Bucket List RV Trips to Take Next Year

RV Traveling on Seven Mile Bridge of Overseas Highway Between the Florida Keys


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RV Traveling on Seven Mile Bridge of Overseas Highway Between the Florida Keys

Rolling Vistas

The open road awaits, and traveling the country in an RV gives you the chance to see some of the most beautiful stretches of America without having to be tied to the confines of a hotel room. These destinations across the United States are worth adding to your RV bucket list. Not only are they worth the trip, but so are the paths you'll take to get to them.

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Related: 50 of the Most Beautiful Views in the World

Bandon Beach, Oregon at Dusk in Autumn

The Oregon Coast

For about 362 miles from the Columbia River to the California border, the Oregon Coast is a mobile vacationer's paradise. Watch the puffins on the haystack rocks in Cannon Beach and Pacific City. Make your way through the 11 lighthouses that dot the coastline. Visit the abandoned military facilities at Fort Stevens or tow along a dune buggy and go bounding over the sand in Florence. Short on hokey seaside amusement and long on natural beauty, the Oregon Coast is a great place to pull off Route 101 and take a summer sunset photo on the cliffs or hunker down in a lodge and watch the storms roll in.

Related: The 20 Best Beaches on the West Coast

RV Traveling Along Highway 101 of the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast: Where to Stop

There are plenty of RV-friendly Oregon State Parks along the coast alone, with some open for day-use and camping with reduced services because of coronavirus. It's just a matter of where you want to be. Nehalem Bay State Park is about an hour from Portland and puts campers right next to the cute coastal towns of Wheeler and Nehalem, within a short drive of the creamery in Tillamook and the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria. RV spots with electric and water hookups start around $31, but if you want to play a masked round at Bandon Dunes, reserve your spot early.

Aerial of Blue Ridge Parkway During Fall

Blue Ridge Parkway

If you doubt the Appalachians can hold their own with any other mountain range on the continent, travel this 469-mile stretch of road from Rockfish Gap, Virginia, to Swain County in North Carolina. Coupled with sweeping views of some of the oldest mountains on earth, you'll see 300 miles of forest, tons of wildlife, rock tunnels, and two national parks (Shenandoah and Smoky Mountain). Along the way, you'll find the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, Chimney Rock in North Carolina, and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

RV Along Linn Cove Viaduct Highway Road of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Grandfather Mountain in Autumn North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway: Where to Stop

There are dozens of RV-friendly campgrounds along the Parkway, including those at the national parks on each end. Few match the charm of Mama Gertie's in Swannanoa, North Carolina. Near Chimney Rock and Lake Lure, Mama Gertie's offers mountaintop RV sites with not only dramatic views, but full electric, water, and sewer hookups. Spots start at $75 a night, depending on the time of year.

A Caribou in Denali National Park with Alaskan Range Mountains in Background
Dennis Stogsdill/istockphoto
RV Riding Along Gravel Road in Denali National Park

Denali: Where to Stop

There are six campgrounds in Denali National Park itself, three of which accommodate RVs, but you're going to need to be well-located to catch the buses around the park and deal with the tricky and sometimes severe weather. Teklanika River campground is the most central, but has no electric or water hookups. Still, it's as deep as you can get into the park by private vehicle, and the views of the mountains, rivers, and wildlife are well worth it. (Read up ahead of time. The warning on the campground website: "Visiting Denali during a pandemic is going to be a little bit confusing!")

Oatman Historic US Post Office in Oatman, Arizona on Highway Route 66

Route 66

The original Route 66 — the Mother Road — ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, and was featured in John Steinbeck's 1939 novel "The Grapes of Wrath" and the 1960s television show "Route 66." It was taken out of the U.S. highway system in 1985 but is now divided into various National Scenic Byways.

Related: Route 66: Then and Now

The National Route 66 Museum, Elk City, Oklahoma
Jennifer W./Yelp

Route 66: Where to Stop

There are a lot of great sites to see along old Route 66. The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, and Santa Monica Pier at the end of the line are all worthy of your time. But instead of pulling your RV into a place such as the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, or any of its kitschy counterparts, look for RV-friendly stops such as the St. Louis West/Route 66 KOA, which starts around $74 a night, depending on RV size.

Related: 30 Great American Road Trips Through History

Bixby Bridge on Pacific Coast Highway 1, California

California's Central Coast

You can either make the run from San Francisco to Los Angeles or take it from Santa Barbara to Monterey. Either way, you'll see the towns between San Simeon and Pismo Beach, watch surf towns meld into fishing villages, ogle otters and elephant seals, take in the artwork at Hearst Castle, see Big Sur or veer off the coast for a wine tasting in Paso Robles — roughly half the price of tastings in Napa and Sonoma — and stop for seafood in Pismo Beach and Cambria.

Related: 50 Picturesque Road Trips for Safer Travel During the Pandemic

RV on Highway 1 Along Central Coast of California

California's Central Coast: Where to Stop

At some point, you have to get off of 101 or the 1 and bunk down for the night. Fortunately, the RV resorts along the way offer plenty of spots. The Pismo Sands has 133 for $63 a night and includes electricity, Wi-Fi, cable, and laundry. Pismo Coast Village has 400 sites starting at $64 a night and offers electric, water, and sewer hookups, laundry, and amusements for the kids (pool, arcade, mini golf, etc.). For more of a laid-back, funky shore town, Bella Vista by the Sea near Cayucos offers full hookups and Wi-Fi starting at $59 a night (depending on season), while those who want to be in the middle of everything will be well served by Sun Outdoors in Paso Robles, which is near the Ravine Waterpark and around 200 wineries in the region.

Sunrise at the Oconaluftee Overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains

This isn't just Blue Ridge Parkway, Part II. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 816 square miles unto itself, and you won't see much of it from where the Blue Ridge Parkway drops you in Cherokee, North Carolina. Actually, for this trip, we'd recommend coming into the park from the other entrance in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and taking in all the touristy goodness of the Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and ski area, the Ripley's Aquarium, and, in nearby Pigeon Forge, Dolly Parton's own amusement park, Dollywood. The latter has roller coasters and other thrill rides, but the Southern cooking, country music, musical revues, barbecue, bluegrass festivals and more make it more than just some fair-food-and-cheap-thrills theme park.

Related: Explore the Best National Parks in Every State

Walking Path Into Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains: Where to Stop

What if you actually want to go into the park, hike the trails, see the historic homes in Cades Cove or just enjoy the views from U.S. 441? The park itself offers RV options ranging from $30 to $36 a night, which is less than the cost of many facilities beyond the park's borders. Some of the costlier places may have better amenities, but they'll be farther from Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee.

Panoramic View of Zion National Park, Utah
Asif Islam/shutterstock

Zion National Park

You could simply drive Route 9 through this national park in Utah and get a tremendous view of the natural beauty around you. But if you want to trek the Zion and Kolob canyons, visit the Zion Human History Museum, hike Kolob Arch, or take in the mountains, stay a while. Granted, you could bounce around to Bryce Canyon National Park to the north or the Grand Canyon to the south, but there's a lot to absorb here. Also, your RV would need a permit to get through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. 

RV Along a Road Through Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park: Where to Stop

The South and Watchman campgrounds in the park itself have RV access, but only Watchman has electric hookups. Neither have sewer, water, or Wi-Fi, so if those things are important, you may want to consider a place such as the Zion River Resort along the Virgin River in Virgin. It offers water, sewer, electric, and cable for rates starting at $49 a day. You also get access to a spa, a fully air-conditioned social hall, and a concierge.

Sunset Panoramic View of Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park

Ever want to look out onto Glacier Point, scale El Capitan, conquer Half Dome or just soak in Yosemite Falls? Yosemite is nearly as large as Rhode Island and boasts 800 miles of trails that accommodate the rugged hiker as well as the leisurely walker. With more than 100 lakes, multiple waterfalls, mountains, and a few beaches, there is something for everyone. The good news is that Yosemite has nine campgrounds that accommodate RVs. The bad news? You'll need a reservation between April and September and there are no electrical, water or sewer hookups (though there are dump stations).

Related: 32 Bucket-List Experiences in America's National Parks

Cheese Burger with Potato Salad at Whoa Nellie Deli, Lee Vining, California
Ami R./Yelp

Yosemite National Park: Where to Stop

The drive in is gorgeous, but can seem a bit spare in spots. If you get a chance, the Whoa Nellie Deli in nearby Lee Vining, California, has great views of Mono Lake and the Dana Plateau. Sure, it serves as a dump station and water stop for people heading to the park, but it also hosts live music and serves a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu blending Mexican, Polynesian, and Asian fare. The sashimi isn't to be missed.

Sunset at Whitmore Canyon, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona
Larry N Young/istockphoto
RV Stopped on the Side of the Road with a Magnificent View of the The Grand Canyon at Sunset in the Background

The Grand Canyon: Where to Stop

It's only about four hours from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon site in Arizona, so it isn't a shabby excuse to visit Sin City, either, if you think you can do it safely. Temperatures are in the 60s and 70s most days during the winter, but make sure you have a good heater when staying at one of the more than two dozen RV parks: Low temperatures can still get below freezing. If you want the authentic family road trip experience, park at the the Canyon Motel & RV Park in Williams just below the South Rim. It's near Grand Canyon Railway, Kaibab National Forest, and the drive-through wildlife park Bearizona, and has a garden patio, pool, general store, and hotel rooms in old rail cars.

Colorful Old Town Shops and Restaurants in Historic Albuquerque, New Mexico
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Albuquerque, New Mexico

There's a lot more to do here than look at filming locations for "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul." Nob Hill, the ABQ BioPark, and the 2.7-mile Sandia Peak Tramway just scratch the surface of this place's natural beauty, and the Petroglyph National Monument and Cibola National Forest are easier to explore when the average high temperature stays well above freezing. With around 18 RV parks to choose from, it's also an ideal destination for your home on wheels.

Colorful Array of Hot Air Balloons in the Air During Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Where to Stop

What's the best reason to come to Albuquerque in an RV? The Balloon Fiesta that puts hundreds of hot air balloons over the city. Not only can you park your RV right near the Fiesta site, but you can stay overnight for $50 to $250 and watch the balloons from right outside your front door. Take in the sites, smell the roasting chiles, and enjoy the festivities from your own accommodations. Just be prepared to stay the minimum three-night reservation.

Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park

The first national park in the U.S., the largest supervolcano on the continent, and the home of Old Faithful, myriad other geysers, waterfalls, grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk, Yellowstone should be on your bucket list even if you never own an RV in your lifetime. Mostly in Wyoming, but with large expanses in Montana and Idaho, the 2.2 million-acre park is larger than Rhode Island or Delaware. Whatever you do, don't miss Mammoth Hot Springs, where calcified rock has carved terraces and sculptures right into the landscape.

Related: 19 Money-Saving Tips for Visiting National Parks

American Bison Walking Along a Road in Yellowstone National Park Next to a Volkswagen Camper Van

Yellowstone National Park: Where to Stop

Just about every approach to the park is gorgeous, and the park itself has nearly a dozen RV-friendly campgrounds to choose from. Fishing Bridge RV Park — the only campground welcoming only hard-sided RVs — is open May through October, so if you're looking to come during the off season, Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is the only one that's open year-round and charges $25 a night.

Rows of Lush, Green Grapevines Glowing in the Sunset, Napa Valley, California

Napa and Sonoma

It seems as if every state now has its own "wine country," but the Napa and Sonoma valleys are still the nation's wine country. California produces more than 80% of U.S. wine, and does so in a place where you can drive through the redwoods and hike the coast all in the same weekend. If you love wine and this isn't on your bucket list, get a new bucket.

Related: 30 American Wineries With Good, Cheap Wine

Pond at Cloverdale / Healdsburg KOA, Cloverdale, California
Christina P./Yelp

Napa and Sonoma: Where to Stop

RVs are a familiar sight on Wine Country roads, with Sonoma and Napa encouraging visitors to stay outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty. Meanwhile, many of the local RV parks know what they're about: Calistoga RV is not only within walking distance from a golf course and arts center, but more than a dozen wineries. The Cloverdale/Healdsburg KOA puts visitors right in the middle of the Alexander Valley wine region, while the Sonoma County Events Center has an RV Park amid Russian River wineries on the site of the Harvest Fair, the largest regional wine competition in the U.S.

Numerous Boats in Wychmere Harbor, Harwich on Cape Cod, Massachusetts During Sunrise

Cape Cod

For many New Englanders, the ideal summer features a showing of "Jaws" at the Wellfleet Drive-In, fish and chips at Baxter's in Hyannis, and, maybe, a drag show in Provincetown. But whether you're into whale watching, fishing, or just whiling away the hours on the beach, Cape Cod provides the essential New England coastal experience without making you truck out to an island.

Related: The 20 Best Beaches on the East Coast

RV in Campground at Atlantic Oaks, Eastham, Massachusetts

Cape Cod: Where to Stop

Sure, the Cape is more a bungalow or bed-and-breakfast kind of place, but it doesn't hate RVs by any means. With nearly two dozen RV parks along the Cape, you'll be well served by places such as Atlantic Oaks in Eastham (from $72 a night) or Old Chatham RV Resort in Dennis with full hookups, Wi-Fi, laundry, and bathrooms with showers.

Big Brown Pelicans in Port of Islamorada, Florida Keys Waiting for Fish at Robbie's Marina

Florida Keys

Let the kids go to the theme parks and let hardier folks deal with mosquitoes in the Everglades. You have some bonito to catch, some coral reef to explore, and a famous author's cats' descendants to visit along the 113-mile Overseas Highway. Whether you're the laid-back sort who'd like nothing more than to catch a fish in the morning and eat it at night, or a more free spirit whose day only starts when the sun sets, you'll find the Florida Keys a unique and beautiful destination.

Related: These Island Vacations Don't Require a Passport

RV Traveling on Seven Mile Bridge of Overseas Highway Between the Florida Keys

Florida Keys: Where to Stop

Grassy Key RV Resort in Marathon puts you in the middle of the keys for prices ranging from $100 a day for the most basic spot to $255 a night for a deluxe spot on the waterfront, depending on the season. But if you simply have to party right in Key West, Geiger Key Marina goes the full Jimmy Buffett with spots from $150 to $250 a night, waterfront views, and lots of booze and seafood. To get closer to downtown and go a bit cheaper, Leo's packs in RVs for $95 to $145 a night.

Surfacing Group of Transient Orcas in the Salish Sea Near the San Juan Archipelago
Mareike Schadach/istockphoto

San Juan Islands

Parked in the Salish Sea and surrounded by British Columbia to the north and west, the San Juan Islands are part of Washington state but feel like a world all their own. The San Juan Islands Scenic Byway includes the ferry to get there, as well as driving segments on the islands themselves. You'll find quaint harbor towns, former British and colonial forts, old-growth forests, old lime kilns, views from above the clouds, orcas, and maybe the occasional celebrity.

Lopez Islander Resort, Lopez Island, Washington

San Juan Islands: Where to Stop

There are RV-friendly campgrounds in the San Juan Islands, but most have limits on the size of RV. The fairgrounds on San Juan Island are just a mile from the ferry in Friday Harbor, have electric and water hookups. Moran State Park on Orcas Island and the Lopez Islander Resort on Lopez Island are also fine options.