Cedar Breaks National Monument – Glorious Amphitheater of Red Rocks!

July 2019 – After enjoying many trips to the edge of the Grand Canyon this summer, we were ready for a little different scenery, so we headed north to one of southern Utah’s most dramatic yet less visited red rock wonders, Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Cedar Breaks National Monument RV trip in Utah-min

Cedar Breaks National Monument – An Amphitheater of Red Rock Glory!

Located close to the famous National Parks at Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon but situated at of 10,000 feet, a much higher elevation than either of the other two Parks, it is a place that is forever haunted by wild weather patterns that make the extraordinary red rock vistas and dense woods even more dramatic.

As we arrived in the afternoon, the sky was wearing a forbidding grimace, and we quickly changed from the shorts we’d been wearing for the last few months into long pants and jackets!

Even more startling, we saw patches of snow in the woods as we drove. Holy smokes! It was late July and there was knee deep snow on the ground in some places!

Storm clouds over fifth wheel trailer-min

Wild storm clouds greeted us as we arrived at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is known not only for its eye popping amphitheater of red rock hoodoos but for its vibrant display of summer wildflowers. The wildflower season runs from mid-July through August, and the flowers were showing off their most brilliant colors everywhere.

Puppy in a field under storm clouds-min

Our first glimpse of the colorful wildflower display was a field of yellow flowers – under threatening clouds!

Wildflowers and storm clouds-min

How cool is this?!!

We hustled out to Point Supreme, the main Cedar Breaks overlook, as quickly as we could. Rain clouds were threatening, but what really caught my eye was the wonderful contrast of the soft green hillsides peeking over the mile high walls of red rock cliffs.

View Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

At the main Cedar Breaks overlook, Point Supreme, the layers of colors were just fantastic.

Green mountain and red rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Green hillsides above the red rock cliffs and hoodoos where the mountain has fallen away.

If doesn’t matter how many times we see these red rock cliffs and spires, whether here at Cedar Breaks or over at nearby Bryce Canyon, they are spectacular. The bright colors and the towering “drip castle” types of formations that look like they were made by kids at the beach are just astonishing.

And from the top of the canyon, looking down into the bowl shaped amphitheater, we always find it so hard to comprehend just how enormous the seemingly tiny pinnacles are. But a look at the tall pine trees snuggled up to the bases of the hoodoos gave us a sense of their immense size.

Red rock pinnacles Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

How big are those red rock hoodoos? The tall pine trees are dwarfed by them!

Pinnacles at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Brilliant red rocks Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Fabulous layers of color and texture.

The sun was obscured by the threatening black clouds which softened the colors of the canyon and eliminated the harsh contrast of light and shadow on the ridges.

Then, suddenly, the sun came out in force for a little while, and the amphitheater was bathed in golden light.

Colorful red rocks Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The nuances of the red rock hues are easily seen when the rocks aren’t lit by the sun.

Red rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah-min

Bright sunshine created dramatic contrasts.

Golden hour Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Amphitheater Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

.

Like all of America’s National Parks and National Monuments, dogs are allowed on leashes but only in certain areas. Point Supreme, which lies directly behind the Visitors Center, is one of the few areas at Cedar Breaks where pups can get a look at the eye-popping view, and Buddy gave the grand vista a cursory look and sniff.

But he was much more interested in other things at Point Supreme, like watching the ground squirrels running around the base of a tree in the distance, and he quickly took up a position in the middle of the overlook with his back to the view to keep an eye on the squirrles and also act as the Official Greeter.

Puppy is the greeter-min

Buddy turned his back to the view so he could greet everyone arriving at the rim and keep an eye on the ground squirrels too!

There was only one other couple at the overlook, and they had already given Buddy a pat on the head, so they resumed admiring the breathtaking views. But Buddy sat stock still for several minutes until a family suddenly appeared on the path walking towards him.

They had a little toddler with them who was as thrilled to see a puppy as the rest of the family was thrilled to see the views for the first time. As I watched Buddy and the toddler interact, I wasn’t sure who was more fascinated by their new friend, the puppy or the baby!

Puppy makes a new friend-min

Who’s more intrigued by whom? These two played together very happily while the adults savored the views

While the toddler and her old sister played with Buddy, our focus returned to the incredible 270 degree views surrounding us. What a place this is!

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

Cedar Breaks

Towers and pinnacles Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Suddenly, the sun began to play games with the clouds, and we watched in awe as light and shadow chased each other across the vast landscape and the heavens opened above us with shafts of light between the clouds.

Monsoon light Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah81-min

The weather turns on a dime at Cedar Breaks, and suddenly the heavens opened above us.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Stormy sky-min

.

Mark grabbed his 12 mm fish-eye lens for a very creative shot.

Fish-eye view of Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A fish-eye view!

And then he asked me and Buddy to pose by the railing. Sure!

Happy Campers at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah-min

Two happy campers

Little family groups came and went at Point Supreme, but we stuck around for a while to watch the show.

Vivid colors Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Vivid colors.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

Each cliff, hillside and hoodoo was unique in color and shape

Then we took a stroll down a path that was lined with beautiful wildflowers. The little bluebells were so delicate!

Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The wildflowers peak at Cedar Breaks between mid-July and mid-August

Wildflowers Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The tiny bluebells start as pink buds and then open up to a pretty shade of blue

Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

And the columbine wildflowers were dancing in the slight breeze. Some of the columbine were pure white and others wore a wonderful combo of blue and white with yellow trim at the center.

Columbine wildflower at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A beautiful two-tone columbine flower

There are lots of things to see at Cedar Breaks National Monument, and we’ve written about them in the past.

The Alpine Pond Trail hike is a great place to savor the wildflowers and the Spectra Point Trail hike is an absolute Must Do if you don’t have a dog or don’t mind leaving him/her in the car. The hike takes you out on a long peninsula that juts into the red rock amphitheater, and at the end you find yourself surrounded by thousand year old bristlecone pine trees.

We didn’t do those hikes on this visit, but we marveled at the power of summer storms as huge black clouds let loose a deluge that afternoon and all the next day.

We got hail interspersed with heavy rain punctuated with ferocious growls of thunder and too-close-for-comfort bolts of lightning.

So, we bundled up and Mark baked banana bread and put turkey pot pies in the oven too to keep our rolling home warm inside.

All this was happening during a blistering heat wave all across the country that delivered the hottest week of the summer to almost every corner of our beautiful nation!

During a brief break in the tempest around us, we snuck out to the rim of Cedar Breaks at Sunset View Overlook which is at an elevation of 10,354 feet. The sun was nowhere to be found, but the rain let loose once again, and we laughed along with a handful of other tourists who ran out of their cars in raincoats, braving a downpour to take a look at the red rocks in whiteout conditions!

Cedar Breaks National Monument whiteout-min

You never know what you’ll see at the Cedar Breaks rim til you get there. Pouring rain and swarming mist is a very good possibility!

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a fabulous RV destination in any kind of weather. And it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have some kind of intense weather if you visit mid-summer when the southwest monsoon season is underway. Bring shorts but pack long pants and a raincoat too because you just never know!

Puppy watches the sunset-min

Sunset at the end of a red letter day!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Cedar Breaks National Monument:

Other blog posts from Southwestern Utah and the National Parks:

Index of Articles from our visits to National Parks, National Monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Stunning Grand Canyon with a Private View at Timp Point

July 2019 – We’ve been exploring back roads leading to the lesser known edges of the Grand Canyon for the past few weeks, and we’ve seen some fabulous views at Saddle Mountain and Point Sublime. But those overlooks require a long drive in a 4×4 high clearance vehicle to reach. This week we discovered an overlook called Timp Point that offers some gorgeous private views that can be reached — with a bit of patience — in a passenger car or truck.

Timp Point Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon Arizona

We took our Polaris RZR 900 side-by-side on a fun 50 mile round trip romp on a well maintained dirt road out to Timp Point, and we just loved the views we found at the end of the road.

Polaris RZR ride through ponderosa pine forest in Arizona-min

Our little RZR took us through the beautiful ponderosa pine forest to a glorious Grand Canyon overlook

For anyone venturing on this road with a car or truck, sticking to the main roads is a good idea. They may be a washboarded and dusty, but if you go slowly they’re passable. However, since we have a zippy little buggy that can take on just about any kind of crazy terrain, we decided to skip a few miles of the graded road and take a cool shortcut on a pretty two track road.

Dirt road through the woods on the Kaibab Plateau-min (1)

“C’mon guys. Let’s go!”

We’d driven a few miles on that two track road with our pup, Buddy, running ahead of us when suddenly Buddy screached to a halt and looked back at us with a huge question mark on his face. Mark put on the brakes too when we saw a huge ponderosa pine tree had falled right across the road, blocking our way completely.

Polaris RZR ride stopped by tree trunk across trail-min

Oops — there’s a tree blocking our way!

We got out of the RZR to see if we could find our way around it, but the woods were extremely thick with all kinds of evergreens and aspen in addition to ponderosa pines. There was no way to get around this blockage. So, we did a U-turn and made our way back to the main road.

Tree trunk across trail in the woods-min

It was impossible to get around this tree.

It’s about a 25 mile drive from the paved highway, AZ-67, out to the overlook, and no matter what kind of vehicle you’re in, a comfortable average speed is less than 20 mph. But when we finally reached the overlook the views were spectacular.

Grand Canyon overlook at Timp Point-min

It was a long dusty ride to get to the edge, but what a rewarding view greeted us!

Timp Point overlook at Grand Canyon-min

.

Grand Canyon view at Timp Point-min

.

View of Grand Canyon at Timp Point-min

.

There was a small hiking trail that went out to the rim and followed the contour of the land for a while, giving us beautiful views of the Grand Canyon. We were surprised that at this part of the Grand Canyon, which lies northwest of the North Rim Visitors Center, many of the hillsides in front of us were covered in lush green vegetation.

Timp Point Overlook view at Grand Canyon-min

.

Green hillsides at Grand Canyon-min

A blanket of vivid green

Limestone peaks at Grand Canyon overlook-min

Limestone pinnacles far below

The views were not unobstructed, however. We had to peer over bushes and between tree branches to take in the stunning landscapes. Unlike other parts of the Grand Canyon, especially within the National Park where the viewpoints are on huge treeless rock outcroppings, the tiny trail hugged a slope and it was a bit treacherous in some places to find solid footing where we could comfortably savor the views.

Polaris RZR ride through the woods to a Grand Canyon overlook-min

Mark makes his way towards the view

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

We had to scramble and balance precariously to get our photos…

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon-min (1)

…but once we steadied ourselves, the views were spectacular.

The Rainbow Rim Trail is a hiking and mountain biking trail that goes from Timp Point north to several other viewpoints. Each viewpoint is reachable by a motorized trail as well, but each fork leading out to a viewpoint is several miles long, making it the kind of area that is fun to explore at leisure over the course of a few days. Trying to drive to all the viewpoints in one day would constitute a lot of slow bumpy driving on dirt roads for just a little overlook-gazing.

Overlook at Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

.

Likewise, a map of the Rainbow Rim Trail showed that it wandered away from the rim into the woods and then wandered out to a viewpoint in a zig-zag manner, flirting with the views of the Grand Canyon in between long treks through the woods.

Overlook at Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

Greenery and red rocks

Red rock cliffs Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

.

Timp Point has two overlooks that are only 6 miles apart, so we decided to visit both. At North Timp Point yellow wildflowers were in vibrant bloom everywhere.

Wildflowers at North Timp Point Grand Canyon-min

Beautiful wildflowers were in bloom at North Timp Point

Wildflowers on trail at Timp Point Grand Canyon-min

The little hiking path was lined with flowers

The wonderfully fragrant Cliff Rose was in bloom too, and even Buddy was impressed by its incredibly sweet smell.

Puppy sniffs cliff rose at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy checked out the sweet fragrance of a cliff rose flower

We slowly strolled along a narrow hiking trail around North Timp Point, taking in the beautiful views. Fewer trees and bushes had grown up along this trail, so the views were a little easier to see, and they were magnificent.

Grand Canyon overlook at Timp Point Arizona-min

.

Orange and green landscapes at Grand Canyon-min

.

View at Grand Canyon Timp Point-min

.

Beautiful overlook at Grand Canyon Timp Point-min

.

Grand Canyon Overlook Arizona-min

.

Patterns in Grand Canyon view-min

Intriguing patterns in the distant landscape

After enjoying a PB&J lunch break with a view, we hopped back in the RZR and made our way back through the woods. Once we got the RZR loaded back on its little caboose trailer behind our truck, we stopped at the North Rim Country Store to refill its gas tank.

This little country store is all there is for gas and groceries on the 45 mile long Highway 67 that goes between Jacob Lake and the North Rim. They carry all the essentials and have even more on their shelves than can be found at Jacob Lake. However, like the highway to the North Rim itself, it is seasonal and is open only between mid-October and mid-May.

North Rim Country Store Grand Canyon Arizona-min

North Rim Country Store offers a whiff of civilization in a vast wonderland of nature

Way back when we first started traveling full-time and visited the North Rim, we met the couple who had just purchased this country store, and we were delighted this year to discover that their son and daughter-in-law have opened a coffee kiosk right on the property.

How awesome it was after an early morning RZR adventure in the wilds of the Kaibab Plateau to be able to sip a luxe hazlenut latte with a heart drawn in the steamed milk on top! We might have been dusty and dirty, but this little bit of yumminess was a nice taste of modern luxury!

Meadow's Edge Coffee Kiosk North Rim Country Store Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Need a fluffy coffee before or after your adventure? The new Meadow’s Edge coffee kiosk has one for you!

If you have the time after visiting the more easily accessed and mind blowing overlooks at the end of the paved roads inside Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim, and you don’t mind a long slow and occasionally bumpy drive down a dusty dirt road, Timp Point makes for a fun day trip.

Road through the Arizona woods-min

As rugged dirt roads go, the one to Timp Point isn’t too bad for a passenger car or truck.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about this area:

Other blog posts from our trips to the Grand Canyon:

Other blog posts from our trips to Canyon Country:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon!

July 2019 – While visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this year, we made it a point to visit a few overlooks that aren’t easily reached by car. Saddle Mountain Overlook on the northeast side of the North Rim Visitors Center was lovely, but Point Sublime Overlook west of the Visitors Center was calling us. With a name like that, we just had to go see it!

Pt. Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

Point Sublime – It wasn’t so easy to get there, but what a feeling when we finally did!

There are two ways to get to Point Sublime, and both involve an 18+ mile long adventure on a rugged dirt road.

One day we started out on the more southerly of the two roads which is accessed from the Widforss turn-off of Highway 67 inside Grand Canyon National Park. But we forgot to bring our map and we weren’t really prepared.

We met a passenger car about a half mile down the road and asked them if we were going the right way. “You are, but it’s a four hour drive to get there,” the woman said. “And it’s a miserable drive.”

“Even in this?” We asked pointing at our RZR.

“Even in that!”

We sure didn’t want to embark on a four hour drive just then, especially without having studied the map a bit and brought it with us too! So, we decided to go to Saddle Mountain that day instead which we wrote about here.

Polaris RZR ride in the ponderosa pine forest-min

Our little Polaris RZR 900 has made it possible for us to get to some wonderfully remote places!

The more northerly route to Point Sublime goes through the Kaibab National Forest and is the route the Forest Service and Park Service rangers drive their trucks on when they have to get out to the Point Sublime area.

It is known to be very washboardy, but at least it isn’t super rutted or have any crazy steep sections. However, it starts with Forest Service Road 22 next to Demotte Campground, and we’d driven that road a little bit already and it was incredibly dusty.

The more southerly route is known to be a wild ride in any kind of four wheel drive vehicle. It has sections that are full of huge holes and steep grades, and it’s very narrow in places. It goes through the woods and isn’t especially dusty or washboardy, but it does a good job of shaking you up even so.

After mulling it over, we decided to give the more southerly route a second try despite its fearsome reputation. Why not have a true RZR adventure? So far, our trips on the RZR had been on pretty easy to drive dirt roads and two track trails.

At first the road went through a lovely wide open meadow, ideal for our energetic pup Buddy to run ahead of us and get some of his wiggles out before we got to the tough stuff.

On the road to Pt. Sublime with a RZR and a puppy-min

Buddy loves to hop out of the RZR and run ahead of us at top speed.

Pup runs ahead of the RZR on the road to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon-min

Zoom zoom.

The 18 mile drive took us about 90 minutes all together in our RZR, going from the paved state Highway 67 out to the Point Sublime overlook. The only other people or vehicles we saw on the entire trip out there was a single guy on a dirt bike. He waved as he rode past us. For the whole rest of the trip we had the woods to ourselves.

Dirt bike heading to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The only other person or vehicle we saw on our trip out was a guy on a dirt bike.

The two track deeply rutted road wound its way through the ponderosa pine forest. In many places the forest floor was carpeted with a beautiful tapestry of purple lupine wildflowers and lush green grass. We stopped several times to enjoy the quiet and peacefulness of the forest and its spring flowers.

Polaris RZR ride to Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Half the fun of our RZR rides is getting out of it to explore on foot.

Lupine blooming at foot of scorched ponderosa pine trees-min

Beautiful waves of lupine were blooming between the trees

Ponderosa pine and lupine in the National Forest-min

.

Buddy loved sniffing all the earthy smells around him. At one point he climbed up on a log and did a little tightrope walk along it.

Puppy tightrope walks on a log in the ponderosa pine forest-min

.

We had such fun taking pics.

Photographing model puppy in lupine wildflowers in ponderosa pine forest-min

Buddy poses in the flowers for Mark.

Beautiful dog in lupine wildflowers-min

Nice shot!

About five miles into the drive the road became extremely rough. We averaged 4-5 mph for quite some time as we navigated the deeply eroded ruts in the road.

At times the little RZR tipped wildly off camber, but it never seemed like it would tip all the way over (thankfully!). Side-by-sides are like miniature tanks. Mark put it in four wheel drive and it was able to grind up or down just about anything.

Eventually the road smoothed out a little bit and then the trees parted on our left side, revealing our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon stretching into the distance.

Limestone cliffs near Point Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona North Rim-min

Limestone cliffs on the outer fringes of the Grand Canyon

Exploring Grand Canyon overlooks near Point Sublime-min

We had a blast climbing around on the rocks (not too close to the edge, though!)

Grand Canyon overlook near Point Sublime-min

.

Huge craggy boulders begged to be climbed, and rugged rocky outcroppings jutted out into the view. We wandered through the woods and along the edge of the overlook for a long time, thrilled by the extraordinary vistas and the utter solitude and peace we felt in this far remote corner of the earth.

Grand Canyon view just before Pt. Sublime at North Rim-min

The views were so immense!

Overlook near Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

.

This warm up spot for the “real thing” at Point Sublime was a good place for a snack and a little drink.

Water break on the road to Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Water break!

We climbed back into the RZR and followed the two track road a few miles further. We knew the Grand Canyon was just over our left shoulders, but the woods were thick and the road wandered away from the edge, so we waited patiently as the buggy rolled along until suddenly we were driving out onto a huge peninsula.

To our right, as we drove out on the peninsula, the late morning sun lit up the multiple layers and many rich shades of Grand Canyon’s red rock cliffs. Wow!

Brilliant red rock cliffs at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon-min

Our first view at Point Sublime. Just gorgeous!

Colorful red rock cliffs Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Red and orange of every hue.

Spectacular red rock cliffs at Grand Canyon Point Sublime-min

.

After not seeing a soul besides the one dirt bike rider at the beginning of our journey, it was a surprise to find a big pickup truck parked at the end of the Point Sublime overlook.

I asked the fellow standing next to it if he’d come the way we had, the southern route through the National Park, and he said no. He’d come through the National Forest on the northern route and he said it wasn’t too bad. This was good to know since we now realized we’d never consider taking our dually pickup (or any other car or truck) on the road we had just traveled!

The Point Sublime peninsula jutted so far out into the Grand Canyon that it gave us 270 degree views. We wandered along the edge utterly enchanted by the way the views changed from one side of the peninsula to the other because of the way they were lit by the sun.

Stunning view at Point Sublime on North Rim of Grand Canyon-min

.

First glimpse at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

.

Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The views and lighting were different in every direction

Grand Canyon Pt. Sublime view at North Rim-min

.

Point Sublime has a few rock outcroppings that hang out over the view and we took turns peering over the edge. Such majesty!!

Puppy checks out Point Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy takes it all in.

The remoteness and the vastness were overwhelming, especially after such a long drive through the woods to get there.

Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

What a view!

Photographer at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Mark takes it all in.

Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona extraordinary view-min

.

Far in the distance we could see the Colorado River. There were some whitewater rapids out there, and undoubtedly there were river rafters riding down the narrow ribbon of water and gazing up at the sheer cliff walls, admiring the Grand Canyon from a totally different perspective!

Grand Canyon carved by the Colorado River at Point Sublime Overlook-min

The Colorado River was faintly visible far in the distance.

View of Rapids on Colorado River at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

There were probably rafters down there blasting through the white water rapids!

As we started back from Point Sublime in the RZR, we met a couple coming towards us in a pickup truck. They had just finished the most hair rising part of that more southerly route we’d taken.

The guy leaned out the driver’s window and we started to ask him how the ride had been. But we’d barely gotten a few words out when he blurted out in total exaspiration, “What’s the fastest way to get to a paved road?”

His wife was in the passenger’s seat, and she was white as a ghost. “It was horrible!” She said staring straight ahead out the windshield, eyes like saucers. “Just awful! The worst drive you can imagine.”

Tree and shadow Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

.

Unfortunately for them, the nearest paved road was at least an hour and a half away. But the Point Sublime overlook was just a few miles further on and the last bit of road to get there wasn’t that bad.

Best of all, they’d be able to confer with the guy in the other pickup at the overlook who could give them directions for the washboarded but slightly easier route through the National Forest back to the highway.

Fifth wheel RV camping at sunset-min

.

If you have the chance and a rugged four wheel drive vehicle and a taste for adventure, give the trip to Point Sublime a try. It is well worth it.

But if you don’t have a way to get out there, the other North Rim overlooks that are accessible via paved roads are just as wondrous and every bit as breathtaking.

Sometimes it’s about the journey, but a lot of times it’s really about the destination, and the Grand Canyon is glorious from every angle!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about this area:

Other blog posts from Grand Canyon:


    Other National Parks We’ve Visited

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Kanab, Utah, 4th of July – Stars & Stripes in the Red Rocks!

    July 2019 – One of the great things about traveling in the summertime is being able to enjoy the 4th of July celebrations in a special place. This year we were near the small town of Kanab, Utah, and we eagerly went into town to see the parade.

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah-min

    Uncle Sam greeted us as we came into town!

    We were staying over the border in Arizona, and we’d forgotten that in the summer months Arizona and Utah are in different time zones. Utah is always in Mountain Standard Time while Arizona floats between Mountain and Pacific Standard Time depending on the time of year because they don’t change their clocks for daylight savings.

    We’d planned to arrive about a half an hour before the parade started, and as Mark parked the truck he glanced at the clock on the dashboard and was about to say, “Perfect timing, it’s 9:30,” when he noticed our truck’s clock said 10:30.

    Oh no!

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah Parry Lodge-min

    We missed the start of the parade, but what we saw was wonderful.

    Luckily, the parade was still going on and we saw some fun things roll by. A bright red fire engine went past and then there were a bunch of RZRs all dolled up in red, white and blue. There were some other interesting contraptions too.

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah RZR group-min

    A RZR brigade in red, white and blue (hey, what are they passing to each other?!)

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah RZR group-min

    More RZRs!

    Tricycle Kanab Utah 4th of July parade-min

    .

    4th of July celebration in Kanab Utah-min

    .

    A few antique cars beeped as they passed by the historic Parry Lodge where all the Hollywood stars of the Golden Age stayed when they made hundreds of movies in the beautiful red rocks around town.

    Parry Lodge 4th of July parade-min

    .

    Antique car 4th of July parade Parry Lodge Kanab Utah-min

    .

    Antique car 4th of July parade Kanab Utah-min

    .

    Smokey Bear made an appearance in the back of a US Forest Service truck. And then one of the Hot Shots standing on a Forest Service fire truck gave us all a big spray.

    Kanab is an hour’s drive from any town big enough for a city-sized supermarket, but the grocery store in town, Honey’s Market, keeps everyone’s pantry full. A lady clown from Honey’s Market brought up the rear of the parade, slowly making her way down the street, chatting with friends and neighbors and giving out goodies to the kids.

    Kanab was settled in 1864 when Fort Kanab was built, and in 1870 ten Mormon families moved into the fort to establish the town. A huge mural on the side of a building depicts the arrival of a wagon train at Fort Kanab.

    Mural Wagon trains arrive at Fort Kanab_-min

    The full mural of the wagon train arriving at Fort Kanab

    There is lots of detail in this mural — the excited pioneers at the front calling out to the people at the fort, the weary travelers further back in the line, and the folks hanging out at the trading post as the wagons slowly come in.

    Mural Kanab or Bust-min

    “Kanab or Bust!” – The wagon train was greeted warmly when it arrived.

    Mural in Kanab Utah weary wagon train travelers-min

    It was a long journey, and some walked much of the way…

    Mural in Kanab Utah welcoming party at Fort Kanab-min

    Shooting the breeze at the trading post

    Back in the glory days of Hollywood, Kanab played host to visiting celebrities making movies, but today it is a tourist town. It isituated conveniently between three of America’s major National Parks: Grand Canyon (North Rim), Zion and Bryce Canyon.

    It is also close to Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Cedar Breaks, Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

    Kanab Utah is near many national parks-min

    Kanab is conveniently located in between many gorgeous places.

    Over in the town park the 4th of July festivities were in full swing when we walked up. The lush green grass and the vibrant red rock backdrop were beautiful, and the mood was decidedly festive and upbeat.

    4th of July celebration Kanab Utah-min

    Kanab has a beautiful town park and the party was well underway when we got up there.

    Red, white a blue stencils of all kinds had been spray painted on the grass, and lots of people were decked out in stars and stripes.

    4th of July party in the park Kanab Utah-min

    An old windmill honors Kanab’s ranching history.

    Dressed up for 4th of July-min

    Everyone was wearing red, white a blue, and some outfits were really cute!

    Tents were set up with all kinds of beautiful arts and crafts for sale, and the food court was humming.

    4th of July party in the park Kanab Utah-min

    There were arts and crafts and food galore!

    4th of July party Kanab Utah-min

    .

    The most fun — and coolest — spot to be was near (or in) the water fountain. The water jets sprayed on and off in all directions, and the kids had a blast.

    Playing in the fountain 4th of July-min

    .

    Playing in the fountain 4th of July-min

    What a great way to cool off!

    Buddy wasn’t sure what to make of the constantly moving streams of water, but he was grateful for a drink from Mark’s helping hand.

    Puppy gets a drink-min

    .

    It was a wonderful and hearwarming day and a great way to celebrate the 4th of July. If your travels take you near Kanab, Utah, on Independence Day some year, stop on by. This town puts on a wonderful celebration!

    4th of July Celebration Kanab Utah-min (1)

    .

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Kanab, Utah:

    Other Fun Independence Day Celebrations:

    Other blog posts from Southwestern Utah:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Saddle Mountain Overlook – A Different View of the Grand Canyon!

    June 2019 – The Grand Canyon is a huge, winding crater that wanders across the northen part of Arizona for about 275 miles. However, Grand Canyon National Park’s North and South Rims take up just a few miles on either side of the Colorado River in the middle of it all. For anyone up for a little adventure, there are lots of other places along its length outside the National Park where you can peer over the edge in awe.

    Saddle Mountain Overlook above the Colorado River in Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Outside of Grand Canyon National Park there are many absolutely stunning overlooks.

    This past week we took our Polaris RZR on a back country tour through the woods and the aspen trees of Kaibab National Forest to check out one of the many overlooks that are outside Grand Canyon National Park: Saddle Mountain Overlook.

    Two track road through aspen trees-min

    Our RZR ride took us through ponderosa pine forests and aspen groves.

    The two track road was fun to ride on, but the best part came at the end when we got to the overlook at Saddle Mountain. Wow!

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Colorado RIver-min

    What a wonderful view this was after riding through the woods for a few hours.

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain overlook in Arizona-min

    .

    Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

    .

    We walked along the edge and admired the amazing views. Every time I see the Grand Canyon, I marvel that a narrow ribbon of river along with some wind and rain could have carved all these extraordinary patterns in the cliffs!

    Erosion patterns Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

    Beautiful patterns carved by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years

    Red rock erosion patterns Saddle Mountain Overlook at Grand Canyon Colorado River-min

    .

    Saddle Mountain overlook on the Colorado River at Grand Canyon-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook offers a different view of the Grand Canyon!

    We had jumped out of the RZR as soon as we saw the views, and savored every one. After we’d gotten our fill of the beauty, we decided to continue down the two track road a little further to see where it led.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    Buddy ran out front for a while and then stopped to watch Mark drive the RZR down the trail.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    “Want a ride?” “Sure!”

    What a wonderful surprise it was to arrive at another overlook.

    Panorama view of Saddle Mountain Overlook at the Colorado River Arizona-min

    A little further down the trail we found another stunning view.

    Grand Canyon view from Saddle Mountain in Arizona-min

    We made our way through the brush for a closer look.

    Grand Canyon from Saddle Mountain Overlook-min

    .

    There was a narrow trail that led down a hill and then climbed up another, and Buddy and I just had to find out where it went. Mark stayed behind and watched us make our way out to the end of a stone peninsula. It didn’t seem so scary to us out there — there was plenty of room!

    Walking to the overlook at Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Mark hung back to take pics while Buddy and I ventured out on a rock outcropping

    I have to admit, though, that when I crept towards the very end to get a photo, Buddy wisely stayed seated behind me. I scooched out in a sitting position!

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain Overlook Arizona-min

    .

    The American West is full of places that have experienced huge land upheavals. The Kaibab Plateau, which surrounds the Grand Canyon, is part of the larger Colorado Plateau, and in some places it is easy to see exactly how huge expanses of land were thrust upwards, sometimes at an angle.

    Uplift of Kaibab Plateau and Colorado Plateau-min

    “The earth moved under my feet.”

    Overlook at Saddle Mountain on the Colorado River-min

    The Vermillion Cliffs are in the distance. Three “prescribed burns” of about five square miles each were burning on both the North and South Rims, making the air hazy.

    In the distance we saw the Colorado River winding towards us. It’s amazing how the land at the top is flat and featureless for miles and then a deep trench cuts across it, dug out by the river over many millennia.

    Looking down on the Colorado River from Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Lined by steep cliffs, the Colorado River disappears into the distance.

    Colorado River views from Saddle Mountain overlook at Grand Canyon-min

    The Colorado River lies at the bottom of those steep canyon walls.

    We hopped back in the RZR and were soon back in the woods. The trees were really green and the cool shade felt so good. What a fun little excursion that was!

    Happy campers in the aspen trees-min

    Mark and Buddy took a break in the cool shade.
    What a contrast to the sun baked and wind whipped red rocks of the Grand Canyon!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about this area:

    Other blog posts from northern Arizona’s pine forests:


    Links to all our travel stories from Arizona

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Breathtaking Bright Angel Point!

    June 2019 – Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s crown jewels, and the magnificent North Rim is, in many ways, the sparkling diamond in the crown.

    Grand Canyon National Park North Rim in Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim in Arizona

    We’ve been to the North Rim several times, and each time we have been enchanted by the 45 mile long scenic drive that goes from the main highway intersection at Jacob Lake down to the tiny community at the North Rim.

    This winding road passes through forests and meadows, and the shifting light on the aspens and ponderosa pine trees is beautiful

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow-min

    The 45 mile long scenic drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim goes through some gorgeous meadows.

    There are bison in the park now, and we heard from another camper that a fellow recently encountered 200 of the beasts crossing the highway as he drove to the North Rim!

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow and bison sign-min

    Bison now graze in these meadows!

    There is a wonderful little dry camping campground about 7 miles outside of Grand Canyon National Park nestled into the woods in Kaibab National Forest called Demotte Campground. We swung through the campground loop for old time’s sake, fondly remembering tent camping there many moons ago.

    04 721 Aspens and ponderosa pine Demotte Campground Grand Canyon North Rim_

    Road through Demotte Campground

    Once we got into Grand Canyon National Park and on to the North Rim, we were like kids on Christmas morning. As soon as we got the truck parked in the small parking lot at the Rim, we dashed to the edge of the parking lot to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.

    It doesn’t matter how many times we see the beautiful shapes and contours of this magical land, it takes our breath away every time.

    First glimpse Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    First glimpse – WOW!!

    We hurried past the Grand Canyon Lodge to get a better view. What a majestic place this is!

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim_-min

    The intimacy and friendliness of Grand Canyon’s North Rim is unlike any other major National Park

    The more popular and more populated South Rim of the Grand Canyon is relatively dog friendly, allowing pooches on leashes to stroll with their owners on the paved paths along the top of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim, however, is not as dog friendly. Buddy could take a peek at the view from the main yard by the Grand Canyon Lodge, but that was it.

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    Dogs aren’t allowed in many places, but Buddy got a glimpse from the yard next to the Lodge.

    So, it was back to the truck in the parking lot for him for a little while so we could take the half mile walk out to Bright Angel Point.

    The parking lot is well shaded by towering ponderosa pine trees, and lots of other pups were waiting patiently for their owners to snap some pics and return to their cars. A cacophany of barks greeted Buddy as he took his place on our truck’s center console where he had a bird’s eye view of everything around him.

    This parking lot is not really RV friendly, but a few had wedged themselves in. We noticed one motorhome with a fun message on the back: Living the Dream. Yes indeed!

    Living the Dream in an RV-min

    When you’re Living the Dream, the National Parks are at the top of the list!

    There is a dry camping campground at the North Rim where very small RVs and tents can perch right on the edge of the canyon, and some sites have extraordinary views. But for those who don’t want to camp, the Grand Canyon Lodge is surrounded by charming stone and log cabins with tiny porches and big log rocking chairs. What a great place to spend a few days!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabins-min

    The campground overlooking the Grand Canyon is hard to beat,
    but if you’re not a camper, these cabins look sooo romantic!!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabin made of log and stone-min

    A porch and room right on the rim!

    Log rocking chairs on the porch of a cabin at Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    The cabins are rustic, but in the most gracious way.

    Out on the paved trail that goes to Bright Angel Point the views got better and better the further out we got.

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail View-min

    Heading out on the half-mile paved trail to Bright Angel Point

    View of the Grand Canyon Lodge from Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Looking back towards the Grand Canyon Lodge

    Grand Canyon North Rim overlook-min

    Looking down on folks at a lower overlook

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    The vast scale is hard to comprehend. It’s like looking at a huge painting.

    Red rock cliff views Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    .

    One of the best things about the North Rim is that it is the only major National Park that isn’t inundated with busloads of tourists. Thankfully, it is such a long drive to get there that most folks visit the much easier to reach South Rim, call it good, and leave it at that.

    The visitors to the North Rim are primarily American families who are out on long summer driving vacations, and they are often hitting the fabulous cluster of National Parks in the area — Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

    Hiking, camping and family time together spent discovering America’s most spectacular settings are what it’s all about.

    View from Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    What a view!

    Majestic view Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Majestic!

    Patterns in Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    I loved the zig-zag diagonal patterns.

    Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    There are lots of places to climb and scramble to see the views on the edges of this trail without anyone nearby, so even with groups of people walking on the main part of the path, it still felt intimate and personal

    Like all the National Parks, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be experienced at a glance if you wish. Simply walk out to Bright Angel Point as we did.

    But it can also be savored in depth with a multi-day stay in a cabin or at the campground. This allows time for the long drives that go to the other major overlooks inside the Park along with doing a few of the many hikes along the rim or through the woods or even down into the canyon and across to the South Rim (and back if you’re hardy!).

    Grand Canyon framed by limestone-min

    .

    We weren’t staying at the North Rim for an in depth visit, so we slowly strolled to Bright Angel Point and back, soaking up the view, chatting with other visitors and taking a gazillion pics.

    Curvy dead tree Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    .

    View on Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    .

    Photographing Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    It’s impossible not to take a million pics!

    Built in 1928, the Grand Canyon Lodge is one of those gorgeous old stone and log National Park lodges that were built in the early days of the National Park system to give visitors a comfortable place to stay right in the heart of each Park.

    Grand Canyon Lodge entrance at the North Rim in Arizona-min

    Grand Canyon Lodge evokes another era.

    In those days, tourists took a train to Cedar City, Utah, and then boarded National Park buses to go to Kanab, Utah, where they spent the night, and then they continued on to the North Rim.

    Even though the roads were dirt and the drive was undoubtedly bumpy and dusty, there was an elegance or mystique to travel in those days that can be felt as you walk through this inviting lodge.

    Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Lounge Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim-min

    The Roughrider Saloon has an espresso bar in the early morning and craft beers on tap later in the day.

    The Grand Canyon Lodge is really all there is at the North Rim for tourist services, so they do it all, although on a small scale. There’s a tiny post office for sending out mail, a few spots to get a bite to eat or a drink, and copious places to kick back in an old log chair and sit for a spell.

    Log rocking chairs outside the post office and saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Dogs are allowed in the common areas and Buddy met quite a few when I went into the saloon to get a beer and a latte for us to enjoy outside in these big log chairs

    At the Roughrider Saloon, the gal pouring Mark’s beer and my latte told me this was her fourth summer working at the North Rim. Her winters are free, so she likes to travel then. What a great gig!

    Espresso drinks and craft beer on tap at Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Inside the Roughrider Saloon. It was a cozy setting but dogs have to be outside. So, outside we went!

    The Grand Canyon Lodge has huge comfy sofas in a room lined with enormous plate glass windows looking out at the Grand Canyon. Some of the sofas face the view. What a place to relax for a while.

    View from picture windows at Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Huge comfortable sofas face these enormous picture windows. What a spot to unwind!

    But the spot that always captures my imagination is the outdoor stone patio deck. A long row of log chairs is lined up along a short stone wall on this deck, all facing the exquisite view. People come and go from these chairs all day long, bringing a drink or a book or a friend to chat with.

    Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim stone patio deck-min

    Here you can kick back in a log chair in front of one of the world’s most magnificent views!

    To me, this is the spirit of the old National Park system where visitors can relax at leisure and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the place, unhurried and at peace.

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim_-min

    .

    We had the amazingly great fortune on this trip to bump into a woman who was a 6th generation resident of nearby Fredonia, Arizona, and she told us that her grandfather had been born in a cabin at Demotte Park (where Demotte Campground now stands) and that he had designed this fabulous stone patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge.

    How incredibly cool is that?!

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim-min

    Where all the cares of the world are forgotten

    The dining room at Grand Canyon Lodge is both intimate and awe inspiring. When we poked our heads in, the staff was eating at a back table right before opening for lunch. But this fantastic dining room would soon be full, and lots of happy visitors would be gazing out the enormous windows overlooking the Grand Canyon over lunch!

    Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room at the North Rim-min

    Elegant and classy.

    If you are traveling between Page, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah, a quickie 100 mile detour down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a really worthwhile trip. It isn’t big rig friendly or dog friendly, but the ambiance and views are out of this world.

    If you have an important birthday or anniversary coming up can, leave the big rig and dog at home, and get a cabin with a porch overlooking the Grand Canyon view for a few nights. What a way to celebrate (it’s on our bucket list!!).

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim:

    Other blog posts from our travels to the Grand Canyon:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    RV Camping in the Arizona Woods – Coconino National Forest

    June 2019 – Arizona is one of America’s most beautiful and varied states, but lots of people think of it as a place that has only cactus and dry desert landscapes. The surprising thing is that Arizona is home to several radically different types of ecosystems that vary by altitude, and lately we’ve been enjoying some wonderful forest camping in the pines at a cool 7,500′ elevation.

    Happy RV campers in the forest-min

    We’ve been enjoying warm days and cool nights in the forests of northern Arizona.

    Deep in the ponderosa pine woods of Coconino National Forest we’ve been getting out on small two track trails to see what we can find.

    RZR ride on a trail in the forest-min

    Our RZR took us on some cool two-track dirt roads.

    While most of the scenery is just woodsy landscapes filled with pine trees, one day we came across a small stream.

    Polaris RZR on the trail in the forest-min

    What a neat surprise it was to find a small stream!

    It was early morning, and as we followed the streambed we saw some fantastic mirror-like reflections in the almost-still water. In an instant we parked the RZR and began exploring on foot.

    Beautiful stream in the woods-min

    The reflections in the glassy water were very pretty.

    Forest stream in the woods-min

    .

    Reflections in a forest stream-min

    I just loved this rock and its mirror image!

    Puppy wades into a forest stream-min

    Buddy marched right into the reflections.

    Stream reflections-min

    .

    After a nice stream-side stroll, we got back in the RZR to explore some more trails and then got out on foot again to hike in the woods and soak in the peace and solitude.

    All of a sudden, we saw a wooden cross near a tree. As we came closer we noticed a big pile of stones in front of it.

    Was someone buried out here?

    Grave in the woods-min

    Is that a grave? Yikes! Whose??!!!

    The wooden cross was well constructed. When we bent down to get a better look at it, we noticed it had a dog collar wrapped tightly around it. We could see the word “Good” hand-written in pen on the visible part of the collar. Maybe it said “Good Dog” on it?

    Carved into the varnished wood was the name, “Mause” (perhaps an “r” was under the collar?). The words “Bird dog” and “Companion” had been carved on it too. On either side of the cross were the dates 11/04 and 04/18. He’d lived to be about 13 1/2 years old.

    You could tell just how much this dog was loved by the care with which his owner had buried him. There were flowers placed under the cross. We wondered why this particular spot had been chosen and if it had a special meaning to the owner or the dog, or both.

    Grave marker cross in the woods-min

    Beloved bird dog “Mause” lies here.

    We left the dog to rest in peace but returned to the little stream a few more times during our stay in the woods. Buddy just loved it there, and he’d run in crazy circles between the two of us to let us know just how great he thought this place was.

    Perhaps that bird dog had loved the spot near the tree in the woods just as much as Buddy loved this little stream.

    Puppy plays on the rocks in a forest stream-min

    Buddy loved coming to this stream.

    Puppy poses on a rock in a forest stream-min

    In between poses, Buddy ran in happy circles between us.

    These were lazy, happy days for the three of us, and Mark and I both took endless photos of our playful puppy as he posed and pranced along the stream.

    Taking pics of puppy in the forest-min

    Mark caught me taking Buddy’s pic…

    Pretty puppy poses by a stream in the woods-min

    And here’s the pic I took!

    Puppy in the forest-min

    At home in the woods.

    Puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

    Posing one way…

    A puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

    …and then the other!

    We planned for this year to be our test-run with the new RZR to see if it was fun enough to bring along in our future travels. Even though the triple towing is a bit of a hassle (but, really, would maneuvering a 44′ to 47′ toy hauler be any easier?) we’re finding that our little 4×4 buggy is taking us places we would never get to otherwise.

    Polaris RZR adventure on a forest trail-min

    .

    Forest reflections in the early morning-min

    A beautiful place for reflection.

    Other years we have traveled through five states by June. But covering shorter distances and staying for longer in each place has given us wonderful rewards this year.

    Early morning by a forest stream-min

    .

    Sunburst between the trees in the forest-min

    The morning sun twinkles between the trees.

    Sunrise in the forest-min

    Dawn light.

    Fifth wheel RV in the forest at sunset-min

    Sometimes it’s nice just to relax in the forest and get away from it all!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about this area:

    Other blog posts from Arizona’s higher elevations:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    RV Refrigerator Management Tip – Winning the Turf Wars!

    June 2019 – One of the biggest surprises for us when we began our search for a new fifth wheel RV to be our full-time home was the gargantuan sizes of modern day RV refrigerators. When we last searched for a full-time fifth wheel in 2007-08, most upscale rigs had a modest 10 cubic foot refrigerator in the base model.

    In those days, many of the manufacturers of higher quality rigs offered an upgrade to a 12 or 14 cubic foot fridge. Also, a lot of the entry level units being built back then by those same (now non-existent) manufacturers had an 8 cubic foot fridge with an upgrade to a 10 footer available.

    Our Hitchhiker was a “budget” model that we bought right off the back lot at the factory, so we ended up with the smaller 8 cubic foot fridge.

    Fifth wheel RV kitchen with 8 cubic foot RV refrigerator

    Our 2007 Hitchhiker fifth wheel has an 8 cubic foot refrigerator. This now “tiny” fridge has served us well since we moved into it in 2008.

    This was an upgrade for us anyway. Our first year of full-timing in 2007 was spent in a 27′ travel trailer that had a 6 cubic foot fridge. So, moving to a bigger fridge in 2008 was terrific.

    The 8 cubic foot model has been fine for us ever since then, although our ears do sometimes perk up when we hear the turf wars breaking out between the veggies and the beer.

    Neither the beer nor the veggies has emerged a consistent winner over the years, but we have found a way to keep the battles from spreading onto every shelf in the fridge.

    Even though most owners of late model higher end RVs have either a residential 110 volt a/c refrigerator or an 18 cubic foot two-way “RV refrigerator” that runs on either propane or household 110v electricity, modest sized RV fridges still appear in many smaller RVs and truck campers. So, I thought I’d share our tactic for keeping those big unwieldy bags of vegetables under control.

    RV refrigerator 8 cubic foot size-min

    RV two-way propane/electric refrigerators do best when stuffed full.
    There’s actually lots of room for goodies even in this small model.
    This isn’t even full!

    I like to buy all the veggies we’ll be eating for the next week or so at once and then cut them up and store them in a single container all together. I cut them in large chunks and then layer them into the container so they are nicely mixed rather than segregated.

    I’ve found about six to nine veggies will fill a half-gallon size plastic tub. I have a taller thinner size container with a snap-on top that disappears inconspicuously into a corner of the fridge. I mix up the types of vegetables I put in it with each supermarket run.

    Fresh veegetables ready to be cut and stored in an RV refrigerator-min

    All these colorful fresh veggies used to take up a lot of room in the fridge. Their plastic bags were everywhere!

    Sure, this method means that we eat the same basic veggie mix until it’s all gone, but I love being able to grab the veggie bin and whip up something without having to take each individual vegetable out of the fridge, get it out of its plastic bag, and chop off what I need for that meal.

    If I want the veggies diced smaller, I just grab the chunks I want from the bin and cut them into smaller pieces.

    Vegetables cut and stored for RV refrigerator-min

    All those veggies fit in this small half-gallon snap-top container!

    The veggies seem to last quite well in this snap-top tub, usually a week to ten days. Starting with super fresh veggies helps.

    We have our own favorite vegetables, but depending on what is popular in your RV, any or all of these work well:

    • Bell peppers (pretty colors)
    • Zucchini and/or summer squash
    • Broccoli and/or cauliflower
    • Green beans
    • Snap peas
    • Baby carrots
    • Grape tomatoes
    • Celery
    • Red onion
    Veggie storage in 8 cubic foot RV refrigerator-min

    The veggie container is tucked away in a corner!

    Things we do with them (sometimes diced smaller) have included:

    • Served raw with a veggie dip made from plain yogurt and a ranch style powdered dressing mix
    • Served on a bed of spinach and/or romaine lettuce as a salad
    • Stir-fried in olive oil in a skillet
    • Cooked in a covered, salted skillet on medium heat with a splash of water thrown in one minute before serving for quick steaming
    • Steamed/boiled in a pot
    • Lined up on a skewer and grilled on our BBQ grill (best if segregated due to different cooking times)
    • Tossed into an omelet with meat and cheese
    • Rolled into a tortilla and microwaved with leftover steak/burgers/chicken topped with a little cheese
    Vegetable stir-fry in an RV-min

    There are lots of ways to make veggies yummy.

    I’ve managed quite a few small refrigerators over the years as I’ve lived on various sailboats and in RVs.

    For sailors who come across this article, the best way I found to deal with the big, deep, dark refrigerators on older boats that require a veritable deep dive — feet in the air — to be able to reach the bottom is to put everything in large tupperware containers, segrating the meat, veggies, cheeses and even the condiments. This way, it’s easy to find the items you want because you are handling only a few big containers that are well labeled rather than digging around for that small jar of mustard you know is buried at the bottom in the wet mess somewhere.

    Likewise with the tiny 3.5 cubic foot under-counter RV fridge that we had on our sailboat in Mexico. The plastic tubs were smaller and didn’t have covers (so the contents could mound up above the sides a bit as necessary), but the important items were grouped together into two or three bins, and when mealtime prep began, all the bins were taken out of the fridge at once and laid out so it was easy to locate the individual bits and pieces.

    One of the unfortunate side effects of RV manufacturers moving towards ever larger refrigerators is that they cost a lot in terms of usable space in the kitchen. An 18 cubic foot RV refrigerator is 36″ wide while an 8 or 10 cubic foot RV refrigerator is only 24″ wide.

    I measured out the 12″ we would have lost if our Hitchhiker fifth wheel had been built to accommodate an 18 cubic foot RV refrigerator the way all modern larger fifth wheels are built nowadays. We would have lost an important section of counter space, an upper cabinet that houses three shelves and a lower cabinet that contains a drawer and two shelves underneath. That is a lot of nicely partitioned storage to give up!

    RV refrigerator 8 cubic foot size

    Modern higher end RVs have 18 cubic foot propane/electric refrigerators that eat up other kitchen counter and cabinet space.

    RV refrigerators don’t get the Energy Star rating that many residential refrigerators do. They are inefficient and they operate best when they are packed to the gills with lots of cold stuff inside.

    After we do a big shopping spree, we usually have two levels of goodies on every shelf and all the cold stuff is squeezed in pretty tight. As the days go on it loosens up a bit.

    Given the RV propane refrigerator quirk of needing a very full fridge to operate well, I can’t imagine having enough cold food to keep an 18 cubic foot refrigerator continuously stuffed in a household with just two people. We would have to chill 24-packs of beer and multiple gallons of fresh water. Frankly, I think I’d be chilling our canned goods too!

    That is all fine and dandy, but where space is at a premium — especially in the tiny living quarters of a toy hauler — it seems silly to give up precious cabinets and counter space to have a fridge that is difficult for two people to keep properly stocked (to overflowing) all the time.

    Not only does it take a lot of propane to run an RV fridge when shorepower isn’t available, but RV refrigerators are expected to fail after about 8 years. We replaced our RV fridge under warranty right at the 8 year mark when it died unexpectedly.

    An 18 cubic foot RV refrigerator costs somewhere around $4,000 whereas our little 8 cubic footer was just $1,500 or so in 2015. We didn’t have to pay out of pocket for it because we had an excellent RV extended warranty.

    However, built into the cost of any extended RV warranty is the cost of replacing the major appliances, including the RV refrigerator. So, the price of an extended warranty for an RV with an 18 cubic foot RV refrigerator is going to be a whole lot more than the price of an extended warranty for an RV with an 8 cubic foot RV refrigerator.

    The bottom line that isn’t so obvious on the RV showroom floor is that RVers get hit with the exorbitant cost of replacing a huge two-way propane/electric RV fridge either way. Wouldn’t it be awesome if RVers were given a choice on a $100k (or more) RV to have a more modest sized RV fridge?

    Of course, an 18 cubic foot residential 110 volt refrigerator is a fraction of the cost of an equivalent propane/electric RV refrigerator, along the lines of $2,000 versus $4,000, but powering such a beast without shorepower is a big ol’ can of worms unto itself. This is likely the reason why the National Sales Director at one of the major mass market RV manufacturers told us “The industry is getting away from residential refrigerators and going with the new 18 cubic foot RV refrigerators instead.”

    Ironically, requesting a 10 cubic foot RV refrigerator from the custom manufacturers was met with the head scratching concern that their units are built to a certain very high standard and a modest RV refrigerator is not really up to that standard. In the end, they would prefer not to have their name on a fifth wheel roaming around the country sporting a smaller RV fridge. Undoubtedly, that issue could be pressed, but our initial request was not met with the expected enthusiasm of, “Oh, of course we can do that. We’d be glad to!”

    Now, these are all very personal preferences, and there’s no right or wrong way to live the RV lifestyle. Our RV search has been an interesting journey through the maze of the modern day fifth wheel market, and this crazy refrigerator issue has been just one odd stumbling block in the whole process.

    I just finished writing a detailed article for Trailer Life magazine about what we’ve learned and seen in our search. The article will be appearing in the September 2019 issue. If you subscribe to Trailer Life, keep an eye out for it!

    In the meantime, give the veggie pre-prep idea a try. I like handling our veggies this way so much that I’d probably do it no matter how big a fridge we had, whether in a rolling home or in a stick-built house!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More blog posts about RV refrigerators:

    More blog posts about choosing an RV:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ – What a Hike!

    May 2019 – One of the most popular trails in Sedona, Arizona, is the Broken Arrow Trail. There are actually two trails called Broken Arrow that run more or less parallel to each other: a narrow path for hikers and mountain bikers and a wide 4×4 jeep road for motorized vehicles.

    Broken Arrow Trail Hike and Jeep tour in Sedona Arizona-min

    Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona, is great for hiking, biking, horseback riding and motorized buggies too!

    We set out early in the morning and the light was beautifully filtered through the trees.

    Early morning light hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Shafts of light fill our view in the early morning.

    Lovely wildflowers were blooming.

    Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona early morning puppy hike in wildflowers-min

    Buddy pauses in the wildflowers

    Wildflower in Sedona Arizona-min

    Such a rich color, and so delicate too!

    After a brief section going through the woods and climbing a little, the views began to open up in spectacular fashion.

    Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

    A short climb through the woods brought us to some breathtaking views.

    Hike Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    .

    The hiking trail and the jeep road criss-cross every so often, and when we climbed up on a plateau we could see a side-by-side down below.

    UTV on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

    Which is more fun, a buggy ride or a hike? Undoubtedly best to do both!

    But at this early hour the hiking trail was quiet and we enjoyed the wonderful peace and serenity of being by ourselves in the woods greeted by happily chirping birds as we walked.

    Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Peace.

    Sedona’s hiking trails are incredible because you never have to walk very far to get an eye-popping view, and this trail was full of them.

    Views on hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Views, views, views!

    hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

    I’m not sure if Buddy was more captivated by the views or the lizards!

    Puppy hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    .

    The rising sun warmed the rocks and we breathed deeply in the soft air. Sedona is beloved by everyone who goes there, and mystics and psychics have been drawn to it for a long time. They feel a spiritual power in the red rocks, and no wonder. It is easy to feel a deep connection to life and nature while soaking in these sublime views.

    View on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    .

    Posing puppy Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

    Does our little companion feel the power of the vortex?

    Dramatic red rocks Broken Arrow Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

    Nature’s skyscrapers!

    As the morning progressed we saw a few mountain bikers go by.

    Mountain bike on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

    We shared our hike with a few cyclists. It’s a memorable trail no matter how you do it!

    Broken Arrow is one of the top jeep destinations in the Sedona area, and before long the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day showed up.

    Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    A Pink Jeep rolled into view.

    The drivers love to give the passengers a few thrills along the way, and we watched several pink jeeps come out of the woods and then climb over the wide rocks at crazy angles. The passengers whooped and hollered the whole while.

    One driver yelled to his passengers, “It’s my first day. I don’t really know what I’m doing!” as he swerved all over the place on the flat rocks.

    Pink Jeep Tour Sedona Arizona-min

    The drivers are all great entertainers and they love to give their passengers a thrill.

    Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    What a fun way to experience the Broken Arrow Trail!

    Of course, there are stunning red rock hikes all over several western states, but what impresses me about Sedona is how the residential communities and the hiking trails have somehow managed to blend into each other without one treading on the other too much.

    View from hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Even with homes so close to the trails, we found each hike to be a total immersion in nature.

    There are multi-million dollar homes tucked right up against the trails and some trailheads are down neighborhood roads. Those lucky folks can walk out their back door onto a world class hiking trail every morning. Yet while you’re on the trail, the busy world falls away, especially if you join the rising sun and commune with the waking animals at an early hour!

    Unusual plant Sedona Arizona-min

    .

    You could spend many months in the Sedona area and hike three to five miles every day and still not tick all the trails off your list. We loved our stay this year and were fortunate that the spring of 2019 was a cool one in Arizona so we could relish this gorgeous landscape a little longer than normal!

    In the Light Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Broken Arrow is a gorgeous trail. But, then, every trail in Sedona is gorgeous!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about this area:

    More blog posts from our RV travels to the Sedona area:

    Index of all our Arizona travels

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Finding a Fifth Wheel Trailer or Toy Hauler to be a Full-time Home!

    May 2019 – We’ve been on the hunt for a new fifth wheel trailer to replace our current one as our full-time home for a few years now, and in the last week or so we’ve been closing in on what we want.

    Search for a new fifth wheel trailer RV-min

    .

    It’s been a long and wild ride, but I know a lot of our readers have been going through the same roller coaster of emotions — from elation to frustration — in the search for an RV, so I thought I’d share a little about what we’ve seen and been thinking about in our own quest.

    Banana bread served in an RV-min

    An RV home can be very warm and inviting and cozy.
    Warm banana bread in on a cold morning…what could be better?

    We love our life on the road and we have a cozy home, but our zippy and fun RZR out back has sent us on a wild goose chase for a way to bring it along and still enjoy all the comforts of home. Triple towing is a tricky business, so buying a toyhauler seemed like the obvious solution at first and our search began there.

    Luxe Fifth wheel toyhauler from The RV Factory-min

    The Luxe toyhauler is very high end.

    We started our search without a budget in mind. We wanted to see what was available regardless of price, so we visited The RV Factory where the semi-custom Luxe trailers are built.

    These trailers have 3.25″ wide walls with graphite infused styrofoam insulation, and they feature 8k lb. Dexter axles with 17.5″ wheels and disc brakes along with gorgeous cabinetry and top of the line everything.

    Luxe RV fifth wheel toy hauler frame with disc brakes-min

    Disc brakes are standard on the Luxe

    These are such high end trailers that all the drawers have dovetail joints.

    Dovetaile joints on drawers in Luxe Fifth wheel toy hauler RV-min

    Dovetail joints on the drawers…sweet!

    The interior of the finished toy hauler they had on display at the factory was bright white and sumptuous. During our visit, we ended up chatting with a Luxe owner at the factory who was getting a few minor repairs taken care of. He’d owned his trailer for six months and was very happy with it. We just weren’t sure we wanted to tow a trailer this heavy.

    We submitted our ideal toy hauler floorplan to both New Horizons and Space Craft (we also submitted it to Featherlite which we discovered is no longer building toy haulers). Both companies expressed concern that our truck, even with its dual rear wheels and 4.10 rear end, might not be able to tow one of their trailers if it exceeded 40 or 41 feet in length.

    Our design was likely in the 42 to 43 foot range, but despite several phone calls and one two hour long in-person meeting, we never got far enough in our discussion with either manufacturer for them to put the design in their CAD software and draw it out.

    This made us look more closely at the mass market toy haulers which are all in the 42 to 45 range. They are a bit lighter than the high end rigs, if less durable, of course.

    White interior Luxe fifth wheel toy hauler RV-min (1)

    Clean and crisp white Luxe toy hauler interior

    Luxe fifth wheel toy hauler RV White interior-min (1)

    .

    By far, the most ruggedly built trailer for its weight that we saw was the Aluminum Toyhauler Company fifth wheel trailer. These folks come to the toyhauler market from the stackable race car end of the trailer world. The ATC fifth wheel toy hauler has a truly massive cargo carrying capacity, but it lacks some of the other toy hauler features most RVers take for granted. When we visited the factory in September 2018, the ramp door didn’t convert to a patio. It may now.

    ATC Toyhauler fifth wheel trailer-min

    Aluminum Toyhauler Company (ATC) makes a rugged but lightweight rig

    The ATC is purpose built for outdoor enthusiasts who expect their equipment to hold up under harsh conditions. All the interior cabinetry is aluminum and custom made in-house, and the whole trailer can be power washed inside and out. There are no slideouts but future models may include them. They have a basic open box model that you can modify to your own needs, and they’ll install a garage wall if you’d prefer an enclosed garage.

    ATC Toyhauler fifth wheel trailer interior-min

    ATC prides itself on having no wood in the rig — that way nothing can rot, no matter how wet ‘n wild it gets!

    Another interesting tour was the Sundowner factory tour at their plant in Oklahoma.

    These aluminum trailers are also really well built although they are using Lippert axles in the current builds (they used Dexter until a few years ago). Coming to the toyhauler industry from the horse trailer world, they are designed around a gooseneck hitch. The beauty of the gooseneck hitch is that the bed of your truck doesn’t have a big ol’ fifth wheel hitch hogging up all the space when you’re driving around unhitched.

    Sundowner Toyhauler RV-min

    Sundowner makes beautiful gooseneck hitch toy haulers

    Sundowner builds its own entry doors and ramp door, and like ATC, their ramp door didn’t convert to a patio at the time of our visit. But it may at a later date.

    Sundowner Toyhauler RV Garage-min

    Looking into the garage of a Sundowner toy hauler

    When a trailer is designed to use a gooseneck hitch, the height of the trailer is kept quite low. The Sundowners are around 11′ tall as compared to 13′ 6″ for most conventional mass market toyhaulers. This makes them more aerodynamic but also means the bedrooms are not standing height. They are more like the bedrooms in a truck camper.

    Gooseneck trailers are designed this way because the arm of the gooseneck hitch is quite long, and the higher the trailer roof is, the longer this lever arm becomes and the more the roofline will sway from side to side as the trailer goes down the road, putting all kinds of lateral stresses on the frame.

    Sundowner does a lot of custom and semi-custom work, and they will happily design a trailer that is 13′ 6″ tall and has standing height in the bedroom, but that is not typical of their designs.

    One interesting thing with both the ATC and Sundowner trailers is that because they are coming from the stackable car trailer and horse trailer markets, their trailers sit quite low to the ground and the ramp doors have a shallow angle. This is great if you are driving your muscle car or sports car into the garage because the back end of the car won’t drag as you drive in. But it is less important for the folks with a rock climbing RZR that can drive up onto anything.

    Sundowner Toyhauler RV Interior-min

    The cabinetry and finish work in the Sundowner is top notch and many different woods and fabric are available.

    Sundowner Toyhauler RV Bedroom-min

    The gooseneck hitch means the ceiling is low in the bedroom, but that
    doesn’t mean it can’t be romantic!

    We also visited several mass market trailer factories in Indiana. At the time we were most interested in the Keystone Raptor and KZ Venom. We saw a beautiful Keystone Raptor 421CK at a dealership in Wyoming prior to going to Indiana. It was the first toy hauler we had ever walked into and said, “Wow. We could live in this!” However, the garage was only 11′ long and we’d decided we needed at least 12′ to fit our RZR and bicycles.

    KZ RV Fifth wheel frame with flooring installed-min

    A KZ fifth wheel gets its flooring

    The thing about toyhauler garages is that the patio doors and railings take up anywhere from 8″ to 16″ at the back of the garage when they are folded up against the closed ramp door. Also, there is a slope at the back of the garage floor that is about a foot long. It is there to extend the ramp angle of the ramp door so the ramp angle isn’t too steep. These two things combined can eat into the garage length by quite a bit. The 13′ garage might may have only 10′ 8″ of flat floor space, and that was typically what I saw with my tape measure in the various garages we looked at.

    KZ RV Fifth wheel trailer under construction-min

    KZ fifth wheel walls and front cap get started

    Also, if there is a side patio and some of it is built onto the garage sidewall, the garage will lose about 8″ of width where the side patio folds into the trailer.

    Likewise, if there is a 2nd bath or half bath in the garage or living area, some of the garage floor space or living area floor space will be lost to the bathroom.

    It makes a big difference in the livability and usability of both the garage and living space if the door to that half bath opens into the living area or into the garage. Whichever way it is, you don’t want to block the bathroom when you’re parked!

    Some Heartland Road Warriors now have a moveable partition around the half bath that becomes a wall when you’re parked but folds out of the way when you need the extra inches for your toys.

    KZ Durango. You don’t realize how huge the openings are for the slideouts til you see it like this!

    Most toy haulers have a loft area above the garage that runs the full width of the trailer along the wall that separates the garage from the living area. It’s worth some thought to decide if you’d prefer the loft area to open into the garage or into the living space. It may also be possible to modify the loft wall on one side or the other post-purchase so you have access from both sides.

    KZ RV Fifth wheel trailer being built at the factory-min

    The sidewalls of the main part of the trailer are quite minimal!

    We also visited the Highlander RV plant which is the Open Range toy hauler brand.

    Highlander Open Range fifth wheel toyhauler RV-min

    The Highlander toy hauler from Open Range

    Open Range is owned by Jayco which is owned by Thor. The Highlander toy haulers come in at a lower price point than most. Jayco is known for employing Amish people on the assembly lilnes, and they really do. We saw their buggies in the parking lot and driving around the area.

    Highlander Open Range Toyhaulers with Amish buggy in Indiana-min

    Lots of Amish people work on the RV assembly lines

    Amish buggy in Shipshewana Indiana-min

    .

    From what we saw, all fifth wheel trailers and toy haulers are in a very similar way that aims towards a specific price point. I don’t know that there is much quality difference from one mass market brand to the next since it seems the same overall manufacturing methods and materials are used in all the brands. Certain features are given different names in the marketing literature to distinguish each brand, but it often boils down to the same basic things.

    I was astonished when our guide pulled out an 8′ wide roll of a material that looked like aluminum foil and said it gave their trailer an extra R-14 of insulation throughout. All I could think is that there are aspects of RV manufacturing that are pure smoke and mirrors, and to me this was one of them.

    This metal foil has been used to produce great insulating R factors in certain scenarios, but it has to have at least two inches of air on either side of it, among other things, for the insulating properties to work. When it is installed in such a way that is is flush up against the other layers of material in the wall or ceiling, that big R-factor vanishes.

    Hydraulic lilnes for auto-leveling and slide-out mechanisms on fifth wheel trailer-min

    “So, which hydraulic line goes to the curbside slideout? ’cause I think it’s leaking!”
    Not all of what we saw inspired confidence.

    Some of what we saw made it obvious why customers often have so many problems with their RVs, but our visit to the MORryde plant was an immersion in quality, much like our factory tours at Trojan Battery and B&W Hitches in the past. They had a cool toy hauler out front with their logo on it that was used for trade shows.

    MORryde trade show toy hauler-min

    The MORryde tradeshow toyhauler

    On the Independent Suspension assembly line, MORryde’s signature RV product, we saw axles marked “NH” and “DRV” for New Horizons and DRV. Those trailer brands offer the Independent Suspension as an option. How cool is that?!

    fifrh wheel ready for MORryde IS upgrade at the factory-min

    An unpainted DRV waits for a MORryde Independent Suspension upgrade.

    We had been visiting dealerships on a regular basis for several years prior to our Elkhart visit, and we continued to look at toy haulers after we finished our factory tours in Indiana. Road Warrior (Thor/Heartland) was a brand we looked into, and the 427, which is now the 4275, was a possibility in part because of the side patio and MORryde ramp door.

    Unfortunately, my favorite floorplans were the older Road Warrior 427s that had a big sliding glass door going out to the side patio and a tiny fireplace/entertainment system that didn’t block the door. As the model years went by for the 427, the door with the big view onto the patio got smaller and the fireplace and TV got bigger.

    Grand Design Momentum 399TH Toyhauler slide patio-min

    The Grand Design Momentum 399TH has a nice big sliding glass door heading out to the side patio.

    One thing that is very enticing about a toy hauler is the ability to put a workbench in the garage. Most bigger toy haulers nowadays have a 2nd bathroom with the door going into the garage, which limits the wall space for putting in a workbench if you are toting a big RZR.

    Fuzion Toy Hauler Fifth wheel garage-min

    Will a small 30″ workbench fit between the two doors in this Fuzion 429?

    At first, the idea of two bathrooms didn’t excite us because it is a mammoth waste of space for a couple. But then we realized that with a 2nd bathroom you get double the black tank capacity because most designers place a black tank below each toilet to let gravity do its magic of filling the tank as the toilet is used. Some of them drain the little half-bath vanity sink into the rear black tank too.

    It is my understanding that the DRV Fullhouse uses a macerator on the toilets to pump the fluids from both toilets to a single black tank, so adding a 2nd bathroom doesn’t double the black tank capacity in those trailers.

    The more we did our own soul searching about what we really wanted in our new trailer, the more we realized that we couldn’t go backwards when it came to tank capacities. Our current Hitchhiker has 70 gallons of fresh water, 78 gallons of gray split between two tanks (50 for the shower and vanity and 28 for the kitchen sink) and 50 gallons of black.

    Reducing any of these numbers would impact the way we live since we rarely get water or sewer hookups. Unfortunately, although most toy haulers offer over 100 gallons of fresh water, which is awesome, many have a bit less than 50 for the black tank unless they have a 2nd bathroom.

    So the decision for us became a trade-off between living space (giving up part of the living area and/or garage to accommodate a second bathroom) and black tank capacity. Argh! Big black tanks do exist. The Arctic Fox 35-5Z has 65 gallons of black tank capacity with just one toilet.

    The Keystone Raptor 421CK floorplan that we loved (except for the 11′ garage) was replaced with the Raptor 423 which has a 13′ garage. But it has just a 44 gallon black tank which contributed to taking it out of the running. Also, the designers took 2′ out of the bedroom to increase the garage length from 11 to 13 feet, and they turned the bed so it was “north/south” or parallel to the driving direction instead of being perpendicular to it.

    Trailer designers are constrained in overall square footage for their designs by the RVIA (RV Industry Association). This group increases the maximum allowable square footage a little bit now and then, but for right now the limit is 430 square feet.

    This seems to be a bit of an arbitrary number, but it is an important one. When you see very long trailers with very shallow and short slide-outs, it may be due to this maximum square footage. Turning a perpendicular bed that’s partly in a slide-out into a “north/south” bed that’s parallel to the curb with no slideout eliminates a few square feet. The designer can then use those square feet somewhere else in the trailer, like lengthening the garage.

    We spent a lot of time lying on these “north/south” beds and opening and closing the small wardrobes in the driver’s side slideouts. This type of bedroom was not as appealing as the perpendicular bed with the big closet in the front cap, but it is the predominant design these days, probably due to the square footage constraint.

    Grand Design Momentum Toyhauler Bedroom-min

    Many toy haulers have a “north/south” bedroom where the bed runs parallel to the road rather than perpendicular. You can walk around a queen but a king goes almost to the curbside wall.

    The biggest challenge in our search is that most dealers stock only a few toy haulers of whatever brands they carry. So there were several floorplans we wanted to see that we still haven’t seen, even after two years of traveling around and a visit to the factories in Elkhart Indiana. The KZ Venom 4012TK is an open floorplan U-kitchen design much like the Raptor 421CK/423 that I’d love to see. Maybe someday!

    I’d also like to see a DRV Fullhouse, specifically the LX450. Until we began our search, I didn’t realize that even though DRV is not an independent company any more, they still allow some customizations to be made to their trailers. Working with a good dealer — we heard that Rolling Retreats in Oklahoma was outstanding — you can ask for all kinds of customized things and some might be granted.

    I was very surprised when I found out that the factory would be willing to remove the 2nd bathroom and the dinette cabinetry in the Fullhouse LX450. I had other ideas for those spaces that would work better for us. But I have yet to see a Fullhouse toy hauler in person — they always seem to be at least 400 miles away and never in the direction we’re headed. And ordering any trailer without seeing something pretty similar in person first makes me uneasy.

    The other thing that made the search particular frustrating is that all the folks selling toyhaulers also had regular fivers on their lots. So, although we couldn’t see the KZ Venom toy hauler we wanted to see, the dealer had the KZ Durango Gold 380FL available. We walked inside and instantly fell in love with the huge rear bedroom with its 2nd entry door on the driver’s side. This didn’t help our search for a toy hauler!

    Where Raptors were sold we often saw Montanas, which are also Keystone products, and Mark fell in love wih the storage space in the massive pullout shelf under the raised living room in the Montana 3790/91. This was yet another reminder that If you don’t have a 13′ dedicated garage and you’re willing to go up to 40′ or longer in a trailer, you can get a really spacious rig!

    And where Momentums were sold, Grand Design Solitudes were also on display. We both fell totally in love with the massive bedroom and walkin closet of the Grand Design Solitude 373FB. The twin vanity sinks and gargantuan closet were wonderful, and the big bright windows opposite the bed along and the window over the bed’s headboard were fabulous.

    I’d never been in a fifth wheel where I felt I could spend happy daytime hours in the bedroom, but in that rig I surely could.

    Grand Design Solitude 373FB Fifth wheel trailer RV bedroom-min

    The Grand Design Solitude 373FB has a gorgeous bedroom suite with an enormous bathroom and walk-in closet

    Grand Design Solitude 373FB Bedroom-min

    Good morning sunshine — the Grand Design Solitude 373FB bedroom has a wall of windows!

    So, the toy hauler idea went out the window because we began to think we’d triple tow with something like this beautiful Grand Design Solitude 373FB. The only problem is that it is 41′ 4″ long and that would put us over the limit for triple towing in every state except for South Dakota where the limit is 75 feet!

    Back to the drawing board we went where we revamped our search to be for smaller trailers. Suddenly, at long last, we were able to see an Arctic Fox 35-5Z after wanting to see one for a long time. This is a really well made trailer built on Northwood Manufacturing’s own in-house constructed frame with a traditional floorplan.

    The great thing about Northwood Manufacturing / Arctic Fox is that they are the only trailer manufacturer left that offers a long list of options. All the others pump out identical trailers one after another except for a very few items the customer can choose such as dual pane windows, an onboard generator and exterior paint.

    Arctic Fox 35-SZ fifth wheel trailer RV living room-min

    The Arctic Fox 35-SZ is built on a custom in-house frame and offers lots of choices for options

    At Arctic Fox you can choose to have either one air conditioner or two. You can get an electric fireplace under the TV or you can have wooden cabinets in that space instead. You can opt for a 10 cubic foot propane/electric RV fridge, which gives you an extra foot of counter space and upper and lower cabinetry to boot, or a 12 cubic foot RV fridge or an enormous 18 cubic foot RV fridge. You can also get a residential 110v AC electric fridge.

    This is awesome because there are some RVers, like ourselves, who would prefer to have more cabinet and counter space and let the veggies and beer fight it out for themselves in a smaller 10 cubic foot fridge.

    Also, since we dry camp all the time, we power our 8 cubic foot fridge with propane 24/7. When we’re not using propane for heat and are just using propane to power the refrigerator, the hot water heater and the stove, we go through a 30 lb. (7 gallon) tank of propane every three weeks. In our experience, it is not always so easy to find places to fill our propane tanks, especially in certain parts of the country.

    If we were to go from our current 8 cubic foot refrigerator to an 18 cubic foot fridge, we would more than double the amount of propane our fridge uses. We would probably go through that same 7 gallon tank of propane in about 9-12 days instead of 21 days. If the trailer’s LP tank compartment allows 5″ of extra height, then we might be able to switch to using the taller 40 lb. (10 gallon) tanks instead and we might make the propane last a little longer. But those big tanks are unwieldy to carry around.

    Lastly, RV propane refrigerators are expected to last only about 8 to 10 years. A replacement 8 cubic foot fridge is around $1,400. A replacement 18 cubic foot fridge is $3,700. That’s a huge difference!

    Even if you have an extended RV warranty (which is an excellent idea – here’s why), the warranty contract will cost a lot more to purchase if your rig has a big expensive refrigerator in it than it would if the fridge were a smaller cheaper model. After all, the warranty company has to calculate their potential costs if things in your rig (like the refrigerator) fail.

    KZ allowed buyers to order trailers with smaller RV fridges and opt out of the electric fireplace until last fall, and that is one of the reasons we were so interested in the KZ trailers.

    Grand Design Solitude 373FB fifth wheel trailer-min

    Many Grand Design Solitude trailers have a TV that lowers into a cabinet revealing a nice big window behind (on the right in this pic). This is fantastic for folks who don’t watch TV during the daytime.

    Perhaps the biggest thing for us, though, is the tank capacities. Small tank capacities certainly rule out a lot of brands! The Grand Design trailers have excellent tank capacities, especially the toy haulers with a 2nd bathroom where you can get as much as 157 gallons of fresh, 106 of gray and 106 of black. Wow!!

    Double vanity sink in bathroom of fifth wheel trailer RV-min

    No more lines for brushing teeth!

    So, last week we were back to looking at toy haulers. We went to a dealership where we saw a Fuzion 429 which had a very cool walk-through kitchen layout with the sink set on an outside corner with long counters running along either side. There was tons of cabinet space and it had and an interesting country style decorative motif.

    But the slide-outs were so shallow we would be challenged to replace the furniture if we ever wanted to because the fronts of the theater seats and sofa were all set on rollers to roll in and out with the slide room. The fronts of replacement furniture could be set on casters, perhaps, but it might look a little funny.

    I’m not keen on being married to an RVs furniture just because it is on rollers.

    One thing I’ve noticed with most of the Thomas Payne theater seats is that if I sit with my back touching the backrest, my feet can’t reach the ground. They’re about 2″ short. This is really uncomfortable! I’m 5’4″ but have fairly long legs for my height, so I imagine that most women would be in the same position. So, for me, replacing the furniture at some point is a likely scenario.

    We prowled around other toy haulers, and as I stood in the kitchen of one and thought about where I’d put my dishware (I’d already resigned myself to storing pantry goods in the 18 cubic foot fridge because that’s where the bulk of the kitchen shelving was), I realized there was no cabinet in the kitchen for plates or glassware. Those would have to go in a drawer in the kitchen island or in a cabinet outside of the kitchen area.

    A similar thing had happened when I stood in the kitchen of another toy hauler a few months earlier and opened the slim upper cabinet door above the sink. The shelf in there was big enough for just one coffee mug — as long as it didn’t have a handle — and no more.

    Space is at such a premium in a toy hauler that the designers have to be super creative to make a living area that has both comfortable seating and sufficient usable storage.

    Ironcially, Mark had skimmed through Craigslist before this last dealership trip, and he found a 2011 36′ Hitchhiker Discover America for sale. We walked inside it and knew we’d found our rig. It was just like the one we’d lived in for the last 12 years but with some important differences!

    Woo Hoo!!

    This Hitchhiker had factory installed 8k lb. Dexter axles with 17.5 inch wheels and disc brakes. This was huge!

    Every new trailer we’d looked at so far, including most of the toy haulers, would require an upgrade to disc brakes and in many cases an upgrade to bigger axles too, and none but the highest end manufacturers offered those things as a factory installed option. Almost all the trailers had tandem or triple 7k lb. axles and 16″ wheels. Many were Dexter brand, which is terrific, but the cargo carrying capacities were really skimpy almost across the board.

    One lovely 38′ fifth wheel had a mere 1,800 lbs of cargo carrying capacity. This would have to include fresh water, solar and battery add-ons and all of our belongings. Several toy haulers had just over 3,000 lbs. of cargo carrying capacity which leaves little room for food, clothes, lilnens, appliances and kitchenware once the 1,200 lb. toy is loaded and the 850 lbs. of fresh water and 450 lbs of fuel are put in the tanks (water is 8.3 lbs per gallon).

    Hitchhiker Discover America 349RSB fifth wheel trailer RV Living Room-min

    Hitchhiker Discover America – Looks familiar!

    Besides the big axles, this old Hitchhiker’s 17.5″ wheels were a massive plus too. Bigger tires on fifth wheels are much less prone to problems caused by grinding the tread into the ground when making tight turns. Blow-outs are all too common with fifth wheel trailers, and although bad tires are often to blame, it’s also possible that the steel belts eventually fall apart under the twisting lateral loads induced by tight turns.

    How funny this was, though. We’d come full circle and were right back where we’d started trailer-wise, more or less.

    It was only after we began making calls to line up folks to replace the stained carpets and do a detailed cleaning so we could get our soon-to-be new-to-us home back on its wheels as soon as possible after the closing that we realized the handyman projects on an 8 year old trailer were feeling more like work than like fun!

    That wasn’t what we wanted!

    Totally stressed out, we walked away from the deal at the last minute. We felt better immediately.

    Hitchhiker Discover America 349RSB fifth wheel trailer RV-min

    There are some incredible deals to be found on the used market for highly regarded brands of yesteryear.
    But buying used has its challenges too.

    This whole process can be both exhilarating and depressing. Just like buying a sailboat or a house.

    Our offer for our cruising sailboat Groovy was the 5th offer we put in on a boat over the course of a year. One deal went so far south we had to get the California Boating and Waterways agency involved. On another deal we paid $1,300 to get the boat surveyed (like a house inspection), and backed out when we got it hauled out of the water and saw the forest of seaweed growing on the hull.

    But our persistence and careful approach paid off. In the end, Groovy was a much newer, cleaner and far cheaper boat than any of the others we’d made offers on!

    In the RV industry there are very few structurally well built and cleverly designed new trailers out there, and going with a used one that was well built and beautifully crafted in its day years ago opens a whole new can of worms. For those who love renovating, it’s a great way to go. But not everyone does.

    On our way home we decided to take one more look at some new fifth wheels just to change our mindset, so we pulled into a dealership and asked to see a line of trailers we hadn’t seen before.

    Lo and behold, the first rig we walked into was fantastic. Holy cow! It had almost everything we wanted and the few things it didn’t have were upgrades that would be fun and exciting to do. Who woulda thunk?!

    Home sweet home

    Home sweet home.

    Is our search over? We don’t know, but we’ve got a hunch it is. We’re giving this latest idea a few weeks to simmer and we’ll let you know.

    In the meantime, have faith that your ship — or RV — will come in. It’s out there somewhere. It just takes a ton of online research, dozens of walks through dealership lots and, more than anything, some heartfelt soul searching to find it.

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    Fifth Wheel and Toyhauler Manufacturer Links:

    Related blog posts:

    Triple-Tow or Toyhauler? How to Haul a RZR in the Full-time RV Life!
    What Are the Most Important Features in a Full-time Fifth Wheel Trailer?

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!