A Setting-Sun Montana Drive

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Campervan North America founder, Bob Swan, lives in Belgrade, Montana. Yesterday I had the opportunity to have dinner with him at his home, and, beforehand, accompany him on a drive out of town to see what could be seen. Within minutes the plains widened out before us, unbroken by development, starting their graceful arcs eastward to become mountains. Snow-capped peaks dominated the eastern horizon, while westward, the rolling valley gradually fell away, providing Biblical views of sun-dappled swells and bowls, storm clouds forming there, rain sheets rippling over there, bursts of bright sun over there. Closer by, off to the right, we spotted a pheasant grazing alongside some cattle, its vibrant colors and flamboyant tail incongruent next to the plain brown cud chewers.

“There’re a couple mulies,” Bob said, driving and nodding toward a clutch of muledeer skirting a ravine. More mulies popped up seemingly every few minutes. “Sometimes,” Bob said, “you’ll see what looks like a deer out in the grass, but it’s a sandhill cr—“ – just as he was speaking, a sandhill crane appeared off to our right, gawkishly trotting away from us through the ash blonde grass. Striking bird, tall and blue-gray white. From a distance, vaguely reminiscent of a small rhea, long-necked, rapidly running. Bob tells me they nest in these expanses.

He knows of some Public Lands a few miles further up into the hills – we’re headed there. Turning left onto a steepening muddy track, Bob puts the truck into 4WD and points out a prairie falcon cruising low over a descending stretch of lightly treed land. My first time seeing one – even from a distance, the grace of the bird was undeniable. Diving, soaring, moving fast with powerful efficient strokes. The elegant profile, smoothly looking down, evocative of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. As it disappeared into a draw, Bob spotted a couple of long dark necks half a mile off, looking our way. “Elk.” We stopped and got out. “They’re a secretive animal. They come down out of those trees in the evenings to feed. Ah, see that? There’s another one, and they’ve all caught our scent.” Slowly, with the gravity of large animals, they moved away from us, keeping suspicious eye contact until they, too, disappeared behind a rise. The darkening air chilled, but we were reluctant to get back in the car. It felt like something else was going to appear any second. Light was fading as the wind picked up. Time to head back.

The 4Runner bumped along the deeply rutted track. “What do you think it is that makes this, going out into nature and spotting birds and animals, what makes it so enjoyable?” I asked, not 100% sure what my own answer might be, but knowing it would include the strangely comforting feeling of insignificance in the face of so much diversity and life.

“It’s been ingrained in me from my early early days. Back in Iowa, by the time I was 5, I was identifying different ducks flying over, calling out their names.” He went on to speak of his grandparents and how they often took Bob out evenings, rambling into the trees and fields in their ancient car just to see what might be seen. His ability to identify all kinds of animals, fish, birds was a real source of pride for him as he grew up. “We got us some pronghorns over there!” Our conversation beautifully interrupted by the light-colored elegant antelopes gathered on a steep hillside above a stream. “This might be my first time seeing those here,” he mused as we drove slowly by.

Too dark to see much more, we settled in for the short drive back to Bob’s home. A small owl darted quickly past the headlights. It was a helluva drive. “Very National Geographic,” was Bob’s description.

Back home to elk steaks, roasted potatoes, Greek salad and more stories of the wild. It was a helluva dinner too.

The Pacific Northwest Series, Campervan-style: Olympic Peninsula

Focus: Massive Trees, Massive Views, Small Crowds – Exploring the Olympic Peninsula

So you’ve just rented one of our sweet campervans, pulling out from our new Seattle location. The Pacific Northwest beckons like a mountainous sea-loving siren, luring you to adventure and breathtaking beauty. But where, exactly, to go? The choices are many, but if you must choose one destination, choose the Olympic Peninsula. When it comes to soaring snowy mountain peaks, crashing cold Pacific waves and one of the world’s few temperate rain forests, no place on earth packs quite the geographic punch.

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Hurricane Ridge

Start your Olympic experience at the northern entrance to Olympic National Park and wind your way south to Hurricane Ridge. Less than an hour’s drive from the nearest town of Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge dazzles with 360 degree panoramas of the Olympic mountain range. It’s like you’re in a huge arena encircled by the craggy thrones of Norse gods. Even in mid-August you’re likely to walk through a patch or two of snow on the many hiking trails. Camping here is only available by permit to those wanting primitive sites deep in the old-growth woods. The nearest campervan camping is twelve miles down the hill, but still in the national park, at Heart o’ the Hills campground (https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/camping.htm).

 

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Go to the Hoh

Circling around to the south and west, you come to the Hoh Rainforest — by some accounts the rockstar attraction of Olympic National Park. Massive Sitka spruce and western hemlock rule over this forest, unquestioned by the mosses, ferns and hot dog-sized banana slugs below. Waterfalls and brooks add dimension as they rush down to the mighty, swift river that gives the forest its name. Black bear and bobcats call the Hoh home, along with elk, deer and the northern spotted owl. The campground here is beautifully situated on the banks of the cold, clear Hoh River (https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/camping.htm#CP_JUMP_755189).

 

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The 101

Moving further south, a lovely, isolated stretch of Highway 101 hugs the Pacific coastline from Ruby Beach down through Kalaloch and then inland to Quinault. Pull over anywhere you can and walk out to the beach. Eagles love it here, gliding treetop high with an eye to the ocean. Down below you can spend hours discovering sea stars and anemones in the endless tide pools. As the 101 takes you inland, you’ll come to Lake Quinault, home of the majestic and historic Lake Quinault Lodge — come for the architectural wonder, stay for the stellar food and cocktails.

Of course, there’s so much more to this special place than any one blog post could possibly describe, but if you start at the north and work you way south and west, you’ll get a real and rewarding sense of what this awe-inspiring corner of the country has to offer. Grab a campervan and explore!

Call (208) 712 – 8100 to reserve your next adventure.

The Pacific Northwest Series, Campervan-style

Focus: Camping the San Juan Islands

spencer_spit_stage_park_-_aerial_700_x_330_0-1At the northern edge of Washington’s Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca cuts a swath between Canada’s Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula. The strait feeds almost directly into one of the contiguous United States’ most magical archipelagos – the San Juan Islands. The three largest islands — San Juan Island, Orcas Island and Lopez Island — dominate the archipelago of over 120 named islands.

Three resident orca pods ply the waters, searching for plentiful salmon and the occasional sea lion. The largest concentration of bald eagles in the continental US is hosted in the San Juans, with many other bird species calling the islands home — great blue herons, trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons and barred owls, to name a few.

Second-growth Douglas Fir, strikingly red-barked Pacific Madrone trees and bigleaf maple generously cover the hilly terrain, with Grand Firs becoming more frequent at higher elevations.

Summers here are cool, with highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s. Winters rarely get bitterly cold, with temps usually hovering around 35. Rain on the islands is less frequent than Seattle, due to the “rain shadow” from the Olympic range.

Needless to say, these islands are prime campervan country!! Pick one of our campervans up at our new Kent, WA location and hightail it north through Seattle to Anacortes, where you’ll pick up a Washington State ferry to the islands. The ferry ride alone is worth writing about, with beautiful vistas of the Cascades, Olympic Mountains and the islands themselves. If you’re really lucky, you may catch a glimpse of an orca or minke whale.

Camping here can be inexpensive, beautiful and rewarding. Below is a list of recommended campgrounds:

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Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Reserve early – most campsites fill up in the summer. Call (888) 226-7688 to reserve.

2500+ acres, Mt. Constitution (2409 ft tall), swimming, fishing, kayaking, wildlife

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Spencer Spit State Park, Lopez Island

Reservations: (888) 226-7688

140-acre park on a lagoon. Excellent crabbing and clamming, waterside campsites, kayaking, fishing.

 

San Juan County Park, San Juan Island

Reserve online: https://secure.itinio.com/sanjuan/island/campsites

Beautiful small park, gravel beaches, rocky bluffs, 10 miles from ferry.

 

Many more parks and camping opportunities dot the islands. Grab a campervan and explore!

Call (208) 712 – 8100 to reserve your next adventure.

The Wyoming Cutt Slam — Fishin’ with a Mission

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There’s fishin’. And then there’s fishin’ with a mission. Put on by Wyoming Game and Fish, the Cutt Slam has been called the ultimate western angling adventure. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to catch all FOUR cutthroat trout species native to Wyoming’s waters. Explore some of Wyoming’s beautiful and impressive river basins (Green River, Snake River, Colorado River and the headwaters of the Missouri River) while getting yourself into a mess of trout! Once you’ve caught each of the four cutthroat species native to each basin – the Yellowstone cutthroat, the Bonneville cutthroat, the Snake River cutthroat and the Colorado River cutthroat — you fill out a form, send it in to Wyoming Game and Fish and they’ll send you back a nice full-color certificate attesting to your accomplishment.

And honestly, we can’t think of a better way to get this mission accomplished than in one of our campervans. Give us a call, send us an email, and get slamming!

More info here: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/Cutt-Slam

The Hills are Alive (This Summer) With the Sound of Music Festivals

By John Stewart

March 21, 2016

Summer is prime-time for music festivals, and there are tons of awesome ones to choose from in Montana. Also, our customers tell us that our campervans are THE perfect music festival touring machines! These 10 Montana music festivals will keep you singin’ and groovin’ all summer long.

St. Timothy’s Summer Music Festival is held at St. Timothy’s Memorial Chapel high above Georgetown Lake in Montana. The concerts stretch over five Sundays from June – August. All concerts start at 4:00 p.m. Featured artists this season:

June 26 Phil Aaberg

July 17 Montana Chamber Music Society with Muir Members & Guests

July 24 Jeni Fleming

August 7 Young Montana Musicians Spotlight

August 21 String Orchestra of the Rockies

Get more info on this festival at sttimothysmusic.org

Big Sky Classical Music Festival is in its sixth season. From August 12 – 14, a very impressive group of world class musicians will converge on Big Sky, Montana. Previous years’ artists include:

Windsync – wind ensemble

Brahms String Sextet

  • Angella Ahn, violin
  • Rachel Barton-Pine, violin
  • David Wallace, viola
  • Gillian Gallagher, viola
  • Matt Haimovitz, cello
  • Kathe Jarka, cello

Brahms Double Concerto

  • Rachel Barton-Pine, violin
  • Matt Hamovitz, cello
  • Big Sky Festival orchestra, Peter Bay conductor

Get more information on this festival at: bigskyarts.org/festival.php

The Montana Folk Festival is one of the Great American West’s biggest free folk festivals. Multiple stages and continuous live performances by some of the best traditional performers in the nation. This year’s festival takes place July 8 – 10 in Butte, Montana.

Dozens of bands representing diverse musical and cultural influences. Some of last years’ artists included:

  • New Big Sky Singers
  • Kenny James Miller Band
  • Experience Unlimited (E.U.)
  • Western Flyers

 

Montana Baroque Music Festival July 19 – 21 at Quinns Hot Springs in Paradise, Montana. Set in the idyllic Clark Fork River Valley, steps from the Clark Fork River, the Montana Baroque Music Festival presents three exciting concerts each summer. For the festival’s 13th year, the theme will be Baroque Bells and Whistles, and will showcase our usual superstars, Monica and Matthias, and the final concert will add a new face; trumpeter Kris Kwapis to the stage. Monica will be playing all three shows.
Red Ants Pants Festival is designed to bring people together and raise funds for the Red Ants Pants Foundation, a non-profit in support of women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities. The music festival runs from July 28 – 31 outside White Sulphur Springs, Montana. Performers this year include:

  • Shook Twins
  • Lee Ann Womack
  • Keb’ Mo’
  • The Lil’ Smokies
  • Ryan Bingham
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • See the full Red Ants Pants festival lineup here

 

The Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival is in its 7th year. This festival has an “old timey mountain feel” and features traditional bluegrass music. The festival is an affordable, family-friendly gathering in a beautiful setting. It’s geared towards having good clean fun while celebrating the sounds of traditional bluegrass music. The festival runs from July 22 – 24 in Hamilton, MT. See the full Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival schedule here.

Celtic Festival Missoula is an annual celebration of great Celtic culture, focusing on music, dance and food. Their mission is to perpetuate Celtic culture and to introduce the culture to future generations in Montana. The festival presents the culture both in its historical form, and as it has evolved into new and modern forms, such as Celtic Rock. This great tradition is alive and we celebrate it with abandon through Celtic Festival Missoula. The festival takes place July 29 – 30 in Missoula. Past performers include:

  • Celtic Dragon Pipe Band
  • Montana Shamrockers
  • Missoula Irish Dancers
  • The Tossers
  • The Screaming Orphans
  • The Young Dubliners

Festival Amadeuspresented by Glacier Symphony and Chorale, takes place from in early August at venues in the Flathead Valley, tucked between Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake. John Zoltek, Music Director and Conductor of the Festival, has planned another spectacular week of music that will feature highly accomplished guest soloists in three chamber concerts and four orchestra concerts. See the full Festival Amadeus schedule here.

An Ri Ra Montana Irish Festival. The An Rí Rá Montana Irish Festival is a celebration of Irish heritage and its contributions to the people of Butte and the State of Montana. This festival has carved out its place as a world-class event that draws people from Montana, the U.S. and overseas. An Rí Rá is regarded by the world’s best performers as the best Irish festival in North America. August 12 – 14 in Butte, Montana. Performers include:

  • The Elders
  • Gaelfean
  • Makem and Spain
  • See the full list of An Ri Ra performers

The Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop and Festival runs from August 28 – September 5 at Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, Montana. The guitar workshops feature study with some of the world’s greatest guitarists across all genres. In the evening, workshop leaders and students play concerts for the public. Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival Concerts this year include:

  • World Famous LA Guitar Quartet / Blues Prodigy “King” Solomon Hicks
  • Steely Dan’s Jon Herington / Sultry Songstress Madeleine Peyroux
  • Jazz Legend Lee Ritenour / Oscar-winning Composer David Grusin
  • Amazing Finale Extravaganza with Hall and Oates guitarist Shane Theriot and Dweezil Zappa plus surprise guest artists

 

 

So, as you can see, the hills will definitely be alive with the sound of music this summer! Reserve yourself a c

The Great Mountain West in a Campervan – A Refresher Course

By John Stewart

March 10, 2016

 

Hi there, fellow campervanners! Every once in a while we at Campervan North America are reminded that getting out there to experience all that our great mountain west has to offer is not without its pitfalls, challenges and gut-checks. But with a few common-sense nuggets of campervan-style advice, you’ll be in for some smooth, sweet mountain experiences.

 

Considerations for your perusal:

 

Don’t Like the Weather? Wait 5 Minutes.

Montana summer weather varies greatly — prepare for anything! Yes, the winters are cold up here, but, surprisingly, it can get quite warm come summer. Average summer highs are in the high 80s to low 90s, and regular afternoon summer showers are to be expected. So even in the heat, a rain jacket is a great idea. And then, of course, if a cold weather system moves in, we can get summer snows in some of our upper elevations. This may be a good place to add — the higher you go, the colder it gets!

 

Bear Spray

You can’t fly with bear spray but you can purchase it or rent it locally. If you plan to stick to the well-travelled tourist sites, bears usually aren’t an issue. But when it comes to backcountry hiking or camping, bear spray is a must. Bonus advice: Moose can also be aggressive if you cross their path in the wild, don’t hesitate to use bear spray on that charging moose!

 

Cell Reception

Bottom line, don’t rely on cell reception when campervanning through Montana and the great mountain west. Best to have a rough written plan of what you’ll be doing. Paper maps are great, and readily available. And you can always ask locals for advice — you’ll find friendly, helpful locals everywhere! Note: High Country Apps has a great FREE app called “Yellowstone Outdoors.” It’s a guide to outdoor attractions, activities, and services of the Greater Yellowstone Region. No internet connection required. Find it here: http://www.highcountryapps.com/

 

Gear

You want good gear, and you want it with you. Thing is, airlines can charge a lot for that extra luggage. Shipping your gear is an option, but there are costs there too. One customer bought gear from Amazon and had it shipped to us, but then it cost $80 to ship back home when they were done. Not that we’re trying to sell you something, but really, sometimes the best option is to rent gear from us. We love our gear (a bit geeky that way) and are proud of all we offer. And then you just leave it with us when done!

 

Wild Animals Love Selfies – NOT

It seems like this should go without saying, but every year quite a few people get injured in Yellowstone trying to take their picture with the wildlife. While it’s great to be able to get so up close and personal, buffalo, elk, bear and moose simply aren’t hip to the modern marvels of social media. Especially if you get their bad side! Simply put — don’t get too close and have a healthy respect for your photo’s subjects.

 

Tip: For safe, educational encounters, visit the Montana Grizzly Encounter. It’s en route to Yellowstone’s North Entrance: http://www.grizzlyencounter.org/

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone is great too! Just outside the West Entrance: http://www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org/

 

That’s it for now. Let us know what other indispensible outdoors advice you may’ve gotten! Send us a note at reservations@campervannorthamerica.com.

The Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Choose a Campervan Over an RV

We easily could’ve made this “The Top 37 Reasons…” but that would’ve been too long a read. It took us a while, but we narrowed it down to 7 strong reasons why choosing a campervan is the right move. Read on.

 

Reason 1: Fuel Economy

Campervan — around 20mpg or more, depending on the model.

RV — around 8 to 10mpg.

That pretty much says it all, but let me add some supporting evidence. Our campervans use efficient modern engines (often diesel-powered) humming under a nifty, streamlined body designed to slip through the wind. RVs use massive engines powering boxy fiberglass bodies with the drag coefficient of an open umbrella. Two great side benefits to campervan efficiency: plenty of power to pass, even on mountain roads, and the glee you feel when you realize how many gas stations you’re skipping.

 

Reason 2: Handling is Downright Nimble

Like a good turning radius? You’ll love our campervans! They drive, park and handle like a car. Their unibody metal chassis gives you a sense of tight stability, resisting a buffeting wind and sticking the switchbacks. Take all the stress out of maneuvering through your campground or navigating famously curvy National Park roads. Bulky fiberglass RV bodies are subject to sway and yaw and make your knuckles white while driving through that windstorm.

(Tip: Four of our models are compact enough to take on the famous Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park (http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/goingtothesunroad.htm). If you’re in an RV, you’ll miss its breathtaking overlooks and beautiful valleys, because vehicles 21ft. and over are not allowed.)

 

Reason 3: Visibility

Look up, look down, look out, look around. – “It Can Happen” by Yes.

 

Maybe the boys in Yes are campervan drivers! We designed our campervans with maximum visibility in mind. No view-blocking overhangs like you find in many RVs. Those overhangs annoy when you’re going down steep inclines too — they block the beauty of that sprawling valley below. We also designed huge windows along the sides for passenger enjoyment. All of our windows, including the generous ones in the back, add up to a much less stressful driving experience. Better visibility means better safety, too.

 

Reason 4: Size Options

At Campervan North America, we offer exactly the vehicle size you need. From our two-seater, super-comfy car camper Edelweiss, to our new, back-to-basics Bunkhouse model, to our Treasure Chaser, decked out with fridge, sink, stove, hot water and pantry, to our classic Two4theRoad, built on the venerable Mercedes Sprinter chassis, with all the comforts of home, including shower and bathroom, to our family-loving Clanhauler, which is 5 feet longer with generous counter and storage space, you will definitely zero in on just the campervan for you. Get detailed info at http://www.campervannorthamerica.com/campervan-comparison.shtml.

 

Reason 5: Subtlety

Our customers love the fact that they’re not driving a rolling billboard. We aim to minimize the intrusiveness of our logos, so when you rent from Campervan North America, you’ll be driving a clean, understated white van that doesn’t scream “Hey, I’m a tourist!” as you enjoy your journey through the Western U.S.

 

Reason 6: Reliability

Campervan North America’s vans are all purchased brand new and known for their reliability. The interior is built to our specs by Sportsmobile, a highly respected and nationally known campervan conversion company (sportsmobile.com). The fleet is regularly maintained and frequently updated. Rest assured — you’ll always be renting a low-mileage, well-cared-for vehicle.

 

And Reason 7: Customer Service

We love being a small company that offers personalized service and expert recommendations based on your specific adventure. Almost all RV rental companies are huge, impersonal national businesses, incapable of giving you a custom, personalized experience.

Whether it’s recommending the best campsite, a great fishing spot or a can’t-miss hike, our job is to make sure you have a great trip and even better memories. We love seeing your glowing faces and hearing your spirited storytelling when you return from your trip. That’s what keeps us going.

 

Did we miss another great reason why our campervans are so awesome? We’d love to hear from you! Please send us your thoughts at reservations@campervannorthamerica.com.

Winter — A Great Time to Get Out There and Photograph!

“The golden hour.”

You hear photographers speak of it in hushed tones — that special, fleeting time, either early in the morning or just pre-dusk, when the sun’s light rakes across the landscape, magically bringing texture, color and…awesomeness, to the image. I’ve been on several photo shoots where we hurry up and wait — lights, screens, filters and reflectors all in place — and then frantically burst into action when the golden hour strikes.

“The golden day.”

Well, in the Desert Southwest, soft winter light lengthens that golden hour into a golden day. Never getting directly overhead, the winter sun spends hours casting a mellow warmth over turning leaves, snow banks and panoramic landscapes. Portraiture looks great in winter light too, the soft rays enhancing features in flattering ways.

 Low angle, high beauty

You know how the moon’s craters come into sharp relief when you’re looking at a quarter or half moon? But then they all get blown out when it’s a full moon? Same thing with winter photography. The low angle of the winter sun casts wonderful shadows, bringing dimension and texture to those mountain crags or adding satisfying detail to the mama elk grazing in your telephoto lens. Winter shadows can look so dynamic, I often make them the hero of my shot.

A few last tips:

Winter sun in the frame will not ruin your shot. Winter sun is much weaker than summer sun — your camera can handle its direct light.

Look for silhouettes. Low sun means great opportunities for striking, eyecatching silhouettes — be on the lookout for ‘em!

Reflected light. Snow and ice can reflect really nice light onto other surfaces, such as trees or rocky outcrops.

Tiny details. Raking low-angle winter light brings out the finest details in the veins of that leaf, ripples in the river or feathers on that snowy owl.

Now is a great time to take advantage of this wonderful winter light, so grab one of our campervans and get out there! What do you like most about winter photography? Any great shots you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or email us at reservations@campervannorthamerica.com

Cook S’mores on your next Campervan trip!

A S’More is a sweet dessert sandwich traditionally eaten during a camping trip prepared over an open campfire. If it’s your first time hearing about a ‘S’more,’ we recommend you try these easy to make desserts the next time you go on vacation. A S’More is a sandwich of chewy, toasted marshmallows and a milk chocolate bar between two pieces of graham crackers.  While its origins remain a mystery, it now a treat enjoyed by campers all over North America.

Making and eating S’mores with friends and family is a great way to mark the end of a successful day of camping.  It is a gooey, chocolaty sandwich whose name predicts that after your first one you will be left wanting some more or ‘S-More!’  Everyone has their own way of preparing their S’more to their preference but here are the basic ingredients you will need: Graham Crackers, Flat Chocolate Bars, and Whole Marshmallows
The process will vary from person to person and you can argue with your buddies over the best approach but the general steps are to first prepare your ingredients before heating up the marshmallows.

Take a graham cracker and break it in half.  Then, place a square of chocolate (or two, no one is counting) on one half of the broken cracker.  Now, skewer your marshmallows with a long metal wire or stiff stick to hold it over an open fire or lit coals.  Campervan North America LLC can provide you with these marshmallow roaster forks.  Some folks like to warm up their marshmallows so that it’s only hot to the touch while others prefer to get them nice and toasted to a golden brown.  Try to avoid swinging your skewer since this movement could launch your poor marshmallow into the darkness beyond your campfire or worse, onto one of your fellow campers!  It is inevitable that at one point your marshmallow may ignite on fire.  Don’t be alarmed by this since if you are able to just blow out the flames right away since it may end up being the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside.

While we’re on the topic of things catching fire please make sure to follow all of the campground’s rules on where and when you can build a fire.  Just one lit ember can cause massive destruction during any season of the year, especially due to recent droughts in some areas.  Only light fires where it is legal and use existing fire pits.  Always follow campground rules and ensure that your fire is completely put out before checking out of you site. If you still feel some hot spots with the back of your hand, continue to sprinkle water until it is all cool before leaving.

Once your marshmallow is ready, you can add it to the chocolate and graham crackers.  Adding the marshmallow at its hottest will soften the chocolate bar.  Now press down on your cracker sandwich to make sure all of the ingredients become glued together with the marshmallow goo.  Hold it horizontal of press it on a table so that none of your ingredients drop out after all that work!

After you get the basics down you may decide to play around with holding your marshmallow over the fire from different heights and for different lengths of time.  There are also many different varieties of S’mores that can be made by changing or adding ingredients like peanut butter, Reese buttercups, strawberries, and bananas.

Time to enjoy your masterpiece!

Thank you for reading! Happy Camping!

 

 

Destination: Zion National Park

One of the top parks in the country-Zion National Park attracts visitors with its enormous sandstone monoliths, its 3000 ft. red painted cliffs, and its scenic hiking trails. All these natural wonders and hidden gems can be found a mere two and half hours from the Las Vegas strip!

Angels Landing Trail

From a terrain (and safety) standpoint, this trail resembles something you might expect to see in Peru or Nepal but certainly not a US National Park. Carved directly out of solid rock in 1926, this 2.4 mile path leads to the top of Angel Landing and to some of the most breathtaking views in the south west. The only catch is that the hiker/climber will have to endure a series of steep switchbacks and sections that stratle an open cliff face so closely that you have to use a guide chain. Reader beware- this one is not for the faint of heart!

Emerald Pools Trail

The most popular hike in the park for several reasons. For starters- it’s just right across the street from the Zion Lodge. It’s also an “easy” trail with 3 optional loops all fewer than 2 miles. On top of accessibility the trail itself offers stunning views of the river and beautiful “Emerald pools” await the hiker at the end (they are more clear than any other hue).

 

Bit and Spur Restaurant 

Located just outside the park in Springdale Utah, the “Bit and Spur” restaurant offers top Zagat rated cuisine in a charming western setting. It’s a great place to decompress after a long day of hiking.

 

 

 

Mean Bean Coffee Shop

 Also in Springdale is one of the best little breakfast houses you are likely to find anywhere. The “mean bean” offers a wonderful assortment of early morning faire most of which was made from scratch. If that’s not enough, the owners are local experts on things to do in the area making this a great place to start you Zion park adventure!

 

 

 

 

Camping Options

View from Watchmans Campground There are several different campgrounds in Zion National Park.  Some are first come, first serve, whereas others you can reserve a spot ahead of time.  Here is a link for up to date information provided by Zion National Park.  http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/campgrounds-in-zion.htm