In May of 2020, we sold our Colorado suburban home and moved into a 43-foot 5th-wheel RV. Our youngest daughter was headed off to college, both of us had the ability to work remotely, and we wanted to experience more of the country than we could pack into a few weeks of vacations every year.
After nearly 3 years of traveling across America in our RV, we've accumulated a list of favorite places and campgrounds, an "RV Road Trip Bucket List" if you will.
This is a list of our favorite places so far, listed in no particular order. It's also an ongoing list. As we continue our travels, we'll add new favorites to the list.
We plan our travel schedule in advance and publish it on this website, so if you're curious about where we're headed next, check out our RV Travel Schedule.
Another incredible resource for travel within the United States is this cross country list of free travel guides.
And if you're planning a trip to any of the places on this list and have questions about our experience there, please leave us a note in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
- #1. San Diego, California
- #2. Nehalem Bay State Park, Nehalem Oregon
- #3. Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell, Washington
- #4. Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, Washington
- #5. Glacier National Park, Montana
- #6. Moab, Utah including Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point
- #7. The Wedge Overlook at The Little Grand Canyon, Utah
- #8. Jug Hollow Dispersed Camping, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Utah
- #9. Palisade, Colorado
- #10. Duck Creek RV Resort, Muskegon, Michigan
- #11. Indiana Dunes State Park
- #12. Northern Michigan
- #13. Dillon Reservoir, Colorado
- #14. Door County, Wisconsin
- #15. Bryson City, North Carolina and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- #16. The Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota
- #17. Henry's Lake State Park, Idaho
- #18. Crystal Beach, Texas Gulf Coast
- #19. Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Surrounding Areas
- 💬 Comments
#1. San Diego, California
The San Diego KOA is a resort-style RV park in Chula Vista, about 15 minutes from downtown San Diego and Coronado beach. The park includes tons of amenities including swimming pools, a cafe, bicycle rentals, playgrounds, a camp store, and a variety of cabins, glamping tents, and RV camping spaces. No one is "roughing it" in this park.
It's a clean, well-maintained park, with helpful staff and great energy. It's quiet during the week, packed with vacationing families on the weekends, and everyone is just so happy to be there.
It's not cheap, but we've felt that every dollar spent there was worth it.
Having said that, our recommendation is for San Diego itself, especially in the winter, not the KOA specifically. I know there are other RV park options in the area, so find whichever park works for you.
#2. Nehalem Bay State Park, Nehalem Oregon
Nehalem Bay State Park is one of our favorite state parks!
The park is situated on a peninsula of land with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Nehalem Bay on the other. The park includes ocean beaches, sand dunes, a forested area with a 1.8-mile bike and walking path, and the calm waters of Nehalem Bay.
The campground itself sits among shore pines and is just a short walk to the ocean beach. With the ocean on one side, the bay on the other side, and a forest in between, there is no shortage of things to do. Kayaking, crabbing, fishing, clamming, biking, and walking on the beach are popular activities.
The park is clean and well-maintained, with spacious campsites. Nehalem Bay is close to Tillamook State Forest, many other gorgeous Oregon beaches, and the seaside towns of Seaside, Oceanside, and Bay City.
#3. Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell, Washington
If you're planning an RV trip to the Seattle Area, Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell, Washington is a fantastic place to stay.
Bothell is a suburb of Seattle located about 30 minutes from downtown, and Lake Pleasant is a haven in the middle of suburban sprawl.
Even though the park sits in the middle of Bothell, it includes a wildlife habitat and a small lake filled with fish and waterfowl. There is a gorgeous walking path through the wooded area of the park that makes you feel like you are deep in the woods even though you're literally yards away from the restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and big box stores you'd expect in a suburban city.
#4. Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, Washington
If we absolutely had to choose our favorite RV park so far, Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, Washington just might be it.
We spent 3 weeks here in June of 2021 and loved it so much that we're going back in July of 2023. The park is in Northern Washington, near the Northern Cascade Mountains, and situated next to the Skagit river. The 150-mile river flows from southwestern British Columbia through northwestern Washington, draining into Puget Sound.
The area in and around the Northern Cascade Mountains is incredible and the Skagit river is where we fell in love with kayaking. During the weeks we spent there in 2021, you could find us kayaking on the river nearly every single night.
The campground itself is clean and well maintained, the camp hosts are kind and helpful, and the campground is filled with friendly people who are happy to be there.
Plus, I always love a camping spot with a view of the water from our windows.
#5. Glacier National Park, Montana
It almost goes without saying that if you're into camping or RVing, Glacier National Park needs to be on your bucket list.
We would have loved to stay closer to Glacier National Park, but the campgrounds in and near the park didn't have strong enough cell service for us to be able to work while we were there. Having said that, Montana Base Camp was clean, well-maintained, and central to most everything we wanted to do in the area.
Glacier National Park is the kind of place in which you could spend months and not run out of things to do. Highlights for us included kayaking in St. Mary's Lake and riding Going-to-the-Sun-Road on the motorcycle.
#6. Moab, Utah including Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point
Moab is a busy place for a reason. The town is surrounded by rivers, forests, and all the hiking, biking, kayaking, and rock climbing opportunities you could wish for. Moab is also central to other attractions including:
- It's just 5 miles from Arches National Park
- 30 miles from Canyonlands National Park
- 33 miles from Dead Horse Point State Park
There are a wide variety of options for where to stay including full-hookup RV parks, State Parks, and options for dry camping and boondocking.
If you're able to snag a spot, which we haven't managed to do yet, it's hard to beat Devil's Garden Campground within Arches National Park.
We've stayed in several different locations in and around Moab but our two favorites are:
For more about our experience at Dead Horse Point State Park and Arches National Park, check out the November 2021 issue of Let's Get Lost.
#7. The Wedge Overlook at The Little Grand Canyon, Utah
As you might imagine, camping on the edge of a canyon is an experience that's hard to beat.
The Wedge Overlook is a section of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land in Utah that's along the edge of the Little Grand Canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The rough, rocky roads are better suited for smaller rigs than our 43-foot toy hauler, but we were able to score a spot near the entrance with views that could not be beat. A little tight getting in and out, but undeniably WORTH IT.
As with most boondocking spaces, camping spots are primitive, first-come-first-serve, and free. We stayed for 2 weeks and hated to leave.
You can explore the area in a vehicle or on one of the many hiking and biking trails. One of the most spectacular trails weaves along the Canyon's rim.
Also don't miss the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel. Buckhorn Wash is near the northwestern corner of the San Rafael Swell. Along one section of rock cliffs are a series of Pictographs (painted art) and Petroglyphs (art that's been pecked into the rock with stones).
Read more about our experience camping at The Wedge Overlook in the October 2021 issue of Let's Get Lost.
#8. Jug Hollow Dispersed Camping, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Utah
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Wyoming and Utah includes over 207,000 acres of land surrounding the 91-mile-long Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
There are more than 40 campgrounds in the area and several dispersed camping options, including an area called Jug Hollow on the Utah side. We camped here for a week in late March/ early April of 2021. While I have heard that the area gets quite busy during the summer months, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
The road getting into Jug Hollow is quite rough and we had to go very, very slowly. But this was our reward.
#9. Palisade, Colorado
Palisade is located on Colorado's Western Slope, near Grand Junction. The area is well known across the state for its peach orchards and vineyards.
The town of Palisade includes fabulous shops and restaurants, farmer's markets, and endless opportunities to visit local wineries. The area surrounding Palisade is also a popular destination for mountain biking, hiking, rafting, kayaking, jeeping, and rock climbing.
There are two drives near Palisade that are just spectacular.
- The first is through Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. It's a gorgeous place any time of the year, but especially when the leaves are changing in the fall.
- The other incredible drive is through Colorado National Monument. Rim Rock Drive spans about 25 miles and winds around the rim of red canyons with sheer-walled cliffs and incredible views.
We've spent a total of 6 weeks in Palisade over the past 2 years and each time we stayed at Palisade Basecamp.
Fun fact: At some point during our 2021 stay at Palisade Basecamp, they took some aerial photos of the park, and you'll see our rig in the homepage photo. We are on the right side, near the vineyard, fourth from the top.
For more about our experience in Palisade and the surrounding area, check out the October 2021 issue of Let's Get Lost.
#10. Duck Creek RV Resort, Muskegon, Michigan
Duck Creek RV Resort in Muskegon, Michigan is one of the best resort-style RV parks we've stayed at. The park is clean and well-maintained, the sites are large and well-spaced, there's a cafe on site with great pizza and even better ice cream, a lake with a swim beach, a pool, and other activities like putt-putt golf.
There are a lot of great things to do in Muskegon including beaches, bike trails, shops and restaurants, a submarine museum and boat tours.
The town is right on Lake Michigan and central to a lot of other great places to visit including:
- 41 miles to Grand Rapids
- 14 miles to Grand Haven
- 60 miles to Ludington State Park, Michigan's most popular state park
For more about our experience in Muskegon, check out the June 2022 issue of Let's Get Lost.
#11. Indiana Dunes State Park
Indian Dunes is a State Park along the southern coast of Lake Michigan. The park itself is a worthwhile destination that includes miles of shoreline, beautiful campsites, and plenty of hiking and biking trails.
But, the main reason why we've included it on this list is because of its proximity to Chicago. Indiana Dunes is just 45 miles from downtown Chicago. AND, there is a Chicago South Shore Train station just a mile from the park.
For us, this was ideal. We were able to camp in a quiet campground tucked into the woods but also close to the beach and hop on the train and ride into Chicago any time we wished without ever having to deal with traffic or parking.
For more about our experience at Indiana Dunes State Park, including the days we spent in Chicago, check out the June 2022 issue of Let's Get Lost.
#12. Northern Michigan
In 2022, we spent the month of July in Petoskey, Michigan. We stayed at Sun Outdoors Petoskey RV Resort, which is a nice park, but there are plenty of other good options in northern Michigan. So, find the park that works for you.
Petoskey is located on the coast of Lake Michigan and is a fantastic "home base" for exploring all of northern Michigan. There's plenty to do within the town itself, but it's also only...
- 17 miles to Charlevoix
- 60 miles to Traverse City
- 35 miles to Mackinaw City where you can catch the ferry to Mackinac Island or cross the Mackinac Bridge and head into Michigan's Upper Peninsula
We did so many fun things across Northern Michigan that we wrote a whole post about it - Things to Do in Northern Michigan.
#13. Dillon Reservoir, Colorado
If spending some time in a mountain campground near several charming mountain towns with easy access to hiking and biking trails and water sports sounds like your kind of heaven, it's hard to beat Dillon Reservoir in Colorado.
There are 5 campgrounds surrounding Dillon Reservoir. Weather permitting, the campgrounds usually open on Memorial Day weekend and close in early September.
Reserve your space early. This is a popular place to camp in the summer months.
#14. Door County, Wisconsin
Door County is a peninsula in Wisconsin with Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other.
The County includes charming beach towns, orchards and vineyards, sailboats, wooded parks, and golf courses. There are farmer's markets, restaurants, and cafes on every corner, 300 miles of shoreline, and dense forests filled with hiking and biking trails under dappled sunlight.
Door County is home to around 30,000 people but draws over 2 million visitors each year! Having spent a month there in 2022, we understand the appeal. We loved our time in Door County and are likely to go back over and over again.
While we were there, we stayed at Hy-Land Court RV Park and highly recommend it. The campground is divided into two areas that have a completely different feel. One half is located in a forest with all the sites under a canopy of trees. The other half of the campground is in an open, grassy area.
We spent the first three weeks of our stay in a forested spot and the last week in the open area of the campground. Honestly, both areas are appealing for different reasons. I loved being nestled in the forest under a thick canopy of trees. But, it gets kind of dark in the forest and it was nice spending a week in full sunlight.
If a trip to Door County is in your future, we created a list of recommendations for things to do and see while you're there - Things to Do in Door County.
#15. Bryson City, North Carolina and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Bryson City is a small town in North Carolina that's often referred to as the Gateway to Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
We spent 5 weeks in the fall of 2022 at Big Bear’s RV Park in the Deep Creek Valley of Bryson City, which is perfectly situated just a mile from the entrance to the National Park.
Bryson City has a population of around 1500 people and is central to several popular destinations:
- It's just a little over an hour west of Asheville, North Carolina
- It's about two hours from Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee
- It's about three hours from Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In the 5 weeks we spent here, we discovered many fantastic things to do in Bryson City, throughout the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, and in the surrounding areas.
Get all our recommendations for things to do and see in Bryson City and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
#16. The Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota
The Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota include over 5 million acres of mountain land. Throughout the area, you'll find charming mountain towns, endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, and several don't-miss attractions including:
- Mount Rushmore
- The Cathedral Spires of Custer State Park
- The caverns of Wind Cave
- The otherworldly Badlands
- Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder
There are a ton of campgrounds throughout the Black Hills. In 2020 we spent a month at Heartland RV Park in Hermosa, SD, which sits in a valley at the base of the Black Hills. The main advantage to Heartland RV Park was its location. In addition to being next to the Black Hills, it's close to Rapid City and Badlands National Park.
If you'd rather camp in the woods of the Black Hills there is no shortage of options. Two that we recommend are:
#17. Henry's Lake State Park, Idaho
Henry's Lake State Park in Idaho is located near the Wyoming border just 15 miles from Yellowstone National Park. As the name suggests, the park is situated next to Henry's Lake and provides easy access to the lake for fishing, boating, and kayaking.
The park itself is clean and well-maintained, and we took the kayaks out on the lake several times while we were there. But the main attraction of the park is its proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.
Henry's Lake is located:
- Just 15 miles to Yellowstone
- About 100 miles to Grand Teton National Park
There are many options for camping in Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons. But if you're looking for someplace quiet, away from the crowds, with gorgeous lake views, Henry's Lake is a great choice.
In addition to the many hiking and biking opportunities in the area, if you're visiting in the warm summer months, cool off on one of these Grand Teton float trips.
Also, attention wine lovers, you might be surprised to learn that there are many great wineries to visit in Idaho! If a visit to Idaho is in your future, check out this list of the best Idaho wineries and add a few to your itinerary!
#18. Crystal Beach, Texas Gulf Coast
When I started the process of planning our 2023 travel itinerary, I only knew that we wanted to spend the first part of the year somewhere warm(ish) and next to the water. The moment I saw photos of Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas, I was sold.
So, how did we like camping on Crystal Beach? Well, we planned to spend 2 weeks there and ended up staying for 7. Once we got there, we simply didn’t want to leave.
This is boondocking at its best and we wrote an entire post about our experience here including things to do and see and what you need to know to boondock here: Camping on Crystal Beach, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas
#19. Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Surrounding Areas
I grew up in Colorado in a family that had called the state home for 5 generations by the time I came along. Throughout my childhood, I don’t think there was a single summer without at least one visit to Estes Park. It’s a truly charming mountain town in Northern Colorado resting at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The town is also central to Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and less than 90 minutes outside the Denver metro area making it a popular destination for Colorado residents and out-of-state visitors alike.
There’s so much to do and see in Estes Park and the surrounding areas that we wrote a guide: Things to Do in Estes Park. We included information about Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas.
Both of us were born and raised in Colorado and we continue to spend a lot of time there because it's where so many of our friends and family live. The little town of Lyons has become our "Colorado home" during those visits. It's a charming small town just 20 miles from Estes Park, so in the Estes Park guide you'll find our recommendations for things to do and see in Lyons as well.