Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Austin Adventures makes visiting National Parks a better experience

Editor's note: Enjoy this guest post from Austin Adventures.

The National Park Service reports that 2015 is on its way to besting the 2014 record for park visitation.

But with parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon and Death Valley each covering more than 1,500 square miles, how do time-stressed people at the 11th hour begin to figure out where in a park they want to be?

Last minute planning can also present issues when trying to find accommodations a month or two out. This is especially true in the national parks where for preservation purposes, lodging is limited to a handful of strategically located properties.

That’s when it pays off to call an experienced, well-connected tour operator like Billings, MT-based Austin Adventures, a veteran of 40+ years in America’s national parks.

“Demand for our national park vacations has never been greater,” says Dan Austin, President and Founder of Austin Adventures ( “We sell trips to all seven continents, but in April alone, 71 percent of our bookings were for national park vacations.” 

He attributed the high interest in the parks this spring to such marketing initiatives as April’s National Park Week and the ongoing Find Your Park campaign celebrating the upcoming NPS centennial.

Fortunately for Austin Adventures, its parent company is Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the country’s largest operator of park-based hotels and resorts. Xanterra manages the in-park lodging for some of the most popular parks including Yellowstone, Glacier, Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Crater Lake National Parks. Austin Adventures offers guided, all-inclusive, group family and adult vacations to these destinations. Its experienced adventure travel consultants can also arrange custom and exclusive national park packages for private groups and individuals.

“One of the perks of being owned by Xanterra is being able to provide our guests with the absolute best rooms and dining experiences in our favorite national parks. But to some degree, this new, behind-the-scenes access and insider information isn’t that new to us. We’ve been leading trips in national parks like Yellowstone since 1974, so we have decades of experience and establishing important park relationships behind us,” says Austin.

Voted Travel+Leisure’s World’s Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter in 2012, Austin Adventures is well-known in the travel industry for its exceptional guides and carefully curated itineraries that offer maximum value—especially when it comes to national park vacations, its forte. Throughout their vacation, guests are treated to “WOW” factors like their guides surprising them with ice cream sundaes on a summit in Zion, red carpet (literally) VIP treatment when it comes to transportation and hikes to secret vantage points for stunning aerial-like photo opportunities of the same sights that the crowds below are waiting in line to see.

Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Yellowstone National Park Lodges has seen the Austin Adventures magic at work. “Our Yellowstone staff can always spot Austin Adventures guests as they are typically smiling and obviously part of an engaged group that has developed great camaraderie. Now that Austin Adventures has joined the Xanterra family, it is even clearer to us why those guests are so happy. The Austin Adventures guides are wonderful to work with and are always focused on taking care of their guests’ needs.”

The company’s unparalleled attention to detail from that first phone call to the final drop-off at the airport and its guides’ uncanny ability to be considered “extended family” by guests is what led one guest to coin the company’s tagline, “The Toughest Part is Going Home.” 
  • “Our guides did everything from waking up early with a few guests to watch a sunrise over the Tetons to organizing fun family games like the ‘Oreo Cookie Race.’” – The Hall Family –Yellowstone/Teton National Park Adventure – Berlin, NJ 
  • “Austin Adventures planned everything to a ‘T.’ I could NEVER have planned and executed this trip on my own. There were so many extra touches.” – Cathy Garrett – Yosemite National Park – Baltimore, MD 
For travelers who are still looking to take a national park trip in June or July, Austin Adventures has blocks of in-park rooms reserved and is happy to help accommodate those looking for a first-rate national park vacation during peak travel season. Last minute space is available on a number of popular packages including the following:

Yellowstone Family Adventure: This all-inclusive 6-day vacation to the world’s first national park features backcountry family-friendly hikes, horseback riding with 4th generation cowboys and an exciting rafting trip down the scenic Yellowstone River. Guests spend four of their five nights in the park at historic park accommodations including Old Faithful Inn, Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins. From $2,298/adult and $1,838/child.

Grand Canyon Family Adventure: Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of riding the Grand Canyon Railway, seeing the bears at Bearizona, hiking around Montezuma Castle and taking a refreshing “dip and slip” on this 6-day vacation. Other trip highlights include biking part of a scenic rails-to-trails system and enjoying gourmet barbeque in a private dining room with views overlooking the canyon. Accommodations include Grand Canyon National Park Lodges like Kachina Lodge and Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. From $2,698/adult and $2,158/child. 

Crater Lake Adult Adventure: Bike down a highway of waterfalls and along the rim of an ancient volcano on this 6-day vacation that visits the deepest lake in the U.S. Hike to the highest point in Crater Lake National Park, raft Oregon’s Rogue River and sit under the stars and catch some classic theater at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Guests spend two nights in lakeside rooms at Crater Lake Lodge which is celebrating its centennial in 2015. From $2,598/adult.

Austin Adventures vacations are all-inclusive and more details including departure dates and trip prices are available in the Austin Adventures adventure vacation catalogs and on its new website, Both scheduled group departures and custom trips can be booked by calling (800) 575-1540 or emailing

About Austin Adventures
Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2014, Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations, was named the World’s Top Family Guide by Outside Magazine. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts portfolio of experiential leisure offerings. Xanterra Parks & Resorts has operations in the Grand Canyon, including Grand Canyon Railway and The Grand Hotel; Yellowstone; Zion; Crater Lake; Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Windstar Cruises, and VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Camco RV product videos: Tongue Jack Stand, Eaz-Lift's Grease Gun & Tote Tank Sewer Hose Kit

Monday, May 25, 2015

Guest Post: 25 Uses for Duct Tape on Your Next Camping Trip

Editor's note: "25 Uses for Duct Tape on Your Next Camping Trip" is a guest post from Read the original article here.

If it’s good enough for wars and space travel, it’s good enough for all sorts of hacks for your next camping trip. When times are rough, here are some ways duct tape may help get you out of the woods.


After a long day outside, there is nothing worse than getting to a campsite and realizing something is wrong with the night’s cover. Here are some ways duct tape may be able to step in to help you get a good night’s sleep.
  • Mend a fabric tear: Tear off a piece of duct tape long enough to cover the rip in the tent. Adhere the tape on both the outside and inside of the tent. This should help keep water, dirt, and bugs out of your shelter.
  • Fix a broken zipper: Rather than let the tent door flap in the wind and let in the chill, apply a strip of duct tape along the break in the zipper.
  • Remedy a broken pole: If a pole snaps in half, put it back together by wrapping duct tape around the two parts. For a sturdier fix, tape a stick alongside the broken pole for reinforcement.
  • Fashion guylines: Guylines protect tents from rough winds by increasing stability. If the air is howling and your tent isn’t equipped with guylines (or they’re too tangled to use), fashion some out of duct tape. Make the cord by twisting several lengths of duct tape together. Tie and/or stick the cord to the sides of the tent, and then tie the other ends to rocks or trees, keeping the guylines taught.
  • Whip up an unplanned bivvy: No tent? No problem! With some duct tape and a couple of trash bags (which can also serve plenty of survival/camping purposes) you’ll be able to build a tent in no time. First, run a cord (a duct tape one, if needed – see guyline instructions) between two trees, allowing enough space for you to fit in between. Tape two trash bags together and drape them over the cord. To hold the shelter in place, place rocks where the trash bag meets the ground to hold it in place.


Solid footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a quality camping trip. But if treads fail or your feet are in need when out in the elements, here are several ways duct tape can step in.
  • Make a basic repair: You aren’t going to be able to hike very far if the soles of your boots are literally falling off, but keeping them strapped on with duct tape will allow you to regain basic function for at least a few more miles.
  • Waterproof: Soaking wet socks are no fun. When the rain’s coming down, wrap duct tape around shoes to help keep the water out.
  • Construct gaiters: Even if boots do a fine job keeping out moisture, a day of winter tromping can mean wet feet when the snow creeps in around your ankles. Stay dry with makeshift gaiters by wrapping the tops of the boots in duct tape, and continue wrapping the tape about halfway up your calves.
  • Fashion snowshoes: This one is going to take a little longer – something you’ll likely want to do at home, rather than when you’re actually in the snow. You’ll need two rolls of duct tape, hot glue, a sharp knife, several sturdy sticks, string, scissors, and a large bowl. Find more detailed instructions here.

First Aid

Just as the WWII soldiers discovered, duct tape is a great addition to a medical kit.

Note: The following is not a substitute for basic wilderness first aid. Please brush up on your skills with a class before a big trip, and be sure to bring more than just duct tape in your first aid kit.
  • Make or enforce a bandage: Place sterile gauze over a cut and hold it in place with duct tape. This is also a good quick fix for blisters (just be sure the duct tape itself is not touching the wound). Alternatively, wrap an existing bandage with duct tape to hold it in place more securely and protect against dirt.
  • Wrap a sprain: In lieu of an Ace bandage, wrap your ankle or wrist in duct tape to provide support.
  • Stabilize with a splint: Stabilize a possibly broken limb with sticks and duct tape. First, lay sticks on either side of the injured bone. Then hold it all together by wrapping duct tape around the sticks.
  • Create a serviceable sling: Fold a length of duct tape down the middle so there’s no longer a sticky side. Tie the tape around your body as a strap to hold an injured arm in place.
  • Make a tourniquet: In the event of unstoppable blood, tightly wrap the affected area above the wound in order to stop blood flow.
  • Ward off bugs: For walks through grassy fields that may be home to ticks or chiggers, wrap some duct tape around the hem of your pants to keep the bugs from sticking onto you.
  • Protect your eyes: You may not always think to bring sunglasses on a winter camping trip. If the sun is beaming—especially at high altitudes—it can intensely reflect against the snow and cause painful and possibly permanent damage to your eyes, called snow blindness. Prevent eye damage with some super makeshift sunglasses. Tape two pieces of duct tape together, then cut horizontal slights over each eye to let in just enough light to see, but not enough to seriously impair corneas.
  • Prevent frostbite: Alaskan dogsledders swear by this frigid practice: If it is really cold out, stick duct tape directly to your face (especially around the eyes) to keep sensitive skin from freezing over. Just be careful when removing the tape so as not to take some skin with it.

Forgotten Goods

Did you leave an oh-so-important item at home? Duct tape can be molded into all sorts of basic necessities.
  • Craft a cup or bowl: Don’t let a forgotten bowl keep you from enjoying dinner. With several strips of duct tape, you can quickly craft a nifty alternative. Thanks to duct tape’s waterproof attributes, it should be able to hold liquids as well.
  • Use as a fire starter: Duct tape is surprisingly flammable. In a pinch, it could be the secret tool to get a campfire going. For an even more reliable fire starter, wrap duct tape around a bundle of dryer lint, and then cover the outside with char cloth.
  • Build a makeshift torch: Don’t have a flashlight? Light up a wad of duct tape to provide a bit more illumination – even if short-lived.
  • Create a handy hat: When the sun beats down, stick several pieces of duct tape together to form a visor, then use another strip to strap it on. (Be sure to take some selfies showcasing the fashionable new headpiece.)

The Rest of the Roll

  • Make an all-purpose cord or rope: A duct tape cord can have a lot of uses beyond just guylines, such as a clothesline, a gear sling, or a way to tie food in the trees to keep it safe from hungry critters. You can also make a heavier duty rope by braiding three pieces of duct tape cord together.
  • Repair clothing: If you have a tear or hole in a down jacket or even sleeping bag, place a strip of duct tape over it to help keep the feathers where they are.
  • Mend leaky bottles: If your water vessel – be it a plastic water bottle or a flexible water bladder – has sprung a leak, stop it (or at least slow it down) with a piece of duct tape over the puncture.
  • Soften sharp edges: There is nothing more annoying than the constant jabbing of a pointy object in your pack. Apply a layer of duct tape to buffer sharp edges.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

RV Education 101 video: RV Lighting LED Light Strips

In this RV how to video Mark Polk, with RV Education 101, demonstrates some innovative multicolored LED light strip kits that you can easily install to enhance your RV’s exterior. LED lighting use less power, is brighter and lasts longer than conventional lighting.

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Top Waterfront RV Parks Announced by the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide

For May, the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide is highlighting Top Waterfront Parks as part of the publisher’s "12 Months of RVing promotion."

These RV parks are located on or near the banks of some of North America's most popular lakes, rivers and ocean shores. Whether RVers seek to catch a wave or drift in a lazy current, these parks inspire travelers to pull off the open road and hit the shore.

The editors and consultants of the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory chose the list of waterfront parks from the annual publication’s database of more than 7,000 private parks.

Top Waterfront RV Parks
Carrabelle Beach RV Resort, Carrabelle Beach
Beverly Beach Camptown RV Resort, Flagler Beach (see video below)
Indian Creek RV Resort And Manufactured Housing Community, Fort Myers Beach
Red Coconut RV Park, Fort Myers Beach (see video below)
Destin West RV Resort, Fort Walton Beach
Marco-Naples RV Resort, Naples (see video below)
Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort, Panama City Beach (see video below)
North Beach Camp Resort, St Augustine

River's End Campground & RV Park, Tybee Island (see video below)

Wild Acres RV Resort & Campground, Old Orchard Beach

Harbortown RV Resort
Peters Pond RV Resort, Sandwich

Harbortown RV Resort, Monroe
Traverse Bay RV Resort, Traverse City

Cajun RV Park, Biloxi

New Jersey
Lake Laurie RV Resort and Campground, Cape May
Seashore Campsites & RV Resort, Cape May

North Carolina
Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco (see video below)

Beach Resort at Turtle Rock, Gold Beach (see video below)

Otter Lake Camp-Resort, Stroudsburg

Pine Mountain RV Park, Pigeon Forge (see video below)

Island RV Resort, Port Aransas

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland

About '12 Months of RVing'The 12 Months of RVing lists celebrate the diversity of the RV lifestyle. Regardless of RVing travel preferences, the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide helps consumers find the parks that support their interests.

Parks participating in this program are featured in press releases, enewsletters and blog posts. Each of the parks will have Top Parks badge in their park information page. Click here for a list of all parks included in the 12 Months of RVing.

In addition to in-depth listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide features RV lifestyle articles, travel tips, helpful maps and informative itineraries that RVers can use for a journey anywhere in North America.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Exploring Deep Inside Moab’s National and State Parks

Isolation from civilization can be a good thing. The likes of Muir, Thoreau, and Abbey extoled the virtues of man’s relationship to nature; a few days in the wilderness is the perfect antidote to the cacophony of daily life.

Finding and accessing that oasis of escape is the key. That’s why those in need often head to Moab, Utah, one of America’s greatest (and most remote) natural playgrounds. Here beyond the limited network of roads which generally keep to the perimeter is the true wilderness of two national parks, Arches and Canyonlands, plus Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park.

Escapists can immerse themselves for days at a time in these backcountry regions with the proper equipment and guidance from the staff at Moab Adventure Center, the region’s go-to source for outdoor adventure. They offer a variety of ways to experience the parks that are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.

“Visitors should research and seek advice on how they can get the most out of the experiences the parks have to offer,” said Jamie Pearce, Manager of the Moab Adventure Center ( “You can explore on your own and many do; but a guide can help you get into the heart and soul of these often hard-to-get-to places.”

For active adventurers, fat tire mountain biking is a great way to fathom the mysteries of millennia ensconced in the iconic red rocks that symbolize the area’s parks. Those new to mountain biking may opt for the Courthouse Loop trail with commanding views into Arches National Park ($95 for age 5+).  The Intrepid Trail inside Dead Horse Point State Park is one of Moab's newest routes and features countless vistas of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park ($95 for age 12+).

One way to explore Arches National Park is on a guided hike into the maze-like Fiery Furnace (Adult: $89, Youth 5-15: $67). Best accessed in the company of an experienced guide, this hike twists and turns among contorted orange-tan fins, towers, spires and arches. Moab Adventure Center guides lead two-hour hikes in this trackless area, pointing out hidden attractions such as Surprise and Twin Arches. Although the hike is moderately strenuous in places, it can be enjoyed by anyone in reasonably good physical condition.

“But when it comes to pockets of true isolation, Canyonlands is it,” says Pearce. “For example, to get to the park’s Maze District, most people take a long, arduous hike following a long dusty drive to the trailhead. However, by raft on a four-day Cataract Canyon trip (Adult: $1395, Youth 10-15: $1045), you can access a site in the Maze called The Doll House via a scenic hike from the river. The trail is steep, climbing over 1,000 feet from the river to the top of the canyon, but certainly beats the 7.5 hour drive from Moab to get to this location.”

When it comes to exploring Canyonlands, visitors should keep in mind that in this wilderness of stone there are no roads that link from one “district” or iconic point to another. Although these points may appear close on a map, the distances are between two to six hours by car. For this reason, most visitors find it impractical to visit more than one area in a single trip.

One solution is a scenic flyover based out of Moab (tours start at Adult: $123, Youth 3-15: $123, 2 & Under: Free). In a high-wing Cessna aircraft equipped with voice-activated headphones passengers enjoy conversations with the pilot who is also the tour guide. Everyone has a window seat to take in views of Arches, Canyonlands or Monument Valley, depending upon the tour. The pilot will describe the geology and dynamics of the Colorado River and Green River, the Island in the Sky, and the rugged Maze and Needles Districts of Canyonlands, the Windows of Arches and more.

Moab Adventure Center can also arrange for a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the Moab backcountry. Flights last about an hour and are priced at $300 for participants age 6 and up.

About Moab Adventure Center
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (, an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main Street, Moab, Utah 84532. For information and reservations please call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163 or send an email from The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear and clothing as well as souvenirs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Michigan Campgrounds with Memorial Day campsites available

Travelers near and far, who are looking for destinations and activities that will broaden their minds and imaginations, without emptying the pocket book, are invited to rediscover Michigan camping this summer. According to Statista Inc., a leading Internet statistics company, camping is one of the highest ranked outdoor activities in the United States.

The Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan (ARVC Michigan) is reporting plenty of availability – for tenters, RVers and cabin/cottage-dwellers – available at campgrounds throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas for the upcoming Memorial Weekend. Over two dozen ARVC Michigan campgrounds are reporting availability, including:

Bluegill Lake Family Camping Resort – Mecosta
Phone: 231-972-4455    

Covered Wagon Camp Resort – Ottawa
Phone: 734-856-3058    

Crystal Lake Campground – Ludington/Scottville
Phone: 231-757-4510    

Gateway Park Campground – Hillsdale
Phone: 517-437-7005    

Gaylord KOA – Gaylord
Phone: 800-562-4146    

Holiday Camping Resort - New Era
Phone: 231-861-5220    

Holiday Park Campground – Traverse City
Phone: 231-943-4410    

Honcho Rest Campground – Elk Rapids
Phone: 231-264-8548    

Irons RV Park and Campground – Irons
Phone: 231-266-2070    

Insta Launch Campground & Marina – Manistee
Phone: 231-723-3901    

Kampvilla RV Park – Bear Lake
Phone: 231-864-3757    

Kibby Creek Campground – Ludington
Phone: 800-574-3995 or 231-843-3995    

Kritter’s Northcountry Campground & Cabins – Newberry
Phone: 906-293-8562    

Lakeview Family Camp – Lakeview
Phone: 989-352-6896    

Lansing Cottonwood Campgrounds – Lansing
Phone: 517-393-3200    

Log Cabin Resort & Campground – Curtis
Phone: 906-586-9732    

Mio Pine Acres Campground - Mio
Phone: 989-826-5590    

Myers Lake Campground – Byron
Phone: 810-266-4511    

Oak Shores Campground – Decatur
Phone: 269-423-7370    

Paint River Hills Campground - Crystal Falls
Phone: 906-875-4977    

Taylors Lost Haven Campground – Beaverton
Phone: 989-435-7623    

Twin Oaks Campground & Cabins – Wellston
Phone: 877-442-3102    

Thunder Bay Resort – Hillman
Phone: 989.742.4732 or 800-729-9375      

Troll Landing Campground / Canoe Livery - West Branch
Phone: 989-345-7260      

Vacation Station RV Resort – Ludington
Phone: 231-845-1100      

Whispering Pines RV Resort & Campground – Mancelona
Phone: 231-535-0461      

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort – Indian River
Phone: 231-238-8259      

Whether it be a cabin/cottage or a campsite, availability varies from property to property. This is not an all-inclusive list. This list includes campgrounds that responded to a survey indicating availability, as of May 18. Availability is subject to change. Reservations are required.

About ARVC Michigan
ARVC Michigan represents over 160 member campgrounds with more than 25,000 sites available throughout the state. These campgrounds are promoted in an annual Michigan Campground Directory, available at Michigan Welcome Centers, Chambers of Commerce, Convention & Visitor Bureaus, RV Dealers, Libraries and AAA Offices. ARVC Michigan’s mission is to lead in the development of the RV Parks and Campground industry through education, communication and representation. ARVC Michigan is a member of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (arvc). (

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gone with the Wynns video: Resurrecting Dinosaurs - Custom Designed Bounder RV

Enjoy this video from Gone with the Wynns, a popular RV blogging couple.

Here's what the Wynns had to say about their video:
Check out the entire Resurrecting Dinosaurs series:

In this video the Wynns share their custom design modifications to their spankin' new 2016 Fleetwood Bounder class A gas motorhome. They didn't get to take the design as far as they wanted but they feel it's a great step in the right direction toward a more modern RV.

Please click over to their site and voice your opinions on the RV industry and their designs. They have several polls that they will send to all the mfrs once the project is over to show them WE NEED A CHANGE! Here's the link to vote:­nosaurs-wynn-custom-rv

About Gone with the Wynns
Jason and Nikki Wynn are a couple of perpetual travelers, RVers and modern day documentarians. Their RV is the home of their discoveries and adventures, all depicting the unscripted tale of the quirky couple who traded in everyday life to satisfy their wear-out-your-shoes sense of adventure. Visit their website.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wisconsin State Park, camping fees increase as state funding is cut

According to a report by WKBT, we'll have to dig just a little deeper in our wallets to enjoy state parks in Wisconsin.

Thursday (May 7), the state's Joint Finance Committee voted to raise camping and state park fees.

As part of Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal he wants to end taxpayer funding for state parks and campgrounds and force them to become self-sufficient.

Bob Buerger is spending his weekend at Perrot State Park in Trempealeau. He said he enjoys camping in state parks and a little price increase won't change his mind.

"No it really doesn't as long as the parks can get their act together in terms of improving their park," Buerger said.

The increases in fees are relatively small. Annual fees will increase by $1, a daily pass will go up by $3, trail passes will be going from $20-$25 and camp fees will increase a few bucks based on where you're staying.

"I think that this was a happy medium because it wasn't a dramatic increase, so I think while people are not going to be excited about it, I don't think that they're going to be too upset actually," Rep. Steve Doyle said.

Doyle is concerned that the state doesn't want to fund state parks anymore because that will put the burden on those using the parks. But private campground owners feel this gives more opportunity to those state parks.

"We're a little bit excited that the state parks are able to charge what they need to charge. We've kind of been wondering all these years, how that all works out because it doesn't compute, the math doesn't work, if you will," said Lori Severson, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners.

Severson, co-owner of Champion Riverside Resort in Galesville, said some private campgrounds do compete with state parks in terms of what they offer, but mostly, state parks and private campgrounds are very different types of camping. So even though state park prices are going up she doesn't expect her campground to get busier.

"You know I think it wont, I think it will be, I think people will still choose where they want to go," Severson said.

Read the full report here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Campground construction begins at Minnesota’s newest State Park

Construction began today on a campground at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park in northeastern Minnesota that will accommodate more than 250 people nightly in tents and RVs, the Department of Natural Resources said.

The campground at Minnesota’s newest state park is expected to open in fall 2016.

“Our vision is to create a model ‘next generation’ state park,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “That means we are exploring new ideas and demonstrating best practices as we design and build park facilities.”

Future phases of construction at the park, pending funding, will include a visitor center, trail system, cabins, group camps and nature play areas, as well as additional hike-in, boat-in and ATV-in campsites.

“We will set high standards for energy efficiency and accessibility,” Rivers said. “And we’ll use emerging technologies to help visitors find their way around and learn more about the natural and cultural resources that make this park such a special place.”

When fully developed, the park will get an estimated 250,000 visitors annually, bringing an estimated $18.2 million in spending to the northeast region of the state.

The main campground, when completed, will accommodate:

  • 168 people at 28 drive-in campsites, where amenities will include electricity, flush toilets, showers and Wi-Fi, plus a water access site that will connect campers to boating and fishing opportunities on the lake.
  • 60 people at two group camps designed for tents and RVs, with a sanitation building that includes flush toilets and showers.
  • 30 people at a semi-primitive group camp with vault toilets.
  • About 35 eighth-grade students from Marshall County Central School in Newfolden got to witness history in the making at the park today, where Gov. Mark Dayton and other state officials broke ground for the campground.

Also on hand was Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who announced her intent to visit all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. To help her track her progress, Rivers presented the lieutenant governor with a Passport Club kit, which includes a booklet that can be stamped every time she visits a Minnesota state park or recreation area.

Others attending the ceremony were U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, Minnesota Sen. Tom Bakk, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Explore Minnesota Tourism Director John Edman, former DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten and Tim Pawlenty, who was governor when the state reached a deal with U.S. Steel to acquire the land for the park.

Park background
In 2008 the Minnesota Legislature authorized Lake Vermilion State Park and set aside $20 million in bonding to purchase, plan and develop it. The purchase agreement for the 3,000-acre property was signed in May 2010, and a master plan for the park was developed with much public input. Because the new park is co-managed with the adjacent Soudan Underground Mine, the Legislature changed the name to Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park during the 2014 legislative session.

The park has been open since 2010 for recreation such as hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and geocaching. Interpretive staff have offered occasional programs, including a BioBlitz that involved citizens in identifying plants, animals and insects at the park.

All of the funding for the campground will come from bonding.

For more information, including construction updates and a virtual tour of the park, visit

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Krispy Kreme introduces new campfire-inspired treats

Krispy Kreme is introducing three new campfire-inspired treats perfect for camping in the mountains, or camping out on the couch. The new OREO Dirt Cake Doughnuts, S’mores Doughnuts and Honey Bee Doughnuts are available now through Sunday (May 17) at participating Krispy Kreme U.S. locations. While supplies last.

  • OREO Dirt Cake Doughnut: Krispy Kreme has created this eye-catching and delicious yeast doughnut filled with a blend of Kreme™ filling and OREO cookie crumbles, dipped in milk chocolate and topped with OREO cookie crumbles and a gummy candy worm.
  • S’mores Doughnut:A new twist on a familiar camping treat, this yeast doughnut is filled with a blend of toasted marshmallow Kreme™ filling, dipped in milk chocolate, topped with a blend of graham cracker crumbles and chocolate chips, and finished with a white icing drizzle.
  • Honey Bee Doughnut: Have no fear. These delightful honey bees are dipped in yellow icing with a candy sugar piece.

Stop in for A Campfire Treat and Help Send A Kid To Summer Camp. 
April 5 through May 19, Fans of Krispy Kreme can help provide life-changing summer camping experiences for children with chronic or serious illnesses by making a donation to the Krispy Kreme Drive for 45 Campaign. Donations can be made at the register or in the Drive for 45 Tire display at participating Krispy Kreme US locations. Visit Krispy for participating locations and program details. One hundred percent of your donations will be given to Victory Junction.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Report: Showers, Toilets Top Wisconsin Park Users List

What users in the four Chippewa County parks in Wisconsin want are better drinking water available on site along with showers and flush toilets, a report given to the County Board on Tuesday night says.

As reported by The Chippewa Herald, the Chippewa County Parks Master Plan covers the county’s goals for the parks over the next 10 years. The report calls for an annual expenditure of $150,000 to update the parks, using county sales tax, proceeds of county tax deed land and other county funds. Grants are also a possibility. The plan will be revisted annually, said Lynda Fink of Corre Inc., a consultant who worked on the report.

The county’s parks are: Round Lake Day Park in New Auburn, Morris-Erickson Campground and Day Park in New Auburn, Otter Lake Campground and Day Park in Stanley, and Pine Point Campground and Day Park in Holcombe. All but Morris-Erickson have beaches. The parks employ five caretakers.

“In general, the campgrounds have been kept more ‘rustic.’ However, at this point, there are multiple components at each facility that need to be addressed from a useful life, safety, and Americans with Disabilities Act standpoint,” said the report, which is intended to be updated by the county every year.

That includes playgrounds at the parks. “These are outdated in terms of following regulations,” Fink said.

Surveys were mailed to 773 park users in 2013, and 273 responded.

“Consistent requests for improvements included flush toilets and showers (no parks currently have them), better potable water (all parks have smell-color issues), on-site water, and moving around the log ‘bumpers,’” the report said.

Read the full report here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rollin' On TV Show visits Pleasure-Way Class B Motorhomes

In this episode (#2015-07), Rollin' on TV heads north to Canada and revisit PleasureWay RV makers of class B and B+ motorhomes. There the crew will learn about the company and see the whole manufacturing operation. Then they head south to Arizona and join Evanne Schmarder as she visits an old RVing friend to grill up a nice lunch on a ver unique outdoor cooker.

About Rollin' on TV
Now in its fourth year of production, Rollin’ On TV has become a leading RV, lifestyle television program reaching over 30 million homes on both cable and satellite TV. The weekly program is also available online. For additional information and for times and days the show airs, visit