A family adventure can be a great getaway after the holidays in the middle of winter. To kick off 2021, our family rented our house in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to another family for 3 months. We headed down to Arizona with our RV toy hauler, our 3 kids and our cat, Frankie. We planned to maintain a regular routine while camping and boondocking, which includes homeschooling our kids and working remotely in Arizona. Here are some of the highlights of our road trip and adventures while exploring the sunny land of cactus!
Arizona RV Road Trip Video
We took homeschool on the road and went on a 3-month RV trip to Arizona. 🌵🌄☀️ We discovered a lot of things to do along the way!
RV Road Trip with Kids
We took 4 days to drive from North Idaho, into Oregon, through Utah and finally arrived in Arizona. Our kids do pretty well in the truck, so our road trip days went smoothly. We brought coloring books and colored pencils, several movies to watch in the truck and the kids’ Amazon Fire tablets. Even on road trips, we still limit screen time to 1-2 hours per day, plus an additional movie while driving at night. We also listened to music and read books. Of course, our kids enjoyed passing the time by trying to get truck drivers to honk their horns as we passed them. On road trips with our kids, we typically have to stop every few hours for a bathroom break and to buy coffee and a few snacks.
Tip! We save a lot of money on road trips by stocking up on larger bags of snacks at Walmart, instead of frequently buying the smaller, more expensive snacks at gas stations.
Problem Solving on the Road
At one gas station in Utah, a tire service technician noticed our RV toy hauler was bouncing a bit and suggested we rotate and replace a few of our tires. We had felt the bouncing ourselves while driving from North Idaho. It was a huge blessing to be able to problem solve in advance to fix our tires, before we ended up possibly broken down on the side of the road with 3 cranky kids. After a one-hour pit stop (and Dairy Queen blizzards for the kids) we were all set, with several new RV tires and a fill-up on diesel and propane.*
*Our RV toy hauler uses propane to power the refrigerator, heat the living spaces and also heat water from our built-in 100 gallon water tank. We have to refill the propane tank every 6 to 10 days, due to regular use in colder weather.
Boondocking in Utah and Arizona
On our road trip from Idaho to Arizona, we spent several nights boondocking in our RV. This method of camping is pretty easy to accomplish. We often boondock on open public land or on someone’s private property with permission, using the website Boondockers Welcome.
Boondocking is essentially camping on public or private land, without the usual RV park accommodations and hookups. Nevertheless, property owners often allow boondockers to hook up to power overnight and fill up on water, often for a small fee such as $10. We’ve enjoyed our boondocking experiences and we’ve met a variety of welcoming people!
Dry Camping in our RV
When we go dry camping and aren’t able to use the RV water tank, we bring along plenty of water in both gallon jugs and water bottles for drinking. We often refill the gallon jugs of water for washing hands and doing the dishes, as well as flushing the toilet. During the first few days of our road trip to Arizona, we weren’t able to use the RV water tank because we drove through freezing temperatures in the Northwestern states. We couldn’t de-winterize our RV without damaging our water lines until we had reached the warmer temperatures in Arizona.
The first night of our road trip, we camped at a small RV park in Oregon. We arrived after dark and quickly set up our RV so the kids could go to sleep. We also left first thing in the morning, after filling up our water jugs for the day.
The second night we boondocked on someone’s property in Salt Lake City, through Boondockers Welcome. We had plenty of space in the side yard to hook up to power and set up our RV slide-outs. Even in another family’s yard, our RV provides us with a great little home away from home.
The third night we stayed at an awesome RV resort in Kanab, Utah. Our kids really enjoyed using the hot tub and riding their bikes around the gravel parking lot. At this point, we hadn’t de-winterized our RV yet, so we all took the opportunity to use the RV park showers. My husband Andy made us a yummy breakfast in the morning using our outdoor camp stove.
Exploring Moqui Caverns in Kanab, Utah
On our way down to Arizona, we stopped by the Moqui Caverns in Kanab, Utah. These man-made standstone caves were created in the 1970s by people who harvested sand for glass production. The hike up from the road was an adventure alone! We parked on the side of the road and helped the kids scramble up the rocky slope and sandy hiking trail that leads to the caves. Once inside, our kids enjoyed exploring the interior, which had many cavernous rooms and sun-lit openings overlooking the hillside below. Additionally, the caverns had a few drop-offs. We were careful to not let the kids get too close to the edge!
The Moqui Caverns are really fun to explore. The floor of the caves is covered with soft sand and many portions of the interior are fairly sun-lit. These caves are really cool! Unfortunately, lots of people have carved messages and names into the side of the caves. The only thing we left behind after our visit was our sandy footprints.
The hike to Moqui Caverns was just challenging enough for our family and a great break from sitting in the truck. Our kids are growing up to be little adventurers. They are often enthusiastic to discover something new around each corner!
First Week of Arizona Adventures
Once we arrived in Arizona, we had no shortage of destinations to explore. We spent our first few days in Phoenix boondocking on someone’s well-maintained gravel driveway for 3 nights. Boondockers Welcome makes it really easy to arrange a place to stay in your RV, on private property in locations all over the United States.
When boondocking on someone’s property, we often have plenty of our own space. In Phoenix, our RV door was facing a fence along the driveway, which added some privacy. We even rolled out our patio mat between the RV and the fence. This was a perfect space for our kids to play with Legos out in the sunshine.
We also brought our cat Frankie, on our RV trip and hooked him up with a harness, leash and tether system. He was uncertain about the new surroundings at first. However, he slowly gained confidence and an interest in exploring. Although our cat is not likely to run away, we didn’t want to lose track of him. Also, it’s important to keep our RV cat safe from the local hawks and owls.
Our cat Frankie especially liked this lemon tree in the front yard of one of our boondocking hosts!
Hiking up Hole in the Rock Trail
One morning we took our kids on a short hike to Hole in the Rock in Phoenix, Arizona. This 0.3 mile trail is ideal for families and hikers of all skill levels. It’s next to the Phoenix Zoo, and from the top of the Hole in the Rock summit, you can enjoy a great view of Phoenix and watch airplanes landing at the Phoenix Airport. This popular trail was also busy, so we wore our masks and practiced polite social distancing when passing other hikers.
Playing at Cactus Park in Scottsdale
Another afternoon, we visited Cactus Park in Scottsdale. Even in January, the weather was 70 degrees and sunny in the Phoenix area. The warm temperature was a nice change from our snowy weather in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho! Our kids had a lot of fun playing on the spacious playground at Cactus Park and riding their scooters around the paved walking trails. Going to parks and playgrounds is a great activity while traveling with kids. Our kids often just enjoy the simplicity of playing and running around outside, or swinging on the swing set.
Boondocking at Lost Dutchman State Park
Once we left Phoenix proper, we headed to Lost Dutchman State Park for our next boondocking experience. At this spacious campsite, we did not have water or power hook-ups. We used our 100 gallon water tank sparingly. We also had to plan to charge our devices, phones and computers during the campground’s limited generator hours. Evidently, some camping areas restrict when RVs are allowed to run their generators, to reduce noise.
The Lost Dutchman State Park camping area did have bathrooms and showers. Our family used the campground showers several times during our stay, to save the water in our RV tank. RV camping is often considered “glamping”. However, we’ve encountered many circumstances when we had to limit our power and water usage. If nothing else, our RV provides us with comfortable beds to sleep in at night after a day of exploring!
Siphon Draw Trail Hike
At Lost Dutchman State Park, we went on several easy hikes among the cactus-lined trails around the campground. We also took the kids on a longer hike up the Siphon Draw trail. We hiked as far as we could before the trail became too steep and rocky for our young kids. Once we turned back, we took a detour down the mountain along a dried-up water route with lots of rock scrambling. It was great to explore these Arizona trails in January, when rattlesnakes are not as active.
We made sure to wear good hiking shoes and bring water bottles on this adventurous family hike!
The views were beautiful along Siphon Draw trail in Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix, Arizona. Legend has it, the nearby Superstition Mountains are home to a lost ore-rich mine and caches of gold hidden by two miners in the 1870s. The location of the mine was lost and no one has been able to locate it or the gold since. Treasure or not, Lost Dutchman State Park is a great place for adventure-seeking families to wander and explore!
Adventures Await in Arizona!
Our family plans to be in Arizona for another 2 months. We will stay at a combination of campgrounds, boondocking spots and an occasional RV park. After that, we will head toward Colorado for another few weeks. Our RV trip has already been a really fun adventure. We live a simple life on the road, homeschool our kids, work virtually and explore Arizona in our free time. We can’t wait to see what adventures lay ahead!
Arizona sunset at Lost Dutchman State Park
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, DIY projects, photography, homeschooling my kids, traveling, and serving people. I’ve previously worked as a graphic designer, web designer, journalist and barista. I started Create. Play. Travel. to share some of our creative projects and family adventures. I hope you enjoy the highlights of our creative family life!