Loneley Camper under Milky Way at Matterhorn
DieterMeyrl/istockphoto

The Best Hidden Gem Destinations, According to RV Experts

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Loneley Camper under Milky Way at Matterhorn
DieterMeyrl/istockphoto

Overlooked Sites

When summer rolls around, so does camping weather. If you’ve been dying to pull the RV out of storage but aren’t sure where to visit, I’ve got you covered. You won’t want to miss these places to stay on your next trip.

A full-time RVer myself, I’ll share first-hand favorites. I also spoke with many RV bloggers and travelers who shared their favorite hidden gems. Prepare for your jaw to drop at some of these views. I know mine did.

Note: Some sites are full hook-up RV parks while others are boondocking sites. Boondocking means you can stay for free on public lands, but you won’t have any hook-ups (like water, sewer, or electric), so you’ll need to plan accordingly. 


Related: The Best RV Sites in Every State and When to Book Them

Goosenecks State Park
Rōbi Ventures

Goosenecks State Park

Mexican Hat, Utah
Goosenecks State Park offers serenity and amazing views. Erick Young, a full-time RVer and founder of the popular Cool RV Stuff Facebook group, said one of his favorite campsites is Goosenecks State Park — “not only due to the dramatic location of the RV spots but its proximity to the equally astounding Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, and Mogi Dugway viewpoints,” he said. “It may be one of the most dramatic views from our RV we’ve ever experienced.”


Related: The State Park You Don't Want to Miss in Every State

Seal Rock RV Cove
Erick Young

Seal Rock RV Cove

Seal Rock, Oregon
Young said another must-visit for RVers is the Oregon Coast. (I can personally say I agree with him after spending several months there this past fall.) “We love any spot along the Oregon Coast in the warmer months, but we really enjoy Seal Rocks RV Cove,” Young said. “It’s only a few minutes south of Newport, a favorite little fishing town, and has views and easy access to one of our favorite beaches.” While staying here you won’t want to miss the nearby dog-friendly beaches, private coves, and tide pools. 


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Canyonlands Boondocking
Marc and Julie Bennet

Canyonlands Boondocking

Near Canyonlands, Utah
Canyons, mountains, and red rocks await you at this off-the-grid camping spot located right near a cliff edge. This gorgeous spot is a favorite of Marc and Julie Bennet of RVLove. To get there, take the road to Needles Overlook near Monticello. There you will find many offshoot roads with sites you can camp at for free. Be sure to pay attention to the “no camping beyond this point” signs but otherwise enjoy your stay.  


Related: How to Find Places to Boondock or Free Park in Your RV

Middlefork RV Park
Marc and Julie Bennet

Middlefork RV Park

Fair Play, Colorado
Middlefork RV Park is situated in the fork of a river and surrounded by mountain views. The Bennets said this park is “a true oasis and getaway yet close to all the conveniences you could want or need.” It also makes a fantastic home base for skiing in Breckenridge. If this sounds like your perfect escape, the Bennets share more details in their review of the campground


Related: Bucket List RV Trips for 2021

Camp Gulf RV Park
Matt Ruttenberg

Camp Gulf RV Park

Miramar Beach, Florida
If you’re looking for a luxury RV stay, here’s another gem. Matt and Niesha Ruttenberg of Haven and Wander said this has been their favorite luxury resort. Camp Gulf RV Park features beachside, full hook-up RV sites and a pool. The Ruttenbergs said you won't want to miss splashing in the waves or a visit to the nearby town of Seaside, Florida. 

The Farmstead
Matt Ruttenberg

The Farmstead

Ocala, Florida
This RV site is a must-visit for animal lovers. You can bring horses along to stay in the included horse stalls. The Ruttenbergs said their daughters enjoyed visiting with The Farmstead animals, Rocky and Bullwinkle, two rescue bulls, and Miss Petunia, an adorable donkey. The site is also gorgeous and surrounded by beautiful trees and rolling pastures. 


Related: 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

Woodland Park
Whitney Eakin and Jared Casazza

Woodland Park

Grand Marais, Michigan
A favorite RV site for Whitney Eakin and Jared Casazza of Travel Therapy Mentor is located in a quiet beach town on the shores of Lake Superior. Woodland Park Campground has amazing views of the lake and clean amenities. If solitude is what you seek, you’ll definitely find it here. It is also a beautiful home base for exploring other areas of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Hurricane River Campground - Lower Loop
Kathryn Mancewicz

Hurricane River Campground, Lower Loop

Munising, Michigan
If you want easy access to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Hurricane River Campground is the place to stay. The super-secret part is that you need to book a site in the Lower Loop. My husband and I passed through here just this summer and loved the area. You can’t beat being just steps to Lake Superior. From the campground, you also have access to the Au Sable Light Station trailhead which hugs the lake for approximately 1.5 miles and ends at the lighthouse. 


Related: 18 Spectacular Lighthouses Across America

Badlands Boondocking
Whitney Eakin and Jared Casazza

Badlands Boondocking

Near Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Although this gem is known to many RVers, it is worth visiting. Eakin and Casazza said this is one of their favorite boondocking sites. It is located just north of the Pinnacle Entrance on the left side as you approach the park. Eakin and Casazza recommend enjoying the view of the Badlands and then heading into the park before sunrise for a full day of adventuring. 


Related: Don't Miss 19 of America's Most Underrated National Parks

Fort De Soto
Jacob Wade

Fort De Soto

St. Petersburg, Florida
Jacob Wade is a Cheapist extraordinaire who brings together savvy RV travel and budgeting in his businesses. Here’s what Wade had to say about his hidden gem: “Fort De Soto Park is a county campground and is probably our favorite spot to camp in Florida. For snowbirds, nothing is better than backing up to a waterfront site, surrounded by a canopy of oaks and palms, and enjoying a warm winter sunset over the water.”

Grand Canyon Boondocking
Jacob Wade

Grand Canyon Boondocking

Forest Road 688, Near Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Wade also recommended a hidden oasis 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon. “We visited the Grand Canyon South Rim area and found an awesome, private forest road to boondock for a week," he said. "Located in the Kaibab National Forest, we were surrounded by ponderosa pines, dirt roads, and beautiful, dark skies each night.” Wade said there was plenty of space and not many neighbors nearby. More details on where to go can be found on Campendium


Related: The Best Remote Vacation Spot in Every State

Targhee Creek Boondocking
James Vonweigen

Targhee Creek Boondocking

Near Yellowstone National Park, Idaho
According to James Vonwiegen of Wanderus Living, “there are two things that make a boondocking destination great: great views and fun and interesting things to do in the area." Targhee Creek dispersed camping puts you just 25 minutes from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Nearby you can also visit Henry’s Lake State Park.

Upper Teton View Boondocking
James Vonweigen

Upper Teton View Boondocking

Near Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming
Vonwiegen has another fantastic mountain getaway spot he recommends everyone visit: Upper Teton View (43.7638130,-110.5527115). "The views from your camper truly can’t be beaten,” he said. Even better, you’re only 15 to 20 minutes from Grand Tetons National Park. Vonweigen has been a full-time RVer for over a year and this is still his favorite destination for boondocking. 


Related: 12 Expert Tips for Saving Money on RV Living

Yosemite Lakes RV Resort
Michelle Morgan

Yosemite Lakes RV Resort

Groveland, California
If you want to be within a few miles of a beautiful national park and have all the amenities, Yosemite Lakes RV Resort is the secret spot for you. Michelle Morgan of Lifes2ShortBus said it's her favorite location for visiting Yosemite and the surrounding area. You also have easy access to the Tuolumne River and Lake Don Pedro if you’re into water sports.

Southern Grace Lavender Farm
Michelle Morgan

Southern Grace Lavender Farm

Southport, Florida
Fields of lavender await you at Florida’s first lavender farm. Not only is the location gorgeous, but it is also free to stay the night with a Harvest Host pass. “The overnight camping area is very spacious, complete with three 50-amp power poles and multiple fire pits with firewood included,” Morgan said. “They even had complimentary fresh farm eggs, pet food, and fire starter to make your stay as comfortable as possible!”

Paradise Point RV & Cabins
Simon Trask

Paradise Point RV & Cabins

Hemphill, Texas

They don’t call it Paradise Point for nothing. This campground is on the shores of Toledo Bend Lake in East Texas. Simon Trask, owner of the Possum Kingdom Lake website, said he loves this park because it is a gorgeous area but way off the beaten path. You can escape to this oasis and enjoy boating and fishing with easy access right from the RV park. 

Hickory Creek Campground
Simon Trask

Hickory Creek Campground

Hickory Creek, Texas
For those who would rather stay on the beaten path, Trask offered up another gem. The Hickory Creek Campground is in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. It's a “really awesome spread out campground with lots of woods and open space,” according to Trask, with trails, abundant wildlife, and beaches right behind campsites. Such a find is unusual in a large metropolitan area. 

Mojave Desert Boondocking
Kristen Hanes

Mojave Desert Boondocking

Near Mojave Desert National Monument, California
If you are looking for a gorgeous desert landscape, look no further. With no amenities except fire rings, this campsite is a true escape to nature. There are several campsites in the Granite Mountain National Reserve area off Kelbaker Road. Kristin Hanes of The Wayward Home said it is a perfect dispersed campsite for exploring park features like Kelso Dunes and the Kelso Depot museum. 


Related: The Different Types of RV Camping

Alabama Hills National Recreation Area
Kristin Hanes

Alabama Hills National Recreation Area

Lone Pine, California
Although many campers boondock in this area, the Bureau of Land Management actually discourages it. Instead, you can stay at one of the 80 sites in Tuttle Creek Campground for just $8 per night. Hanes said this area is perfect for enjoying beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, including Mount Whitney. The area can also accommodate even larger RVs. 

Jemez Mountains Boondocking
Kathryn Mancewicz

Jemez Mountains Boondocking

Near Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico
New Mexico is underrated in terms of its natural beauty. Living there for two years, I found wonderful places to explore. Before our RV days, my husband and I found this gorgeous location in the Jemez Mountains. We tent camped, but it is accessible for smaller RVs. Peaceful mountain views with unique rock formations await you here. There are also many hot springs nearby. To get to this boondocking location, take Highway 4 to Highway 126. Then turn off onto Forest Road 376 and you will find many places to camp.


Related: 30 Under-the-Radar Road Trips You Can Take in a Day

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Boondocking
Theresé Julo

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Boondocking

Springerville, Arizona
You won’t have any shortage of views or boondocking here. According to Theresé Julo, an RV Yoga instructor, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is a “spectacularly beautiful mountain and forest area with hundreds of miles of incredible hiking trails along the Mogollon Rim.” There are multiple places to boondock off the forest roads. “There are also lakes for fishing, canoeing, and paddle boarding enthusiasts,” said Julo. 


Related: What It's Really Like to Retire in an RV

Portneuf Lower Dispersed Camping
Rae Miller

Portneuf Lower Dispersed Camping

Near Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Rae Miller of The Getaway Couple found this fantastic boondocking spot just 2.5 miles from the eclectic town of Lava Hot Springs (42.6415, -112.0058). Miller said, “You can pull your RV right up to the Portneuf River and set up camp among the wildflowers,” Miller said. “Nearby in Lava Hot Springs, you can soak in the mineral pools. ... You can also rent a raft and float down the Portneuf River. We did both activities and loved it!”


Related: 50 Tourist Traps That Locals Still Love

Atlatl Campground - Valley of Fire State Park
Christina Pate

Atlatl Campground, Valley of Fire State Park

Overton, Nevada
When I first saw this campground, I couldn’t believe my eyes. As Christina Pate of Travels with Ted describes it, “The campground is surrounded by remarkable red sandstone formations that bighorn sheep often travel across. Scenery is the main amenity, but half of the campsites offer water and electric hookups.”

John Prince Park Campground
Christina Pate

John Prince Park Campground

Lake Worth, Florida
If you dream of escaping the cold by traveling to sunny Florida come winter, you’ll definitely want to check out John Prince Park Campground, “a county-run RV park with spacious sites and reasonable monthly rates," Pate said. While most Florida campgrounds are expensive and cramped, this one stands out from the crowd for being the opposite. "The campground sits on a scenic lake and is connected to a larger park with walking and biking trails, a large dog park, playgrounds, boat ramps, and more,” Pate said.

Waterloo/Lost Island Waterpark KOA Resort
Tory John

Waterloo/Lost Island Waterpark KOA Resort

Waterloo, Iowa
The Midwest tends to get passed over, but Iowa has a hidden secret you won’t want to miss. Tory John, an RVer and owner of CamperFAQs.com, said the Lost Island Waterpark KOA “is loaded with amenities like a 1-acre private swimming lake with a beach, mini-golf, bike rentals, fishing, disc golf, and more.” Nearby there are opportunities to go-kart, golf, or stop by the casino. 


Related: How KOA Became America's Favorite Campground

Northend Campground
Paige Haley

Northend Campground

Rushford, Minnesota
This Midwest gem is especially hidden: Many people don’t even know that Northend Campground is open, as it recently came under new ownership. While Google says this site is permanently closed, Paige Haley of Paige Outdoors stayed there just a few weeks ago. She said the beautiful Rush Creek “separates you from downtown and offers quiet grass campsites.” The park is located along the historical Root River Trail, so there is plenty to explore in the surrounding area, as well. 

The Colonies RV Park at Fort Monroe
Cortney Edwards

The Colonies RV Park at Fort Monroe

Hampton, Virginia
Don’t let looks deceive you. Although it lacks the amazing scenery of other RV parks, the area surrounding The Colonies RV Park is packed with historical appeal. According to RVer Cortney Edwards, “it is home to the fort that was a stronghold during the Civil War and the base of strategy in the Battle of Hampton Roads.” Before you venture to this park, be warned: It comes complete with ghost stories, according to Edwards. 

Rocky Mountain Hi Campground
Janae McCormick

Rocky Mountain Hi Campground

Kalispell, Montana
At this RV park, a scenic 45-minute drive is all that stands between you and Glacier National Park. Janae McCormick, a full-time RVer, said this surprising find is “the perfect getaway from the surrounding city.” There are many amenities and even “a small river that runs through the edge of the RV park,” McCormick dsif. 


Related: 35 Surprising Facts About America's National Parks

Presnell’s Marina and RV Park
Bryanna and Craig Royal

Presnell’s Marina and RV Park

Port St. Joe, Florida
Florida is a popular destination for tourists and RVers alike. So it is no surprise to see another hidden RV park gem in this state. Presnell’s is the perfect place to stay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Bryanna Royal of Crazy Family Adventure said she loves this park because “you have gorgeous sunsets. You can also walk out the door of your RV and into the water to hunt for sea creatures and shells.” There are also many activities in Port St. Joe, Florida, that Royal said you won’t want to miss. 

The Ridge Outdoor Resort
Taryn Shorr

The Ridge Outdoor Resort

Sevierville, Tennessee
As if the fabulous views weren’t enough, The Ridge Outdoor Resort itself is a must-visit destination, said Taryn Shorr of Chasing Trail. “The RV sites are all stamped concrete and feature full hookups, picnic tables, top-of-the-line fire pits, and free Wi-Fi and cable. Some sites even have hot tubs.” Another unique feature is a summer day camp for kids ages 5 to 12.

Big Lagoon County Park
Kara Harms

Big Lagoon County Park

Trinidad, California
Big Lagoon County Park offers amazing views with easy access to the lagoon for kayaking or paddle boarding. “It's right on the lagoon, which has very still water,” said Kara Harms of Whimsy Soul. “So when the sunset hits, the entire lagoon turns into a natural mirror and makes the entire sky feel twice as big. We had stumbled upon this first-come, first-serve campsite on a whim and I felt like I won the lottery with a front-row view of this magical sunset.” 

Twin Peaks Campground
Kelly Beasley

Twin Peaks Campground

Ajo, Arizona
Marshall Wendler and Kelly Beasley, co-founders of the popular RV beginner website Camp Addict, have been full-time RVers for more than six years. During that time, they have stayed in many beautiful locations, including  Twin Peaks Campground. “Brimming with Saguaros and Organ Pipe cactus, it's a feast for the eyes, complete with 360-degree mountain views," Beasley said. "Seeing as how I rarely stay in campgrounds (I camp on public land 95% of the time), for me to recommend a campground is saying something!”

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Brian Demo

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Lake Buena Vista, Florida
While Disney World is no secret, did you know it also has an RV park? That’s right, you can enjoy all the magic of Disney from a secluded campground nearby. RV expert Brian Demo of Just Answer said he loves staying there with his family. “We don’t go into the theme parks a lot when we are there. [But the campground is] just filled with Disney fun things so our daughter has a blast.” 


Related: 26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget

Fisherman’s Beach RV Camping
Kristy Esparza

Fisherman’s Beach RV Camping

Avila Beach, California
There are three under-the-radar camping areas across the street from Fisherman’s Beach. According to Kristy Esparza of JJ and the Bug, “being at Fisherman's Beach, you are within walking distance to kayak rentals, adventure boat tours of the harbor, and whale watching cruises.” There are also many local restaurants and, of course, the beach to enjoy. “This is one of my favorite areas for a laid-back family vacation, and would make a perfect stop on any California road trip,” Esparza said. 

Zion National Park Boondocking
Kathryn Mancewicz

Zion National Park Boondocking

Hurricane, Utah, near Zion National Park
Zion National Park is beautiful, but I have to say, I enjoyed our boondocking location (37.148314, -113.031547) even more. It was much more serene, with gorgeous views that we had all to ourselves. Although we tent camped, you can boondock here in a truck top camper or a 4-wheel-drive van with good clearance. This gem is well hidden because you have to keep driving past the “private property — no camping” signs to reach the Bureau of Land Management land where you are then free to camp. 

White Rim Road
Zander Buteux

White Rim Road

Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Surrounded by darkness, a trip around White Rim Road allows for some of the best stargazing in the country. Zander Buteux of Vacation Renter has traveled over 100,000 miles in his RV and this is one of his favorite spots. “While Moab is not exactly a 'hidden' gem, this route is truly the road less traveled,” he said. “The 4-wheel-drive road travels along the rim of both the Colorado and Green River.” 

Umpqua National Forest Boondocking
Zander Buteux

Umpqua National Forest Boondocking

Near Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
In the heart of Oregon, Highways 230 and 62 wind through breathtaking scenery. “Massive pines and firs loom over both sides of the pavement as it winds alongside the Rogue River,” Buteux said. “The peaceful riverside contrasts the roaring waters as they carve through the thick landscape.” There are many places to boondock off almost any forest road along the route, so you’re sure to find the perfect spot.

Mountain RV Camping in the Italian Dolomites
welcomia/istockphoto

International Destinations

Although most of the RV bloggers I spoke with are based in the United States, there are several international destinations worth noting. RVing doesn’t have to be limited to the U.S. Why not travel abroad and rent an RV to get the best views around? 


Related: 10 Countries Where They Love RVs as Much as Americans Do

Camping Les Grangettes
Dave Boehl

Camping Les Grangettes

Montreux, Switzerland
The views can make or break an RV trip. At Camping Les Grangettes, stunning mountain views surround you on all sides. Dave Boehl of Go Last Minute said this is the best RV destination he has ever been to. There is beach access to Lac Léman (aka Lake Geneva), and you’ll feel like royalty camping alongside Chillon Castle. 

Lake Bonney Boondocking
Michelle Rudge

Lake Bonney Boondocking

Barmera, Australia
Another international gem comes from Michelle Rudge of Ben and Michelle. About 2.5 hours from the city of Adelaide, there is an oasis for RVers. There is plenty of free camping right on the shores of Lake Bonney (-34.2333324, 140.4499982). “The shores are sandy and uneven and therefore required a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but there is lots of space, and the sunsets are spectacular,” Rudge said.

The Hidden Cliffs of Barriga Boondocking
Thomas Lacroix

The Hidden Cliffs of Barriga Boondocking

Cape St. Vincent, Portugal

Portugal is a popular destination for budget-savvy travelers. You can also enjoy some fabulous RVing there. Thomas Lacroix of The Wise Adventurer said the most unexpected and beautiful place he has stayed in his RV was Barriga Beach. “A few meters from where we parked, we discovered an endless beach, bordered by vertiginous cliffs. The sun was going down, the sand was turning orange, and the sea was on fire.”