Road Trip Inspiration For RVers
The anticipation of seeing and enjoying places that you have never been before is exhilarating. Maybe because I am planning a summer trip to my next work camp destination, this hits home for me.
If you are looking to start RV trip planning, it’s better to start sooner than later. We are looking to spend a few days in Yosemite and are finding campgrounds are already full. Several years ago, we planned a trip to the national parks in Utah and made sure we booked well in advance.
We have a few trip planning tips and road trip ideas to give you inspiration for the upcoming camping season.
Trip planning tips
Plan an RV-friendly route
Use the RV LIFE App with RV-safe GPS and RV LIFE Trip Wizard to plan an RV-safe route, as well as to find campgrounds, fuel stations, dump stations, and more. You can plug in your RV details such as height and length to avoid low clearances, as well as propane restrictions for bridges and tunnels, and be made aware of steep grades or switchbacks that might be difficult to navigate in an RV.
Check out satellite map views to see where you are going before you plan a stop. It’s also always a good idea to call ahead for more information on RV parking.
One thing my husband and I like about our new-to-us RV is that it is easy to drive, easy to park, can easily boondock, and we don’t have to be super concerned about where we stop. It’s a 30-foot Class C with no slides. We can avoid truck stops and fast food and fix a sandwich at a rest stop if we want.
You might have to make more plans if you are driving a 40-foot motorhome or a triple axle fifth wheel. None of these are a problem, just make sure you match up your road trip ideas with your RV capabilities.
Book a campsite well in advance
While I do enjoy boondocking, I do like to have some amenities at times. State and national park campsites are often booked months in advance, so a reservation is required.
Online reviews for campsites are also important, so check out RV LIFE Campgrounds for reviews, more information about the campground amenities, as well as pictures taken by campers themselves.
Make a budget for the trip
Gas, campground fees, and food are all standard expenses on an RV road trip. You might want to add in any sites you want to see that have fees. Keep in mind that you can have a great road trip that just stays in one part of one state, across a region, or across the whole country.
If you have a strict budget, planning every step will help keep money spent in check. Always remember that having room in your budget to make changes on the fly can make for some great, unexpected adventures.
Balance your campgrounds out so you boondock a few nights during your trip, maybe stay at a nice resort for one or two nights, and then plan for state campgrounds over the remainder of your trip. You can also save money by overnighting at Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or Cabela’s parking lots. Call ahead to confirm the store allows overnight parking and attempt to get there early. These lots do fill up quickly.
Adjust your time of arrival
You will need to drive slower when you drive or tow your RV. Plan your arrival based on the 3/3/3 rule: Drive no more than 300 miles in a day, arrive at your destination no later than 3 p.m., and stay for 3 days. With this plan, you can see the sites in a particular area and rest up for the next period on the road.
Now that you know how to plan your trip, let’s get on to those road trip ideas.
Road trip ideas for RVers
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains are one of my favorite areas of the country. As you travel the nearly 500 miles of scenic roadway, there is much to see and do.
You can begin at the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park, near Waynesboro, VA, and wind along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is one of the best scenic drives in the US.
Check out Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC. Explore the 8,000 acres of grounds, or visit George Vanderbilt’s 250-room castle, the largest home and top attraction in Asheville. Book a behind-the-scenes tour, have lunch, and take in the mountain views.
Don’t miss the small town of Gatlinburg, nestled in the Smoky Mountains. Walk the streets to visit locally owned shops and restaurants, check out the SkyLift Park, and take a walk in the clouds as you traverse the SkyBridge. It’s the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. Walk across glass panels for a view of the canyon, or look up for the best view of the Smoky Mountains.
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast
Get your podcast ready and take this epic road trip along the Gulf Coast. Don’t miss spending a few days in New Orleans shopping at the French Market. Also, check out Bourbon Street or get a beignet at Café du Monde.
You might want to consider this trip to get away from the cold northern winter. You can take in plenty of beaches as you travel the scenic route via Route 90 and Route 98 from New Orleans to South Walton, Florida.
Check out Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours on Lake Martin outside of Lafayette, and see cypress trees, Spanish moss, birds, snakes, and alligators.
Tour the factory that makes Tabasco sauce, see how they age and bottle the sauce, and get free recipes. Also visit the 170-acre Jungle Gardens, designed by the son of the Tabasco Sauce inventor more than 100 years ago.
Pensacola, Florida is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum, the largest naval aviation museum in the world. Learn about the history of aviation, try out a flight simulator, or see more than 150 restored aircraft. You can even have a front-row seat to watch the Blue Angels practice.
Check out the 26 miles of white sand beaches in South Walton County Florida. Grayton Beach has been called one of the best beaches in the US. Spend an afternoon on a self-guided nature trail through sand dunes, the coastal dune lake, pine flatwoods, marshes, and miles of beach.
Black Hills of South Dakota to Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is likely on every RVer’s to-do list. Make sure you take in all there is to see in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The Black Hills might not be as large as others in the United States, but there are plenty of views and many places to experience in the area. Start your trip at Mount Rushmore, where you can see the mountain sculpture of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The memorial is 5,725 feet above sea level and scaled for men who would stand 465 feet tall. Approximately 30 miles from Rapid City, you can also visit the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center & Museum, the Carver’s Café, Memorial Ice Cream Shop, and the Mount Rushmore Bookstores.
Wall Drug Store, located in the town of Wall, South Dakota, is adjacent to Badlands National Park. The store, which began in 1931, today consists of a collection of cowboy-themed stores including a drug store, gift shop, several restaurants, an art gallery, and an 80-foot brontosaurus sculpture. This tourist attraction is said to draw some two million annual visitors.
Take I-90 as you travel into Wyoming and take some time to investigate Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the United States. Don’t miss out on hiking, watching wildlife, taking in beautiful views, or, checking out Old Faithful.
Drive and sightsee along Highway 101, which spans the entire length of the Oregon Coast. You will find everything from sandy beaches and fishing to tide pool exploring and whale watching along this popular RV road trip.
In the city of Cannon Beach, on the North Coast, don’t miss the iconic Haystack Rock, a 235-foot testament to the region’s volcanic past. The city itself is family-friendly with arcade parlors, themed restaurants, and many summer events.
On the Central Coast, visit Lincoln City and the small town of Depoe Bay. There are many small shops to explore as well as whale watching tours available.
As you head towards the South Coast, check out the Oregon Dunes near Florence, which dominates the coastal landscape for more than 40 miles. For easy access, go to the day-use areas at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and the Oregon Dunes Overlook just south of Florence.
From the San Diego Zoo to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, there is much to see and do along the California coast. Of course, the kids won’t want to miss Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farm in Anaheim. Take a side trip to Palm Springs or Joshua Tree before heading north to Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu.
A pit stop in Santa Cruz will provide some great surfing or lounging on the beach. Unwind and take in the views in Big Sur and spend time hiking and camping. Stop and check out Monterey Bay Aquarium and then head north to explore Santa Cruz. Walk along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and enjoy the rides.
As you end your California journey, you must check out the home of the tallest trees on the planet. Located in Northern California, Redwood National Park boasts some 140,000 acres to explore.
Get RV-safe directions
Planning out road trip ideas is fun and exciting. The anticipation of seeing new areas and making memories is great. There are so many places to visit around the United States. Choose one or two bucket list items for this year and then start planning for next year.
Don’t forget to check out RV LIFE Trip Wizard and Campground Reviews to plan your next road trip. Campground Reviews is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.