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Free Camping Courtesy of The Discover Pass

Most people associate the Discover Pass with Washington State Parks, but gaining access to state parks is only a snippet of what the Discover Pass can provide to an active RVer. The Discover Pass also provides access to nearly 1 million acres of land managed by the WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) AND 2.2 million acres of land managed by DNR (Department of Natural Resources). Both agencies offer access to hundreds of opportunities to recreate and camp on state land via the Discover Pass. Overnight camping is no cost, but you must display your pass to enter and camp on state land.

Let’s take a look:

WDFW

The mission of WDFW is to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. WDFW manages recreation land for visitors to enjoy a variety of activities, including fishing, boating, hunting, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping and many others. The WDFW manages 33 other wildlife areas along with 700 water access sites across the state.

Wildlife areas: Wildlife Areas provide habitat for fish and wildlife as well as land for outdoor recreation. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit these areas to camp, hike, fish and enjoy other outdoor activities compatible with fish and wildlife stewardship. These activities, in turn, support local economies and contribute to Washington’s wildlife-related recreation industry. Click here to find a listing of the 33 wildlife areas and the ones that allow camping.

Water Access Sites: WDFW maintains Water Access Sites throughout Washington state offering boaters and bank fisherman access to lakes and waterways. This link will allow you to search for any water access points under WDFW jurisdiction. You can search by site name, body of water or county. By clicking on one of the sites listed from your search you will be provided with the following information: location (complete with coordinates and driving instructions), facilities (restrooms, boat ramps, docks, ADA access, etc), contact info, and most importantly if camping is permitted. Quite often there is even a picture of the access site.

This Link will provide you with a matrix of all access sites and facilities in the Columbia Basin operated by the WDFW. The matrix conveniently displays the name of the facility site, location and available facilities including; boat launch, toilet and if you can camp or not. Fortunately the majority of the sites permit camping!

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WDFW Camping

 

Washington DNR

DNR seeks to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the public throughout Washington state. The agency provides trails and campgrounds in a primitive, natural setting. Most recreation on these lands takes place in the 2.2 million acres of forests that DNR manages as state trust lands. DNR manages 1,100 miles of trails, 143 recreation sites, and a wide variety of landscapes across the state.

DNR offers hundreds of campgrounds across the state with access to miles of designated trails. Depending on where you go you will find trails for hiking, motorcycles, mountain biking, ATV riding, boating, horseback riding and four wheel drive enthusiasts allowing you to camp and enjoy your favorite form of recreation from one convenient location.

Most DNR campgrounds offer a camping experience similar to national forest campgrounds offering a designated space with a picnic table and fire ring. Some DNR campgrounds are even equipped with a group shelter, potable water and accessorized to support designated trail users. (i.e. corrals for horse users, loading ramps for ATV users). As with most national forest service campgrounds, pack it in – pack it out applies regarding your trash.

Click here for a State-wide Recreation Map showing all of the DNR lands and the allowed activities, including camping.

Click here for a complete listing of DNR Managed lands which allows you to search by region and see which campgrounds are currently open or closed. The link will also allow you to view a detailed map of the region showing the recreational opportunities that await you. To see an example click here for a detailed map of Southwest Washington DNR managed lands.

Make the most of your Discover Pass by camping at no cost in Washington DNR or WDFW areas and enjoying the recreational opportunities they provide.

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DNR Campsite

 

Fun For The Whole Family!

There are many new activities offered at the 2015 Great Seattle RV Show that offer fun for the whole family. These combined with your returning favorites offer something of interest for every member of the family.

Let’s take a look:

Treasure hunt: Arrgh matey there is treasure to be found at the 2015 Seattle RV Show. Children 12 and under brave enough to seek pirate treasure can obtain a treasure map and booty bag at any show entrance. Follow the map to reveal the locations of the six treasure chests hidden throughout the show. Snatch yourself a piece of pirate booty out of the chest and stash it in your booty bag. To avoid the Pirate Curse, be sure to take only one piece of treasure from each chest! Be sure to find all six chests as each contains a unique piece of pirate plunder. Enjoy, but beware of pirates lurking in the shadows guarding their treasure!

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Digi Photo: Fun and silliness awaits your entire family at the Digi Photo Booth daily noon – 4PM in the East Hall. Not your typical clunky old-school mall style photo booth, it’s a fresh-rendition of the fun photo booths you knew and loved as a child allowing you to instantly share RV show fun through Facebook and other social networks.

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Game Truck: Teens looking to take a break from Mom and Dad will want to spend some time gaming with the newest video games at the Games 2 U Game Truck. This fun attraction will be available for all to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday only.

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Journey to the Klondike: Relive the 1890’s Gold Rush at the Go Klondike exhibit at the north end of the Concourse (2nd level). Many interesting exhibits await your exploration in this fun and interactive space. Kids can dress up as sourdough prospectors, a Can Can dancer or maybe as bad guy Soapy Smith and have their photo taken too. Relive the hardship of the sourdoughs as they trudged over the mountain passes with 2,000 pounds of supplies at the Chilkoot Pass display. Of course a trip to the Klondike wouldn’t be complete without a dog sled experience. Next catch yourself a case of gold fever at the gold panning trough. Once you catch the fever, you will want to plan your trip to the Klondike to find your own gold. Planning is easy at the Routes to the Klondike exhibit. After reviewing the modern routes to the Klondike, stop by the MV Lotus display and contemplate what it would have been like sailing there in a ship from 1909! To round out your journey to the Klondike check out the Klondike Gold Rush National Park (both the Skagway unit and Seattle unit) along with Parks Canada displays.

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Win Big!

Multiple opportunities to win await you at the show.

For starters, be sure to stop by the kiosks on the Concourse (2nd level) and enter to win the following three prizes:

– Free RV Fuel For A Year

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– A three night resort stay in Las Vegas, Mazatlan, Palm Springs or Sun River

– The opportunity to take your RV to the Oregon Jamboree featuring Keith Urban complete with campsite and a sweet spot pass that will put you at the center of the action.

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Somebody that attends the RV show is going to win, so why not you?

Go Klondike is offering a dream trip to the Yukon complete with airline Tickets for two, 3 Nights 4 days at a Yukon fly-in wilderness resort and 2 tickets on the Yukon & White Pass Railroad!

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Finally, download the Show App on your mobile device and check out the valuable discounts and prizes offered via “Show Me Your App”

 

Go Hawks! Celebrate another great season by the Seattle Seahawks by taking a selfie in front of Superbowl roman numerals proudly displayed in the North Hall.

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Relax: We invite you to sit down and take a break at a number of areas.

Beer and Wine Service & Seating is available at the north end of the East Hall. Tables and seating are open to the whole family and mom and dad are welcome to enjoy a beer or wine while they contemplate the perfect RV for the family.

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Three seminar areas offering hundreds of seats allow you to take a load off your feet while your brain soaks in valuable and entertaining information. You are welcome to nod off for a few winks too! A complete listing of the seminars can be found here.

West Hall Concessions: Tables and chairs can also be found just north of the West Hall Concessions next to the Information Center.

 

We hope you enjoy a fun filled day at the 2015 Seattle RV Show!

Ask The Technician 2015

Do it yourselfers, gadget lovers and anybody looking to upgrade their RV won’t want to miss this year’s “Ask The Technician” exhibit at the 2015 Seattle RV Show. At the exhibit you will find a fully accessorized travel trailer and tow vehicle equipped with the latest toys and upgrades. A seasoned RV service professional will be on hand to answer any and all your questions concerning general RV service, jacks, awnings, antennas and other installed accessories. Daily information talks from factory suppliers too! Let’s take a look at some of the featured products at this year’s “Ask The Technician” exhibit:

RV Lock

Key-less Entry Lock and Keypad

There’s nothing more frustrating than being locked out of your RV. When you finally arrive at your campground and want to hike or kayak, you don’t want the worry of keeping expensive keys safe and dry. At the same time, it’s important that your RV is completely secure while you’re out adventuring. An RV lock with keypad offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to open and close your RV with a numerical code, remote key fob, or traditional key.

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Voyager 7″ LCD Observation Monitor

The leading-edge features of this monitor ensures users will be on the cusp of an ever-changing technological market. With the quad-view capabilities, drivers will have the advantage of monitoring several different views of the vehicle’s surroundings simultaneously. The unit also has DC triggers which activate specific cameras when a 12V trigger, such as the reverse gear, is initiated. The units capacitive touch panel allows the operator to zoom to full screen from a 4-camera view just by touching any one of the four pictures. The unit’s non-volatile memory saves the user’s picture and volume adjustment settings. Other high-end features of this monitor include an energy efficient white LED illumination with backlit controls, integrated audio speaker, and day/night brightness modes.

Mor Ryde Entertainment Center - Mounts

Exterior Entertainment Center

Are you looking for an outdoor entertainment center for your RV? MOR/ryde, the leaders in RV suspension products, has developed a line of flat screen TV mounts for RV applications. MOR/ryde recognized that RV’s require their own specially designed TV mounts that took into account the space and mounting area available in the RV. Their TV mount line includes many brackets with swivel, tilt, and extension options for a wide range of TV sizes. The “Ask The Technician” exhibit will feature MOR/Rydes fully assembled, slim profile exterior entertainment center complete with exterior door and frame to keep your system clean and dry regardless of the terrain or weather you encounter on your RV Travels.

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Bilstein Motorhome Shocks

Motorhomes are a great form of travel and recreation. But are they a joy to drive? Wallowing, top heavy, boat like, all phrases that have been used to describe the ride and handling of a motorhome. But not with Bilstein. Instead words like precise, confident, controlled and safe are what is said about a Bilstein equipped coach. With Bilstein, you won’t find a generic “heavy duty” shock with ultra stiff valving and terrible ride characteristics, but rather a shock designed for your specific motorhome application providing you with a safe and compliant ride. Bilstein RV Shocks come with Bilstein’s Comfitrac® Working Piston. The Comfitrac® piston instantly reacts to sudden, high frequency road harshness, like dropping a wheel into a pothole, to deliver superior comfort and stability.

Stay & Play

SMI Brake System for Towed Vehicles

No more boxes! That is the cry of SMI customers. Their Stay-IN-Play DUO answers the cry. Duo’s small operating unit is installed under the hood so you never know it is there. No messy components scattered in the towed vehicle to complicate things; just a small operating module to control the towed vehicle brakes with no physical connection to the motorhome. DUO combines the power of air pressure and the gentleness of vacuum to give you the fastest most powerful self contained supplemental brake ever. Duo uses the power and speed of air pressure to activate your towed vehicle brake pedal while creating vacuum for the power brake system. These two features combine to create the only progressive and proportionate vacuum assisted system with total control. Duo requires BOTH deceleration AND coach brake lights to apply the towed vehicle brakes. By combining two separate signals the need for complicated electronics is eliminated, which provides you a more reliable long lasting system. In addition, DUO is the pioneer in user friendly operation; “Just Turn it on…and Tow.” This simple technology was first introduced in 2003. Tried and true, DUO does not have to be taken in and out for normal operation of the towed vehicle. Unhook the car and drive off, that’s all. No box, no wires, in fact, no physical connection to the motorhome at all.

Power Awning

Power Awning

This awning offers convenience of a power awning, with the affordability of a manual awning. The Dometic 9100 Power Awning brings the convenience of a motor-driven RV awning to the masses. With the simple press of the wall-mounted switch, the durable 9100 opens and retracts with ease. Featuring stylish and rugged vinyl fabric, the Dometic 9100 is the perfect RV power awning, offering you extra living space and an additional “room” for your enjoyment.

Tow master

Roadmaster Tow Bar

The Sterling All-Terrain tow bar was designed, tested and manufactured to the highest standards. The tow bar weighs just 35 pounds, yet pulls up to three tons. A unique eggshell design distributes pressure throughout the tow bar, making the Sterling All-Terrain the world’s strongest aluminum tow bar with steel and stainless steel at every critical point to further ensure superior strength and structural integrity. It is easy to connect, and its stainless steel inner arms telescope, center and automatically lock as you pull away. Once you’ve reached your destination, a unique storage lock secures the unit in its stored position.

The Sterling All-Terrain comes complete with safety cables and power cord. Both are routed through a center channel for added safety, convenience and a clean, uncluttered appearance. Beyond its many performance features, the Sterling All-Terrain is aesthetically pleasing — its powder-coated finish and sleek design complement your coach and your car.

 

Roadmaster Tow Bars Easy To Mount For Do It Yourselfers

Tow bar mounting brackets are installed on your vehicle’s frame to provide attachment points for your tow bar. Roadmaster manufactures more than a thousand vehicle-specific tow bar mounting brackets, in a variety of styles. I’m not a mechanic — can I put the bracket on myself? Roadmaster tow bar mounting brackets are designed for the easiest installation possible; however, mechanical skills are required. Many ‘shade tree mechanics’ can install their own brackets in a few hours.

LED Lights

LED  Lights From Starlights

Starlights, Inc’s mission is to provide the highest quality LED & 12 volt lighting products at the best price. Starlights, Inc. was formed in 2005 for one primary purpose- to increase the comfort and safety of fellow RVers through their 12 volt motion lighting products. Since then, they have expanded into multiple lighting products, as well as the LED lighting industry. Starlights, Inc. is also very serious about quality control. Each of their products are extensively tested before sent to the marketplace and all of their products offer at least a 1 year warranty.

automatic-generator-start

Xantrex Automatic Generator Start

Xantrex’ Automatic Generator Start (AGS) is a display panel and a control module system that provides automatic activation for your generator. It can be configured so that any combination of low battery voltage or air conditioner activation starts the auxiliary generator. After running for two hours, the system will automatically stop the generator. The AGS has a user-friendly interface that displays important system information for setting and monitoring generator start and stop-times. Light Emitting Diode (LEDs) display status, Quiet Time and the time zone settings, allowing you to set desired start and stop times. The systems works with most popular generator brands.

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 Zamp Solar Battery App  

An innovative FIRST of its kind technology in deep cycle battery management systems. Designed to be used on deep cycle battery(s) used in RVs and marine uses. Easy to install on any deep cycle battery or battery bank to provide real time battery information for proper battery management and monitoring. Using a simple app designed for Apple or Android smartphones communicating wirelessly via Bluetooth providing critical battery data.

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Slow-Rise Roller Shades

Irvine Shade & Door’s innovative and smooth-operating Slow-RiseTM Roller Shade has taken the RV industry by storm. These shades have revolutionized the industry and are available in a variety of beautiful colors and configurations. Their low-RiseTM Day/Nite Roller Shades offer state-of-the-industry performance, featuring hydraulic speed reduction for smooth operation and automatic stopping points. 5% Day Solar Screen allows you to see out, but others can’t see in. Accessible color-coded knobs allow adjustment of speed and upper-limit stopping points.

vroom rv usage

Dirt Devil Vacuum System With Retractable Hose

Take cleaning convenience to the next level in your RV with the Vroom Retract Vac (RV) – a retractable hose system powered by the Dirt Devil® CV1500 central vacuum system. Vroom RV is the first RV vacuum accessory to eliminate hose storage!  A 35′ hose is stored conveniently in the flexible tubing system. There when you need it, hidden when you don’t! Access strong vacuum power whenever you need it with Vroom RV.  It saves valuable space and makes cleaning your RV from front to back a breeze. Messes happen fast and Vroom cleans them quickly. What It Replaces: Vroom RV eliminates visible wall mounted vacs, VacPans, space-hogging portable vacs, brooms, dustmops, hand-held vacs and more. How it Works: Vroom RV is powered by your Dirt Devil® CV 1500 central vacuum. Pull Out. Vacuum. Retract. Vroom RV is quick and easy to use, takes up very little space and is always there when you need it. When you’re finished cleaning, it stays out of sight.

Daily Presentations

Distributors from many well known industry names will be presenting daily seminars at the “Ask The Technician” Exhibit. A list of presenters and the times they are scheduled to appear is shown below. Topics will be posted on the show website once they are known.

Presenters

Explore More

When we say “Explore More” at the 2015 Seattle RV Show, we really mean it. Size does matter when it comes to RV shows. The show occupies all three exhibit halls and the concourse level of the CenturyLink Field Event Center. The combined square footage of the show is more than double that of the January 2015 Tacoma Dome RV Show.

More RVs: Double the square footage means there are double the number of display RVs to explore. There is even a vacation home for those looking for something bigger than a typical RV to place on their vacation lot.

More RVs

More RV Dealers: More show space means more RV dealers in attendance, a wider selection of RV brands on display and most importantly, better deals for you as there are more dealers competing for your business.

More Booth Exhibitors: The 2015 Seattle RV Show features over 50 booth exhibitors with products and services to improve your leisure time. Check out a previous blog entry on the booth exhibitors here.

More Booths

In addition to the show being physically the largest in the state, it also offers more in the way of:

More Seminars: Along with more RV dealers and booth exhibitors, the 2015 Seattle RV Show contains three seminar areas. Twenty different seminars are offered at this years show ranging from technical to lifestyle and are included with admission. Click here for a complete listing of seminars at the show.

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More Learning Opportunities: Returning for the 2015 Show will be the “Ask The Technician exhibit where you can learn more about the technical side of RVing from winterizing to water heaters. A fully equipped RV will be on display serving as your classroom. For those looking for an in depth learning experience you will want to attend the hourly workshops presented by appliance manufacturers and suppliers.

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If you are a total RV novice, sign up for the “RV Walk Through, Everything You Need to Know” where you will be walked through the operational systems of a RV. After spending a hour with our well seasoned RV professional you will feel confident in your ability to operate your own home on the road. Walk throughs occur hourly from noon to 5pm and are free with show admission.

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More Fun: Children 10 and under are welcome to take a play break in the childcare center located on the south end of the concourse. The childcare center offers fun activities including: games, toys, coloring and movies. The childcare center is open 11-6 Saturday and 11-4 Sunday. Those 18 and over will want to visit the touch screens located on the concourse where they can enter to win a variety of fun prizes. Seahawk fans be sure and have your picture taken in front of the roman numerals from Superbowl XLVIII which are on display in the North Hall.

More Informational Sources: Mobile device users will want to download the show app which contains a wealth of information. The app includes all the information you need, including: how to reach the show, the show layout, an extensive listing of the manufacturers and brands along with the dealers that carry them, a list of booth exhibitors and their location, exclusive offers available only to those showing their apps, a complete listing of the seminars with times and descriptions, contests and much more. All this in the palm of your hand! Download the app from the app store or scan the QR code below.

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If you still can’t find the information you are looking for via the app, please feel free to stop by the Information Center located just north of the main floor concessions in the West Hall.

As you can see there is much to be explored at the 2015 Seattle RV Show February 5th – 8th at CenturyLink Field Event Center.

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Seattle RV Show Seminars

At the 2015 Seattle RV Show you will again find a full slate of seminars. Regardless whether you are just thinking about joining the RV lifestyle or have been RVing for years, you are certain to come away with useful information from this year’s offering of technical and lifestyle seminars.

Following is the list of speakers currently scheduled to appear and a brief description of the topics they will cover.

First off, everyone’s favorite Gary Bunzer “The RV Doctor” will be returning to the Seattle RV Show sharing his technical knowledge of today’s sophisticated RVs. He will present the following four seminars at the show:

Gary Bunzer

Understanding Battery Balance

RV batteries are not cheap! Are you getting the most out of your battery bank? In this seminar, Gary details the varying methods of connecting multiple 12-volt batteries and 6-volt batteries into larger battery banks. In order to optimize the DC battery system, some configurations are better than others. Gary explains why and how to determine if your battery bank is, indeed, in “balance.”

 

The Top 10 Maintenance Tips Every RVer Should Know

The degree to which we enjoy the RVing lifestyle is proportional to the amount of trouble-free traveling we encounter. When Gary’s ten tips are correctly employed at their specific intervals, operational problems within the RV systems will be minimized and oftentimes, eliminated entirely. Learn the secrets at this seminar!

 

Propane System Safety

This course provides an understanding of how the propane system works and knowledge of what to do if a problem occurs as well as safety checks you should do. CO Safety – This course covers the dangers of carbon monoxide, as well as potential problem areas and how you can protect against CO poisoning.

 

Odor-Free RVing (Eliminating Sewer Odors Inside the RV Forever)

As distasteful as some might proclaim waste management to be, waste plumbing systems on RVs are a necessity. And like any of the other major systems on the coach, a certain amount of attention at varying intervals, will keep the troubles to a minimum. Learn the importance of venting, the correct evacuation procedures as well as what new products will help reduce the unpleasantness and totally eliminate sewer odors inside the RV.

If you prefer to leave the technical aspects of RVing to the mechanic at your local RV dealership or your significant other, there are plenty of other seminars worth attending.

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Go Klondike   Presented by Friends of the Klondike

Come explore the many adventures on the routes to the Klondike.  From Seattle to the Yukon to Alaska, the way is rich in history and mystery.  Drive the Alaska Highway, fly up and rent an RV, travel the Alaska Marine Ferry, cruise!  Their seminar will cover the many routes to the Klondike as well as the role of the National Parks in preserving the story.  Friends of the Klondike invite you to “Come with us and Go Klondike”.

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Washington Prospector

Finding Gold on the Road   Presented by Washington Prospectors Mining Association

Everyone loves to camp along a babbling brook. It is even more enjoyable when that brook provides a fun activity and a little gold! Yes, you can still find gold and it is easier than you think. Not only will this seminar teach you how and where to find gold during your RV travels, but free places to camp too! Don’t miss this fun and informative seminar.

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Washington State Parks

Hosting in State Parks   Presented by Washington State Parks

The Host Program offers enthusiastic and interested volunteers the chance to stay and have fun in beautiful and diverse park settings while gaining experience in park operations and visitor services. Find out how rewarding becoming a host can be in this informative seminar.

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Absolute

Retire On Your Terms Presented by Ron Nolz

Are you looking to retire and “hit the road”? Attend this seminar and learn about: Maximizing your social security check.  Making your nest egg last as long as you will be retired. Tax strategies to reduce taxes in retirement.  Wills, trusts, estate taxes, and long term care insurance.  How to protect your nest egg against market fluxuations and losses and much, much more.  Everyone that attends the seminar will receive Jim Black’s bestselling book, “Happily Ever After”.

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Finance with Confidence – RV Loans 101   Presented by WSECU

Are you considering purchasing a new RV. How do you plan to pay for it? Will you pay cash, take out a second mortgage on your home or obtain conventional financing? Did you know interest on a RV loan can often be a tax deduction? The Finance with Confidence – RV Loans 101 seminar will provide the information you need to make a knowledgeable decision.

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Washington State Parks

Winter Camping With Washington State Parks Presented by Washington State Parks                                              

There is no need to put your RV away for the winter. Let Washington State Parks spice up the cold months with a variety of snow activities sponsored by their Winter Recreation Program. The Olympic, Cascade, Blue and Selkirk mountains provide great opportunities for all types of outdoor winter fun that can be enjoyed with a RV.

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Dave

Boondocking 101   Presented by Dave Helgeson

Are you a free spirit looking for the total freedom that a RV offers, that likes to go “where they want, when they want”? Then be sure to attend this entertaining seminar where you will learn how to break free of schedules, reservations, leash laws, campground fees and other modern inconveniences? In this seminar you will learn how to find your own secret hideaways on public land before leaving home via the internet and how to safely and comfortably stay there without hookups.

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Torklift presenter

Proper Dinghy Towing     Presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

Tow bars, tow dollies, four wheels down, auxiliary braking, etc. there is so much to learn about pulling a vehicle (dinghy) behind a motorhome. Learn how proper selection of a dinghy and towing equipment will enable you to safely and conveniently enjoy the benefits of towing a dinghy in this informative seminar.

Proper Travel Trailer Towing    Presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

Trunnions, L bars, receivers, sway controls, ….. determining what you need to safely tow a travel trailer can be over whelming! Attend the Proper Travel Trailer Towing seminar and learn travel trailer “hitch lingo” and the optimal way to tow your travel trailer.

Proper Fifth Wheel Towing     Presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

In the past when it came to fifth wheel hitches you didn’t have a lot of options. Today there are countless manufactures and types of fifth wheel hitches for short bed, long bed and flat bed trucks that adjust in corners, can be easily removed or nearly hidden in the bed of the truck. The Proper Fifth Wheel Towing seminar will explain your choices allowing you to make the right choice to safely pull a fifth wheel with your truck.

Equipping Your Truck to Carry a Camper    Presented by Matt Lynch of Torklift

If your choice of RV is a truck camper how will you safely carry it on your truck? Mounting and suspension will be topics of discussion at the Equipping Your Truck to Carry a Camper seminar. The correct equipment can make owning a truck camper a safe and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

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Holiday Trails

Understanding the Various Types of Camping Memberships Presented by George Goddard

To teach RV’ers the various membership types that exist, from the discount card through to the yearly or lifetime memberships.  How these memberships, when used properly by adding on reciprocals, elevate the camping experience.

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Gary Chantry

PARADISE FOUND! – Explore Spectacular North Idaho and Eastern Washington Presented by Gary Chantry

Looking for a change of pace and scenery on your next RV outing?  Let Gary Chantry show you the scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities available in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.  Born and raised just north of Spokane, Gary will take you on a virtual tour from the Selkirk Mountains at the Canadian border, along the pristine waters of the Pend Oreille River, to the 4-season, recreational paradise in and around the lakes at Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene.  With over 52 years of living in and enjoying this breathtaking scenery, wildlife and healthy recreation, he promises to provide you with the goods:  Information, Answers and the Pros and Cons of RV travel or life on the ‘dry’ side of Washington State!

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“Snow Birds” make easy targets for criminals. We are often trusting and friendly, and have a stash of travel cash. Is there a gun in your RV? The vast majority of RV’ers travel with a gun.

If this is YOUR choice; Be certain you are doing so safely. Be certain you are doing so legally.

J.B. Herren from Northwest Safety First presents a series of 60-minute informational workshops for RV’ers

 

Concealed Carry Permits for RV Travelers

How to obtain the proper firearm permits for RV travel in different states, with different laws. Transporting firearms across state lines in an RV may be a felony in many states. Understand the firearm laws that affect interstate travelers. Be safe! Be legal! …..There’s more to it than just reciprocity.

 

Choosing a Firearm for RV Travel – Myths & Facts

Shotgun? Rifle? Handgun? We all carry a fire extinguisher in case of fire. We all carry a first aid kit in case of injury. Explore the advantages of traveling with a firearm. For most violent threats while on the road, you will be your own First Responder. With proper training and equipment, a firearm may increase your safety & security while on the road.


RV’s, Guns, Law Enforcement & Litigation…..

When is your RV a motor vehicle? When is it your home?

Guns in the vehicle laws. Guns in the RV laws. Open carry & concealed carry laws. What to say & do before a shot is fired. What NOT to say & do AFTER a shot is fired. Traveling with guns & children. Safe transport and storage.

 

In addition to the above seminars the Ask The Techican exhibit will feature hourly technical seminars presented by suppliers such as Dometic, Atwood, Torklift, Thetford, Zamp Solar and other industry leaders.

To find a complete listing of seminar and presentation dates and times visit the Seattle RV Show website and click on the seminar tab located in the left hand margin.

 

 

 

More Than Just RVs

At the Seattle RV Show you will find over 400 RVs displayed by over a dozen Puget Sound RV dealers. However, did you also know that there will be over 50 booth exhibitors in attendance with the latest and greatest products and services for your home and RV? Following is a sample of what awaits you at the 2015 Seattle RV Show.

There will be exhibitors representing campgrounds and RV parks from Palm Springs, California to Alberta, Canada and places in between making the Seattle Show a great place to plan your next RV adventure regardless if it will be close to home or far away with our neighbors to the north. Washington State Parks will be at the show to share information on the hundred plus parks in the park system along with winter camping activities and hosting opportunities.

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Will summer 2015 be the year of your dream RV vacation to the golden Klondike and beyond? If so, be sure to stop by the Friends of the Klondike Corridor as they invite you to explore the many adventures on the routes to and from the Klondike. They can help you plan your trip regardless whether you plan to fly up and rent a RV, drive the Alaska Highway with your RV or travel via the Alaska Marine Highway (aka Alaska Ferry System).

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RVers are always looking to save a buck during their travels and Pilot Flying J will be at the show to help. Stop by their booth and learn how you can save up to six cents per gallon of fuel at the pump, receive discounted dump fees and save on propane fill ups too. They also offer free overnight RV parking at many of their locations.

Blog - Pilot

Lake City Powersports will be displaying a nice selection of motorized equipment to make your life on the road more enjoyable. Maybe you are in the market for a dual sport motorcycle that will allow you to explore backroads far from camp or serve as a second vehicle and grocery getter allowing you to leave your motorhome parked at camp? Or maybe you just need a scooter for cruising the campground or beach? They can help. If you are like most RVers you pack a generator when camping off the grid. Lake City Powersports carries the full line of quiet, lightweight Honda generators to power your camping requirements and they stand ready to help you find the right generator to meet your needs.

If you tow your RV or tow a vehicle with your motorhome, Torklift will be displaying a full line up of equipment at the show designed to safely handle your towing needs with easy hookup. If they don’t have what you need they will design it and fabricate it to your specifications.

Blog - Tork

Of course what would a RV show be without gadgets and gizmos? Evergreen RV will have a completely stocked parts and accessories store at the show. They will have necessities such as toilet chemical to the latest luxuries for your RV all available to cash and carry from the show. At the “Ask The Technician” exhibit you will find the latest parts and accessories recently introduced from the RV industry show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Blog - Booths

Everyone dreams of RVing worry free and there is no better way to do so than to have your finances in order. Several businesses will be exhibiting at the show with investment and retirement strategies designed to provide the financial peace of mind while you enjoy your life on the road in your RV.

It is probably no secret to you that a majority of RV owners also own a home. Don’t let needed home improvement projects keep you from enjoying your RV. At the show you will find a number of home improvement companies ready to tackle those pesky projects for you, allowing more RVing time for you and the family.

You will find a complete listing of the businesses exhibiting at the 2015 Seattle RV Show here.

 

No RV? No Problem!

Not currently a RV owner, but want to experience “camping” in a Washington State Park? Maybe you have friends that want to come camping with you, but your RV isn’t large enough for everyone?

Have you ever dreamed of being king of your own castle, romanticized about the solitary life of a lighthouse keeper or wondered what it would have been like to be a military officer during the Spanish-American war? Then check out the vacation housing options offered in Washington State Parks.

It is a way to enjoy an overnight stay in a Washington State Park without a RV. Eight parks offer overnight accommodations year-round: Cape Disappointment, Fort Columbia, Fort Flagler, Fort Worden, Kitsap Memorial, Lincoln Rock, Millersylvania, Moran and Pearrygin Lake.

You can find everything from a cozy cottage for two to an old army barracks that will house 23, or a lodge that will accommodate your whole RV club. (These are all in addition to the summer cabins and yurts found at many other Washington State Parks.)

Here is an overview of the vacation options, starting with the forts:

Fort Columbia offers two vacation homes.

Stewart’s House features a stunning view of the Columbia River. The fully refurbished and updated house retains its attractive original features including polished hardwood floors, wooden stairs, queen-size beds with quilted covers, a living room with pressed tin-plate ceilings, an antique wood-burning stove and a Victorian antique claw-footed bathtub. It accommodates up to four.

Scarborough House has ample space for the kids and grandkids, with five rooms that comfortably sleep up to 12 people. In addition to sleeping an army, this house, which was built in 1902, features a large dining room and a modern, tiled kitchen.

Fort Flagler State Park offers several housing options. While many of the original buildings of the fort were razed years ago, several great little homes of the Victorian era remain. The historic Hospital Steward’s House overlooks the military parade grounds. It features a roomy kitchen, pressed tin plate ceilings, lace curtains in the dining room and a relaxed living room. The bathroom has an antique claw-footed bathtub. The home can accommodate four people.

If you need something a little larger than the Hospital Steward’s House, try the Waterway House next door, which sleeps eight. It is not quite as charming as its neighbor, but you can’t beat the view.

The Non-commissioned Officers’ Quarters are duplexes. Each unit accommodates four people. This exquisite building was built in 1903 and still exhibits its old time charm. Each unit includes two bedrooms, a kitchen with modern appliances, a comfy living room and an antique claw-footed bathtub. Be sure and catch the sunrise over Admiralty Inlet from your private porch.

Need to accommodate a larger group? The Hospital Steward’s and Waterway houses, Non-commissioned Officers’ Quarters, plus nearby dormitories may be rented together.

Fort Worden State Park offers 34 historic vacation homes in a magnificent location with majestic views. You may choose from Commissioned Officers’ Quarters with up to six bedrooms or Non-Commissioned Officers’ Quarters that sleep up to six. These century-old Victorian era buildings retain their early 1900s character through architectural details that include pressed tin-plate ceilings and claw-footed bathtubs.

If you need more space, you can rent one of the barracks that feature 11 bedrooms and four baths and sleep 23. There are even dormitories that will sleep, well … an army!

If you enjoy the unusual, book a night or two in Alexander’s Castle. Alexander’s Castle is the second most popular place to stay in the park. It is the oldest building in the park and has the most interesting history. The castle features a fireplace and panoramic views from the first and second floors. According to legend, the Rev. John Alexander bought 10 acres of land in 1883 and built the castle for a future Scottish bride. After traveling to Scotland to get his bride, Alexander discovered that she had wed another man. He returned to the U.S. alone and used the castle as a temporary residence. During the park’s military days, the castle underwent other uses, becoming a post exchange and then for many years housing the tailor shop. Many say the top floor is haunted by Alexander, who is pacing the floor watching the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the arrival of his bride. Needless to say, old Alexander built the place to sleep just two!

Another Way to Camp1

Alexander’s Castle

Cape Disappointment rents housing in the lighthouse keepers’ residences. Keeping the light burning in the North Head Lighthouse a hundred years ago must have been a tough job, it took three families! Between the head light keeper and his assistants, there are three residences available for rent. All three Victorian residences feature three bedrooms; one bath; a kitchen with stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and dining and cooking utensils; an eye-catching dining room, and a comfortable, period-furnished living room.

Kitsap Memorial State Park has the Hospitality House. This restored 1930s log cabin originally built by the boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps has been upgraded with kitchenette and full bath and is handsomely decorated with log-style knotty-pine furniture and features a bedroom for two and a comfortable living room. It is located on a bluff above Hood Canal, with a private fire ring and a view of the Olympics.

Another way to Camp

Hospitality House

Millersylvania State Park has Lakeside Cottage, which sits in a secluded private setting on the shore of Deep Lake, with beautiful views of the water. Constructed in the 1920s, this delightful two-story cottage has been recently refurbished and decorated. It sleeps up to six and has a fully equipped kitchen. Don’t forget to bring your fishing pole, as Deep Lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout.

Moran State Park on Orcas Island offers the Camp Moran Vacation House, which features two bedrooms; a well equipped kitchen with stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, dining and cooking utensils, and a living room with full-size futon. It is decorated with rustic log-style knotty-pine furniture and, for the camper in all of us, an outdoor campfire pit. The house makes a great base camp to explore this 5,252-acre state park with its five freshwater lakes, over 30 miles of hiking trails and scenic views of the San Juan Islands.

Pearrygin Lake State Park on the east side of the Cascades has one of the newest vacation homes offered by Washington State Parks. There is some interesting history involved with this cottage. Originally constructed and located in nearby Twisp, the building first served as the office for the Lloyd Logging Corporation. It was moved to Derry’s Resort, its current location, in the 1970s and served as housing for resort staff. Derry’s Resort was purchased in 2004 by Washington State Parks and the cottage was refurbished and made available for rent in time for the 2006 Memorial Day weekend. The cottage sleeps four and offers air conditioning for those hot Eastern Washington summers.

As you can see, Washington State Park vacation housing offers many of the same amenities as a RV: kitchenettes, living areas, dining areas and full baths.

While a Washington State Park vacation house may not be as homey as a RV and the bed may be a bit firmer than you are used to, it does offer a quick escape without owning, renting or prepping a RV and you don’t have to dump the holding tanks when you check out.!

For more information visit the Washington State Park booth at the 2015 Seattle RV Show or click here.

 

The Cure For the Northwest Blues

Tired of the gray, rain and general gloom of the Pacific Northwest this time of year? Are your sinuses stuffy, are you coughing and just feeling down? Then take the advice given years ago to a man named Burro Schmidt and head to the California desert for some dry air and sunshine. It will lift your spirits and while you are there you can relive the adventures of Burro Schmidt himself.

Burro Schmidt had three sisters and three brothers who died of consumption (tuberculosis) before the age of 30, and he was stricken himself at 24. In desperation, he asked his doctor how to prolong his life. The doctor said, “Might go out to the high desert in California. There you may be able to dry out your lungs somewhat because of the low humidity and dehydration.”

Thus began the adventures of William Henry Schmidt and the extraordinary tunnel that became his legacy.

Burro Schmidt3

Burro Schmidt

Schmidt was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, in 1871 and came to California in the 1890s. He moved to the area known as Garlock (now a ghost town) in the El Paso Mountains, and filed mining claims. The only access to his claims was via a rugged canyon trail, fit only for burro travel. He bought two burros and thereafter was known as Burro Schmidt.

Instead of hauling ore from his mine down the rugged canyon trail, Schmidt decided to dig a tunnel through the granite mountain to meet up with Borax Road, which ran from Death Valley to Mojave through the Rand Mountain area and the El Paso Mountain Valley. His drilling, blasting, and picking commenced in 1900. He labored completely alone, carrying rock out of the tunnel on his back and in his wheelbarrow before eventually installing steel rail tracks and an ore car. His track leveling method was a basin of water on the mine rails, and today the tunnel is dead straight for 2,000 feet, with a sharp turn at the end.

The tunnel was bored through solid granite and required no shoring, except at the entrance. Work progressed slowly. Schmidt built a cabin near the tunnel to be closer to his work, and at some point the tunnel mutated from a moneymaking mining venture into a strange obsession. Schmidt would hire out on Kern River ranches during the summer months in order to generate income to support his tunneling.

Burro Schmidt2

The Tunnel Entrance

New Road
In the 1920s, a good road was constructed through lower Last Chance Canyon to the Dutch Cleanser Mine at Cudahy Camp near his tunnel. It connected with the rail line from Mojave. Schmidt was in his 50s, and for most folks, this would have been reason enough to stop tunneling and get on with mining. But this wasn’t reason enough for Burro Schmidt.  He continued tunneling until 1938, when daylight was finally visible through the far side of his tunnel.  He had made his way out of the mountain on the south side, where he had originally planned to carry his ore out of the tunnel and down to Mojave for assaying. But this never came to pass.

Burro Schmidt4

Tunnel Exit

Sixty-seven years old, stooped and gnarled from 38 years of work, Schmidt had tunneled through 2,087 feet of solid granite, using only a pick, a shovel, a four-pound hammer, and explosives. Burro Schmidt never used the tunnel to transport ore. He sold his claim to another area miner, Mike Lee, and moved elsewhere in the El Paso Mountains. “I never made a damn thing out of it,” Schmidt said.

Burro lived another 16 years. He died in January of 1954 at the age of 83 and is buried in the nearby Johannesburg Cemetery. The tunnel has since been entered into the National Register of Historic Places and became a popular area attraction, even earning a spot in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Various caretakers watched over the site until a dispute over ownership arose with the Bureau of Land Management. Most of his cabin is still standing, but there has been some awful vandalism to this superb example of American history. Don’t let the act of some thoughtless vandals stop you from visiting though—this is still a fascinating place to explore.

Taking Chances
There are several other interesting stories involving Burro Schmidt and his tunnel that are worth sharing.

Burro was a very frugal man, saving a penny wherever he could. He did most of the work by hand and saved the explosives for the toughest of rock. To maximize his supplies, Schmidt would cut the fuses short. Once the fuse was lit, he would sprint for his life toward the tunnel opening and hurl himself to the ground to avoid being hit by rock debris and the force of the blast. Sometimes he either cut the fuses too short, or he didn’t run fast enough, because he would show up injured at another prospector’s cabin.

When he had extra cash, Schmidt used kerosene lamps. When kerosene became too expensive for his budget, he resorted to candles, but limited himself to one two-cent candle each day.

While most people, including Burro himself, said he never mined any ore, some said he took out 20 tons of ore averaging $60 a ton in gold, silver, copper, iron, molybdenum and tungsten. Even more intriguing is the story claiming he stashed ill-gotten high-grade ore in a secret side passage, and the whole tunnel project was a front for his illegal gains.

Visiting Burro’s Tunnel
My wife and I visited the tunnel in early November when the temperature hovered in the low 70s under sunny skies. We dropped our travel trailer alongside State Highway 14 in the Dove Springs area north of Mojave. This is a popular ORV area with an abundance of places to camp free on BLM land. We proceeded toward the tunnel with our truck and my wife’s ATV in the back. About halfway to Burro’s place, we parked the truck and continued in the ATV. The road passes many historic sites on the way and traverses the corner of Red Rock State Park and the upper reaches of scenic Last Chance Canyon.

After checking our map and watching for the occasional sign, we arrived at Burro’s cabin. We then walked around, trying to imagine the lonely life Burro spent there. From there we continued up and around the shoulder of the mountain and arrived at the north portal of the tunnel. We came upon a couple who had already walked a mile through the tunnel and back. They briefed us on what we should watch for in the tunnel, including a resident pack rat.

Burro Schmidt1

The Cabin

We then proceeded into the tunnel, and it was pretty much as described. There are two side tunnels, one is blocked with a large steel door. Could this be where Burro kept his secret stash, I wondered? Peering through a small hole in the door revealed it to be a storage area for the BLM. The second side tunnel snakes left and right as the ceiling continually gets lower, and I was stooped over at my waist before finally reaching a dead end. I had a crick in my back from walking through this section; I can only imagine the backache this caused Burro while digging it. After the second side tunnel, we encountered the home of the pack rat. I was disappointed that he didn’t come out to greet us. However, my wife was not offended by his anti-social behavior. Shortly after the rat house, we exited from the far end of the tunnel back into the desert sun. Now we had a decision to make: We could turn around and go back through the tunnel the way we came or we could return over the top of the mountain. We decided it would be more efficient to return in the daylight. Wrong! Burro Schmidt had it right when he decided it would be easier to transport ore through the mountain rather than over it.

The trail back to the starting portal was steep and hard to follow. At the top of the ridge we became temporarily disoriented and briefly thought about going back down the hill to return to where we started via the tunnel. But then we spotted Burro’s cabin below, which provided us with the reference point we needed to return to our starting point.

We spent the balance of our daylight exploring some of the other historic sites in the area, taking in its scenic beauty and pondering the life and times of Burro Schmidt.

Now when the gray and gloom of the Pacific Northwest begins to affect your mental or physical health, go to your doctor and have him prescribe the same treatment Burro Schmidt’s doctor did or as the TV ads would say, “Ask your doctor if the Mojave Desert is right for you?” Side effects may include tanning of the skin, less stress, an increased love of RVing, and if you have an urge to dig a tunnel through a mountain, that’s OK too!

IF YOU GO

Burro Schmidt’s cabin and tunnel are just east of Red Rock Canyon State Park, which is 120 miles north of Los Angeles and 25 miles from the town of Mojave. For those of you with GPS receivers, you will find the tunnel at: N 35 24.626 W 117 52.563. The best time to visit is fall through spring. Summer can be very hot. Take a flashlight or two.

The nearest developed campground is Red Rock State Park on Highway 14 near Cantil. The campground is tucked up against the base of dramatic desert cliffs, with 50 primitive campsites, potable water, pit toilets, fire rings and tables.  You must bring your own wood or purchase it from a ranger, and there are no hookups or showers. Camping is first-come, first served; there is no reservation system. Camping is $25 per night per site or $23 per night for seniors (62 or older). There is a 30-foot maximum on RVs.

If you prefer a roomier campsite, you can set up camp on most BLM land in the area for free. Contact the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, 300 S. Richmond Road, Ridgecrest, CA 93555. Phone (760) 384-5400.

Vegas Baby!

Fall is a great time for those of us that live in the Pacific Northwest to pack up the RV and head south for a few weeks or longer. Inevitably all RVers sooner or later end up in LasVegas as it is at the crossroads between north and south. The question then becomes where to camp when in the Vegas area? If glitz, bright lights and 24 hour traffic is not your idea of camping, then head to Red Rock Canyon

red-rock-canyon

The Red Rock Canyon area is a few miles west of downtown Las Vegas and offers 197,000 acres of exploration and adventure. The area has interesting geological formations and intense beauty, most notably in its namesake red rocks. It was the first national conservation area established in Nevada and is visited by more than 1 million people each year. You can enjoy the area by driving or bicycling the 13-mile scenic loop drive, hike all or part of the 30 miles of hiking trails, or bring your climbing gear and scale one of the many rock faces. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy at Red Rock, making it a sure bet for every member of the family.

Red Rock ol

Las Vegas in the Distance


Begin at the Visitor Center
The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center is the place to start to get the most out of your visit. The center offers interpretive exhibits and information about recreational opportunities, geology, wildlife, vegetation, cultural history and much more.

Next, Head Out on the Scenic Drive
The scenic drive offers numerous stops for sightseeing and photography.  Hiking trails are accessible from the designated pullouts and parking areas.  The scenic drive is open daily from 6 a.m. until dusk. Parking is limited at most stops. The parking areas are suitable for Class B and smaller Class C motorhomes. If your choice of RV is something larger, plan on making the drive in your tow vehicle or dinghy.

Beat the Odds

Studies show that a high percentage of visitors to public lands never leave the vicinity of their vehicle during their visit. Beat the odds and a trip to your cardiologist by including biking, climbing or hiking as part of your visit. Red Rock’s many hiking trails are described in brochures at the visitor center or you can download a map ahead of time. Red Rock trails vary in length and terrain and offer spectacular views of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding mountains. Climbers should check in at the visitor center for information on rules and routes.

Stay the Night
Skip the $50 to $60 nightly charge at RV parks along Las Vegas Boulevard and stay the night at Red Rock Canyon Campground. The views are spectacular and it is much quieter than anything you will find in the city.

Red Rock

IF YOU GO:
Driving Directions:
From Las Vegas Boulevard head west on West Charleston Boulevard (State Route 159). An alternate route is coming in from the south via Blue Diamond Road (State Route 160).
Fees: $7 per vehicle.  Does not include overnight stays in the developed campground. Various federal campground passes are honored.
Hours: Hours vary in the fall. The hours for the visitor center and scenic drive can be found here.

Camping:
Red Rock Canyon Campground is two miles east of the visitor center. The campground is closed in June, July and August due to extreme heat. There is no check-in, however payment of fees must be made within 30 minutes of arrival at a self-registration station. The roads are gravel. There are no showers, hookups or dump station. Restrooms are pit toilets. Water faucets for drinking water are located throughout the campground. There is no shade. There are no formal hiking trails in the campground area, but you can hike on miles of old dirt roads that are closed to vehicles. Campers with tents and recreational vehicles are intermixed.  Generators may be operated between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Complete camping information can be found here.

Camping Fees/Limits:
There are 71 individual campsites and five group campsites. Stays are limited to 14 days. Fee is $15 per night. No reservations are taken, but do not arrive in the middle of the night expecting to find an empty site, especially during the fall and spring. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods are also very busy.

Sunny China Ranch

October is the time snowbirds begin to migrate from the Pacific Northwest to sunny and warmer roosts down south. Now envision swaying palm trees and the smell of fresh date bread in a desert oasis and you have the makings of a great place to visit while “down south”.

Welcome to the hidden gem of China Ranch, a family owned and operated small farm located in a lush date palm grove surrounded by the forbidding Mojave Desert.

China Ranch, Tecopa, CA

Located in an isolated desert canyon near Death Valley National Park, China Ranch Date Farm surprises most first-time visitors. At the end of a twisty dirt road that slices between sediment laden cliffs seemingly void of plant life, this hidden oasis fills a little valley with groves of stately date palms, stands of cottonwoods and thickets of vegetation amid the sound of trickling water. Visitors can learn everything they have ever wanted to know about date farming including different varieties as well as growing, processing and cooking. In addition to dates, the ranch includes a bakery (the glorious smell of date bread cooking that greets you upon your arrival), snack bar, gift shop, landscaping nursery, a one-room museum and miles of hiking trails.

China Ranch history: The ranch has been cultivated for about 130 years since an enterprising Chinese man named Ah Foo came to this canyon after years of work in the nearby Death Valley borax mines. He developed an irrigation system and raised fruits and vegetables along with poultry and eggs for the local mining camps. It quickly became known as Chinaman’s Ranch, later shortened to China Ranch. In 1900, a man named Morrison reportedly ran the Chinese farmer off at gun point and claimed the Ranch for his own. Morrison eventually sold out, but the China Ranch name had stuck. Dates became part of the ranch in the early 1920’s when the first date grove was planted from seed by Vonola Modine, youngest daughter of Death Valley area pioneer RJ Fairbanks. In 1970, the property was purchased by Charles Brown Jr. and Bernice Sorrells, the son and daughter of area pioneer and long time State Senator Charles Brown of Shoshone. It has since been passed down to Brian Brown and his wife Bonnie. Since it takes palms many years to become mature enough to produce dates, managing the groves means a long-term investment of labor, a lot of planning and love. Brian has spent years gaining expertise in the growing of dates, while wife Bonnie has developed and tested ways to utilize the nutritious dates in various recipes, such as the breads, muffins, cakes and cookies which are available in the ranch bakery. Recipes for her yummy creations are recorded in cookbooks available for purchase in the gift shop.

The couple is committed to the ranch, spending five years constructing a spacious adobe ranch house for themselves. It is built from over 18,000 handmade adobe bricks, manufactured from native materials at the ranch. Completed in the mid 1990’s it contains four bedrooms, three bathrooms and encompasses about 4,500 square feet. The Browns opened the ranch to the public in 1996 and continue to own and operate it today.
chinaranch

Area History:

The Ranch is also rich in history. The Old Spanish Trail is within walking distance, as is the historic Tonopah & Tidewater railroad bed. You can also visit nearby historic borax mines.

The Old Spanish is a historical trade route connecting the northern New Mexico settlements near Sante Fe with those of Los Angeles and southern California. Approximately 1,200 miles (1,900 km) long, it followed a winding route from water hole to water hole across the desert, and so was known as the “longest, crookedest, most arduous trail in the west.” The trail saw extensive use by pack trains from about 1830 until the mid-1850s. Some of the last to use the trail were parties of 49ers bound for the California goldfieldsduring the fall and winters of 1849 and 1850. Their journals contain numerous notes about the Amargosa Canyon and the area of China Ranch.

The Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad traveled roughly 200 miles through remote reaches of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley and the Amargosa Valley. The railroad was built in the early 1900’s by Francis Marion Smith, the “Borax King” owner of the Pacific Coast Borax Company, primarily to transport borax to processing and market. By 1940, the rail line was out of service and scrapped for war materials in 1942. Sections of the abandoned rail bed, ties still in place, can be hiked to just downsteam from the ranch.

Borax has been mined in the Death Valley area since the late 1800’s. Who doesn’t conjur up images of the Twenty Mule Team wagons, Boraxo soap and the popular Death Valley Days radio and television programs through the 1950’s and 1960’s? Old borax mines can be found in several areas around the ranch.

Wildlife and Trails

Wildlife: With the China Ranch Creek and the nearby Amargosa River creating a wetlands retreat for resident and migratory birds, the China Ranch has become a hot spot for bird watchers. More than 225 species of birds have been recorded in the area, some coming from as far away as Central and South America. The water and vegetation of the ranch attract a large variety of native desert animals too, including gray and kit foxes, bobcats, kangaroo rats and pack rats as well as coyotes, cottontail and jack rabbits. Keep a diligent watch as you are far more likely to see their tracks than the elusive critters themselves. Poisonous snakes are surprisingly rare around the ranch with several non-poisonous varieties being much more common. Desert insects you may encounter include; tarantulas, scorpions, black widow spiders and whip scorpions. Though their bite or sting may be painful, none are truly dangerous to man with the exception of the black widow.

Trails: The Browns invite exploration of the area on foot and horseback. Inquire at the gift shop about maps for six trails radiating from the ranch. The easiest trail explores the ranch grounds and groves, where you will find sites for picnicking. Other trails of varying lengths and difficulty explore the Amargosa River Canyon, a nearby slot canyon, the route of the historic Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad and beautiful desert canyons and landscapes.

chinaranch2

Once you have soaked in the history, hiked a trail or two and communed with the wildlife, don’t forget about the reason this unique place exists, the dates! China Ranch offers several varieties of California dates as well as their own hybrids. Try a sample of some delicious date nut bread, muffins or cookies, or take home one of their unique hand-crafted gifts. Finally, order a delectable date shake as you leave China Ranch for the desert drive back to your RV.

The nearby settlement of Tecopa Hot Springs offers numerous campgrounds for snowbirds to roost while visiting China Ranch.

Directions: From the eastern outskirts of Tecopa head east on Furnace Creek Road for a couple of miles to the China Ranch Road where you will find a sign directing you to the ranch. Take a right on China Ranch Road. This short unpaved route soon drops into a canyon and winds past old borax mines before arriving at the ranch. The China Ranch Road is suitable for smaller RVs, but with limited parking and rough spots in the road it is recommended to visit in your tow vehicle or dinghy.

For more information:                                                                                                            

China Ranch

China Ranch Rd, Tecopa, CA 92389

Phone: 760-852-4415                       www.chinaranch.com

 

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