Summer is one of our favorite seasons to take a campervan trip. Clear, sunny skies and balmy evenings by the campfire make up the essentials of a great campervan road trip.
Summertime is truly the best time of year for exploring nature, where warm weather maximizes the open hiking trails in the national and state parks, making it peak season for RVers. By living in your own campervan, you can rough it or go all out glamping with your choice of campground or RV park.
Live your best Vanlife out on the road at our favorite picks, some of which are classic must-dos while others let you get off the beaten path to the road less traveled.
From the emerald forests of the Oregon mountains to the unique sand dunes and beaches of the Pacific Ocean, there is no shortage of unique environments to explore. Whether you’re more of a beach bum, enjoy whale watching or hiking, the Siuslaw National Forest will have something for your summer vacation.
Cape Perpetua is known for its beautiful views while being surrounded by old-growth Douglas fir, cedar, and Sitka spruce trees. Plus with Oregon’s temperate climate, the weather is comfortable throughout the heat of summertime.
The park is easily accessed via Highway 101 and can be divided into 3 main areas for visiting depending on what you’d like to see – Florence to Coos Bay, Newport to Florence, and Tillamook to Newport.
Onsite campgrounds like Alder Dune and Cape Perpetua campgrounds have a number of RV sites and basic amenities like flush toilets, picnic tables, and campfire rings. If you prefer full-hookup sites, consider nearby accommodations like Benton Oaks RV Park which is just 5 minutes away.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Another fantastic destination in Oregon, Crater Lake National Park houses the deepest lake in the USA and has the most crystal clear and blue water on the planet. Here you can 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 located at Diamond Lake, which also makes it 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.
The famed grand canyon is sweltering and can even be dangerous to trek in the summertime, but Nevada still has plenty to offer this time of year. Go on an authentic Western experience at Elko and the area’s beautiful Ruby Mountains.
The mountains have fabulous hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing opportunities. However, the historical tours and ghost town adventures are really a highlight of the area. Visit the California Trail, a historic emigrant trail that was traversed by over 200,000 people migrating for the promise of riches between 1840 and 1870. Amazingly, wagon ruts can still be seen across portions of the route.
One of the top RV parks in Nevada is tucked away in the heart of Elko, which will put you right in the center of the action while offering plenty of comfort and ambiance. Stay at Iron Horse RV Resort and make your summer camping trip a breeze.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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 more freely, enjoying the warmth and sunshine much like their human counterparts. Plan some additional time for the road trip as you could potentially be caught in a bison 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.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Previously mentioned in our top picks for must-visit locations in winter, Glacier National Park is equally beautiful in summer and turns into a radically different destination in July and August. The warmer weather brings truly picturesque views of sunlit mountains and greenery against blue glacial waters, yet it never gets too warm at 60-70 degrees.
Glacier National Park is an excellent RV trip as you’ll have amazing opportunities to drive for fantastic sights along Going-to-the-Sun Road, Lake McDonald, and Logan Pass. You’ll get to see a lot of major attractions from the comfort of your motorhome.
The open roads are equally great for cycling, and there are a number of hiking trails where you can observe a diverse range of wildlife that includes 14 large and 50 small mammal species.
If it’s your first time in the area, get a feel for local life in the quaint gateway towns of Columbia Falls and Whitefish nearby. There are also several RV parks to make you feel right at home.
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Our next destination is the unsung gem of the Utah national parks that will take you off the beaten path during your summer vacation. Capitol Reef is a site filled with ochre-colored cliffs, dramatic sunsets, and picturesque slot canyons. Hikes can take you deep into a narrow gorge, to the peak of high cliffs, or through stone arches.
Camping within Capitol Reef National Park is a wonderful experience, the Fruita Campground is right next to historic orchards, harvested for almost a century. Fruit is available throughout most of the summer and available for self-picking. Each site has a picnic table and firepit, but no hookups.
If a full-service RV park is something you’d prefer, Wonderland RV Park is in very close proximity and offers all the comforts you need from full hookups to cable TV and WiFi. Plus it also makes a great home base to venture out to other popular parks nearby like Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, and even Zion National Park.
Los Padres National Forest, California
Have an incredible Southern 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.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Named after the local cactus, found only in the Sonoran Desert, this small but beautiful national park makes a great stop on a road trip through the rest of Arizona. Some other recommended stops include Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley.
A great activity to do in your campervan is to take a drive along Bajada Loop, it will take you to some of the best hiking trails and views in the park. The Valley View Overlook trail is the perfect way to see plenty of the Saguaro cacti, and the Signal Hill Picnic area shows off some ancient petroglyphs.
Most of the sites are in the Eastern part of the park, where overnight camping is not allowed. However, the Western end of the park has great options for those in RVs at Gilbert Ray Campground. The campground has 130 RV sites with individual 30-amp electrical hook-ups, as well as potable water and modern restrooms.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
This most photographed region in all of Colorado is just over an hour’s drive from Denver. The iconic red rock formations jump up from the ground at all angles, creating dramatic views against the backdrop of Pikes Peak. Be amazed by the enormous that seem to be perched precariously on cliff edges, and of course, they make great photo opportunities.
Garden of the Gods is located right by Pikes Peak, so it’s a perfect way to include two destinations on your summer adventure. Take the famous Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or test your legs and see Pikes Peak by bike. Of course, you can always stay in the comfort of your campervan and drive up to the top – frequent pull-offs are available for you to stretch your legs and admire the view.
Pikes Peak RV Park is located 10 minutes from Garden of the Gods National Landmark, and 15 minutes walk from Manitou Springs so you can be right in the center of the action. Amenities including full hook-ups, laundry, and showers are readily available for a comfortable stay while you explore the region.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Another great road trip destination in the other direction of Denver would be the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. The largest hot springs pool in the world, it has been attracting guests since the 1800s who come to soak in its mineral-rich waters. Waterslides, a kiddie pool, and cabana rentals, are available making it a perfect summer family escape.
Not just for relaxing, the area is also home to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park where anyone can get their adrenaline pumping through zip lines, cave tours, giant swings, and more. Another way to get your heart rate up is a beautiful hike to Hanging Lake – a steep and rocky 1.2-mile scenic trail that rewards with its view of magnificent turquoise waters.
Are you ready to make your summer vacation amazing? Get your campervan from one of Travellers Autobarn’s convenient locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or San Francisco. Campervans are roomy, equipped with solar panels (take advantage of that summer sunshine), and offer unlimited miles so there is no limit for your vacation.
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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.