Ah, the open road. There's nothing quite like taking to the highways and byways of America to get an up-close and personal view of some of the most interesting destinations. Now, consider doing this in the comfort of an RV and you've got the best of everything for enjoying your adventure at your fingertips. All you need to do is plan an itinerary to destinations that pop and along highways that provide the biggest bang for your travel bucks.
Keep in mind, some crowded destinations, congested highways, and steep inclines may not be the best selections for your vehicle when it comes to easy drive time. Never fear because there are plenty of places to go and things to see that are sure to elevate your road trip time to a level that will exceed your expectations.
From scenic highways and backcountry roads to bustling cities, miles of open road and the opportunity to do it "your way" turn the unknown of what's ahead into an adventure of a lifetime. Plan ahead, map out an itinerary, consider taking a few of the roads less traveled to fully enjoy an appreciate your freedom of touring what's up ahead in comfort and style.
Whether you're in a full-blown Class A, B, or C motorhome, a fifth-wheel, a travel trailer, a van or 4x4, the world is your oyster, so open it and enjoy every minute 'cruisin' the lanes.
20 Worth it: Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virginia
If you like a slow and winding pace where savoring panoramic views and inhaling fresh mountain air is your preference, then the Blue Ridge Parkway is for you. With 469 miles to meander, you'll be subjected to on-going views non-stop. Rest at the overlooks, take pictures, enjoy the points of interest, observe wildlife, and learn about the culture of the area at your leisure. Numerous camping options along the parkway provide opportunities for hiking, biking, and picnicking.
Each season is a palette of colors, so pick your pleasure. The Blue Ridge Parkway is subject to closure from November through April due to inclement winter weather.
19 100% Avoid: New York, New York!!
Close your eyes and tune in to music and you can still hear Sinatra singing the lyrics to New York, New York, "Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today" is played each year at the Belmont Stakes horse race. New York City has so much going on it isn't funny and that includes wall-to-wall traffic. Cars, trucks, taxi, bicycles, skateboards, and anything else that moves people will be found on New York City streets, on the bridges, and in the tunnels.
If you're claustrophobic, this probably isn't a good environment as you can plan on sitting, sometimes, for hours. Park your vehicle in neighboring New Jersey then use alternate transportation to help you take a bite out of the Big Apple.
18 Worth it: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
If you plan to be in the Oregon vicinity and don't have Crater Lake National Park on your travel itinerary, it's time to update your plans. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Formed thousands of years ago via a massive eruption resulting in the collapse of the volcano, the lake was created.
At 1,943-feet, it has the distinction as the deepest lake in America. Crystal clear blue water sparkles in the sunlight making it a photographer or artist's dream come true. It's not bad for visitors, either. Within the park, the Mazama campground is available for RVs up to 50-feet in length through late September.
17 100% Avoid: Chicago, Chicago that Toddlin' Town
Another beautiful city rich in history, architecture, scenic views, food, and music. One of those destinations you just gotta visit. Nope. Not in an RV.
It's a bustling city, like New York, with pedestrians, bikes, taxis, and motorists all vying for the fast lane; which doesn't exist, but people look for it anyway.
To get the maximum out of a visit to Chicago, it's best to park away from the city in one of several vehicle camping parks and use alternate transportation to cruise the Magnificent Mile, check out the nightlife, sample the many restaurants, or enjoy the scenic views from the 360 Chicago observation deck in the John Hancock Building.
16 Worth it: Key West, Florida
The drive from Miami to Key West along the Overseas Highway takes about 4 hours. If you're driving, it's the only highway access to the Keys. It is a memorable drive as once you've hit the middle section you'll feel like there's nothing else on earth but you, the sky, and the waters of the Gulf and the Atlantic as your travel mates. You'll pass through Key Largo, although Bogart won't be there, Islamorada, Big Pine, Marathon and on to Key West.
Pick your pleasure for activities from fishing and boating to scuba diving and swimming with the dolphins. There's no shortage of RV parks from Key Largo to Key West.
15 100% Avoid: Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada
Sizzling heat for days on end can be expected when making your way across the parched landscape of Death Valley. The name is apt as you'll be pretty much on your own while traversing the open highway.
With soaring temperatures of well over 100 degrees and limited to no access to amenities, this is a sure-fire way to put undue stress on you and the vehicle. If you aren't experienced in dealing with harsh conditions on a grand scale, cross Death Valley National Park off your "to do" list.
14 Worth it: South Padre Island, Texas
Like the nice expanse of the Overseas Highway heading into Key West, only not as long, sit back and enjoy the easy to maneuver Queen Isabella Causeway to South Padre Island.
Along with miles of beach for swimming, parasailing, building sandcastles, and day cruises, plan visits to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge, Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, the Port Isabel Lighthouse built in 1852, dolphin watching tours, and Schlitterbahn Waterpark. That list should keep you plenty busy once you settle in at one of the available camping parks.
13 100% Avoid: James Dalton Highway, Alaska
Yes, the majestic beauty of the snow-capped mountains in the distance is like a beckoning beacon drawing you nearer and nearer. Reality check. Even though you may be pining to get off the beaten track and drive off into the wild blue yonder, the Dalton Highway is not the place to do it.
The 414-mile highway is desolate, not to mention isolated, plus it's not in the best condition. While you may enjoy a level of peace and quiet that is unmatched, it is so dangerous it must be monitored by helicopter patrols.
12 Worth it: Las Vegas, Nevada
"Do you feel lucky? Well, do you?" is a classic line from a Clint Eastwood movie. If you answered yes, then get ready to roll not only the dice but your RV as you head to the Las Vegas Strip. If your goal is to take in the shows, play a little poker or blackjack, and maybe give the roulette wheel a spin you're going to want to be close to the action. While there is no shortage of RV parks around town, consider making a reservation at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino that has its own RV park with 170 big-rig sites with everything you need. Step out of your RV and within a few steps, be on the Strip and in the casino. Doesn't get any better than that.
11 100% Avoid: Los Angeles, California
Turn on the local news that has a traffic cam to get a reality check of what traffic like in LA. Morning, noon, or night makes no difference for heavy traffic that could have you cooling your jets as you inch along.
Tips for braving the LA traffic includes making sure you have a tankful of gas at all times, a supply of water to stay hydrated while sitting in traffic, a snack or two to stave off hunger pangs while sitting, and an assortment of tunes and other entertainment for passengers to pass the time while you're busy navigating through the congestion.
10 Worth it: Disney World, Florida
If you're making plans to visit the Magic Kingdom, be prepared for a lot of people with their own vacay plans being there as well. But that's not a problem since Mickey's Florida home is massive with plenty of things to do and see.
Several RV resorts and campgrounds are in the area around Orlando and Kissimmee, so you'll have plenty of places to choose from. Depending on the time of year you visit, crowds may be more intense not only because of US visitors during peak season but international travelers as well. Plan accordingly.
9 100% Avoid: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
While the gates to the park lead to extraordinary and beautiful places, for RVers, the gates may seem like they are leading to the depths of Hades. Think long dark nights for months, bitter cold, minimal access, abundant predatory wildlife, and next to nothing in camping amenities.
For die-hard campers, hikers, and backpackers, Arctic National Park is a dream come true but for anyone planning a visit in an RV, unless this is the exact type of environment you're looking for and you have the knowledge and experience to survive these types of conditions, think again.
8 Worth it: Phoenix, Arizona
For RV travelers who wide open spaces, no encumbrances, and a smooth surface to maneuver their home on wheels, you can take it to the limit on the road to Phoenix. Arizona is the complete package for outdoor adventures with Camelback Mountain, aquariums, zoo, lakes, parks, museums, botanical gardens, multiple national forests, and wildlife refuges.
On top of all that, you're only 3-1/2 hours from the Grand Canyon, and 2-1/2 hours from the Sonoran Desert. Take your pick of RV campgrounds along the way.
7 100% Avoid: Everglades National Park, Florida
The adage, "a picture is worth a thousand words" is true. Just look at the picture above. This is a road inside the Everglades National Park. It is a road for vehicles not for the infamous airboats that traverse the 'Glades although, in this instance, one would be appreciated.
Add about a bazillion mosquitoes to the environment and, well, you'll understand why you might want to consider heading to the beach instead. The Everglades National Park is a treasure trove of wildlife and Florida's natural beauty but to visit via RV could dim the brightness you'll want when visiting the Sunshine State.
6 Worth it: Get Your Kicks on Route 66!
Well, now, if you're planning an over-the-road excursion, adding Route 66 to the itinerary is a step back in time as you travel the historic highway. Route 66 begins in Chicago and ends at the Pacific shoreline in Santa Monica, California.
A total of 2500 miles of scenic landscape and natural attractions, small towns, bits and pieces of architectural history, museums, innovative sculptures, back-in-the-day cafes, and other assorted points of interest and what some might consider oddities.
Regardless of where you get on or off, Route 66 is an adventure of a lifetime.
5 100% Avoid: I'm Going to San Francisco with My RV - Not!
Think about it. The streets of San Francisco are like a roller coaster at a theme park. Up and down and all around. It's not a friendly place to attempt to take an RV. Not only are the streets crazy busy and crowded, but you also have twists and turns, streetcars named desire, the wear and tear on vehicles and RVs perched on inclined streets while waiting to navigate through the city.
Best to avoid problems and park your big road trip vehicle out of town and, if you don't have access to wheels after parking at the campground, consider calling an Uber to pick you up for a tour of the city.
4 Worth it: Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
There are all kinds of horsepower and giddy up and go and back in the day in Colonial Williamsburg, pedal to the metal equated to hoof to the road. Today, pack up the RV and head to Virginia with your own horses under the hood and relive what it was like in colonial times. This is a combination trip that combines lots of entertainment with a healthy dose of education, which is never a bad thing.
You'll experience the 18th century up-close with activities that include guided tours of historic buildings, seeing original folk art, enjoying interactive activities, taking a carriage ride, watching tradesmen and crafters be creative and much more. Several campgrounds are just a few minutes away.
3 100% Avoid: St. Louis Here I Come!
Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows is a good way to explain driving in St. Louis, home of the beautiful Gateway Arch - not McDonald's.
While the city has plenty to offer such as parks, tours, and museums, it also ranks high as one of the most dangerous cities for violence in the USA, according to a 2017 report by the FBI, which notes the city experienced 91.5 crimes per 10,000 residents.
On a list of 40 cities with 40 being the least violent, St. Louis ranked #3.
2 Worth it: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is a true adventure not to be missed. To make sure this doesn't happen, plan ahead and choose the right route that will get you to the park stress-free. For the most part, traveling is on well-maintained highways providing smooth sailing but some routes can be a challenge depending on which entrance you choose as your entry point.
Inside the park, you'll have access to multiple campgrounds; some require reservations. There are also private RV areas outside of the park. Get situated then put your feet in first gear and visit iconic Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful.
1 100% Avoid: Pacific Coast Highway (State Route 1), California
Absolutely one of the most scenic roads in California is State Route 1. Bordered by the mountains on one side and steep cliffs down to the Pacific on the other, the highway offers panoramic views far into the horizon while seagulls fly over waves crashing far, far below.
Here's the deal; the road is narrow and winding and it is prone to random rocks, big and bigger, falling from above. So, while you're attempting to enjoy the view while tooling along, be prepared for slow going and dodging boulders.
While a beautiful drive, your eyes will be 100 percent on the road ahead to ensure you stay in your lane and avoid being a target for flying bombardiers.