow a real trail, the National Park Service (managers of Glen Canyon Recreation Area where Beehive Ttrail is located) has outlined a path across the boulders using two lines of small rocks to show their suggested route.

Our Trail Scout (our beloved pup, Buddy) promptly hopped on the trail and showed us the way.

The Trail Scout leads us to the Bee Hive

Buddy, our Trail Scout, bounded ahead of us on the Beehive Trail.

What makes this rock formation very “beehive-like” is the thin layers of rocks that lie like shingles overlapping each other very slightly.

The side of the namesake Bee hive on Beehive Trail Arizona

Narrow “shingles” adorn the sides of the beehive.

The thin lines curve this way and that, making wonderful patterns everywhere.

Swirling patters in the rocks on the Beehive Trail near Page Arizona

Curvy layers.

Beehive Traile rock patterns Page Arizona

Straight layers.

Pup on the Beehive Trail in northern Arizona

A mix of layers leading up to Buddy!

People compare these layered undulations to The Wave, a nearby sandstone formation that resembles a fabulous curling ocean wave. Both formations were undoubtedly created by similar forces: small trickles of water rolling downhill followed by extended periods of very high wind.

The hike was super easy, but we kept getting waylaid by the fantastic shapes and contours that begged to be photographed.

Beehive hike rock patterns Arizona

Creases and layers on the side of the beehive.

Beehive Traile rock patterns in Arizona

Such great patterns!

Beehive Trail near Lake Powell Arizona


We ended up doing the hike several times at various times of the day, and each time it was a completely different hike.

The spring flowers were blooming, but we discovered that some of them liked to sleep in in the morning! So, if we got out on the trail too early they were all closed up! Later in the day, though, they blossomed to their fullest.

There were a few magenta cactus flowers in bloom here and there, and late one afternoon we noticed one that was backlit. So pretty!

Cactus flower

These humble cacti burst with color each spring!

Backlit cactus flower on the Bee Hives hike near Page Arizona

The cactus flower wore a halo when the sun shone through its petals.

Early in the morning, we found evening primroses that were still opened up. Once the sun had ascended into the heavens, these delicate flowers quietly closed, saving their beauty for the next evening.

Primroses blooming on the Bee Hives Hike in Arizona

Evening primroses were still open in the earliest morning light.

The whole hike is about 45 minutes if you follow the loop trail and circle around the beehive rock formation in the middle without stopping too much, but we just couldn’t go that fast. This was a special moonscape that was worth savoring, even sitting down!

Photography in the rocks on the Beehive Trail near Page Arizona


Our favorite time was late in the afternoon. Not so late that the sun was setting, because by then all the shadows were gone and the landscape flattened out. But a bit before sunset when the sun cast a burnt orange glow across the red rocks.

Guiding rocks on the Beehive Trail near Page Arizona

The beehives beckon at the end of the day.

Buddy loved being out there, and we always conferred with him about which direction we’d go.

Conferring on the hiking trail at Bee hive Arizona

“Which way?”

He liked posing amid the rock formations too. He’d run ahead and then pose as he waited for us slowpokes to come along.

Happy pup on the Beehive Trail in Arizona

Buddy waits patiently for us, his colors blending in with the surroundings.

Like a true model, he took different poses and faced in different directions.

Happy pup on the Beehive Trail near Lake Powell Arizona

“Do you like my front side?”.

Happy pup doing the Beehive Trail

“Or my left side?”

The trail scout leads the way on the Beehive Trail in Arizona

“Or my back side?”

There were some fabulous rock pinnacles at the furthest point in the hike. You can clamber up to the base of these pinnacles or even scramble up the sides. Peering into the crack between two of these pinnacles we found a little oasis of scrub brush and small trees in a huge sandstone bowl.

Golden hour on the Beehive Trail near Glen Canyon Dam Arizona

We spotted a hiker between the pinnacles in the distance.

We saw other hikers each time we hit the trail, but it is the kind of place that is so expansive you never feel crowded.

Beehive Trail near Page and Lake Powell Arizona


We highly recommend giving the Beehive Trail a try. It is located just west of Glen Canyon Dam on US-89.

Beehive Trail Glen Canyon Recreation Area Arizona by Lake Powell

What a lovely surprise this hike turned out to be.

If you’re looking for a spot to camp, there’s a tiny campground right there opposite the trailheadl. There are only six sites and it is an extremely exposed and dusty place, especially when the wind howls in the afternoon. But it works if you don’t mind hiding inside when the dust flies. It is first-come-first-serve, and it fills up quickly during the peak spring and fall seasons.

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Reese Goose Box Review: 20K Gen 3 TESTED + How to Hitch

This page is a review of the Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3. We’ve used ours for over a year and tested it thoroughly towing our 15,000 lb. Genesis Supreme toy hauler over 2,000 miles of varied terrain that included mountains, back roads, interstates, switchbacks and dirt roads. If you’re curious how to hitch and unhitch a Reese Goose Box, we’ve included some tips and tricks we’ve found make it as easy or easier than a traditional fifth wheel hitch!

This hitch is essentially a replacement for the original kingpin that came with the trailer. So, you remove the original kingpin and replace it with the Reese Goose Box. The beauty of the Reese Goose Box is that it hitches to a gooseneck ball in the truck bed, eliminating the need for a fifth wheel hitch all together and freeing up the truck bed completely when you’re not towing!

We paired the Reese Goose Box with a B&W gooseneck ball that is designed for the Dodge Ram OEM puck system (we have a 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 long bed dually truck).

Reese Goose Box Review 20k Gen 3 Tested + how to hitch and unhitch

What do we think of the Reese Goose Box after towing with it for 2,000 miles over the course of a year?
Read on and find out!

For over a year now, we’ve towed our trailer on all kinds of roads, including freeways, secondary roads, around tight winding switchbacks and on very lumpy, bumpy, potholed dirt roads on our way to remote boondocking locations. We’ve also climbed up and over several towering Colorado mountain passes, including Monarch Pass, Hoosier Pass and Slumgullion Pass (twice!), each of which is more than 11,300’ in elevation.

The Reese Goose Box has performed flawlessly everywhere. The ride is much smoother than any fifth wheel hitch we’ve ever used, and it’s easy to hitch and unhitch.

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch - How to hitch and unhitch

The Reese Goose Box replaced the original kingpin that came with our trailer.

We installed Reese Goose Box on our trailer ourselves, just the two of us. It was intimidating but it wasn’t difficult, despite the heavy weight of the original king pin and the even heavier weight of the Reese Goose Box. (There’s a trick to it!)

However, before we describe that process and present our step-by-step installation method (in a future post), we wanted to explain why the Reese Goose Box is so unique and also show you how to hitch and unhitch a trailer so you can see exactly how it works.

How to Hitch and Unhitch the Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch

The 20K Reese Goose Box is rated to tow up to 20,000 lbs.

Here are some shortcuts for this article:



We’ve been towing fifth wheel trailers around for 15 years now, and we’ve used a variety of fifth wheel hitches made by Pullrite, B&W and Demco.

While each one was a fine hitch with certain great advantages, the drawback with any fifth wheel hitch is that when you aren’t towing a trailer, the bed of the truck is occupied by a large and heavy fifth wheel hitch.

It is awkward to remove the hitch, even a lighter weight one (as we discovered with our Demco hitch), and it’s all too easy to avoid this chore and simply leave the hitch in the truck bed indefinitely. Unfortunately, with the hitch in there, you lose the use of the truck bed except for hauling smaller items that fit around the hitch!

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 - how to hitch and unhitch

With the Reese Goose Box there is no need to have a fifth wheel hitch in the bed of the truck.

When we were full-time RVers, we didn’t need the truck bed except for carrying whatever we used in that lifestyle: spare water jugs, patio mat and chairs, portable generator, bbq, etc.

However, now that we RV seasonally, we wanted to have the full use of our truck bed during the off-season when we’re at home. It’s no fun hauling plants, soil, mulch and lumber in the trunk of a passenger car or trying to fit those things around a fifth wheel hitch.

How to Hitch and Unhitch the Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3

The “business side” of the Reese Goose Box is the driver’s side with the locking lever and air bag status window clearly visible (more on those important items below!).

By using a gooseneck style hitch instead of a fifth wheel hitch, all you need in the truck bed is a gooseneck ball and gooseneck receiver. The gooseneck receiver can be a factory installed OEM puck system or can be an after-market installation. What an easy way to free up the truck bed!

For this reason, some people switch out their fifth wheel kingpin for a gooseneck hitch. However, that puts a lot of strain on the fifth wheel trailer frame (fifth wheels are a lot taller than horse trailers…), and fifth wheel manufacturers advise against it.

Unlike a gooseneck hitch which has a long vertical lever arm that creates strain on the frame as it sways back and forth, the profile of the Reese Goose Box is angled and shaped like an ordinary fifth wheel kingpin. That reduces the strain on the frame significantly.

We were surprised to learn that the Reese Goose Box is the only gooseneck style hitch that Lippert Components Inc. has approved for use with their fifth wheel frames. I spoke to a Lippert sales rep to verify this, and he stated that, unlike other gooseneck style hitches, the use of a Reese Goose Box does not void the warranty on a Lippert fifth wheel frame. Like most fifth wheel trailers, our Genesis Supreme 28CRT toy hauler is built on a Lippert frame.

Obviously, many things can ultimately contribute to the failure of a fifth wheel frame, so I have no idea how that would play out in the event of the frame developing a crack. But it’s an impressive endorsement.

In our research, we came across some comments on the internet asserting that of course Lippert Components endorses the Reese Goose Box because they own Reese Products! However I looked into it, and that’s not true. Reese’s parent company, Horizon Global, was purchased by First Brands in early 2023, and neither Horizon Global nor First Brands is related to Lippert Components.

We have the 3rd generation of the Reese Goose Box that is rated to tow a 20,000 lb. Trailer. The Gen 3 version of the Goose Box was released in the Fall of 2022.

Reese Goosebox
Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 hitch as seen from behind the truck


We decided to pair it with the B&W gooseneck ball designed for the Ram truck OEM puck system on our 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 long bed dually. This gooseneck ball is a very nifty piece of gear with a huge handle. You can easily latch the gooseneck ball into the gooseneck receiver in the truck bed and also pull it back out using that handle rather than grabbing the ball itself with your hands.

B&W Gooseneck Ball and Safety Chain Kit

The B&W Gooseneck Ball and Safety Chain Kit fits in a cool suitcase.
The actual chains themselves are sold separately.

That may seem unimportant until you’ve actually lubed up the gooseneck ball and used it a few times! It’s much nicer to use a big handle to pull the gooseneck ball out of the truck bed rather than grab the greasy ball itself! We would have used this gooseneck ball with our Demco 21k Recon fifth wheel hitch, but the handle got in the way of the hitch.

B&W Gooseneck Ball for Ram Trucks

The B&W OEM gooseneck ball kit also comes with two safety chain anchors that get inserted into the OEM puck system on a pickup. These are used to secure the safety chains (which are not part of the kit — we got the safety chains separately here).

Reese Goosebox Safety Chains




Hitching up a trailer using a fifth wheel hitch involves backing the truck (and its fifth wheel hitch) into the trailer’s king pin. It is a horizontal movement of the truck, and the connection locks in place once the truck has backed the hitch into the kingpin.

Hitching up a trailer using the Reese Goose Box involves lowering the trailer’s kingpin (the Goose Box) onto a gooseneck ball in the bed of the truck. It is a vertical movement of the trailer’s kingpin that is controled by the trailer’s landing jack leveling system. The connection locks in place once the Reese Goose Box is completely lowered onto the ball.

So, the hitching technique is quite different for each type of hitch.


With a fifth wheel hitch, we always found we had some room for error in aligning everything from right to left (driver’s side / passenger’s side) due to the shape of the fifth wheel hitch jaws.

If we backed the truck up so the fifth wheel hitch was slightly misaligned with the kingpin, the jaws of the hitch would catch the kingpin anyway and still make the connection and lock the two together.

However, with the Reese Goose Box, if the truck is slightly off, the kingpin will lower down and hit the top of the gooseneck ball and stop right there rather than slipping over the gooseneck ball as it is lowered into the locked position.

Where we could always “eyeball” the left/right alignment when backing up the truck with a fifth wheel hitch, we now use a small telescoping magnetic pole with a bright yellow ball on top to get a perfect alignment between the Reese Goose Box and the gooseneck ball.

Amazingly, that little pole makes this process a cinch!

I place the magnetic pole directly in front of the gooseneck ball and then Mark uses the pole to align the truck and Reese Goose Box side to side as he backs up.

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box with a magnetic telescoping alignment pole

Put the magnetic telescoping pole directly in front of the gooseneck ball

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch - How to hitch and unhitch

This simple little device makes it possible to be precise when backing up the truck.

We have the two Ram OEM backup cameras in the truck, but Mark finds them inadequate for this job and he prefers to use the magnetic telescoping pole with the ball on top.

He then backs up the truck until the kingpin hits the magnetic telescoping pole and tilts it forward.

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box Gen 3

The magnetic pole helps the driver align the gooseneck ball and the Reese Goose Box left to right.

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box Gen 3 Hitch

When the magnetic pole tips forward, Mark stops the truck for a moment so we can adjust the alignment from front to back by an inch or two.

Magnetic Trailer Hitch Alignment Kit


The Reese Goose Box has to be aligned accurately from front to back as well as left to right. For this, Mark relies on me peering into the bed of the truck and guiding him verbally until the alignment is correct. For folks who hitch up solo, you’ll probably have to get in and out of the driver’s seat a few times to get the truck positioned correctly. If you have some tips and tricks for solo drivers, let us know in the comments!

At 5’4” I am just tall enough to see into the bed of our 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 dually if I stand on my tiptoes.

When we were researching the Reese Goose Box, we saw reports that it is hard to hitch up. After learning how to do it ourselves, we suspect that those comment might have come from people who were either trying to eyeball the left/right alignment or were hitching up solo and struggling with the front to back alignment.

If you have a driver and a spotter, it’s a piece of cake.


Once the truck is positioned correctly, I use the landing jack leveling buttons to lower the Reese Goose Box onto the gooseneck ball. We’ve found it helps to put the truck in neutral at this point. That way, if the positioning isn’t 100%, the truck can shift a little bit as the Goose Box is lowered.

Our truck has an auto leveling option, so as soon as the truck senses the weight of the trailer in the truck bed, it inflates its airbags and raises the truck bed up. This effectively pushes the gooseneck ball up into the Reese Goose Box. At that point I generally don’t need to lower the trailer much further to complete the connection.

Just like a fifth wheel hitch, the Reese Goose Box automatically locks its connection to the gooseneck ball.

It’s easy to know when the Goose Box/gooseneck ball connection has locked. First, as the Goose Box slides over the gooseneck ball, the locking lever on the driver’s side of the Reese Goose Box moves slowly from the Locked position (green label) to the Unlocked Position (red label). Then, once it has locked in place, it snaps back to the Locked position (green label).

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box Gen 3 and locking the gooseball

Before the Reese Goose Box slides over the gooseneck ball, the locking lever (blue arrow) is in the Locked position (green label)

The Reese Goose Box Gen 3 hitch unlocks autoamtically

As the Reese Goose Box slides down onto the gooseneck ball, the locking lever (blue arrow) slowly moves into the Unlocked position (red label)

The Reese Goose Box locks onto the gooseneck ball automatically

As soon as the Reese Goose Box locks onto the gooseneck ball, the locking lever (blue arrow) snaps back into the Locked position (green label)

At this point I can finish raising the landing jacks up all the way into their fully raised position for towing.


The final steps to hitch up with the Reese Goose Box are to latch the two safety chains to the B&W safety chain anchors in the truck bed and plug in the power cord.

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch safety chains

Next step is to connect the safety chains to the B&W safety chain anchors in the truck bed.

Connecting the safety chains to the Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch

Connecting the safety chains.

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch: connecting the power cord

Last of all, connect the power cord.

Like all kingpins, the Reese Goose Box has a trailer breakaway cable that engages the trailer’s brakes if the trailer accidentally disconnects from the truck. With our fifth wheel hitches, we always looped this cable around the hitch handle. With the Reese Goose Box, we loop it through the hook on one of the safety chains.

Reese Goose Box Gen 3 hitched up with safety chains attached

Ready to tow.
Note that the trailer breakaway cable is connected to the safety chain hook on the left side.

The trailer breakaway cable is shorter than the safety chains. So, if the trailer were to become detached from the truck, the breakaway cable would snap and engage the trailer brakes before the safety chains were fully extended. At that point, the drag of the trailer brakes would keep the safety chains taut, and the driver would slow the truck and trailer to a stop.



The Reese Goose Box is equipped with internal air bags that use the same technology as the Trail Air fifth wheel hitches. They are inflated using the Schrader valve on the top of the Goose Box. We used a pancake air compressor to inflate them.

That pancake compressor is too big to bring with with us in our RV travels, so we bought a Ryobi cordless power inflator to use on the road if needed.

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room in the Goose Box’s Schrader valve compartment to attach the cordless power inflator’s locking valve to it. So, we purchased a 135 degree valve extender to use with it. Luckily, we haven’t needed to use that setup at all yet.

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 has the air bag inflator on the top of the kingpin

The Gen 3 Reese Goose Box has the Schrader valve for inflating the air bags on top in the center. Previous generation Reese Goose Boxes had this valve on the underside and it was hard to reach.

Ryobi Portabe compressor 135 Degree Valve Extension

The Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 has a gauge on the driver’s side that allows you to see the level of inflation of the air bags. This is another new feature with the Gen 3 that wasn’t on the previous generation Reese Goose Boxes.

When the air bags have no air in them, the viewing window is a black circle. Once they begin to fill with air, a silver bar appears in the top left part of the window.

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch inspection window shows the air bags are not inflated

The air bag inflation window lets you see the status of the air bags. Here the bags are barely inflated.

As the air bags become more and more inflated, this bar moves lower and lower in the window.

When the air bags are inflated to the ideal amount (somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs. of pressure), the bar crosses the middle of the window at a slight angle.

Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3 Hitch inspection window shows the airbags are properly inflated

As the air bags inflate, the silver bar moves down from the top.
When the bar is in the middle, as it is here, the air bags are properly inflated.

We have not had to change the inflation of the air bags at all in the two months we’ve been traveling with our trailer, despite being in altitudes ranging from 3,000’ to over 11,000’ and being in temperatures ranging from 30 degrees to 95 degrees.




Unhitching a trailer with a Reese Goose Box is as easy as pulling on a cord and extending the landing jack legs! I love it because one person can easily do it solo.

Unhitching with a Reese Goose Box (as opposed to a fifth wheel) is particularly handy in situations where you won’t be driving the truck by itself but still want to raise the nose of the trailer to make it level.

For instance, when you stop for a quickie overnight in a rest area on unlevel ground, you might want to level the trailer from front to back by raising up the front end.

All you need to do is raise the trailer off the gooseneck ball to the point where the trailer is level from front to back and leave it there. When you are ready to continue driving, simply lower the trailer back down onto the gooseneck ball and away you go!

With a traditional fifth wheel hitch, the truck and trailer must be completely unhitched, i.e., the truck must be driven out from the hitch in order to level the trailer from front to back.

All this is truly awesome, but we did have to make one minor modification to the Reese Goose Box to make it possible to unhitch so easily, as explained below.



The Reese Goose Box is locked onto the gooseneck ball by a lever, as shown in the three hitching up photos above. While hitching up, the lever moves from the Locked position to the Unlocked position and back to the Locked position automatically as the socket on the Reese Goose Box slides onto the gooseneck ball.

For unhitching, however, this lever must be held open in the Unlocked position to allow the Reese Goose Box to slide up off the gooseneck ball. You do that manually by pulling back on a long cable that connects to the locking lever.

The cable rests on a hook on the side of the Reese Goose Box. It has a nub on it that can be secured in front of the hook, forcing the lock to remain open while you extend the landing jack legs.

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box lock release handle

The hitch locking mechanism is automatic when hitching up. When unhitching, a long cable (above the arrows) must be pulled back to unlock the hitch and allow the Reese Goose Box to rise off the gooseneck ball. The white arrow shows the nub that can be secured in front of the hook (blue arrow) to keep the Goose Box unlocked.

We’ve found it very difficult to reach the cable’s handle from the back of the truck when the truck’s tailgate is open.

Ironically, the truck’s tailgate is always open at this stage of the unhitching process because you are disconnecting the safety chains and power cord. Also, you can’t drive the truck out with the tailgate closed.

When we did successfully maneuver ourselves to reach the handle, we found it extremely difficult to pull the cable back far enough to place the nub in front of the hook!

I’m sure Reese will address this issue since it has been raised by many people. However, in the interim, we found a super easy solution.

We tied a strong cord onto the latch cable’s handle and then used a short dowel to create a mini handle at the other end of the cord.

Reese Goose Box Gen 3 lock release handle modification

We tied a strong cord onto the handle of the hitch latching cable. Again, the white arrow is the nub that can be secured in front of the hook (blue arrow) to force the lock to stay open, but we found it tricky to do.

Reese Goose Box lock release handle modification

We made a handle at the other end of the cord with a short dowel.

Now, all we have to do to get the Reese Goose Box off the gooseneck ball is to pull this cord to open the lock and extend the trailer’s landing jacks. Then the Goose Box rises off the gooseneck ball very easily.

Reese Goose Box lock release handle modification

One person can simultaneously pull the hitch lock open and extend the trailer’s landing jacks!

The beauty is that one person can do this job alone by holding the Goose Box’s locking cord in their left hand and pressing the trailer’s landing jack control buttons with their right hand.

Once the Reese Goose Box is clear of the gooseneck ball, the Goose Box’s locking cord can be released and the truck can be driven out from under the trailer and parked elsewhere.

To tidy things up, just snap the safety chains onto the back of the Reese Goose Box and stow the power cord inside. Be careful, though, because there’s 12 volts coming from the trailer batteries on one of the pins.

How to hitch and unhitch a Reese Goose Box 20K Gen 3

There are two holes in the back of the Reese Goose Box to hold the hooks for the safety chains.

How to hitch and unhitch the Reese Goose Box 20K Gen 3

Chains and power cord are out of the way.



As I mentioned, we have used the Reese Goose Box to tow our 15,000 lb. trailer all over Arizona and Colorado for two months on all kinds of crazy roads. Not only has the towing been smooth but we’ve been super happy with how easy it is to hitch and unhitch.

The airbags inside the Reese Goose Box make the ride super smooth. There is no chucking and no bouncing, and best of all, no noise! The trailer kind of floats along behind us.

We’ve taken some very sharp turns and haven’t had a problem with the Reese Goose Box touching the bed rails of the truck, and we’ve gone over some serious bumps and sharp inclines and declines and haven’t had the overhang of the fifth wheel come too close to the top of the bed rails either.

We are delighted with the Reese Goose Box and the B&W gooseneck ball. Best of all, now we’re able to haul anything we want in the truck bed, even 4×8 sheets of plywood. All we’ll have to do is remove the B&W gooseneck ball, clean it up and put it away in its little suitcase. Then the whole bed of the truck is available to use!

So, that’s our review of our fully tested Reese Goose Box 20k Gen 3. If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below. We’ll be happy to answer as best we can. If you own one of these very cool hitches, we’d love to know what you think of it!

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Here are all the parts listed in this post and where to get them:

The Goose Box:

The Gooseneck Ball:

Magnetic Pole for Hitching Up:


More info about Reese Products:

Other blog posts about trailers and hitches:

Our most recent posts:

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Lake Powell – Heart of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

May 2024 – Spectacular Glen Canyon on the Arizona/Utah border was transformed into Lake Powell when the Colorado River was blocked by a big dam in 1963, creating one of the largest manmade lakes in the US. Today, Glen Canyon Recreation Area is a fabulous place to enjoy the outdoors, and we went there last week to do a little exploring.

The beauty of the Lake Powell as it snakes through the Glen Canyon on the approach to the dam is truly awe-inspiring.

Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with a boat weaving between the cliffs

A boat weaves between the walls of Glen Canyon on Lake Powell.

The views change throughout the day as the light changes. Although the most magical times are at the beginning and end of the day, we thoroughly enjoyed driving the scenic road to Wahwheap that goes past several overlooks. The water was a rich dark blue, making a wonderful contrast to the whites and browns of the cliff walls.

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell Arizona

Glen Canyon Dam was responsible for creating gorgeous Lake Powell.

Lake Powell Arizona near Glen Canyon Dam 2

These are the tops of Glen Canyon’s very steep cliff walls.

We could see boats far below cruising the twisting path through Glen Canyon. What a fun way to see it!

Boats on Lake Powell Wahwheap Overlook Arizona RV trip 2

What a unique boat ride this would be!

Boats on Lake Powell Wahwheap Overlook Arizona RV trip

Coming and going…

In the distance we could see Wahwheap Marina which is loaded with houseboats and big cruising boats along with smaller power boats. Many are available for rent, and we made a mental note to return someday to get out on the water. It wasn’t in the cards for this trip, though.

Wahwheap Marina Lake Powell Arizona 2

Wahwheap Marina is set against a jaw-dropping backdrop!

Wahwheap Marina on Lake Powell Arizona RV trip

Not a bad place to have a boat — and some of them are huge!

The size and scale of the Glen Canyon Dam hydroelectric project is staggering. Lake Powell began filling with water on March 13, 1963. It didn’t finish filling up until seventeen years later on June 22, 1980!

On a plaque by the dam there are photos of Sentinel Rock which towered 200 feet in the air from the banks of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon before the dam was built. Once the lake was full, Sentinel Rock was submerged under 300 feet of water!

The lake is not a big round lake. Instead it consists of a long arm of the Colorado River with 90 water filled side canyons coming off of it on either side like tentacles. One of the best spots to see these bright blue tentacles is at Glen Canyon dam.

Lake Powell RV trip Wahwheap Overlook Arizona


Lake Powell Arizona near Glen Canyon Dam


Over 5 million people visit the Glen Canyon Recreation Area which each year. They come for all kinds of outdoor fun from boating to hiking, camping, taking photos and playing in the water. Spring and Fall are great because the weather is warm but not too hot. All summer long, the lake teems with people and boats.

The whole area is rich with breathtaking sights, and a drive along US-89 is a journey past towering red rock drama. Now-famous Horseshoe Bend is just a few miles south of Glen Canyon Dam. Amazingly, it was unknown to residents of Page just 60 years ago.

Just a few miles southwest of Glen Canyon dam as the condor flies, US-89 meets up with US-89A at a sharp turn and then reveals the wonders of Navajo Bridge, Lees Ferry and Marble Canyon and “Cliff Dwellers” as you head west. This is Canyon Country, and for travelers coming up into Utah from Arizona, it is the beginning of some of the most majestic scenery America has to offer.

Red rocks at Lake Powell Arizona

Looking at the far shore of Lake Powell from Wahwheap Overlook.

Glen Canyon Dam has large parking areas on either side of it, and you can walk all over the huge boulders that line the sides of the canyon. Buddy and I dashed off to explore the boulders — it was just so inviting!

We could hear Mark yelling, “Be CAREFUL!” far behind us. The wind was whipping, and he was afraid we’d go over the edge into the water far below. However, even though it looked like we were on a dangerous precipice, we were actually quite safe with several shelves of boulders stair-stepping down a ways before we’d be anywhere toppling over into the fast flowing water.

Red rocks near Glen Canyon Dam Arizona

What a place for photography!

We used two of these solar panels to upgrade our toy hauler's factory-installed 200 watt system to a 600 watt system.

See our DIY installation here:
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Pup on the red rocks near Glen Canyon Dam Lake Powell Arizona

Buddy’s fur was flying.

The rocks had wonderful lines and shapes. Buddy disappeared into a small slot canyon and then reappeared, trotting happily towards me.

Pup runs through slot canyon near Lake Powell Arizona

Dog heaven.

As I said, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell are stunning at any time of day, but some of the coolest scenes happen early. We returned to the Wahwheap Overlook scenic drive at dawn and waited for the first wink of sunlight to appear across the lake.

Sunrise at Lake Powell Wahwheap Overlook in Page Arizona on an RV trip

Good morning, Lake Powell!

Sunrise over Lake Powell near Glen Canyon Dam and Page Arizona


The far side of the lake backs up to some wonderful mesas and rock pinnacles. I loved the layers and shapes of the mesas and stone pinnacles in the misty distance.

Distant mesas at Wahwheap Overlook at dawn on Lake Powell on an Arizona RV trip 2

Layers upon layers…

As the sun rose, highlights appeared on the rocks and cliff faces. This was a truly magical time of day. No one was around and the air was still.

Wahwheap Overlook at dawn on Lake Powell on an Arizona RV trip

Sunny highlights appeared as the land woke up.

A car drove on the road by behind me and then two more followed. I could hear them drive all the way to the boat ramp, and then I heard the rev of their boat engines as they took off. Suddenly a series of boats snaked through the canyon and disappeared into the deeper water beyond. Hopefully the fish were biting!

Wahwheap Overlook Lake Powell Glen Canyon Dam Arizona

Fishermen make their way out to the best fishing grounds.

Glen Canyon Dam was controversial when it was built because many historical treasures and magnificent landscapes were lost forever beneath the Colorado River water that filled the lake. Before the dam was built, some folks thought the area deserved to be a National Park. Many felt it was unwise to build the dam.

Interestingly, most of America’s major dams were constructed at a time that followed decades of plentiful rain and snowmelt. The data the engineers were working from was biased towards wetter than normal conditions. However, at that time and even today, no one knows what the Colorado River was like in the 13th and 14th centuries when the ancient Indians abandoned their pueblos all across the southwest and Mexico due to intense and persistent drought. If that data could have been taken into account, Glen Canyon Dam and others might not have been built!

Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Page Arizona on an RV trip

Lake Powell hovers around 50% of water capacity these days..

Oh well, that’s all water over the dam now. Lake Powell is gorgeous and we’ve just scratched the surface of all there is to see in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Before you pack up and go, here are some notes about the seasons: Spring is a great time to visit Lake Powell, however it can be exceedingly windy. Like 40 mph gusts and dust devils. Summer has much less wind but is very hot. Fall is cooler than Summer and less windy than Spring. Our visit one January was exceptional because there were few tourists and the air was very clear after some winter rains. It’s chilly at that time of year, but it’s a great time to go!

Happy campers and puppy at Lake Powell Arizona

Happy campers at Lake Powell

This little portrait of us was captured by a gal named Beth that we met on the trail. We were lamenting that for once we didn’t have our cameras, and the view was out of this world. She said, “I’ll get a pic of you three!” and she got it on her phone and emailed it to me. What a kind gesture that was, and what a great memento of that beautiful hike and view!

Arizona Highways Scenic Drives

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Quick Release Pull Pins for Fifth Wheel Landing Jacks – YES!

One of the very first upgrades we did to our 2022 Genesis Supreme toy hauler was to install quick release pull pins for the fifth wheel landing jacks. Our full-time Hitchhiker fifth wheel trailer had come with this kind of landing jack pin installed at the factory, so we assumed it was standard for all fifth wheels with electric landing jacks. Not so! And what a difference they make!

Quick Release Pull-Pins for Fifth Wheel Landing Jacks Installation


Our Genesis Supreme toy hauler came with goofy D-ring pins that were clumsy and fussy and added a frustrating and unnecessary step to hitching and unhitching our rig.

These pins were slow and frustrating to use!

After messing with these things two or three times, I got online and started hunting for the really nice quick release spring loaded pins we were accustomed to, hoping that they were something we could get our hands on. They were! We got ours HERE.

Tools and parts needed to install Fifth Wheel Landing Jack quick release pull pin

The quick release pull pins (left two) and the tools necessary to install them (right two). Not much to it!

We put a bottle jack under the front of the fifth wheel to support the trailer while we removed the silly pins that had come with it and replaced them with the quick release pull pins. You can also hitch the fifth wheel to the truck and work on the legs that way instead. However, the bottle jack worked just fine.

Bottle jack supports fifth wheel trailer for landing jack quick release pull-pin installation

We supported the front of the fifth wheel trailer with a bottle jack.

Fifth Wheel Landing Jack D-ring Pin 2

We removed the D-ring.

The hardest part of installing the quick release pull pins on the landing jacks is simply lining up the two pieces. They fit on either side of the landing leg like a clamshell with two long bolts holding them in place.

Make sure the handle is on the outside of the fifth wheel where you’ll be grabbing it.

Installing fifth wheel landing jack quick release pull pin

One half of the quick release pull pin.

Installing quick release pull pin for fifth wheel landing jack

Both halves of the quick release pull pin with long bolts that will hold them in place.

We used Loctite to make sure the bolts wouldn’t unscrew and walk back out.

Using Loctite to install fifth wheel landing jack quick release pull pin

We applied a little Loctite.

Then we tightened the bolts.

Installation of quick release pull pin for fifth wheel landing jack

Getting the bolts started.

Installation of fifth wheel landing jack quick release pull pin

Tightening the bolts down.

And there it was — a fabulous new quick release pull pin on our fifth wheel landing jack.

Installation of quick release pull pin for fifth wheel landing jack=k

Ready to go!

We installed the other quick release pull pin on the other landing jack and sighed a huge sigh of relief. These things are so much easier to use!

To hitch up: Simply raise the electric landing legs with the Retract button. Once the jacks are in their fully retracted position, pull out the spring loaded handle and slide the lower portion of the leg upwards into the upper portion. Then release the spring loaded handle to latch it in place.

To unhitch: Pull the quick release pull pin’s spring loaded handle and let the leg drop all the way down so the foot is on the ground. Then raise the leg slightly until the spring loaded handle snaps into place through the hole in the lower leg.

Fifth Wheel Landing Jack D-ring Pin


And that’s it! We purchased this quick release pull pin for our 33’ 15,000 lb. GVWR trailer, but there are others available> too.

Hitching and unhitching a fifth wheel trailer can be stressful enough as it is. For us, having a super simple mechanism for getting the landing jacks in position is an important stress reliever. It was an inexpensive upgrade, but has made a huge difference.

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Sheep May Safely Graze (in the Mountains with Dogs!)

July 2023 – Despite all the dazzling technological advancements in recent years and the ultra fast pace of living these days, there are a few constants that still reach across borders and the passage of time. Raising herds of livestock on vast pastures is one of them.

From biblical times through the Middle Ages to our current era, despite conquests and cultural upheavals and dramatic social shifts, livestock has continued grazing quietly around the world. And surely JS Bach’s musical piece, “Sheep May Safely Graze,” is as vivid a depiction of sheep placidly nibbling on summer grasses as it was when he wrote it in 1713.

Sheep May Safely Graze - In the Mountains With Dogs!

Our furry shepherd…

During our RV trip through Colorado last summer, we were happily camping in the National Forest, minding our own business, when we caught wind from other campers in the area that a flock of sheep was going to be brought in to graze for the summer. How fun!

We had witnessed the thrilling arrival of a huge flock of sheep once before when we were camping in Utah, and we’d gotten a huge kick out of watching the whole process. It was like nothing we’d ever seen before.

RV Camping in the National Forest in Colorado

We were quietly camping when a sheep parade came right by our door!

Sheep like to graze at 10,000’ elevation in the summertime, so they are often driven by truck up into the mountain peaks to enjoy a months-long feast of high elevation grasses and flowers. The flock owners lease the land from the US Forest Service and they hire people to live with the sheep on the mountainsides.

Often these temporary employees are experienced shepherds from Peru that are flown here with special work visas for the summer to camp in the high altitudes of the American West and tend the sheep.

Although we’d been wrapping up our stay and planning to leave, when heard the sheep would be arriving, we decided to stay a little longer to watch the action.

Suddenly, a huge livestock truck rattled down the dirt road, and we could hear the ba-aa-aa of the sheep in the truck. They were making quite a racket!

Sheep livestock truck arrives

A truckload of sheep rolled up!

The truck parked right next to our rig, and we could see little sheep heads peeking out of the openings in the sides of the truck!

Sheep peeks out of livestock trailer in Colorado

“What’s going. on out there?”

Lots of sheep were peering out at us. But we did a double-take when we noticed one of the sheep was actually a fluffy white DOG!

Sheep and dog heads poking out of a sheep livestock trailer in Colorado

Ahem…the one on the right is NOT a sheep!

The dog was a Great Pyrenees. We’ve met a a few of these wonderful dogs before. They are gentle giants. The owners of the flock said it was okay to pet the sheep dog and neither one of us could resist.

Great Pyrenees sheep dogs are raised with their flock outdoors from the time they’re young puppies. So, they get to know and understand sheep very well! They learn their jobs as Guardians of the Sheep from the older sheep dogs in the flock, and they live their whole lives outdoors with the sheep.

Great Pyrenees dog gets a pat on the head in a sheep livestock trailer

“Mmmmm…that feels good!”

The Great Pyrenees have an important job guarding the sheep from predators, but they aren’t the only dogs involved in the sheep management business. Border Collies help the shepherds move the sheep from place to place.

Sure enough, a Border Collie was right there ready to help out. Buddy wanted to know if he could help too, and the owners and dogs said “Sure!” Wow! He was thrilled!

Border collie helps with herding the sheep

This agile Border Collie had the fun job of chasing the flock to move them from one place to another

Dogs at a sheep livestcok trailer in Colorado

“I’m a runner too! I’m ready whenever you are!”

The owners had set up a long chute from the back of the livestock truck over to the pen that would hold the sheep until they were all out of the truck and ready to be moved to a pasture.

The first sheep cautiously looked down the chute, unsure of what to do.

The Border Collie jumped and yipped and the owners clapped and encouraged the sheep to start running down the ramp. The sheep got the idea, and suddenly a whole line of sheep was running down the chute.

Sheep gets ready to run down the chute from a livestock trailer

The border collie did some yipping to encourage the cautious sheep down the ramp.

Line of sheep run down the chute from a livestock trailer in Colorado

And down they ran in a steady stream of woolly white coats.

The sheep were all mamas (ewes) with their lambs, and they were very cute as they trotted down the chute and into the grassy pen!

Sheep run to new grazing grounds in Colorado

“I think the best grass is up ahead!”

Photographing sheep in Colorado

We had a ball watching these sheep running towards their new grazing grounds.

The owners used a small hand counter to count the sheep as they ran out of the truck. It seemed to be a tricky business distinguishing one trotting sheep from another as they passed in a blur of fur, ears and legs.

The sheep had traveled on two levels in the livestock truck. After the sheep on the lower level had been let out, the ramp was attached to the upper level and the sheep on the second floor began to run out.

A sheep jumps from the 2nd level of a livestock trailer

A ramp was set up for a second group of sheep on the upper level.

The owners had a third dog that was their pet. He had the job of Rodeo Clown! He zoomed in and out between all the sheep, in and out of the pen and all around the grass like a madman. He was faster than the Border Collie and probably faster than a speeding bullet! He leapt on and off the chute fencing and did all kinds of acrobatics.

The owners said he was always a little crazy like that. The other dogs paid him no mind, and neither did the sheep!

Sheep grazing in a pen with a happy pup

The owners’ Pet Dog was bursting with excitement. He had the most lighthearted job ever: Rodeo Clown!

Buddy was having an absolute ball as an Apprentice Herder. He seemed to know that he was playing a Junior role, so he never went into the pen with the sheep even though he could have like the other dogs did. He just ran alongside them on the outside of the pen, barking to make them run — and the Pet Dog followed along!

Happy dog runs alongside a sheep pen

Buddy was having a ball in his new role as Apprentice Herder.

Dog excited about sheep in a pen

He just loved getting the sheep to run from one end of the pen to the other.

We use these two-way radios EVERYWHERE!. Hiking, biking, shopping and parking the rig! For more of our RVing tips, visit this page: RVing Tips & Tricks

In between Buddy’s practice herding runs, the sheep settled into doing some serious grazing. They mowed the grass down by an inch or two in no time!

Sheep grazing in a pen in Colorado

The sheep’s job was to graze.

And in between grazing, life went on for the ewes and their lambs.

Lamb nursing from its mother


At this point we’d forgotten all about the Great Pyrenees sheep dogs, but then we noticed one inside the sheep pen. He stuck his head out under the fencing. There wasn’t a whole lot of Sheep Guarding to be done at the moment, so he seemed a little bored.

Great Pyrenees sheep dog looks out under the fencing of the sheep pen

“I’m on break right now, ’cause there’s not a lot to do!”

When he saw Buddy he perked right up. Here was a new friend!

Sheep dog and pet dog meet over the fence

“Hey there little fella!”

Having a good quality socket set in your RV is important. Check out what other tools we keep in our RV basement and in our truck here: Basic RV Tool Kit - Essential Tools & Supplies for RVers

Suddenly, the Great Pyrenees decided he wanted to be on the outside of the pen. So, jumped up and over the wooden fencing of the chute!

Great Pyrenees sheep dog jumps out of the sheep chute


Great Pyrenees sheep dog jumps out of the sheep chute

…and Over!

I was floored by the agility of this very large dog. The fencing wasn’t all that sturdy, but he leapt on and off of it with ease and grace.

Once he was out with Buddy the two hung out together and kept an eye on things for quite some time.

Dogs guard the sheep pen

“We’ve got this!”

Meanwhile, the Pet Dog wanted to show off a little too. He straddled the chute fencing, almost as a challenge to the Great Pyrenees!

pet dog Rodeo Clown

“Hey, you’re a pretty good jumper, but can you do this?”

Back at the truck, the Border Collie helped the owners make sure that all the sheep had been moved out and there weren’t any stragglers left inside.

Checking out the sheep in a livestock truck

“Yup, one last one and that’s it!”

Finally, it was time to open the sheep pen and move them to their first real grazing grounds. The gate swung wide, and the Border Collie swung into action. He chased them and dashed this way and that as the owners told him what to do with a special high pitched whistle.

Border Collie runs past grazing sheep in a pen

The Border Collie went to work herding the sheep out of the pen, taking cues from the owner’s whistle

The sheep headed out the gate and munched their way across the grass, mowing it down as they went.

Sheep let out of a pen into a pasture

Noses to the grass, the sheep made their way out of the pen.

We followed from a respectful distance and were really surprised when they headed towards the highway. The owner stood in the middle of the highway to stop traffic. And sure enough, before long there was a line of cars and trucks waiting for the sheep to cross the highway!

A flock of sheep crosses the road in Colorado

Make way for ducklings sheep!

A flock of sheep crosses the road in Colorado 2

After a while there was quite a line of cars and trucks waiting for the sheep parade to pass.

Eventually the whole flock had crossed, and they began making their way to the pasture on the far side. This was quite a production!

Sheep moving from one pasture to another

Everyone is across…

We wandered back towards our rig and noticed there was a bit of commotion going on. We peered a little closer and saw a sheep lying motionless in a bed of dandelions. We heard some of the workers talking, and it seemed she had been pushed to one edge of the flock where there were some brambles and a fallen tree in the way. She’d gotten tangled up in the branches as the flock had rushed along, and she’d stumbled and fallen as the other sheep brushed past.

Sheep resting in dandelions

She stumbled and couldn’t keep up with the flock and got left behind.

It wasn’t clear if she was injured or just stunned. The owner carried her over to the flatbed ranch truck and made a space for her in the back. A little while later she traveled in queenly style and seemed to appreciate getting a chauffeured ride back to the ranch. They assured us that she would be fine and just needed some R&R back home. They’d bring her back the flock in a few days.

Sheep gets a special ride back home

She perked up when she got a chauffeured ride home!

Phew! That was a lot of excitement for one afternoon! We caught one of the owners catching a few winks on the sheep ramp.

Resting after a hard day's work

After counting every sheep running past in the flock, it was time to lie down and count a few more sheep with closed eyes and catch some Zzzz’s!

Then the empty livestock truck rattled its way back out to the highway.

Sheep trailer and RV in National Forest in Colorado

What a great day this was!


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A little more about grazing sheep, both here and in Germany almost 300 years ago:

Related blog posts about animals!

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How to Replace Electric Fifth Wheel Landing Legs – Easy DIY!

Have you ever wondered how in the world to replace electric fifth wheel landing legs? Well, it turns it’s a surprisingly easy DIY project! We’ve done it twice now, once on our full-timing Hitchhiker fifth wheel 10 years ago, and again on our current Genesis Supreme Toy Hauler a few weeks ago. Yikes!

How to Replace Electric Fifth Wheel Landing Legs


At the end of our RV trip to Colorado last summer, our 2022 Genesis Supreme toy hauler fifth wheel landing legs started acting up when we were getting ready to hook up and leave one day. Our fifth wheel landing legs are electric, not hydraulic, and they are driven by two separate motors, one for each leg.

Suddenly, the driver’s side leg started making a clicking sound as we raised the front of the trailer to hitch up. The sound was coming from the gear box which is driven by the landing leg motor. The gears were slipping for some reason.

The Reese Goose Box was a GAME CHANGER for us. We got the bed of our truck back (yay!) and hitching/unhitching is easy.

Check out our review: HERE!

We were able to get hitched up despite the slipping gears, and we stayed hitched up all the way from Lake Granby in Colorado, to our home in Arizona. We didn’t unhitch once the whole way!

When we got home, Mark removed the landing leg from the trailer to do some investigating. With the trailer hitched to and supported by the truck, it was easy to remove the driver’s side landing leg to check it out.

When you remove the top cap from the leg, you should be able to turn the shaft on the side of the leg by hand. However, he could barely turn it. Something was binding and making the leg very stiff to retract or extend.

We weren’t sure just how stiff this gear should be, though. So, just to verify whether the gear on this leg was unusually stiff, he removed the passenger side leg and repeated the process. On that side the leg was butter smooth and he could easily turn the shaft by hand.

10 years prior, we’d had a similar problem on our 2007 Hitchhiker fifth wheel. However, that fifth wheel had had only one motor to drive both landing legs — not a very rugged frame design.

We’d been pleased when we bought the Genesis Supreme that it had a dedicated motor for each leg. Nevertheless, here we were again! Argh!!

The Hitchhiker landing leg motor was made by Venture Manufacturing in Ohio. So, when those landing legs failed, Mark purchased a replacement landing leg kit from them. He installed it while we were boondocking in the Arizona desert. We never had any trouble with our landing legs after that.

Mark called Venture Manufacturing again this time to see if they could help us with the binding landing leg on our new toy hauler.

He was delighted to speak to the same customer service rep as he had 10 years prior, Sue Haller. She asked him for some details about the landing legs on our toy hauler. It turned out that they were made by a Chinese knock-off company.

Once he heard that, he decided to replace both landing legs, gear boxes and motors with parts made by Venture Manufacturing. These come in a kit.

The installation was surprisingly simple and the new parts are super smooth. We now feel confident in our trailer’s landing legs as we get ready for our next adventure.

Venture Manufacturing Fifth Wheel Landing Leg Replacement Kit

All the parts that are in the Venture Manufacturing replacement landing leg kit.

Having a good quality socket set in your RV is important. Check out what other tools we keep in our RV basement and in our truck here: Basic RV Tool Kit - Essential Tools & Supplies for RVers


Here are the basic steps for replacing the landing legs on a fifth wheel trailer:

  1. With the trailer hitched to the truck, run the landing legs all the way up.
  2. Turn off the battery disconnect switch
  3. Pull the spring pin and drop the lower legs and foot all the way out and set them aside
    Do these next steps for each landing leg:

  5. Cut the positive and negative wires to the landing leg motor
  6. Remove the 8mm bolt from the lower gearbox shaft and slide the plastic collar off
  7. Remove the two 10mm bolts (11 and 5 o’clock position) from the motor and slide the motor off the shaft
  8. Slide the gearbox assembly off the motor shaft.
  9. Remove the two 9/16” nuts and bolts holding the leg onto the “U” channel
  10. Spread the “U” channel slightly to slide the leg out.

To install the new landing leg assembly, simply follow the above steps in reverse order!

Here are some pics from our installation:

How to replace Fifth Wheel Landing Leg - Venture Manufacturing Lower Leg

Remove the lower leg section to be able to drop the upper leg assembly out from trailer.

How to replace fifth wheel landing leg - Venture Manufacturing leg view From Outside

Looking in from the outside: The landing leg and gearbox.

How to replace Fifth Wheel Landing Leg - Venture Manufacturing Plastic anchor

To remove the gearbox just remove this screw and slide the plastic piece off the shaft. The gearbox will slide off next.

How to replace fifth wheel landing leg - Venture Manufacturing leg view From inside

Motor & gearbox removed.

If your fifth wheel has electric landing jacks but didn't come with Quick Release Pull Pins, they'll make you're life easier and they're super easy to install!

How to replace Fifth Wheel Landing Leg Upper Bolt

To remove the upper portion of the leg, remove the upper leg 9/16″ nut.

How to replace Fifth Wheel Landing Leg - Venture Manufacturing Lower Bolt

Remove lower 9/16″ nut. You may need to spread the “U” channel a bit to slide upper portion of the leg out.

How to replace fifh wheel landing legs - Looking from inside

Ta Da! New motor and gearbox attached.

All done! To install the replacement fifth wheel landing legs, do these steps in reverse order.

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Lost Dutchman State Park: GORGEOUS scenery & RV campground!

March 2024 – Lost Dutchman State Park is one of Arizona’s most beautiful and most loved state parks. Nestled up against the towering cliffs of the Superstition Mountains, it is a showcase for stunning Sonoran Desert scenery, and it has a lovely RV campground with paved loops that is ideal for both RVs and tents!

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground - Awesome RV camping in Arizona


All that wondrousness and popularity makes it very hard to get a campsite, though. Years ago, the campground was first-come-first-serve. But every morning from Fall until Spring a line of RVs would be waiting at the gate to get a campsite. Now all the campsites are reservable a year in advance, and you have to be online at the stroke of midnight if you want a specific site on a specific date!

Dramatic skies at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Lost Dutchman State Park is nestled up against the Superstition Mountains.


The sun peaks over the mountains at dawn.

Fortunately, campers’ plans change. We snagged a cancellation for a pretty campsite during the prime spring season, and we enjoyed a wonderful weeklong stay. Many of the campsites are fairly large and private, and we had a nice view out the back end of our toy hauler.

View out the back of a toy hauler RV at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Sunshine pours into our rig — Nice!

The view out the windows and front door wasn’t bad either!

RV Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park

The stunning Superstitions are visible from all over the campground.

When we arrived, we had beautiful summery weather too — so welcome in mid-March!

Happy Camper at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Summertime in March!

We had hoped to find Lost Dutchman State Park full of wildflowers. It is considered one of the best spots to go wildflower hunting in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.

The winter rains had other plans, however, and although we found a few patches of flowers here and there, they weren’t as copious as they’re known to be. We were a week early!

Wildflowers at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

We saw patches of flowers but heard the flowers really popped a week after we left!

Lost Dutchman is an incredibly scenic park, though, both with and without flowers. On the first night we had a clear sky studded with bright stars. Dawn the next morning brought a soft glow around the Superstition Mountains.

Stars over Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Starry starry night.

Sunrise at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona with coyote sculpture

The sun rose behind the mountain and cast a beautiful halo around it.

There are lots of hiking trails at Lost Dutchman State Park that go out towards the Superstition Mountains and then deep into them. We walked along the Siphon Draw Trail, Treasure Loop Trail and the Cross-Cut Trail which all wander between the campground and the mountains.

Superstition Mountains and saguaro cactus at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

We loved the play of sun and shadow on the cliffs.

Many hikes penetrate the mountains, and if you go far enough or even do a multi-day hike, you’ll find oases with waterfalls, streams, caves and more. Or so we’ve heard. We haven’t done that yet!

Saguaro cactus and setting moon at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

The moon hovers in the background.

As the story goes, a German (Deutsch) immigrant found gold in the Superstition Mountains in the 1800s, but the location of his strike died with him, and the legend of the Lost Dutchman was born.

Lots of people have tried to reconstruct where that gold strike was, but to this day it hasn’t been found.

Sun lights up a saguaro cactus at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

No one knows where the Lost Dutchman’s gold is located in the Superstitions, but the golden glow of sunlight illuminates the saguaro cacti all the time.

As the days progressed during our stay, a storm began to blow in and the sky became increasingly dramatic. It began one night with soft pastel colors in the sky.

Pastel sunset and saguaro cactus at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Soft colors in the sky.

Each night after that, the heavens presented a varied and colorful light show.

Saguaro cactus at sunset in Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

As a storm approached, the sunsets were colorful each evening.

Sunset at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona with view of Four Peaks

We could see the side of Four Peaks in the distance.

Crazy saguaro cactus at sunset in Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Pink pink pink!

Saguaro cactus at sunset Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

A little orange.

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground Arizona

Lost Dutchman is a beautiful place to camp!

And of course campers weren’t only ones sleeping at the Park. One campsite had a saguaro cactus with a huge nesting hole in it, and a little owl thought it was a great place for a snooze!

Owl sleeping in a saguaro cactus Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

In one campsite an owl was napping in a hole in a cactus. What a fun surprise for the campers in that site!

During our first few days, the high temps had been in the low 80s and we’d been in shorts. But as the storm clouds began to form, the temps dropped lower and lower and winter began to wrap its icy fingers around the campground. The skies grew ever more ominous.

Saguaro cactus under uncertain skies at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Brooding skies began to form.

We used two of these solar panels to upgrade our toy hauler's factory-installed 200 watt system to a 600 watt system.

See our DIY installation here:
RV Solar Power Upgrade

Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona view of Four Peaks

Snowy mountains and desert cacti.

RV Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

There were wild stripes above our neighbor one morning.

And then the clouds became downright spectacular. We’d come here for the flowers, but this drama was every bit as thrilling!

Lost Dutchman State Park RV Campground Arizona and Superstition Mountains

Temps dropped and the sky began to rage!

RV campground at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona


As Mark and I walked around the campground with Buddy, snapping pics of the drama that was unfolding around us, I noticed a scene that I particularly liked. It was the contrast of light and shadow on the boulders and grass in the foothills of the Superstitions.

I had a wide angle lens on my camera, though, so I couldn’t capture what I had in mind. Mark’s camera had the Nikon 24-120 lens on it and could reach out and grab what I saw. So he handed his camera to me saying, “Take it with mine!”

When I looked through the viewfinder, it wasn’t as close in on the rocks as I’d wanted. And for some reason, I assumed the lens was already all the way out at 120. So, I just snapped the shot, even though it wasn’t what I had in mind, and handed the camera back to Mark saying, “I didn’t get it. You’ll have to crop it down on the computer to make it right!” And we walked on.

Lo and behold, it turned out to be one of our favorite shots just as it was. I’d inadvertently captured both the bright light in the sky and the highlights on the ground. I love it when we talk about a scene and cooperate to take a photo, either on his camera or mine. And sometimes blooper shots are the best ones!

Stunning landscape at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

What I saw was the light and shadow on the small peaks, but the hole of light coming down from the heavens gives the image something extra!

The storm finally hit full force and we had two days and a night of downpours. What a deluge! These were quiet indoor days with occasional sprints outside to get the wiggles out. We were cozy, though, with the heat running inside all day long.

Puppy in his dog bed in a toy hauler RV

“When’s the rain gonna stop?!”

Finally the storm passed and we were able get outside again.

Lost Dutchman State Park has cabins for rent, and we explored the little loop where they are. These look like a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of this state park in relative comfort if you don’t have a big RV and don’t want to stay in a tent.

There are five cabins and each one has a front porch, back porch and a small back yard with a campfire ring. Inside there are two bunk beds with mattresses and a queen bed as well.

There’s electricity and heat and air conditioning but no plumbing. Guests bring their own bedding or sleeping bags as well as cookware and camp chairs. There is a bathroom and shower building, with a large outdoor sink behind the building for washing dishes. These are rustic “camping cabins,” after all, and not hotel cabins.

This might sound a little austere, but the setting is divine. The cabins are located away from the rest of the campground and they have a fabulous view of the Superstitions in one direction and of open Sonoran Desert in the other.

Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona camping cabins

The cabins have some of the best views in the park!

And the Superstition Mountains are what it’s all about. Mark caught a beautiful image of the mountains in the golden hour with the full moon soaring overhead.

We use these two-way radios EVERYWHERE!. Hiking, biking, shopping and parking the rig! For more of our RVing tips, visit this page: RVing Tips & Tricks

Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona full moon

The full moon flies over the Superstitions.

That moon was so darn quiet we didn’t pay much attention to it. But then, early one morning, we went out at oh-dark-thirty looking for a cool sunrise, and I turned around to see the full moon setting behind me. I smiled as I noticed a saguaro cactus was playing with it as it fell through its branches.

First the cactus cradled the full moon for a moment. Then it rolled off its fingertips. And then it caught it in its lower branches.

Saguaro cactus holds the full moon

A cactus cradles the moon in its arm.

Full moon rolls off saguaro cactus arm

Oh no… It’s rolling off!

Saguaro cactus catches the full moon

Ahhhh… Good catch!

When we returned home, we climbed over the mountain pass around Strawberry, Arizona. The two days of rain we’d seen down in the desert had been two days of snow up in the mountains, and it was just beginning to hail as we drove through the small village (and stopped for pie at the fabulous Pie Man shop!).

Arizona sure can conjure up some crazy weather. It was hard to believe we’d been in shorts enjoying a bit of summertime at Lost Dutchman State Park just a few days before!

Snowstorm near Strawberry Arizona

A huge hail storm blew in as we crested the mountains around Strawberry.

Snowstorm descending into the Verde Valley Arizona

We faced a slippery slide down into the Verde Valley.

Lost Dutchman State Park deserves to be on every RVer’s bucket list. Granted, it’s full every night from October to April, but it’s worth the effort either to get online at midnight (or shortly thereafter) 365 days before you want your reservation to begin OR to check back frequently for cancellations closer to the time of your trip.

While we were there, we looked into reserving a site for the same week next year. There were sites available, however all but one of the best sites was already booked! Crazy, huh?!

Sunset at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona

Lost Dutchman State Park is a beautiful spot!

Oh yes. We stayed in the Rustic Loop 105-134. Some surveyors were surveying the campsites in our loop and we asked them why. They said the campsites in that loop are being prepared for electric and water hookups. So, that may be coming in a year or so.

Prices in 2024 were $25/night for a dry site in the rustic loop and $35/night for an electric/water site in all the other loops.

Teardrop trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park is a very special place

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More info about Lost Dutchman State Park:

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CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Downs – SO EASY!

Trying to tie down an ATV, side-by-side or boat on a trailer for safe towing can be a real pain in the neck! Fortunately, we’ve discovered the CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Downs which are a total game changer for us.

CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Down System is SO EASY!

Easy to install and a cinch to use, the CargoBuckle retractable ratchet straps revolutionized our tie-down process!

For the past six years, we have towed our Polaris RZR 900 side-by-side in three towing arrangements:

  1. On a flatbed trailer behind our fifth wheel in a “double tow” arrangement (also known as a “triple tow”)
  2. On a flatbed trailer behind our dually truck (with and without our truck camper)
  3. Inside our Genesis Supreme toy hauler.



Using traditional tie-down ratchet straps, we found it was nearly impossible to keep the straps fully tightened as we drove. We’d have to stop after an hour or so to tighten the straps, and then we’d stop to check them every hour or so after that if the trip was long. More often than not, they’d have loosened again and we’d have to re-tighten them.

Also, the setup on our flatbed trailer had some sharp corners and awkward angles that the tie-down straps had to cross in order to secure the side-by-side onto the trailer. This caused the straps to sever completely multiple times. We bought at least three sets of ratchet straps in just a few months of towing our side-by-side!

Needless to say, all of this was very annoying, and also made us quite uneasy when we were underway!

Triple tow Fifth wheel and flatbed trailer with side-by-side double-tow arrangement

Traveling with The Train, we got a LOT of chucking in the caboose…!

Tow Polaris RZR 900 XC EPS Edition on utility trailer-min

Mark used traditional ratchet straps at first.



Cargo Buckle Retractable Ratchet Strap secures a side-by-side onto a flatbed trailer

CargoBuckle G3 Retractable Ratchet Tie-down permanently mounted on a flatbed trailer.

Mark did some research and found a product called the CargoBuckle Retractable Rachet Tie-Down System that mounted permanently to the flatbed trailer, one for each corner of the side-by-side.

In order to tie down the side-by-side, you simply pulled out each strap and hooked it onto a tie-down location on the RZR and ratcheted it tight. To unload the side-by-side, you simply released the tension on each strap to unhook and then let it retract. Easy peasy!

Mounting the straps on the utility trailer eliminated the need to tie everything down from scratch each time we secured the RZR to the trailer. Instead, the strap was right there where we needed it. All we had to do was pull it out!

CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Down system for permanent instsallation

CargoBuckle G3 (2″ strap).

This is a super slick concept and it completely revolutionized our tie-down process. Now we could tie the RZR down in just a few minutes by pulling out each strap, hooking it onto the RZR and ratcheting it tight. Even better, the straps never loosened underway, so we never had to stop to tighten them or worry that they might come loose as we drove.

Cargo Buckle Retractable Ratchet Straps for front of a side-by-side on a flatbed trailer

The front of our RZR is tied down with two CargoBuckle retractable ratchet straps mounted on the front of the flatbed trailer.

Two CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Straps secure the back end of a side-by-side on a flatbed trailer

The back of our RZR is tied down with two CargoBuckle retractable ratchet straps mounted on the rear sides of the flatbed trailer.

It was just a matter of a few minutes to get the RZR off the trailer too. All we had to do was release each ratchet handle, unhook the strap from the side-by-side and let the strap retract. Best of all, we didn’t have to deal with long messy tie-down straps or stow them anywhere.

We loved this whole concept so much that when we bought our fifth wheel toy hauler we got another set! In addition, we got an S-hook Adapter to bolt onto each CargoBuckle so we could hook the CargoBuckles into the D-rings rather than bolting them permanently to the garage floor.

CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet TIe-Down System for a toy hauler

The CargoBuckle G3 ratchet strap is bolted to an S-adapter hook for removable installations like the D-rings on a toy hauler floor.

Besides providing a very secure tie-down as we drive, these straps are work with that we don’t hesitate to unload the RZR to go exploring for an while and then load it back into the toy hauler and carry on. This is ideal for seeking out boondocking locations down unfamiliar dirt roads.



Our first CargoBuckle installation on our flatbed trailer was straight forward.

We aligned each of the retractable straps so there was a straight line between the CargoBuckle and the tie-down point on the RZR. Then we drilled a hole in the frame of the trailer for each strap and bolted the CargoBuckle onto the trailer frame. Done!

We angled the CargoBuckles slightly to ensure the straps wouldn’t cross over anything sharp that could make them chafe through. And that was it!

Use an awl before drilling a hole in the side of a flatbed trailer

First we made a starter hole in the flatbed trailer frame with a center punch.

Before drilling into a flatbed trailer frame spread 3-in-one oil on the drill bit

Then we lubed a small drill bit with 3-in-1 oil to keep the metal cool while drilling.

Drill a hole in the frame of a flatbed trailer before mounting CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Straps

Then we drilled a pilot hole.

We then selected larger and larger drill bits and repeated the lubrication/drilling process until the hole was big enough to fit the bolt.

Bolt the CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Strap onto the frame of a flatbed trailer

Once the hole was drilled, we bolted the CargoBuckle ratchet strap onto the flatbed trailer frame.

Cargo Buckle Retractable Ratchet Strap secures a side-by-side onto a flatbed trailer

One down, three to go!



Securing the RZR to the flatbed trailer was now just a matter of extending each retracted strap and placing its hook in the tie-down point on the RZR and then ratcheting the strap until it was tight. Once all four straps were hooked up and tightened, the RZR was fully loaded and ready to go.

Unloading the RZR was equally easy. We released the tension on each strap, removed the hook from the RZR and retracted the strap into the CargoBuckle on the trailer.

We didn’t even have to mess with coiling and storing any long straps because they retracted out of sight on the side of the trailer!

CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Strap tie downs for a side-by-side

We positioned the front CargoBuckles close together to absorb the most severe shocks which is front-to-back.

The straps are 2 inches wide and are made of the same material as a car seatbelt. The ratcheting and releasing mechanisms are very smooth.

We’ve towed our flatbed trailer behind our truck, both with and without our pickup camper, for about 1,000 miles with no trouble whatsoever!



Polaris RZR side-by-side with Genesis Supreme Toy Hauler

Buddy checks out our toy hauler as the RZR waits patiently to be loaded.

The garage floor on our Genesis Supreme toy hauler has D-rings mounted on the floor (bolted to the frame) that are intended for tying down whatever toys you bring along in your travels — ATV, side-by-side, motorcycles, etc.

With an open box floor plan like ours, our garage is also our living room (yes, the RZR travels in our living space!) and the D-rings are right in the middle of our living room floor! So, the permanently mounted CargoBuckle retractable ratchet straps weren’t suitable.

Fortunately, the manufacturer of CargoBuckles, IMMI (Indiana Mills Manufacturing Inc.), makes S-Hook Adapter Straps specifically for situations where the CargoBuckles can’t be permanently mounted.

The S-Hook Adapter Straps gets bolted onto the CargoBuckle (G3) creating a single unit that has an open hook at one end, a locking hook on the other end and a ratchet mechanism in the middle.

Attaching the S-hook adapter strap to a Cargo Buckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Down System for a toy hauler installation

The CargoBuckle G3 ratchet strap is bolted to an S-hook adapter so it can be hooked to a D-ring in the toy hauler floor.

Bolting the pieces together took no time at all and gave us four ratchet straps to hook into the D-rings in the garage floor and clip onto the tie-down locations on the RZR. The D-rings are not positioned symmetrically in our toy hauler.  However, we found four that worked well for tying down the RZR, two in the front and two in the back.

CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Downs for use in a toy hauler with D-rings on the floor

All four CargoBuckle ratchet straps have S-hooks attached for use in our toy hauler.



When loading the side-by-side, we simply hook the CargoBuckle S-hook onto the D-ring in the toy hauler floor, extend the strap so it can reach the tie-down location on the RZR and clip the CargoBuckle hook onto it. We do this for all four contact points on the side-by-side.

When unloading, we release the tension in each CargoBuckle, unclip it from the side-by-side and unhook the S-hook from the D-ring in the floor. We stow our CargoBuckles on the floor by the toy hauler ramp door along with the rubber mats we place under the RZR wheels to protect the flooring as we travel.


We have towed our RZR using the CargoBuckle retractable ratchet tie-downs 10,000 miles so far. We’ve set up camp in 64 different campsites and loaded and unloaded the side-by-side each time. In addition, we’ve loaded and unloaded the RZR dozens of other times for scouting and exploring while in transit.

Loading and unloading the RZR has been a sheer delight, and the whole setup has been rock solid in the garage and has never loosened once.

Tightening a CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Strap

Tightening the CargoBuckle at the rear of the side-by-side in the toy hauler.

Tightening a Cargo Buckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Down

Ratcheting the rear of the RZR in the toy hauler.

Perhaps the most impressive testament to the security of this tie-down system was our 94 mile drive between Shiprock and Gallup, New Mexico, on US-491 in 2023. If you can avoid this highway, please do! It is loaded with shallow dips you can’t see as you drive but that sent our entire rig flying any time we were going faster than 50 mph.

When we finally got to our destination, we were astonished to find that the RZR hadn’t budged and the CargoBuckles were all still completely secure. However, the Lifetime cooler that we keep tied down in the back of the RZR was another story, Even though it was tightly secured on the side-by-side, it jumped clear out of the RZR on one of those flying dips.  When we opened the toy hauler ramp door, we found it dangling off the back end of the side-by-side!

Back end of a Polaris RZR side-by-side is tied down in a toy hauler using CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Straps


If you have to tie down anything in your travels, whether it’s a side-by-side, ATV, motorcycle or boat, no matter what kind of trailer you’re tying it down to, your life be a whole lot easier if you use CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-downs!

These clever retractable straps transformed our whole attitude towards bringing our fun little RZR along on our adventures!

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More info about CargoBuckle Retractable Ratchet Tie-Downs:

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Exploring the Lower Salt River and Apache Trail in Arizona!

March 2024 – The Salt River in eastern Arizona boasts some of the finest Sonoran Desert scenery in the state, and it’s one of our favorite places for exploring, hiking, biking, photography and relaxing in the lush desert!.

The river flows westward from Arizona’s White Mountains, and as it approaches Phoenix, a portion of it known as the Lower Salt River flows through a series of dams, creating Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake. The Apache Trail parallels the river on an impossibly winding and gorgeous route.

The contrast between the dry desert and these lakes makes for a unique landscape, and in the springtime it is bursting with flowers and wildlife.

Sitting in the Lower Salt River Arizona poppies

A little wildlife amid a lot of flowers!.

We had so much fun photographing the Arizona poppies along the Bush Highway last March that we just had to return this year.

Last year the poppies exploded in a fabulous super bloom. This year the fields of gold weren’t as extensive as before. However, it was still a magical experience to see the pretty flowers and walk between the thick patches of yellow and orange.

Buddy made himself at home and promptly laid down in a thicket of poppies.

Puppy in the poppies on the Lower Salt River in Arizona

“This is nice here!”

People all around us strolled slowly in wonder, stopping now and then to get selfies amid the flowers. We were no exception!

Happy photographing the poppies along the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

Right in the thick of it…

Photography in the Lower Salt River Arizona poppies

Getting down to business!

We use these two-way radios EVERYWHERE!. Hiking, biking, shopping and parking the rig! For more of our RVing tips, visit this page: RVing Tips & Tricks

These joyful flowers grow in abundance all around the Phoenix area. For some people whose yards are overrun with them each spring, they can actually be something of a nuisance. But to us, their happy faces smiling up at the sun are the very essence of Spring.

Lower Salt River Arizona poppies with a lupine

Poppies herald the arrival of Spring in the Sonoran Desert.

Lower Salt River Arizona poppies on the Bush Highway in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area

Smiling faces.

Arizona Poppies blooming on the Bush Highway in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

Poppies’ eye view of the sky!

A little further down the Bush Highway, we stopped at the Water User’s Recreation Area. This is a huge parking lot and river frontage area where people launch kayaks, standup paddle boards and let their dogs and kids play in the water. There’s a fantastic view of the Salt River from the edge of the parking lot.

Water Users Recreation Area Lower Salt River on the Bush Highway

A natural river flows through the desert.

Water Users Recreation Area Lower Salt River on the Bush Highway

This is a great place to play in the water on a hot day.

Lower Salt River on the Bush Highway Water Users Recreation Area

Just love those cliffs!

Sometimes when we’ve stopped at this spot we’ve seen the wild horses that are residents of the area. They come down to the water here for a drink. None were out on this particular day. However, Buddy waded in the water and took a long drink.

Dog in the Salt River on the Bush Highway at Water Users Recreation Area


There are a lot of recreation areas along the Bush Highway, and each is a little different. There are cliffs and beaches and even some mesquite woods at the Coon Bluff Recreation Area.

We hiked on the short trail that parallels the Salt River and wanders between the lush green grass and mesquite trees.

Coon Bluff Trail in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

We watched a wedding shoot in this grove of trees a few years back!

Down on the riverbank we suddenly heard a loud chirping coming from a pile of boulders. Buddy quickly ran over and stared into a hole between the rocks, sniffing continuously. Sure enough, there was a ground squirrel in the hole. He came out into the sunshine for a split second and chirped for us and then darted back in the hole.

Squirrel at Coon Bluff Trail in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

“Watcha doin’ ?”

Up in the sky, a pair of geese flew by. One was honking loudly. The wildlife around here had a lot to say!

Geese flying at Coon Bluff Trail in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

“Take a left!”

We drove on a short distance and stopped at the Phon D Sutton Recreation Area. This spot is at the confluence of the Salt River and the Verde River, and there’s not only wildlife all around but lots of human activity too. it’s a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

We hiked a short trail that goes along the river’s edge, and Buddy suddenly stopped and laid down for a brief rest while he surveyed the pretty landscape from a nice spot in the shade.

Dog relaxes at Phon D Sutton in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

Buddy takes a breather in the shade by the Salt River.

Four Peaks appeared far out on the horizon. From this vantage point we were seeing the “front” of Four Peaks while when we RV camped at Roosevelt Lake further upstream on the Salt River a few weeks ago, we were looking at the “back” of Four Peaks.

Salt River at Phon D Sutton in the Lower Salt River Recreation Area in Arizona

View of Four Peaks from Phon D Sutton Recreation Area.

In the opposite direction, Red Mountain cast a reflection in the glassy water.

Red Mountain Lower Salt River Arizona

Red Mountain checks its reflection in the water.

As I mentioned, Phon D Sutton (along with all the other Recreation Areas on the Salt River) is a popular place for all kinds of outdoor activities. While we were there, a group of people began bringing inflatable kayaks down to the water’s edge. First it was two yellow kayaks. Then two yellows and a red. Then two yellows, a red and a green. In no time the shoreline was filled with a rainbow of kayaks.

Rafting in the Lower Salt River Arizona

A group of kayakers brought a kaleidescope of kayaks to the shores of the Salt River.

A fly fisherman stood in the water casting his line, and a photographer grinned happily between shots.

Fishing in the Lower Salt River Arizona

The Lower Salt River recreation areas along the Bush Highway are all about having fun in and near the water.

The Reese Goose Box was a GAME CHANGER for us. We got the bed of our truck back (yay!) and hitching/unhitching is easy.

Check out our review: HERE!

Photography in the Lower Salt River Arizona at Phon D Sutton

This is a great area to bring a camera.

The Bush Highway, Coon Bluff and Phon D Sutton are all near the city of Mesa. Further upstream on the Salt River, on the northeastern edge of the city of Apache Junction, lies one of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic drives: the Apache Trail (State Route 88).

This incredible winding road goes through some of the finest Sonoran Desert scenery in the state on a road that began as a trail used by the Apache Indians before the settlers arrived.

In 1903 road construction began to link the city of Mesa with the construction site for the Roosevelt Dam. In just a year, the first 64 miles of the road from Mesa to the Roosevelt Dam (which created Roosevelt Lake) was completed for a cost of $200,000. Two years later, in 1905, the entire 112 mile long road through this very treacherous terrain was completed for a total cost of $500,000.

The road builders were predominantly Apache Indians, and they built the road using pick axes and shovels along with dynamite. What an impressive feat!

Apache Indian road building crew on the Apache Trail, courtesy Bureau of Reclamation

These guys built 112 miles of road through perilous terrain in 3 short years!

Today, the 37 miles of road through the most treacherous part of the original 112 mile long Apache Trail goes from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake and takes dozens of sweeping turns on a hilly run out towards the dam.

Only the first 15 miles are paved, however. And the 22 mile long dirt portion, which used to make for a very exciting ride, is currently washed out in a few places due to flooding in 2019, so it’s closed.

As we drove this beloved road, we reminisced about racing our bicycles on the paved portion after work on hot summer Wednesday evenings back in the day! It was a crazy race, but so much fun. It was typically 115 degrees, and we’d both put in a full work day already, but all our cares slipped away as we rode at top speed on this scenic route.

The Apache Trail in Arizona is a winding road

One of dozens of tight turns on the Apache Trail.

On our drive last week, we were alarmed when we saw a sheriff’s car and an ambulance parked by the side of a particularly tight turn, lights flashing.

People routinely drive this road way too fast, and a surprising number go over the edge. Seeing the car at the bottom of the cliff was a great reminder to take our time and drive slowly. After all, why rush on such a beautiful drive?!

Saguaro cacti in the Lower Salt River area in Arizona

The Apache Trail is one of the best places to see gorgeous saguaro cactus stands.

721 Saguaro Cactus on the Apache Trail in Arizona


Along the way, two trestle bridges cross tributary streams that flow into the river.

Bridge on the Apache Trail in Arizona

There are two trestle bridges on the Apache Trail.

The Apache Trail follows a portion of the Salt River that is dammed to form a series of lakes: Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake. As we turned a corner, we could see Canyon Lake in the distance.

View of Canyon Lake on the Apache Trail in Arizona

Canyon Lake appears in the distance.

A delightful way to see Canyon Lake is to take a ride on the Dolly Steamboat. We enjoyed that wonderful boat ride a few years ago when a crew from Camping World was filming us for a promotional video. It was a lot of fun to float through a Sonoran Desert canyon!

We’ve also taken the boat ride on Saguaro Lake aboard the Desert Belle. If you have a chance, either boat ride (or both) is well worth doing. Drifting through spectacular Sonoran Desert scenery is a captivating way to spend a few hours.

Dolly Steamboat ride on Canyon Lake Arizona

Dolly Steamboat cruises down Canyon Lake.

There are also several recreation areas near the Dolly Steamboat dock, and we stopped at Acacia Recreation Area to explore. This is a gorgeous spot with a beach, picnic tables, shade trees and stunning views of the canyon walls across the water.

A young family was enjoying a picnic on a blanket while a little girl and her dad fished at the water’s edge.

Acacia Recreation Area on the Apache Trail Arizona

What a beautiful place to bring the family on a hot day.

We used two of these solar panels to upgrade our toy hauler's factory-installed 200 watt system to a 600 watt system.

See our DIY installation here:
RV Solar Power Upgrade

Canyon Lake on the Apache Trail in Arizona

Far in the distance, the Dolly Steamboat is dwarfed by the canyon walls.

The paved portion of the Apache Trail ends just beyond Tortilla Flat, a small complex of historic buildings with a restaurant. This place is a magnet for convertible drivers and motorcyclists who love to ride the sweeping turns of the Apache Trail and then stop for lunch.

On our way back we saw an opening for a small trail that went down to a stream. Buddy cooled his paws in the water and Mark did too when he accidentally stepped into deep water that came in over the tops of his boots!

Fun in the water on the Apache Trail in Arizona

Buddy and Mark cool their paws in the water.

The whole Lower Salt River area from Roosevelt Lake to the Apache Trail to the river access points on the Bush Highway is a rich playground for outdoor lovers, and we keep going back and back again!

Camping in Arizona

RV camping in the Sonoran Desert – fun fun fun!

Arizona poppies blooming on the Bush Highway in the Lower Salt River Canyon Recreation Area

Poppies, poppies, poppies!

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More info about the Lower Salt River recreation areas and the Apache Trail:

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Basic RV Tool Kit – Essential Tools & Supplies for Rvers

RVers preparing to go RVing full-time have asked us, “What are the essential tools and supplies we’ll need for the RV life?” That’s a big question, but when we began gathering items for our online Gear Store last week, we realized it was a perfect time for us to provide an answer and outline a good solid basic RV tool kit.

Mark just completed two sizeable repair projects in the last few weeks too: replacing the landing legs on our fifth wheel toy hauler and replacing the start motor plus relocating the start relay (so it’s easier to access) in our Polaris RZR side-by-side. Since he had just pulled out all of the tools necessary for these jobs, the whole issue of “essential” vs. “not-so-important” tools was fresh in his mind.

RV Tool Kit - Essential tools for RVers and RV living

What are the “must have” tools when you run off to a life of adventure in an RV?

I asked him to do a pretend shopping spree and assemble an RV tool kit on Amazon while I took Buddy for a walk. When I returned, he’d put together a terrific basic RV tool kit. He’d also discovered a few cool tools he didn’t have yet, and they were all sitting in our Amazon shopping cart!

Well, the Master Mechanic in any RV or boat can never have too many tools, right?!

Mark keeps most of his tools in the basement of our fifth wheel. He also has two additional mini tool kits. One mini tool kit lives in the truck and has duplicates of all the most basic tools he might need for a breakdown on the road or a tire change. The other mini tool kit lives in our Polaris RZR side-by-side in case it has a breakdown or needs a tire change.

You can find all of the tools discussed here in the “RV Tool Kit” curation in our Gear Store or click the blue boldface titles or the images below.


RV Tool Kit - Handheld Tools

Handheld Tools

Handheld tools are the heart of the tool kit. Craftsman is a great brand that comes with a lifetime warranty. So, a lot of the tools listed here are Craftsman. If a Craftsman tool breaks, you can just take it to a hardware store that carries Craftsman and they’ll replace it free of charge.

Mechanic’s Tool Set – A good place to start is to get a robust mechanic’s tool kit that has a wide variety of tools: hammer, screwdrivers, sockets, drill bits, pliers, etc. Mark keeps his in the truck so he doesn’t have to go digging for a tool in the basement when something comes up as we drive.

Socket Set – This particular set includes both SAE and metric sizes as well as 1/4 and 3/8 inch drives.

Wrench Set – A robust set like this one includes wrenches of every size in both metric and SAE. Some sets skip certain sizes, so verify that you’ll be getting all the sizes you need. This set can also be rolled up in its fabric case so it’s easy to carry and store.

Adjustable Wrenches – A big one and a small one will do the trick.

Screwdriver Set – Be sure to include both Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers. Want more variety? here is a bigger set.

Screwdriver #2 Square Head – Many RVs are built with things that require a #2 square head screwdriver. We use ours all the time!

Basic Pliers Set – This set includes channel locks and needle nose along with regular pliers. This bigger set has more variety.

Hand Saw – You might need to cut some lumber (we have!)

Hack Saw – You might need to cut some metal pipe (we have!)

Folding Saw – Sometimes we use this saw to cut back overhanging branches at our campsite.

Telescoping Inspection Mirror – With some projects it’s super difficult to see into the deep recesses of where you’re working. A telescoping mirror makes it possible to see the backs of things and around corners.

Telescoping Magnet Tool – If you drop that vital nut down into an impossible to reach spot, you can retrieve it with this nifty tool.

Measuring Tape – Handy if you need to measure something.

Level – Handy if you want something to be level or square.

Kneeling Pad – When you’re working on something low, it really helps to have a kneeling pad to cushion your knees. Mark uses his all the time!


RV Tool Kit - Cordless Tools

Cordless Tools

Several companies make a suite of cordless power tools that all use the same battery pack. If possible, stick to one brand to avoid storing a variety of battery packs and chargers (although we’ve ended up with a mix ourselves!).

Ryobi, Rigid, DeWalt, Milwaukee and Makita all make sets of tools based on their battery packs and are good reliable brands. However, each brand offers a different suite of tools. The products linked to here are all Ryobi which we like a lot. We keep two battery packs on hand so we can be using one while the other is charging…or use both at the same time!

Cordless Drill – We not only use ours for standard drilling purposes, but we also use it to raise and lower our landing jacks. We did this on our full-timing fifth wheel and now on our toy hauler. Both trailers came with manual landing jacks. To set up our drill for this purpose we put a 1/4 to 3/8 socket adapter in the chuck and attach an 8 inch extension and a 3/4 inch deep socket with 3/8 drive.

Drill Bit Set – There are bigger kits, but this is a good basic selection.

Cordless Screwdriver – This little gem is fabulous and saves your wrists if you have a lot of screwing and unscrewing to do.

Cordless Screwdriver Hex Bits – These are super handy to use in the cordless screwdriver if you have a lot of bolts to tighten.

Cordless Tire Inflator Air Compressor – This tire inflator can inflate all kinds of tires (Schrader valve) and basketballs too! We use it to inflate the air bags on our Reese Goose Box.

Cordless Dust Blower – After driving our side-by-side, we use this to blow the dust off ourselves. It can inflate air mattresses too.

Work Light – A super bright light that can be hung right over your work area makes it much easier to see what you’re doing.

Hand Vacuum – RV floor space and storage space is so limited that we prefer to use a hand vac instead of a stand-up vacuum.

Flashlight – You can never have too many flashlights. This one is a good all around bright light in a modest size that Mark uses every day.


RV Tool Kit - Tools for Electrical Repairs

For Electrical Work

Multimeter – This is critical for anything and everything electrical. If you want to test what’s going on in a specific location, a clamp-on meter can be placed around a wire and you’ll see the current at that spot.

Aligator Test Clip Leads – Vital for troubleshooting problems

Heat Shrink Butt Connector Kit – This suitcase style kit has marine grade butt connectors from 22 to 10 AWG and comes with a heat shrink tool and crimper. Mark lovs this kit!

Black Electrical Tape – Scotch is a good brand for electrical tapes. Cheaper brands are a waste of money. Get the good stuff!

Colored Electrical Tape – Same as the above but for cases where you want to color code your work.


RV Tool Kit - Plumbing Tools

For Plumbing & Gas

PVC Pipe Cutter – It’s really hard to cut PVC without one of these, and they also cut the blue and red PEX water lines with ease.

Tubing Cutter – Use this to cut copper pipe (we used it when installing our vent-free propane heater)

Teflon Tape – Blue Monster is the best brand of teflon tape. We learned about it from a plumber, and Mark has never gone back to the brands he used to use!


RV Tool Kit - Tire Changing Tools

In case of a flat!

Heavy Duty Lug Wrench — To screw and unscrew the lug nuts on the wheel

Hydraulic Bottle Jack — Get one strong enough to lift your RV or your truck.

18” Breaker Bar — If the Lug Wrench can’t crack the lug nuts loose, a breaker bar and deep impact socket will do the trick. Then switch to the Lug Wrench to finish screwing or unscrewing the lug nut.

Deep Impact Socket — Works with the breaker bar. Match the size of the socket to the lug nuts on your vehicle’s wheels

1/2 inch Drive 10 inch Socket Extension — Necessary to change the inner rear wheel on a dually truck (Mark demonstrates that HERE!).

Flat Tire Repair Kit – It may be possible to patch the tire rather than use the spare.

Fix a flat – When all else fails, it doesn’t hurt to have a can on hand!

Small compressor – Get that baby pumped up!

Tire Pressure Gauge – It’s important to check the tire pressure!


RV Tool Kit - Tape and Fasteners

Tape & Fasteners

Gorilla Tape — All purpose super sticky tape that can attach virtually anything to anything

Alien Tape — Thick double-sided tape that is great for mounting things

Velcro Extreme Mounting Tape – Excellent for mounting things you’ll remove at some point (like clocks that need batteries).


RV Tool Kit - Work Gloves

Hand Protection

Leather Gloves – Protect your hands when doing heavy lifting

RV Dump Gloves – Disposable Nitrile gloves are great protection while doing the dirty deed at the RV dump.

Cut-Resistant Work Gloves – Protect your hands when dealing with sharp metal parts and tools

Are there tools in your RV tool kit that you depend on and that we’ve missed here? Please list them in the comments below!

Check out all of these essential tools under “RV Tool Kit” in our online Gear Store HERE. Or click the image below to see our basic RV tool kit plus all the other goodies we’ve put on the shelves!

RLT Gear Store Storefront

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