Can Your Rig Be Too Big For Boondocking?

Can Your Rig Be Too Big For Boondocking?

When we get asked, Can a rig be too big for boondocking, we challenge our customers to balance their desire for mobility and freedom against their desire for comfort and luxury. The truth is, bigger isn’t always better, especially when trying to squeeze into secluded and hard-to-reach areas. That mobile mansion might seem like the perfect fit for you when you’re at the dealership lot, but it might not fit so well into those tranquil and remote places you’d hoped to park it. When trying to find the perfect boondocking rig, just remember, you will be rewarded for the sacrifices you make in size with the sweet, sweet solitude of those beautiful back-country hideaways!

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Boondocking Basics

The term boondocking refers to camping in the ‘boonies,’ or rough, remote, and isolated areas. Boondocking is essentially the same as dry camping, meaning there are no water, sewer, or electric hookups. The motivations to boondock are rooted in the desire to escape the crowds, commotion, and noise of the suburban and city landscapes. This inclination to withdraw from commodified communities is often accompanied by a subtle rebellion against the consumer-oriented lifestyles of the house-bound masses. Once you yearn for and experience the serene seclusion of the natural world, the ‘bigger is better’ mentality that reigns supreme in our society begins to fall into perspective.

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smallvs big

Function vs. Luxury

When boondocking, you needn’t worry about impressing neighbors with your ritzy big rig like you might in an RV park. Life off the beaten path is less about luxury and more about a simple love for the great outdoors! Larger RVs are likely to be more comfortable to live in, but they might not give you the level of freedom that drew you to try boondocking in the first place. We’re not saying you need a 4×4 designed with off-road capabilities; it is absolutely possible to boondock in a comfortably-sized RV. We are just stressing the importance of blending the spaciousness of your unit with the limited open space you’ll have surrounding it.

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Maneuverability

The bigger the rig, the more restricted you’ll be when trying to maneuver it in back-country terrain. The most nimble RVs are typically smaller and more compact in size, and you should keep that in mind as you shop around. When contemplating maneuverability, here are some factors to stay conscious of:

Curves & Turns
To access more isolated areas, you’ll frequently encounter twisty and tight-winding roadways that are just not feasible for massive big rigs. You’ll need to have enough ‘swing space’ to clear quick turns, or else a brief bend in the road could become a daunting obstacle to your adventure! And it’s not just the bends and curves that you’ll need to worry about, but the dips and ruts too. A steep descent followed by a sharp incline could result in your bumpers grinding together if you aren’t aware of your rig’s proportions.

Size Clearance
Those charming and picturesque pathways that lead to your quaint little campsite in the countryside might not be as appealing to your RV as they appear to you. Those curling branches framing the pleasant image can claw at your roof. The tree limbs and thick brush can scrape against your RV’s sidewalls while you sit helplessly listening to what sounds like nails across a chalkboard marring your pristine big rig. Along with width and height clearance, you will also want to make sure you have enough ground clearance to pass over large debris and other potential obstacles.

Soil Solidity
Before attempting to park your RV in a boondocking location, whether your rig is small or big, you should get out and test the soil’s firmness. In order to traverse safely and successfully, you’ll want to make sure your route is paved with stable and firm ground. Avoid soft soil and you’ll avoid getting stuck. Ideally, you should try to select a spot on higher ground to avoid washes and reservoir-like puddles from taking over your campsite. While the spot you’re interested in may seem perfect when it’s dry, imagine what it would be like after a day of rainfall. If your RV’s exit route becomes impassable in wet and stormy weather, you could find yourself stranded in the boonies waiting for things to dry up!

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man scouting woods

Scouting Your Spot

Scouting out your campsite is an important and integral part of the boondocking setup process. Before trying to work your RV into a tight spot, mentally imagine how you would maneuver into position. Strategize and develop a plan so that your movements and actions are conscious and calculated. Remember that maneuvering into a spot is only half the battle. The other part that you need to be aware of is how you plan to get back out once you’re ready to leave. Make sure that you have enough space and a means of backing out or turning around. Also, stay aware of the location of your slide outs to ensure that nothing obstructs them from withdrawing once you’re in your final, parked position.

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Benefits of a Boondocking Big Rig

Larger Holding Tanks: Bigger rigs provide more room for dry camping necessities like a large fresh water tank. A larger unit will most likely allow you to sustain yourself longer without hookups.

More Roof Space: Part of living the off-grid boondocking lifestyle is implementing alternative energy sources, such as solar power. Bigger rigs have larger roofs that can more easily accommodate a solar panel system.

Easier Living: There is no denying the luxuries that come with a larger RV. Big rigs offer a level of comfort that a small truck-top style camper just cannot compete with. Decide for yourself what your comfort level is, and narrow down the RV options based on your personal preferences.

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low gas

Consequences of a Boondocking Big Rig

Lower MPG: When you sacrifice space, you almost always save yourself money on the cost of fueling your rig. When you have a colossal-sized RV, your tow vehicle will gulp up gas trying to trek up rugged inclines and steep hills.

Negative Environmental Impact:
With a smaller rig, you reduce your potential impact on mother nature. When you can easily maneuver in and out of your site, you won’t leave unsightly tire tracks or destroy thriving plant life as you would struggling to squeeze your way out.

Less Viable Options:
When your rig gets bigger, your list of accessible camping options gets smaller. Some of the most beautiful spots are the most difficult to access, so if you want a spacious RV, remember that you will be forgoing your freedom to experience a number of secluded and serene camping locations.

So, the answer is yes, your RV can be too big for boondocking. But it’s up to you to decide what is feasible for back-country camping, and what size is simply to bulky for the backwoods. Choose an RV that balances your need for a comfortable living space with your desire to experience the wild in an intimate and isolated way. If you think you might need some help finding a boondock-appropriate RV that meets your need for comfort, give us a call! Our knowledgeable and experienced RV specialists have a wealth of insight, and they would be happy to help you in finding a perfectly sized boondocking RV!

Tips and Tricks for Staying Warm in Older RVs and Cold Weather

 

camper with hat in the mountains during winter

There are plenty of reasons to go RVing in the winter, but whether it’s the sugar-sprinkled scenery or the snow-packed ski slopes that you’re after, the bitter temperatures probably aren’t high up on that list of reasons, especially if you’re traveling in an older RV. Luckily, there are a number of preparations that you can make to help brave the cold comfortably. Try some of these tips and tricks for staying warm in older RVs and cold weather, and enjoy the wonders of winter while still being able to escape the chill when you want to!

Maximize Insulation

Older RVs are not as well insulated as newer models, and over time the R-value of the existing insulation drops. If you want to stay warm in your RV during cold weather, insulation needs to be a priority. Even if you have an efficient heat source, it won’t do you much good if you don’t have a well-insulated unit to trap in that heat.

Curtains & Shades
Keep your curtains and your window shades down in your RV. Doing so will create an extra layer between the window pane and the window covering, which adds an additional chamber to trap in heat and keep out cold. If you don’t have curtains in your unit, consider making some using a thick material. Think of these curtains as a bonus layer of insulation that you can use when needed.

winter camper socks rug

Rugs & Skirting
The floor of your RV can feel frozen in cold weather, especially if your unit is drafty. Putting down rugs can help to better insulate the flooring and keep your feet warmer. You can use an area rug to cover more of your floor or you can cut a sheet of carpet to size and lay that down. Rugs are great because they not only help to protect your flooring, but they can easily be removed in the summer months when you want to keep your unit cool. Skirting the exterior of your RV can also help to insulate the floors better.

Hatch Vent Cushions
Your RV’s hatch vent has very minimal thermal resistance because it consists of little more than a thin piece of plastic. Because heat rises, you can trap in a lot of escaping warmth by insulating these heat-leaking culprits. You can purchase an insulated reflective vent pillow and shove that up into your hatch vent. These products even work great in the summer to keep your unit cool! For a more economical route, you can also cut insulated styrofoam to the size of your hatch dimensions and place it in the vent.

Reflectix Screens

You lose most of the heat in your rig through your windows, so creating an extra buffer by putting up Reflectix will dramatically improve the comfort level of your RV’s interior. This product looks a lot like silver bubble wrap, but it has powerful insulating properties. You can cut these protective shields to the size of your windows and wedge them between the window panes and the window shades. While these will prevent you from being able to look out of your windows, they can easily be removed and put back up when needed.

Reduce Cold Air Infiltration

Now that you know how to trap heat in your unit by maximizing your insulation, your next step will be reducing the amount of cold air that infiltrates your RV and lowers its internal temperature. Cold air can leak into your unit through a number of common locations, so by identifying these areas and sealing them, you can dramatically improve the coziness of your RV.

Door Draft Stopper
You can purchase an insulated draft stopper and slide it beneath the bottom of your entry door to prevent cold air from leaking into your unit. These are relatively cheap products and they work remarkably well in reducing the drafts that come in from under your doors. You should also try to avoid opening your doors as much as possible to reduce the amount of cold air that you let in.

Seal Leaks
Before the cold temperatures have set in, you’ll want to inspect your RV for areas where frigid air can invade your cozy interior. Examine the seals and seams of your unit and if you notice any cracks or tears, these will be problem areas that require repair. Use a rubber coating for the seams in your roof and use silicone caulk to reinforce the weakened seals along the sides of your RV. If the wearing is extensive, you may just want to replace the rubber seals and gaskets around your windows, doors, and slides.

man caulking camper window for winter

Shrink Wrap Your Door
By shrink wrapping your screen door, you will be able to open up the outer door and let the sunshine pour in while keeping the cold air out. To do so, clean your door off with alcohol and let it dry. Then, use double-sided tape to outline the door and firmly press the plastic onto it. Cut off the excess plastic with a razor blade or utility knife. Your last step will be to wave a heated hair dryer over the plastic to make it taut. Once you’ve finished shrink wrapping your door, you will be able to feel the warmth of the sunshine without feeling the bitter chill of the wind!

Artificial Heat

With a well-insulated RV that can’t be easily penetrated by the cold, you’ll still need a source of heat to keep your interior feeling toasty. While newer models frequently include quality furnaces and electric fireplaces, older models may be without an efficient source of warmth, which is a problem if you want to RV year round. Consider some of the options below to help heat up your home on wheels this winter!

Space Heater
While a space heater won’t do you much good if you’re dry camping, these handy little heaters are a good second level of defense against the bitter cold. Ceramic space heaters are ideal if you’re staying in a campground that doesn’t meter your electricity or one that factors unlimited power into the camping fee. Ceramic space heaters also have a better safety record than most other heaters. Your RV’s existing furnace is likely to consume more LP gas than any other appliance in your rig, so using a space heater can be a smart supplemental source of heat. You can even find them in compact designs that won’t take up much space within your RV.

Vent-Free Propane Heaters
A propane heater is great if you are looking to dry camp, or boondock, in cold weather. And most models work off of electricity or propane, so they are extremely versatile and convenient to have. Portable, vent-free options are also available to eliminate the need for a complex install. The main downside to these heaters is that they add extra condensation to the inside of your rig.

Heated Blankets & Mattress Pads

If you have an electric blanket and a heated mattress pad, you might just find yourself spending the entire winter hibernating in bed! Electric blankets are great because they can be used during the night in bed or while warming up in the living area during the day. Heated mattress pads can create an oven effect while you sleep by trapping in the rising heat between the bed and the blankets. This cocoon of warmth that is created makes for one pleasant night’s rest!

little girl sleeping with teddy bear and electric blanket

Dealing With Condensation

With your RV sealed tightly to keep warm air in, you might notice increased condensation forming as a result. This buildup of moisture can lead to mildew or mold issues, so it is important that you try to reduce the amount of condensation in your rig as much as possible. A small dehumidifier can aid you in this process. You can also use super-absorbent towels to wipe up the wetness from your window panes. Whenever you are taking a shower, keep the vents open, and whenever you are cooking, use the range hood overhead. Taking a few precautionary steps can really help to limit the amount of moisture buildup in your rig.

condensation on camper window in the winter

Positioning Your RV

The way you orient your RV can have a significant impact on the internal temperature of your rig. Try to position your RV so that the wind hits the rear of the unit, rather than the side. When parking your RV to setup camp, seek out windbreaks if there are any. These can be found in the form of a tall fence or a row of trees. Lastly, always try to orient your RV so that the sunlight hits the largest of your windows for most of the day.

By trying out some of these tips and tricks for staying warm in older RVs and cold weather, you will be able to enjoy the positive aspects of winter without having to put up with being uncomfortably cold in the process. If you’re a year-round RVer, how do you stay warm in your rig during the winter months? Let us know in the comments below and share your warmth-related wisdom with the world!

Leveling your RV Easily

Toy RV Leveler

There are a number of reasons to make sure that your RV is properly leveled. A leveled RV is more stable and less likely to rock and sway in the wind, making it a safer home away from home for you and your family. A leveled RV also helps to ensure that everything inside of it works properly. If your RV is not leveled correctly, you may find that your refrigerator door won’t close easily or may open unexpectedly. For comfort when sitting or sleeping inside the RV, you’ll appreciate the time you took to level it properly. Sitting on an angle or feeling like you’re going to roll out of bed isn’t anyone’s idea of comfortable accommodations. Leveling your RV isn’t difficult, and with these tips, you’ll be leveling your RV easily in no time.

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Man Leveling RV

What You Need

Some RVs are equipped with a self-leveling system to make leveling your RV a snap! With the push of a button you’re level and ready to go. If your RV isn’t equipped with a self-leveling system, no worries. You’ll just need a few tools to get the job done. The first thing you need is a bubble level that will indicate which end of your RV is too high or too low. You will also need leveling blocks. You can purchase leveling blocks specific for RV use. Or you can buy some 2×10 boards and use them as leveling blocks. 

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Level on RV

How to Level the RV

Your RV needs to be leveled in two ways: right to left and front to back.

You want to start with right to left first.

  1. Once you have your RV parked in your spot, place the bubble level on the floor inside the RV. This will show you which side needs to be raised up.
  2. Outside the RV, make a mark in the dirt behind the tire that needs to be raised up.
  3. Pull the RV forward and place your leveling blocks in front of the line you made. Back the RV into place so the tire is on top of the leveling blocks.
  4. Check the level again and repeat steps 2 and 3 until the bubble is in the center of the level. Stack up more leveling blocks if you need more height.

Leveling front to back is easy.

  1. Bring your jacks down far enough so that you can unhitch your vehicle and pull it forward.
  2. Once you have the vehicle unhitched, go inside and set up your bubble level to see which end needs to go up.
  3. Using your jacks, raise the end of the trailer that needs to be brought up. Check your level for accuracy. Continue this until the bubble is in the center of the level.

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Always take time to read your RV owner’s manual so that you know how to properly use your jacks and any other systems your RV is equipped with. Even if your RV has a self-leveling system, acquaint yourself with how to deploy things manually in the event that you don’t have power or something goes wrong with the system. Having a level RV will make your time in the great outdoors so much easier and more comfortable. Don’t camp on a slant … learn how to level your RV easily with our quick tips.  

Campfire Popcorn

Campfire Popcorn

Forget about movie theater popcorn and treat yourself to campfire popcorn! After all, where could be a better place to enjoy that warm, buttery taste than in the beauty and fresh air of the great outdoors? So, on your next camping trip, don’t forget to pack the popcorn for an easy and fun snack that everybody will eat right up!

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What You’ll Need

  • Popcornpopcorn kernels
  • Vegetable OilVegitable oil
  • Butterbutter
  • Saltsalt
  • Tin Foiltin foil

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How To Make

  1. Make a rectangular piece of tinfoil and place a large handful of popcorn on top of it.
  2. Add a couple tablespoons of oil onto the popcorn.
  3. Fold your tinfoil in half and crimp the sides together creating a pouch that seals your popcorn and oil inside.
  4. Attach a long stick to your tinfoil pouch to dangle it above your campfire. When cooking over a campfire, coals often work more effectively than a strong blaze.
  5. Listen for the sound of the kernels starting to pop. Once you no longer hear any more popping from inside your foil pouch, remove it from the heat.
  6. Open your pouch (Caution: it will be hot!) and season your freshly popped popcorn with butter and salt to your preference.
  7. After your popcorn has cooled off enough, dig in!

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For more fun foods with uncommon cooking methods, check out this recipe for tin can bread! And for a scrumptious and simple morning meal on your next camping trip, try these amazing make-ahead banana pancakes!

Campfire Safety

Campfire SafetyOne of the most popular camping activities is building a campfire. Nothing compares to the hours spent socializing around it and cooking your favorite camping meals on it. A camping trip just isn’t the same without the smell and crackle of a campfire. While enjoying the warm glow and mesmerizing flames of your campfire, you have to keep fire safety in mind. On average there are 79 thousand wildfires in the US per year and many are caused by irresponsible campers who don’t build or attend to their fire properly. Wildlife, wind, and many other factors can spread the fire quickly and it can get out of hand very fast. Don’t take any chances that your fire will cause one of these hard-to-handle wildfires and make sure to take care of it every step of the way.

Picking your Campfire SpotPicking Your Spot

Before you can build your fire, you have to find a spot and get it ready. It is important to evaluate the area and be aware of any fire restrictions that may be in place. There are some areas that get so dry that no matter how many safety measures you follow, campfires are still risky. In 2015, California experienced 6,337 wildfires that burned 307,598 acres and claimed the lives of 9 people due to dry land! If you are in an area that appears to be very dry, don’t make a fire. You don’t want to be responsible for starting a wildfire that rages out of control. If the campsite has an existing fire ring or pit, use it. Don’t make your own when there is already the perfect spot for it. If there isn’t an established fire pit, make your own. Make sure your fire pit is at least 15 feet away from your tent or RV, foliage, or any other flammable things. Look up and ensure there aren’t any low branches that could catch on fire.


Prepping your FirepitPrepping the Pit

If you are creating your own pit, you’ll want to dig down about a foot to make sure that everything will stay contained in the pit. Make the spot about 10 feet across and clear out any debris that may be there including twigs, sticks, and leaves. Now you want to go out rock hunting to collect rocks that will encircle your fire pit. Fill a bucket with water and set it near your campfire in case of an emergency. Also, stack your firewood upwind from your fire pit so that a strong breeze will not blow your fire into your stack of firewood.


Building a CampfireBuilding the Fire

Building a campfire requires three types of wood: tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. You’ll want to light your tinder first. This is generally a mixture of dry leaves and grass, twigs, and other small, flammable stuff. Once your tinder is lit, you’ll want to begin adding your kindling. Kindling is sticks about as big around as your thumb. Once your kindling is burning, you can add your fuel wood, which is larger sticks and logs. As you build, make sure that your fire is a reasonable height. While it may be tempting to make the flames soar as high as they can, this is very dangerous and hard to control and should never be attempted. Only make it large enough to do the job of keeping you warm and cooking your campfire meals. There are other types of campfires you can make as well, such as a Log Cabin Fire.


Put out your CampfirePutting the Fire Out

Do not leave a fire unattended, even for a minute. It only takes a second for a rogue ember to blow into the wrong area and start a hard-to-control fire. Once you are done with your fire, put it out completely. Don’t leave anything smoldering because a swift breeze can come through and reignite the entire fire. Pour your bucket of water on the fire and then use a large stick to mix what’s in the fire pit to ensure that everything gets wet. Use a shovel to scoop dirt on top of the fire to help smother anything that may still be burning. If you don’t have water on hand, you can use dirt to put it out. If your fire is on the beach or in a sandy area, don’t just cover it with sand. Sand is light and allows air to flow through it and the fire won’t be completely extinguished. Someone could potentially step on it or a breeze could reignite it.

Humans are the number one cause of wildfires that destroy our land and wildlife. Many times wildfires are started carelessly by unattended campfires, burning things that should not be burned, and cigarettes that are discarded onto dry land. By following the campfire safety tips above, you’re doing your part to keep our land and wildlife safe.

Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Make Your Own Hula HoopHula-hooping has come a long way, especially in recent years with more and more adults joining in on the fun! Hula-hooping improves your balance, flexibility, and coordination, all while strengthening your core muscles. Hula hoops are simple to construct and they are thin enough to store easily, which makes hula-hooping a perfect on-the-go RVing activity. So whether you’re hula-hooping for fun or for fitness, make your own hula-hoop and discover an enjoyable way to get everyone active on the road!

Homemade Hula Hoop MaterialsWhat You’ll Need

  • Irrigation Tubing (coils can be found at most hardware stores, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot)
  • PVC Tube Coupling/Connector (make sure you get the same size as your tubing)
  • Tape Measure
  • Pipe Cutters or Hacksaw
  • A Pot of Boiling Water

Determining Your Measurements

To figure out what length to cut your tubing, you’ll need to figure out the circumference that your hula-hoop needs to be. To do so, take your tape measure and measure the distance from your feet to your chest. This number is your diameter. To determine the circumference, multiply your diameter by pi (3.14). The average circumference for an adult hula hoop is 126”, while the average for a child’s hula hoop is 88”.

Cutting Your Tubing

Now that you know the circumference that your hula hoop needs to be, you are ready to cut your piping to length. Use your tape measure and mark off where to make your cut. Then, take your pipe cutters or hacksaw and get to work! It may take some time, so be careful and don’t rush. If needed, sand down any sharp ridges that are left after you’ve completed your cut.

Assembling Your Hoop

Insert one end of your tubing into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds to soften the PVC. Once heated, you’ll need to work quickly because the second you remove the tubing it will start to cool down and become less pliable. Remove from the boiling water and insert the softened end of the tubing into your PVC connector. It should be a snug fit so you may have to push them together with some force. Then, repeat the process by dipping the other end of the tube into the boiling water and securing it into the other end of the connector. As your tubing cools, the seal will strengthen and your hula hoop will be ready for action!

Hula Hooping ExerciseWeights & Sound Makers

If your intentions are to hula hoop as an exercise activity, putting “weights” into the hula hoop can increase the difficulty and give you a more challenging workout. If you are making a child’s hula hoop, sound makers can add a fun and enjoyable element too! Weights and sound makers can be created with a variety of materials, such as small beans, corn kernels, sand, rice, and even water. If you want to add these to your homemade hula hoop, put them into your tubing before sealing the final end of your tubing to the connector.

Decorated Hula HoopDecorating Your Hula Hoop

Give your homemade hula hoop some flare! Unless you’re okay with a plain ol’ hoop, pick up some funky colored tape or glitter tape and get creative with your new hula hoop. Electric tape, gaffers tape, or hockey tape works best as it provides you with grip. You can also use some paints and markers to decorate your hula hoop.

For another fun creation to make for your RV adventures, check out these awesome marshmallow shooters!

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Snaking through the rolling hills of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a 7.4 mile stretch of roadway known as the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Constructed to showcase the awe-inspiring beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline, this self-guided auto tour stops along twelve points of interest ranging from overlooks to educational stations. Cruise down the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and experience the indescribable wonder of Northern Michigan as you never have before!


Light House Lake Michigan

History

It all started with an idea to make the rugged and natural beauty of the rolling dunes accessible, so that it could be shared and enjoyed by the masses. The idea was the brainchild of a seasoned lumberjack named Pierce Stocking, who after working in the woods throughout his youth developed a profound appreciation for the natural world. With his experience building roads on rugged terrain, he began making plans to create the roadway in the early 1960s. The road was completed and opened to the public in 1967 under the title Sleeping Bear Dunes Park. Stocking continued to operate the Scenic Drive until his death in 1976. At that point, the road was purchased by the National Park Service, and based on popular public opinion, the road was later renamed the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive after its dedicated creator.


View Sleeping Bear Dunes Lake Michigan

Planning Your Trip

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive entrance is off M-109, just south of Glen Lake, and three miles north of Empire, MI. The drive is closed from November 14th until mid-April, depending on the weather and level of snow melt. Interpretive markers along the roadway refer to a guide so be sure to pick one up at either the visitor’s center in Empire or at the Drive’s entrance. Though the guide is free of charge, there is a small park pass fee to enter. The speed limit along the Scenic Drive is 20 mph for the safety of other drivers, bicyclists, and hikers.


Bridge Road Sleeping Bear Dunes

What to Expect

You’ll struggle to find the right words to describe the natural beauty that is highlighted along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The breathtaking vistas, picturesque overlooks, and winding roads will leave you stunned and amazed. Stop along these twelve points of interest to get the full experience of this scenic, self-guided route.

Covered Bridge: This lovely element was one detail that Stocking wanted to include during the creation of the roadway. Unfortunately, much of the original bridge was largely consumed by porcupines, but repairs have been made to ensure that this feature still stands, giving visitors a beautiful photo opportunity as they make their way along the route.

Glen Lake Overlook: Two miles in to the Scenic Drive you’ll come to the first overlook, which provides gorgeous views of the landscape and the bright blue waters of Glen Lake. Framed in the trees is also Alligator Hill, named after its distinguishable shape.

Dune Overlook: Just before you reach this picturesque vista you can stop at Picnic Mountain to stretch your legs and grab a snack. Once you do reach this vantage point, you can catch panoramic views of the North and South Manitou Islands, as well as Pyramid Point and Sleeping Bear Bay.

Cottonwood Trail: This trailhead leads you on a 1.5-mile walk that will give you a closer look at the unique dune environment. Discover the vegetation and wind formations that make up the natural wonder of the Lake Michigan landscape.

Dune Ecology: Stop at this educational station and learn more about the plants and vegetation of the dunes, and how they survive in the challenging conditions of Lake Michigan sand, sun, and strong winds.

Leaving the Sand Dune: This educational station is less than 3 miles into the Scenic Drive. It is at this point that you will notice the landscape drastically shifts as you head away from the dunes and into the neighboring beech-maple forest.

Beech-Maple Forest: Cruise through the lush forests bursting with sugar maples, American Beech, black cherry, and hemlock trees. If your timing is right, you might even see some wildlife scampering through.

Changes Over Time: Pull over at this educational station and take a look back in time through the bleak beginnings of the landscape during post-glacial times and in to the present conditions of the now productive and thriving forests.

Lake Michigan Overlook: For a one-of-a-kind view of the shoreline, be sure to stop at this bluff perched 450 feet above lake Michigan. Witness awe-inspiring views across the vast blue expanse, and during clear days see Platte Bay nearly 9 miles away.

Sleeping Bear Dune Overlook: Though the dune has lost its uncanny resemblance to a sleeping bear, it still exists as a fascinating spectacle that tells the story of the evolving landscape. Observe ghost forests and sand accumulations at this ever-changing bluff.

North Bar Overlook:
Take in the glorious vistas overlooking North Bar Lake, Empire Bluffs, and Empire Bay. This vantage point is ideal for catching some of the most colorful sunsets Michigan has to offer. In the summer, this overlook is a popular swimming area.

Pine Plantation: The last stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive takes you to this educational station where you can learn about Michigan’s important role in the logging and farming industries. Then, follow an old logging road back to the starting point of the tour.


Campground on Lake

Where To Stay

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is nestled between a lot of great camping options due to the popularity of Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you are staying in the area and are eager for more Michigan scenery after completing the self-guided tour, the Traverse City State Park is less than an hour away.

Platte River Campground:
This campground boasts modern restrooms and conveniently accepts reservations during the busier months. With electric hookup sites for RVs and a close proximity to the Scenic Drive, this makes a great hub when visiting the Sleeping Bear area.

D.H. Day Campground: This beautifully wooded campground is ideal for avid dry campers, as it is more of a rustic camping environment. It boasts quick access to the beach, but does not have electric hookups or showers.

Indigo Bluffs Resort: For a more luxurious camping experience, check out this quaint RV resort located near the Scenic Drive. This campground boasts a heated pool, a playground, and an exercise area for pets.

If your next big adventure takes you to Northern Michigan, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is an attraction you are not going to want to miss. In fact, in 2011 Good Morning America voted Pierce Stocking Drive and Sleeping Bear Dunes as the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” Having earned a title like that by popular vote, all you have to do is talk with someone who has made the 7.4-mile drive to know that this is a must-see destination!

RV Security

RV SecurityThese days, most of us are concerned about our safety, and for good reason. Crime is on the rise in major US cities, largely due to poverty, lack of education, and drug use. Luckily, RVing has you escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city and retreating to a more relaxed, peaceful setting for your getaway. While crime isn’t as commonplace in campgrounds, you can’t ignore the possibility of bad guys lurking somewhere nearby. The good news is that there are some things you can do to ensure that you and your items stay safe when you go RVing. Check out these RV security tips to help keep yourself and your belongings safe and sound.


Things to Do on Your Own

DIY Security Security doesn’t have to be high tech and expensive. Sometimes just playing it smart and taking some basic measures can help keep you safe. You may already be doing some of these without even realizing it.

Parking
When you get to your campsite, you probably back your rig in and get it set up so that it’s nice and easy to hitch up and get out when you’re ready to go. Keep in mind that if it’s nice and easy for you to hitch up, it’s nice and easy for someone else to do the same. It’s pretty rare that someone will steal a whole camper, but you don’t want to find out you’re one of the unlucky ones. The farther away from the standard access you can get your hitch, the harder it will be for someone to pull off with it while you’re out exploring. While this may not always be a possibility, especially with pull-through sites, keep it in mind. Even if your RV just looks hard to get at, it might deter would-be thieves. You can also block access to your hitch by parking and locking your vehicle in front of it.

Locks
You probably lock your RV’s doors when you head out for a day of adventure, but do you do the same when you just run to the bathroom or the showers? If not, you should! It doesn’t take long for someone to sneak in and run out with some of your items. A locked door would keep unwanted visitors out.

Protecting Valuables
The best way to protect your valuables is to leave them at home. However, sometimes this isn’t a possibility as there may be things you need to have with you. If you have valuable items in your RV, such as jewelry or money, put them out of sight. Pull the shades when you leave for an extended period of time so no one can see what kinds of TVs or entertainment systems you may have. For an added measure of safety, invest in a safe for your smaller items of value. This way, if someone does make it into your RV, they won’t have access to the valuables inside the safe.

Take Advantage of the Campground
Most campgrounds have rangers and security. Check in with campgrounds and see what type of patrol they do or how close your site will be to the ranger station. If you’re trying to decide between a couple of campgrounds and one offers an hourly patrol and the other just has officers on call, choose the one with the hourly patrol for routine security checks. Get to know the campers at surrounding sites as well. Introduce yourself so that neighbors know who’s in your traveling party. Since campgrounds are busy, people don’t always pay attention to who belongs where. But if you make it a point to say hi and introduce yourselves, neighboring campers are much more likely to notice if someone doesn’t belong.

Boondocking
Never boondock alone! Both you and your possessions are at risk if you boondock alone. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, there’s no one around to notice if something is wrong. You also don’t want to go too far off the beaten path. Make sure that emergency vehicles can find you and that you’re not so far out that no one would hear a cry for help. Try to ensure you either have cell service or another way to make contact in case of an emergency. Lastly, if you are out boondocking and someone comes to your door, don’t open it until you know who it is and what they want, especially in the middle of the night. It may just be a fellow camper with a site near you, but it may also be someone looking to cause you harm.


Security Systems

Security SystemsSecurity systems are quickly becoming the thing of the future for RVers. Since there are many different types available, you will want to do you research before buying. We’ve looked into a few of these systems for you and highlighted them here.

Fortress Total Security System
Fortress Total Security System makes a lot of different alarm systems for the home and other assets. Their basic package is wireless and comes with a security panel, 2 contact sensors for doors, a motion detector, 2 remote fobs, and 2 RFDI key tags. This system is easy to use and set up and will help to protect your RV from intruders. Add on to the basic package to include extra door/window sensors, more motion sensors, additional remote fobs and RFID tags, a panic button, siren, additional keypads, and glass break sensors. If they don’t have the exact package you’re looking for, you can simply build your own system that comes with everything you want!

iSmartAlarm
The iSmartAlarm system is another great security system for your RV. The basic “Preferred Package” comes with the control cube, 2 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags, and window stickers. You can step it up to the deluxe package which has 2 extra contact sensors or the premium package that also includes a camera. If you don’t see what works for you, you can add on items to custom build your very own security system.

RelianceControls
For a less-expensive option, Reliance Controls offers the THP212 The Home Protectors system. It is a motion sensor with a remote that uses infrared technology to detect movement. You can even set it up as just a door chime if you want to. While this one is not as reliable, the cost is considerably less than the other ones.

It is important to be aware of your surroundings and always be on the lookout for possible threats when in an unfamiliar place. Consider trying some of the RV security tips above or investing in an RV alarm system to keep you and your possessions safe. Remember, while threats are very rare in the camping community, it’s always good to be prepared.

Campfire Bacon

Bacon-Banner

Nothing rouses groggy campers from their beds quite like the succulent smell of sizzling campfire bacon. To make the most of your mornings in the great outdoors, check out these different methods for making delicious campfire bacon!


Skewed-Bacon-Fire

Skewered

We cook marshmallows on sticks, so why not bacon? To cook bacon using this method, simply weave strips of uncooked bacon onto a skewer, leaving a small gap between weaves and a few inches empty on each end of the skewer. Put your skewered bacon over the flames and rotate it periodically until crispy. Because the bacon grease will just fall from the skewer into the fire rather than collect, this method is a healthier option … if that’s even possible when we’re talking about bacon.


Bacon Skillet Campefire

Skillet Cooked

Making bacon in an iron skillet is the most conventional method because it is simple and effective. To cook using this method, put your pan over the flames for a few minutes to heat up. Once hot, add your bacon strips, turning them occasionally. Once crispy, remove them from the heat. To avoid being left with half-cooked bacon, consider constructing a longer-lasting log cabin campfire to ensure that you get the job done.


Cave-Man-Style-Bacon

Cave-Man Style

If you’re the type who likes to camp with nothing but the bare essentials, then the cave-man style campfire bacon is for you! To cook using this method, find a relatively flat-surfaced rock that’s not too thick or heavy. Clean it off with a little bit of water and position it up against the fire. Drop some water on your rock and when you hear the water sizzle, you’re ready to lay your bacon strips down. Let them cook until they’re crispy and remove them from your all-natural cooking surface.


Brown-Paper-Bag

Paper Bag Baked

Believe it or not, you can cook bacon over a campfire using just a paper bag. To attempt this interesting method, wait for the fire to begin dying out and then form a layer of bacon at the bottom of a paper bag. Then fold the bag closed and poke a sharp stick through the fold to keep it secure. Using your stick, dangle the bag over the hot coals, being careful not to let the paper bag combust. After about ten minutes your bacon should be done. If you want crispier strips, drape the bacon on your stick and hold it over the coals a bit longer.


Bay-Leaves

Smoke Infused

Adding herbs and different types of wood to your fire gives off flavorful smoke that can enhance the taste of your campfire cuisines. Add some alder for a sweet flavor or spice up your food with some bay leaves. Click here to learn about some of these uncommon campfire cooking tips and discover how you can take your campfire bacon to the next level!

Pair your tasty bacon with some flame-cooked scalloped potatoes for a delicious campfire-cooked meal that the whole family will love!

Chalk Board Paint Your RV Fridge

Chalk Paint Your RV FridgeLooking for an inexpensive, easy, and creative way to add some flair to your RV’s interior? Chalk paint is a fun solution for a dramatic DIY upgrade that can completely transform the look of your RV. Revamp your plain, cookie-cutter RV refrigerator into a one-of-a-kind interactive grocery list, doodle pad, and message board. Read on to learn how to chalk board paint your RV fridge.

Supplies

Materials for Chalk PaintingChalk Paint (you can find chalk paint at your local craft store or home improvement store)
Sponge Roller
Paint Tray
Painter’s Tape
Chalk

How To

  1. Once you have your supplies, your first step is to tape off the parts of your fridge that you don’t want painted with your blue painter’s tape. Ensure that you have a tight seal or you’ll risk paint leaking in under the tape.
  2. Wipe the surface of your fridge to clean off any dust and dirt. Shake and stir your paint.
  3. Now you’re ready to paint. It is recommended that you put down a drop cloth before painting in case of spills to avoid stains or damage to your RV’s interior. After your first coat is done, let it dry.
  4. One coat will likely not be enough. Typically, three coats does the job. Make sure to let each layer dry before applying your next coat.
  5. After you’re done painting, let it cure for around 48 hours.
  6. All that’s left to do now is grab your chalk and get artsy on your new RV fridge!

A few coats of chalk paint can give your kitchen a unique and creative feel that will make your RV stand out from the rest. Even after you chalk paint your RV fridge, it should still retain its magnetic properties, making it a fun and useful multi-purpose surface. Whether you are looking to cover imperfections, spice up the look of your RV, or get your hands dirty with a fun DIY project, chalk paint is a simple and fun solution.