Bryce Canyon National Park – Photo by J. Alan Jackson
This Spring, I will be releasing my new book, Living the RV Dream, a mix of practical advice for Full-time, Part-time and Anytime RVers along with personal stories of my adventures from living on the road.
After almost three years of Full-time RVing, it seemed to be the time to share what Jim and I have learned from this experience of living without a traditional home. Since 2014, we’ve made a couple of grand circles around the country with some crisscrossing. We’ve traveled over 34,000 miles, visited 43 states and 35 national parks altogether while camping in 65 RV parks, 3 Wal-Marts, One casino, and a family driveway. It’s been a journey of many different experiences, and I’ve captured some of the most memorable ones in this book.
The excerpt below is from the chapter entitled – National Park Tour. I’ll be sending out an announcement soon when the book is available. Now, pack your bag, and get ready to visit the National Parks – the best entertainment value this country has to offer.
The goal of many Full-time RVers is to visit the National Parks around the country. It is one of the best bargains that you’ll find on the road, and one of the best gifts that you’ll ever give yourself. The National Parks are as varied as the states are, and yet, they all capture some unique aspect of the natural beauty of this country. As of 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, there were 59 National Parks. Of course, over time, they do add new ones when a National Monument, or another National site gets upgraded to a National Park (NP).
The National Parks pass is definitely worth investing in if you’re touring around the country. It’s been our favorite pass – giving us access to not only NPs, but federal recreational lands as well. The entrance fees for the NPs range from free to over $30 each, making the pass a great deal. If you’re over 62, you get the best deal of all with a lifetime Golden Age Passport for $10. You can purchase these passes right at the NPs entrance gates. All the details are at www.nationalparks.org (Another benefit of visiting the NPs was finally being able to recycle plastics, aluminum and even cardboard. Most campgrounds only had limited recycling programs or none at all. Hopefully, that will change in the near future.)
Jim and I have been fortunate to visit 35 National Parks as of 2016. Living in the west, we visited several National Parks, and then when we became Full-time RVers, we’ve seen many more NPs. People always ask us what our favorite parks are, and it really is hard to answer. The most well-known, and usually the largest NPs are in a class of their own – Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Hawaii Volcanoes are legendary. They are not to be missed, and seeing them more than once in different seasons is extra special. The National Parks of Alaska, eight altogether, are also incredible, and I hope to make a trip to see them someday.
One of the biggest surprises was the National Parks of Utah. When I began this journey, I had no idea that Utah had five parks. Each Utah NP is remarkable– Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion, all in the southern portion of Utah. The parks are part of an area known as the Grand Circle, an area in the Southwest with the highest concentration of American scenic parklands in the country. Jim and I were fortunate to see all five Utah parks over several weeks, giving ourselves time to explore each park, and have seen a couple now in different seasons. Jim’s favorite is hands down, Bryce Canyon; and mine is Zion, for all the different parts from the towering rock cliffs, to the lush river valley; and the amazing views wherever you walk and hike.
When we first started Full-timing RV, our goal was to visit National Parks, and other places of natural beauty. We began our NP tour in Florida, and visited the Everglades NP, never realizing how many more parks we would see over these years on the road. When we plan our travel route, we check out what NPs are on the way. If we have to make a detour we will because the parks are so worth it.
Before visiting a park, I’ll read up on the park in one of my guidebooks like the National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of the United States while Jim reads up on-line about that park through the www.nationalparks.org . We then have a general idea of what we want to see in the park along with any hikes. Once we arrive at the entry gate of the park, then we go over the map and brochure that we receive to get a feel for the right hiking trails. If we have time, we always spend at least a couple of days exploring a National Park. For the larger parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, we spent a lot more time – five days in Yellowstone with still more to see; and five separate trips to Yosemite in all the different seasons when we lived in California.
For us, it’s about savoring the experience – seeing the major sites in the park along with doing a couple of hikes. I’ve seen people on the news with their selfie sticks, racing around the country to see as many NPs in a year as they can, but they are really missing out on the experience of spending time in nature. It’s not so much about doing, but more about being. To see the sunrise over Haleakala Volcano on Maui; to stand at the base of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite in the springtime; to walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon any time of year; or to hike through the rock formations of Bryce Canyon, gazing up at these amazing sand castles. These are moments not to be missed, or rushed through. Take your time with the National Parks, and you’ll be rewarded with memories that last forever. This is one of my favorite National Park memories… (Just a preview of what’s to come.)
By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. Donna will be releasing her new book, Living the RV Dream in the spring. ♥