Every year I like to write a post that wraps up the previous year’s travels with a proverbial bow, reliving all of the joy and wonderment we experienced. You can see how this is usually a fun little project by checking out the posts for 2018 and 2019. Obviously, this year is different. Like, so, so different.
We started the year spending the winter in the San Diego area as full-time Airstreamers and ended the year living in a condo in Bozeman, Montana. To say things took an unexpected turn is a bit of an understatement. I know that COVID-19 affected the life of pretty much every one on the planet, in a wide range of ways. We are so very grateful to be able to say that, as of this post, we have not personally experienced the virus, or lost loved ones to it. We know there are so many that can’t say the same, and our hearts hurt for the pain and loss others have experienced during this time. We know it’s still going to be a long road for our community, our country, and our planet, but we’re hopeful and optimistic that 2021 will eventually bring some health and happiness.
Besides the isolation, frustration, and disappointment that the pandemic brought to our lives, we also had to deal with the loss of our third amigo, our travel buddy, our faithful canine companion — Max. We said goodbye to Max on February 25th, just two days shy of his 15th birthday. When we first started our full-time travel life, we were so unsure how well Max would adapt. It turns out there was no need to worry, because he was the BEST Airstream dog. He slept through travel days like a champ and preferred so stay ‘home’ whenever Travis and I would venture out. The strangeness of not having a dog around after 15 years was compounded by the weirdness of the early days of the pandemic. Ten months later, and we still miss him dearly, but the thought of him no longer triggers a twinge in the heart.
So, yeah, 2020 hasn’t been the most enjoyable year, but we did have some good times and we were able to travel to some great places. Let’s look at some of that joy and wonderment we DID get to experience.
We travelled 4,608 miles across nine states — California, Nevada, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Dakota. Our longest travel day (which we’ll never do again) was 738 miles (you can read about that here) and our shortest travel day was 19 miles. We averaged $36.78/night for site fees, which is almost $10 less per night than 2019, so, yay us!
Michigan was the only new state we added to our travel map this year, making it our 20th state that we’ve ventured to with the Airstream. We were very happy to be able to spend some time in Michigan in fall — such a great time to be in the area!
While we had originally planned to visit a number of new National Park Service sites this year, we were able to make it to only eight, with four being new and four being return visits.
The four new sites were:
Capitol Reef National Park
Check out more from our visit to Capitol Reef here.
Voyageurs National Park
Our visit to Voyageurs makes 19 national parks visited thus far! Check out more from our visit to Voyageurs here.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Check out more from our visit to Pictured Rocks here.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Check out more from our visit to Apostle Islands here.
The other four sites we were able to revisit were:
Zion National Park
Due to the pandemic, the only exploring we did of Zion during this time was to take a drive up the canyon, which is usually closed to vehicles, but was open because the shuttles weren’t running.
Check out more about our visit to Zion here. Read more about our previous visit here and here.
Yellowstone National Park
Check out more from our visit to Yellowstone here. Read more about our previous visit here.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Check out more about our visit to Roosevelt NP here. Read about our previous visit here.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Check out more about our visit to Little Bighorn here. Read about our previous visit here.
But our year wasn’t just about the parks! Take a look at some of the other things that brought us joy this year –>
We visited some of the ‘World’s Largest’ statues:
We ran into some interesting creatures in the Anza-Borrego Desert:
We tried a new sport:
We were able to meet up with a handful of other full timers:
We enjoyed some beach days and amazing sunsets:
Pre-pandemic, we were able to spend time with some of our favorite people:
And when we didn’t think it was going to happen, we ended up being able to spend some safe, socially distanced time with family:
The pandemic forced us to change our travel plans for 2020 (goodbye, hard-earned FL state park reservations!), so we made a decision. A big one. Even though the RV lifestyle somewhat prepared us for pandemic life (you can read about that here), it didn’t make sense for us to stay on the road. After dealing with multiple reservation cancellations and watching things close as the case numbers rose, we decided that the best thing for us was to get off the road and settle down for the time being. One of the best parts of full timing is not only exploring the natural wonders of our country, but also meeting new people along the way and checking out things in each city we visit — restaurants, museums, community events, etc. With all of these things closed, traveling just wasn’t that enjoyable. And we wanted to make sure we stayed healthy. So, we purchased a condo in Bozeman, Montana in July. Read more about what led to that decision here.
We’ve been enjoying safely exploring our new city:
And we’re learning to embrace winter (kind of):
But probably the weirdest thing to happen to us personally in 2020, is our appearance on HGTV’s House Hunters!
We filmed the episode in August and it aired in December. It highlighted our transition from full-time travel to part-time condo living. It was an interesting and tiring experience!
Which brings me to what’s next for us:
We plan to continue to travel in the Airstream — A LOT. It’s nice to have a home base to return to when we need a break or something comes up, but we miss being on the road. We’ll get back out there once we feel comfortable doing so, which for us means when we’re both vaccinated. It’s been nice to take a pause and enjoy some of the things you give up when you live tiny, such as a kingsize bed, a dishwasher, a washer & dryer, and easy access to our mail, medical care, and good grocery stores. There’s still so much left to explore! And we aren’t really cold winter people, so we’re looking forward to seeking out warmth in the coming winters.
We’re wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2021! Hopefully, we’ll see you somewhere out there!
Zion River Resort is a beautiful little RV resort located less than 20 minutes from Zion National Park’s south entrance. The grounds are well kept and welcoming. Amenities abound, but because our stay was during the coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t take advantage of any of them. The office, gift shop, and what seems to be a pretty extensive convenience store, were all closed to guests. We received a pre-arrival check-in email the day before arrival that let us know what our site number was with a map attached. It also stated that staff was able to deliver ice, firewood, and grocery items to our site and they would charge the credit card on file. As we pulled in, guests vacated the site across from us, and a staff member showed up immediately to wipe down the picnic table and electric and water hookups. They took every precaution they could to keep staff and guests safe, and were flexible with us when we called on two different occasions to adjust our arrival and departure dates.
The bulk of Zion National Park was closed before our arrival in Virgin, including shuttle service, visitor centers, restrooms, campgrounds, stores, Zion Lodge, and many trails, including the ever popular Angel’s Landing. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, usually only accessible by shuttle, was open to vehicles. We took a drive through the park on a Wednesday evening and were happy to see that there were few cars parked throughout the canyon. Two days later, the day we checked out of Zion River Resort, Zion National Park was closed completely to all visitors.
While we didn’t get to do any hiking in the park during this visit, we did a great hike in the area that had some pretty epic views of the park. Eagles Crag is a 7-mile out and back rated as hard on AllTrails, but is closer to moderate. The trail is a combination of loose rock and sand with some elevation gain. There were only four other parties on the trail, so it was easy to practice physical distancing. Dogs are allowed, but there are A LOT of prickly little cactus along the way, so I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s a small parking lot and pit toilet at the trailhead, which is an adventure to get to in itself — I would say a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle is a necessity.
I wish I had more to report from our stay at Zion River Resort, but due to the coronavirus, we really didn’t do much — we were just happy to have a safe place to stay for a week!
This was our second stay in Hurricane this spring, with our first being for two weeks at Sand Hollow State Park. After two weeks of getting things fixed up in Albuquerque and a very active week in Moab, it was nice to settle in to WillowWind RV Park for a month. It was also nice to get a great monthly rate ($500 + electric) in order to absorb some of the unexpected costs of our time in Albuquerque.
Hurricane has all of the necessities a person needs — grocery store, gas stations, fitness center, Walmart, pharmacy, some restaurants, movie theatre, community pool, car wash with RV bay, etc. The nearby cities of Washington and St. George can provide anything else — Target, In and Out, Petco, Barnes and Noble, better restaurants, etc. It’s a 35-minute drive to the main entrance of Zion National Park from WillowWind and less than 30 minutes to the Kolob Canyons (west) entrance. Sand Hollow State Park, Quail Creek State Park, and Snow Canyon State Park are all within 35 minutes.
The location also worked well for us work wise when Travis had to drive to Las Vegas for a conference (2-hour drive) and fly to Wisconsin for a business trip (St. George Airport is 25 minutes away).
WillowWind is a nice, fairly quiet, very clean RV park located right in the middle of Hurricane, within walking distance to the grocery store, Walgreen’s, movie theatre, and a number of places to eat. We were in site 31, a grassy back-in site that got shadier as the month progressed and the leaves on the trees came in. There are A LOT of trees on this property which comes in handy when the temp starts to rise, which it did while we were there (April 13 to May 14). If you visit during the warmer months, I recommend looking at the satellite image on Google Maps to see which sites receive the most shade as not all sites are created equal — I’d recommend sites 110-122 (pull-thru sites) and sites 124-153 (back-in sites) for maximum shade. The electric and cable hookups are at the back of the site while the water and sewer hookups are at the middle of the site, which may require longer cords/hoses depending on where the hookups are on your rig. The office doesn’t accept mail on your behalf, but FedEx and UPS deliver directly to your site and the post office, which is a block away, accepts general delivery mail.
It was nice to have a month of having a normal daily routine. While we were in Hurricane, we joined Performance Fitness 24/7 gym for the month. They don’t charge any initiation or cancellation fees, and at $15 for the month, it’s the best deal we’ve found to date since being on the road. There’s no fancy pool or classes, but the machines are nice and they have saunas, hydromassage beds and tanning for an extra fee. We were also able to get an issue with the timing chain fixed on the truck at the Ford dealership in Washington. We had our mail sent to us a handful of times at the post office and we were able to order some things from Amazon that we’ve been needing for a bit. All three of us got haircuts and we were able to stock up on dog food and the good RV toilet paper from Walmart. Before leaving, we washed both the truck and the Airstream. Basically, Hurricane and the Washington/St. George area were perfect for getting errands done that we usually have to put off. We enjoyed our stay at WillowWind and would definitely return.
Of course, we also explored Zion a bit, but that’ll be another post!
Where to begin? I guess I’ll begin with how we ended up in Albuquerque when it wasn’t part of the plan.
We were in Hurricane, Utah and were supposed to be moving on to spending the weekend in Zion National Park at Watchman Campground. We drove through the campground a week before when we visited Zion and we weren’t super impressed. Due to the crazy winter the area had been having, there were parts of the campground that were under water. The original loop that we had reserved our site in was all torn up and closed. There was also a lot of work being done in the area surrounding the campground and nearby visitor center. I don’t know if this was due to weather-related issues or planned. Regardless, we weren’t super pumped about the current conditions of the campground, but we would deal with it. As the weekend approached, the weather outlook was not so great, adding to our apprehension. We made the decision to cancel our two nights, which would’ve been Friday to Sunday, and start driving towards our next destination, Santa Fe. We didn’t want to stay in Zion just for the sake of staying in Zion — we wanted to enjoy it, including the site and the weather. Besides, we’d be back in Hurricane in a month, staying at a place a little closer to Zion than Sand Hollow State Park is, and we’d make sure to explore the Park more then.
We found Valles RV Park in Mexican Hat, Utah on Campendium. Mexican Hat is home to Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods. I had seem so many pictures of the area and wanted to see it for myself. We decided to spend two nights here, Friday and Saturday, before we moved on to Santa Fe. After spending one night, we decided to leave Mexican Hat early Saturday morning. You can read more about why here.
I know, I know. We’re starting to sound super picky about the places we stay. We really aren’t, but when something doesn’t feel right for whatever reason, we listen to our instincts. It’s done well for us so far, and as you’ll soon read, our instincts didn’t fail us here.
While we were still in Mexican Hat Friday night, we had already decided we were leaving in the morning; therefore, we needed to figure out where we were going. We had a reservation for one night in Kirtland, New Mexico on Sunday, as our original plan had been Zion –> Kirtland –> Santa Fe. We decided our new route would take us from Mexican Hat –> Albuquerque –> Santa Fe, with two nights (Saturday and Sunday) at the Albuquerque KOA. Yay, we had a plan!
When we arrived in Albuquerque Saturday afternoon after six rough hours of driving on Northern New Mexico’s lovely highways, we pulled into what is the nicest KOA Journey that we’ve stayed at. As we were getting set up, I noticed an issue with the converter fan. The converter is what converts the 120 volts of AC shore power to 12 volts of DC to supply power to all of the 12 volt appliances and accessories in the trailer. The converter basically prevents the batteries from draining when you’re plugged in. The converter fan helps to cool the converter unit down when needed. There was no need for the fan to be kicking in, yet it was — very, very often. We also noticed that any time the fan kicked in, the battery voltage would drop from the usual 13.6 to as low as 12.3, which is pretty low but not quite in the danger zone yet. By danger zone, I mean so low that the batteries won’t recover and recharge and are basically dead.
We had no idea what was going on so we got on the Google and various Airstream forums. From everything we read, it seemed as though our batteries were on their way out. This made sense, as the batteries were still the factory installed batteries which are not known to have the best longevity. We looked online to find a place nearby that we could get new batteries and low and behold — Airstream of New Mexico was only a half mile away! We drove over to Airstream and explained what was happening and they agreed with us; it sounded like the batteries. We bought two new ones and made our way back to the KOA where we figured out how to swap them out.
Here’s the thing, neither one of us is very mechanically inclined. Anything electrical is foreign to us and the idea of having to fix something electrical is a bit terrifying. This is a good time to mention that I have no idea if I’m using the proper terms for everything. Please do not take anything I’ve typed here as sacred, legit information. Before pulling the old batteries, we took pictures and notes. We successfully removed the old and installed the new! We were so proud of ourselves that we fixed our issue. That is, until we plugged back in and realized that, in fact, the issue had not been fixed. The converter fan still kept running for seemingly no reason and the battery voltage still kept decreasing when the fan kicked in. We started to notice exactly WHEN the fan would kick on, and it seemed to be whenever there was a certain level of movement in the trailer. Whenever the door was slammed or a cabinet or drawer was closed, it would kick on. So this changed our course of thinking. By this time, Airstream of New Mexico was closed for the day, so we weren’t able to get their input. We eventually figured out that if the fan kicked on, we could get it to kick off by pressing on the metal panel that is in front of it. This made us think that something was loose, so Travis removed the metal panel and removed the circuit board. He sprayed the area with air and made sure all of the connections were tight. He put everything back together and it seemed to work for a while. The fan didn’t kick in and the batteries stayed at their normal level — until they didn’t.
Just a reminder, this was on Saturday. Not only was Airstream of New Mexico closed for the day, but they were closed until Tuesday — they aren’t open Sundays and Mondays. We were supposed to be driving to Santa Fe on Monday where we would be spending two weeks. And to make things more complex, Travis was supposed to fly out of Santa Fe on Friday for a week-long business trip to Minnesota. We decided that we would definitely need to book a third night, Monday, at the KOA so that we could call Airstream Tuesday morning and try to get the trailer in to get looked at. We made it through the weekend by being careful about making the fan kick in, pulling the panel off for a second time to make sure everything was connected tight, and unplugging the trailer whenever we left just to be on the safe side.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning. We called Airstream and….
….they told us they had no service appointments available until May, a good five or six weeks away. Well, crap.
Due to Travis’s impending business trip, we needed to make some decisions. We felt that no matter what, we would be staying in Albuquerque and not going to Santa Fe. This meant we needed to change his flight. We wouldn’t be able to stay in the trailer in its current state, so we booked a room at the Homewood Suites for the next week and a half. This still didn’t take care of what to do with the trailer, so we decided to go in to Airstream to plead our case. We explained our situation. We explained that we’re full timers so unfortunately, this wasn’t as easy as just not using the trailer until it could get fixed. Even though they weren’t able to look at it, they did have a solution. They recommended another RV service center (Tom’s) down the street from them that they do work with often. Airstream called Tom’s and they said if we could bring it in right now, they could fix it. Yay! We hurried back to the KOA and quickly got the Airstream hitched up to take over to Tom’s.
For those of you that aren’t RVers, let me explain what ‘quickly’ means. We had to disconnect the sewer hose, water hose, cable cord, and electric cord. We had to raise the stabilizers. We had to put the hitch on the truck and back it up to hitch up the trailer. We had to remove the chocks and roll off the levelers. As we weren’t getting on the highway, we didn’t hook up our sway control bars, which saved us a step. Inside, we had to get everything off the kitchen and bathroom counters and secure them for towing. Thankfully, the night before we had proactively taken everything out of the fridge and freezer and shut it off, thinking we would be dropping the trailer off at Airstream in the morning. I then ran into the KOA office and extended our stay again, as we were supposed to check out and leave by noon. We extended our stay for a week and a half, thinking we could just cancel the hotel. After all that, we got it over to Tom’s and they started working on it immediately. After checking things out, they agreed that the converter needed to be replaced. Only one problem — they didn’t have one to replace it. The parts supplier in town that they usually get their parts from didn’t have one. Airstream didn’t have one. It was determined that they would order one, receive it the next day, and then install it, meaning we were taking the Airstream back to the KOA for the night and would bring it back again the next day.
Fast forward a few hours and we receive a call from Airstream. I don’t know what was discussed between Tom’s and Airstream, but all of a sudden Airstream was like, bring it in so our certified Airstream technician can take a look at it and we can see if it’s covered by warranty. So, we did. We hadn’t hooked anything back up again when we returned from Tom’s, so we were able to get it over to Airstream pretty quickly.
Also, please keep in mind that we have a small, 14-year-old, grumpy dog that usually gets a bit anxious on travel days. He had no clue what was going on and his anxiety added to our stress as well.
We got the trailer to Airstream, the technician inspected it, confirmed there was an issue with the converter, and they submitted it to Airstream (corporate) to make sure it would be covered under warranty (we’re still under our two-year warranty). Thankfully, it was. But again, the issue arose that they didn’t have the part to replace and would have to order it.
At this point, Travis and I decided that we just wanted to leave the trailer with them and stay in the hotel. He would be leaving on his trip in three days and felt more comfortable with us being in a hotel rather than the trailer. The other issue is that I don’t tow the trailer, so it wouldn’t have been possible for us to go back to the KOA and for me to bring the trailer to Airstream when the part came in. They were 100% fine with that, so then the process of packing everything we needed to take with us began. Sounds easy, right? Well….
Again, we had already assumed we weren’t going to be in the trailer for a few days, so we had packed some stuff. It was Tuesday. Travis was leaving on Friday and would return the following Friday. We wouldn’t be able to pick the Airstream up until Saturday after he got back, so this meant we’d (me & the dog) would be in the hotel for 11 nights. Travis needed to pack everything he needed for his business trip. We needed everything necessary in order for us to work. We needed clothes and dog stuff and bathroom stuff and we packed up all the dry food too, not knowing what we would need. After getting everything we needed loaded into the truck (though I did make another run to the Airstream after realizing we forgot some things) we handed the keys off, stopped at the KOA to cancel our remaining stay, and made our way to the hotel.
The next ten days were pretty uneventful. Airstream called to say they’d be receiving the part on Tuesday. Travis went on his business trip. When Airstream received the part, they called to say that they put us on the schedule for Thursday morning. Travis was able to shorten his trip by a day and fly back Thursday night. This allowed us to pick the Airstream up Friday and stay one more night at the KOA to make sure everything was working properly before we left town on Saturday. We were able to get everything moved back into the trailer, do laundry, clean, and get the fridge turned back on to get it ready for food.
For some reason I did something that I never do the day before we tow — I turned the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on to make sure the tire pressure was good. It wasn’t. One of our tires was reading at 33psi when it should be about 65psi. We inspected the tire and didn’t see anything wrong with it. We measured the pressure with both a tire pressure gauge and the air compressor to make sure the tire pressure monitoring system wasn’t acting up. Everything showed around 33psi. There were only really two explanations. One, someone let air out. Two, the tire was punctured. The first option didn’t make sense so we had to assume that it was the second. While you can pick up a nail or some other sharp object anywhere, the only thing we can figure is that something happened to the tire when the trailer was at Airstream. Seeing as anywhere that could help us was closed for the day, we filled the tire and waited until the next morning to make phone calls. Even though we didn’t think they did, we called Airstream to see if they sold tires. They do not, but said they use Discount Tire for all their tire needs, which was going to be our next call anyway. We called Discount Tire and they said all of their appointments were booked, but they weren’t busy yet, so if we could get there soon, they could take care of us. We had already prepped the Airstream for towing that morning as we waited for Airstream and Discount Tire to open, so we were able to hitch up and get there pretty quickly. They had us checked in even before we pulled in the driveway and they changed out all four tires in about 45 minutes. We decided to buy four new tires because the tires that come on an Airstream aren’t the best quality. We upgraded to Goodyear Endurance, which can carry more weight, have a higher speed rating, and just seem to be more durable all around. We didn’t even have them look at the flat tire to see what was wrong with it, because it didn’t matter to us at this point.
So, after new batteries, a new converter, and new tires — we were finally on our way! If you’re ever in the Albuquerque area and are need in of assistance, I cannot praise these businesses enough: Airstream of New Mexico, Albuquerque KOA Journey, Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown, and Discount Tire located at 1119 Juan Tablo Blvd. Everyone was so nice and helpful and understanding and they all provided excellent service on a moment’s notice.
As you can see, a few of the gut decisions we made brought us to Albuquerque which brought us to Airstream of New Mexico. If we hadn’t cancelled our weekend in Zion and instead booked in Mexican Hat, where we then left a night early and skipped Kirtland, heading straight for Albuquerque instead, we probably would have been in Santa Fe when our issue with the converter started. Santa Fe is only an hour drive from Albuquerque, but we wouldn’t have been able to just stop into Airstream and plead our case face to face. For some reason, we ended up in the right place at the right time!
As I stated above, this is a very nice KOA Journey. Like most Journeys, the sites are close together, but our site (128) was was plenty long. The people that work here are so nice and were super flexible when we added a third day, and then added a week and a half, and then cancelled a week and a half. The location is pretty decent to everything Albuquerque has to offer and we would definitely stay here again if we were to return to the area.
1 or 2-Bedroom Suites with Kitchenette and Living Room
Social Hour with Snacks Monday – Thursday Evening
Accepts Mail Delivery
The Homewood Suites in Uptown was a great place to stay for a week and a half. The room was nice, the breakfast was decent, and the social hours with food during the week were a nice perk. Not only does the hotel allow dogs, but they also have a grassy area outside complete with dog waste bag station. The location is absolutely fantastic — the Uptown area of Albuquerque offers great restaurants, shopping, grocery stores, fitness centers and every possible service needed, all within walking distance. Travis was in Minnesota for work during most of our stay, but Max and I enjoyed sleeping in a king size bed, lounging on the couch, and generally just taking advantage of having more space. Personally, I enjoyed the long, hot showers and having dry towels of my very own every day. One of our favorite places to eat nearby is Fork & Fig, but there are so many options. And by the way, Uptown is only a 10-minute drive from the KOA and Airstream dealership, so it was also convenient to drive back and forth.
With all of the ‘excitement’ we had in Albuquerque, we didn’t get out to explore too much. We did a very brief, self-led Breaking Bad tour one evening and visited one of the sites of Petroglyph National Monument one afternoon.
We spent two weeks in the Westside Campground at Sand Hollow State Park. When I made the reservation, I made sure to research the best sites in the campground and I feel pretty confident in saying that I booked one of, if not, the best. During this time of year (March 9-22), you probably don’t need to book a site right when they become available, which I believe is four months in advance, unless you’re staying for a few weeks like we did or you want to have a choice of spots, also like we did. We were in site 18, which is on the edge of the campground with a nice view of the mountains. I would recommend this site as well as 20, 22, 23 and 26. Our site was a super long pull through with full hookups, a picnic table with shade structure, and a fire pit. There are two other campgrounds in Sand Hollow State Park — Sandpit Campground and the Primitive Camping area that is tent only along the shore of the reservoir.
A major draw for this park is the OHV area on Sand Mountain. Even with OHVs, the Westside Campground is still pretty quiet as all OHVs must be trailered in and out of the campground unless they have current street legal registration and plates. Even then, they can drive on the asphalt only and only at 10mph.
While we didn’t use the restrooms, they were nice and clean and the separate, individual showers were as well. Also of note is that we had great cell signal on both AT&T and Verizon here.
Things To Do
While at Sand Hollow, we used our Kokopelli Packrafts for the first time. When the wind is calm, the reservoir is great for personal watercraft.
Zion National Park is a 45-minute drive from Sand Hollow. We only went into Zion once during our stay as we’ll be returning to Hurricane soon and will be staying a little bit closer. We took Max with us and walked along the Pa’ Rus Trail, the only trail in Zion that allows dogs. We also drove the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway to the east entrance and back. The main route through the park is Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and is only accessible by park shuttle.
There are many hikes in the area but the only trail we made it to was Mollies Nipple Trail. It’s a VERY steep trail of clay soil and loose rock that is, according to my AppleWatch, 2.75 miles and has 1,277 feet of elevation gain. While the hike is tough, the views at the top are amazing and totally worth it!
After many months of being in RV parks, our two weeks at Sand Hollow was just what we needed. While we enjoyed it, if we were to stay at a state park in this area again, we would probably go back to Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins, Utah. The terrain there is more interesting and the park offers a number of great trails. However, Sand Hollow does make a long stay easier due to the full hookups, whereas the sites at Snow Canyon are water and electric or electric only.
We spent two weeks in Page, Arizona on Lake Powell, which, at this time of year, is at least a week too long. The winter offseason doesn’t end until about mid-April, so some of the best things Page has to offer, like the boat tour and hike to Rainbow Bridge, aren’t readily available until later in the year. Even so, we were able to take advantage of some nice-weather days and experience some of the awe-inspiring local attractions.
We stayed at Wahweap RV & Campground located on Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The campground is huge and caters to all types of campers, from tents to enormous fifth wheels and motorhomes; however, there are only a couple of ‘loops’ open this time of year. When making the reservation, we were told the best views are from C loop, but when checking in, were told C loop was closed and we’d be in F loop. Disappointing, yes, because the views ARE better from C loop, but understandable as they only want a few bathrooms (that need to be cleaned) open and access to only a few dumpsters (that need to be emptied). Seeing as Wahweap is part of a national recreation area, there is a $25 National Parks Service fee that is good for seven days. Your National Parks Access Pass will cover it. The campground and the neighboring Lake Powell Resort are part of an area called the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas that include five campgrounds, three sticks & bricks lodging options, and five marinas. During prime season, they offer a slew of boat trips on the lake, as well as watercraft rentals, house boat rentals, fishing, and multiple dining options. It’s clear that this campground and the resort are seasonal destinations and I’d love to see the vibe and atmosphere during busier times. That being said, we tried to make the best of our time here, even though the weather didn’t often cooperate (lots of rain and wind) and Travis had to fly out to visit a customer onsite for five days.
Address: 100 Lakshore Drive, Page, AZ 86040
Phone Number: (888) 896-3829
130 Full Hookup Sites
112 Tent or Self-Contained RV Sites
36 Tent Only Sites
6 Group Sites (9-30 People per Site)
Restrooms with Flush Toilets
Showers ($2/15 Minutes)
Wahweap Swim Beach
Things to See and Do in the Area
Antelope Canyon: Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located in Page on Navajo land. Because of this, you need to book a tour with one of the local tour companies in order to experience the canyon, which has two distinctly separate sections; Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope. We toured Lower Antelope Canyon with Dixie Ellis’s Tours. Visit their website here. Check our Instagram post here for tips and information regarding our tour. If you don’t want to take part in a tour but still want to see slot canyons, there are others in the area. Waterholes Canyon is just south of Horseshoe Bend, but a permit to access Navajo land is needed.
Horseshoe Bend: Horseshoe Bend was not at all what I expected! While I knew it was a bend in the Colorado River (270 degrees, to be exact), I didn’t realize it’s beauty would take my breath away. This is definitely one of those cases where photos won’t do it justice — you have to see it in person. It’s located a couple miles southwest of Page on Hwy 89. You can’t miss the parking lot, which has port-a-potties, but no other services are (currently) available. There is a three-quarter mile (one way) hike to the viewing area for Horseshoe Bend. I call it a hike, because part of it is uphill and part of it is downhill, both of which are over loose surfaces. Bring water and an umbrella or hat if it’s especially warm out. As the number of visitors has increased dramatically over the last few years, there are a handful of updates underway to make visiting Horseshoe Bend more accessible and safer. These include an accessible 1-mile long trail and rim viewing platform, restrooms, potable water, and a parking lot expansion.
Glen Canyon Dam: A 710-foot dam on the Colorado River in Page that helps ensure an equitable distribution of water between the states in the Upper Colorado River Basin and the Lower Basin, although critics argue that the dam is responsible for evaporative losses of Lake Powell and ecological impact on the Grand Canyon, which lies downstream. Tours are available.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: Utah’s newest national monument, Escalante spans nearly 1.9 million acres. Needless to say, it takes a lot of time to come close to exploring a fraction of this area. If you’re a hiker, this is the place for you. There are hikes of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. If you opt for a multi-day hike, a free overnight camping permit is required. We made the smallest of dents here. I wouldn’t even call it a dent; a nick, really. We drove the 25 miles from Wahweap northwest along Hwy 89 into Utah to the southern edge of the Escalante to the Toadstool Trailhead, easily found between mile markers 19 and 20. The hike is short and of easy difficulty, and you’re exposed to the toadstool hoodoos, balanced rock formations that look like mushrooms.
Hiking: We didn’t do much hiking while here, unfortunately, although we did hike the Hanging Gardens Trail. The trailhead can be found at a parking lot right before the bridge on the Page side of the dam. It was fairly easy and is only about 1 mile roundtrip, unless you follow the wrong path, like we did (stay straight when it looks like you should go left). There’s also an 8-mile Rim Trail that circles the city of Page that we didn’t get to.
We did not get to visit the following places this time, but that just means we’ve saved stuff for next time!
Rainbow Bridge National Monument: Deemed the world’s highest natural bridge, Rainbow Bridge is accessible by a boat ride from Wahweap Marina at the Lake Powell Resort plus a mile-ish (depending on water level) hike or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike 16-18 miles around Navajo Monument to reach Rainbow Bridge. We would’ve loved to make the trek via boat, but there aren’t many boat trips scheduled this time of year, and the ones offered just didn’t work out for us.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument: This national monument is located directly west of Page, but straddles the state line, so part of it also lies in Utah. The Navajo Bridge Visitor Center is a 40-mile drive from Page.
Zion National Park: Page is known as the “Center of the Grand Circle” due to it’s proximity to Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Zion is located 115 miles west of Page.
Bryce Canyon National Park: Known for its crimson-colored hoodoos, Bryce is located 133 miles northwest of Page.
Grand Canyon National Park: Both the North Rim and the South Rim are located about 115 miles from Page and both will take about two and half hours to get to. The North Rim is considerably less crowded, cooler, and at higher elevation than the South Rim; however, it’s only accessible by car May 15 to November 1. Backcountry permits are required by hikers and cross-country skiers the rest of the year.
Kaibab National Forest: The 1.6-million-acre forest borders both the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. If driving to the North Rim, you’ll enter Kaibab 75 miles southwest of Page.
As for the city of Page itself, there isn’t a whole lot there. It seems the town exists strictly for tourists to come and check out the natural wonders in the area. There’s a grocery store and a Walmart, some gas stations and a Denny’s, a post office and a municipal airport. We ate at a few of the local restaurants; Big John’s Texas BBQ (the ribs were fab) and Slackers, a burger joint that was surprisingly good. We also ate dinner at the Driftwood Lounge at the Lake Powell Resort, and that was also surprisingly good. I think the biggest draw to Page, besides Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, is the lake. Unfortunately, it’s not very usable this time of year. If we pass through the area again, we’ll make sure it’s a little later in the year.