I’m going to keep this as brief as I can. I have not been the best steward of updating our website with our travels. I’m much better at posting pictures through Instagram and Facebook, so I encourage you to follow me (Karen, aka Riveting Journey) on one of these sites if you want a more “real-time” connection to where we are located and what we are doing.

We have officially been full-time RVers for four years, with the slight blip of being stationary in Garner for six months in 2022 while I underwent treatment for lymphoma. My health is good—almost two years cancer-free!

We spent the first few months of 2024 mainly in Arizona. This recap starts in March. My last blog was about the Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary we visited on our 36th wedding anniversary (March 5). A few days later, we traveled to New Mexico to visit White Sands National Park and finally put New Mexico on our map.

White Sands is a fascinating place to visit, and it was PACKED! Of course, it was right around spring break for many school systems, so that could be why there were so many people there. We noticed people treating this park as they would a day at the beach, complete with dining canopies, sand umbrellas, grills, and cornhole. The sand is almost as fine as flour. We attended a ranger-led sunset walk, and over 100 people attended it. That was, by far, the largest ranger-led program we have ever participated in. Fascinating fact: Human fossilized footprints dating back 21,000-23,000 years have been discovered at White Sands NP.

We then made our way back across Arizona to Lake Havasu to boondock at one of our favorite spots. Lake Havasu has become one of my favorite winter-time areas to stay. Desert mountains, the Colorado River, Lake Havasu, several nearby state parks, and perfect temperatures make this an ideal location.

By the end of March, we were in Las Vegas, mainly so I could fly back to Raleigh for follow-up medical appointments (all is good!). We saw our first two baby rattlesnakes on a hike on the outskirts of Las Vegas (our first in four years of being on the road!). We also visited Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Las Vegas might be a party city, but stunning landscapes surround it.

We finally made it to Zion National Park in mid-April, and it was PACKED (this has become a strong theme in most national parks). Luckily, Zion has a well-organized shuttle system that allows access to part of the park. We spent one day enjoying a scenic drive through one part of the park, utilized the shuttle system for the other part on our second day there, and, on our third day, rode our bikes for a more scenic view on the shuttle route. (The shuttle buses were standing room only, so window views were not possible). A highlight of our trip to Zion: We met and visited with Sander and Weronika, who were on holiday with their six-month-old son from the Netherlands. We shared a group boondocking site with them on Sheep Bridge Road near Hurricane, Utah.

  

Next up … Capitol Reef National Park. This park features rock canyons, natural bridges, petroglyphs, and more. Given its location (the middle of nowhere), we were surprised by how busy it was, but it was well worth the visit.

We then relocated to the southeast portion of Utah to visit Valley of the Gods (awesome!) and Monument Valley (think Forrest Gump as he finished his long run after his mother died).

My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing to do is drive on remote dirt/gravel roads. Our old, reliable 2WD truck has been put through its paces these past four years in places that are probably better suited for 4WD. Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley are only accessible on dirt/gravel roads. And, if we had a smaller RV, we would have camped in Valley of the Gods as there are many dispersed camping sites throughout that area. It’s free and fun and self-directed. Monument Valley, on the other hand, is on Navajo land and requires an admission of $8.00 per person.

While in the southeast corner of Utah, we thought we’d trek to the Four Corners and Mesa Verde National Park (in the southwest corner of Colorado). Visiting the Four Corners is a “been there, done that, don’t need to do again” type of thing. But Mesa Verde National Park requires 2-3 days, preferably mid-May or later. We visited Mesa Verde NP at the beginning of May, and the ranger-led tours of some cliff dwellings had not started. This park needs at least two days because there is A LOT of driving to get to the places you’ll want to see. We barely scratched the surface, going down just one main road the day we were there. We thought of going a second day down another main road, but we just wanted to take a break for a while. Plus, we both wanted to see the cliff dwellings up close, and it wasn’t possible while we were there. Next time, we’ll visit later in May to catch all the good stuff!

Moab and Canyonlands National Park (PACKED) capped off our journey across southern Utah. I have to say that Alaska claimed the top spot among my favorites, but Southern Utah is a close second if it is not tied. We had fantastic camping spots with stunning views and were not disappointed with all there was to do. We will be back!

Even though we dipped our toes into Colorado before going to Moab, we ventured back into Colorado on May 10 for the rest of the month. Our first major stop was at Thousand Trails Blue Mesa (a campground that’s part of our Thousand Trails membership) in Gunnison, near the Gunnison River and Curecanti National Recreation Area. Our route to this area was changed because a bridge just a few miles west of our campground was closed for much-needed repairs. So, we had to go up and around and approach Gunnison from the east. This means we had to go over Monarch Pass (over 11,000 ft in elevation) on May 11, and it was snowing HARD. One minute, we were surrounded by green grass and temperatures in the 60s. Within a few minutes, as we got higher in elevation, we were surrounded by snow, with snow actively falling and nowhere to turn around. See Carl’s video of our scary adventure of getting stuck and towed to an unplowed, 2-foot-deep (of snow) parking lot!

After some quiet time and scenic drives around the Gunnison area, we moved to the Sacred White Shell Mountain dispersed camping area a few miles outside Great Sand Dunes National Park. Carl had put together a short video (Day at Great Sand Dunes NP) of our experience there. Again, it was PACKED!

 

As of today (June 1, 2024), we are boondocking near Rawlins, Wyoming, as we slowly make our way to Grand Teton National Park. We spent this past week at Rocky Mountain National Park, and my next blog will be about our experience there. TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)!

Note: Carl has taken over as our videographer. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, Riveting Journey.

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