Wasps, mud dauber nests, birds, and rodents pose a serious threat to your RV furnace. These and other pests can enter through vents and openings and cause serious damage by building nests that interfere with air flow in and out of your furnace.
Protect your valuable investment by purchasing and installing Camco’s flying insect screens. These easy-to-install screens will help ensure that your furnace and fan stay safe from costly invasion by unwanted pests.
With the winter months fast approaching many RV owners must get their motorhome winterized, and ready for storage. We have recorded several RV winterization videos that will walk you through step-by-step on how to get your RV ready. In all of our videos, one of our RVDA/RVIA certified RV technicians will show you exactly what to do.
With the winter months fast approaching many RV owners must get their motorhome winterized, and ready for storage. We have recorded several RV winterization videos that will walk you through step-by-step on how to get your RV ready. In all of our videos, one of our RVDA/RVIA certified RV technicians will show you exactly what to do.
Everyone loves gadgets. And those of us who love to RV, tend to love RV gadgets that make life easier. Whether you live in your RV full-time, or only spend a few weekends a year traveling in it, here are a few RV gadgets that you are guaranteed to love.
These are my favorite gadgets that keep life running smooth on the road.
Decor RV Gadgets:
If you’re like me, you want to customize your rig and make it feel like a home. Quake Hold allows you to display your favorite china, rock collection or chachkis safely. A small piece of Quake Hold putty under your item will fix it to any hard surface. When you are ready to move it just twist. The item will stay put when you travel, but come off when you want to move it. AWESOME.
Command Strips are an RVers best friend. Whether you want to hang photos, art or a mirror, Command Strips will secure your item to the RV wall without any damage. Need to move something? No problem. Simply pull the tab and the strip will release from the wall.
The Command brand also make hooks. These hooks come in all different shapes and sizes. Use them to hang your purse, your coat or your keys. You can even find water proof hooks for the shower. Love it!
Vinyl Wall Art
Etsy and Ebay provide abundant opportunities to find vinyl wall art in a variety of colors and designs. From swirls to sayings, you can customize your fridge, mirrors, cabinets and walls. Add some fun! Add some vinyl.
Light Blocking Curtains Curtains add texture and dimension to an interior. They also block heat. Light blocking curtains available at Walmart, Target and Hobby Lobby are a great RV addition. Not only will they customize and soften your RV, they will also save you money. Heating and cooling bills add up. Light blocking curtains provides extra insulation to keep your bills low. Sound good right?
RV Kitchen Gadgets:
Slow Cooker Liners
Crockpots are a great addition to any RV. They cook without releasing a lot of heat. With slow cooker liners, life is even easier. Add a slow cooker liner to your pot and then fill it with food. Once you have finished your meal simply toss the liner and your pot is clean!
Foil packets are a campers best friend. Commercial grade Reynolds Wrap is perfect for making pillow style food packets that cook over a fire or grill. No cleanup and easy portions. What’s not to love?
My favorite kitchen gadget has got to be the Cuisinart Oven Central Countertop Oven. It comes with a grill, muffin pan, bake pan and space for kabobs. I use this oven for everything you can imagine and rarely use pots or pans. This unit is amazing!
Slow Cooker/Pressure Cooker
If you’re living in an RV you need appliances that are multi-purpose. I like the Secura 6 in 1 Electric Pressure Cooker. It offers browning, steaming, crockpot, pressure cooker and rice cooking all in one. The pot comes out for easy washing, and you can buy add-on pans for baking. This unit does it all!
Why heat up your kitchen when you don’t have to? Use the sun to cook your food. The GoSun portable cooker is an easy to use cylinder style oven. It folds down for easy storage. The HotLogic Mini Personal Portable Oven oven is another affordable option that is similar, but you plug in!
Front of Sink Cutting Board
If you’re anything like me, you never have enough counter top space. That’s why I love this Undermount front of sink cutting board. It hooks to the counter and allows you to slice, dice and chop at the sink. Toss the scraps into the garbage disposal and rinse your produce all in one easy step. Whoever came up with this idea was a genius!
The Camco double refrigerator bar keeps food from shifting while traveling. I use mine on the top shelf to secure gallon jugs of milk and water. They take 5 seconds to install and are well worth the $5~ GREAT BUY.
Cleaning RV Gadgets:
Shower Squeegee Moisture is an RV’s enemy. A simple shower squeegee will keep your shower free from excess moisture. It will also help your shower stay clean longer. Squeegees are inexpensive and work wonders.
RainX Think RainX is just for windshields? Think again. Rain works great on glass shower doors. The shower water will bead and roll right off the glass. No stains. No mildew!
Collapsible tubs work great for dishes, foot baths or general cleaning. Pop it up when you are using it. Pop it down for storage. It’s as easy as that!
Fill a spray bottle with water and a tiny bit of dishwashing soap. Spray your dishes before you put them in the sink. This simple step will act as a pre-soak and help you use less water come washing time. AMAZING.
Laundry RV Gadgets:
If you frequent the laundry mat you will love this gadget. Shout Color Catchers will help you save money. Choose an oversized washer and forget about sorting. Toss all your fabrics together and add a color catcher. If any of the dye tries to escape, the color catcher grabs it and keeps it from your other clothes. You save a bundle washing and drying everything together. WOW!
This stain remover bar comes in a plain brown wrapper and works to remove just about everything. Wet the item, rub the bar over the stain and rinse. Simply Clean is easy to use and works on all types of fabrics and carpets. GREAT NEWS!
Plastic Bin Washing
I saw this idea on a YouTube video and have been using it ever since. Traveling with no time to wash socks and undies? No problem. Fill a plastic bin with cold water, your laundry and a dash of soap. Click the lid on for a tight fit. Place the bin in your shower and head out on the road. At the end of the day, the movement of your rig will agitate the clothes. Just rinse and hang. The perfect emergency washer! SO EASY.
Over The Door Organizer
This may or may not apply to laundry, but it certainly applies to the organization. A multi-pocket organizer will keep your makeup, shoes, or office supplies in one handy location. You can even cut the organizers in half and use them in more than one place. Hang them on the back of a door or use command hooks to mount them on the inside of cabinets or the base of your bed. SO EASY.
Safety RV Gadgets:
If your rig has a slide you know how easy it is to bang your head. Those corners can really hurt, especially if you are underneath one. Corner guards add a softer edge and prevent cutting your head or arms. CAN YOU SAY WORTH IT?
Fire Extinguisher This is a no brainer. You need to have at least 2 extinguishers with you at all times. One for the engine and one in the kitchen. Make sure they are up to date and safe. In an emergency, you need to know it works!
Carbon Monoxide Alarm If your rig didn’t come with a Carbon Monoxide Alarm, get one. These alarms detect gas leaks that humans can’t always smell. This is especially important if you own a diesel pusher and your bed is in the back to the engine. BE SAFE!
Mini Paper Shredder
Mail security doesn’t stop just because you are traveling. A mini paper shredder is a great item for the full-time RVer. Choose a cross cut unit that will emulate your information and keep is safe from thieves. IT’S WORTH IT!
Portable Dehumidifier If you live in your rig year round, a dehumidifier is essential. Moisture is an RV’s enemy and you would be amazed by just how much moisture your rig can hold. I use a portable dehumidifier to keep the air dry and to avoid dripping skylights. NewAir makes a 25-pint portable unit that is easy to roll from one area to another. My best tip? Spend the money now so you don’t spend it later on repairs!
Electronic RV Gadgets:
Cell Signal Booster You are out in the middle of nowhere camping when your phone rings. Unfortunately, you don’t have enough bars to take the call. You dash left and right trying to find a signal to no avail. What should you do? Easy! A cell booster will increase the range of your phone, especially inside your RV. There are a variety of units available so be sure to read reviews to locate the right one for your unit. Can you hear me now?
WiFi Booster Free wifi is only a good deal if it works. Increase your chances with a wifi booster placed on the top of your rig. The WiFi Ranger with a signal booster is a must have for serious internet users. Sure, it won’t change bad connections, but it will increase your ability to use good ones.
Solar Powered Cell Phone Charger
Why plug in when you don’t have to? Solar phone chargers are the perfect way to use less energy and stay connected. Solar chargers are available for phones, tablets , and laptops and even come on backpacks. Sign me up!
Bluetooth is a reverse friend. No wires necessary. A Bluetooth speaker can connect with a variety of tech gear. Try your phone, t.v., tablet, iPod or even your radio. Take the sound where you are and make life a whole lot easier!
IPod Bring the music with you wherever you are. Or fill it with podcasts, audio books or news. This simple MP3 style player replaces CD’s and makes traveling a whole lot easier. This is a MUST HAVE.
Roku If your RV park has solid WiFi, a Roku will allow you to stream hundreds of on demand TV channels (many that are free!) You can also connect with Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and a variety of other channel options. Who needs satellite when you have a Roku?
Fans Small, portable fans are essential for keeping your rig cool with or without air conditioning. Air movement makes your air conditioner more effective. It also keeps things fresh inside. Anything RV has to be small and multipurpose, that’s why I recommend the Honeywell Turbo Force Fan. These units are available everywhere. They are inexpensive, powerful, quiet and can be used for a variety of purposes. Use them to keep cool, dry clothes or push hot air out the windows.
Miscellaneous Must Have RV Gadgets:
The Electric Fly Swatter
Yup. They make these, and some RVers don’t want to live without them. Electric fly swatters or bug fryers are a great way to keep your RV free of pests!
Fire Pit Enclosed Fire Pits are legal in many parks both national and private and they add a homey feel to your site at night. If you love fire, look for a portable unit or make your own.
Portable Solar Panels Solar panels are all the rage, but if you don’t want to install them on your rig try something portable. Go Power! offers 120W solar kits with a 10 amp controller. These units fold up for storage and can be set up wherever you are. They come with 15 feet of cable and a carrying case. What will solar do for you? These panels will keep your battery charged when you’re not plugged in. This means hours of extra fun, wild camping in your RV.
Well, that’s the end of my list. I know I have missed a ton of great ideas so I want to hear yours. Scroll down to the comments and tell me your tips, tricks and top suggestions. What gadget can’t you live without? What gadget do you most wish you had?
Fall is a great time for an RV adventure. Just because the temperatures drop doesn’t mean that your RV trips have to stop! Here are our 5 reasons why you should go RVing in the Fall –
Changing Leaves – The orange, yellow and red hues of autumn have a way of making everything feel cozy. With the tracking apps and websites, it is easier than it has ever been to find the exact dates when the fall foliage is at its most beautiful. For those of you who full-time or have travel flexibility, you may want to follow the leaves as they change throughout the United States – starting early September thru late November.
Cooler Hiking Temperatures – Heading out on the trail can really be a magical experience during this time of the year. Often you’ll find trails full of vivid gold, red and orange foliage, and it’s also not uncommon to find the trails less crowded than during spring and summer. We’ve gone hiking on many popular trails at State Parks and had the entire place to ourselves — it’s like having your own wilderness playground!
Fewer Crowds – Popular camping areas are often crowded during peak camping weekends during the summertime. Often, other popular recreational activities and destinations are also crowded with other campers. Fewer people camp and RV during the fall, and fewer people often means discounted prices, less noise, and a more secluded camping experience.
No Bugs – Mosquitoes, gnats and flies can ruin a good experience in record time. Luckily for fall campers, insects have usually ended their relentless attacks so you can enjoy things like hiking your favorite trails, relaxing on the RV deck, or hanging out at night just watching the stars.
Cozy Campfires – Campfires are extra cozy in the cooler temperatures. You can layer up with blankets and sit next to a fire with a warm beverage and enjoy the beauty of an autumn evening.
Every fall, nature puts on a natural fireworks display of colorful leaves and foliage decorating entire forests full of trees. This display is breathtaking every single year, and some years with the perfect kind of weather can be truly remarkable. However, to fully appreciate the splendor of fall foliage, you need to be in the right place at the right time.
Here are some of the best fall RV trips you can take to be completely amazed at just how colorful nature can really be.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, namely the park’s Skyline Drive, is one of the nation’s premier fall RV trips for people who want to see fall foliage. The Skyline Drive is a 105-mile National Scenic Byway that twists and winds through the over 200,000 pristine acres that makes up Shenandoah National Park. In addition to the stunning scenery, Shenandoah offers plenty of other outdoor activities as well.
The northeast region of the country has some of the best fall foliage in the world and Acadia National Park in Maine does not disappoint. One of the best roads to take in the park during the peak of the fall colors is called Park Loop Road. Park Loop Road is 27 miles of stunning roadway that offers views of Maine’s shores, coastal forests and mountain peaks. Make sure to remember your camera for this fall RV trip, because it will definitely be one to remember.
The Great Smoky Mountains are a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, but autumn makes the region truly stand out. Luckily, visitors have the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to help them enjoy the natural wonders of the area. The best time of year for fall colors here is from mid-October to November. This is when the most colorful trees are on full display. Drive Clingmans Dome Road or the Foothills Parkway for great views. The jewel of the area, though, has to be the Blue Ridge Parkway. You could even drive it all the way to Shenandoah National Park for the best fall RV trip of all time!
Make sure to do a little research when planning your fall RV trip in order to make sure you go at the peak time for fall colors in your chosen region. Most park websites will have up to date information on the quality of fall colors as peak times can change from year to year. After going on a fall RV trip, you might just make it a yearly tradition!
Fall is the perfect time to plan an RV adventure. Crisp air, warm campfires, stunning foliage — what’s not to love? If you need ideas, check out these five fall camping hotspots:
Quechee State Park, Vermont
New England states are famous for their fall foliage, none more so than Vermont. At Quechee State Park, visitors enjoy stunning views of Vermont’s deepest gorge, Quechee Gorge, which is 165 feet deep. The Ottauquechee River runs through the gorge and is known for its whitewater kayaking opportunities. Plan to stay a while and check out the many nearby attractions while you’re in town.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
One of the most popular parks for leaf-peeping in the South, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers beautiful drives with an abundance of scenic overlooks that keep visitors coming back year after year. This park offers plenty of choices. It has ten developed campgrounds and a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Some can’t-miss spots here are Clingmans Dome, Cataloochee Valley, Cades Cove and Roaring Fork.
As its name suggests, Aspen, Colorado, is full of the spindly, white-barked trees that color the mountainous state in beautiful reds, oranges and yellows every autumn. Here, visitors can see the Maroon Bells, which are said to be among the most photographed mountains in North America. This is a destination that is all about being active outdoors, no matter the season. Fall visitors can take full advantage of the camping, climbing and biking opportunities Aspen has to offer.
For a heaping dose of American history coupled with gorgeous autumn scenery, look no further than Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Visit the historic battlefield and drive through Gettysburg National Military Park to see where some of the most significant events of the Civil War unfolded. Choose from a variety of RV parks nearby to set up camp.
Once you lay eyes on this unspoiled, pristine mountain paradise, you will see why it’s known as “Crown of the Continent.” The land is teeming with wildlife, including the mountain goat, Glacier National Park’s official symbol. Leaves begin to change color in mid-September, and gnewen larch trees create a brilliant, warm contrast to the rocky, snow-capped mountains. Starting in September, after the park’s busy summer season is over, attendance drops off and wildlife becomes more active, making autumn an excellent time to visit for campers who crave solitude in nature. Unlike many leaf-peeping destinations on the East Coast, you don’t even need to make reservations here during fall.
It may seem natural, as you’re packing away the flip-flops and bathing suits at summer’s end, to pack away the RV, too. In locations where the temps drop in autumn, however, you may also see a drop in campground rental rates, crowds and insect populations. Those three reasons alone should have avid RVers prepping the motorhome for another trip.
Ready to give a new season a try? A few simple tips will ensure your first (or fifteenth) foray into fall is a success.
Pick The Right Fall Destination
The number one must-have for fall camping is the perfect destination. Here are a few things to consider as you choose your vacation location:
Average autumn climate plays a big part in knowing where to camp this fall. Asheville, North Carolina, for example, is a fantastic fall camping destination and generally sees highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s in September, dropping to the 60s and 40s by the end of October. That makes for perfect cool weather hiking and serious snuggling by the fire.
Southern Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, on the other hand, is less predictable, with high temps ranging from 60s to 80s and lows from 30 to 50. But what a glorious place it is, and with the right planning, it can become your favorite fall camping destination! Bottom Line: Do your homework and pack for the weather no matter your autumn camping spot.
Favorite autumn activities should also be considered as you choose where to camp. Do you like to hike, fish or paddle? Does leaf peeping thrill your soul? There are perfect places to do all those things in autumn, so get online or check with local campgrounds about fall adventures in your target area.
Here’s some extra motivation for planning outdoor recreation on your fall camping trip: There’s a world of difference between trail running in August and a cool, crisp run in October. Use cooler weather to move you toward your next goal, whether it’s miles hiked, elevation scaled or hours spent fishing from a kayak.
Campsite availability is one more factor that can help you decide where to travel. In some states where fall quickly turns to winter, campgrounds may close as early as Labor Day. Many campground owners, however, have learned the wisdom of keeping at least some campsites available year-round for cool weather camping enthusiasts. This is where you’ll really need to do a little homework. Once you’ve narrowed down a region you’d like to visit, a quick search at KOA.com will help you find the perfect campground.
What to Pack for Fall Camping
Once you’ve got a destination in mind, your packing list becomes easier. Unload the hot weather gear and fill your bins/totes/backpacks with clothes you can layer if temperatures fall. Even with the best research, the autumn climate can surprise you, especially at higher elevations. Lightweight jackets for hiking, a couple of long-sleeve shirts, warm socks, cool weather foot gear and extra blankets will keep your autumn camping expedition comfortable.
And don’t forget the sunscreen, insect repellent and water bottles! The sun still shines in autumn and some bugs are simply persistent. You don’t want your adventure ruined by a sunburn, bug bites or dehydration.
What else will you need for those outdoor adventures? Will you bring along your bikes, kayaks or climbing gear, or will you arrange for them with local outfitters? Many hiking, paddling and biking clubs now have websites or blogs where current conditions are shared. Check those out as you pack.
What about the food? You may spend the summer serving sandwiches and sodas, but fall calls for comfort food! Break out your best Dutch oven chili, shepherd’s pie or vegan stew to warm your crew after a long day hiking mountain trails. Top the chill off with fragrant apple cobbler, pumpkin crisp or warm brownies. Fuel your bodies for cool weather exploration—it’s one of the best parts of camping in autumn.
One more clue about fall camping success—plan ahead to stay dry. Autumn rains don’t need to ruin your trip. It just takes the right rain gear to make it happen. It goes without saying that camping fun can happen in the motorhome even when a shower shuts down outdoor activity. What do you like to do at home on rainy days? Planning for that could make you the family hero!
What to Pack for Fall Camping
The third must-have for fall camping is a safe, dependable RV. A few thoughts about prepping the motorhome or trailer for autumn camping:
Double-check tire pressures, brakes and towing gear. In some areas, autumn temps may dip below the freezing mark, which could mean slippery spots on roads. Properly inflated tires, fully functional vehicle and trailer brakes and hitches rated for the weight being towed are essential for safe RV travel. Your best defense, in the case of rapidly deteriorating road conditions, is to wait until roads have been cleared and treated to drive.
Know how to operate your RV’s heating system. This sounds silly, but if you’ve only camped in warm weather, turning on the heating system may not be in your skill set. If you’re renting an RV, pay attention to the demo. It goes without saying that your motorhome’s heating system should be checked out periodically by an RV expert to ensure safe operation.
Know how to protect your RV’s water systems. On the off chance you’ll experience a hard freeze while camping in autumn, someone in your crew should know how to disconnect water lines from tanks and drain them to prevent damage to water and waste systems. Again, if this is a rental unit, ask what to do if you encounter freezing weather.
Many RVers enjoy camping even into winter, and you can certainly safely enjoy an autumn camping expedition by employing these common sense tips.
Take advantage of cooler temperatures, campground discounts and fewer neighbors by planning a fall RV camping trip now. Choose your destination, plan your activities and pay attention to the weather. Pack for variable temps, prep your RV for safe travel and don’t forget to plan menus that create warm memories! It’s autumn and some of your best days camping by RV await.
One of the greatest things about having an RV is the ability to get in on dry camping or boondocking. Unfortunately, many RVers don’t even know this opportunity exists and therefore miss out entirely.
If RV dry camping is something you’d like to try but you’re not sure how to get started, this is the article for you. Here we will address common boondocking questions and let you in on our favorite dry camping tips.
Some of you may be wondering, “What does dry camping mean?” Basically, this is a term that means camping without any hookups whatsoever. Dry camping, also known as boondocking, can be done on private property (with permission, of course), on government-owned lands, or anywhere else you can find a place to park legally. In most cases this is free camping, so it’s a great option for those on a tight budget.
The next thing that most people want to know is how to dry camp. Our number one tip is to dip your toes in first and build up to longer trips as you find your own boondocking groove.
Without water or sewer hookups, you will want to learn some ways to carry extra water, how to conserve this precious resource, and ways to get rid of the waste water properly.
Get a bladder — A water bladder such as this one is a great way to carry extra water. Use it to refill your fresh water tank when it runs dry.
Change your shower head and faucets — A low-flow shower head as well as low-flow faucets, can save a lot of water.
Reuse shower or dish water — Instead of using fresh water to flush your toilet, collect your dish and shower water and use it when it’s time to flush. This saves fresh water and makes more room in your gray tank when needed.
Shower less — Of course, showering less helps too. Dry shampoo and wipes help a lot.
Invest in a blue boy — A blue boy can hold onto waste water when your tanks get full and you’re unable to make it to a dump station. It’s also easier to transport a blue boy to and from a dump station than it is to move your entire rig every time you need to dump.
Beside water, you’ll also need to find ways to conserve and create electricity when boondocking. Obviously, things like running the air conditioner or a hair dryer are typically out of the question without electric hookups, and even things like lights and vent fans can drain a battery faster than you might imagine.
Change to LED lighting — Changing all of your lights to LED will help save electricity.
Get a solar panel — A portable solar panel is relatively inexpensive and can be extremely helpful when it comes to keeping your RV battery topped up.
Invest in more batteries — Of course, having more batteries to work with will also mean more electricity to use when off-grid. Combine these with multiple solar panels for best results.
Use a generator — Most motorhomes come with a camping generator. Meanwhile, those using travel trailers will need to invest in a separate one. Either way, using a generator is a great way to top up your battery and even run the A/C on really hot afternoons. Just be aware that generators shouldn’t be run constantly, or at night out of respect for other campers.
You already know you’re going camping this year. The only question is: where to?
If you’ve never traveled by motorhome or trailer before, you may be wondering how to go about finding camping spots — or how to narrow down the best places to camp from the huge number of options on your destination bucket list. The good news is, the U.S. is chock-a-block full of amazing places to explore in your RV. The only problem is trying to see them all in just one lifetime!
Which means, of course, that you’ve got some narrowing down to do. After all, most of us can’t quite afford to be on permanent vacation. (Full-time RV living is a thing though, and quite a popular one.
But whether you’re a weekend warrior looking for a quick getaway spot or planning your next epic cross-country road trip, we’ve put together some of the very best campgrounds and camping locations in the U.S.A — and some surefire tips to help you find great spots no matter where you’re headed.
The Top Camping Spots in the U.S.
In no particular order, here are some of the best places to go camping in the U.S., including national parks which have some of the top campgrounds in the nation.
1. Moab, Utah
Nestled right between two of the most popular national parks in the system — Arches and Canyonlands — Moab is the perfect place to plant yourself if you’re looking to explore southeastern Utah’s surreal desert landscape. See the stunning, delicate expanses of sandstone arches and glowing red mesas carved by centuries of geological activity, or take a thrilling whitewater ride down the ancient Colorado River.
Plus, once you’ve had your fill of outdoor fun (if that’s possible), Moab itself has a whole lot to offer in the way of slightly-citified excitement. Enjoy a bite at one of its many well-loved local eateries, or meander through its gift shops and informational centers. The town is also home to a variety of museums with tons of local historical artifacts and educational opportunities. The Museum of Moab has a world-class collection of dinosaur bones on display, too — so it’s a can’t-miss if you have an aspiring paleontologist along for the ride!
2. Glacier National Park and Whitefish, Montana
If your camping bucket list includes Glacier National Park — and whose doesn’t? — don’t miss the chance to enjoy this quaint northern Montana town while you’re in the area. Along with a plethora of shops from which to source your (absolutely mandatory) bear spray, Whitefish also offers a vibrant art scene, as well as an array of culinary delights you might not have expected to find at such an extreme latitude. Meander through the many galleries that line the small, walkable downtown, and then dip into one of its breweries or fine restaurants to take the edge off. A personal recommendation: visit Montana Coffee Traders, which combines a restful atmosphere with great java and a slam-dunk menu of freshly-cooked breakfast options. (No, they’re not paying us to say this.)
3. Saint Augustine, Florida
Not only is Saint Augustine one of the best places to go camping on the east coast — it’s also one of the oldest. Actually, it’s the oldest city in America, not just on the east coast but overall. Settled all the way back in 1565 by Spanish explorers, the city’s been constantly inhabited by one population or another for more than 450 years. (And yes, that makes it older than both Plymouth Rock and Jamestown.)
This beachside gem is the perfect spot to set up camp along the dunes, perhaps at Anastasia State Park. The sites are affordable, but the sights are downright priceless, and you’re just a few minutes’ drive from the town’s historic center, with all manner of food, drink, shopping, and — of course — ghost tour options to choose from. Experiences you are absolutely not allowed to miss: cannon firings at the Castillo de San Marcos, a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city streets, shopping on St. George Street, and cocktails at the Ice Plant to round it all out. Oh, and an ice cream-topped waffle at Cousteau’s. (Thank us later.)
4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains stands out from its US national parks peer group in a variety of ways. For one thing, it’s the most popular. For another, few of the national parks have such a vibrant gateway city — and fewer still are free to enter.
With hundreds of miles of hiking trails along some of the most lushly green mountain paths you’ll ever see, Great Smoky Mountains is a can’t-miss destination, especially for native east coasters. Covering more than 522,427 acres, the park is a reasonable drive from a huge number of eastern metropoles, and offers much-needed natural respite to those city dwellers. And even if Gatlinburg is a little bit out of your way, it’s worth the extra miles to stay there. You can round out your days of outdoorsy exploration with all sorts of mountain town fun, from tastings at moonshine distilleries to ski lifts that operate even in the summer. (Oh, and Pigeon Forge is just half an hour up the road, home to a downright disproportionate number of dinner shows and live entertainment options. No wonder Dolly Parton loves it here so much!)
5. Joshua Tree National Park and Twentynine Palms, California
If you’ve yet to go to this alien desert landscape, where the trees twist into the sky like reaching arms, you won’t regret setting your RV GPS to Joshua Tree — or its unique neighboring town, Twentynine Palms. (Fun fact: there’s actually an old song about the city, or at least one of its citizens, and if you’re anything like the author of this post, you’ll find it ridiculously catchy.)
This weird little desert city is just that: weird. Be sure to take the time out of your Joshua Tree experience to visit and take notice of such attractions as its collection of love signs or grab a cooling brew at the Joshua Tree Saloon. Temperatures can easily top 100 degrees in the summertime, so you’ll need the breather.
6. Monterey Bay, California
Yes, we’ve definitely touted this place before on our destination lists… but it’s easily one of the best places to go camping on the west coast. Nestled between the urban insanity (which we mean in a good way!) of California’s bay area and the serene beauty of Big Sur, Monterey Bay is a great place to camp no matter which side of the landscape you’re exploring.
Along with its variety of driveable day-trip options, Monterey itself is home to some not-to-be-missed attractions, including the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the scenic Fisherman’s Wharf. Pebble Beach, which hosts a renowned annual food and wine festival, is just minutes away, as is Carmel-by-the-Sea — and just a few minutes there will quickly make you understand why Clint Eastwood chose it over Hollywood.
7. Grand Canyon National Park and Flagstaff, Arizona
It’s one of the most famous, if not the most famous, national parks for a reason. But the city that lies just an hour south of it is not to be missed, either. Home to Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff has way more than its fair share of arts and culture to explore for a town of its size, not to mention the abject beauty of the surroundings.
You could camp in town and drive up to the rim for the day, or camp inside the national park and make a day trip down to Flagstaff. But either way, don’t do yourself the disservice of missing either of these epic Arizonan travel destinations.
8. Hood River, Oregon
Set along the banks of the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River is the perfect camping alternative to Portland. After all, you can still get to town in a day — but you’ll be closer to what you likely really came for: that inimitable Pacific northwest landscape and its endless array of outdoor activity opportunities.
Oh, and did we mention the insane view of the mountain it’s named after?
The town itself is small, but big enough to have all the resources you need to round out an epic Oregon vacation. enjoy one of the craft brews the state’s known for, or, if you’d rather, take in some world-class wine tasting. If all else fails, you can always spend the afternoon watching the windsurfers on the Columbia… or better yet, joining their ranks yourself!
9. Yachats, Oregon
Yes, Oregon’s so nice we’re listing it twice — and the coast is a whole different thing from exploring the interior.
Although you wouldn’t be remiss to camp nearly anywhere along this stretch of boulder-strewn, tidepool-punctuated coastline, Yachats (pronounced “ya-HOTS”) easily numbers among the most beautiful places in the world, let alone the country. Enjoy the quaint town’s quiet offerings of fresh local seafood and handcrafted beers, and keep your eyes peeled on the ocean: you may just see gray whales breaching. Hike Cape Perpetua for a view you won’t soon forget, and then meander along the coast itself to see the strange effects of an eon of the water crashing against the continent: with names like Thor’s Well and Devils Churn, how can you resist?
10. Asheville, North Carolina Image via ashevillechamber.org
The perfect combination of mountain wilderness and downtown wildness, Asheville stands out among all U.S. cities as a camping contender. Whether it’s manmade or natural, you can’t walk ten feet in Asheville without finding something breathtaking to look at.
And it’s inarguably fun, too. For one thing, the locals contend they have the highest number of breweries per capita (though Portlanders would argue), which makes it easy to kick back after the long day you’ll doubtlessly spend hiking, biking, or waterfall-sliding in the lush surrounding landscapes. Oh, and don’t forget about the amazing local art community, which has proliferated from the River Arts district into the town at large. (If you’ve got a white, grab a quick cup of joe at Summit Coffee, where you might just catch some amazing local talent at the mic.)
11. Taos, New MexicoImage via 5280.com
Unless you’re a ski bunny, you may not have heard the name of this northern New Mexico charmer before. (And if you are a skier or snowboarder, we’re here to tell you that this locale is a worthy destination in summer or winter.)
For one thing, the view of Mt. Wheeler — the tallest in the state — and its surrounding chain of southern Rockies will absolutely floor you, especially at sunset. And that’s before you head to dinner at one of the many local eateries serving up some of the best Mexican cuisine you’ve ever had. It’s no wonder such a scenic town is a haven for artists, and you’ll have ample opportunities to peruse their productions as you walk around the town’s square. And just an hour and a half south, you can double down on the arts-and-outdoors experience in the state’s capital city of Santa Fe. Oh, did we mention there are two world-class hikable hot springs within easy driving distance, not to mention the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge? There’s a reason they call this place the “Land of Enchantment.” (Speaking of which, don’t miss your chance to drive the famous Enchanted Circle!
12. Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine
Epic granite peaks collide with crashing ocean waves in this gem of the northeastern coast. No matter how you slice it, Acadia is easily one of the most scenic places on earth — and its gateway town of Bar Harbor could easily have its picture beside either “quaint” or “charming” in the dictionary. (Or both.)
Along with the bounty of beautiful sweeping views, visitors to the Maine coastline can find their way into historic lighthouses and all manner of world-class restaurants — you won’t go hungry, especially if you like seafood. Shops, galleries, and museums also abound, drawing visitors in and beckoning them to extend their stays longer and longer.
13. Sandpoint, Idaho
Lake shores, mountain slopes, and a vibrant city — all tucked away in the often-overlooked Idaho panhandle. Sun Valley might get all the glory, but a visit to Sandpoint will prove that great things come in small packages, whether you’re looking to hike, climb, waterski, or just kick back and enjoy the scenery.
Northern Idaho is also home to some of the best remote hot springs in America… although finding them might be a bit of a challenge. Locals like to keep these best-kept-secrets just that: kept. So try and make some friends while you’re in town — you might just get taken along on a soak if you’re not considered a stranger!
14. Rocky Mountain National Park and Boulder, Colorado
Anyone who’s been to the Front Range can tell you that the Rocky Mountain high is real. And hip, bustling Boulder is the perfect place to serve as home base while you enjoy all that Colorful Colorado has to offer.
With its upscale outdoor mall at Pearl Street and its array of artisan coffees and brews, Boulder has just about everything an urbanite could want… all under the closeby gaze of those epic, challenging, unendingly beautiful mountains. Even if you don’t go into the national park proper, there’s tons of stuff to do, with the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests right there, ready to be explored.
The surrounding cities are worth checking out, too; everyone knows about Denver, of course, but Fort Collins should show up on more travel lists. If you do end up there, make sure you make time to take in a film at The Lyric, one of the weirdest, most awesome little indie theaters this author’s ever been to.
15. Custer, South Dakota
Herds of wild bison, Needles Highway, Mount Rushmore, and just the plain-old wonder of the Black Hills themselves — no wonder this corner of South Dakota is considered one of the best places to go camping in the midwest. Try your hand — er, foot? feet? lungs? — at summiting Black Elk Peak, and keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats while you’re at it. And yes, the buffalo do roam here, often right by the roadside, but you’ll want to be sure to keep your distance.
As it grows in popularity, the Black Hills region has also become a somewhat surprising oasis of cuisine and culture, tucked away in an otherwise rural area. Learn more about western history at one of the may museums or interpretive centers, and finish it off with a meal fit for a king. It’s all waiting for you in Custer!