When is the best time to visit National Parks in the US?

Yes we have asked this question a time or two. Then we looked at our schedule, and found out that what others think the best time to visit National Parks are. Well, it does not line up with our available times.

Our son asked about going out to see the Grand Canyon. I had never been there, Sonya has passed through once, so we decided that is where the vacation would take us in 2023. We found a time that worked with work schedules and applied for the time off. We started planning.

The list started being compiled from an Atlas, a large book of National Parks, and of course, Google Earth.

We took out Our Travel Planner, blocked off the dates, and started penciling in our intended trip. Our Travel Planner allows us to keep all the information about locations and reservations in one convenient spot.

We packed up our home and hooked it to the truck and started our journey to north Florida to stage for the long drive west. During this slow move time, we made reservations to assure AC for the pup in locations that she was not welcome.

Our list of places to see include Arches, Zion, Petrified Forest, Roswell, and of course, a part of the Grand Canyon. This is a big list to keep track of and knowing the cell phones and cellular internet will be intermittent at best, everything got laid out on a calendar and the reservations and ticking information listed near the times we will use them.

When we set off on this summer adventure, it was before we saw the infographic put out by the National Park Experience. As we are headed west from Florida, and seeing temperatures on the rise from mid 90’s to the low 100’s I really wish I would have seen this sooner.

At the time of this writing, we are 5 stops in, headed west. The real adventure starts soon, and of course, we’ll try to keep some great photos coming for everyone.

Here is the graphic, and the blog it was in is linked below.

Best Times to Visit U.S. National Parks, from thenationalparksexperience.org

Camping & Visiting Flagler Beach

April 11, 2023

Flagler Beach, Florida has become one of our favorite places to visit. In the last year, we have camped there 3 times, and have day tripped there many times before.

We love the old beach town feel of the place. They have been very strict about keeping buildings from growing too tall, they don’t allow building on the beach side, and have many small businesses in the downtown area. The Flagler Beach Historical Museum is right downtown and a great spot to learn the history about the area and people.

As you drive along A1A, you can see the dunes and the Atlantic clearly. They have many pedestrian crosswalks and stairs to the beach, as well as street parking. As you drive, be sure to watch for these.

We have tried a few seafood places, local breweries, coffee shops, and sandwich shops and all have been delicious. My only place I continue to return to is Sally’s Ice Cream Shop on the north end of town–they have so many choices, but the chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick is amazing, and definitely worth a longer walk on the beach.

There are several parks and trails in the area, other than just walking on the beach, and you can see all the different ecosystems that thrive along the coast, and the work to preserve them.

Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park is also there and you can see and learn about an old sugar plantation destroyed during the second Seminole War. There are also many other state and national parks along A1A as you travel north towards St. Augustine. Marineland isn’t too far, if you want a more touristy attraction.

We love camping at Bulow RV Resort, as much for the location as for it being a part of our Thousand Trails membership as an Encore park. While it isn’t fancy, the sites are mostly level and spacious (they are grass sites), and have electric and water, with many also having sewer, but there is a dumpt station at the front entrance. Traffic on the road in can be bad since they share an entrance with a village next to it, and there are no sidewalks, but we haven’t had close calls with our daily runs or walks along it, or just staying within the park. They have a community building that has gatherings, and beverages at night, and the pool and laundry room up front aren’t spectacular, but are well maintained and get the job done.

If you are in the area,

Like or comment below, and share with others to support the blog. I post weekly about teaching, traveling and family. Until next time, you can find me on TikTok & Instagram @barnesonmove2 or follow our adventures at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook & TikTok at @BarnesOnMove

Camping at Salt Springs Recreational Area – Ocala National Forest

December 22, 2022

While Florida may be best known for its beaches and amusement parks, the thousands of springs in the state are a definite popular attraction.

For centuries, people have visited and lived near these fascinating areas for their life giving water. In fact, if you are near springs, you are probably not too far from a burial mound from the indigenous days, and all sorts of artifacts have been found around them. Thousands of springs have been discovered already, and more are still being discovered because of how Florida is structured over the aquifer.

I grew up in Central Florida and have camped at several of these campgrounds, and spent the days enjoying the flowing waters of some, explorations of others, and searching for shells and sharks teeth at others. Each has something different to offer, so it is worth a trip to several. During peak seasons in summer, if you aren’t there early for day use, you may not get in. But dozens have campgrounds attached to them, which allow for use in the day use areas.

This week, our family enjoyed camping at Salt Springs in Ocala National Forest. The campground offers both paved RV camping as well as primitive tent and off-road RV camping. The full hook up campsites are a good size, fitting our 37 foot rig with room for our truck in front on site 24. There’s overflow parking if your RV is larger and the vehicle doesn’t fit entirely in the spot. The sites are paved and mostly level, which is impressive since there are several hills throughout. There’s a picnic table, grill and firepit at the sites, as well as a tall pole and hook, possibly for lights or a lantern. While I am not certain of the pole’s purpose, I can tell you to check carefully before setting up–we had to hook up and move up a few inches when we couldn’t open our outdoor kitchen–a detail we missed since we were focusing on the slides and not the trees.

The area is peaceful, but not entirely silent. It is near a major road with lots of daytime traffic and the sound of families around the campfire in the evening. But most campers are respectful of the quiet hours and settle down if you are an early sleeper.

There’s a camp store with basic supplies a short walk away, and just down the road, within biking distance, is a small grocery, a Dollar General, a laundry mat and pizza shop, as well as the post office, should you need it.

The swimming area is in one section and has a shop with floats, towels and snacks, but isn’t open during the week, or at least wasn’t while we were here this week. There were manatees enjoying the springs while we were here and it was such a treat to see them silently swimming around.

Down another lane near the primitive camping section, there is a boat launch if you bring your boat, kayak or paddleboard. Rentals are also available if you don’t have your own.

There are a few hiking trails through the area, but, unfortunately, they were closed while we were here due to hurricane debris still needing cleared and paths recut. There is also a basketball court, horseshoes, cornhole, and shuffleboard all in the camping area. If you are gathering with a large group, there’s a large covered pavilion next to the basketball courts with picnic tables, grill and firepit.

This campground also offers several dog stations with bags and a disposal can, and we didn’t notice any issues of owners not cleaning up after their pets on our visit.

There are several other springs and things to see and do not too far from here, if you choose to venture away from camp, so there is plenty to do.

If you have work to do, or need to use the internet, we had a good signal and no issue with our Verizon service. Our Dish Network satellite picked up signal without issue, so my guess is Starlink would also work well, although I didn’t see any here while out and about.

If you are looking to stay here, book through recreation.gov and don’t forget to use your membership for a discount, if you have a national parks pass. They do have some first come, first serve spots most of the time (these show as FF on the website), so if you are passing through, you may find a spot. If you are coming with other people but can’t find sites available next to each other, just ask up front if they can help since they sometimes get cancellations and can move you together (but be gracious if they can’t).

There are several Campground Managers here, so if you are looking for a Workcamping spot, definitely check this place out.

Like or comment below, and share with others to support the blog. I post weekly about teaching, traveling and family. Until next time, you can find me on Tiktok @sonya.BOMSquadleader , on Instagram at sonya_barnes_a2t , or our adventures at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook & TikTok at @BarnesOnMove

Our Must Do’s While Traveling

December 7, 2022

Travelers have different approaches to how they plan what they will do on their excursions, however long or short they may be. I used to be a “squeeze it all in” kind of traveler, but found myself both exhausted and broke.

When we set out into the RV life, we heard one of the biggest mistakes was living like you were on vacation and doing the same thing long term, often ending the journey early. We decided we weren’t going to be those people.

We usually try to plan only one or two major things, and we only plan one thing a day. This allows us time to explore and not feel rushed.

But, more importantly, we have a set checklist for every place we go for what we plan to do. Our go-to activities for every stop are:

  • a geocache
  • a local brewery
  • a local restaurant
  • a nature trail, gardens, zoo, or state or national park

With this list in mind, we research online, talk to locals we know in advance or meet on site about what they like to do or recommend. This also saves us money since many of these things can be free or inexpensive with a little research.

We have Zoo passes that get us access to AZA zoos across the country.

In Florida, we have a Bok Tower Gardens membership that has reciprocity with many others as well.

We are working on geocaching in every state. If you don’t know what geocaching is, check it out at geocaching.com and get in on the fun!

We also collect stickers or bar coasters for our wall at every brewery and get to taste so many local flavors. Plus they make a great display on our wall (we do have to put the place and date on them since we are starting to forget where they all were).

We are working on visiting every state park in our home state of Florida, and all the National Parks in the US, although they will take us awhile! We have met some amazing people along the way and discovered things we would never have known about.

What are your go-to’s when traveling? I’d love to hear. Comment below or find me on social media!

Like or comment below, and share with others to support the blog. I post weekly about teaching, traveling and family. Until next time, you can find me on Tiktok @sonya.BOMSquadleader , on Instagram at sonya_barnes_a2t , or our adventures at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook & TikTok at @BarnesOnMove

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