Updated: Jan 20, 2021
We were wondering what we were going to do for New Years and finally leave 2020 behind. To our surprise Thousand Trails added Yuma Arizona to the list of parks we can use on our complimentary membership. We went online and reserved our spot! We left the day after Christmas, first stop in Riverside to visit my sister and her family. The twins turned 11. We stayed in her driveway for the night and the next day headed to Joshua Tree National Park. Which is where we purchased our annual National Park Pass.
I didn't know the desert was so beautiful. We spent the day exploring and then headed to the Walmart in Yucca Valley to spend the night. The weather was terrible the wind was crazy and it rained off and on all night. We planned on visiting Joshua Tree again but decided with the way the weather was to just head to Yuma, AZ.
The weather was cloudy, the sun peeked out when the clouds gave it the chance. The drive was filled with windmill farms and views of the mountains and of course we saw the sand dunes right before we entered Arizona.
We had a complimentary stay at the Cactus Gardens RV resort through Thousand Trails. It was nice, quiet and clean. The weather began to clear up.
The next morning we took off to the Imperial Sand Dunes. I was pretty excited being a Star Wars fan, this is where Jabba's Barge scene was filmed.
Lots of ATV's driving over the dunes, it looked like a lot of fun. We spent time climbing the dunes and taking some pictures and having lunch.
We then drove back into Yuma and visited the Yuma Territorial Prison Park
As well as the Colorado River. We spent time at the park...
Watched the sunset and headed back to the Cactus Garden RV park.
A spur of the moment decision we decided to ditch Yuma and drive to Valley of Fire State Park the next day.
The drive up 95 was spectacular showing us the beauty of the desert. We stopped off in Quartzite and parked next to a huge cactus!
Then back on 95 to 40. We stopped off in Lake Havasu City and drove over the London Bridge and Drove on the famous Route 66 just for a moment.
We continued on, drove over the Hoover Dam and parked at the Lake Mead Overlook. We used our National Park Pass to enter Lake Mead as we read on Overlander that another RV'er used the 7 day max parking to boondock. We parked near the restrooms as the lot there was more level. About a half hour later another van pulled up to stay the night there as well.
The next morning we headed on to Valley of Fire State Park. The parks name is derived from the red sandstone formations and suddenly you felt like you were on another planet, Mars perhaps. Fun Fact: the original Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger had film parts of the movie there, specifically the scene where his eyes nearly popped out of his head.
The drive through the park was beautiful. We went on a hike and made it to the end of the trail, a huge accomplishment for novices like us.
Later on as the sun started to set and the light hit the rocks with the contrasting shadows it provided gorgeous scenery to end our visit to the Valley of Fire. We would have loved to camp in the park, however the campsites were all full. We proceeded out of the park and found BLM land and decided to find a spot amongst other travelers.
What a beautiful night it ended up being! As the clouds flowed to the horizon, it opens up the sky to a beautiful moon surrounded by brilliant stars. And on New Years Morning an incredible sunrise.
Unfortunately we needed to start our way back home, we started back towards Las Vegas
the route we took brought us by Area 51 and stopped off at a small town to browse through the gift shop.
and then toward Death Valley which homes the other Tatooine.
We made it out of Death Valley just as the sun started to set and the drive was stressful as we drove blindly through the Mountain roads with no Cell Signal. Eventually we found other BLM land with other campers and we pulled over for the night. These campers were a bit more rowdy than the ones from the night before. ATV's with flood lights attached raced around in the dark. We were treated to a fireworks show as well as sending off lanterns into the air. It was perfect! The next morning we were treated to another gorgeous sunrise and then we headed off. We stopped off in the quaint town of Tehachapi were with the help of YELP stumbled upon an incredible bakery and ordered one of everything! JK
We also stopped off at the Starbucks and took some time to enjoy breakfast before we continued homeward. We both wanted one more night away from home and called ahead to a Harvest Host site, unfortunately they were not taking reservations, but we got lucky and called a second one in Merced called Vista Ranch and we stayed one last night. It was nice to have our own hotel on wheels.
I think we just earned our Novice Badge. Looking forward to leveling up on the next adventure!!
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