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Category: State & National Parks

12-Year-Old Boy Finds 5.16-Carat Diamond at Crater of Diamonds

September 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

12-Year-Old Boy Finds 5.16-Carat Diamond at Crater of Diamonds

While traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to spend some summer vacation time with family there, the Dettlaff family from Apex, North Carolina, decided to drive 100 miles out of their way to have some fun at Crater of Diamonds State Park. They’d experienced gem mining in the mountains of their own state, but had never visited Arkansas’s diamond site. Their first visit to the park on July 31 proved to be a lucky and memorable one when 12-year-old son Michael Dettlaff found a 5.16-carat, honey brown diamond after surface searching for less than 10 minutes in the park’s diamond search area. Excited when park staff confirmed that his find was a diamond, Michael was even more surprised when it weighed in at 5.16 carats. Grateful for the blessing of a diamond find, the Boy Scout named his gem the God’s Glory Diamond, according to park staff. Park Interpreter Waymon Cox said, “It is thrilling any time a child finds a diamond here at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Michael was excited... [Read more...]

New River Gorge National River Receives Flagship RV Park

September 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

New River Gorge National River Receives Flagship RV Park

The National Park Service (NPS) is constructing a new flagship campground with power and water hookups and drive-in sites for recreational vehicles at the southern end of the New River Gorge National River. New River Gorge National River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved The new Meadow Creek Campground is located on the banks of the New River about two miles downstream of the Sandstone Visitor Center. The park’s flagship campground will provide expanded amenities to visitors including a variety of individual campsite types and one large group camping site, as well as a number of conveniences including communal water spigots, vault toilets, and a camp host, according to a NPS news release. The campsites in the first phase of development—four walk-in tent-only sites, 17 drive-in car sites, and five drive-in RV sites—will offer electricity at all sites and individual water hook-ups at some sites. An amphitheater for park interpretive programs and a public boat launch will serve both... [Read more...]

She Ran Calling ‘Wildfire’

September 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

She Ran Calling ‘Wildfire’

A classic 70’s tune gave us the lyrics, “She ran calling ‘Wildfire’…..” Then a love song, but today, possibly the beginnings of a disaster. With rainfall low, and temperatures and winds high, wildfires are currently raging across the West from Montana to Colorado and California and heavily taxing first responder assets. Many families travel in their recreational vehicles to get away from the city and into remote areas of the wilderness. The serene environment is therapeutic to most, and can be an effective stress reliever. However, it is important to remember that during the summer and autumn months, as foliage begins to dry out, the landscape becomes extremely susceptible to wildfires. A wildfire (also known as brushfire or forest fire) is basically an uncontrolled fire that typically occurs in remote areas. Depending on wind conditions, these fires can travel over forty miles in a day, taking down timber like it’s made of cardboard. However, wildfires will consume not... [Read more...]

Take Camping to a Whole New Level

September 2, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Take Camping to a Whole New Level

Forget about soggy sleeping bags and competing with rocks and debris on the cold, hard ground on your next camping trip. The Tentsile Stingray is universally versatile three-season tent. It offers occupants a spacious triple hammock interior, accessed via a hatch in through the floor or via a large side door. It can be set up on the ground or suspended at any height. (Source: tentsile.com) Take your camping to a whole new level and be inspired by the tranquil calmness you will find when you hang out in the trees! Tentsile was conceived as a range of portable treehouses, combining the comfort and versatility of a hammock with the comfort and security of a tent. Tentsile recently launched a new suspended tent called the Stingray that lets you rest high up in the trees. Designed for three-season use, the 13 pound tent accommodates up to three people plus their gear. The UK tent maker touts this tent for a wide variety of travel styles, for backpacking in the woods, and even as disaster relief... [Read more...]

Zion’s National Park for RVers

August 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Zion’s National Park for RVers

While on our road trip this summer we made it a point to go to Zion’s National Park. With breathtaking views, it was a brief but impressive stop that we would recommend to anyone driving through southern UT. Will My RV Fit? Epic views are everywhere but the canyon floor is very narrow and hard to navigate During the peak season (translation: When there is no snow) Zion’s seeks to minimize traffic by forcing everyone onto trams that run through the park. This is a great idea for environmentalists, but part of their idea didn’t involve expanding parking very much. Hence, for the entirety of Zion’s RV park there are about 20 RV parking spaces, only half of which are pull through. In fact, parking in general is very limited. This meant that some of those precious RV spots are taken by tiny desperate cars. We were not happy about this, but since those people come from foreign countries, we couldn’t voice our complaints. We ended up lane hogging until we were able to fight for a spot... [Read more...]

Free National Park Entry This Weekend

August 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Free National Park Entry This Weekend

Enjoy the beauty in our national parks such as such as Yosemite Falls for free Each year on August 25, the National Park Service celebrates its birthday by opening up the gates to the park and allowing entry for free.  This year, that date falls on a Saturday, and the park service is celebrating it’s 96th birthday in style. Connect With Others The National Park Service works together with its charitable foundation, the National Park Foundation to celebrate what they call “Founders Day” by sponsoring different activities in parks across the country. They also encourage you to share birthday wishes, post videos, photos and stories on their website http://www.npsbirthday.org/. If you can’t make it to a National Park on short notice, the Travel Channel is celebrating by playing episodes of Best Parks Ever throughout out the day. Other Free Days As it turns out, most national parks will be having more free days this fall. On September 28th, most parks will be open free for National... [Read more...]

Human Encounters with Bears Turn Deadly

August 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Human Encounters with Bears Turn Deadly

Recent media reports detail numerous human encounters with black bears. This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com) In most instances the bears became food-conditioned, lost their natural fear of humans, and become a threat as they roamed in search of an easy meal. These bear was either relocated or euthanized by rangers because they posed an obvious human safety risk to campers. Several samples of these reports follow. Black Bear Killed at Yellowstone Campground The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that a black bear that refused to leave a Yellowstone National Park campground after getting a taste of human food there was killed by park staff. The 142-pound adult male black bear entered the Canyon Campground and came within six feet of a man and woman eating. The campers backed off, and the bear ate some of the food off their table. It then went through their garbage and pawed at their tent. As the bear left their campsite,... [Read more...]

RVing in Yellowstone

August 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

RVing in Yellowstone

This past month I took one of the most traditional of all road trips to Yellowstone National Park. As fate would have it, my RV would break down in West Yellowstone. Hence, I got an extended journey and learned many of the do’s and don’ts of visiting Yellowstone in an RV. When to Go With nothing else to do while the RV was being repaired I began peppering my mechanic with a number of different questions about the park. I was amazed to learn that most of the park didn’t actually open until the end of April. At that point, though, the park is still “melting” and cold. The rivers are running 3x the height of their summer levels and much of the park still has snow on the ground. Around Memorial day the park becomes a free-for-all of foreign tourism and thousands of visitors pile in. On the late July day I was there, the lines at the entrance gate backed up for several miles. Visitors drop off amazingly fast during the third week of August. With kids going back to school our mechanic... [Read more...]

A Campground Underwater

August 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A Campground Underwater

During the recession we saw many campgrounds go underwater and close down. That was financially, though. What happens when a campground is literally underwater? Obviously it closes, but how do they deal with all that water? As it turns out, that is exactly the problem they had to deal with McGrath Beach State Park in California. Campgrounds current resemble a marsh or lake Summers in California mean every campsite on a beach is taken. Demand is high and so when a beach campground goes down, especially one in a densely populated area such as Ventura County (where Good Sam has an office) there is a large demand to get it reopen as fast as possible. Beautiful Sunsets at McGrath McGrath is located at the mouth of the Santa Clara river that drains most of northern Los Angeles County. Each winter the river swells with the winter rain bringing everything from sand to rocks downstream. By spring time, though, the river begins to dry. The sediment it brought down with the heavy rains soon forms... [Read more...]

Prepare for Stormy Weather with Quick Exit Plan

August 6, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Prepare for Stormy Weather with Quick Exit Plan

Given the rash of severe weather that’s been striking the United States and Canada this spring and summer, it would be prudent for all campers and RVers to have a quick exit plan in place regardless of where you travel. Following heavy rains in the mountains a wash separating the campground from the entrance road at Catalina State Park near Tucson flooded stranding campers for several days. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Water is a major feature at numerous campgrounds and RV parks. Many state and provincial parks and other public recreation areas are in low-lying areas that are susceptible to flooding during periods of heavy precipitation. Access to current weather reports and related information—weather radio, mobile wireless phone, satellite radio—will enable campers to be on top of the weather and to take proactive measures in the event of high waters, flood, thunderstorms, or other severe weather conditions. Be Prepared  Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Make sure... [Read more...]

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