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I recently moved from Boston, MA to Santa Cruz, CA, providing the perfect opportunity to hike and camp in unfamiliar terrain. I loaded up my Honda CRV in late April and hit the road. Stops included locations in Delaware, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Here are highlights from my journey as well as tips and tricks I learned along the way. For more photos from my trip, click here.

Mistletoe State Park – Appling, GA  Of all the parks I camped in during this trip, Mistletoe was the nicest. I had a semi-isolated site that overlooked Clarks Hill Lake. I believe I stayed in #79. There were hookups and the bathrooms and showers were clean with hot water. Although I didn’t have enough time to hike, I did  walk along the shore for a bit, which offered picturesque views and a stunning sunset. I highly recommend it for families because of the convenient facilities, close proximity to water, and welcoming atmosphere.

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Robbers Cave State Park – Wilburton, OK  Robbers Cave is a sprawling park with everything from fishing to disc golf. I stayed in the Deep Ford Campsite, which offered sites right along the river. Bathroom facilities were sub par and the tent sites were pretty close together, but overall the park was worth the stop and is only a 10 minute drive from Wilburton.

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Caprock Canyon State Park – Quitaque, TX  ImageOne of my favorite stops on the trip hands down. I stayed in the South Prong Campground. NOTE: There is no water at the campground. Although the wind and heat were a little much, my site was shaded and offered some protection from the wind.  I chose the campground because of its proximity to the Upper Canyon Trail, which offered a moderate to strenuous hike through the canyons and to the highest point in the park. I had a chance to sit in on a nature talk with one of the rangers. Overall I highly recommend this park, especially because it gets you away from the crowds and there are BISON.

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El Malpais National Monument – Grants, NM  ImageAlso a favorite. Although I did not camp here, I was able to do a day hike in the eastern part of the park, which is technically BLM land. I chose the Narrows Trail, which offered a moderate hike with views of the lava flows from towering cliffs.

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Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona Image A beautiful park offering solitude and breath taking views. There are few defined trails in the park, so I opted for Onyx Bridge, a popular off-trail destination. Be sure to bring a map and compass as well as plenty of water. Image

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – Las Vegas, NV Image Red Rock is just outside Las Vegas and offers a surprisingly easy escape from everything that is Las Vegas. I opted to climb Turtlehead Peak, which offers a nice out and back hike with a few scrambles. The trail can get pretty tricky to follow at the top, but once you reach the ridge, it’s pretty easy to pick it back up.

For more photos from my trip, click here.

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