Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Oregon – Our Top Hidden Gems!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates. 

Oregon is … simply put … EYE CANDY. If you blow through Oregon fast, this is one state you’re really missing some phenomenal things. Spend some time here! You won’t regret it. The Oregon Coast is one of the most amazing drives in itself. Make sure you spend some time driving the coast if you can. 

Some of the popular things in this state, I still have to highly recommend. Have you seen Thor’s Well or hike around Crater Lake? The Columbia River Gorge with the Multnomah Falls looks so picture-perfect, it’s almost fake! Cannon Beach and Mt. Hood National Forest are definitely the more popular things not to miss. But that’s not why you’re here! Let’s get to the Off the Beaten Path stuff!


Here are our pick’s for the unique and different finds.


Sea Lion Cave

Located 11 miles north of Florence on U.S. Highway 101 – The Sea Lion Caves along the Pacific coast in Oregon are a connected system of caverns where Steller’s sea lions (also known as northern sea lions) gather every spring and summer to breed and give birth to a new generation.

If you arrive and see no sea lions, it’s still a really cool place to see. At sea level, the ocean continually washes into the main chamber of the caves. The walls of the cavern are stained with a rainbow of colors because of the lichens and algae that grow in the dark, wet space.

Painted Hills

An unusual combination of a brutal high-desert climate mixed with the gentler lowland environment creates a setting for one of the most scenic landscapes in Oregon. Turn north to Burnt Ranch Road from Route 26 in Oregon, and it is impossible to miss them. This reminded us of South Dakota’s “Bad Lands” area. 

Octopus Tree of Oregon

Located in Tillamook – The Octopus Tree is believed to be around 300 years old. The tree itself extends from a central base that is nearly 50 feet around, and instead of shooting straight up with a central trunk, the body of the tree splits into a number of smaller trunks. The bizarre arbor has long been an attraction but the origins of its odd shape are up for debate.  

The Wreck of Peter Iredale

100-year-old shipwreck you can walk up to at low tide. The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore on October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. It was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens in Warrenton about four miles (6 km) south of the Columbia River channel.

The wreckage is still visible. Take SW 9th Street West from Warrenton proper and turn north on NW Ridge Road. Turn left/west onto Peter Iredale Road and follow it all the way to the beach, where there is a lot of parking about 200 yards from the wreck.

Crack In The Ground

MEcrackrock

I’m guessing coming up with a name wasn’t top on the priority list for this. Ha! This volcanic fissure is over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep – Simply called Crack in the Ground. There are 2 places in my travels I have found where I feel the most peace. Peace with everything and a calmness comes over me that it’s just hard to explain. Those two places are walking through a slot canyon, and next to a waterfall. Some people love the beach, I’m more of a waterfall girl. This crack in the ground is really amazing to walk through. It’s like a slot canyon and really is something to see. It’s over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep. If you can’t walk the whole thing, at least step inside a few feet of it if you can. It is located in the Deschutes National Forest. Hikers can walk the length of the main crack and explore its tributaries.

Airplane Home

Airplane

If you’ve followed along, you know how much I love strange homes and mystery castles with a story. Well … how about Airplane Home in the Woods? This man lives in a converted Boeing 727 parked out back. The aircraft’s owner, Bruce Campbell has been living in the airplane for six months each year since purchasing the plane in 1999 for $100,000. Equipped with water, electricity, and sewage plus 1,066 square feet of interior space, Campbell’s airplane home is pretty plush for all its eccentricities. This private residence is on private property, so check out his website for a tour if you’re interested. Campbell is happy to offer tours of his airplane in the woods.  Email: bruce@AirplaneHome.com

Elowah Falls Bridge

Elowah Falls (also called McCord Creek Falls). This reminds me of The Hobbit. Ha! I am sure you’ll feel the same way when you check it out. It’s on our list of places to see! So if you get there first, send me a picture or 5. Ha! If you allow us to post the pictures, I’ll give you credit!

2021 Update! One of our readers sent us this beautiful picture of Elorah Falls Bridge. Thank you to Holly for this picture, and you can follow her on Instagram @adventureswithholly. I highly recommend following her. She has some amazing and beautiful places to explore, not to mention incredible photography!!

Photo By Holly – IG: @adventureswithholly

Pillars of Rome

Located in Malheur County you will find these awesome and unique rock formations. Driving on Highway 95 South to Rome, then go west from Rome station the south for a little over a mile and you can’t miss this. Millions of years of weather erosion have given us an amazing sight to see. 

Natural Bridges Cove

Located on Hwy 101 along the southern Oregon coast, it holds many interesting natural wonders, including Natural Bridges Cove. Just before the CA border, there is the town of Brookings. This cover is just a couple of miles north of that. Just breathtaking. 

Salt Creek Falls

I mentioned my love of waterfalls, right? Salt Creek Falls is one of 7 Waterfall Wonders in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Region. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is one of Southern Oregon’s most powerful falls. A steep trail from the platform to the waterfall’s base is short but is not wheelchair accessible due to numerous stairs. The best viewpoint is halfway down this path. Salt Creek Falls Observation Site is 23 miles southeast of Oakridge and approximately 5 miles west of Willamette Pass. From Highway 58 look for the signs, turn onto Forest Service Road 5893, and follow the signs.

UPDATE! We visited the Oregon Coast this summer and found more for you!

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Have you been to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse? We visited this really unique lighthouse, with a really great story! Take the tour! It’s free! The beautiful scenery around it, is just as amazing.

Oh … A little advice!! Traveling down the Oregon Coast? Don’t feed the sea birds. Even if he or she looks you in the eyes, begs and promises to be alone. Don’t ask us how we know that!! If you decide your story will be different, don’t say we didn’t warn you! Ha!!!

Looking for RV camping in Oregon? Click the button below where we share all our free boondocking plus paid campground and membership camping areas.

We think you’d love these other blogs too!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Wyoming. Our Top Hidden Gems!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below, too. Each series will include a link to all the amazing free places we have stayed. And there is no shortage in Wyoming!

Hell’s Half Acre

Located 40 miles west of Casper. This geologic curiosity comprises of deep crevasses, caves, rock formations, and hard-packed eroded earth. Even though it’s called Half Acre, it’s actually over 300 acres of mysterious beauty. 

Travertine Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

This place is incredible! I know I say that a lot, but our country just amazes me, and though this place is possibly on the border of being popular if you go at the end of summer, it’s quiet and peaceful.

mammoth-50102_1280

  It’s ever-changing and one of those things that make you feel you’re on another planet. 

Smith Mansion

Ok, so you all know I love castles or strange houses, but mostly I love the history behind them, which is usually kind of mysterious and bizarre. This is no exception. Wyoming’s Smith Mansion has many rumors surrounding it, but the truth is that it is simply the work of a man who could not stop building.

Smith1me

I’ll let you read this interesting, strange story and the myths surrounding it today. Location: 2902 North Fork Highway, Cody, Wyoming, 82414 TIP: There is a RV Park so close to Smith Mansion, you could probably walk. 

Buford, Wyoming

Buford

Buford is the smallest town in the United States. Just fun to drive through to take a picture of the sign. Don’t forget to check out “Tree in the Rock”. The population is 1. 

Intermittent Spring

Located at the foot of a mountain just outside of Afton, Wyoming, Intermittent Spring (otherwise known as the Periodic Spring), is one of only three springs of its kind in the world that start and stop every few minutes for a reason science can only speculate on.

Researchers have not pinpointed exactly what causes the surprisingly regular ebb and flow of the spring, but they believe it has to do with an underground siphon effect. The water at the spring site is said to flow for 18 minutes straight before stopping for another 18 minutes. TIP: Follow the signs to the gravel road and drive 5 miles up. Hike an amazing 3/4 mile hike to the spring. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Don’t forget to explore the more popular things too. They are never less beautiful or less amazing. We love to travel to these more popular places, too. But we tend to do it more off-season and during the weekdays because we can! Wyoming has endless beauty. 

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Highly recommend exploring The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. And of course the National Parks! Our country is breathtaking. This is a more popular place, but it was worth a mention!

World’s Largest Hotsprings

Thermopolisme

Located in the town of Thermopolis, you can find the breathtaking hot springs. The Hot Springs are located at 168 Tepee Street.

Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway

Yes, you can drive through the three tunnels with your RV in tow. The tunnels are 14 feet high. So know your height, but most RV’s can make just fine! It’s definitely worth the drive! The Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway begins in the town of Shoshoni at milepost 100. Following U.S. 20 north through Wind River Canyon and the Wind River Indian Reservation, the route ends just north of the city of Thermopolis at milepost 134. Without stopping, the total drive time is about 40 minutes. 

Thank you for visiting our little corner of the internet. Let us know some of your favorite hidden gems in Wyoming! We’d love to hear from you!

Check out our amazing free camping in Wyoming! Click the button below!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in South Carolina. 8 Hidden Gems you Shouldn’t Miss!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series, where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. Exploring the big popular attractions is something we love too! But there is something incredible about discovering something unique and different and taking that road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own stories off the beaten path with us. Each blog will include at least one epic boondocking area with GPS coordinates.

CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO BELOW OF THE SANTEE COASTAL RESERVE!

Tunnel-Vision – Columbia

Inspired by a dream, an artist in South Carolina created the mural known as Tunnel-Vision to create the illusion of a road to another world. It is painted on a large blank wall that joins a downtown Columbia parking lot. At 50 X 75 feet large, the painting shows a portal to a world under a different moon, which, if it were real, would be large enough to drive a large car through. The painting creates an optical illusion of depth, and thanks to repeated additions and touch-ups by the artist over the years, the scene does not seem to fade but actually improves.

The Busted Plug – you can turn around from the Tunnel-Vision wall of art and see this. “Busted Plug Plaza” is among Sky’s most widely recognized and impressive works. And was created by the same artist. Four stories in height and weighing 675,000 pounds, it is located on Taylor St., between Marion and Bull St. If you like interesting art as much as we do, check these out. In the picture here, you can see the Tunnel Vision on the right. They share a parking lot. So you get to see both within a short walk across the parking lot.

Location for both: Taylor and Marion Streets

Caesars Head State Park – Cleveland (Devil’s Kitchen)

Are you visiting Cleveland? Head over to this beautiful state park. Nestled on the Blue Ridge Mountains, Caesars Head State Park is known for its spectacular views of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area and is named for a granite rock formation located at the top of a long, steep slope. Caesars Head rock passes through another intriguingly named geological curiosity, a narrow passageway between two giant rocks called “Devils Kitchen.” When the trail reaches Devil’s Kitchen, a set of stairs descends deep down into the rocky gap, which is just wide enough for a person to pass through.

The formation was created thousands of years ago as water on the mountain froze and expanded, causing the rock to crack open from the pressure. Shortly after passing through the Devil’s Kitchen, the trail arrives at a small overlook offering a panoramic view of Caesar’s Head rock formation. The trail through Devils Kitchen is an easy hike just a short distance from the Visitor Center to the Caesars Head overlook, however, walking through the crack in the rocks requires descending a fairly steep set of stairs.

Horseback Waterfall Tour

This is a one-of-a-kind experience. You can make arrangements for the Horseback Waterfall Tour out of Pickens, SC, on their website. You will be amazed and delighted to tour South Carolina’s incredible waterfalls on horseback. Because you will be so close to the border, you will also see waterfalls just over the state line in North Carolina! A photographer is along every ride to capture priceless moments, too. This is the only horseback waterfall tour in South Carolina. It books up way in advance, so reservations are a must. Must be age ten and over to ride. We didn’t take this tour, but so many people talk about it! Did you go on this tour? If so, share your experience with us! We’d love to hear about it!

Canopy Walk at Lynches River – Coward, SC

Take a walk on a raised boardwalk that takes you through the treetops at the county park. You will cross over a couple of swinging bridges. This fun county park offers 676 acres of outdoor activities, including this canopy walk. Parts of the walk are suspended more than 50 feet above the ground. Grab the kids and the teenagers alike! Really fun. 

Reedy River Falls – Greenville County

Reedy River Falls

This might be a pretty popular place, depending on the time of the year. Though I had not heard of it before researching the area.  Visit Falls Park and you’ll see some amazing views. Take the scenic walk over the Liberty Bridge. So beautiful. 

Hampton Plantation – McClellanville

What a gorgeous property this is. We decided not to do the house tour and just walk around the grounds. It was Winter, and the trees in the garden area were all full of beautiful flowers. It was breathtaking! We checked out the history, the stories, the property, and even the geocache. Want to learn more about Geocaching? Check out our blog here: Geo-What? What is Geocaching, and How Does it Work? Bringing Free and Family Fun Together.

Blood Moon Kayak Tour

What a fun time we had. We booked a Blood Moon Nighttime Kayaking trip. After the trip, there was a campfire, with hotdogs, and smores, and a lot of laughing and storytelling. If you’re looking for a great place to get out on the inner coastal waterway and do some kayaking, this is your place! Click here to check out their website!

Boondocking

Santee Coastal Reserve – Near McClellanville – GPS: 33.154569, -79.367734. Eight very large camping spots. There is enough room for 2 large RVs if you have friends. Great cell service, close to town, but only a maximum of 4 days allowed to stay.

If you go in the off-season, you can ask to stay longer. When we were staying, there was only 1 other camper who was camping. A few vans came and went but it was never full.

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Maine. Our Top Hidden Gems!

Lighthouses, beaches, and seafood come to mind when most people think about Maine. Of course, Maine is where you will also find the world’s largest telephone. I mean, who knew? 

By all means, go check out Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. WOW! Unbelievable beauty! But with that being said, take a look at our list of unique things to see in Maine. 

Did you know that we traveled full-time in our RV for over 7 years? And did you know we’ve put together a list of hidden gems in every single state? So check out some of our other top picks and great places to explore in another state!

Monhegan

Monhegan is a small, rocky island ten miles from the nearest mainland and scarcely a square mile in area. It is accessible only by boat and there are no cars or paved roads on the Island.

Since long before the explorer John Smith visited it in 1614, it was known to Native Americans as a prime fishing area, though today its economy is more invested in tourism than it is in lobstering or fishing. The year-round population has seldom exceeded 65 in recent times. No drones. No smoking outside the village. It’s a very protected island, and when you visit, you’ll see why! To get there, take a nice relaxing ferry ride and with the entire island being only one square mile, you can wander around quite a bit before taking the ferry back. 

Don’t forget to check out the D.T. Sheridan Shipwreck while exploring this island. The steel hull of a wrecked tug rests on Lobster Cove on Monhegan Island’s rocky southeastern shore. 

State Parks! We love them. We have found the most amazing things to see in the virtually unknown, off-the-beaten-path state parks.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

wolfes-neck-park-2033099_1920

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is a five-minute drive from the center of Freeport’s bustling shopping district. Definitely check out the Casco Bay Trail.

Small Falls

Located in Rangeley. Can you imagine a typical rest area that has a waterfall? And I mean a real, beautiful, backcountry type of waterfall area. Well, you’ve found one! Smalls Falls, with its scenic waterfall, colorful gorge, and fine swimming holes, welcomes all, often including visitors from all over New England. This may well be the most epic rest area ever!

Moxie Falls

The trail to Moxie Falls is fairly easy, but it will make you feel like you’re deep in the woods, surrounded only by nature.

It’s a 2-mile round trip trail. That’s the beauty of getting away from the tourist traps on the coast. You’ll see the beauty in its natural state, away from the crowds.

Moose Point State Park

We will repeat it – State Parks don’t get enough attention. This is a peaceful park that many people don’t know about; those who do can spend a day enjoying long walks on beautiful trails along the coast or woods and wildlife spotting.

The tide pools appeal to kids especially, where they can poke around and find small marine creatures under the rocks. It goes without being said, I’m sure, but please respect our beautiful nature and be kind and easy to our tide pool creatures.

Wire Bridge

Do you like Bridges? We do! The elaborate, the new, the old, the abandoned, and the unique and different ones. Wire Bridge in New Portland is no exception. This bridge may be the last wire-supported bridge of its type in the world. New Portland is about halfway between Bangor and the Canadian border. Only about 725 people live there, and every one of them could probably point you to their showpiece – the old Wire Bridge. 

Cutler Bold Coast Preserve

Cutler Coast Public Lands is a gorgeous place to visit with very few tourists. Many people love the quiet hiking trails with incredible views.  I’d venture to say that most hikers who come to visit Maine have never heard of the Cutler Coast. Their loss. And that’s why it’s one of our favorite hidden gems!

Rattlesnake Flume and Pool

from the wild

Plan for a hot day of hiking Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch, and make sure you stop off at Rattlesnake Flume and Pond near the end. The crystal clear pool is located just off Stone House Trail. You’ll see a marker showing you the way via a small detour.

Giant’s Stairs (or Staircase)

giants staircase

Another beautiful lava-made scene. When the hot magma met the sea.  Over several million years the seam of basalt rock eroded into an oceanside cascade of ledges now known as the Giant’s Stairs.

In the town of Harpswell, the Giant’s Stairs are at the midway point of a fantastic, easy half-mile trail. You just gotta do this! You most likely will be all alone on the trail unless it’s a weekend. But still, this is a very unpopulated area. You’ll love it! 

Wild Blueberry Land

Did you read that twice? Ha! Yes – More of an unusual gem than a hidden secret, Wild Blueberry Land is dedicated to the state’s official fruit: the tangy blueberry. This small theme park is located in Columbia Falls, filled with blueberry-shaped statues.

The main dome-snapped building is filled with tasty treats, including freshly baked blueberry pies, muffins, cakes, sweets, loaves of bread, and more. There are fun things to do for kids, including mini-golf. Plus, there are some views of Acadia NP.

Stephen King’s House

If you’re a long-time fan of the author Stephen King, you’ll want to take a drive-by. He was born in Maine and has used the state as the setting for many of his stories.

Despite his fame and wealth, we are told that he still lives in his home state, in a rather distinctive mansion just outside of downtown Bangor. But don’t just go to Bangor to see King’s home! Bangor is really a great little town to visit too!

Boon Island Lighthouse

Boon Island lies approximately 6 miles off the coast of York, Maine, and is the tallest lighthouse in New England. Take a personal vessel from York Harbor on a clear day and simply aim for the tall lighthouse on the island, which is visible for miles. There is a darker, sad history of this island before the lighthouse was built in 1855. It’s well worth a day trip!

Here are a few other blog posts we think you’ll love!

Boondocking

Boondocking can be tough to find on the east coast. We know! But if you’re flexible in the location, you can certainly find some pretty epic places. 

  • Jewett Cove – Near Greenville, Maine. GPS: 45.687199, -69.551319 The road is gravel, and long (about 5 miles) but pretty well maintained. Beautiful lake you can launch a kayak or canoe from the boat launch. Sites are on the smaller side but you can still get a big rig in the areas if others are not parked strange. Cell service ok with Verizon. 
  • Big Eddy – Dead River – Long Falls Dam Road New Portland, Maine GPS: 45.230921, -70.195401 Another beautiful place that has recently been updated and looks fantastic. Big rig friendly
  • Another big rig friendly area, but beware of the low hanging trees. If at all possible, scout the road first!! Lakeside sites, beautiful and quiet. Bigelow Preserve – Stratton, Maine. GPS 45.173465, -70.411772

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Small Footprint ~ Big Impressions, Travel Destinations & Stories

Unveiling Tennessee’s Treasures: An 8-Day Adventure Itinerary

Tennessee is renowned for its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, beckoning travelers to embark on a captivating journey. From the vibrant music scene of Nashville to the serene beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, an 8-day adventure in Tennessee promises an unforgettable experience. In this carefully crafted itinerary, we’ll guide you through the state’s highlights, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Day 1-2: Nashville – Music City Melodies

  • Day 1: Explore the Country Music Hall of Fame, then stroll along Broadway to savor live music and Southern cuisine.
  • Day 2: Immerse yourself in history at the Johnny Cash Museum and the Ryman Auditorium. Enjoy an evening show at the Grand Ole Opry.

Day 3-4: Memphis – Rhythms of the River

  • Day 3: Discover the legacy of Elvis Presley at Graceland. Head to Beale Street for live music and BBQ delights.
  • Day 4: Visit the National Civil Rights Museum and explore Sun Studio, where legends like Elvis and Johnny Cash recorded their hits.

Day 5-6: Chattanooga – Scenic Delights

  • Day 5: Experience the awe-inspiring Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain. Take a leisurely stroll through the Chattanooga Riverfront.
  • Day 6: Discover the enchanting Rock City Gardens and ride the Incline Railway. Explore the Tennessee Aquarium for a glimpse of marine wonders.

Day 7-8: Great Smoky Mountains – Nature’s Haven

  • Day 7: Drive to Gatlinburg and explore its charming downtown area. Visit the Gatlinburg Space Needle for panoramic views. If you have kids, Discover the Magic of Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN: A Unique Adventure Park. You and your kids will love it!
  • Day 8: Hike through the serene beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Choose from the top hiking trails below:

Top 6 Hiking Trails in Tennessee:

  • Alum Cave Trail: A moderate 4.4-mile trail leading to Alum Cave Bluffs, offering stunning views and interesting geological features.
  • Rainbow Falls Trail: A challenging 5.4-mile hike to the majestic 80-foot Rainbow Falls, where rainbows often form in the mist.
  • Clingmans Dome Trail: Reach the highest point in Tennessee on this paved, accessible trail leading to a panoramic observation tower. It’s worth the climb!
  • Laurel Falls Trail: An easy 2.6-mile trail leading to a picturesque 80-foot waterfall, perfect for a family-friendly hike.
  • Andrews Bald Trail: A 3.6-mile trail with a gradual ascent, leading to a grassy bald, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Charlies Bunion Trail: A challenging 8-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, culminating in stunning vistas at the iconic Charlie’s Bunion.

If exploring the roads less traveled is more your style, check out a couple of our other blogs!

Tennessee’s beauty and vibrancy extend far beyond its famous music scene. With this 8-day itinerary, you’ll dive into the heart of the state, exploring its rich history, natural wonders, and diverse culture. From the melodies of Nashville to the tranquility of the Great Smoky Mountains, your Tennessee adventure promises memories that will resonate long after your journey ends. Embrace the rhythm, flavors, and landscapes that make Tennessee an unforgettable destination.

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Arizona

Top Hidden Gems We Bet You Didn’t Know About in Arizona.

Arizona is just packed full of popular, fantastic things to see. Of course, The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and the Wave. Not to mention Horseshoe Bend, Havasupai Falls and The Petrified Forest National Park. If you’ve never been to these places, don’t miss them! But we’d like to share some unique and different places you might not have heard of. 

The Mystery Castle

What a crazy, sad, unique, and finally happy ending story. I’m not going to spoil it, but we did make a video that touched on the story a little bit. We loved this tour and the eclectic mind of the man who built it for his daughter. Not only is it really odd and interesting, but the story behind it is fascinating. We were lucky enough to have Juankarlo Gastelum as a tour guide. His father was a groundskeeper for over 40 years, and he basically grew up in and around the castle. It was really fun listening to his personal stories. If you have kids, bring them! They will love this quirky place! Check out our short video below. 

Hole in the Rock

This is a natural geological formation in Papago Park, a municipal park of Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona. This is a fun, short day trip. We took lunch and enjoyed a small hike to the top. Then we hiked a little more to do some geocaching. If you don’t know what Geocaching is, check out our blog here. The views from The Hole are beautiful!

HoleinRockAZ1

Kartchner Caverns

This is a beautiful state park located in Benson. After their discovery in 1974, these limestone caverns were kept secret for more than a decade as a way to preserve their untrammeled beauty. Seeking undiscovered caves in the mid-70s, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts discovered evidence of a secret cave: the two felt warm air emanating from a crack at the bottom of a sinkhole they found in the Whetstone Mountains of southern Arizona. The men slipped through the crack and discovered a network of pristine caverns with spectacular rock formations, including massive stalagmites and stalactites. They would return on several occasions over four years, discovering 2.5 miles of passageways and chambers while keeping their find secret. I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of stuff I think is fascinating. Can you imagine finding something like this and having it all to yourself for years?

Kartchner Caverns

Tonto Natural Bridge

Driving near Pine, AZ? Tonto Natural Bridge is the largest natural travertine bridge in the world is nestled in a small canyon in central Arizona.

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This 183-foot-high bridge is beautiful from every angle. The three hiking trails in the area bring you all the way down to the 400-foot-long tunnel. If you are not afraid of slipping on some algae, you can make your way through the tunnel to one of the other trails. Tonto Natural Bridge will not disappoint any visitor. There are viewing points from above so those not in the hiking mood can still enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Lake Havasu’s London Bridge

The old London Bridge was carefully dismantled, and each of the stones was numbered. Once it was broken down to its pieces, they were shipped to California through the Panama Canal, and then driven down to Arizona. The bridge was then just as carefully put back together again, and Arizona’s own London Bridge was opened in 1971. Near the bridge is a little walkway. Past some little shops, ice cream stores, and a few others. We found walking down the path pretty far was actually more thrilling to us than the bridge itself. Of course, we stopped for ice cream, so maybe that was more of our thrill. Ha! 

The Desert Bar

Located in Parker – and yes, it’s the Desert Bar, not the Dessert Bar!

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So we don’t really hang out in bars much, but this is more than a bar. The road to get there is an experience in itself. You just have to visit this really neat, unique, and totally run on solar power bar in the middle of the desert. It’s only open on weekends. Most people drive off-road vehicles to get there, which is half the fun, but you can certainly take your regular vehicle. We drove our dually. It’s just one of those interesting and unique places, and I have to say, though on the expensive side (because they can … there is nowhere else to go Ha) the food is actually really good. Humor yourself and get the gigantic pretzel. But ensure you have someone (or 5 someones) to share it with. Read the story of how the owner created this, and why he decided to go forward with it. Super fun place!! 

“The” Corner in Winslow AZ

Everyone who loves The Eagles needs to go stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona. Just sayin’! (Now you can thank me! The song will be stuck in your head for hours. In my case, days! Ha Ha!)

Slide Rock State Park

Located in Oak Creek Canyon just seven miles north of Sedona.

Slide Rock State Park is home to a smooth, natural water slide. It offers a fantastic place for cooling off on a hot summer day. Visitors can slide down the slickwater chute, wade in the cool waters, or soak up the sunshine along the creek.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls after monsoon rains

Located in the Navajo Nation, this seasonal waterfall flows a rich chocolate color after the annual snowmelt or after any significant rain! Most of the time, this is a dry river bed. So if you want to see the flowing water, make sure you are close by and schedule your time to go right after a monsoon. If you can get to this in March or April that is the best time to see it. The snowmelt will give you more opportunities to see it. There is also a short period in the summer that you can see the falls due to the monsoon season, but the window is short and is highly dependent on the weather patterns that year. FYI, this is on Navajo land, and you need to obtain a permit to be on it. 

The Town of Oatman

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The town of Oatman, AZ – OH what fun!! This is a quirky, fun place. Unique shops, and wild donkeys roaming the town. I mean ruling the town. While we were there they would often try to get into the shops because some of the shop owners have favorites they feed on a regular basis, and the donkeys know this. Also, the gunfighter wild west show happens every day in the middle of town at noon. The street is blocked, and it’s about a 15 minute, very humorous thing to see. The area close to the town of Oatman to boondock is also stunning (Boondocking information below). 

Sitegreaves Pass

Don’t miss this beautiful overlook near Oatman. The views are amazing. And the drive is even better!

Hiking

If you love hiking, you just have to check out the Arizona Hot Springs.

The hike is 7 miles round trip, and it pretty much kicked my butt with the rock scrambles. I am thankful for friends who didn’t mind pushing my butt up (literally) when I needed a little help on the rock scrambles. But we did it, and it was so worth it! After we completed the hike, we ran into some other friends a few months later who told us we could have kayaked right up to the short trail to the hot springs. Well … that would have been nice. But I wouldn’t trade that day for anything. We saw some beautiful sights and spent some amazing time with some friends. 

Another amazing find is Lake Powell. We haven’t made it there yet, but it’s on our list for next time! 

Boondocking / Free Camping

There is no lack of boondocking in Arizona. Here are our top picks in Arizona. What are your favorites?

SEE PICTURES FOR GPS COORDINATES

  • Sedona AZ – Forest Road 525. 
  • Oatman, AZ – Topic Dispersed. We loved this place. Beautiful area. 
  • Table Mesa Rd Boondocking near New River, AZ. 
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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in New Jersey. Amazing Hidden Gems You Shouldn’t Miss!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Off The Beaten Path series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else; however, there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different. Our goals are to find the most unexplored places and take less traveled roads. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories with us. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking/free camping area, with GPS coordinates. There are 1 or 2 states that are so small or have no true boondocking. Yes, only a couple! I have done my best to give a few very low-dollar suggestions in those cases. 

Awww … New Jersey! I’ve come to the conclusion that people either hate it or love it. And that there is just no in-between. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the ones who don’t like New Jersey are the ones that don’t like the big cities and crowds. Well, we have a solution. There is so much more to New Jersey than that! Let’s explore!

If you like creepy abandoned places, New Jersey is your place. There is a recently abandoned psych ward at the end of Sanatorium Road, in Glen Gardner. The abandoned Hagerdon Psychiatric Hospital is said to be pretty creepy. We’ve not been there! Have you?

Grounds for Sculpture

In Hamilton Township, A unique sculpture park that specializes in the huge and bizarre. You never know what you might find around the next corner at Grounds for Sculpture. Opened in 1992, the park draws visitors for its sculpture collection and exquisitely landscaped site, complete with more than 2,000 rose bushes, 1,000 trees, and other flower beds and shrubbery.

In addition to the outdoor sculpture park, Grounds for Sculpture also features exhibitions in six indoor galleries, several of which are housed in the original fairgrounds buildings. The welcome center building includes a cafe, gift shop, and museum. Rat’s is a gourmet restaurant that overlooks a Monet-inspired sculpture garden and serves lunch and dinner. If you have kids traveling with you, this is a fun place. It’s just different and unique enough to keep their interest. The bizarre story behind this park is unique in itself. I’ll save that for your adventure!

Buttermilk Falls

Located in Layton, an easy 1.4-mile hike to the falls. I think over the years it’s become more popular in the Summer, but definitely still worth a mention!

Van Slyke Castle Ruins

Located in Oakland. I think one of our favorite things is the little known parts of our US history lessons we learn. The bizarre stories give you a glance into how people lived and also give you that familiar family dynamics that still live in today’s families.

Built in the early 1900s, Van Slyke Castle (previously known as Foxcroft) transitioned through multiple owners until the final blow to the property came when vandals burned the mansion in 1959. Large portions of the castle, pool, and water tower can still be explored today (the pool and water tower are not too far from the castle ruins). Print out the trail map for Ramapo Mountain State Forest. The castle ruins and water tower are marked on the trail map and will guide you. Click Here For the PDF Map

Tripod Rock

Located in Boonton Township, this massive boulder is either a unique rock formation created by glacial melt or a magic energy vortex – We’ll let you decide! This is about a four and a half mile hike. Pretty easy, but really a very quiet, breathtaking hike you’ll enjoy!

Kayaking the Medford Canoe Trail

The two-mile Medford Canoe Trail on the Southwest Branch of the Rancocas Creek begins in Medford Park and ends at historic Kirby’s Mill. It offers amazing scenery with tranquil waters. The two-mile Medford Canoe Trail on the Southwest Branch of the Rancocas Creek begins in Medford Park and ends at historic Kirby’s Mill.

Most people go to New Jersey for the beaches. But they can become crowded and loud. Try Spring Lake Beach! This beach is an untouched piece of nature far away from crowds of people, and you can feel it in the undisturbed water and soft white sand. To get away from the loud crowds of people who inhabit other Jersey Shore beaches, this beach is a nice alternative, with all the beauty and none of the noise.

Boondocking

If you’re looking for true boondocking in New Jersey, this is another state you’re a bit out of luck in. There are several very inexpensive state forest areas, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything in the true sense of boondocking. In the Pinelands National Reserve, you will find some $3 to $5 a night places.  There is also a local Walmart in Hamilton Township, but please ask management.

If you’re looking for something fun! Check out this book! Really fun and unique information. You’ll find some local stories, history, and just things that make you kind of say “huh?”.

Have you ventured down some roads less traveled in New Jersey and discovered something you’d love to share? We’d love to hear about it!!

Looking for more fun and full-time RV information? Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

Thank you for stopping by our little corner of the internet! We truly appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read our blogs. We’re honored you spent the last few minutes with us!  If you aren’t signed up to follow us, please do! You’ll be notified of our new blogs when they go up. 

Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Indiana. Our Top 10 Secret Finds in Indiana!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series, where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking that road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too.

Indiana – Who knew we’d find so much to do there? So much, I’m only scratching the surface in Indiana. I was writing and writing and realized it was going to be just too long of a post, so I picked out just the ones I hoped would be fun for everyone. There are so many more. 

Gravity Hill

I’m sure this isn’t much of an “off the beaten path” find anymore, as it’s become a little popular, but it’s still a really unique and interesting thing to see! Located in Mooresville is one of the most strange stretches of roads in the entire world. Locals nicknamed it “Gravity Hill” as drivers have reported rolling up the hill backward when they park their cars in neutral at the bottom of the hill. Go see for yourself. The hill is located about a mile off IN-42 on Keller Hill Road. Mooresville’s famous Gravity Hill is actually an optical illusion, but it is a strange one. If you were to place a ball in the road the hill will immediately start to pull it “up”  – wait … up?

Yes! In the wrong direction, according to gravity. Again, it’s a strange optical illusion. You’ll have to check this road out! It’s pretty strange! Definitely messes with what you think you’re seeing. There is kind of a creepy legend about this road. Go check it out, and let us know if you see “fingerprints in flour” on your bumper. Ha! Bring a little bag of flour if you’re curious!  Directions: Take exit 59 off of I-70 to Highway 39, then turn left on Keller Hill Road. Take the road to the dead-end, then turn around. One mile after turning around, you will find the hill.

Greensburg Tree Tower

This is a strange but interesting find. If you’re in the area, it’s kind of a cool thing to see. In the early 1870s, residents noticed something unusual was happening in the town’s main square.

A tree had sprouted on the roof of the county courthouse. Many years later, this small tree grew into a large tree, and more trees have sprouted on the roof throughout the years. Locals and experts are still dumbfounded how these trees managed to grow 110 feet off the ground but city officials suspect nature planted the original seed in the 1870s, by either wind or bird. However, the 50-year-old tree that hugs the clock tower now is a direct descendant. Definitely, something that makes you say “huh?”. 

Cataract Falls

I had to include a kayaking trip! Paddling Cataract Falls in Cloverdale, (Owen County) is a special treat with 2 sets of falls cascading 86 feet down. It’s only a little more than an hour from Indianapolis. It’s a short kayak day trip of only about a 3.6-mile trip. You also can hike from the lower falls to the upper falls before heading back.

Bluespring Caverns

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FAVORITE PICK: Things like this are just fascinating to us! This is the longest navigable underground river in the U.S. and get this … home to countless blind and albino animals. The Bluespring Caverns were first discovered in the 19th century, and more entrances to the caves were discovered into the 1940s. The constant darkness has created a unique setting where blind albino species can thrive. In addition to bugs like crickets, beetles, and spiders, larger creatures such as salamanders, frogs, and crayfish all live under, above, and upon the flowing waters, many of them purely white or almost clear looking. There is even an extremely rare species of blind cavefish that swims the waters. Tours down the river are available, taking visitors meandering across the underground waters for about an hour, where sightings of albino wildlife are abundant. While I do wish humans were more responsible and could be trusted with such a beautiful find, and we could see these caves on our own, we are very happy that an organization is taking care to preserve this. It’s a must-see!!

Grave in the Middle of the Road

This might not be something to go out of your way to see, but very quirky! The story is kind of funny! And sad, at the same time. And … it’s in Amity, Indiana. Ha! Of course, it is! In 1831, a woman named Nancy Kerlin Barnett passed away and was buried on a hill near Sugar Creek. In 1905, officials planned to build County Road 400 right through Barnett’s grave.

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They changed their minds when Barnett’s grandson showed up with a shotgun and threatened them. To compromise, they built the two lanes of the road around the grave, making it one of the few known gravesites located in the middle of a road. Update: In 2016, the Grave in the Middle of the Road along Indiana’s rural County Road 400 got a makeover. The road has been divided around the grave since the road was constructed in 1905. The grave, which lies directly in the middle of two lanes of traffic, has caused numerous accidents throughout the years. Warning signs and concrete bollards were added, but that didn’t cut it. In 2016 archeologists from the University of Indiana were called in to excavate the 1831 burial of Nancy Kerlin Barnett so the road could be widened. Unexpectedly, the remains of at least seven other individuals were also discovered on the hill. Creepy! Very Creepy! I’ll have to follow up and see if the other seven bodies were ever identified. 

Jug Rock

Jug Rock is hard to explain, so you might just have to see it yourself. It is the largest free-standing rock formation in the eastern half of the United States. This rare rock formation is located within Jug Rock Nature Preserve, located outside the small town of Shoals. the intrigue of Jug Rock – standing alone in the midst of a forest, with no telling rivers, open fields, or companion rocks in sight.

Directions: North edge of town, on the north side of US Hwy 50. Drive slow. You’ll see a street sign for Albright Lane. Pull off the highway there and park in the tiny gravel turnoff. Only then will you see Jug Rock back in the trees and a tiny directional sign, “Jug Rock,” with an arrow, that you would never see at highway speed. A path leads through the trees to the Rock. You just gotta see this thing! 

Empire Quarry

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Did you know this abandoned limestone quarry in southern Indiana provided the stone to erect the Empire State Building? A large number of iconic American structures are made out of Indiana limestone, including the Empire State Building, the Washington National Cathedral, the Pentagon, and 35 of the 50 current state capitol buildings. The deepness of these pools and minerals from the limestone foundation gives the water an aquamarine color, which is just amazingly beautiful. 

Important Information: Note that this is private property, and if you’re caught here, you may be scolded by a grumpy man in a hard hat. As of July 2017, signs now read, “No Trespassing. Live Ammunition In Use.” To reach the quarry, you will have to follow these exact directions. Starting at the Dollar General in Oolitic, (seriously! Ha) you’ll want to take the highway heading out. Driving down, you’ll see a church. Take a left at the Church. Take this road all the way down past the brewery. At the end of the road, there will be a cemetery on the right on a rock road. If you get confused, stop in the dollar general and ask the cashier for directions to the Empire Quarry. They’ll know. Ha!

RV Hall of Fame

This was a great place! We really enjoyed it, and with the fact you can park and boondock/free camp in their parking lot for 2 days, it made it even more fun.

If you like to Geocache, check out the local (walking distance) Geocaches in the area too. Don’t know what Geocaching is? Check out our blog here.  When we were there in 2018, they were planning some sort of a big RV park it seemed. I’d love to go back and see what they are doing with that area. If you visit here after it’s completed, do tell! Would love to know! This is such a neat look into the history of RV’s and my really interesting “RV’s” like the one built for Mae West in 1931 while she was filming. There is also an archive of thousands of periodicals, manuals, and photographs all having to do with the RV industry up on the 2nd floor. This is a really fun place for kids too. 

Albany Shoe Tree

I was a little hesitant to add this to my “favorites” list. First off, there is an awful lot of shoes in Indiana. Corners where shoes are piled, streets where shoes are strategically placed. I’m confused, but ??? Though we are not ones that like to see people use nature as things like this, the “Shoe Tree” in Albany, Indiana, which started as a quirky tradition for local teenagers but grew to be embraced by the entire community.

There are just shoes everywhere. We don’t understand the point, but there must be one. The actual number of shoes hanging from the Shoe Tree fluctuates more than one might think. Again … we certainly don’t condone this sort of thing, but this one seems like a tradition here. The tree seems to be dead, which is sad, and we hope that the shoes weren’t what killed it. But instead, made it continue to live through “art”. Again, not something I’d go out of my way to see, but if you’re in the area, might as well stop and look at the different shoes. A lot of old shoes on that tree! Directions: Take Highway 28 to Strong Road, pass Strong Cemetery, and turn right onto Edgewater road. The tree is visible from the road.

New Harmony Labyrinth

Free, and hard to miss! Easy to get to! Easy to find. Super fun for the kids. There is some really cool and unique history behind this. I’ll let you read about it. 

Here are some more blogs we think you’ll love!

Looking for the best boondocking or paid campgrounds to stay while you’re traveling in Indiana? Check out our ever changing, always updating list! Click the button below to see our best RV Camping in Indiana!

We’d love to hear your suggestions for exploring the hidden gems in Indiana! Please drop us a line and share your favorite places!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Georgia. Exploring Hidden Gems in Georgia!

Leaving Georgia in our rearview mirror was hard! We left with a longer list of things to see than we came with. We hadn’t done a ton of research on Georgia before visiting, and we should have because there was so much more to see and do! As we plan our 2020/2021 trip down the east coast, we are more excited than ever to go back. This blog will definitely be updated soon, but here are some amazing little hidden gems we found! You’ll want to stop and explore this state full of surprising experiences. Below are a few of our favorite places when taking the roads less traveled.

Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area

We had to mention this beautiful area. It may not be a hidden gem, but you really just have to check it out!

The gorgeous Providence Canyon, affectionately known as “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon,” is one of Georgia’s most treasured locations. It’s even been touted as one of the state’s “Seven Natural Wonders,” which is totally weird because the canyon is not only far from “natural,” its creation was more blunder than wonder. Those exquisitely hued sediment walls are a product of inexperienced farmers making a colossal mess of things, and Mother Nature just kind of worked with it from there. 

Georgia Guidestones

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Aside from waterfalls and slot canyons, we love mystery. Abandoned places that were due to some historical events or interesting situations. Or something strange that was just never “figured out”. Well, have you heard of the Georgia Guidestones? In June of 1979, a man going by the pseudonym of R.C. Christian approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Company with the task of building a monument. He said that no one would ever know his true identity or the group he represented. He seemed to have an endless supply of money to fund the project, and by the terms of the legal contract, all plans had to be destroyed after completion, and all information about him was withheld from the public. In 1980, the stones were finished. They carry a tablet in front proclaiming, “Let these be Guidestones to an Age of Reason.” Engraved in the stones are ten guidelines meant to re-establish the planet and society, perhaps after an apocalypse. They are written in eight different languages, English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian. I’ll let you discover what the Guidestones say and whether it’s something you want to go see. Another one of those mysteries about the USA we are intrigued about. 

Toccoa Falls

Toccoa Falls

You knew there would be a few waterfalls in this post, right? Did you know the Toccoa waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls? This waterfall is easily reached, and make sure you pack a lunch! Such a beautiful place to just sit and eat your lunch and listen to the power of this waterfall. This waterfall is actually on the campus of Toccoa Falls College. The entrance is through their bookstore. The story behind the falls is quite sad and tragic. Read about it before you go. It might just make you appreciate it even more!

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge

Just a short 1/4 mile hike from the end of a fire service road in northern Georgia is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. They call it a swinging bridge, but they don’t always mention the bouncing. This is a 270-foot hiker’s bridge high up over the Toccoa River. The bridge is supported by simple anchoring at each end, with no towers or other supports in the middle, the weight is borne by the cables sloping down to the middle and back up again. Sure it swings from side to side, but it’s the up and down that makes it fun. Tip for getting there: Access the trail from the end of Fire Service Road 816, just east of Blue Ridge’s town- a short hike to the bridge. Campsites line the water under the bridge, and prime spots go fast. No reservations.

Starrs Mill

Located in Fayette County – A really fantastic part of history. We love the old mills when we’re able just to wander around.  During the mid 19th century, thousands of mills across the eastern United States took advantage of an endless supply of water power. With all the heavy recent rains, the water is flowing pretty good. Be careful! 

Starrs Mill

Anna Ruby Falls

Don’t mistake this for Ruby Falls in Tennessee.

Anna Ruby Falls

Which is amazing too! These falls are located in Unicoi State Park in White County near Helen, Georgia. Easy, paved half-mile trail. Once you drive through Unicoi Park you will enter forest service property and soon arrive at the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center. Here is where you pay your $3 recreation use fee (per person, 16 and older; free for kids under 16) and access the trailhead. So worth taking time to see this! Spring, summer, or fall, you’ll love this short, easy hike!

Okefenokee Swamp (see our 2022 update below)

When Justin mentioned checking out the Okefenokee Swamp, I thought it was a joke. I kept wondering how I’d heard this very nonsense word before. A movie? Help me out here people! I still don’t know where I’d heard this before. Cartoon? And then I realized it really is a real place. A really cool place!!! So off we went. We enjoyed an hour boat ride down part of the swamp. And learned that if you bring your own kayak, you can launch from right there at the adventure center for $5, or free if you have America the Beautiful pass. We also learned that again, it was a place we will have to come back to. I think sometimes we find these amazing things to explore, and while we are there, learn something else about the place we didn’t allow enough time to do. Yes we make our own schedule but we had already made plans to be in Florida at a certain time, so needless to say, it’s back on our list when we are in Georgia again. 

UPDATE! WE WENT BACK!!

We highly recommend this amazing place! It truly is a hidden gem, and if you are into kayaking, please take the time to venture out into the water. Our day of kayaking was amazing!

Thank you for stopping by our little corner of the internet! We truly appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read our blogs. We’re honored you spent the last few minutes with us!  If you aren’t signed up to follow us, please do! You’ll be notified of our new blogs when they go up. 

Looking for amazing RV camping locations in Georgia? We’ve got some great suggestions! Click the button below to see where we stayed!

We’d love to hear about your favorite places to explore in Georgia. Comment below so we can add some hidden gems to our list!

Here are a few more blogs we think you’ll love!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Mississippi. Our Top Hidden Gems

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series, where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and maybe a little “off the beaten path.” We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least one epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates. 

Ahhhh Mississippi! Have you driven the Natchez Trace Parkway? It’s 444 miles through 3 states with fantastic history and sights. We actually started in Tennessee and drove down to Mississippi. I have a detailed 3-part series – Click the button below.

Fun Facts about Mississippi

  • Kermit the Frog was born in Leland, Mississippi
  • It’s also where Elvis was born.

Windsor Ruins

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We found the story behind this absolutely fascinating. This was by far my favorite thing to see. I love castles, mysteries, and ruins. This was all of those! Windsor mansion was located on a plantation that covered 2,600 acres. The mansion was constructed between 1859 and 1861 for Smith Coffee Daniell II, who was born in Mississippi and had acquired great wealth as a cotton planter by age 30. In 1849, Smith Daniell married his cousin (interesting, huh?) Catherine Freeland. The couple had six children, with three surviving to adulthood. Much of the basic construction of the Windsor mansion was accomplished by Smith Daniell’s slaves. On April 28, 1861, Smith Daniell died at age 34, just weeks after the construction of the mansion was completed. 

The mansion stood from 1861 to 1890, when it was destroyed by fire. The mansion was never photographed in its completion. And to this day there have never been any known photographs found of the completed mansion. There is only someone’s drawing of it found many years later. Hummmm … makes you wonder! Really enjoyed visiting this site. Such mystery surrounding his death, the fire, no known photograph … just fascinating. The ruins are falling. Literally. So don’t miss this while you can still see this. It’s not far off the Natchez Trace, but don’t take your RV. Though it might be doable in a small one, if you have the choice, don’t do it.  The parking near this is small and hard to turn around if your RV is large. The huge oak tree on the property was massive!

The only regret we had … not bringing our drone to fly. We are very law-abiding, rule-following drone flyers, and it looks like you can freely fly your drone here, which had we brought it, we would have. 

We went exploring the Natchez area and got there just in time to see this riverboat take off! That was amazing and fun to see!

Cypress Swamp

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I think this was one of my favorite stops. This loop takes you through a pretty impressive but very short walk, Cypress Swamp. I didn’t realize just how unique and different Cypress trees grew. Though we were hoping to see an alligator, none seemed to be there while we were there.  

Sunken Trace

Make sure you stop at this! The trace appears sunken in this spot due to thousands of travelers walking on the easily eroded soil.

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This short trail will allow you to walk on the Natchez Trace just as thousands have before you. It was really a neat thing to see!

Rocky Springs Abandoned Town

This was another of my very favorite stops. We stayed in the Rocky Springs campground (see GPS coordinates below), so we could spend quite a bit of time here.

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This is an abandoned town. There isn’t much to see here in the way of structures or old town buildings. They have a couple of old safes still in the church, which had a sign out for the next gathering, so we have to assume it’s still an operational church which was super cool. The history of why this town perished is unfortunate and unique. Again, I don’t want to spoil it for you. We did quite a bit of research on the history of places on the Natchez Trace, but I tried not to read the stories before going. Only after. So that way, we could learn while we were standing right in front of it. For us, that makes it so much more exciting. 

French Camp

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We loved this stop! It’s a wide-open place where you can walk around the grounds, read the history, see and touch the old farm implements and you have to eat at the little restaurant (best potato soup ever!). We also learned there is a school there. Not a typical school but some sort of school where the kids live there. From listening, we understand it’s much like the “Hershey School” in PA. Also loved walking through the gift shops (there are 2). There is also a carriage house you can stay overnight in, and they have a wonderful bed and breakfast. Plan to spend a few hours here. It’s a great little community!

Children’s Museum

There is a wonderful Children’s Museum in Jackson. We did not stop there, but if you have children traveling with you, it comes highly recommended. It’s a bit on the pricey side from what I’ve seen, but definitely do some research on it. It looks like it’s a great place to spend a day!

Take A Tour of an Antebellum Home

Have you ever taken a tour of the antebellum homes in Natchez? We enjoyed a beautiful tour of a couple of them and found the historical stories really interesting. You can get information on all the homes at the welcome center in Natchez. 

Here are a few other blogs we think you’ll love!

Boondocking

Did you know you can stay at the welcome center in Natchez for two nights for free? We did it! Very friendly people at the visitors center, and they even have 20 and 30-amp hookups for us! Fresh water can be filled as you come (or leave) on the other side of the parking lot. GPS: 31.5543, -91.4131

  • Rocky Springs Campground (Natchez Trace Parkway) Hermanville, MS // GPS: 32.0868, -90.7994
  • Airey Lake Recreation Area // De Soto National Forest // GPS: 30.6892, -89.0611 We really enjoyed this area. Easy access camping, and aside from the one man who arrived on the motorcycle, clearly down on his luck and not real happy (about anything), we had a great time here. Loved the little lake, the ducks and the views were awesome, and our cell service was excellent!
  • POW Camp near Saucier, MS. See the pictures below (GPS info on the picture). Really unique history and a lake nearby.

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