Big Bend of the Colorado SRA – Laughlin, NV

Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area is part of Nevada’s state park system and is located on the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada. As with all of the state parks in Nevada, it’s a first come, first serve park. The sites are huge and well spread out, with a shade structure, picnic table, grill, and fire pit at each. The public restrooms have individual restrooms and showers that seem clean enough. The campground sits back a bit from the river, so there are no sites with river views.

Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area

4220 Needles Hwy, Laughlin, NV 89209

www.parks.nv.gov

  • 24 Large, Well Spaced Sites
  • Full Hookups
  • Pull Throughs
  • Dump Station
  • Fire Pit
  • Picnic Table
  • Shade Structure
  • Grill
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • First Come, First Serve
  • Access to the Colorado River

The sites are large and spread out, but could use some love. There was a wildfire here last August that burned all of the vegetation throughout the campground. It appears that the now burned out vegetation provided a lot of privacy between sites. There are still blackened, dead bushes remaining, but it seems a lot of what burned was pulled up, chopped up, and sent through a wood chipper, with the wood chips being spread throughout the campground. I’m sure it’ll take a few years, but hopefully the plant life will grow back and the campground will be a little bit more visually appealing.

We stayed here during the middle of March, so the day use area of the park was not very active. However, during the summer months, it seems to be a popular spot for boating, jet skis, fishing, and hanging out at the beach. The water is very blue, clean, and clear here, so I can see why it’s a destination during the summer.

As for the city of Laughlin — there’s not much there. Before our stay here, I didn’t realize that only about 7,500 people call Laughlin home. There are a half dozen casinos along the river, but really, not much else. There’s a post office, some gas stations, and an In-N-Out, but for almost anything else, you need to cross the river into Bullhead City, Arizona. Bullhead City is a city of about 40,000 people, so you’ll find more services there, like grocery stores, Walmart and a laundromat.

When we first pulled into Big Bend of the Colorado SRA, we weren’t sure how long we would stay. It wasn’t the most attractive place, but as COVID-19 started spreading throughout the U.S. and it became clear how destructive this virus could potentially be, we decided staying put was the best option. We stayed nine days before moving on to a state park in Southern Utah, skipping our next two destinations of Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada and Cathedral Gorge State Park in Panaca, Nevada. While we are disappointed that we didn’t get to visit some beautiful areas of Nevada, it ended up being beneficial for a few reasons: 1) The weather in Cathedral Gorge took a turn and called for snow and below-freezing temps while we were supposed to be there; 2) Nevada State Parks ended up closing their campgrounds on March 18th due to COVID-19, so we would have had to scramble to find somewhere else to go; 3) We ended up making a last minute reservation at a state park in Utah that we stayed at last year, so we were able to hunker down in a familiar place in a more populated area than Valley of Fire and Cathedral Gorge — we didn’t want to be putting more pressure on the few services these small towns offer.

A Few Days in the Desert: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The drive from Temecula to Anza-Borrego is a bit curvy with grades, so our short drive day took a little longer than expected, but it was worth it! As previous San Diego residents, we had never been here before, which feels a bit blasphemous now. The nights are quiet, the sky is huge, and the stars shine bright — all things everyone could use a little bit more of in their life, I believe.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the lower 48 and lies in three Southern California counties, making up one-fifth of San Diego County with its 600,000 acres. It’s also a certified International Dark Sky Park, which is “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.”

There are multiple campgrounds throughout the park ranging from no reservation, dry camping to reservation needed, full hookups. As with many California State Parks, and state parks in general, getting a reservation isn’t the easiest and does require some planning. We were able to reserve two nights in the no hookup section of Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground a few months ago, and at a later date, after a cancellation, were able to reserve two more nights in the full hookup section.

NOTE: Check in time is 2pm with no exceptions, and they definitely adhere to it. We arrived at 1:38 and they let us preregister, but would not allow us to go to our site. We drove over to the Visitor Center where there is RV parking, and bought some souvenirs and picked up all of the literature we would need for our visit, before heading back to the campground.

Borrego-Palm Canyon Campground

200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, CA

www.reservecalifornia.com

  • Dry Camping Sites (Max Length 25′)
  • Full Hookup Sites (Max Length 35′)
  • Dump Station
  • Restrooms with Flush Toilets
  • Token-Operated Showers
  • Water Spigots
  • Fire Pits
  • Picnic Tables
  • Shade Structures in Dry Camping Sites
  • Firewood for Sale

Our first two nights were spent in Site 72 in the dry camping section of the campground. The literature for the campground states that the max length of these sites is 25′. However, our trailer is 28′ from hitch to bumper, and we were able to squeeze in while still being able to park our truck at the front of the site. When reserving a site here, I looked at not only the listed length on the website, but also the Google Map satellite image where I could see that we’d be able to back up quite a bit further than the length of the pad. Not all of the sites would have fit us, so do your research if you have a longer rig — we were definitely the longest trailer in this section of the campground! The sites in this section are sporadically placed and offer more distance from your neighbor than the sites in the full hookup section.  The sites with the best views are 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83, 84, 85, and 87. The restrooms and showers aren’t anything special, but they are clean and all individual, so you have privacy and safety.

An iPhone photo in no ways does the night sky any justice, but as you can see, even with bright moonlight and campfires burning, the stars were out in force.
We just fit into our site!
We backed up as far as we could without hitting the shade structure and still being able to deploy our awnings — which is key in the desert without A/C.
Our site was a little odd in that the fire pit and picnic table were opposite the door side of our trailer, but the site itself is spacious with nice views.

We spent the next two nights in site 33 in the full hookups section. All of the sites here are pull throughs and the sites with the best views are 50 and 51. The sites here are definitely longer, with us being able to park our truck in the same direction as the trailer, as opposed to perpendicular to it. Also, when friends visited, they were able to park their car at an angle behind the Airstream.

At site 33, there is shrubbery and a palm tree to give some separation from the neighboring site.

Borrego Palm Canyon is one of the quietest places we’ve ever stayed. People seemed to go to bed pretty early, but especially in the dry camping section, where there are a lot of tents and vans.

There are about 110 miles of hiking trails throughout Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and there are three trails that leave right from Borrego Palm Canyon Campground:

  • Trail to Visitor Center — Dog and bike friendly; Flat; Easy; Paved; .7 mile one way.
  • Panoramic Overlook Trail — Moderate with loose rock and 300′ of elevation gain; 1.6 mile roundtrip.
The wildflowers are out in force!
View of Borrego Palm Canyon Campground from the overlook.
  • Borrego Palm Canyon Trail — Fairly flat with loose rock and some scrambling; 375′ of elevation gain; Currently open portion is about a 2.25-mile loop.
The landscape along the trail is absolutely beautiful!
We were lucky to see at least a half dozen endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep.
Friends from Oceanside drove out to spend the day with us and the Ocotillo.
Due to a fire, the portion of the trail that leads to the palm oasis and waterfall was closed, but there was still a lot of beauty to see along the way, like these beavertail cactus.

Another fun hike that’s about a 25-minute drive from the campground is The Slot, which, in cased you haven’t guessed, is a slot canyon. The road to the trailhead, where you’ll find pit toilets and a parking lot, is about 2 miles of washboard gravel, but not awful. It’s an easy, 1.6-mile out and back hike through a narrow slot. There’s an option to make it a loop if you continue past the end of the slot, but as we didn’t have the AllTrails app open to follow the correct route (there’s no defined trail) we turned back after a bit because we didn’t really feel like getting lost in the desert that day.

This is what it looks like when you exit the end of the slot canyon — it’s pretty wide open and difficult to tell what direction to go, so make sure to have a map!

Galleta Meadows is privately owned land in Borrego Springs that’s home to over 130 metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda. The Meadows are unfenced and open to the public — and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area!

Our stay in Anza-Borrego was our last stop before wrapping up our winter in California and it was definitely a highlight! There’s a lot of boondocking to be had in this area, but seeing as this was our first time here, we took the safe route and stayed in a developed campground. And as it got really hot on Friday of our stay, we were glad to have an electric hookup to use A/C. Of note, gas is extremely expensive out here. Make sure to fill up before the trip out and search for gas stations a bit removed from Borrego Springs if you need to fill up again. About 45 minutes outside of Borrego Springs, we passed a gas station that was at least $1.50 less per gallon. Also, there’s a small market in town that is a catchall type of store and has the necessities — but I would not call it a grocery store. If you need specific items, bring them with you.

A Couple Days in Temecula

After leaving San Diego on March 1, we drove all of 55 miles to spend a couple of nights in Temecula. The main purpose of this pitstop was so that we could drop the Airstream off at Airstream Inland Empire and have the brakes checked. You may recall, back in September we had an issue where one of our brakes needed to be replaced fairly emergently. Before heading back on the road, we wanted to make sure everything was copacetic. And it was. While in San Diego, we also had the brakes checked on the truck and the rear brakes replaced, so now we can continue our travels with one less thing to worry about.

We spent one night at the RV park at Pechanga Resort and Casino, one night in the hotel of the resort while the Airstream was getting looked at, and then another night at the RV park in order to get the fridge back up to temp after being shut off and to stock up on groceries as we’d next be heading to areas without real grocery stores.

For more about this RV park, read about our previous stays here and here. Of note, the Pechanga RV park is a part of Passport America and offers half off of the deluxe site rate Sunday through Wednesday night, making the stay very affordable at $30/night.

The Deluxe sites at Pechanga are the lowest level site, but they’re super nice and huge — and the only sites you can use Passport America on.

San Diego’s Best Kept RV Park Secret – Surf and Turf Del Mar

We decided to slow things down a bit this winter and spend four months in San Diego. This gave us the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with friends; take care of doctor, dentist, eye, and vet appointments; join a gym; eat some good, healthy food; order all the things we couldn’t while on the road (big thanks to our friends that let us have packages sent to their houses); go on a few hikes; and Travis even got a trip with friends to Germany in. As we had lived in San Diego before Airstream life, we didn’t really do any touristy things during our stay. If you need recommendations for anything, send me a message and I can help you out.

We also had ample opportunity to clean out the truck and Airstream to get rid of junk, give away things we didn’t need anymore, and transfer stuff we wanted to keep to our storage unit. Even though we live pretty minimally, we still clean our cabinets, closets, and storage compartments on a quarterly basis, and there is ALWAYS stuff we aren’t using.

Surf & Turf RV Park

15555 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014

www.surfandturfrvpark.com

  • Water & Electric (30 amp only)
  • Three Sewer Pumps per Week
  • Propane Fill Once per Week
  • Nightly, Weekly, & Monthly Rates

This was our second stay at Del Mar’s Surf & Turf RV Park. Read about our previous stay here.

We spent all four months at Surf & Turf in Del Mar. At $650/month (including electricity), I don’t think any other RV park or campground in the San Diego area comes close to being this affordable. The bonus is that the location is perfect – you can get anywhere in coastal San Diego County in about 30 minutes (without traffic, of course).

As stated in our previous post, Surf & Turf is a pretty barebones RV park. With wide gravel sites, you park your tow vehicle next to your trailer, instead of in front of it. The electric could use some updating. They currently only offer 30 amp, which is fine for us. However, when we first pulled in and hooked up, our power kept tripping at the box. An electrician came to check it out and found a loose connection. After tightening everything up, we had no more issues, but it sounded as though it was not an uncommon occurrence. The pump truck comes around on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday – which generally works fine for two people, but you do need to keep an eye on your water usage. A propane fill truck comes through every Wednesday. Four months of having to go to a laundromat to do laundry got a little old, but the laundromat (Beachside Del Mar Laundromat) was very nice and it’s always great to get all of the laundry done in an hour and a half.

Del Mar’s Dog Beach is a short drive and a great place to take doggos to run around and get some exercise.

Surf & Turf is within walking distance of the Coast to Crest Trail at the San Dieguito Lagoon, which is a flat, 4.8-mile out and back trail. It’s a great trail for walking, running, and biking and is dog friendly.

I should also note that if you need full hookups, the Del Mar Fairgrounds (who owns Surf & Turf) has about 50 full hookup sites for $38/night. There are also restrooms with showers and laundry. We visited some other full-time Airstreamers that stayed there, and it’s definitely an acceptable place to stay for a bit — if you don’t mind being right next to the train tracks.

Food/Drink Places Nearby

There are a never-ending amount of food and drink options throughout San Diego, but our favorite restaurant in this particular area is Jake’s Del Mar. It’s one of those rare places that hits the restaurant trifecta – great food, great service, and great views. Make a reservation for about a half hour before sunset and request a table by the window – you won’t be disappointed!

When we’re traveling in more remote places, we REALLY miss having healthy food options. Thankfully, San Diego, and Southern California in general, does not disappoint on this front. Within a few minutes’ drive from Surf & Turf, you’ll find some great, healthy, fast-casual options in Mendocino Farms, Flower Child, and Urban Plates.

The Taco Stand has multiple locations throughout San Diego, but the closest one to Surf & Turf is a short drive up the 101 in Encinitas. If you’re not in the mood for one of the many taco options offered, get one of San Diego’s most popular eats — a California burrito.

For beer, check out Bottlecraft in Solana Beach. It’s a bit different than your average tasting room, as it’s part beer shop, part tasting room. They sell hundreds of bottled beers from multiple brewers that you’re able to carry out or drink in house. They also have about 20 beers on draft that are regularly rotated. Not a beer fan? They also sell wine, cider, and kombucha, as well as offer a menu of tasty sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for beer AND pizza, head to Pizza Port in Solana Beach. Bottlecraft is dog friendly, but 21+ only. Pizza Port is family friendly, with seating outside for your pups.

And of course, ice cream. Portland’s famous Salt & Straw recently opened a second San Diego location in Del Mar at the One Paseo shopping & dining complex. It is seriously the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Semi-national chain Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream recently opened its third San Diego location at the Del Mar Highlands shopping center. And if you want something a bit healthier, Yogurtland frozen yogurt is right up the street at the Del Mar Flower Hill Promenade.