Yosemite Never Disappoints

I’m a sucker for wilderness anywhere, on any day of the year, but having visited in all four seasons I am now totally sold that autumn is the best time of year to visit Yosemite National Park. Our trip timing bypassed the swell of summer visitors (estimated at over 600,000 in August alone) to less than half of that number in October, just in time for the fall colors that showed up and showed out in waves of yellow, reds, and ochre blanketing the landscape. And there were no winter road closures or snow chains required.

Beautiful Yosemite

We were advised by the resort staff to leave camp for the park around 9am to climb ahead of fall weekend visitors, and help ensure we could find space to park our over-sized vehicle. Rodney did the driving the first day and now it was my turn to drive the motorhome.  With me behind the wheel, Rodney and the kids were able to enjoy the panoramic views out of the big front window. The meandering drive and stunning vistas of the valley approach were breathtaking.

Rue Mapp Driving the RV

Yosemite Views

After paying $30 for our week-long pass at the park gate, we wound easily down into the valley, stopping to take photos at the most iconic views of the Yosemite landscape. Within an hour, we arrived at Half-Dome Village (Curry Village) and parked in the adjacent parking lot, taking up two spots vertically (and legally!) — we then ran into a friend of Outdoor Afro who remembered us from our epic leader training weekend back in 2016.

Reuniting with Old Friends

From there we took the free park bus shuttle that stops at all the major valley destinations and many hiking trails beyond. Our afternoon filled up nicely with a delightful, casual lunch at Degnan’s in the valley, followed by leisurely hiking and time spent in the visitor center to learn more about the formation and history of this important and beloved national treasure.:

One of the Many Hikes

Before we knew it, our Yosemite sun began to set westward. Without quite getting our fill of the park’s trails and stories, we reluctantly decided to get back on the road to allow plenty of time and light to re-connect our RV to camp, enjoy our planned Taco Night  — and of course, more s’mores!

The Perfect Marshmallow

By the time I climbed into bed Saturday night, I could not believe our trip was coming to an end the next day, just as we became accustomed to the rhythm of the RV life.  I knew we could have easily stayed another two nights — or more!

 Our 5 Tips For RVing Weekend Warriors

  • Plan for a long weekend if you can – consider the journey and destination in your RV as a total adventure, and take your time along the way!
  • Choose an RV Resort with amenities for everyone, such as recreation rooms with WI-FI, swimming pools, organized activities and park model cabins – perfect for those who want to try out the RV lifestyle, but aren’t ready to buy.
  • It’s all about preparation. Just like with any camping experience you’ll benefit from advance meal plans, prepping fruits and veggies, marinating meat, etc.  All help to save time, and bring only what portions of dry goods you need from home to reduce waste #Grits
  • RVs have plenty of storage: Grab toys and games from home such as balls, board games, and cards for those down moments, especially before bedtime.
  • Eat lots of s’mores!

What are your must-have tips for weekend getaways in your RV? Let me know in the comments!


As most folks know by now, I am all about helping people positively connect with nature in any way they can. My travels as founder and chief instigator for Outdoor Afro have helped several thousands get their nature swagger back through outdoor recreation.  We have come to appreciate RV experiences over the years just as much as the back-country treks that allow you to carry all you need on your back.



We have had the pleasure to RV in California’s Sierra foothills along the American River with a teardrop trailer in tow, used a larger RV to camp the awe-inspiring Big Sur, and have been regulars at KOAs up and down the California coast. This time, we decided to grab a Type C motorhome, and head to iconic Yosemite National Park!


An RV is a comfortable lodge on wheels from which to pursue a mind-boggling variety of camp destinations and public lands. You can just roll up, and anchor your family in nature and enjoy the pop-up communities all over America!


My family is still chattering and reminiscing about our whirlwind RV adventure that jumped off from our home in Oakland, California.  We wove our way through California’s Central Valley and scenic rolling woodland foothills to ascend the majestic forests of Yosemite National Park near our destination at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort — our weekend basecamp.


Thanks to the folks at Go RVing, we were loaned a Type C- motorhome from El Monte RV, suitable for our family of four — me, my partner the indomitable co-captain Rodney, with our teen roadies Arwen and Will. There was plenty of room for cooking, eating, lounging, and sleeping for all of us with room to spare for two additional youths.





This RV was the largest we have driven, yet it handled smoothly with great visibility and fewer blind spots than our SUV at home. Anyone who feels comfortable driving a truck or minivan will manage navigation with a Type C well, with no special licensing required.  Inside, we had all the comforts of home with a four burner stove, oven, refrigerator/freezer, and tons of cabinet storage that locked securely keeping our belongings tucked away in case of any bumps in the road. The rear contained a queen sized bed and upfront there is a full-sized cab over sleeping area. Adding to the convenience was an onboard shower and bathroom with a flush toilet  – so thankfully, no middle of the night, chilly treks to the bathroom for us!

Before picking up our RV, we made runs to our local grocery store with lists for our carefully planned meals decided on by the family the night before. We also saved money by bringing a bunch of items we already had from home, like garbage bags, cleaning supplies, spices, pots and pans, bedding, linens; and other pantry items measured in just the right amounts for our favorite weekend recipes (can’t leave home without my grits!).


Rue’s Favorite Creamy Grits Recipe (from SpryLiving.com)


Grits provide a hearty and hot camp morning base topped with breakfast meats, eggs, shrimp, or sauteed veggies for a complete breakfast!


Leaving early afternoon on a Friday allowed us to spend a leisurely four hours on the road from the RV pick-up, and we used a travel app to weave around the usual traffic. By 5pm, we arrived at the resort with plenty of light on our side to tour the site, and selected one of their first-come-first serve spacious and shaded camp spaces.


Yosemite Lakes RV Resort sits in a prime location overlooking a beautiful river landscape, just minutes from Yosemite’s entrance with options for all styles of campers. Guests can drive in and select a cozy yurt that overlooks the scenic river, stay in a park model cabin, or pitch a tent along the developed hillside if they don’t have their own RV.


The hospitality and check-in at the campground was warm, quick, and informative thanks to our cool camp ranger Jeremy. And at our site, we were able to get our water and electricity hooked up within minutes before we took off to explore the campground’s many other amenities. With a television and Wi-Fi in the main lodge, the teens and man were eager to unwind from our marathon preparations and drive, catch a glimpse of Game 3 of the World Series, and share some of our adventure on social media before settling in for dinner.


By nightfall, we were more than ready to throw down on the grill some pre-marinated steaks, along with garlicky potatoes and asparagus, before the evening campfire with ranger Jeremy.



We finally tucked in for the night after the last toasted marshmallow was consumed, with lots of family jokes and giggles, excitedly looking forward to the splendor of Yosemite Valley the next morning.


Our adventure was well underway.  Stay tuned for Part 2!