It’s that time of year where we are itching to get our RVs back on the road and start exploring once again, and look forward with anticipation to the day when we can do so safely.
It helps to daydream and make plans about what we might explore once we hit the road. Of course, we are well aware that some activities still won’t be available to us in the early days of returning to the road. It’s important to make plans carefully and consider which activities would be safest and most likely to be open.
RV LIFE Campgrounds has compiled the best up-to-date campground information for RVers looking to travel this summer. They have updated the status of thousands of campgrounds across the country and are continuing to update their tools as new information comes in. Check the website for campground reviews, park information, as well as their current open or closed status. They have also implemented this essential information into the comprehensive trip planner, RV LIFE Trip Wizard, as well as on the RV LIFE App With GPS.
Below are 5 fabulous vacation ideas that involve fun outdoor activities that allow for plenty of fresh air and adventure.
1. Utah’s Mighty 5
Our first suggestion is Utah. Why? Because this is the home of the Mighty 5—five spectacular national parks that are sure to leave you in awe of the beauty of this earth.
Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion all have amazing sights to offer, and together they create an ultimate road trip experience. This is the ideal trip to take in an RV, as boondocking is available in a variety of places across the state. Plus, freshwater and dump stations are both easy to find.
Choosing to boondock saves money on lodging, and purchasing an “America the Beautiful” national parks annual pass will save on entry fees. Since you’ll be driving rather than flying and will likely cook your own meals, this is a super affordable vacation.
Seeing as two of the five parks have already started to open, we imagine the rest will follow relatively soon. You can learn more about the route in our previous article here.
2. California National Parks
California is another amazing state to visit when you’re looking for national parks to explore. This state has a huge number of NPS sites, and because the state is so large, the landscapes are dramatically different from one park to the next.
Again we recommend boondocking, which works well near most of the big national parks in the state. The “America the Beautiful” pass is also a good investment for this trip.
California has several parks to choose from:
- Joshua Tree National Park (Recently reopened with restrictions)
- Yosemite National Park (Preparing for a possible reopening in June)
- Redwood National & State Parks (Opening in phases. Trailheads, parking lots, and some restroom facilities are open. Visitor centers, campgrounds, and backcountry camping sites remain closed.)
- Death Valley National Monument (Closed temporarily until California enters “Stage 3”.)
- Channel Islands National Park (Temporarily closed)
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (Closed until at least May 25)
- Pinnacles National Park (Now open for day-use)
- Lassen Volcanic National Park (Temporarily closed)
- Point Reyes National Seashore (Open for locals only)
You can read more about California’s beautiful national parks in this previous Do It Yourself RV article.
3. Texas State Parks
Looking for an option that doesn’t involve national parks? A tour of Texas state parks might be just the thing.
Some of the best state parks in the state include the following:
- Dinosaur Valley State Park
- Guadalupe River State Park
- Longhorn Cavern State Park
- Monahans Sandhills State Park
- Mustang Island State Park
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park
- Big Bend Ranch State Park
- Franklin Mountains State Park
We love Texas because it’s a huge state with much to explore. The cost of living is also relatively low, making this a good place to find affordable—sometimes even free—RV parks.
If you plan to be in Texas for a few months, consider purchasing a Thousand Trails Camping Pass. If you plan on visiting several state parks, a Texas State Parks annual pass will come in handy.
4. Florida Beaches
Is the ocean calling your name? If so, you might just want to plan a trip to the coasts of the Sunshine State. Florida is a unique state in that it has Gulf Coast beaches as well as Atlantic beaches. We love both, and recommend taking a beach tour to see as many of these gorgeous wonderlands as possible.
Some of our favorite Florida beaches are:
- Flagler Beach — We love that this is a locals beach, meaning it’s rarely crowded and we can spread out.
- Sand Key County Park — While we aren’t huge fans of the tourist scene in Clearwater, this particular park in Clearwater offers a gorgeous white sand beach with perfectly clear and calm water and few tourists.
- Cocoa Beach — This beach is lovely, if a bit touristy. What we really love about it though is the fact that you can go kayaking in the area at night during the summer and see bioluminescent plankton.
- Gulf Islands National Seashore — Easily one of the prettiest beach areas in Florida, it’s easy to see why this white-sand, crystal-water section of the panhandle has been dubbed a National Seashore.
Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t offer much in the way of boondocking, and there’s no such thing as a statewide beach pass. However, some beaches do offer free parking and entry, and those that don’t tend to have relatively inexpensive costs attached.
Additionally, some may find the aforementioned Thousand Trails Zone Pass with the Trails Collection add-on to be a good investment if they will be in Florida for a while.
5. The Great Smoky Mountains
Last but certainly not least, we recommend making a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. Take the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina for a 469-mile scenic drive. It’s even more beautiful in the fall! Or plan a visit to the national park for the many hiking trails of various difficulties.
One thing you will want to make sure of before you take this trip is exactly how capable your rig is when it comes to mountain driving. Some find that their tow vehicle or a small motorhome is the best option when it comes to driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.
There are plenty of campgrounds near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. That said, you should expect to pay a premium for staying so close to such popular natural attractions.
These are our top picks for destinations this summer. Will you choose one of these options or something else entirely? Let us know in the comments.