Rv traveling though on mountain road by a lake

Exploring the Best RV and Camping Routes in America

America is made for exploring, from beautiful coastal beaches to lush forests and rugged mountain ranges. Hitting the road with an RV or tent lets you discover incredible places off the beaten track and make memories with your loved ones while on a budget. With these money-saving vacation options, you can afford to stay away and enjoy the freedom of the road for longer. Consider these excellent RV and camping routes nationwide if you’re stuck for inspiration.

Rocky Mountains

Rv traveling though on mountain road by a lake

The Rocky Mountains offer some of the most majestic surroundings in the States, so everyone should travel along some of its more than 3,000 miles at least once. Rocky Mountain National Park, home to five campgrounds, is well known and in demand. You can beat the crowds if you set up camp at either end of the route, which runs from Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho to Black Canyon in Colorado’s Gunnison National Park. Each spot offers exciting outdoor activities all year round, including fishing, biking, rafting, skiing, and reconnecting with nature as you hike the mountain trails.

California Loop

For a trip offering some of the most diverse settings of any state, consider the 2,226-mile California loop. Starting at the rugged Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, just northeast of San Diego, you can follow the coastline up past the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore to the beautiful forests of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. From there, it’s just a short drive to the Nevada border and the acclaimed Lake Tahoe. Returning to the southern parts of the state, you can visit iconic destinations such as Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree State Park.

California has more than 2,000 RV parks and campgrounds, but prepare to reserve your sites for some of the most popular months in advance. Some parks also have first-come, first-served sites, but these are highly competitive, especially around weekends. Arriving earlier in the week or outside peak season can give you the best chance of securing a site.

Great Northern

The 3,600-mile trip along U.S. Highway 2 from Bangor, Maine, through Canada to Seattle, Washington, isn’t as well known as some of the other RV routes on this list, and that’s exactly how clued-in enthusiasts like it. Great Northern offers something for everyone, from fun, family-friendly attractions such as Santa’s Village in New Hampshire and the roadside giants of North Dakota to the picturesque scenery of Apostle Island National Lakeshore, Glacier National Park, and Olympic National Park, home to the Olympic Mountains.

It’s best enjoyed over two to three weeks so you can explore the charming small towns between the big cities. Park your RV or pitch a tent in one of the national parks, which provide lakeside and mountain views for a fraction of the price of local hotels.

Route 66

If you prefer a vacation not rooted in nature, traveling along Route 66 might be a better option. The route from Los Angeles to Chicago is legendary for its roadside diners, museums, and other attractions. Stop in at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Abraham Lincoln’s tomb, the Gateway Arch, and Roadkill Café. And if you want to admire the wonders of the natural world, that’s covered too. The Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Red Rock State Park, Palo Duro Canyon, and Mark Twain National Forest are all located along Route 66.

There are RV parks and campgrounds in every state that Route 66 passes through. Some are pretty basic, but there are also RV resorts with extra amenities, such as golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, Wi-Fi, and cable TV hookups.

Tips for Successful RV/Camping Trips

These tips can help you make the most of your RV or camping trip:

  • Use online resources: The internet has plenty of RV resources for finding destinations, renting or purchasing an RV, setting up and maintaining these vehicles, and heaps more.
  • Reserve your site: If the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis, arrive early to avoid disappointment.
  • Create a camping checklist: This minimizes the chance of forgetting something important.
  • Arrive at your site well before dark: Even if you have a reserved site, parking safely and setting up is much easier during daylight hours.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors: Be friendly but not intrusive, leave space for others, limit noise late at night and early in the morning, and keep your site clean.
  • Follow the campground’s rules: Check each ground’s website or bulletin boards for specific rules you should abide by.
  • Take your time: It’s fine to plan what you want to see and do, but don’t get so focused on a schedule that you forget to relax and appreciate your surroundings.

Seasonal Considerations

The right weather can make or break an RV or camping trip. Depending on your chosen location, you can enjoy these vacations all year round, but most people travel between mid-May and mid-October to avoid winter’s chill and the wild weather of tornado season.

The early July to mid-August peak season can be convenient for families with school-aged children, but high demand means you’ll likely pay more for sites. High heat and humidity can also make vacationing less pleasant than in June or September. May and October can be a little cold for camping in most parts of the country, but you may enjoy RVing during these times if you’re planning on long hikes.

When researching your trip, check the predicted weather for that route during your intended travel time. Seasonal averages can help you know what to expect months before your travel time. Rechecking the weather before you depart can alert you to predicted storms or heat waves that might encourage you to adjust your plans or pack different weather-appropriate gear.

Start Planning Your Next Adventure

There’s no better time to start planning your next RV or camping trip. America has some of the most beautiful routes that are ready and waiting for you to explore. Camping and RV trips are some of life’s most accessible joys, so start preparing to hit the road. Endless possibilities await you all around the country. If you’re looking for a new RV for your adventure or need servicing or repairs before you hit the road, visit us at Cheyenne Camping Center in Walcott, Iowa.

Photo: Outdoor Adventures with a Campervan on a road in mountains by Jezper