Michigan state parks celebrate the new year with First Day Hikes Jan. 1

Beautiful people enjoying a beautiful day of impossibly
beautiful hiking in a random photo from the Internet.
Rejuvenate with a family-friendly trek through a state park close to home

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will sponsor free, guided hikes in Michigan state parks on New Year’s Day (plus additional hikes throughout the week) as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike Thursday, Jan. 1, at a nearby state park. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome a new year with friends and family.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks," said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson. "First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the new year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks.”

“Last year, we hosted nearly 28,000 people who hiked 68,811 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes,” said Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies. Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. Last year marked the first time all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles or longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website. Visit www.naspd.org to find a First Day Hike nearest you.

Michigan state parks are extending the celebration to a full week of healthy events to start off the new year on the right foot with “Shoe Year's Hikes.” Events will be offered at the following locations:

  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County): Dec. 31, 6 p.m. 
  • Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County): Jan. 1, 11 a.m.
  • Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), Jan. 1, 10 a.m.
  • Mitchell State Park (Wexford County): Jan. 2, 1 p.m.
  • Bay City State Recreation Area (Bay County): Jan. 3, 10:30 a.m.
  • Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County): Jan. 3, noon
  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County): Jan. 3, 1 p.m.
  • Ludington State Park (Mason County): Jan. 3, 6 p.m.
  • Sterling State Park (Monroe County): Jan. 4, 1 p.m.


For details about Michigan’s Shoe Years Hikes, visit www.michigan.gov/gogetoutdoors.

Ohio RV SuperShow coming to Cleveland from Jan. 7-11

Largest Indoor RV Show in the Country Fills the I-X Center
Includes Over 600 RVs – it’s The Great American Getaway!

The Great Lakes Recreational Vehicle Association’s Ohio RV Supershow is America’s largest indoor recreational vehicle show. This year’s show will celebrate 38 years of showcasing the newest RVs all under one roof.

Check out over 600 of the newest RVs including tent campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels and motor homes – back by popular demand is the Hastily Assembled Grassroots Band and Animal Interaction Experiences from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The show will be held January 7-11, 2015 at the I-X Center.

“The Ohio RV Supershow is the largest indoor RV Show of its kind in the country,” said Bruce Wolfson, president of the Great Lakes RV Association. “We have the top RV dealers at our show offering the very lowest RV prices of the year. And, don’t miss the great family animal entertainment from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Hastily Assembled Grassroots Band on the weekend.”

Attendees can gather RV-related information at the Campground and RV Supplier Area, which is filled with brochures and other materials on over 100 campgrounds, sporting vacation areas and RV clubs and organizations from Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, Michigan, West Virginia and Florida.

Back by popular demand at the Ohio RV Supershow is the chance for attendees to win 15 days of FREE camping in Ohio, sponsored by www.campohio.net. Winners will be picked EVERY hour each day of the show.

The Great Lakes Recreational Vehicle Association (GLRVA), which is a trade organization in Northeast Ohio, hosts the 39th Annual Ohio RV Supershow. Their mission is to educate the public about recreation vehicles and the recreation vehicle lifestyle. Members include RV dealers and related businesses. Tickets are available at the I-X Center Box Office: $12.50 for adults; Children 12 and under FREE; and 2-Day Passes are $20. Discount coupons for $2 off on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday January 7, 8 & 9 are available at all participating RV Dealerships and on www.ohiorvshow.com.

For further information click www.ohiorvshow.com

Hours:

  • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – January 7, 8 & 9 – 12pm – 9pm
  • Saturday, January 10 – 10am – 10pm
  • Sunday, January 11 – 10am – 6pm

Location: I-X Center, 6200 Riverside Drive * Cleveland, Ohio 44135

National RV Trade Show: Flagstaff Superlite 23FBDS


Editor's note: Another post from the National RV trade Show.

Flagstaff Superlite 23FBDS
A new double-slide floorplan for the Forest River Flagstaff Superlite travel trailers line was turning heads at the Louisville show. Found on the 23FBDS model, the opposing slides, one housing the kitchen galley and the other a dinette, plus the unit’s Murpy bed/sofa feature serve to create a wide open living space in a length coming in at about 24 feet.

Both photos are by Shawn Spence for RVBusiness magazine.
(My employer)
The 23FBDS, the second-generation of the 23FBS, will appeal to couples wanting ease of use and expanse of space, Brett Doberenz of Forest River told me.

“A lot of the customers who are empty-nesters who had the bunkhouses and then went and got the fifth-wheel,” he said. “Well, now it’s too much to handle and they want to downsize. This is a piece that’s going to give them a lighter weight, shorter alternative but still has a lot of room inside.”

Available with an Emerald package upgrade, the dry weight comes in at about 5,100 pounds and the MSRP for the 23FBDS is in the mid $20,000s.

National RV Show: Dynamax DX3

Photo by Shawn Spence for RVBusiness (my employer).
Editor's note: Another RV that caught my eye at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, and this one falls into the "If Money Were No Object" category.

Dynamax DX3
Featuring a completely re-engineered Freightliner M2 chassis exclusive to Dynamax , the all-new DX3 Class A motorhome made its debut in Louisville

The new chassis is “much lighter, much less costly, and it’s still a better frame than what we had,” Dynamax President Jim Jacobs told me. “It’s been engineered to maximize structural integrity, improve road stability and maximize exterior storage compartment capacity.”

The weight and cost savings allowed Dynamax to add a number of features to the unit with a modest increase in price, about $5,000. A handful of those features include: Aqua-Hot hydronic heating system; dual 18,000 BTU fully ducted AC units with heat pumps; porcelain tile flooring; quartz solid surface countertops; 8,000-watt Onan diesel generator; and 3,000-watt inverter.

In addition, the DX3 now has Carefree Mirage roof-mounted integrated awnings with LED lighting, yet another high-end feature Jacobs said isn’t what you would expect on a coach with an MSRP of $289,000.

Jacobs made special mention of the exterior storage. “We have pass-through storage on all the compartments now where before we didn’t,” he said. “We’ve gone to Rotocast ribbed baggage compartments as well, which are much more durable and lighter weight. That’s taken a ton of weight off the frame buildup of the coach, but it’s a much stronger, much more rigid design. We’ve also straightened the walls out and put new aerodynamic fiberglass caps – front, rear and top transitional cap – which are all new, all redesigned.”

While stating Dynamax is not a high volume production manufacturer, Jacobs said the DX3 “is a product we know we can sell between 500 and 700 a year. That’s significant, but between that the Force (Class C motorhome) we know we can do those numbers.”

The DX3 prototype at the Louisville show, as well as another to be displayed at the Tampa show in January, are two of five floorplans that will be available as 2016 models.

National RV trade Show: YETI Coolers


A few of YETI's coolers.
Editor's note: Another of my takeaways from the National RV Trade Show in Louisville. And, yes, I know YETI Coolers aren't necessarily new, but this is my blog and they caught me eye at the show.

Will Morgan and Casey Sellers of YETI Coolers, based in Austin, Texas, were at the National RV Trade Show looking to enlist dealers to add the company’s premium coolers and accessories to their retail operations.

I'm pretty sure I want one. Or three. One for drinks. One for food. And a third one that's made for toting around. They retain ice longer than any cooler I know (days, not hours!) and they're bear-proof. Bears aren't a problem where we camp so much as clever raccoons, but retaining ice is huge. 

Here's a link to their website page where you can watch dozens of videos of their coolers in action.

“We’ve been selling into the RV industry for quite some time but this was our first real show to attend and I think it’s been well-received,” Morgan told me. “We’ve made a lot of contacts with a lot of people. The future of YETI Coolers and the RV industry paired together is looking good. We’re real excited about the opportunities.”

Morgan added that dealers, who have been using YETI Coolers as a purchase incentive for their customers, are helping generate some buzz for their product. The two said the outlook for 2015 bodes well. The 8-year-old growth has experienced 100% growth every year it’s been in existence, and they hope to maintain that lofty pace. 

Several sizes of the familiar grizzly-proof hard-sided YETI Coolers were on display at their booth at the National RV Show. The company has since branched out to offer soft-sided line as well as insulated stainless steel mugs and a variety of apparel. Furthering their reach into the RV arena makes sense, Sellers said, because coolers and camping go hand-in-hand.

“Everyone who camps needs a good cooler, whether it’s installed in their motorhome or as part of their camper,” Sellers reasoned. “Or, if they need a portable one they need to take with them, it’s good to have a good sturdy cooler that’s going to give them good ice retention as well.”

National RV Trade Show: Orion P24RB by Coachmen RV

Editor's note: Here's another RV that caught my eye at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville earlier this month. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of it.

The interior of the Coachmen Orion (Photo by Shawn Spence
RVBusiness magazine - my employer)
Add Coachmen RV to the growing number of RV manufacturers -- the Winnebago Travato comes to mind -- which are building a Class B+ motorhome on the front-wheel drive Ram ProMaster chassis. The Middlebury, Ind.-based division of Forest River Inc. debuted the Orion P24RB, powered by a V-6 Pentastar 3.6L gas engine, at the National RV Trade Show.

Given the future of government-mandated fuel economy standards, Mike Bear, Coachmen RV’s president of Class B and C motorhomes, told me the timing was right for the Class B+ Orion to enter the market.


“I think really what we’re offering here to the public is a coach that really will do what a van camper will do from a handling and fuel economy point of view, but for a lot less money,” Bear said, adding MSRP on the mostly standard Orion starts at $86,000, and its fuel economy is estimated at about 16-18 mpg.

With a nod to a sister unit in the Forest River family, the Dynamax Rev, Bear said they launched the Orion with an industry standard floorplan -- featuring a rear bath and a drop-down queen bed over the living area -- and expects consumers will use it more as a touring coach than as an RV.

“They aren’t necessarily going to be RVers or weekenders, but it’s more of a situation where they’re going to be driving from their house in Michigan to their house in Arizona and they want to be able to have a restroom and cook and pull over and sleep if they want to,” he said.

National RV Trade Show: Dometic 9100 Power Awning with PowerChannel Technology

Editor's Note: This is the fourth of several posts from my trip to the National RV Trade Show earlier this month in Louisville, Ky.

Dometic 9100 Power Awning with PowerChannel Technology
First and foremost: This is a cool product, but it's expensive.

Brent Taylor of Dometic told me the Elkhart, Ind.-based RV supplier has been trying to "understand the needs of its end-users more," and a result of that is the 9100 Power Awning with PowerChannel Technology, which essentially is an awning with a built-in power strip along the length of its roller tube.

Spotlights, fans, Bluetooth speakers and other accessories simply and securely connect to the PowerChannel. An integrated LED light strip provides ambient lighting as well.

Dometic’s patent-pending Power Transfer Module puts 15 amps of 12V power from the vehicle directly through the roller tube PowerChannel. Multiple accessories can be connected simultaneously.

“What we’re seeing at campgrounds is people are putting Christmas lighting on their awnings to try and get ambient lighting at their campsites for functional outdoor living space,” said Dometic’s Brent Taylor. “We wanted to go beyond our competitors and not just give people an LED strip in their awning but the ability to make themselves more comfortable.”

As for its durability, Taylor said the PowerChannel will “far outlast the awning.”

Available to OEMs and as an aftermarket item in April, its average MSRP is $1,500 (depending on length).

National RV Trade Show: Winnebago Spyder fifth-wheel toy hauler

Editor's note: This is the third of several posts of my visit to the National RV Trade Show earlier this month in Louisville, Ky.

Winnebago Spyder 24FQ
In sharp contrast to the rest of its lineup, the Winnebago Spyder 24FQ -- the first ever toy hauler from the Middlebury, Ind.-based towable division of Winnebago Inc. -- features a deep black gel-coat fiberglass exterior, augmented with red swooshes and reflective graphics. On the front cap, a highly conceptualized spider is placed prominently. On the inside, innovations include seamless faux concrete countertops, contrasting wood grain finishes and webbing (not netting) to stow gear in keeping with the Spyder theme.

“(Toy hauler owners) want something that’s different, something that makes them look special when they’re out in the desert with their bikes and whatnot,” Winnebago Towables President Johnny Hernandez told me. “The other thing we did on the outside of it is we wanted a nice contoured look. Instead of real jagged lines, we contoured it and we complemented it with frameless windows, enclosed heated underbelly, three toy locks, edgier wheels and tires, a really good sound system called Rockford Fosgate and a spare tire carrier where you just pull a pin and the tire slides out like it’s on a trombone.”

The prototype at the Louisville show was produced with little time to spare, Hernandez said, adding that there will be three floorplans by the end of February. Production starts in January and MSRP is about $45,000.

National RV Trade Show: Norcold Polar Max 18 Refrigerator

Editor's note: Here's the second of several posts from my visit to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. earlier this month.

Norcold Polar Max 18 Refrigerator
One of the recent trends in RVs has been residential appliances in big Class A motorhomes and fifth-wheels. The same appliance you'd find in your home is now being put into RVs, and chief among these has been refrigerators. 

Which is fine, unless you're not connected to shore power. If you're not connected to the campground's electricity, then you're out of luck because the residential frig won't run on propane. And the residential frig isn't built to withstand the rigors of travel. It's meant to be parked in your kitchen at home, not running down the highway to go camping.

Norcold introduced the largest refrigerator designed for an RV on the market, the Polar Max 18, at the National RV Trade Show. At the same time, Norcold launched a marketing campaign, called “Freedom Unplugged,” to remind the industry why RV-dedicated refrigerators are important. 

“It gives you all the size and interior space of a household unit, but without the pitfalls of a household unit,” Andy Bialorucki, marketing director at Norcold, told me. “The gas absorption cooling unit allows you the freedom to go anywhere you want. You have all the benefits of a large household size refrigerator without the need for extra batteries, or a need for an inverter or any other extra power source.”

Having been in the RV refrigerator business for 50 years, Norcold understands the unique demands of RV applications. The Polar Max 18 has French doors so as not to require too much clearance for opening the refrigerator’s doors, for example. Primarily, though, its ability to run on either AC or propane that sets the Polar Max 18 and other Norcold refrigerators apart from residential units. And that is the primary reason for the “Freedom Unplugged” campaign, Bialorucki said, to remind people of the virtues of a dedicated made-for-RVing refrigerator versus consumer home appliances that have found their way into some motorhomes and towables. 

National RV Trade Show: Thor Motor Coach Adds New Dynamic Floor Plans

Editor's note: Here's the first of several posts from my visit to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. earlier this month. In my new position as Associate Editor of RVBusiness magazine and RVBusiness.com, I was able to get to go to this three-day RV show that is not open to the piublic. Traditionally, this i where the manufacturers and suppliers showcase their new products for the coming year. While the Dealer Open House in Elkhart has somewhat stolen the thunder of the Louisville show -- most manufacturers choose to debut their new RVs at this show -- the Louisville show is still pretty cool.

Thor Motor Coach Adds New Dynamic Floor Plans
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) debuted new additions to the Tuscany XTE, Hurricane, Four Winds, Axis, Windsport, Chateau and Vegas motorhomes at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National RV Trade Show.

While I'm not into motorhomes yet -- my wife and I plan on being snowbirds in our future -- I can certainly appreciate the comfort and luxury and engineering that goes into motorized RVs, and these examples from TMC are no exception. (Although, it's hard to reconcile my RV having a nicer television than what I have in my house.)

Also, I hope you don't mind but my photos were awful. (I need to buy a wide-angle lens.) I hope these publicity shots will suffice.

The Tuscany XTE 40AX focuses on entertaining the masses. Reclining theater seats are positioned directly across from a 60-inch LED Smart HDTV. (I never understand why designers make you crain your neck and look sideways at the TV in some floorplans.) The TV retracts into the counter below when it’s not in use, giving way to a beautiful view of the outdoors. The 40AX also features an additional 40-inch LED TV, which is convenient when sitting down at the dinner table. Preparing meals and storing the leftovers is a breeze with the residential kitchen appliances, standard in every Tuscany XTE motorhome. The custom-built Amish cabinetry will amaze and delight, looking like it came out of a coach costing thousands of dollars more.

The Tuscany XTE motorhome lineup gains two new floorplans with the addition of the 40BX. It’s the first in the XTE lineup to offer bunk beds. Bunk beds have been so popular in gas motorhomes that it only made sense TMC introduced it to their Class A diesels. TMC puts a twist by implementing a unique three-door arrangement that gives the bunk area complete privacy from the living area of the coach. The kids will feel like they truly have a bedroom of their own, especially when it comes time to watching their favorite cartoon or DVD on their own bunk TV. (But I have to ask: Is this camping? No, but it certainly is RVing  ... in style!)

Thor Motor Coach has created a good solution to those wanting a coach with two bathrooms. The Hurricane and Windsport models now have a “half-and-a-bath” in the 35C floor plan. Instead of placing the full bathroom in the rear and the half bathroom in the middle, they switched the locations.

This make sense because now you can enjoy true privacy and not have your guests trudging through your bedroom to take a shower. TMC paid close attention to owners’ needs with this floorplan and created an astounding amount of walk space in the bedroom, a multitude of dresser and closet space, and a variety of sleeping areas. TMC didn’t forget the entertainment aspect and answered it with theater seating and the Always-in-View 40-inch LED TV.

Thor Motor Coach’s “Recreational Utility Vehicle” (RUV) - my magazine's RV of the Year last year -- continues to grow with the addition of the 25.2, available in Axis and Vegas RUV brands. The RUV is sized like a large SUV, and drives like one, but offers so much more. The 25.2 is the first in the lineup to feature a bedroom slideout that houses a walk-around queen size bed with a Denver Mattress. The innovative L-shaped sofa with a removable pedestal table provides a place to eat, a place to watch TV, or a place to sleep.

For Class C RVers, the new 29G is available in both Four Winds and Chateau motorhomes. Class C owners want convenient and functional amenities outside as much as they do inside. To respond to the demands, TMC now offers an exterior kitchen as standard on the 29G. The exterior kitchen features a refrigerator, kitchen sink and portable gas grill. To go the extra step, you can opt for an exterior 32-inch TV as well.

For more information on Thor Motor Coach motorhomes, visit ThorMotorCoach.com.

About Thor Motor Coach
Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is the only “Made to Fit” motorhome brand in North America. TMC’s diverse product lineup includes many of the world’s most recognized Class A and Class C motorhomes. As the industry leader in innovative design, TMC builds a variety of unique styles, sizes and floor plans that feel custom-made – at a truly competitive price. For more information, visit ThorMotorCoach.com or call 800-860-5658.

DNR advises not to move firewood between state parks to prevent spread of oak wilt



Oak wilt outbreaks are increasing in Michigan and the Department of Natural Resources has conducted treatment at several state parks to halt the spread of the disease.

Oak wilt is an introduced disease that causes rapid death of infected trees. The fungus is easily transported by beetles from infected wood to nearby wounded trees. Trees cannot be cured of oak wilt, and once a tree is infected the disease can rapidly spread to neighboring trees through underground root graft connections. The loss of large numbers of oak trees in parks can be dramatic, both for the park visitor experience and the ecology of the natural habitat.

“The likely cause of the oak wilt outbreak at Michigan state parks is the movement of infected firewood into campgrounds,” said DNR natural resources steward Heidi Frei. “Campers and other park visitors can help prevent the spread of the oak wilt fungus by not moving firewood between campgrounds.”

DNR Parks and Recreation Division staff has been working the last several years to stop the spread of oak wilt at Michigan state parks throughout the state, including P.J. Hoffmaster, Otsego Lake, Interlochen, Warren Dunes and Hartwick Pines state parks; and Fort Custer, Rifle River, Waterloo, Brighton, Pinckney and Island Lake recreation areas.

Treatments in 2014 included using a vibratory plow fitted with a special blade (designed and fabricated at the DNR’s Forest Fire Experiment Station in Roscommon) that severs grafted tree roots, isolating healthy trees from infected trees. Treatment also included the application of fungistats, which inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungi, and which have been used in areas declared critical dune habitat.

“If left unchecked,” Frei said, “oak wilt will continue to spread and result in large pockets of standing dead oak trees, which may be hazardous to park visitors.” Some parks, such as P.J. Hoffmaster, have experienced considerable losses. More than 100 large red oaks, including the most picturesque grove of red oaks in the campground, have been killed by oak wilt.

For more information on oak wilt prevention and stewardship, visit www.michigan.gov/foresthealth or contact Heidi Frei at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov.

Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan launches new device-friendly website

BAY CITY, Mich. - Campers looking for a Michigan campground, campground events and news, and more can find it all on the Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds of Michigan's all new website.

The site, www.MichCampgrounds.com, which launched today (Dec. 19), is highlighted by a campground directory which allows campers to search for a park in Michigan by region-northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest lower peninsula and the upper peninsula-and by campground features such as park and site amenities, and recreation activities.

"We're very excited about the launch of our new site, which we are confident campers will find insightful and informative," said Lori Tews, executive director at ARVC Michigan, which exclusively represents the interests of privately owned and operated RV parks and campgrounds. "We designed the site with travelers in mind, so it works well on computers, tablets and smartphones. Campers can find the information they need anywhere and on any device."

The ARVC Michigan site also features camping news, keeps campers apprised of news about association and camping-related issues, as well as camping-related events and programs across the state.

The unique "camper's guide" section of the site offers helpful checklists for both tent and RV campers.

"Anyone who has camped has had a trip where they have forgotten to pack one or more essential items, whether it is extra tent stakes for their tent or waste tank chemicals for their RV," said Tews. "We want campers to enjoy their vacation, and that starts with the reassurance that they have packed everything they will need while they're at the campground."

ARVC Michigan represents nearly 165 campgrounds with more than 25,000 sites available throughout the state. These privately-owned campgrounds are promoted in an annual Michigan Campground Directory, available at various locations statewide, including all Michigan Welcome Centers. The association's mission is to lead in the development of the RV Parks and Campground industry through education, communication and representation. ARVC Michigan is an affiliated partner of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). (www.gocampingamerica.com).

Recreation.gov's future is under consideration

According to the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), in 2012 outdoor recreationists made more than 938 million visits to Federal lands and waterways, spending $51 billion and supporting 880,000 jobs.  The primary vehicle for reserving space on those federal lands and waterways is www.recreation.gov.  While a vital tool, the site still needs improvements and agencies like the U.S. Forest Service (which is responsible for Recreation.gov) are looking for ways to improve this resource.

The following story on the matter was published in the 2014 November-December American Recreation Coalition Newsletter:

As the primary tool for booking campsites on federal lands, www.recreation.gov plays an important part in connecting Americans with their public lands.  The website unified separate reservation programs serving federal lands and has substantially beefed up its role as a source of information about outdoors fun.  New technologies and new insights about serving outdoors enthusiasts are being considered as the federal agencies prepare to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the next generation of the website.

The site allows users to book thousands of campsites, cabins, fire towers and more -- even the White House Easter Egg Roll, but many other activities key to visits to federal sites are not available on the site.  These include rooms in national park lodges, lift tickets to ski resorts on national forests, lodging and tours linked to gateway communities and much more.  In addition, operational restrictions on the current website operator, ARC-member Active Network, have limited outreach and promotion efforts.  A growing number of interests are also calling for better access to www.recreation.gov by outside “booking engines” like Kayak and Hotwire, modeled after sales of hotel rooms and airline flights.

On November 13, the U.S. Forest Service – which manages Recreation.gov on behalf of all federal recreation providers – held an Industry Day at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado to discuss the digital future of the nation’s public lands.  According to the event editorial produced by USFS, roughly six dozen representatives attended the session.  As a result of the feedback received, the public comment period on a draft of the Request for Proposals has been extended to November 30.  Another draft RFP will be submitted for public comment in early 2015 prior to the release of the final RFP.

ARC supports several goals for www.recreation.gov, including: allowing the website to be nimble and responsive to changes in technology over the next decade; facilitating interaction between this website and the websites of state tourism agencies, gateway communities, airlines and other major players in domestic and international tourism promotion; and adding important features such as trip reports and peer-to-peer sharing.

Ben D. Nasta, Director of Communications
American Recreation Coalition

Guest Post: Top 3 Whitewater Spots In Michigan

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, Michigan is home to some amazing whitewater areas. From mild rapids perfect for beginner rafters to intense whitewater for experienced kayakers, these top three whitewater spots in Michigan offer something for everyone.

Menominee River
The Menominee River is a good choice for beginner and intermediate boaters. The 116­mile river runs southeast from Iron Mountain, Michigan and forms a portion of the border between northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is home to Piers Gorge, the deepest whitewater gorge in the Midwest, with walls more than 100 feet high. Some of the best guided whitewater rafting in the entire state can be found along the Menominee River, making it an ideal destination for those who are just getting their feet wet in the world of whitewater. This river also has a short but exciting 4­mile section that provides even expert paddlers with a class II­V whitewater run that is one of the best in the Midwest.

Presque Isle River
Known as a kayaking river with opportunities for rafting, the Presque Isle River is for more advanced whitewater enthusiasts. The river runs through a beautiful, remote area in the northern part of the state, and it is one of Michigan’s best­known rivers for whitewater activities. The river is class IV difficulty, and it is known as the most challenging whitewater river in the Midwest. It has also been named one of the top 10 wild whitewater rafting trips in the US. Unrelenting rapids carry boaters through a hemlock and pine forest in an isolated canyon. Originating in the forests of Michigan and Wisconsin, the river rushes toward Lake Superior and has plenty of whitewater and thundering waterfalls to create a challenging and thrilling experience. The average trip along the Presque Isle River takes two to three days.

Paint River 
The Paint River is good for beginners and intermediate boaters that is best for whitewater paddling. With a total length of 30 miles, a trip along the Paint River typically lasts 12 to 15 hours. It is a more relaxed alternative to some of the other rivers in area, and it is one of the most family­friendly rivers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The class III Hemlock Rapids provide a bit of a challenge for more experienced enthusiasts, while the Horserace Rapids section, which has been rated as a class II, provides excitement and challenges appropriate for newer boaters.

Michigan provides beautiful scenery and numerous whitewater boating opportunities for paddling, rafting and kayaking. Northwoods Adventures is home to highly­skilled guides who are eager to take beginners and intermediate boaters on the adventure of their lives on Michigan’s top whitewater rivers. Start your Michigan adventure today

Michigan state parks accepting applications for 2015 campground hosts

Michigan DNR photo
Each year during the warmer months, hundreds of volunteers spend their summers camping for free at Michigan state parks and state forest campgrounds in exchange for their service as campground hosts. Although the 2015 camping season is still several months away, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is accepting campground host applications now, with positions available as early as April and as late as October.

Campground hosts are responsible for 30 hours of service per week, including directing visitors to their campsites, answering questions about the park or recreation area, planning campground activities and performing light park maintenance duties. Volunteer duties take place throughout the summer (including weekends and holidays), with a minimum commitment of four consecutive weeks.

Individuals and/or teams (such as husband and wife) at least 18 years old are eligible to apply for campground host positions. Hosts must furnish their own camping unit, equipment and personal items.

Hosts are screened and interviewed by site managers and selection is based on familiarity with the state park system, camping experience, special skills, availability and knowledge of the area.

New campground hosts are required to attend training, which will take place June 3-4, 2015, at the Ralph A. MacMullan Center in Roscommon, Michigan.

For additional information about the DNR's Campground Host Program and how to apply, go to www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers or contact Miguel Rodriguez at 517-284-6127.

11 First Day Hikes to be held at Wisconsin state parks Jan. 1, 2015

Wisconsin DNR photo
Anyone looking to start their New Year's resolution for better health can start the year off on the right foot by participating in any of 11 First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park properties on Jan. 1.

On a First Day Hike, visitors can enjoy exciting 1- to 2- mile walks through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park rangers and volunteers. Most hikes include additional activities such as campfires, s'mores, crafts, costume contests and storytelling.

America's State Parks and American Hiking Society are teaming up with state park programs across the country to promote First Day Hikes as a healthy and memorable way to start the New Year.
All 50 states are participating in the fourth annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.
In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:

  • Buckhorn State Park - Join the Friends of Buckhorn on a First Day Hike adventure of the Barrens Nature Trail. Bring your snowshoes or skis, or check out a pair of snowshoes from the park office. Half the trail will be packed for snowshoes, half tracked for skiing. Pets are not allowed on groomed snow trails. If there is no snow, there will be a hike. The trail is 1.5 miles and is fairly easy and level. Visitor will also be able to try finding geocaches along the trail and can check out a GPS unit from the park office with the coordinates already loaded to learn how to do this fun activity. Hot chocolate, coffee and treats will be available at the park office to warm up after the hike. Meet at the Barrens Nature Trail parking area. 2 to 4 p.m. For information call 608-565-2789. For more information about geocaching in Wisconsin State Parks, visit www.wi-geocaching.com/wga-state-park-series.
  • Devil's Lake State Park - Take a twilight hike/snowshoe through Roznos Meadow. Dress warm and bring a flashlight and snowshoes. The park will have snowshoes to loan as well. 3:30 to 5 p.m. For information call 608-356-8301.
  • Harrington Beach State Park - Join staff and volunteers for a First Day Hike, ski or snowshoe around frozen Quarry Lake or along the Shuttle Trail. This will be an easy hike. The Shuttle Trail provides picturesque views of Lake Michigan. This is also a winter Open House Day at Harrington Beach. No vehicle admission sticker will be required. The Friends of Harrington Beach will be hosting an open house, complete with warming fires, hot chocolate and treats. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. For information call 262-285-3015.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit / Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Meet at the Hausmann Nature Center parking lot to hike or snowshoe for 3-4 miles. Wisconsin state park entrance fee will be waived on this day at Lapham Peak. Join us at the Hausmann Nature Center afterwards for beverages and snacks. Feel free to bring a lunch and hang around for a while. 11 a.m. to noon. For information call 262-594-6200.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit - Meet at the Beach Parking Lot off of Kettle Moraine Road in Hartford at noon. Leashed dogs are welcome on this hike. Noon - 1 p.m. For information call 262-670-3400.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit - Meet at the John Muir Trailhead and hike the 4 mile white loop. 1 - 2 p.m. For information call 262-594-6200.
  • Mirror Lake State Park - Bring snowshoes or winter boots for some fun winter hiking around the park. A trail guide will show some of the beautiful highlights of Mirror Lake and a little its history. The adventure starts at noon from the Winter Recreation Area (aka Beach-Picnic area). Snowshoes are not available at the park but are available for rent through local vendors. Sponsored by the Friends of Mirror Lake. Noon to 2 p.m. For information call 608-254-2333.
  • Peninsula State Park - Celebrate the New Year with a hike or snowshoe up to 3 miles with the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Meet at Weborg Shelter. Bring water bottle, binoculars, field guide and dress for the weather with hiking boots or snowshoes. Following the hike, enjoy a hot beverage around a warming fire. Purchase admission sticker at park headquarters or self-registration station. No pets please. 10 a.m. to noon. For information call 920-854-5976.
  • Richard Bong State Recreation Area. Join in the celebration to start your year off right! Meet at the Visitor Center. 1 to 2 p.m. For information call 262-878-5601.
  • Whitefish Dunes State Park - The park will hold two First Day Hikes. In the morning there will be a First Day Winter Detectives Hike - Hike in search of animal tracks and other clues to uncover the secret lives of animals at the park and in your yard. Join the naturalist for a short hike then warm with hot beverage. Meet at the Nature Center. 9 - 10 a.m. In the afternoon there will be a Winter Wears First Day Hike - Join the naturalist for a short hike then warm by the shelter building fire with hot beverage. Meet at the Nature Center. 2 to 3 p.m. For information call 920-823-2400.

On Jan. 1, 2014, 190 participants hiked a total of 605.7 miles at nine different state park properties, up from 165 participants who hiked a total of 396 miles in 2013.

Nationwide last year, more than 27,000 people took part in more than 800 hikes in all 50 states - an increase of 5,000 participants over 2013, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.

For helpful cold weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society's website at www.americanhiking.org. For a complete listing of all State Park events, including First Day Hikes, search the DNR website for keywords "get outdoors."

All participants are encouraged to log their First Day Hike adventures on social media with the hash tag "#firstdayhikes."

Enjoy Illinois Video: Chicago for the Holidays



Enjoy this video from EnjoyIllinois on Chicago for the Holidays.

Here's what EnjoyIllinois had to say about its video:
From endless shopping and festive parades to Santa spreading cheer by train, nobody does the holidays quite like Chicago. See more seasonal attractions at http://www.enjoyillinois.com/seasonal/winter

Winegard Unveils the Rayzar Automatic, its First Fully Automatic Over-the-Air HD TV Antenna for the RV Road Warrior

Winegard, a leader in antenna design, development, and manufacturing, showcased its first-of-a-kind Rayzar Automatic, a fully automatic HD TV antenna that quickly scans for all available local broadcast channels. Winegard unveiled the Rayzar Automatic at The National RV Trade Show 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.

This easy-to-use antenna is a must-have item for RV enthusiasts who want to enjoy top-rated programming as well as local news and weather anytime, anywhere.

This dual band antenna boasts state-of-the-art technology ensuring effortless usability and an optimal viewing experience every time.  The Rayzar Automatic external hardware searches for live, local signals, while an LED wall plate inside the RV illuminates all locations where TV signals are available.  The antenna positions itself automatically to ensure maximum channel availability. However, there is a manual override option that allows the user to look for a specific broadcast channel.

Like all Winegard consumer and commercial products, the Rayzar Automatic is designed and manufactured at the company’s Burlington, Iowa manufacturing facilities. Combined with Winegard’s state-of-the-art Surface Mount Technology, the Rayzar Automatic’s ultra-low noise amplifier provides unmatched signal strength for better picture quality with little-to-no pixilation or picture loss.  The Rayzar Automatic pulls in both VHF and UHF channels.

The modern-looking Rayzar Automatic measures only 15.5 inches in diameter by 7 inches high, weighs a light 4.5 pounds, and is very easy to install with a simple coax hook-up. Unlike other antennas on the market, there is no need to drill a hole in the roof for a crank handle.

A sleek, low-profile dome houses the technology, looks good and protects the hardware from shock, vibration, high humidity and extreme temperatures.

The U.S. Patent Pending Rayzar Automatic comes in black or white for $399 USD at Camping World Super Centers and RV dealerships nationwide.  It is expected to begin shipping mid-December.

About Winegard 
Since its inception in 1954, Winegard has been on the forefront of antenna technology delivering unmatched expertise and experience in the development, design, and manufacturing of satellite and terrestrial television and broadband reception products.

As a privately-owned company, Winegard has achieved many milestones over the years including designing the first U.S. multi-channel television antenna for the home market and later introducing the first over-the-air antenna to the RV industry.

Winegard has introduced more than 1,000 different antenna models with more than 80 product patents, making its products the benchmark for design, quality and performance.

RV Education 101 Video: RV Campground Tips for Better Trips



Enjoy this video by Mark Polk of RV Education 101.

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
A big part of the RV camping experience is the campground experience. In this informative RV video KOA Resident RV Expert Mark Polk with RV Education 101 offers some tips and tricks to help make your campground experiences the best they can be.

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"

Gone with the Wynns Video: RV Smackdown - Bounder vs Excursion Livability



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

See the full scoop here: http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/rv-smackdown-fleetwood-bounder-excursion-comparison

Here's what the Wynns had to say about their video:
In our past RV Smackdowns we’ve questioned the large price difference between an entry-level Diesel RV & a mid-level Diesel RV, we’ve given our thoughts on Diesel vs. Gas RV engines and chassis…now it’s time to put the “house” part of a Gas RV head-to-head with a Diesel RV. Doing our best to compare RVs in an “apple-to-apple” style we’ve handpicked the 2015 Fleetwood Bounder 33c and the 2015 Fleetwood Excursion 33d to see how they compare.

Remember we're just trying to compare the "house part" of these two motorhomes :)

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.


Rollin' On TV Show: Ice Castle Fish House Trailers



In this episode of Rollin' On TV Show (#2014-25), the crew goes to Minnesota to check out Ice Castle Fish House trailers. Also while in Minnesota, Jeff visits the North House Folk School and the Lake Superior Rail Road Museum, a couple of interesting stops you should put on your agenda while in Minnesota.


United Shade debuts three lines of RV roller shades for manufacturers and the aftermarket

Dicor Corporation affiliate United Shade is helping both RV manufacturers and RV dealers take advantage of the popularity of roller shades with several offerings that were highlighted at the 2014 National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., which ends today.

Under the company’s  “Shades of Excellence” theme, the offerings come in three designs, and can be motorized or manual, including:
  • Heavy Duty (HD) options for heavy fabrics with a long traverse, available in Day/Night Motorized, Day/Night Slow Up and Night and can be motorized or manual.
  • Light Weight (LT) to help shave off unit weight. Lighter than HD with a smaller mounted profile, this design is great for tight spots between valances and windows. It is available in Day/Night Motorized, Single Motorized and manual Slow Up.
  • The Classic Series (CS) with an elegant retro look. It uses familiar, residential style adjustments and a no-headrail design that’s perfect for space and weight restrictions. Employs universal wall or ceiling mounting brackets and is manual only.
“United Shade provides the most comprehensive roller shade product offering in the industry,” said United Shade President Bob Keller. “United Shade is truly the shade expert in this regards, and we see some great opportunities for our manufacturing partners to augment their décor with these distinctive, popular and highly convenient shades.”

“Furthermore, in the aftermarket these offerings provide a simple way for RVers to enhance the interior décor of their present units while adding a lot of convenient shade functionality.”

“We believe there is a great opportunity here for dealers and RV service centers to provide this kind of makeover in their aftermarket sales, and we are initiating a training program through which they can become Certified Shade Installers for United Shade products. The program is designed to take the complexity out of the process of ordering, installing and maintaining these shades. It’s a whole new revenue stream at their doorstep.”

United Shade roller shades and information about its Certified Installer Program will be available at the Dicor Corporation booth # 230-244 in the North Wing Lobby, Hall 2A.

For more information about United Shade and its products, visit www.unitedshade.com.

The Dicor Corporation is a major, long-time supplier to the RV industry through its affiliated companies: Dicor Products, Seal Design, United Shade and Vixen Composites. Although selling a wide range of products, all Dicor Corporation companies commonly thrive as customer-driven and focused on simplicity, innovation and customer confidence in whatever they sell.

Guest Post: Winter - The Adventures Never Stop in Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah, Year-round Natural Playground, Welcomes Winter RecreationistsvWith Moderate Temperatures and Host of Adventures

MOAB, Utah – From November to March visitors to Moab, UT, often find themselves in solitude and silence, at the same time enjoying off-season rates in one of the world’s great natural playgrounds.

Many of the outdoor experiences offered during warm weather months continue through winter, said Jamie Pearce, manager of the Moab Adventure Center.  “Think trail running and hiking, exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks by air or trail, Hummer safaris and touring by motor coach; or snowshoe, cross-country ski and back-country ski and snowmobiling in the La Sal Mountains rising some 12,000 feet over Moab.”

Several outfitters stay open year-round. La Sal Mountain Nordic Skiing & Hut Rentals arranges back-country ski tours and rustic accommodations for up to 10.  Located on Moab’s main drag, Moab Adventure Center http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/ provides the following services year-round:


The Gonzo Inn, Sunflower Hill B&B and Fairfield Inn & Suites Moab near Arches National Park offer a choice of lodging styles at off-season rates. Moab Adventure Center carries an inventory of outdoor gear, clothing and equipment in its downtown store location.
 
“Our team knows the ins and outs of the region’s mountains, canyons and national parks and we can mix and match suggestions for both independent and guided activities to match visitor abilities, budgets and interests,” said Pearce. 
 
Moab Winter Calendar of Events (see: http://www.discovermoab.com/calendar.htm
  • Dec 6, 2014: Winter Sun 10K - A fast course, great raffle prizes and delicious finish food make the 32nd annual Winter Sun 10K a good reason to visit Moab when the air is crisp and the skies are blue and sunny. Call 435-259-4525 or visit www.moabhalfmarathon.com
  • Feb 14, 2015: Moab Red Hot 33k/55k - A 55k & 33k trail race starting at Gemini Bridges and finishing at Poison Spider. Visit www.grassrootsevents.net or call 719-429-9501.
  • Feb 27-Mar 1, 2015: Dogs on Course of North America - Agility Competition Dogs run courses with their handlers through obstacles like tunnels, jumps, weave poles. For more information call 970-248-9516.
  • Mar 9-10, 2015: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Moab - The year's best films on Mountain Adventure and Culture. Please visit www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival/worldtour/ or call 435-259-4859.
  • Mar 14-17, 2015: Moab Skinny Tire Festival - Celebrating Life and the Sport of Road Cycling. Four days of exhilarating road cycling in the spectacular red rock canyons, arches and mountains of Moab, Utah. This event is a fund raiser for cancer survivors and research programs and directly benefits the Moab Cancer Treatment Center and regional cancer treatment programs. Please visit www.skinnytireevents.com or call 435-260-8889. 
Winter Climate / Weather in Moab, Utah
Temperatures are moderate, with daytime highs averaging 44°F in December, 43°F in January, 52°F in February and 63°F in March. There is little to no precipitation. The parks’ scenery changes very little from season to season. Juniper trees stay green year-round. Cottonwood trees grow in the bottom of washes and lose their leaves. The main attractions - the red sandstone formations - take on a richer hue in moist conditions and transform themselves when flocked with snow. Heavy snowfall is uncommon. Winter storms occur occasionally and they typically drop rain or light snow. Snow usually melts quickly in sunny areas but may accumulate in shady spots and turn to ice. Winter hikers need to be prepared to cross snow on some trail sections and to use great care if there is ice on trails. Most of the trails in the national park go through areas where there is plenty of sunshine and it is usually very pleasant to hike during the day. Typically all that’s needed is a jacket.  Spring comes early in the Arches area. By late February, tiny wild flowers are starting to push through the soil and nighttime temperatures are moderating. February is a great month to visit the park.

About Moab Adventure Center
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/), 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 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.

Michigan's Sleepy Hollow State Park to host series of free, winter programs in December

Winter is settling in, but there’s plenty of cold-weather fun planned at Sleepy Hollow State Park in Laingsburg, Michigan this December. Outreach coordinator Michelle Trowbridge will lead several free programs, open to participants of all ages, on the first three Saturdays of the month at 11 a.m. Programs include:

Dec. 6: Geocaching & Cocoa
Join Michelle at the park's east picnic area for some winter geocaching. After the expedition, participants are invited to warm up by the fire with hot cocoa. GPS units will be available for participants to borrow, free of charge.

Dec. 13: Nature Treasure Hunt & S’mores
Meet at the beach for a hunt of the treasures Mother Nature left in the winter. Afterward, come warm up by the fire and make a s’more.

Dec. 20: Bird Feeders & Cocoa
Learn how to make a bird feeder for feathered friends and enjoy the fire and some cocoa at the east picnic area. All birdhouse materials provided.

Please contact the park at 517-651-6217 for more information about these programs. Sleepy Hollow is located at 7835 E. Price Road in Laingsburg, approximately 30 minutes north of Lansing.

All programs are free of charge, but all vehicles entering the park must have a Recreation Passport.

A Recreation Passport is required for any motor vehicle entering a Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks.

Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

Camping World Video: Champion 4000 Watt Generator



Electricity is a convenience that we expect every day. When the power goes out or there is no electricity available, many daily activities are limited. A cost-effective solution to this problem so that you are never without electric power is the Champion 4000 Watt Portable Generator.

RVDA Honors Towable and Motorized RV Brands with Quality Circle Awards for Dealer Satisfaction

In a ceremony today, the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) will honor RV brands built by 15 manufacturers with its Quality Circle Award in Louisville, KY, just prior to the opening of the National RV Trade Show.

These brands/manufacturers received at least 15 dealer responses and scored 80 percent or above in overall dealer satisfaction in the association’s 21st Annual Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey.

“The DSI Quality Circle Award recognizes RV brands that dealers tell us are doing a superior job with their overall approach to building products and supporting dealers.  Their focus on quality allows us to provide our customers with a great overall RV experience,” said RVDA Chairman of the Board John McCluskey of Stuart, FL-based Florida Outdoors RV Center.

The towable RV manufacturers/brands receiving awards are (in alphabetical order by manufacturer):

  • Airstream
  • Forest River (Rockwood Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels/Rockwood Roo Expandables); 
  • Grand Design (Momentum, Reflection, Solitude); 
  • Gulf Stream (Innsbruck/Amerilite/Conquest/Kingsport); 
  • Heartland (Big Country/Elk Ridge, Big Horn/Silverado, Cyclone/Road Warrior/Torque, North Trail/Wilderness, Prowler/Resort, Sundance/Gateway, Trail Runner/Fairfield); 
  • Jayco (Camping Trailers, Eagle, Jay Feather, Jay Flight, White Hawk); 
  • Keystone (Bullet/Premier, Cougar/X-lite, Hideout/Energy/Retreat, Montana/Big Sky/High Country/Mountaineer, Outback/Terrain, Passport/Elite, Raptor/Carbon, Springdale/Summerland/Residence, Sprinter); 
  • KZ (Sportsmen/Sportsmen Classic, Spree/Spree Escape/Spree Connect); 
  • Open Range 
  • and Prime Time (Avenger, Crusader/Sanibel, LaCrosse/Tracer, Spartan).

The motorized RV brands/manufacturers receiving awards are (in alphabetical order):

  • Airstream
  • Jayco/Entegra Coach
  • Leisure Travel Vans/Triple E RV
  • Pleasure-Way
  • Roadtrek
  • Tiffin Motor Homes
  • and Winnebago/Itasca/Winnebago Touring Coach.


In addition, two manufacturers will be recognized with a DSI Honorable Mention Award, with scores of 80 percent or above in overall dealer satisfaction from 10 to 14 responding dealers. They are (in alphabetical order): Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. and Newmar Corp.

When rating their brands/manufacturers, RVDA asks dealers to express, confidentially, their level of satisfaction on eight core issues:

  • Sales support
  • Sales territory
  • Vehicle design
  • Vehicle reliability/quality
  • Competitive price/value
  • Parts support
  • Dealership warranty support
  • Overall dealer communications

Four hundred and twenty-three (423) dealers from the U.S. and Canada responded to the DSI this year and provided 2,386 brand ratings, an average of 5.6 per dealer.

RVDA is the national association representing RV retailers. The association’s members include RV dealers, RV rental operators, and RV AfterMarket sales and service locations.  RVDA of Canada is a national, volunteer federation of provincial and regional RVDA associations which exists to protect and promote the interests and welfare of RV Dealers across Canada in order to enable the industry to maximize its potential.

“We wish to thank our outstanding dealer partners for the confidence they have shown in Winnebago,” said Winnebago Industries’ CEO and President Randy Potts.  “We truly believe we have the best dealer network in the industry and greatly appreciate their continued support.  We are also extremely proud to have received this award every year since 1996. The survey results provide us with an opportunity to continue to review our products, programs and service to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers.”