Though Covid makes travel a challenge, there’s no reason to stay cooped up indoors, especially since North America also has many opportunities to explore the wonders of nature. So stop looking at #vanlife posts on social media. It’s time to get outside.
For your next camping trip, why not hop into a campervan for a road trip out of the city? With your own personal campervan, you’ll be ready to have safe and exciting outdoor adventures. It’s super easy to rent a campervan and set off.
If you need some inspiration, we’ve come up with a great list of campervan destinations, perfect for both the seasoned RVers and those new to Vanlife.
Choose your next camping trip based on your favorite outdoor activity – hiking, surfing, rock climbing, or fishing? There’s a destination for every preference.
What better way to spend some time outdoors than simply walking and taking in the fresh air. The United States has a selection of beautiful backdrops to accompany your next hike. Here are some of our top picks for your next road trip.
A bucket list location in the state of Colorado, this area encompasses 415 square miles of incredible landscapes. From lush meadow valleys and evergreen forests to alpine tundra and glaciers, you can truly experience the range of mountain environments here.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find a grand selection of trails throughout the park. Families can take their kids on easier walks to the Colorado River, and more experienced hikers who enjoy backpacking can try out challenging multi-day hikes to the Longs, Taylor, and Powell Peaks.
Within the park, a drive over Trail Ridge Road is a must-do. This road linking Estes Park to the town of Grand Lac on either side of the national park holds the record of the highest paved road at 12,183 feet. It’s sure to get your adrenaline going!
Several campervan camping sites are within the park itself; however, they do not have any hookups. We recommend taking a short drive to neighboring Estes Park, where you’ll find full-service RV parks like Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Park.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Being the first national park in the United States, Yellowstone is an absolute must-see.
Yellowstone is best known for its hydrothermal and geologic wonders. The numerous hiking trails will take you to see geysers (like Old Faithful), petrified trees, naturally occurring rock arches, and lava formations.
Be ready to take some photos as this area features some of the most vibrantly colored hot springs and mud pots, thanks to the volcanic hotspot underneath its 3,500 square miles of bedrock. Few other hiking destinations offer the same sights as Yellowstone.
Thanks to its popularity, there is no shortage of camping sites near Yellowstone. We recommend Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park, located just four blocks from the west entrance gate at Yellowstone National Park and includes dining, shopping, and attractions all within walking distance. All the RV and campervan campsites include full hookups with 30 to 50 amp electric, along with water, sewer, cable TV, and Wi-Fi.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
This sparsely populated state is well-known for its national parks, and many travel from afar to see these natural wonders. Be prepared to deal with crowds during peak season – camp as close as you can to the sights so you can be the first one in. Located just 46 miles south of Yellowstone, this national park is not to be overlooked.
Wildlife such as elk, bison, bighorn sheep, and even bears can be seen on foot while venturing any of Grand Teton’s hundreds of miles of hiking trails.
Grand Teton has several camping options available in the park, such as Colter Bay Campground. It includes 335 individual campsites, 11 group campsites, and 13 electric accessible sites.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Yet another bucket list location that we couldn’t leave out is the iconic Grand Canyon. Millions of visitors make their way to this desert landscape every year, but don’t let the crowds put you off. Grand Canyon National Park remains a must-see.
Hikers are spoilt for choice here. From an easy hike on the Rim trail with paved paths to the more challenging Grandview trail with steep trails, everyone can find something suited to their level with rewarding views of the Grand Canyon.
Organized Group Rim-to-Rim hikes are available for those looking to undertake a multi-day backpacking adventure. Remember your water and sunhat!
Trailer Village RV Park is the only in-park RV camping site with full hookups, and it’s incredibly close to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Book in advance to save your spot.
Beaches with Awesome Waves for Surfing
If you have an affinity for the seaside and think that there’s no better way to enjoy nature than splashing in the waves, you need to include a beach destination on your next campervan journey.
Jalama Beach is a respite from the typically bustling seaside parks. It is high on our list of surfing destinations as you get to escape the crowds without sacrificing any amenities, or more importantly, the surf quality.
Just an hour’s drive from Santa Barbara, you can find some powerful waves suited for intermediate to advanced riders. Winds can get very strong in the afternoon, which is perfect if you also windsurf. If not, it’s a great time to take a burger break at the famous Jalama Beach Store & Grill.
This location makes an ideal weekend escape as it’s right between Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Point Conception coast, so there’s plenty to see and explore when you’re not hitting the waves.
The park has 31 RV and campervan sites that offer electrical hookups, and dump stations are available. You’ll also have a picnic table and BBQ pit, with hot showers, restrooms, and drinking water nearby.
Newport Beach, California
Whilst being a place of nostalgia for the O.C. generation, Newport Beach is currently home to some of the best surf spots in Southern California.
Some of the most well known surfs include 54th/56th Streets and The Wedge – neither of which are for the faint of heart. The waves at The Wedge get up to around 20 feet! Those who are learning the ropes or have children who surf might want to go to 36th Street instead. The sea here is more gentle and also less crowded with competitive surfers.
When you’re not out on the waves, take some time to visit the local town or go to Balboa Island – one of the last classic villages on the Southern California coast where you can feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina will turn your campervan trip into a luxury escape. All guests have access to the hotel amenities, including a water park and hydrotherapy pools. Of course, each site has full hookups too.
Oswald West State Park, Oregon
This may be a surprising choice for top surfing spots, but the wild, rugged Oregon Coast offers some wonderful waves. Plus, Oswald West is a little more secluded than Cannon Beach, so the waters will be less crowded.
The best zones in the area are Short Sands Beach and Smuggler Cove. Surfers will find steady wave breaks as strong winds are hidden by the towering sandstone cliffs. In peak season, you’ll find many locals in the water waiting for the perfect wave to come along.
If you’re choosing to stay dry, there’s still lots to do. Go on an oceanside hike in the neighboring coastal forest, or explore the volcanic basalt shores.
Camping is no longer available within Oswald West. However, you can easily stay about 3 miles away at Nehalem Bay State Park. The campsite has 265 electrical sites with water and is equipped with fire pits and picnic tables for your needs.
Best Rockclimbing Destinations
Sometimes the best way to see nature is from a height. We’re not just talking about hiking to the peak of a mountain. Why not enjoy the view from the side of a cliff after you’ve climbed to the top.
Out in the wild wild west, Zion National Park’s 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs are world-renowned for big wall climbs. This outdoorsy setting presents a challenging ascent not suited for beginner climbers as the rock is soft. As a result, this location should be avoided during wet weather.
There are also bouldering opportunities in the area – a house-sized boulder and the Drilled Pocket Boulder, both found near the south entrance, will provide plenty of options and problems for climbers.
RV camping is available in both the Watchman and South Campgrounds – both near the park entrance. If you can, try to reserve a spot in Watchman Campground as they have water and electrical hookups for your convenience.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite is an iconic location known to pretty much every rock climber in the world. El Capitan needs no introductions, and if you’re not quite ready to make the climb yourself, you can sit and watch other climbers ascend at El Capitan Meadow.
The park also has other fantastic rock climbing spots, numerous granite domes, and formations like Cathedral Peak and the Matthes Crest can be found at Tuolumne Meadow. These truly feature the sheer granite faces of Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite has 10 campgrounds that can accommodate RVs, so you can camp right by these incredible cliffs. However, they do not have hookups. For a more convenient stay, try Yosemite Pines RV Resort & Family, which has all the comforts and amenities you’ll need just a short drive away.
Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Red Rock Canyon is located just 25 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, so it’s a perfect way to combine rock climbing with an off-rock urban adventure if that appeals. The area is known for its unique geology with multicolored sandstone atop gray limestone.
The canyon has thousands of routes to cater to every kind of climbing, from short sport routes to multi-pitch climbs. Be surrounded by the landscape of the Mojave desert as you make your way up the Aztec Sandstone walls. There are formations to the summit as well as crack climbs like in Black Velvet Canyon to practice technique.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has a few RV camping sites with picnic tables, grills, and firepits. Camping out here in the desert is a bit more backcountry style with limited amenities, but it sure is worth it to experience the one of a kind climbs.
Lake Tahoe has some of the best inshore fishing in the country all year round! There are numerous spots where fish gather from North and South Lake Tahoe to the hidden areas connecting to the lake.
Whether you prefer pier fishing, offshore fishing, or fishing charters, there’s something at Lake Tahoe to tickle your fancy. A pro tip is that the best fishing is found in deep water from a boat, though. You can fish several introduced freshwater species like lake trout (mackinaw), brown trout, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and occasionally largemouth bass in the lake.
For the rest of the family, there are tons of activities from swimming, taking out a kayak, or just relaxing by the beach.
Stay right near Lake Tahoe at Tahoe Valley Campground, where you’ll find RV sites with full hookups and a suite of amenities, including tennis courts, playgrounds, and WiFi.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico
Elephant Butte Lake is the largest body of water in New Mexico and is famed for housing record-breaking bass, walleye, catfish, crappie, white and black bass, and stripers in its waters. If you’ve got some experience and enjoy a bit of competition, fishing tournaments happen throughout the year.
This area is just an overall beautiful place for an outdoorsy trip for anyone who loves water activities and camping. Boat rentals of all kinds – houseboats, jet skis, and ski-boats are available at both of the Elephant Butte marinas.
Make the most of this peaceful lakeside retreat at Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort and its beautiful landscaped sites equipped with full hookups and various amenities.
Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado
A rugged forest of 800,000 acres near Fort Collins, Roosevelt National Forest, is a great way to escape into nature. In addition to hiking trails, rock climbing and mountain biking experiences are plentiful. Within the forest, Cache La Poudre River is popular amongst those who enjoy water activities.
Most importantly, the river is a perfect site to do some fly fishing. However, you’re not limited to just river fishing. Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests offer opportunities to also do ice-fishing (in winter) and lake/pond fishing.
There truly is no shortage of activities in this part of Colorado. When you’re ready to settle down with your camper for the evening, head over to KOA’s Fort Collins/Lakeside RV campsite just a short drive away. Here you’ll find full hookup sites and an array of on-site entertainment.
Great Ideas for a Winter Campervan Trip
Though road trips and camping are not always synonymous with winter and skiing, there is absolutely no reason why this should be the case! Some of the best winter campervan trip destinations in the US are ski towns, and there’s nothing cozier than warming up in your campervan after a day on the slopes.
National Elk Refuge
In Jackson, Wyoming, you can find the National Elk Refuge. It is a beautiful place to visit year-round for incredible wildlife watching opportunities. The landscape also changes markedly from season to season.
However, winter presents an exceptional opportunity to view wildlife in the refuge. During winter, thousands of elk emerge to feed on native vegetation and, when necessary, on alfalfa pellets provided by the Refuge staff. It’s truly magical to see the circle of life in this sanctuary.
After a full day of admiring the animals in the wild, you’ll find a comfortable home for the night in Jackson Hole Campground at Fireside Resort. There are full hookups, as well as heated Bath and shower houses and laundry facilities.
Snowbasin Utah is one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States, and yet, it remains a top 10 in SKI magazine thanks to the thorough upkeep and service.
This ski resort hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, and you still have the chance to ski down the same routes as the athletes on the Olympic Legacy trails. Another run highlight would be between DeMoisy Peak and Strawberry Peak; it offers incredible views and 2,500 ft of vertical.
When you’re not out on the powder, Snowbasin’s gondolas provide a spectacular ride, along with a tram service, making Snowbasin a very visitor-friendly resort.
Just a short distance from Snowbasin is the town of Ogden, the perfect place to stay that gives you easy access to the slopes and the convenience of nearby stores and restaurants. Try Century RV Park; it’s open year-round with full hook-up gravel and concrete sites.
Big Sky, Montana
One of the largest ski resorts in North America, Big Sky offers 5,800 acres of snowy wonderland for the avid skier. Plus, the varied terrain has something to please everyone, whether you’re learning or heading down black diamond slopes.
Trademarked as “The Biggest Skiing in America,” you won’t be disappointed at the world-class runs and facilities at Big Sky. Plus, there are many other winter activities if your legs need a break – Yellowstone National Park is just nearby, a great way to hit 2 big destinations at once.
There are a few campgrounds nearby, The Inn on the Gallatin located in the scenic Gallatin Canyon, just a 30-minute drive from Big Sky. Sites have full hookups, and you are guaranteed a scenic stay next to the Gallatin River.
Ready to Get On The Road?
We hope that you’ve gotten some fresh inspiration for your next road trip!
If you’re looking for a campervan rental in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, Travellers Autobarn provides convenient pick-ups so you can always get where you want to be for your vacation.
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