valley of fire – part one: our campsite

We camped last week in the Valley of Fire State Park about an hour and a half east of Las Vegas, Nevada off US Route 93. We were traveling with friends who also own a Leisure Travel Van.

There are two campgrounds in this state park. The park is also surrounded by public lands providing plenty of opportunity for boondocking – free camping for RV/tents that are self-contained.

Both of the campgrounds in the state park are first come first serve, no reservations allowed. At the front gate there’s a sign that says the campgrounds are full, ignore it – the people at the gate told us it’s not true. One of the campgrounds has a few campsites with water and electric hookups, but these campsites are almost always already taken by someone else.

We parked our rig in the second campground where all of the sites are dry camping – water available but no electricity. Our site had a nearby water faucet across the road about 65 feet from us. Our friends actually had water right on their site.

There are many Big Horn Sheep in this park with plenty of photo ops since these animals seem to not have any fear of humans. The landscape here lives up to its name, the rock formations are predominately red as fire. Come along as we explore our campground in the Valley of Fire…

Early morning visitor posed for a photo op next to our campsite.
Boondockers just outside the state park boundary.
Our campsite was surrounded by red rock cliffs.
Our rig in the late day shadow of the nearby cliffs. Peeta (one of our traveling pups) is behind our rig checking out our site.
Our friends were able to get a campsite right next to us. They have the silver and black Serenity, ours is the beige and white Unity.
We prefer state parks because the campsites are always much further apart and more spacious than privately owned RV parks (parking lots). Luna (one of our traveling pups) is checking out our site.
Visitors to our campsite late in the day.
Some of the rock formations and cliffs around the campground.
Near our campground is an opportunity for exercise. MaryAnn and Jane (one of our friends) ventured to the top.
MaryAnn (on left) and Jane (on right) both our sporting their bike helmets. We took a ride on our ebikes to do a little exploring around the campgrounds on our first day.
Many of the rock formations look like bee hives.
Many small arches in the rock cliffs around the campground.
One of many cliffs around the campground. Notice the petroglyphs.
More of the cliffs around the campground.
The sun setting on the surrounding cliffs above our campsite.
The sun setting.

Our campsite at Valley of Fire State Park is now one of our favorite stops while traveling in Nevada. It’s quite, beautiful, spacious and pristine with plenty of wildlife available for photo ops! Next we will explore the rest of the park with our ebikes…

pics from the road, route 93 – wickenburg to las vegas

We’ve been on the road this past week traveling on US Route 93 through northern Arizona and east of the Grand Canyon. This route is one of my favorite scenic drives. The road goes through Joshua Tree National Forrest (Arizona), special little towns like Wikieup, Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Hoover Dam area. Most of the pictures were taken from our RV at 70 miles per hour (MPH). Come along as we travel the Barber road…

The Colorado River east of the Grand Canyon as seen from route 93.
Near Wickenburg, Arizona.
Route 93 north in Arizona.
Near Wickenburg.
Wind Turbine Farm off route 93.
Wikieup, Arizona.
Wow! They sure grow them big here in Wikieup!
Joshua Tree National Forrest in northwest Arizona.
Route 93 goes through Joshua Tree National Forrest.
Joshua Tree.
Joshua Tree.
Northern Arizona.
Route 93 in northern rizona.
Route 93 in Arizona.
Views from route 93.
As seen from route 93 in Arizona.
Arizona at 70 mph.
Colorado River as it meanders through the mountain gorge into the Grand Canyon.
A bend in the Colorado River as seen from route 93.
Colorado River from route 93.
Colorado River as seen from route 93.
Views from route 93.
Arizona, east of the Grand Canyon.
Views from route 93 in Arizona.
Arizona at 70 mph.
Pic taken from route 93 at 70 mph.
Arizona from route 93.
The Arizona border traveling south on route 93.
Route 93 in northern Arizona.
Route 93 north approaching the Hoover Dam area.
The border of Nevada at the Hoover Dam.
The Hoover Dam from route 93 at 70 mph.
Lake Mead, Nevada going south on route 93.
Snow capped mountains surrounding Las Vegas.
Las Vegas, Nevada as seen from route 93.
Trump Tower in Las Vegas.
Mountains around Las Vegas.
Mountains around Las Vegas, power lines are everywhere to bring electricity to the city.

US Route 93 passes through a very beautiful part of northern Arizona. The Grand Canyon is breath taking and everyone should visit the Canyon at least once in their life, but don’t stop there – take time to see the rest of Arizona, you won’t be disappointed.

We’re On The Road This Week

On our way to Las Vegas and then on to Valley of Fire, Nevada Dry camping in Wickenburg, Arizona last night

Stopped at Constellation County Park last night in Wickenburg, Arizona. Dry camping at $8 per night.

The Traveling Pups are excited to be back on the road!

Some pics from the road, 60 west in Arizona

Military helicopter practicing for putting out fires. Notice the bucket of water underneath the helicopter 60 west from Phoenix to Wickenburg

the road to california

Interstate 10 Series:

From Phoenix, Interstate 10 continues west across the Sonoran Desert to Tonopah, then on to Quartzsite and California. Join us as we travel the Interstate 10 corridor through western Arizona…

Only 347 miles to go on Interstate 10 west!
I-10 west from Phoenix.
I-10 west.
Interstate 10 west is surrounded by mountainous terrain know as “Sky Islands”.
Unless otherwise indicated, all pictures are mine. Most are taken while driving our RV on the interstate.
We stopped for the night at Saddle Mountain RV Park in Tonopah, Arizona.
The Traveling Pups relaxing in our tiny house.
As seen from I-10 west.
Interstate 10 west to Quartzsite.
Views from I-10.
From Interstate 10.
Interstate 10.
From I-10.
All photos taken with a zoom lens at 70 miles per hour on Interstate 10.
Quartzsite, Arizona. Interstate 10 runs straight through the middle of Quartzsite. Like most of the small towns in Arizona they began as mining communities. (Quartzsite was also a stage coach servicing stopover and watering hole from 1863 to the 1880’s –
Here we are boondocking at the Quartzsite RV Rally with some of our RV friends.
Quartzsite, Arizona a little over 3,000 permanent residence. However, in January every year hundreds of thousands of the RV community gather here, RV’s as far as the eye can see – maybe farther! Quartzsite is surrounded by Beau of Land Management land (BLM) or public land that anyone can camp on for up to 14 days at a time for free. No amenities – no water or electric hookups just dry camping or boondocking as its called. People come from all over North America for this event each year, there’s a huge tent set up (Large red & white tent in the center of the picture) where RV and RV accessories and equipment are sold, everything from shoes & clothes, hair cuts, eye glasses, Tire Pressure Monitor Systems, hot water heaters, batteries, you name it! If it’s something a full time RV’er would need it will be sold here, even items for your pets. (Picture downloaded from Arizona.)
Each night we gathered around the campfire with our friends. Temperatures during the day would rise to upper 60’s low 70’s at night in the 30’s (Fahrenheit)
Sunset in Quartzsite, Arizona.
What are the camels doing in Quartzsite you might ask…
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups at the Hi Jolly Monument in Quartzsite. The monument remembers a time in American history just after the Civil War when the US Army attempted to import and use camels to operate in the Southwest Deserts.
Entering California is a lot like entering a foreign country with vehicle inspections for fruit and firewood, etc.

This is not the last time we will see Arizona, but for now Arizona will be in our rear view mirror. California, here we come! Interstate 10 west will take us all the way to the Pacific Ocean…

the road west

Interstate 10 Series:

We begin our trek west on Interstate 10 in Tucson, Arizona. There are many things to see and do in Tucson; The Desert Museum, Pima Air & Space Museum, Saguaro National Monument (east & west), and Colossal Cave just to name a few. A couple camping spots we enjoy while in Tucson are Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Gilbert Ray County Campground.

Join us as we take a quick peek at Tucson before heading north on Interstate 10 west to Phoenix…

The majestic Saguaro are everywhere throughout the city of Tucson. The only place in the world where Saguaro Cactus grow is in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico and south-central Arizona.
Tucson is surrounded by mountains, Catalina Mountains to the north (seen here), Tucson Mountains to the west, Sahuarita Mountains to the south and Rincon Mountains to the east.
Pima Air & Space Museum is located just outside the gate of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Picture taken from the museums website.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has a very large RV park.
Our campsite at Davis-Monthan.
Nestled in the Tucson Mountains west of Tucson is Gilbert Ray Campground, another of our favorite places.
Gilbert Ray in the Tucson Mountains is very close to the Saguaro National Monument – West.
Our campsite at Gilbert Ray.
Sunset at Gilbert Ray.
Tucson is also home to Arizona University. “A” Mountain as seen from I-10 with a zoom lens.
This is “A” Mountain very close to downtown Tucson as seen from Interstate 10.
More of the mountains in Tucson as we continue west on Interstate 10.
Mountains in Tucson.
Tucson doesn’t look like a desert.
Go west or is it north? We’re going north but this is Interstate 10 west.
Seen from Interstate 10.
Town of Marana, just north of Tucson. Arizona has five economic commodities: Cattle, Copper, Corn, Cotton and Commerce.
From Interstate 10.
Just north of Marana there’s a Military training air field.
Throughout the Sonoran Desert there are Mountain ranges called, “Sky Islands.”
Farmlands north of Tucson.
Interstate 10 has three lanes in both directions most of the way between Tucson and Phoenix.
As we continue north toward Phoenix the topography begins to change as we drop in elevation. Phoenix is at the lowest point in Arizona, after Phoenix the elevation begins to climb once again. Tucson is at 2,200 feet in elevation, Phoenix is at 1,086. Consequently Tucson is 5-10 degrees cooler than Phoenix year round.
Looming large over the desert landscape is Picacho Peak just south of the city of Casa Grande.
Picacho Peak is the site of the farthest west Civil War battle on April 15, 1862 that ended with a Confederate victory, however the Confederates were eventually driven back into Texas by May of that year.
Picacho Peak.
Interstate !0, approaching from the south during the dry season. Picacho Peak is also the home of a state park that holds an annual reenactment of the Civil War Battle.
Part of Picacho Peak.
The moon over Picacho Peak.
Seen from Interstate 10.
Saguaro are prevalent at Picacho Peak.
From Interstate 10 approaching from the north.
Picacho Peak from Interstate 10.
Part of Picacho Peak.
Turkey Buzzards are prevalent throughout Arizona and can be seen flying overhead.
The road to Phoenix.
Along Interstate 10.
From Interstate 10.
Along I-10.
Along I-10.
Along I-10.
Along I-10 with a zoom lens.
Interstate 10.
From I-10.
The White Tank Mountains just west of Goodyear, one of the many suburbs/ incorporated towns around the city of Phoenix is our favorite place to camp while we are here.
Our campsite in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
The views of the Phoenix area from the campground.
Phoenix from White Tank Mountains.
White Tank Mountains.
Phoenix from our campground in the White Tank Mountains.

To see more of the White Tank Mountains visit my post entitled, “White Tank Mountains, Arizona.” There is still much to see in Arizona along the Interstate 10 west corridor. In our next post we continue west (actually going west this time, not north) to Tonopah and Quartzsite, Arizona. Quartzsite is home to the largest annual RV rally in North America, come along as we join in on all the fun…

the road to Tucson

Interstate 10 Series:

We are back in southern Arizona and ready to begin our journey from Tucson west to the Pacific Ocean on Interstate 10. We have already traveled east on Interstate 10 (I-10) from southern Arizona to Jacksonville, Florida, over 2,000 miles. Exploring the I-10 east corridor through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Now lets go west.

But first, let’s explore a small fraction of the area on the border of Mexico and Arizona. We will travel north on Interstate 19 (I-19), the only highway in America that I know of that is marked in kilometers instead of miles. The story goes that in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s there was a push in congress to change America to the metric system, they started experimenting with this on Interstate 19, but the idea never took off and now we are left with I-19 being the only road in America measured in kilometers. I can neither confirm or deny this story as true or false.

From I-19 we connect with I-10 in Tucson, Arizona. Come along as we travel to Tucson from the border of Mexico…

The Santa Rita mountains as seen from Interstate 19 (I-19) in southern Arizona.
Just west of Rio Rico and Interstate 19 (I-19) are the Atascosa Mountains. We are about 12 miles from the border of Mexico.
Atascosa Mountains in the Coronado National Forest.
Atascosa Mountains near Rio Rico, Arizona.
Atascosa Mountains.
Atascosa Mountains is part of Public Lands which means free camping.
Atascosa Mountains.
Atascosa Mountains.
Rio Rico looking east from the Atascosa Mountains just west of Interstate 19 (I-19).
San Cayetano Mountains also known as Rio Rico Mountain as seen from Interstate 19 (I-19).
Elephant Head Rock in the Santa Rita Mountains as seen from Interstate 19 (I-19) north.
The Whipple Observatory in the Santa Rita Mountains as seen with a zoom lens from Interstate 19 (I-19).
Santa Rita Mountains from I-19.
Santa Rita Mountains from I-19.
Another picture of Elephant Head Rock from I-19.
Santa Rita Mountains in the early December from I-19.
Encore of Elephant Head Rock looking south on I-19.
Santa Rita Mountains in January as seen from I-19.
Interstate 19 (I-19) going north to Tucson.
Interstate 19 in Green Valley. The Saguaro Cactus doesn’t grow south of Green Valley on I-19.
Just south of Tucson on Interstate 19.
San Xavier Mission from Interstate 19. San Xavier Mission is the oldest, still in use building and completely intact building in Arizona. San Xavier Mission, is also known as The White Dove of the Desert. The mission was founded in 1692 by Father Kino (a Franciscan Monk) and the building was completed in 1797. The mission is located on Interstate 19 south of Tucson and is still in use today. It Can be seen from the interstate. I took this photo from our motor home at 70 mph on interstate 19 with a zoom lens.
Tucson, Arizona from Interstate 10.
Tucson from Interstate 10.
Tucson from Interstate 10.

Couldn’t resist showing the road to Tucson from the border of Mexico. In my next post we will pick up on Interstate 10 west from Tucson to Phoenix, Arizona. Some people think of Arizona as desert, however as you can see from our pictures southern Arizona is anything but a desert. For more about southern Arizona see my post entitled “Southern Arizona” for just a smidgen more of the mountainous topography of the area.

the road to jacksonville, florida

Interstate 10 Series:

We began traveling on Interstate 10 east in southern Arizona and drove over 2,000 miles through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. From Alabama, Interstate 10 continues through the Pan Handle-Pensacola area and Tallahassee ending in Jacksonville, Florida and the Atlantic Ocean. We have traveled this road many times through rain and sunshine, wind and calm. Follow along as we travel Interstate 10 to Jacksonville…

Interstate 10 through the western Pan Handle of Florida.
Western Pan Handle as seen from I-10 in the rain.
One of our favorite places to stop for the night is Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area on the Gulf of Mexico.
Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area campsite.
Our campsite.
Sunset at Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area.
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups at Blue Angel Naval Rec. Area.
Sunset at Blue Angel Naval Rec. Area.
Pelicans like Blue Angel Naval Rec. Area.
Interstate 10 east through the Pan Handle of Florida.
A rest stop on Interstate 10.
Another RV park we have stopped at for a night near Tallahassee.
Interstate 10 east.
Rainy day on Interstate 10 in Florida.
We stopped for the night at an RV park called “A Stones Throw,” near Lamont, Florida east of Tallahassee. The Traveling Pups are stretching their legs after a day of driving.
A Stones Throw RV park in Lamont, Florida.
Many rivers and lakes along Interstate 10 throughout Florida.
Lake Jesup near Jacksonville, Florida.
Saint Johns River near Jacksonville.
The bridge over Saint Johns River into Jacksonville.
Saint Johns River.
Part of downtown Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is the end of the line for Interstate 10 east. In our next post we will start west on Interstate 10 from Tucson, in southern Arizona to California and the Pacific Ocean. Interstate 10 runs the entire length of the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. Follow along as we continue our exploration of this amazing road…

the road through Alabama

Interstate 10 Series:

Interstate 10 east continues from Mississippi through a very small part of Alabama off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, taking us through the city of Mobile. It’s in Mobile we had our first tunnel experience in our Leisure Travel Van (there really is a bright light at the end of the tunnel).

Mobile is a very beautiful and interesting city. We especially enjoyed our visit to the USS Battleship Alabama Memorial Park within a stones throw from Interstate 10. Take a look at the area around Mobile, Alabama on Interstate 10….

One of the many bridges in Mobile, Alabama on Interstate 10.
Mobile, Alabama.
A bridge into Mobile several miles away from I-10 picture taken with a zoom lens on a rainy day.
George C Wallace Tunnel under Mobile River.
Downtown Mobile.
Easy access to Battleship Memorial Park from Interstate 10.
Me and MaryAnn in front of the USS Battleship Alabama.
One of many tanks on display at Battleship Memorial Park.
9-11 Memorial at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama.
9-11 Memorial.
One of many memorials for all the foreign wars Americans fought in throughout history.
A retired submarine on display.
An international memorial.
Vietnam Memorial.
USS Battleship Alabama.
The Interstate 10, nine mile bridge over Polecat Bay, Chacaloochee Bay, Mobile Bay and onto Pensacola, Florida.
Part of the I-10 bridge.
The I-10 bridge from Mobile, Alabama to Florida goes on for around 9 miles.
Rainy day in Mobile, Alabama on the I-10 bridge over Chacaloochee Bay.

Mobile, Alabama and the USS Battleship Memorial Park are definitely worth a stop-look-see during your next trip on Interstate 10. The Memorial Park is inspirational and a respectful way of honoring those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Interstate 10 continues east into the Panhandle of Florida next. Come along as we travel east on our journey from southern Arizona to the east coast of the United States…

the road through mississippi

Interstate 10 Series:

Interstate 10 east continues on after Louisiana into Mississippi with more water, water, water. So much water that I would call this part of Mississippi, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the land of many bridges. Even interstate 10 becomes a very long bridge over the swamps of Mississippi. Come along as we take a snapshot of the coast of Mississippi as seen from Interstate 10 east…

The bridge crossing from Louisiana into Mississippi.
Pearl River, the border of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Pearl River. Mississippi.
One of the many bridges in Mississippi.
Picture taken from Interstate 10 bridge.
Draw bridge seen from Interstate 10, Mississippi.
Seen from Interstate 10.
One of the many long bridges of Interstate 10 through Mississippi.
We stopped at Keesler Air Force Base for the night.
Our tiny house at Keesler Air Force Base.
The Traveling Pups watching the squirrels at Keesler AFB.
Oil wells near Biloxi, Mississippi.
Near Biloxi.
The Interstate 10 corridor through Mississippi is just a small part of the state.
Getting close to Alabama.
Pascagoula River.
Pascagoula River.
Pascagoula River.
seen from Interstate 10.
Swamps of Mississippi.
Swamps of Mississippi.

Mississippi is a beautiful state and we have only looked at a very small part that Interstate 10 crosses through on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We will be returning to Mississippi in another post.

the road through the louisiana bayou

Interstate 10 Series:

Interstate 10 continues east after leaving Texas. Louisiana is next and it enters the scene with “The Strangest Bridge.” (See my earlier post about this bridge.) Southern Louisiana is about water; the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the swamps of the Bayou with alligators and alligator snapping turtles –

Alligator Snapping Turtle, “one of the heaviest fresh water turtles in the world and the largest in North America.” ref. picture & quote taken from Alligator snapping turtle – Wikipedia

Also the Bayou offers snakes bigger than you, Sasquatch and other legendary creatures no one wants to talk about. Of course, I can neither confirm or deny the existence of Sasquatch or other legendary creatures. But the bayou offers much more then just the chance to come face to face with scary creatures, the culture and beauty of the area is something you don’t want to miss. Take a look at the Interstate 10 corridor through Louisiana…

The strangest bridge at the border of Texas and Louisiana. See my earlier post on this bridge.
The Sabine River on the border Texas and Louisiana.
The water ways of Louisiana.
Water, water everywhere.
We love state parks, they provide much more room than most privately owned RV parking lots. Of course, if you just need space to sleep, anything will do.
MaryAnn and our Tiny House in the rain at Sam Houston Jones State Park, Louisiana off Interstate 10.
One of the walk ways through the Bayou in Sam Houston Jones State Park.
We had more than enough space to spread out at Sam Houston Jones State Park.
Watch out! There’s danger lurking about just beneath the surface of the Bayou…
Interstate 10 through Louisiana.
We stopped at one of the many privately owned RV parks just off I-10 in Louisiana. This one is near Frog City, Louisiana, we liked the theme of this park.
Our campsite at Frog City RV Park.
Frog City RV Park.
More water ways through Louisiana.
Not all water…
We also stopped at Tickfaw State Park near Springfield, Louisiana. Like the name, watch out for ticks! There are signs everywhere warning of this danger! Don’t forget about alligators either! Creatures small and great, both are dangerous…
Tickfaw State Park.
Swamps in Tickfaw State Park.
We had to keep a close eye on the Traveling Pups to protect against alligators and ticks.
Tickfaw State Park.
Mississippi is next on the I-10 corridor as we continue east.

Louisiana is a very interesting and beautiful state. We still have much to see and experience here, but for now Interstate 10 continues east to Mississippi…

(The picture above is of the Pecos River in southwest Texas.) My name is Terry C Barber, I am a disabled veteran, retired military and retired pastor. MaryAnn’s a retired special education teacher. Our Next Chapter, the open road – we call it “the Barber Road.” You're invited to join us as we explore North America in our Leisure Travel Van with two Shitzu pups.