On this week’s show, we’ll join Jeff Johnston as he visits Vail, Colorado a fantastic RV destination both in the summer and in winter. As Jeff shows us, there’s plenty to see, do, drink and eat at this fun filled location.
Also, with so many RVers wanting to get off the grid now, having ample electric power is essential. Jeff shows us a great portable solar panel kit from Go-Power that will help solve that power problem.
Then later in the show, Mark and Dawn Polk from RV Education 101 show us some safe trailer towing tips.
Destination: Vail, Colorado
Jeff Johnston: If you enjoy wintertime sports--skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, whatever--Colorado is hard to beat as the place to find all kinds of those activities, but there is another side of Colorado that's equally as much fun.
We're in beautiful Vail, and this area abounds with all kinds of activities and fun things to do during this, the summertime off season. We're gonna show you around, give you, kind of, an idea of what you can do around Vail, Colorado and the surrounding area, so let's go take a look.
Our visit coincided with the GoPro Mountain Games that drew more than 20,000 people to the area. Attendees can view a number of fun competitions in town, including tightrope walking and kayaking the river rapids.
The city is a delight for walking and visiting a wide variety of restaurants and specialty shops. Sampling the local wares is just part of the fun. The GoPro Games and city are dog friendly and include numerous watering stations, plus a doggy wading pool.
The snow is gone, but you can ride up the Eagle Bahn Gondola for some family fun at Adventure Ridge on top of Vail Mountain. No matter where you go in Colorado the scenery is spectacular. The gondola goes from 8,200, 8,300 feet roughly up to the top, which is 10,300 roughly feet, so it's quite an elevation gain and what you're watching out the window, of course, spectacular. Highly recommended as a fun thing to do here in the Vail area.
The activities are manned by trained staff to keep things fun and safe for the young ones. From a mega-sized climbing gym to a kid-friendly zip line, there are fun activities for all ages.
When you're ready to let someone else do the walking, there is the Vail riding stable just a short drive from town. Parking is snug, so better to visit with just your tow vehicle or motorhome-dinghy rig.
Local Colorado campgrounds range from just the basics boondocking sites to full-scale luxury resorts. We stopped by Sugar Loafin' Campground in Leadville to look at one option where visitors can drop anchor when touring the area. Sugar Loafin' Campground is a great example of a fun place to stay in the area.
From the calm of the campground to the activity of a railroad, Colorado has something for everyone. Riding the rails can take visitors to some remote, hard-to-access areas of the state. The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad offers a comfortable and scenic ride through the hills with spectacular views. The parking lot can accommodate RVs of all sizes, with convenient driving access.
On the way down the hill, on I-70 toward Denver, a sign caught our eye: gold panning. Well, when in Rome, as they say, so we took
a side trip to see what was up. The Phoenix Gold Mine is one of many places a visitor can pan for gold in Colorado. Displays of authentic mining equipment provide a glimpse into how it's done by the serious mining operators. The Phoenix Mine offers tours of the gold mine tunnels, but Pam opted to go panning in the creek. Pam was pretty good at it. After a few washouts you may go home with a bit of color, as the saying goes.
From in-town action to horseback fun, scenic train rides, and gold panning, there is a lot for RVers to do in the Vail, Colorado region.
GoPower Solar Panels
Some people like full-hookup campgrounds and all the amenities. We, like a lotta campers, enjoy going dry camping, or as they say boondocking, which means no hookups. The disadvantage there is sooner or later you run out of electricity. For example, if it's cool enough that you run your furnace all night, you know, your 12-volt battery power supply can be a little bit dodgy.
Fortunately, there is a simple solar solution for that. Go Power is a company that offers a number of portable solar-panel charging setups for your RV batteries. This one is 120-watt kit. They have kits all the way up to 200 watts, and they also offer permanent setups for the top of the vehicle.
The Go Power! panels and connecting cables come in a sturdy carrying case for safe and convenient storage in your RV. You unfold the panels, and you find all the hookup hardware on the inside. Each side of the panel has these kinda leg kits that can stick out here, so we'll set these up. We'll haul the whole rig over to the side of the trailer and figure out how we're gonna hook these to the batteries.
Some trailer was equipped with the solar charge port and one of the adapters in the kit just happens to fit, so we plug it in and that's set. And the nice thing is, because this is portable, you put it in the sun wherever you happen to need it. Be sure to watch this segment which has a lot more detail about setting up the GoPower Solar Panels!
Towing Tips from RV Education 101
Hi. I'm Mark Polk with RV Education 101, and I would like to welcome you to RV 101, understanding your RV.
Every component in a towing system has a weight rating. Your towing system is based on the weakest link in the chain. Let's start with the hitch receiver. The hitch receiver receives the hitch head or ball mount. The hitch receiver is rated to handle a specific amount of weight and has nothing to do with the tow vehicle's tow rating. The rating for the hitch receiver must be greater than the amount of weight being towed.
If you are towing a lighter trailer with a weight-carrying hitch and experience problems with the steering and/or sway, you may need a weight-distributing hitch. With the loaded trailer hooked up to the tow vehicle, stand back and look at it. If the lowest point is where the trailer couples to the hitch, talk to your RV dealer about a weight-distributing hitch. Hitch ball and ball mount.
Towing your trailer safely involves more than just selecting the right class of hitch receiver for the job. The hitch ball and the ball mount also have maximum weight ratings they are capable of handling. Hitch balls have three basic measurements: the ball diameter, the shank diameter, and the shank length.
The ball size must be the right size for the coupler on the trailer you are towing and be rated to tow the trailer's gross vehicle weight rating. The hitch ball base and shank play a major role in the hitch ball's weight rating. The ball mount is the removable portion of the hitch that slides into the hitch receiver.
For weight-carrying hitches it may be necessary to find a ball mount with a drop or rise to help level the trailer when it's hooked up to the tow vehicle. Ball mounts are also rated by the amount of weight they can safely tow.
That's a quick primer on safe trailer towing and trailer hitch components. If you'd like to learn more about towing a trailer safely, take a minute to visit www.rvonlinetraining.com.