We love adventuring with our kids and finding ways to live creatively. In January 2021, we embarked on a RV road trip to Arizona where we stayed for 3 months with our 3 kids and our cat. We left winter behind in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and drove into Oregon, through Utah and finally arrived in Arizona. Here are some of the highlights of our RV road trip from Idaho to Arizona!
Video: RV Road Trip from Idaho to Arizona
We took homeschool on the road and went on a 3-month RV adventure in Arizona. 🌵🌄☀️ We discovered a lot of things to do along the way!
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AZ Road Trip Highlights
We’ve discovered that RV travel usually requires problem solving. Until we left the freezing winter temperatures in Idaho and Oregon behind, we couldn’t use our RV water tank. Instead we filled up jugs of water to drink, wash dishes, and flush the toilet. A little further down the road, we learned we needed to install a few new tires on our RV toy hauler.
Additionally, we stopped by Moqui Caves in Kanab, Utah. These amazing sandstone caves were fun to hike to and explore!
Once in Arizona, we camped on several people’s properties, which we arranged through the website Boondockers Welcome. We explored a mall near Phoenix and we went on a short hike up to Hole in the Rock. Finally, we set up our “home away from home” and did homeschool each morning. My husband Andy worked virtually from his “office” in the toy hauler garage.
Our first two weeks in Arizona were an adventurous success!
RV Road Trip with Kids
We took 4 days to drive from Idaho to Arizona and arrive at our first state park camp site. Our kids do pretty well on long driving days, so our drive 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
Alongside fun rest stops, our family discovered several problems to solve on our Arizona RV road trip. At one gas station in Utah, a tire service technician noticed our RV toy hauler was bouncing a bit. He suggested that we have him rotate and replace a few of our RV tires. We had felt the bouncing ourselves while driving from North Idaho. It was a huge blessing to be able to fix our tires in advance, to avoid breaking down on the side of the road with 3 cranky kids. After a 1-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.
Dry Camping in our RV
During the first few nights of our January road trip to Arizona, we dry camped in our RV. We couldn’t use the RV water tank because we drove through freezing temperatures in the Northwestern states. We had to wait until we reached the warmer temperatures in Arizona to de-winterize the RV. Because of this, we brought along plenty of water in gallon jugs and water bottles for drinking. We often refilled the gallon jugs of water for washing hands and doing the dishes, as well as flushing the toilet.
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.
Boondocking in Utah and Arizona
The second night of our road trip, 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.
Boondocking is essentially camping on public or private land, without the usual RV park amenities and hook-ups. We often boondock on open public land or on someone’s private property with permission, using the website Boondockers Welcome. Often, property owners allow boondockers to hook up to power overnight and fill up on water, for a small fee of $10 to $15.
We’ve really enjoyed our boondocking experiences and we’ve met a variety of welcoming people!
On the third night of our road trip, 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 Arizona RV adventure. We 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 was 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. From the top of the Hole in the Rock summit, you can enjoy a great view of Phoenix and watch airplanes land 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 first state park boondocking experience in Arizona. We did not have water or power hook-ups, so we used our 100 gallon water tank cautiously. Our campsite came with great views of the nearby Superstition Mountains!
We set up camp including our easy-up outdoor office space. Our kids had a blast exploring the prickly landscape around our camp site. Also, the sunsets were gorgeous!
Arizona sunset at Lost Dutchman State Park
Adventures Awaited in Arizona!
Our family explored Arizona for 3 months, from January through March 2021. We stayed at a combination of campgrounds, boondocking spots and an occasional RV park. Our first few weeks in Arizona quickly proved that the rest of our trip would be a very fun adventure. We lived a simple life on the road, homeschooled our kids, worked virtually and explored Arizona in our free time. Every day we were excited to see what adventures lay ahead!
See where we went next! Arizona RV Adventure Part 2 »
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, creative projects, taking photos and traveling. I’ve previously worked as a web designer, journalist and barista. I hope you enjoy our creative projects and family adventures!