For a perfect way to have a socially distanced vacation during the pandemic, ditch hotel rooms and give Vanlife a try on an RV trip. Even if you don’t own your own campervan, it’s really easy to rent a campervan for a trip.
We believe that nature should be appreciated year-round, so here are our top spots to visit organized by time of year. No matter the season, you can clear your mind on miles of the open road! Plus, if you’re looking for a classic experience, a number of destinations in this list are detours of the iconic Route 66.
Whether you’re taking a short weekend escape or cross country adventure, there’s a getaway for you year-round. Let’s take a look!
The cold might not seem like an ideal time to go RV camping or take a road trip; however, there are a number of benefits to a winter campervan trip. For one, some locations are even more beautiful blanketed in snow (and bring the possibility of snow sports. Secondly, you can find respite from the heat in areas that would be painfully sweltering in the summer. Finally, encounter fewer crowds during the off-peak season.
Death Valley National Park – California & Nevada
Located just around 2 hours drive from the Las Vegas strip, Death Valley is typically the hottest zone in North America. However, in wintertime, Death Valley’s Telescope Peak, standing at over 11,049 feet high, becomes a great skiing opportunity blanketed in snow.
When planning a visit in January or February, average temperatures hit 65, making backpacking and hiking in the valley’s remarkable geological formations much more pleasant.
Death Valley offers some of the best traditional camping anywhere if you want to bring your tent along, and you have the chance to do something that would be near impossible at any other time of the year!
Inside the park, Furnace Creek Campground is ideal for RVers as they provide electrical hookups, potable water, flush toilets, and a dump station. Each site has a campfire ring or grill and picnic tables for all your dining needs.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Although the Grand Canyon is in the Southwest, its hallmark red ridges still get frosted with snow in winter. A striking contrast worth making the trip for. The south rim is open year-round and is usually far less crowded during the colder months, making trails (and roads) much more pleasant.
In winter, fog is expected in the early morning hours with sunny afternoons. However, weather changes quickly in the Grand Canyon, and visitors should be cautious when attempting hiking trails. Be prepared for ice and snow!
The pace of life here slows down for the animals living here as they hide for winter; it’s especially rewarding to spot deer and squirrels in their exceptionally fluffy winter coats.
Make winter camping a breeze by staying at Trailer Village RV Park, the only in-park RV park with full hookups. Have all your needs taken care of with laundry facilities and hot showers, as well as a small store on-premises.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Our third destination is synonymous with winter for many, thanks to its gorgeous snowy peaks. Located at some of the highest elevations in the USA, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a winter haven for nature lovers.
The winter wonderland provides plenty of outdoor adventures. Backcountry skiers can explore the park’s best through trails like Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake, Dream Lake, Mills Lake through Glacier Gorge, and East Inlet Trail.
If skiing is not your thing, try out some world-class snowshoeing or sledding. Snowshoeing is an ideal way to see the hiking trails in a new light as the trails are typically covered in snow. You’ll still be rewarded with mesmerizing views of frozen waterfalls and alpine lakes.
Most camping sites in the area are closed in the winter; however, Moraine Park Campground remains open. It does not provide hookups, so prepare supplies in advance if you’re planning an overnight stay within the national park.
Spring Break Campervan Trips
When the end of March rolls around, it means spring is sprung and bringing new beginnings for everyone, especially in nature. Arguably, this is when the most dramatic shifts in the scenery happen as everything emerges from winter. It’s time to look out for active wildlife and blooming flora.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Though the park is open year-round, the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is March to May and October to November, as the temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall.
The reason why we love it in spring is the chance to see magnificent wildflower blooms full of color. Given sufficient rainfall (so this requires some luck), an artist’s palette of desert flowers appear – magenta flowers of Beavertail cacti, orange Globemallow blossoms, and red petals of the Indian paintbrush. The availability of blooms can vary annually, so check out the official wildflower reports to plan your visit.
Many come to see the wildflowers on weekends, so try to plan your trip on weekdays if possible! Camping within the park can get difficult, so be sure to book early at a nearby RV campground like Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. You’ll have the benefit of full hookups and hot showers, while most of the park campgrounds only offer dry camping.
Yosemite National Park, California
Rising temperatures and spring thaw means rapidly melting snow, fueling Yosemite National Park’s peak waterfall season. By April, the park’s most iconic waterfalls are thundering, and even the smallest creeks are not left out. Mirror Lake fills to the top, fulfilling its namesake with a stunning reflection of Half Dome only visible at this time of year. Have your cameras (or phones) ready!
April and May is also the ideal time to see delicate pink and white dogwood blossoms appear on the tall trees. The mild weather is perfect for hiking to spot numerous other wildflowers too.
It’s also an ideal time to go white water rafting in the Merced River, thanks to the abundance of freshwater.
There are 10 national campgrounds in the park that can accommodate RVs for dry camping. However, Yosemite Pines nearby provides a suite of amenities, including a swimming pool, volleyball court, and even a small petting zoo should you need a few more creature comforts.
Zion National Park, Utah
Cooler spring temperatures make hiking along the dramatic and beautiful Zion National Park landscapes make an ideal spring break campervan road trip. Families can take a leisurely hike to the Emerald Pools while more advanced hikers can explore Angels Landing’s rocky paths. Both of which are must-dos with rewarding views of the canyon.
In addition to smaller crowds, the park also features plenty of flowing waterfalls and rare glimpses of budding green against the bronzed orange rock this time of year.
Should you be looking to expand your selection of activities, the canyon walls are a good temperature for rock climbing and canyoning. There are also many scenic horseriding trails to enjoy.
Zion Canyon Campground in nearby Springdale is a great spot for you and your campervan to stay during the visit. It is just 0.5 miles from the South entrance of Zion National Park and has great amenities. A bonus includes perfect vantage points for watching the sunset after dinner.
Summer Campervan Road Trips
When summer rolls around, it is no doubt peak season for venturing into the great outdoors. This isn’t surprising, as the warm weather usually maximizes the open hiking trails in the national and state parks. Here are some top spots absolutely worth visiting in the summer season so you can capture the most of their beauty.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
A four-hour drive from Portland, Crater Lake National Park houses the deepest lake in the USA and has the most crystal clear and blue water on the planet. The weather stays moderate and comfortable throughout the summer, so you can still beat the heat while enjoying buckets of sunshine.
Take your campervan on a tour around Rim Drive, which encircles the entire circumference of the enormous lake to get some great views. Or get up and personal by taking a boat trip to Wizard Island in the center of the lake. Do take note, though, kayaking or canoeing is not permitted to prevent the introduction of species.
You can, however, go fishing license-free! Crater lake carries rainbow trout and kokanee salmon in its blue waters for excellent summer fishing in a picturesque background.
Another nearby spot for fishing is at Diamond Lake, which also makes the perfect place to stay. Diamond Lake RV Park offers boat fishing and all the amenities for RVers camping there. Plus, it’s the closest RV park to Crater Lake.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming & Montana
Summer is the season for exploring Yellowstone National Park to the fullest as all the roads, trails and natural attractions are open. Much of the local wildlife is also roaming around; occasionally, bison even cross onto the roads causing a traffic jam.
The geysers and springs are also at their best; visit the Grand Prismatic Spring to see the geothermal colors in their full glory. In addition to the most popular attractions like Old Faithful, make some time in your schedule to get away from crowds and visit some less known areas of the park too!
RV sites are available at all the campgrounds within the park for motorhomes under 40ft, which makes a campervan ideal (also for navigating tricky mountain roads). Most of the sites are dry without hookups except the Fishing Bridge campground, which is unfortunately closed for 2021. However, there is a KOA within 6 miles if you’re looking for a full-service campground.
Los Padres National Forest, California
Have an incredible California camping experience by the oceanside cliffs and coastal redwoods Los Padres National Forest. With a great view overlooking the Pacific, it’s a perfect summer escape a short drive away from the town of Big Sur.
Make sure to hike up to Inspiration Point for gorgeous views of the ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Another popular trail is the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, which despite its name, is an approachable hike just steps from downtown Santa Barbara. The shady path provides a good respite in the summertime.
Rancho Oso RV Resort is a beautiful place to stay for immersion into the Wild West atmosphere with a range of amenities. Take a break from driving and hiking with their fantastic horseriding trails on 310 acres of scenic land.
Campervan Road Trips in the Fall
The official season of cozy landscapes is once again transformed as leaves change their color palette. National parks become prime spots for fall foliage viewing as shades of orange and red spread across the country. These are our favorite campervan road trips for not only admiring the leaves but enjoying some fall-only experiences.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Grand Tetons are always beautiful year-round, but autumn takes them to a whole new level. Numerous deciduous trees that fill the park show off their incredible flame colors in September and October. Keep an eye out for cottonwoods and willows by the Snake River; they, too, will be at their fall best.
The best places to view fall foliage here include Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher’s Landing, and the Aspen – Boulder Ridge Loop hike. Dress warmly as the weather begins to get chilly towards the end of the year.
Grand Tetons National Park has several RV friendly campgrounds. The best places for RVs and trailers are Colter Bay RV Park, Headwaters Campground, and the RV sites at Flagg Ranch that offer electrical hookups.
Gunnison National Forest, Colorado
Colorado is another state known for its stunning fall colors, and the Gunnison National Forest makes an ideal base for fall exploration in the area. Again, late September and early October are the best times to see the fall colors and enjoy the crisp air.
Some of the best color viewing trails include Mesa Tops, Crag Crest Trail, and West Bench Trail. You might even want to compliment your hiking with some scenic drives in your campervan! Dallas Divide and Lizard Head Pass, Kebler Pass, and Owl Creek Pass Loop give you fantastic views of the area’s fall palette without much effort at all. More details on the driving routes can be found on the GMUG website.
A number of official campgrounds within the forest provide dry camping for RVs, or you may wish to stay at the Gunnison KOA nearby. It’s right by Blue Mesa Reservoir so that you can add on some fishing or water activities during your trip.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns dessert plants might not demonstrate the same dramatic transition as their deciduous counterparts; however, the woody plants here show off the own unique flowering throughout the year. In fall, the Orange Butterflyweed blooms and serves as a good source for several butterflies and Caterpillar of the Monarch butterfly.
During this autumn season, the park hosts full moon walks where rangers answer questions about the nocturnal creatures in the area, local lore, and astronomy. It’s also a great place to spot bats in the caves in late summer and early fall – be sure to wear some sturdy footwear when exploring the slippery caverns.
Camping options within the park itself are rather limited. Fear not, you won’t be forced into boondocking, as there are several RV parks in the vicinity. Carlsbad RV Park is one example. They provide full hookups and even a pool just 15 minutes from the national park.
There you have it, some locations to keep you planning and daydreaming about your next campervan getaway for the year, no matter the weather!
Given the current Covid situation, be sure to double-check what’s available at your planned destination before setting off to avoid any disappointment as locations may change their offerings.
Rent your campervan with Travellers Autobarn at a convenient location near you – Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Unlike other rental companies, Travellers Autobarn offers you unlimited miles and 24/7 roadside assistance.
About the Author
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.