Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Magical, misty mountain with rainbow at Grand Canyon National Park

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Vicksburg National Military Park

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Where in the world is it?

Vicksburg National Military Park is located in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

For forty-seven days in 1863, Union and Confederate troops battled for control of Vicksburg, a stronghold on the Mississippi River, but the Union forces persevered and forced the Confederates to surrender on July 4. It was a turning point of the Civil War, as the Confederates lost control of the Mississippi River. Today, the national park is a beautiful memorial to the sacrifices made there. Two of the many monuments that are located in the park and the Vicksburg National Cemetery are pictured below.

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Missouri Memorial
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Texas Memorial
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Vicksburg National Cemetery

Second Stop: Terlingua Ghost Town

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Where in the world is it?

It’s in Southwest Texas near Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande River. Cinnabar, from which mercury (aka quicksilver) is derived, was mined at the Chisos Mine (Chisos Mining Company) in Terlingua from about 1905 to 1943. During the height of the mine’s operation, Terlingua reportedly had a population of 2,000.

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Terlingua Cemetery

The Terlingua Cemetery, established in the early 1900s, is still in use today. Terlingua Historic District, which includes the ghost town, the remains of the mine, and the cemetery, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a fact, Jack!

Approximately 17,000 Union soldiers are buried in Vicksburg National Cemetery. Confederate soldiers are buried in the Soldier’s Rest section of Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg. The Terlingua Cemetery is the final resting place of miners, citizens of the town, and victims of an influenza epidemic back in the early 1900s. One Civil War veteran, John M. Southard aka Tomas Southard White, who died in 1910 and was a member of the 47th Kentucky Artillery, is buried in Terlingua Cemetery. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go To Fort Union National Monument

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  • Website link: Fort Union
  • Cost: free
  • Hours vary seasonally
  • Short film in the visitor center about the history of the fort
  • Self-guided or ranger-led tours of the grounds
  • When to go: anytime

Fort Union National Monument is:

150 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and since Albuquerque has a major airport, we will start our adventure from there. Let’s go!

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

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Prairie near Fort Union. Imagine a wagon train ambling along the Santa Fe Trail here. Aside from the barbwire fences, this scene probably hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years.

Getting There

From Albuquerque take I-25 north toward Santa Fe. At Santa Fe continue on I-25/US 84 east toward Glorietta and Pecos, New Mexico.

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Bonus stop: Pecos National Historical Park. We love this park so much that we have recommended it on our site before. Take the self-guided tour to see the remains of a pueblo that was built around 800 AD. Plan to spend a couple of hours here. The visitor center is very interesting and definitely worth a visit. Here’s a link: Pecos National Historic Park.

Continue northeast on I-25/US 84 toward Las Vegas, New Mexico, then continue north to the town of Waltrous. Follow the signs from Waltrous to Fort Union. Drive time between Albuquerque and Fort Union: 2.25 hours.

Hotels, restaurants, and RV/tent camping available 30 minutes away in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Destination: Fort Union National Monument

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Fort Union’s Officer’s Row

Fort Union was an important outpost on the Santa Fe Trail. The fort was originally established in 1851 to be a supply depot and living quarters for soldiers serving to protect travelers and traders on the trail. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, better living conditions were needed, and the fort’s original wooden buildings were refurbished or rebuilt with adobe and brick. Larger supply warehouses were added at that time, and Fort Union began providing supplies to all the forts in the region.

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Mechanic’s Corral. This is where they worked on the vehicles of the day.
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Post Commander’s Quarters
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Detail of the Hospital Walls

Fort Union’s hospital was once the largest and finest medical facility between Kansas and California, serving soldiers and civilians alike. Even after the Civil War, the post continued to operate with soldiers in place to protect the Santa Fe Trail. The hospital continued to operate during this time, too. However, with the advent of the railroad, the Santa Fe Trail became less traveled, and the fort was abandoned in 1891. Some wheel ruts on the trail can still be seen at Fort Union.

Below are additional shots of the buildings.

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This concludes our Fort Union National Monument post. Thank you for joining us on our journey. We hope you will return every week as we post more great road trips. Please leave us note below and tell us about your journeys. We would love to hear from you. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Colorado National Monument

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    Independence Monument

    Website: Colorado National Monument

  • Cost: $15.00 per car for a 7 day pass
  • Campground available for RVs and tents
  • Backcountry camping with permit
  • Scenic drive
  • On or off trail hiking
  • Biking
  • Backpacking
  • Regulated climbing
  • When to go: anytime

Colorado National Monument is located between the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado. Grand Junction has a regional airport serviced by a few national and regional carriers, so that is where our trip is going to start. Grab your camera and get ready to be amazed!

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Getting There

From Grand Junction, take Highway 340 (Broadway Avenue) west to the park entrance. Drive time: approximately 20 minutes.

⇒Alternate Route: from Fruita and I-70, take Highway 340 south to the park entrance and visitor center. Drive time: approximately 15 minutes.

*Recommended hotel in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn

*Recommended restaurant in Grand Junction: El Tapatio – 1145 North Ave.

For additional information about the area, here’s a helpful link: Visit Grand Junction.

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Monument Canyon

Destination: Colorado National Monument

Rim Rock Drive winds through the park from east to west for 23 miles and is the best way to see the highlights of the monument. We suggest taking the drive and stopping at the visitor center before trekking off to hike or backpack in the park. The scenery is spectacular (excellent photo ops), and there are about fifteen viewpoints or overlooks along Rim Rock Drive. Stop at all of them to see the unique rock formations and deep canyons that make this monument so breathtakingly beautiful.

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Cold Shivers Point
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Fallen Rock

Travel tip: Rim Rock Drive is a two lane road that has twists, turns, drop offs, and hills. Be cautious. Stick to the speed limit, and watch out for the bicyclists who also use this road.

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“Wow” moments at every viewpoint!
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Coke Ovens Formation

When driving or hiking through the monument, you would never know that there were busy cities just a few minutes away. Come to Colorado National Monument to get away from the hustle and bustle. Feast your eyes on its beauty, while taking a break to enjoy nature. Be on the lookout for bighorn sheep here, as well as collared lizards and a variety of birds that also make their homes in the park. Some visitors may be lucky enough to spot a golden eagle or peregrine falcon.

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Interesting shapes and beautiful colors!

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The photo above was taken at the visitor center. This vista can be viewed anytime online via the park’s webcam. Log on to see how the seasons and changing light affect the view. See our Places/Links page above for the link under the National Park Webcams section and scroll down to Colorado National Monument.

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Up close and personal

Thank you so much for joining us! We hope you will return to our site for more great American road trips. If you have questions or comments, by all means, leave one. We love hearing from you. We will conclude this post with a shot of the interesting terrain south of Grand Junction along US Highway 50.

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Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

 

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Cold and lonely highway

We decided to do Quick Stops to showcase places that merit a nod, shout out, or round of applause but to which we can’t devote an entire post. As we’ve said before, we will drive a long way out of the way or completely change up our itinerary to go see something that piques our interest. (We must be channeling Clark Griswold. Thankfully, neither of us has an Aunt Edna!) Some of the places we plan to feature in the Quick Stops posts will be fascinating, some will be fun, and some will be funky! Additionally, some locations will be on the beaten path, some will be off of it, and some may just be a photo we like, such as the desolate road above. The locations will be posted at random, and there will be no particular order or itinerary. We can’t wait to share them with you!

Just get in the car and we’ll be on our way…

First Stop: Monument Rocks (Kansas)

Where in the world is it?

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Monument Rocks is about 28 miles south and east of Oakley, Kansas off of US Highway 83. The landmark is on private land, and some of the roads to get there are unnamed, graded dirt ranch roads. These roads can be very bumpy and muddy, but under normal conditions it is well worth the trip to see the rocks. Take a look…

 

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Truly out in the middle of nowhere, these fascinating rocks are the remains of an ancient sea bed.

Second stop: Carhenge (Nebraska)

Where in the world is it?

Carhenge is located about four miles north of Alliance, Nebraska. This funky tourist stop is on private property, but thanks to the property owners there is no entrance fee. The sculpture can be viewed from outside the fence that surrounds it. Check it out…

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Other sculptures at Carhenge

It’s a fact, Jack!

Below is the sign for the Annie Oakley Motel in Oakley, Kansas. Annie Oakley was not from Kansas (she was from Ohio), but she was a performer in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Buffalo Bill Cody once called Oakley, Kansas home. And now you know…

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That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! If you liked our first Quick Stops post, leave us a message and let us know we should keep doing them. If you didn’t like it, tell us that, too. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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  • Website Link: Carlsbad Caverns
  • Basic Entrance Fee: $12.00 per person. Kids 15 and under are admitted free. (Baby strollers are not allowed.)
  • Parts of the Big Room Trail are wheelchair accessible.
  • Ranger guided tours are available for additional fees.
  • Tours of other caves are available for additional fees, and reservations may be required.
  • Hours vary depending on the season. Check the above website for information.
  • Cafeteria available in visitor center. Snack bar located in the cavern.
  • Hotels and restaurants available in the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
  • RV/tent camping available in White’s City, the city of Carlsbad, and on BLM lands near the park. Backcountry camping requires a permit. Check the website for additional information.
  • When to go: anytime.

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Located 75 stories beneath the New Mexico desert, lies a dark and magical place like no other. Stalagmites, stalactites, domes, totems, mirror-like pools, and even chandeliers make for breathtaking sights (and exceptional photo ops) on your journey through the caverns. Walk in to the cavern via the natural entrance if you are up for the challenge, or take the speedy new elevator to the entrance of the Big Room. The Big Room Trail is a little over a mile long, and it is definitely worth every step. Plan to spend at least two hours enjoying the trail.

Travel tip: the temperature in the cave is a constant 56 degrees, so a light jacket is recommended, along with sturdy walking shoes with non-slip soles. For those who tend to be claustrophobic, don’t worry – this place is huge!

Getting There

IMG_4570 (1)Carlsbad Caverns National Park is approximately:

150 miles from El Paso, Texas200 miles from Lubbock, Texas300 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico

El Paso is the closest city with a major airport so our trip will start from there.

From El Paso, take US Highway 62/180 East toward Carlsbad, New Mexico. Drive time between El Paso and Carlsbad Caverns: 2.25 hours and 2.5 hours to the city of Carlsbad.

Travel tip: fill up with gas, use the restroom, and stock a few drinks and snacks before leaving El Paso. Services are very minimal along this road. Watch for the salt flats and beautiful mountain peaks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park along the way.

*Recommended campground in Carlsbad: Carlsbad KOA Holiday, located north of town, and approximately 40 minutes from the park.

*Recommended hotel in Carlsbad: Holiday Inn Express.

Destination: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Below are some of the sights along the Big Room Trail. We will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Bacon!
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Massive beauty
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Chinese Theater
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Mirror Lake
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Doll’s Theater
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Popcorn!

 

IMG_4463 (1)Most people visit Carlsbad Caverns to see the caves, but the park offers so much more, such as:

  • an amphitheater from which to watch thousands of bats come out at night during the months of May through October.
  • a scenic desert drive.
  • ranger led cave tours and night sky programs.
  • picnic areas.
  • hiking trails.
  • shopping, exhibits, and a nature walk at the visitor center.

About five miles south of White’s City, there is a turn off on Highway 418 to a separate little sliver of the park called Rattlesnake Springs. This is a day use area, mainly for picnicking. Along the same road, there is a BLM property called Cottonwood Picnic Area. This is a great place to stop for lunch, and just east of the picnic area there is a short nature trail that leads to the Black River. We were thrilled to find this hidden gem.

Travel tip: Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in a desert. Spring, summer, and fall temperatures can be high, and the air is usually dry. Always prepare for the weather and bring along plenty of water.

IMG_4370 (1)Other things to do in the area include:

  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. Here’s a link: Living Desert. (Carlsbad)
  • Brantley Lake State Park. Water sports, RV and tent camping. Here’s a link: Brantley Lake. (Carlsbad)
  • Lake Carlsbad Beach Park. Water sports, playground, swimming, fishing, just to name a few, in addition to miles of walker-friendly sidewalks! (Carlsbad)
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park. One hour south of Carlsbad, and 30 minutes south of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
  • Sitting Bull Falls. One hour southwest of Carlsbad in the Lincoln National Forest.

We hope that our overview of Carlsbad Caverns National Park inspires you to grab your camera, hop in the car, and head that way. The caverns are certainly more beautiful than the pictures portray, and this is another park that we think everyone should get to see at least once. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Craters of the Moon National Monument

 

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Lava field. The white dome in this picture is called a kipuka.
  • IMG_0732Website: Craters of the Moon
  • Cost: $20.00 per car for one week pass
  • Visitor center hours vary by season
  • Campground in the park
  • Backcountry camping permitted in the preserve
  • Scenic drive
  • Hiking
  • Picnic areas
  • Caving
  • International Dark Sky Park
  • When to go: anytime.
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Lava flow

Getting There

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Idaho Falls, Idaho, which is 130 miles from Craters of the Moon, has a regional airport that is served by a few national carriers. We are going to start our trip from there, so get your camera ready and let’s hit the road!

Note: Salt Lake City, Utah has the closest major airport and is 300 miles from Craters of the Moon.

*Recommended hotel in Idaho Falls: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Idaho Falls: The Sandpiper Restaurant – 750 Lindsay Blvd. – great food and great service.

From Idaho Falls take Highway 20 west toward Arco, Idaho.

Bonus stop: EBR-1 National Historic Landmark. For those wanting to satisfy their inner geek, this stop is for you. EBR-1 was the first nuclear reactor to generate electricity, and it is located at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Unfortunately, the museum is only open only during the summer.

IMG_0701Travel tip: West of INL on the South side of Highway 20, there is a rest area (with nice restrooms) that has some outside displays with great information about the region. We highly recommend spending a few minutes here learning about Nuclear Reactors, the Eastern Snake River Plain, the Great Rift, the Lost Rivers, and other interesting topics.

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Just one example of the beauty of Idaho

Below is one of several buttes (volcanic perhaps?) along Highway 20 between Idaho Falls and Arco. This region has many lava flows, cones, rifts, and other volcanic features, most of which are contained in the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The combined lava flows of the monument and preserve cover over 600 square miles. That’s a lotta lava! Check it out on Google Earth sometime.

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Continue west on Highway 20 to the town of Arco, Idaho.

Bonus stop: Arco, Idaho.

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Stop in Arco to see Number Hill, and we highly recommend stopping for lunch at Pickle’s Place. Good food in a retro diner atmosphere. We ate at the counter with a local man who told us the story of the Apollo astronauts coming to Arco in the 1960s to train at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Hearing his story was one of the highlights our trip.

From Arco take US Highway 26/93 west 19 miles to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve Visitor Center. Drive time between Idaho Falls and Craters of the Moon: 2 hours.

Travel tip: as with many remote sites, GPS systems may not be reliable for directions to this park. Refer to your road atlas if in doubt.

Destination: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

The first stop is the visitors center where films, displays, and exhibits explain the characteristics of the park. Learn to identify the many different types of lava, and find out if the volcanoes are still active. The pictures below show some of the features of the park.

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Spatter cones
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Inferno Cone Trail
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Lava flow and cinder cones
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Spatter Cone
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We love the contrasting landscapes of this shot! (This type of lava is called a’a.)

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Craters of the Moon. We post our journeys simply because we love sharing them with you. Our hope and mission is for you to be inspired by our photos and guided by our experiences in order to seek your own adventures in the wonderful national parks and beautiful cities of our great country. For those who can’t “just get in the car”, we love that we can provide you with virtual travel experiences. Please leave us a message below and tell us about your own travels. We would love to hear from you. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway

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We apologize for any neck pain that viewing this photo may cause!
  • Website link: Caprock Canyons
  • Cost: $4.00 per day. Kids 12 and under are admitted free.
  • Hiking (25 miles of trails), biking, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, horseback riding. There is also a great scenic drive.
  • For RV and tent campers, Honey Flat Campground offers water, electricity, restrooms, showers, and a playground.
  • Tent and basic camping areas offer water only, and primitive campsites are also available in the park.
  • Equestrian campground available.
  • Backcountry camping is allowed anywhere along the Trailway. Check the website for Trailway information.
  • When to go: anytime. We like spring and fall.

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Caprock Canyons State Park, located near the small town of Quitaque (Kitty-Quay), Texas, is the home of the official Texas State Bison Herd. In addition to the bison (they have the run of the park, by the way) this park has stunning scenery and is a place to literally get away from it all. Set off on one of the great trails and immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of this West Texas gem.

20181013_154405*Caprock Canyons State Park is:

102 miles from Amarillo, Texas96 miles from Lubbock, Texas170 miles from Wichita Falls, Texas

Our trip is going to start from Lubbock, Texas, as it is the closest city with a major airport.

*Recommended hotels in Lubbock: Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express.

Campgrounds are also available.

*Recommended restaurants in Lubbock:

Cast Iron Grill – 620 19th St. – for breakfast or lunch.

Blue Sky Texas – 4416 98th St. or 3216 4th St. – for the best burgers anywhere.

Mi Taco Village – 220 Regis St. – for good Mexican food.

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Getting There

From Lubbock, take I-27 north toward Plainview, and then continue north to Tulia. At Tulia, take Highway 86 east toward Silverton, and then continue east to Quitaque. Drive time between Lubbock and Caprock Canyons: 1.75 hours.

Note: a visit to Caprock Canyons is an easy day trip from Lubbock or Amarillo, however, we recommend staying for a day or two (or longer) to enjoy everything this park has to offer.

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There are a few accommodations in the area, including a bed and breakfast in Quitaque, a hotel in Turkey (11 miles east), and a couple of RV campgrounds. Here are the website links: Quitaque and Turkey.

Travel tip: there’s a vintage cottage gas station in Turkey that is worth driving the 11 miles to see.

*We highly recommend camping at Caprock Canyons.

*Recommended restaurant in Quitaque: Bison Cafe – 114 Main St. Great food and great service!

Destination: Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway

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Misty Watercolor Memories! Caused by bright sun in the east and a cold front moving in from the west. The unusual lighting turned the red bluffs pink.

We hiked the Canyon Rim Trail on an overcast day. The scenery was gorgeous, but the pictures, unfortunately, do not do it justice. The wildflowers really put on a show, though.

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Looking  down in to the canyon from Canyon Rim Trail
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Wildflowers along Canyon Rim Trail

The scenic drive along the park road enables you to get up close and personal with some the features of the park. Below are a few shots of the beautiful scenery along the road.

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Creek bed with interesting geologic features in the cliff face
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Canyon perspective
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How did nature do that? And those plants!
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Panorama from a viewpoint along the road

Be sure to stop at the pull outs and learn about the park. While you’re at it, stop by the visitor center for books and information about Charles Goodnight and his wife, Mary Ann. They are responsible for preserving the predecessors of the bison herd that calls Caprock Canyons home. It’s a very interesting story, especially since American bison were once on the verge of extinction. We find the bison enchanting, and fun to watch, but always from a distance. These are wild animals that can be dangerous, and it is illegal to approach or feed them.20181013_104329

The video below was taken early in the morning while the herd was walking from wherever they spent the night to a grassy grazing area.

That’s our overview of Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway. Thank you for joining us. We hope that our post has prompted you to visit this great park. As we always say, “Just get in the car.” Please leave us a note and tell us about your trip to Caprock Canyons, or any of your trips for that matter. Maybe you will inspire us to take your trip!

20181013_115714Visit our site every Saturday for another great road trip or travel tip. Better yet, become a follower and receive an e-mail message and link to the site every time we post a new adventure. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018