Guest Post: Return of High Water to Utah’s Cataract Canyon Promises Some of the Best Rafting of the Year

Good news for rafting enthusiasts. High water on the Colorado River through Utah’s Cataract Canyon is back, reports O.A.R.S., the worldwide leader in whitewater rafting with river trips throughout the West.

In June rafters in Cataract Canyon will experience the biggest whitewater in North America, promises Steve Markle, O.A.R.S. (http://www.oars.com/) spokesperson. Since June 1 the Colorado River has maintained a flow of at or near 50,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Flows above 30,000 CFS are typically considered high water in Cataract Canyon; during the previous two seasons, flows on the Colorado barely reached 24,000 CFS.

The Colorado River through Cataract Canyon is one of the West’s most iconic whitewater rafting rivers, offering some of the continent’s biggest and most challenging rapids—even for seasoned river guides. In early June, with rising temperatures, the river may have hit its peak flow for the year of 56,000 CFS, but thanks to above average snowpack and cool spring temperatures in the Rockies, outfitters are expecting an extended high-water season this year. As of June 9, snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin was still showing at 166 percent of average. O.A.R.S. anticipates high-water flows at least through the end of June and possibly into July this year.

“After two low-water years, the water has risen into the mythical range of the mid-50,000 cubic feet per second.  What does this mean?  It means that Cataract is at that level where the rapids are at the highest and steepest and when legendary stories are made. Rapid 7 becomes the North Sea where its third wave can reach heights of over 20 feet! It is the time when rapids #13 through #19 turn into the famous Mile Longs. Rapids Big Drop II and III (two of the top ten biggest rapids of North America) are at the peak of their size,” explained O.A.R.S. Utah Manager, Steve Kenney.  “The speed of the current also quickens our time on the water allowing us to do more extensive hikes, with plenty of time to relax in camp with a great meal and to enjoy all of the beauty of this incredible canyon!”
 
O.A.R.S. has raised their minimum age for trips in Cataract Canyon to 14 during the highest water expected during mid June, advising travelers with young children to join trips later in the season or on other rivers. O.A.R.S., along with most other outfitters, will also provide motorized support on all high water Cataract Canyon trips to help facilitate a rescue if necessary.

O.A.R.S. offers regularly scheduled departures on Sundays and Tuesdays from Moab, UT. Four- and six-day trips in Cataract Canyon trips start at $1,529 per person, inclusive of a scenic return flight over Canyonlands National Park, all camping and rafting equipment, professional river guides, deluxe camping meals and more.
 
For more information, questions, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2014 O.A.R.S. Adventures catalog call 209-736-4677 or 800-346-6277, email info@oars.com, or visit: http://www.oars.com/.
 
About O.A.R.S.
Some 500,000 guests later, O.A.R.S. has been providing whitewater rafting vacations since 1969. Over the decades the company has set the standard in first-class rafting, sea kayaking and multi-sport adventure, with destinations and unparalleled experiences on over 35 rivers and coastlines around the world. O.A.R.S. caters to active travelers of all ages and abilities with more than 75 unique itineraries, including one-day and weekend escapes. In 2013, for the seventh consecutive year, Condé Nast Traveler recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler’s standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category. In 2013 Outside, America’s leading multimedia active-lifestyle brand, named O.A.R.S. one of the top two outfitters in the world in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program.

Video: Thor Motor Coach and its lineup of motor homes



Enjoy this 1:53 video from Thor Motor Coach about its lineup of motor homes.

Here's what they had to say about their video:
Thor Motor Coach is the #1 motorhome brand in North America, producing nearly 1 out of every 4 motorhomes sold each year. TMC leads the RV industry in introducing cutting-edge innovations and offering a variety of options that fit every customer's lifestyle and budget. http://ThorMotorCoach.com/

Thor Motor Coach's diverse product lineup includes many of the world's most recognized gas- and diesel-powered Class A and Class C motorhomes, including the Four Winds, Challenger, Chateau, ACE and Tuscany models. By building a variety of unique styles, sizes and floor plans, TMC offers motorhomes that feel custom-made -- at a truly competitive price.

With so many unique models available, TMC motorhomes are priced to fit anyone's budget -- from families buying their first motorhome, to full-timers looking for a roaming "dream home." No matter how you choose to spend your time or your money, there's a TMC motorhome that fits your needs.

Bats, sinkholes, fossils are the stars of Rockport Recreation Day June 28

Michigan DNR photo
Anyone wondering where bats spend chilly winter months or curious to see a Michigan sinkhole or prospect for fossils can do that and more at Rockport Recreation Day June 28 at Rockport State Recreation Area. Located in Alpena along the Lake Huron shoreline, Rockport is home to a large bat hibernaculum (place where bats hibernate). The Rockport Bat Hibernaculum Project has become a community effort with local, regional, statewide and federal partners all working together to preserve this rare area while educating and ensuring the safety of the public.

“We’ve had such huge community involvement for this project,” said DNR wildlife biologist Bill Scullon. “We really want to showcase those community leaders and show others how projects can connect tourism and recreation with natural resources management to benefit the local economy.”

Local youth were critical to the Rockport Bat Hibernaculum Project. Alpena High School and 4-H Welding Club students constructed and installed two steel “bat gates” on the two abandoned man-made surge tunnels, which the bats are using at Rockport.

“Together, we were able to come up with solutions to a problem,” said Scullon. “It benefits everyone, keeps everyone safe and has been a great educational tool.”

Rockport is one of only two locations in the Lower Peninsula where bats have been found hibernating. Three species of bats use this hibernaculum: the big brown, little brown and tri-colored bat (formerly known as the Eastern pispistrelle).

In addition to the unique presence of bats at Rockport, sinkholes and fossils are an interesting feature of the recreation area. Due to the heavy limestone, sinkholes can be found in places where rainwater has slowly eroded away the limestone deposits. A historic quarry, where limestone was once mined, now gives families the opportunity to collect many native Michigan fossils.

As a kickoff to Saturday's Rockport Recreation Day events, special guest speaker and Michigan bat expert Dr. Allen Kurta of Eastern Michigan University will speak about the bats of Michigan at Alpena Community College on Friday, June 27, at 7 p.m. On Saturday, June 28, activities are scheduled throughout the day at Rockport, starting with birding at Besser Natural Area, followed by presentations on the bat hibernaculum project – including a presentation with live bats by the Organization for Bat Conservation – and a tour of the sinkholes by mountain bike. Other activities offered during the event include fishing, geocaching, kayaking and a display area.

Visit www.friendsofrockport.org for more details and a schedule of activities.

A Recreation Passport is required for entry into Rockport State Recreation Area. Learn more about the Recreation Passport at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

Michigan DNR offers tips for residents encountering snakes

This time of year, as snakes are out and about in the great outdoors, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gets many questions about Michigan's snakes. Michigan is home to 17 different species of snakes, 16 of which are completely harmless to humans.

Eastern hog-nosed snake (Michigan DNR photos)
There are two that are very similar and often cause a stir when people encounter them. Eastern hog-nosed snakes, when threatened, puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies and hiss loudly. (This has led to local names like "puff adder" or "hissing viper.") If this act is unsuccessful, the snakes will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans.

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous species found in Michigan, is quite rare and protected as a species of special concern due to declining populations from habitat loss. As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake does have a segmented rattle on its tail. It should not be confused with the other harmless species of snake in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but will also buzz their tails if approached or handled.

Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake
Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes are shy creatures that avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as “swamp rattlers,” they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice. When encountered, if the snake doesn't feel threatened, it will let people pass without revealing its location. If humans do get too close, a rattlesnake will generally warn of its presence by rattling its tail while people are still several feet away. If given room, the snake will slither away into nearby brush. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan (fewer than one per year), can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek medical attention immediately. To learn more about the massasauga and for more snake safety tips, visit http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/emr/index.cfm.

Those who encounter a snake of any kind should leave it alone and should not try to handle or harass the snake – this is primarily how snake bites happen. A snake can only strike roughly one-third of its body length, so it is physically impossible for people to get bitten if they do not get within 24 inches of the snake’s head. Michigan snakes do not attack, chase or lunge at people or seek out human contact. Simply put, if left alone, Michigan snakes will leave people alone.

The DNR asks Michigan residents to consider reporting any reptile or amphibian sightings to the Michigan Herp Atlas research project to help monitor amphibian and reptile populations in Michigan and protect these valuable resources for future generations. Visit www.miherpatlas.org for more information.

To learn more about Michigan's snakes, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife, click on the “Wildlife Species” button and select “Amphibians and Reptiles.”

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: What’s new at Michigan’s historic Mann House

The Mann House, in Concord, Michigan, gives visitors the
opportunity to experience what it was like to live in
Victorian-era Michigan. (Michigan DNR photos)
A couple of years ago, the Mann House needed a paint job – but not just any paint job.

The house, built in 1883 by Daniel and Ellen Mann, is a near-perfectly preserved Victorian-era home in the picturesque community of Concord, Michigan, just west of Jackson. Staff at the Michigan Historical Center and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was determined to restore the Mann House’s original look, but it required some detective work first.

The Mann House is a state historic site, exemplifying Victorian life in Michigan. The Manns’ two daughters, Mary Ida and Jessie Ellen, were taught to value education and lifelong learning, which ultimately led them to preserve the family’s nearly unaltered home and its furnishings. Visitors touring the house today are immersed in the family life and Victorian culture that shaped this pair of independent women.

Sisters Mary Ida and Jessie Mann were avid world travelers.
The Mann House collection includes many items from those travels.
Robb McKay, an architect with SHPO, and Mark Harvey, state archivist, teamed up to research the original paint colors used on the Mann House in 1883, working with some paint chips, photos, notes from an oral history of the house and a microscope.

For many decades, the Mann House had been painted white. The earliest known photo of the house, though it is black and white, clearly shows that the house was not originally painted white. A close study of the paint on the house showed three or four layers of an older color, which means it wasn’t painted white until about 1915, McKay and Harvey estimated.

McKay studied paint chips from the house under a microscope to see the varying layers of paint. He determined the house was likely painted yellow when it was first built, accented by trim in two shades of blue-green. 

A close-up view of the second-floor front of the Mann House,
recently restored to its “historically accurate” 1883 paint colors.
The color scheme that Harvey decided on for the house is likely simplified from the original, but it gives the overall impression of what it did look like, McKay said. As often happens when paint research goes back over a century, tests on various areas of trim gave a good idea of the color, without necessarily indicating all the shades that were used. Families in small farming communities often simplified more elaborate urban styles when they adopted them. 

The painting project was finished in 2013. Reaction from neighbors in the small community of Concord has been mixed. 

“I think the house had been painted white for so long that seeing it in color was a shock. I know it was for me,” said Maria Quinlan Leiby, chief curator for the Michigan Historical Center, who has been closely involved with the Mann House.

The paint job isn’t the only thing new at the Mann House. The property is seeing a resurgence of work and research thanks to a new partnership the Michigan Historical Center has with Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) graduate program in historical preservation.

The dining area in the Mann House reflects the decoration,
dishware and customs of the Victorian era.
Last summer, three graduate students from EMU worked during the week at the Mann House, cataloging artifacts in the house, doing research on the Mann family and the community of Concord, and developing a new house tour for visitors. Among the things they learned were that sisters Mary Ida and Jessie Ellen were ahead of their time when it came to being independent women. 

Ellen Mann and her daughters all graduated from Michigan State Normal School (now EMU), which was unusual for the time. The Mann sisters traveled the world – throughout the United States, Europe and Asia – before it was common for women to travel alone.

The Michigan Historical Center and EMU plan to continue their partnership in 2014, with three graduate fellows once again working at the Mann House. EMU’s historic preservation program sees the partnership as a huge benefit for its students.

“This was an extraordinary opportunity for us,” said Nancy Villa Bryk, assistant professor of historic preservation at EMU. “In the university environment we can teach theory, but when students are thrust into the world of financial, visitor and building challenges – and having an administration to work with – it provides a very real-world setting for them to learn.”

The Mann sisters, Mary Ida and Jessie, were taught the
importance of education, and it led them to carefully preserve
the family home for future generations.
For the Michigan Historical Center, having the fellowship program with EMU provides an opportunity that most historic preservation students rarely get -- the students are essentially given a small museum to operate on their own with limited direct supervision.

“This provides them with more than a glimpse into what awaits them if they choose to work at a museum or a historic site,” said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan Historical Center. “It gives them solid work experience for their résumés along with the opportunity to support our work, and provides fresh research and insights into a historic property.”

The Mann House is open this year from May 29 through Aug. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Admission is free. For more information on the Mann House, go to www.michigan.gov/mannhouse

Travel Channel's RV Week debuts tonight

If the Discovery Channel can have Shark Week, then the Travel Channel can have RV Week.

The Travel Channel has four days of RV programming, starting at 6 o’clock tonight. Programs at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. are premieres of popular RV programs, including “RV 2014” airing at 8 o’clock tonight. Other premieres includes new episodes of “Mega RV Countdown” and “Extreme RVs.”

The special RV programming is a build up for the network’s Sunday, July 27 premiere of “Big Time RV.” According to the Travel Channel, “Big Time RV” gives viewers an all-access pass inside Lazydays RV, America's largest RV dealership located in Tampa, FL. While touring and testing every make and model of RV available, the expert sales force and first-rate service center work together to satisfy the demands of RV lovers looking to buy or rent the biggest, most over-the-top RVs in the business.

You can watch a trailer for “Big Time RV” here.

Here’s a rundown of Travel Channel’s RV Week programming (along with the network’s program description).

Sunday, June 22
6:00 PM – “Beach-n-RVs” – Get a look at some of the trendiest new RVs and where to park them! Tour a million-dollar motor mansion, kick back in a classic Airstream and host a sophisticated beach party with a tricked-out teardrop camper.  TV-PG, CC

7:00 PM – “Tricked Out Trailers” – From a double-decker mansion on wheels to a bulletproof trailer built for the ultimate globetrotter, check out the best tricked out trailers available. TV-PG, CC

8:00 PM – PREMIERE – “RV 2014” – Tag along for a one-of-a-kind sneak peek at the latest and greatest recreational vehicles and travel accessories on RV 2014! Chris Lambton takes three couples for the ultimate test drive as they search for the RV of their dreams at the biggest recreational vehicle show in America. Follow along on this luxury shopping trip as we go behind the scenes for a sneak peek at the coolest, tricked-out, most high-tech RV’s on the market. TV-G, CC (repeats at 3 am)

9:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Mega RV Countdown: The Hangover Cure” – From cruising the Vegas strip in the ultimate hangover remedy RV, complete with a state-of-the-art oxygen therapy system, to a luxury RV retrofitted with a 16-foot-long garage and a $1.5 million ultimate tailgating machine – we’re counting down the ultimate tricked-out RVs. TV-G, CC (repeats at midnight)

10:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Mega RV Countdown: The Best of Sturgis RVs” – From a jaw-dropping $2.3 million land yacht to a monstrous 44-foot double stacker trailer, we’re counting down the most luxurious, tricked-out and over-the-top RVs at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. TV-G, CC (repeats at 1 am)

11:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Extreme RVs” – Newmar King Aire, Forks Continental Coach, EarthRoamer TV-G, CC (repeats at 2 am)

Monday, June 23
11:00 AM – “Killer RV Upgrades” – Viewers get an inside look into the biggest and most extreme custom RV upgrades. The creators of these custom RVs aren’t satisfied with the ordinary accommodations of traditional motor homes, so they use their creativity, hard work and bare hands to build the RVs of their dreams. From circumnavigating the globe to competing in RV drag races, their homemade RVs can do anything – and they can be made from just about anything. Planes, fire engines and tanker trucks are just a few of the vehicles that, with a little know-how and lot of money, have been transformed into some of the most unique RVs in the world. TV-G, CC

NOON – “Ultimate RV Getaways” – On this unique road trip across the country, you will see some of the most creative, fun and freakiest RV destinations around. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a crazy camper that converts into a yacht! TV-PG, CC

1:00 PM – “Extreme RVs: A Land Yacht and More” – It’s the finest Featherlite Vantare coach to-date, a Global Expedition Vehicle that will take you literally anywhere in style, and Flyte Camp brings a ‘47 Westwood back to life. TV-PG, CC

2:00 PM – “Extreme RVs: Foretravel, American Coach and Heintz Designs” – The first stop on our tour is Texas to watch Foretravel Motorcoach build a custom motorhome. Next up, we head to Indiana to see American Coach’s construction of a first-class party-mobile. Then finally, we hit Florida to witness the restoration of a 1957 Airfloat “Landyacht.” TV-G, CC

3:00 PM – “Extreme RVs 5” – Newell Coach builds a 7-figure palace on wheels, vintage trailer experts Flyte Camp restore a Spartan Manor to perfection and Bill Rex’s slide-outs help create an RV like no other. TV-PG, CC

9:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Mega RV Countdown: Racing Legend RV” – From a $2-million rolling winery, to going off the grid in a 480-horsepower, 6x6 monster RV and checking out a Formula 1 racing legend’s semi-trailer, we’re on a quest to find the world's most epic RVs. TV-G, CC

10:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Extreme RVs: Featherlite, Thor and Duba's Horse Trailer – Take a trip to Featherlite Coaches in Virginia to see what goes into making a $2 million RV; go behind the scenes in Indiana for the making of an epic toy hauler with a garage and tailgate patio; and check out the blinged-out, customized trailer for a rodeo star, his family and 4 horses. TV-PG, CC

Tuesday, June 24
3:00 PM – “Extreme RVs 6” – ShowHauler creates a castle for a drag-racing family and crew, Bespoke transforms a Sprinter van for the rapper “Birdman” and the Evans Crew handcrafts a wooden trailer. TV-PG, CC

9:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Mega RV Countdown: $100,000 Paint Job” – From a fire truck-turned-RV with a 100-square-foot roof deck, to an 80-foot-long RV with a 600-horsepower engine and a five-star RV with a custom $100,000 paint job, we’re counting down most jaw-dropping RVs in the world. TV-G, CC (Repeats at midnight)

10:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Extreme RVs” –  Unicat’s Off-Road Romper, Timeless Airstream Hot Rod, Bespoke's Cushy Caravan TV-PG, CC (Repeats at 1 am)

Wednesday, June 25
3:00 PM – “Extreme RVs: The Rockin’ Rollers and More” – It’s the best of the band buses with Hemphill Brothers, a family’s dream of sprinting in style comes true thanks to CMI, and big things from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. TV-PG, CC

9:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Mega RV Countdown: Epic NASCAR RV” – From a NASCAR legend’s custom RV complete with 4 slideouts, heated hardwood floors, and 5 state-of the-art TVs, to a $2 million dollar RV with hand blown glass sinks, and a marble tile shower – we’re counting down the mega RVs with million-dollar upgrades. TV-G, CC (repeats at midnight)

10:00 PM – “Extreme RVs: An On-Set Double Decker & More” – It’s a two-story mobile mansion for Simon Cowell, a tough as nails two-bedroom rig from Showhauler, and a NASA inspired trailer of the future...the Cricket. TV-PG, CC (repeats at 1 am)

Thursday, June 26
9:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Mega RV Countdown: Mega Off-Road RVs” – Seeing is believing in this mega episode! From the biggest rigs on and off the road to high-tech custom upgrades beyond your wildest imagination, we’re going off the grid and counting down the most extreme off-road RVs. TV-G (repeats at midnight)

10:00 PM – PREMIERE – “Extreme RVs” – Marathon Coach’s Custom RV and Trailer Combo, Volkner Mobil Performance RV and an Updated Vintage Airstream Trailer. TV-PG, CC (repeats at 1 am)

Video: Rollin' on TV takes us inside Blue Ox, visits Overland Expo



Enjoy this 25:05 video from Rollin' on TV. In this episode, Rollin' on TV takes us inside Blue Ox, one of the leading manufacturers of sway control mechanisms, and a visit to the Overland Expo in Arizona.

Geocaching series now offered in nearly 50 Wisconsin State Parks

The growing popularity of geocaching - an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device to look for hidden containers called geocaches -- has led to the placement of new "official" caches at nearly 50 Wisconsin state park properties.

The Wisconsin State Park Geocaches Series is a joint project by the Wisconsin Geocaching Association and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to encourage outdoor activity, exploration and enjoyment of state park properties in all parts of Wisconsin, according to Sherry Wise, chief naturalist for the Wisconsin State Parks program.

"Over the last 12 years, geocaching has become a great way to explore the outdoors using technology," Wise said. "Families enjoy the time being together and the thrill of using GPS technology adds to the excitement."

Currently, there are 2 million geocaches and more than 6 million geocachers worldwide, according to Chris Walker, WGA president.

"With little startup cost, geocaching has become the perfect mix of technology and old school exploration," Walker said. "You can get started with a smartphone or handheld GPS device."

The Wisconsin State Park Geocaches Series consists of one geocache in each of 47 state parks. The state park geocaches are organized by biomes, which are regions typified by specific plant and animal communities and climate patterns.

All geocaches placed on state property must be approved by the manager of that property through an application process.

For the Wisconsin State Park Geocaches Series, the Wisconsin Geocaching Association worked with the property managers or naturalists to select locations for the geocaches that highlight unique or important natural features of the property.

To participate in the Wisconsin State Park Geocaches Series, people need to join the Wisconsin Geocaching Association, which Walker emphasizes, is free and can be done online through the association website.
Once a member, people can visit the WGA website and click on the link for Wisconsin State Park series. From there participants find a code they use with their GPS device to find coordinates for the geocache along with some additional hints for finding the cache.

People can then visit the park and use their GPS device to guide them to the coordinates and the hints to try and find the hidden cache.

Once they find it, they can add their name to a log stored inside the cache and return it to its hiding spot.
WGA has produced a number of posters for the parks that park managers will post in appropriate locations to alert people that a geocache can be found within the park.

"We hope this is yet another activity that will not only bring visitors to our state park properties, but will get them out to explore areas of the park that they otherwise may never see," Wise said.

For more information visit the Wisconsin Geocaching Association website at www.wi-geocaching.com or search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "geocache" and "parks."

Michigan DNR's popular 'Salmon in the Classroom' program hooks kids on learning about the natural world

Students from Whitefish Township Community School
eagerly help transplant fish at the mouth of the Tahquamenon
River in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, near Paradise. The students
raised the fish from egg to fry as part of the Department of
Natural Resources’ Salmon in the Classroom program. (DNR photos)
Every year more than 15,000 Michigan youngsters are involved in hatching Chinook salmon eggs (supplied by Department of Natural Resources’ fish hatcheries) and feeding and caring for the fry until they are old enough, in the spring, to be released into local rivers – hopefully to return in four years to spawn.

Salmon in the Classroom is the DNR’s most popular education program.

“Our research shows that students engaged in this program show significant gains in a variety of subjects,” said Kevin Frailey, the education services manager at the DNR. 

“Rather than someone coming into the classroom and talking for an hour, these kids are involved with live creatures from the fall until the spring,” Frailey said. “The kids learn about biology, chemistry, ecology and stewardship. Tests show they know a lot more about fish and the Great Lakes after the program than they did before. 

“The two biggest motivating factors are a dedicated teacher and a committed community,” Frailey continued. “The equipment – a tank and a chiller -- costs about $1,000 to $1,500 and many of the programs are sponsored by local conservation clubs or other community groups.” 

The program, begun by a DNR fisheries biologist as something of a lark in the mid-1990s, is now in some 230 schools, engaging students from upper elementary through high school. Some schools have hundreds of students involved in the program, others a mere handful.

Thirty-four K-12 students – the entire student
body of Whitefish Township Community School
 – were on hand for the release of the salmon
into the Tahquamenon River.
The students at Whitefish Township Community School in Paradise recently released the 88 salmon they raised (from about 200 eggs) this year into the Tahquamenon River at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Chippewa County.

“The program teaches the life cycle of salmon, from the egg to the smolt,” said science teacher Matt Carter, who had the school’s entire student body (34 students, K-12) on hand for the release. “One of the goals is to stress conservation, the importance of keeping our fish population healthy for the environment and recreation.

“The students worked every day to take care of the salmon. They checked the water quality – looked at the amounts of nitrates and chlorine and ammonia in the water – they checked the pH and scrubbed the tank to make sure there wasn’t too much algae. As long as this program is available, we’ll continue to do this.”

The salmon release, from the bus ride to the park to letting the smolts go, took only a couple of hours, but it turned into a daylong field trip when park interpreter Theresa Neal gave the youngsters an extra job – helping stock trout in the Tahquamenon River below the upper falls.

The river is accessible by a 116-step staircase from the walking path to the water. And there’s only one way to get the 4,000 brown trout from the fish truck to the river – by buckets. So the youngsters formed a bucket brigade, passing the trout – 10 to 20 at a time, in 5-gallon buckets – down the steps to the river. 

Salmon in the Classroom teaches the life cycle of salmon, from
the egg to the smolt. Releasing the fish – as done here by Whitefish
 Township Community School science teacher Matt Carter and
students at the mouth of the Tahquamenon River –
is often the most exciting part of the journey.
The DNR has stocked trout in the river here since the 1950s, said Cory Kovacs, the DNR fisheries biologist at Newberry. 

“It offers fly fishermen something unique in the Upper Peninsula,” Kovacs said. “It’s remote – there’s not a lot of access – and it’s pretty comparable to the fishing out West in terms of the aesthetics.”

The fishery is becoming increasingly popular with kayakers and canoeists, Kovacs said, and a postcard survey of anglers showed a high rate of satisfaction with the angling experience.

“We don’t get a lot of reports, but the reports we get are positive,” he said.

The idea of enlisting the youngsters’ help came to Neal in a flash when she saw how difficult it was for the DNR crew – including Fisheries Division personnel and park staffers – to get the job done.

“We’re always trying to do new things with the school and we thought this would be a good excuse for a field trip,” said Neal, who started the student bucket brigade in 2008. “They learn a little bit about the DNR, our hatcheries and the fish.

Students from Whitefish Township Community School help
out on a “bucket brigade” to move 4,000 brown trout from the
DNR fish truck to the upper falls at the Tahquamenon River. 
“It’s a good community event, too,” she continued. “We always like to get the community involved whenever we can. It has been a big hit; we get a dozen or so people from the community who don’t necessarily have kids in school. A lot of retired folks come to Paradise to live, so it’s a good way to introduce them to the park and what we do.”

Leo Culbert, a retiree form Hillsdale County, said he heard about the fish planting at the senior center, came to see it, and wound up in the bucket brigade.

“I think it’s neat,” he said. “I’ll fish for them. I think it’s real nice for the school to come out and help.”

Students from Whitefish Township Community School watch
with excitement as DNR park interpreter Theresa Neal releases
brown trout into the Tahquamenon River.
Between the salmon release and the bucket brigade, John Prescott, the principal/superintendent of Whitefish Township Community School, grilled hot dogs and brats for the students and staff.

”This is a fun, highly educational experience,” he said. “They get to see the ecosystem. But it’s a riot to get them out here to release the trout and then, later on, one of them might catch one.”

Zachary Ferguson, a ninth-grader who took on a leadership role in the bucket brigade, said he thoroughly enjoys the experience.

“I like it,” he said. “I know a lot of people catch brown trout out of this river. I’m planning on coming back and fishing for them this summer.”

Learn more about this popular DNR program at www.michigan.gov/salmonintheclassroom. For more information on Tahquamenon Falls State Park, visit www.michigan.gov/tahquamenonfalls.

VIdeo: 5 new Attractions in Ohio for 2014



Enjoy this 1:36 video from Ohio Tourism on "What's New in Ohio in 2014?"

Here's what Ohio Tourism had to say about this video:
What's New in Ohio in 2014? Here's our Top 5 New Additions to Ohio's adventure landscape in 2014. From Kings Island's newest roller coaster to a space shuttle in Dayton, Ohio -- Ohio is ready for you!

Michigan DNR invites public to attend June 17 workshop on future management of Coldwater Lake State Park

Michigan DNR photo
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced a public input workshop has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 17, to solicit public ideas and comments about the future of Coldwater Lake State Park, in Branch County. This 400-acre state park, with 1 1/4 miles of frontage on the south end of Coldwater Lake, was purchased in 1988 and is currently used primarily for hunting. The meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at the Coldwater High School cafeteria, 275 N. Fremont St., in Coldwater. The meeting is being held in partnership with the Coldwater Country Conference and Visitors Bureau, which is assisting the DNR with this planning initiative.

The meeting will include a brief presentation on the history of the park and the current planning initiative, followed by group activities that will help to formulate a future vision for Coldwater Lake State Park. The input received at this meeting will guide the development of a General Management Plan for the property. This plan will define a long-range planning and management strategy that will assist the DNR Parks and Recreation Division in meeting its responsibilities to protect and preserve the site's natural and cultural resources and to provide access to land- and water-based public recreation and education opportunities.

Additional information on the DNR's General Management Plan process is available at www.michigan.gov/parkmanagementplans.

Guest Post: Bicycle Adventures designs weekend package for June 27-29 Suncadia Cycling Festival In Washington’s Cascade Mountains

Families and others who are adopting a two-wheel lifestyle can join the fun and challenges of a fondo-style cycling weekend June 27-29 at Suncadia in Washington’s Cascades.

Seattle-based Bicycle Adventures, the leader in North American bicycle touring, has created an all-inclusive Suncadia Cycling Festival weekend tour package that’s two nights and three days of two-wheeled adventure. The company has arranged family pricing for two adults and one child sharing a room at $1,675 and $1,985 with two children. The cost for singles and couples is $745 per person (solo room upgrade: $995.) 

Presenting sponsor of this brand-new, one-of-a-kind cycling festival, Bicycle Adventures has designed a VIP package that includes transfers to and from Seattle, participation in all two-wheel rides: road, mountain bike, gravel and family. Bikes are also included, or guests are welcome to bring their own.
 
Bicycle Adventures guests receive royal treatment, the services of a tour guide and bike mechanic, assistance with logistics, two nights accommodation at The Lodge at Suncadia, two breakfasts and two dinners. Guests also receive a limited edition Suncadia Cycling Festival cycling beanie and enjoy a well-stocked refueling station and post-ride festival.
 
In partnership with the resort, the company has scouted and mapped out three routes that riders will tackle over the weekend. The courses, embracing dirt, pavement and gravel, celebrate the beauty and charm of Suncadia and neighboring towns on the sunny side of Washington's Cascade Range. Times of top finishers of these rides will be posted for bragging rights. There is also a special family ride planned for Saturday afternoon.
 
“Bicycles, the Cascades and a lovely resort setting are a winning combo for what we hope will be a fun-filled and must-repeat weekend,” said Todd Starnes, president/founder of Bicycle Adventures.

Bicycle Adventure guests transfer at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 27, from Seattle for early check in at Suncadia in preparation for a 12- or 18-mile mountain bike ride. Afterward, guests will be treated to dinner in the town of Roslyn, where the CBS series Northern Exposure was filmed.
 
On Saturday guests meet at the VIP tent for the road ride that begins with a brief cycle through Suncadia and the town of Cle Elum before the route brings cyclists to the margin between forest and farmland. The second half of the ride features views of the Enchantment Range with Mt. Stewart (Washington’s second highest non-volcanic mountain). The ride is 65, 40 or 20 miles, depending on ability. Dinner is at the lodge this evening.

Day 3 follows a gravel route before midday end-of-festival events and the shuttle return to Seattle. The 45-mile off-pavement route is less technical than the mountain bike route and shorter than the road route but far from easy as it brings on the biggest climb of the weekend. Guests will grind through beautiful forest to the high points that give way to views of the neighboring valley of the Teanaways. Then it’s a descent down a fast dirt and gravel road to the West Fork Teanaway River. But the climbing isn’t over. The route goes up again and over to the Middle Fork Teanaway before the steepest descent and onto a beautiful, scenic road section with views of the Enchantment Range to the north.
 
For more details on the festival package please see:
 
For more information, availability and reservations contact Bicycle Adventures by phone: 800.443.6060, email: office@bicycleadventures.com or visit online at: http://bicycleadventures.com/.
 
About Suncadia
Suncadia has quickly become a recreational playground for Seattleites and travelers across the Pacific Northwest.  Located 80 miles east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains, Suncadia is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city, offering a unique combination of activities and amenities that make it an ideal Northwest getaway and resort residential community.  Suncadia Resort received the 2013 AAA Four Diamond Award, the fourth time the resort has received this award since its opening in 2007.
 
Suncadia is set on six miles of pristine Cle Elum River frontage, with 80 percent of the resort community designated as open space.  It features over 50 miles of hiking and biking trails and is a certified Built Green Community.  Its three golf courses - Prospector and Rope Rider Golf Courses and the private Tumble Creek Golf Course - were ranked among the top ‘10 Best New Courses in America’ in 2006 and 2011 by Golf Digest.  Rope Rider was named 2011 Best New Course of the Year by Golf Magazine.
 
Suncadia Resort is operated by Destination Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary of Lowe Enterprises, Inc.  For more information about Suncadia, please visit www.suncadia.com.

About Bicycle Adventures 
Scenic byways, four and five-star accommodations and local dining and visits to National Parks are trademarks of Bicycle Adventures, founded in 1984.  Types of tours include Classic (25-50 miles a day), Classic Plus (50-60 miles a day) and Epic (70+ miles a day with the most demanding terrain). Value-driven Casual category trips offer budget-conscious lodging and meals, with the same full van support.
 
Pre-set and custom tours embrace the Pacific Northwest into Canada, California and the Southwest, as well as Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, New York, Hawaii and New Zealand. 

Rollin' On TV takes a look at Winegard and the Winnebago Brave



Enjoy this episode of "Rollin' on TV", featuring an inside look at Winegard, the leading producer of satellite antennas and systems, plus, a  look at Winnebago's new Brave motor home.

Guest Post: Utah’s Moab Adventure Center offers menu of nature-based activities that equal in-gym cross-fit training

Taking a breather from the daily routine is the essence of a good vacation. For fitness enthusiasts, this might mean leaving behind the neighborhood gym and personal trainer but it doesn’t have to mean foregoing cross-fit workouts.

In a natural playground surrounded by mountains, canyons and national parks, Moab, UT, extends a welcome to cross-fit devotees. The Moab Adventure Center provides a one-stop planning and fulfillment resource for a wide spectrum of outdoor activities that can help keep minds and bodies in shape when away from the gym.

“We don’t claim to call what we offer a ‘true cross-fit program’. But following the same objectives of total body fitness we can arrange an active vacation that incorporates the goals of cross-fit by working different muscle groups while engaging in a variety of fun-but-challenging outdoor activities” says Brandon Lake, Moab Adventure Center co-founder.

In line with cross-fit’s strategy of strengthening and conditioning the whole body through challenging workouts, guests may combine half and full-day activities in the Moab region that together provide a total body workout, Lake says.  In addition to planning cross-fit activities, Moab Adventure Center can arrange a variety of basic-to-luxury lodging options and suggest dining venues that provide nutritional meals, also a key to a full fitness and wellness program.

Following are Moab Adventure Center’s suggested cross-fit activities:

Guests can enjoy a 10 percent discount when combining three or more full- or half-day activities in a package. Bordering Moab to the north and west, Utah’s red rock fantasylands, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, offer visitors an immersion course in geology and ancient cultures.
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. Its programs are available from March through October.
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 http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/contact/. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear and clothing as well as souvenirs.

7 Natural Wonders of Wisconsin

From Travel Wisconsin

In a state known for its love of the good earth and clean waters, we thought it would be fun to come with a list of the natural wonders of Wisconsin. We could have made the list twice as long, seven seemed like the perfect number. These “Mother Nature-made” wonders are the setting for some of the best outdoor recreation in the nation.

1. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
(Travel Wisconsin photos)
Calling to the explorer in all of us, this national park is a grouping or “archipelago” of 21 wilderness islands dotting the cold waters of Lake Superior and more than a dozen miles of shoreline with some of the most pristine remaining sandscapes in the Great Lakes region. National Geographic Explorer magazine named it a top place to visit. There are old-growth forests, windswept beaches and cliffs. There are sea caves to explore, carved out over thousands of years by the rhythmic waves. When the winter weather conditions are right, you can hike out to the caves to behold frozen waterfalls and chambers glistening with thousands of icicles. In Winter 2014, for the first time in five years, Lake Superior was frozen solid enough for visitors to hike or snowshoe out to the beautifully frozen ice caves.

While beautiful from the shore, when the weather is warm you must see the islands by boat or, even better, set foot on an island and camp at one of the 60-some rustic sites. Transportation options are varied – sea kayak, sailboat, power boat and excursion tour boat. A grand tour on Apostle Island Cruises lasts nearly three and a half hours and you’ll see the islands and one of the best historic collections of lighthouses anywhere in the country. This area is also shrouded in the lore of vicious nor’easters and shipwrecks, making it a popular spot for scuba divers to explore the remains of the Sevona, Lucerne and Pretoria.

2. Big Manitou Falls
Often the backdrop for wedding couples to figuratively take the plunge, the 165-foot tall Big Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park near Superior is the fourth tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. Impressive stats for sure. The water comes from the Black River meandering 22 miles southwest of the park on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. As it passes through Pattison, its first drop is actually 31 feet over Little Manitou Falls. Then it reaches the awe-inspiring Big Manitou Falls.

According to Pattison State Park superintendent Kerry Isensee, the best vantage point to see Big Manitou is from the south, where two overlooks provide heads-on views of the waterfall. He also mentioned you can get much closer to Little Manitou Falls for “a more personal experience.” There are more than eight miles of hiking trails and a mix of campsites in the park. There are naturalist-guided hikes through the year, which is a great way to get acquainted with the landscape here that takes you high and low.

3. Cave of the Mounds
Let’s start with credentials. Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds is designated a “National Natural Landmark,” yet it may be easier to remember it as the “jewel box” of America’s major caves, named as such for the delicacy of its formations. The main cave began forming more than a million years ago as acidic water dissolved the limestone bedrock. A lower portion of the cave was formed by rushing waters of an underground stream. Every drop of water entering the cave carries with it dissolved calcium carbonate, which leaves calcite crystals on the cave ceiling, walls and floor. It can take upwards of 150 years to deposit one cubic inch of these crystal formations.

The cave was accidently discovered in 1939 when workers removing limestone from a quarry blasted into rock, revealing this stupendous underground cavern with rooms, galleries and nooks and crannies. Today, more than 25,000 students visit the cave each year. Choose a hot summer day to visit – the cave has the same temperature every day of the year, a cool 50 degrees. General Manager Joe Klimczak noted they’re still discovering more passageways. “The cave is still unveiling itself to us and we’re just a blip on the geologic timeline.”

4. Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park, not far from Wisconsin Dells, is the most visited state park in Wisconsin. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy the 360-acre spring-fed lake, the 500-foot bluffs teetering over it and the 30 miles of trails that comprise the trifecta of this natural wonder.

Scientists believe the bluffs were formed 1.6 billion years ago, making them one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America. Part of the Baraboo Range, this “ancient rock and roll” consists of hill ranges surrounding a canoe-shaped depression. The ranges are resplendent for their plum-colored quartzite, a metamorphic rock formed from sandstone put under great heat and pressure. It’s a strong, dependable rock for experienced rock climbers. Sue Johansen, the on-duty naturalist, suggests visitors make a point to hike the east bluff to see Balance Rock and Devil’s Doorway, two oddities created by Mother Nature.

5. Chain O’Lakes
If one Wisconsin lake is wonderful, then how would you describe 28 lakes, all interconnected no less? The Chain O’Lakes deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin is the largest inland chain of lakes in the world. The depth of these lakes varies widely from one to the next, providing sufficient space for whatever floats your boat, be it water skiing, wakeboarding, pontoon cruising, canoeing, kayaking or fishing.

Now here’s a little secret on the Chain O’ Lakes: While the lakes themselves are 100% natural, it was the work of humans that connected all of them. Dams were built to dam up the Wisconsin and Eagle Rivers as a way to connect the lakes to serve the logging industry and generate electricity.

The Chain O’ Lakes crosses Vilas and Oneida counties and a number of the lakes border the Nicolet National Forest on the east shoreline of the chain, and this is wooded land that will never be developed. There are abundant boat landings along that shore for anglers hoping to catch bluegill, perch, northern and the granddaddy of all freshwater fish, the musky.

6. High Cliff State Park and the Niagara Escarpment
The locals call it “The Ledge;” the limestone cliff that runs through High Cliff State Park, situated on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest lake. Mind you, this is no ordinary limestone cliff. It’s the Niagara Escarpment, a 440-million year old cliff that begins in Wisconsin and extends 1,000 miles to Niagara Falls. In fact, without the Escarpment there would be no Niagara Falls. In Wisconsin, this major land feature is rich with fossils, old native forestland, rare plant species, caves, waterfalls, bat hibernacula, and is a migratory stop for birds in the spring and fall. This rock corridor also has petroglyphs, pictographs and effigy mounds, clues to the state’s Native American past.

As you drive into the lower part of High Cliff State Park, you’ll have a clear view of the entire cliff. There are nine miles of hiking trails in the upper park, along with another nine for horseback riding. There’s also more than a mile of shoreline along the lake with sandy beach, marina and public launch. No trip to High Cliff is complete without scaling the Lookout Tower in the upper park where you can see 30 miles to the north, west and south.

7. Horicon Marsh
Horicon Marsh has the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the nation. It’s located in southeast Wisconsin and is best known as a migratory stop for vast flocks of Canada geese. But it’s more than just geese. It’s home to more than 290 species of birds, including the largest nesting population of redhead ducks east of the Mississippi. It is here that you’ll also find the largest nesting rookery in Wisconsin for the great blue heron. The majority of the marsh is wetland ecosystem, a shallow, peat-filled lakebed scoured out of limestone by a massive glacier. But there are upland habitats too like prairie and woods, providing the needed diversity to support the many types of wildlife through the seasons.

Essential for your visit to Horicon Marsh is a pair of binoculars to bring the wildlife closer to you without disturbing them. You can observe American white pelicans dive, Forester’s terns take flight, wild turkeys feed, and yellow-headed blackbirds call to each other. And be sure to get out on the marsh by boat, canoe or kayak. That’s the advice of Marc Zuelsdorf, whose family, starting with his father, has been conducting tours of Horicon Marsh for nearly 50 years at the Blue Heron Landing.

Outdoor adventures await in Missouri State Parks

Missouri DNR photos
With summer around the corner, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature in Missouri’s state parks and historic sites.  Spending a night under the stars, hitting the trails and enjoying a day on the water are all options for guests enjoying Missouri State Parks.

“Whether your family has a tradition of enjoying the outdoors, or you have yet to explore the natural wonders on display in our state parks, I’d like to invite all our guests to try a fun new activity in Missouri State Parks,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks. “It’s a great time to try kayaking, enjoy s’mores around the campfire or simply visit a park you’ve never experienced before.”

While planning a trip to a state park or historic site, guests can view parks by region and by activities available at mostateparks.com/find-a-park. Trail options, lodging opportunities and fishing types are among the topics users can select to find the perfect location for their next state park visit.

Many state parks are located on lakes and offer easy access to water activities at Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Stockton Lake, Pomme de Terre Lake, Truman Lake, Long Branch Lake, Mark Twain Lake and Lake Wappapello.  Guests interested in kayaking can take advantage of two new water trails at Stockton State Park near Stockton and Finger Lakes State Park north of Columbia.

State park campgrounds offer a variety of amenities ranging from basic campsites for tent campers to campsites with sewer/electric/water hookups for recreational vehicles. Campgrounds offer hot showers, laundry facilities, dump stations and other amenities. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis or can be reserved in advance.  Starting at noon on May 23, campers can enjoy the re-opened campgrounds at Big Lake State Park in northwest Missouri and Viney Creek Recreation Area in southwest Missouri.

In 2013, Missouri was named the best trails state in the nation by American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of the nation’s hiking, biking and riding trails.  Missouri State Parks includes nearly 1,000 miles of trails for guests to discover and is proclaiming 2014 the “Year of the Trail”.  The celebration includes trail-related special events and programs as well as a new GeoChallenge on the Missouri State Parks mobile app that challenges guests to navigate to trailheads in state parks and historic sites.

In March, Gov. Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon launched the second year of the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge. The challenge encourages Missourians to complete “100 Missouri Miles” of physical activity by walking, running, biking, rolling, paddling or hiking throughout Missouri, including Missouri’s state parks. To sign up for the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge and begin logging miles, or to continue an existing account, visit 100MissouriMiles.com.

From nature programs to guided hikes, guests can also enjoy upcoming special events taking place day-to-day in Missouri State Parks. On June 28, guests will join thousands of people across the nation for the Great American Backyard Campout.

For more information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, to find a special event near you, or to make a camping reservation, go to mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Top Waterfront RV Parks for 2014 Named by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide



Pirate Cove Resort, Needles California
The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory announced its list of Top Waterfront RV Parks for 2014. These RV parks are located on or near the banks of some of North America's most popular lakes, rivers and ocean shores.

For water loving RVers, these parks provide easy access to fabulous recreation. In many of the parks, the shore is just a few paces from guests' front doors. 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.

Some of the list’s Highlights:
  • Several parks on the list cater to RVers who love boating and waterskiing. Located on the Colorado River in Nevada, Willow Beach Marina and Campground, for example, rents boats and kayaks to visitors eager to explore the area's sheer cliffs and sandy beaches.
  • A number of parks offer the ambience of a seaside community, such as Point Hudson Marina & RV Park, a short walking distance from historic Victorian Seaport with its quaint shops and restaurants. 
  • Rustic lakesides are the norm for RV parks like Spring Creek Marine and RV Park in Texas, where guests can boat, waterski or swim in a beautiful constant-level body of water.
Facts about Waterfront RV Traveling
  • According to a study by PKF Consulting, 48 percent of RVers hit the water to go fishing, while 14 percent of RV travelers go canoeing and kayaking.
  • A report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows that boating has been taken up by 88 million Americans, many of whom tow their watercraft by RV.
  • After years of anemic sales, powerboats have bounced back, with a 10 percent increase in sales in 2012 and another 5 to 10 percent expected in 2013.
Choosing the Parks
The editors and consultants of the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory chose the list of Top Waterfront RV Parks from the annual publication's database of 8,000 private parks.

In addition to in-depth listings of RV parks and campgrounds across North America, the Good Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory features travel itineraries, helpful maps and informative tips that RVers need for a journey anywhere in North America.

Top Waterfront RV Parks:

Arizona 



California 



Florida
Georgia 
Maine 
Massachusetts
Michigan
New Jersey


North Carolina 
Oregon
South Carolina 
Texas
Washington
CANADA
British Columbia 

Video: RV Battery Testing Quick Tips, presented by KOA and RV Education 101




Enjoy this 4:15 video from KOA and Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on "How to Test your RV Batteries."

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
In this RV how-to video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 demonstrates some simple methods for testing your RV batteries

Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk

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"

Minnesota State Parks seeks volunteers for PlayCleanGo Day - June 14

The 2nd annual PlayCleanGo Day on June 14, 2014 will be held at 13 participating park locations around Minnesota.

PlayCleanGo Day coincides with National Get Outdoors Day and State Park Open House Day.  We invite you to join in the celebration at one of the following:
Buffalo River State Park

  • Carver Park Preserve
  • Elm Creek Park Preserve
  • Fort Snelling State Park
  • Gooseberry Falls State Park
  • Hyland Park Preserve
  • Itasca State Park
  • Jay Cooke State Park
  • Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
  • Minneopa State Park
  • Sibley State Park
  • Whitewater State Park
  • Wild River State Park

 Three volunteers are needed to assist at each park between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Volunteers will talk to park visitors about the PlayCleanGo outreach campaign, terrestrial invasive species and simple prevention steps to avoid spreading harmful pests.  There will be handouts and boot brushes for adults, and temporary tattoos for kids.  There will be short tours of invasive plants where there is easy access to existing infestations.   Site specific resources will include a map of infested areas and laminated photos of the species present.

PlayCleanGo volunteers need a basic understand of terrestrial invasive species and the threat they pose to the state’s natural resources.  Talking points and a reference folder will be provided to assist with questions that may come up.  Volunteers need to get to their designated location and bring water, snack, sunscreen and bug repellent.  Volunteers will be given a PlayCleanGo ball cap, tee-shirt and poncho to use on site and take home with them.

One of the three volunteers at each location will serve as the Go-To Person.  Ideally, these people will be PlayCleanGo partners, prior PlayCleanGo volunteers, Master Naturalists, Woodland Advisors or an active participant in a similar volunteer program.  These volunteers need to arrive at their location by 10:30 a.m. to set up the table.  They will coordinate breaks, and at sites where field tours of invasive plants are feasible, organize periodic tours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (the tour leader can be any three volunteers).  At 3 p.m., the Go-To Person will also be responsible for packing up any remaining supplies and returning them to park staff.  The other volunteers will assist in these efforts.

If you are interested in serving as a Go-To Person for a particular park, please visit the link below and select the park where you’d like to assist.  https://doodle.com/yky24m62k27s4zfz

If you are interested in volunteering in one of the other two volunteer positions, please visit this link and select your favorite park location.  https://doodle.com/dt2ve6pihwcmdnkd

Volunteer positions are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.  If you have any questions, please contact For more information, contact Susan Burks, Forestry Invasive Species Program Coordinator, St Paul at 651-259-5251 or email Susan.burks@state.mn.us  .  Once signed up, you will be sent some forms to fill out and return, along with the PlayCleanGo talking points.