Get Lost On The Best RV Road Trip Routes In The USA

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Few vacations are as iconic as the American RV road trip. Whether you’re looking to get away from it all for two weeks or two months, here are the 6 best RV routes to start planning now.

The memories of my first RV road trip are all positive. I was about 14 years old, school was out for the summer, and dad had just bought a used class A to get some fun family vacations in the books.

There’s just nothing quite like road tripping in an RV. Hitting the road with your big floating fortress, carrying everything you need with you. Using the toilet at 70 mph. You know. RV’ing.

We took our RV down to Florida, and from time to time would take it to races at Road Atlanta or Barber Motorsports Park. Little did I know I had barely seen the tip of the iceberg that is RV road trips in the USA.

The adventures that follow are some of the best the country has to offer. From the breezy beaches of Key West to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean and everything in-between.

  1. Florida On Down: US Hwy 1 To Key West
  2. California Loop Pt. 1: Cruising The Coast
  3. California Loop Pt. 2: The Inland Experience
  4. Oregon’s Pacific Coast Byway
  5. Grand Canyon And Beyond: Southwest Parks Loop
  6. The Montana Classic RV Road Trip

How To Choose An RV Road Trip Route

El Capitan in Yosemite – Photo by Paula Solloway

Before we break into the routes themselves, let’s get a quick disclaimer out of the way: Most RV owners will need to plan a route out in advance rather than solely rely on GPS to navigate between stops.

That’s because for some of the destinations below (like Glacier National Park), there are strict size and weight restrictions on certain access roads that prohibit larger rigs from entering.

And if I’m being honest, even if certain roads didn’t have restrictions, you still wouldn’t want to drive anything over a smaller class B on them.

Tight, twisting mountain roads, unmaintained forest service roads, and even some railroad crossings can pose a threat to rigs with longer wheelbases and extended rear ends. Don’t be that rube who held up traffic for two hours trying to squeeze a 40-foot rig around a rocky cliff.

Trace your route on a map and read through the vehicle restrictions on the websites of any national parks you’ll visit.

Speaking of parks, you’ll also want to decide whether you’ll be staying in a dedicated RV park or choosing to boondock at each stop.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, boondocking is essentially parking your RV in a wilderness area without any hookups or amenities like showers and restrooms. Basically treating your camper like a big ol’ luxurious tent. Boondocking is a great way to experience nature: Just you, your campmates, and a quiet piece of land well off the beaten path.

Ok enough of that… Let’s hit the road.

1. Florida On Down: US Hwy 1 To Key West

Overseas Highway – Photo by Chase Baker

If you’re not familiar with US Highway 1 (a.k.a. The “Overseas Highway”), you’re in for a treat.

Long miles on the interstate can get tedious. Long miles surrounded by emerald green and blue water (broken up by the occasional small island town), could go on forever as far as we’re concerned.

US Hwy 1 begins at the southern tip of Florida and extends (over the ocean) for 113 miles, hopping from island to island starting with Key Largo and running all the way down to your destination, the infamous Key West.

Set up your rig in any one of the local RV parks or campgrounds and get ready to do some exploring. Warm breezes, swaying palm trees, and pastel-colored homes line every street. There’s a ton to see and do, but relax: You’re on island time now.

Distance:

268 Miles

The Ideal RV Road Trip For…

Anyone in need of a tropical getaway they can access via RV. We recommend planning to stay in Key West for at least a full week to get your fill of frozen drinks and ocean breezes. Add a few extra days if you want to explore the Everglades on your way down or back.

Key Stops Ideas

Hemingway House: It’s the most popular tourist attraction in Key West, and worth dedicating a few hours to for an afternoon tour. Walk around the breezy veranda, get a look into Hemingway’s own writing room, envy his luxurious backyard pool, and spend time with some six-toed cats.

Hemingway House – Photo by Graeme Crouch

Dry Tortugas National Park: Located roughly 70 miles offshore from Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is home to some of the best fishing, snorkeling, and boating opportunities in the country. You’ll need to catch a ride on the Yankee Freedom Ferry to get there (thrill seekers can also charter a seaplane), but once you’ve arrived you’ll have no shortage of things to do.

Fort Jefferson – Photo by July Day

Anything on a sailboat: No RV road trip to the Florida Keys is complete without spending some amount of time on a sailboat. Whether you charter a snorkeling trip, go fishing, or just want to do some exploring of the surrounding islands, make time to go sailing at least once.

Sailboat in Key West – Photo by Jonathan Wheeler

2. California Loop Pt. 1: Cruising The Coast

Big Sur – Photo by Nathan Dumlao

California is the third-largest state in the country, and happens to have the third-longest coastline as well behind Alaska and Florida.

That means you’ve got 840 miles of sandy beaches, ocean views, and coastal towns to explore before you can say you’ve seen it all.

The beautiful thing about a California coast RV road trip is that you can turn it into whatever you want depending on where you choose to stop.

Want to see the best of California’s famous coastal cities? Start in San Diego and work your way up through the beautiful beaches of Orange County, explore Los Angeles, then motor on up the coast until you hit the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fancy a little more natural beauty and outdoor recreation? The central coast from Ventura up to Monterey is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the world and is packed full of great spots to camp, hike, swim, and paddle in places like Big Sur and El Capitan State Beach.

And, of course, if you’ve got the time or the inclination, you can add another week or two to your trip and connect to the Oregon Coastal loop in the list below.

Distance:

900+ miles

The Ideal RV Road Trip For…

How much time ya got? I’d give this one at least three weeks if not a full month. A few days in each major city, and five or more in the parks. Reservations will be your main challenge to work around, so this one will definitely take some serious planning ahead of time.

Key Stops Ideas:

Big Sur: Big Sur is hands-down my favorite place in the world. There’s just nothing quite like the elemental beauty of this pristine stretch of California coastline. There are a few different sites you can park an RV, so finding a spot shouldn’t be an issue as long as you make a reservation ahead of time. I’d plan on spending at least five nights here, but you could easily do several weeks and discover something new every day.

Big Sur – Photo by Spencer Davis

San Francisco: It’s crowded, it’s expensive, and its streets aren’t exactly RV-friendly, but exploring San Francisco on foot or with your tow-behind is a must. Prouse the thrift stores in the Haight-Ashbury, eat fresh-caught seafood for lunch in Fisherman’s Wharf, and catch a show at the historic Fillmore concert venue.

Golden Gate Bridge – Photo by Joseph Barrientos

Redwood National and State Park: Redwood allows RVs, but limits vehicles to between 24 and 28 feet long depending on which of the three campgrounds you’re considering. Their RV spots don’t have hookups, and will absolutely require a reservation. Still, if you can work a few days in Redwood into your itinerary, few places offer such a direct and rewarding connection to nature, and a chance to glimpse the tallest trees in the world is not to be missed.

Giant tree in Redwood National and State Park – Photo by Andrew Jenkins

3. California Loop Pt. 2: The Inland Experience

Half Dome in Yosemite – Photo by Tomas Nevesely

California might be most famous for its laid-back coastal charms, but some of its greatest treasures are waiting to be found about 100 miles inland.

This RV road trip is all about linking together some of the countries most unique natural wonders for weeks of exploration that are as scenic as they are varied.

Starting from the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park, this route skips along from there to the barren beauty of Death Valley National Park. Once you’ve had your fill of the hottest place on the planet, it’s time to move on up to the cooler temperatures and lush vegetation of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.

Round out a few weeks of playing in the dirt with the pristine views and creature comforts of Lake Tahoe. Put your feet up at one of the RV resorts on the southern end, or just drive right across the state line into Nevada and spend a few nights at one of the popular casino resorts.

Distance:

900+ miles

The Ideal RV Road Trip For…

You should spend at least three nights each in every park on this route, and more than that if you’ve got the time. It’s an epic trek, so give yourself at least three weeks to a month on the road to get the most of it.

Key Stops Ideas:

Joshua Tree National Park: Whether you start or end this National Park parade in Joshua Tree is up to you, but don’t you dare skip it. RV camping in Joshua Tree feels like camping on another planet. The views are quiet and expansive, the boulder-scattered landscape is surreal, and the stars you’ll see above your nightly campfire are like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

RV in Joshua Tree National Park – Photo by Valdimir Haltakov

Sequoia National Park: Redwoods National Park may have the world’s tallest tree, but Sequoia is home to the biggest. Trust me, pictures of “General Sherman” just don’t it justice. There’s a ton to explore in Sequoia, but honestly just being humbled by standing at the 37-foot-wide base of a 2,500-year-old tree is worth the price of admission.

Giant Sequoia – Photo by Andrew Jenkins

Yosemite National Park: You could easily spend a month in Yosemite and have barely scratched the surface of all this place has to offer. Endless miles of hiking trails, countless freshwater swimming holes to be discovered, and all the rock-climbing you can stand are just a few of the experiences Yosemite has on offer.

Yosemite Valley – Aniket Deole

4. Oregon’s Pacific Coast Byway

What about some RVing on Cannon Beach? – Photo by Jake Blucker

Didn’t quite get enough epic West Coast views on your way up from California? Why stop there?

This nearly 400-mile stretch of US Hwy 101 snakes along the coast of Oregon, taking short breaks between breathtaking views of coastline and lush farmland to dip into quaint beach and fishing towns you’re sure to love.

The rugged Oregon coast has something for everyone. Watch skilled captains navigate the hectic waters of the Columbia River Bar, spend lazy days on beautiful beaches, or try your hand at guided fly fishing trips.

Distance:

363 miles

The Ideal RV Road Trip For…

Oregon’s Pacific Coast Byway is an ideal quick six-day getaway, or a great option to extend trips coming from California or Washington. Plan to stay a night or two at each point of interest, and try to resist the urge to plant permanent roots in Cannon Beach if you’ve got obligations back home.

Key Stops Ideas:

Cannon Beach: It’s recognized as one of National Geographic’s 21 Best Beaches in the World, and also made their list of “The World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places.” Take in the majesty of Haystack Rock, the colorful biodiversity of the nearby tidepools, or head into town to check out local restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

Cannon Beach – Photo by Mario Bono

Yaquina Bay: Home to the historic Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, this picturesque stretch is famous for its wildlife viewing which includes everything from herds of barking sea lions to seasonal whale watching. 

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse – Photo by David Banning

Port Orford: As the southernmost town on your Oregon RV road trip, Port Orford is the ideal spot to set up camp and unwind for a few days. Do some cycling on the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway, watch the seals play in Port Orford Heads State Park, or try your hand at fly fishing in one of the town’s several nearby rivers and creeks.

Port Orford – Photo by Tim Mossholder

5. Grand Canyon And Beyond: Southwest Parks Loop

RVing in Moab – Photo by Dino Reichmut

Majestic views, epic hikes, and impossible rock formations carved by time over thousands of years are just a few of the experiences you’ll find on this essential RV road trip.

The American Southwest is a unique landscape that is perfect for exploring from your home base on wheels. You’ll love breaking up the buzzing excitement of thousands of tourists with the peaceful highway stretches between each of these world-famous destinations.

This trip starts exploring around Grand Canyon National Park before heading north through the rugged beauty of Kaibab National Forest and up into Zion National Park. Once you’ve gotten all the outdoor recreation you can stand in Zion, you’ll push on through Dixie National Forest, pass over the sweeping canyonlands of Utah, and land in Arches National Park just outside of Moab.

Complete the loop whenever you’re ready by headed back toward the Grand Canyon, following the winding highway through Monticello and taking in all the expansive desert views your heart can stand as you skirt around the Oljato Monument Valley.

Distance:

900+ miles

The Ideal RV Road Trip For…

I’d give this one at least three weeks. You’ll want to spend a full week around the Grand Canyon, and (depending on how much you like to hike) about the same for Zion. Bryce Canyon is a shorter stop, and personally I could spend a decade in Moab exploring the biking and offroading trails.

Key Stops Ideas:

Moab: Arches National Park is one of the most popular in the country, so both its camping spots and viewing areas fill up fast, especially over weekends. Consider breaking up your time at Arches by exploring the city of Moab. This is an offroad mecca, and a great place to explore via Jeep, dirtbike, mountain bike, or white water raft!

Arches National Park – Photo by Tom Gainor

Hell’s Backbone Road: If you’re in a compact rig like a campervan or a smaller class C, consider mixing up this RV trip with a scenic detour on your way to Arches National Park. Hell’s Backbone is a 35 mile stretch of gravel road that is widely considered the most scenic in the state. Check the weather before you go though. You should only attempt this when the skies are clear and the ground is good and dry.

Hells Backbone – Photo by Chad J Stokes

Sedona: Located just two hours south of Grand Canyon National Park, consider breaking up your time in the area with a night or two in Sedona. The landscape around this city is something you’ve just got to experience for yourself, whether on one of the cities open air tour busses or on foot through hundreds of miles of hiking trails that wind up through the surrounding hills.

Sedona’s Sunset – Photo by Bob Serup

6. The Montana Classic RV Road Trip

Yellowstone – Photo by Nicolas In Travel

It’s almost a rite of passage in the RV traveler’s realm:

Linking two of the country’s most iconic and beautiful destinations, both of which happen to be in Montana.

The Montana Classic RV trip begins in what is arguably the most iconic National Park in the world: Yellowstone National Park. The majesty of Yellowstone’s geologic features (Old Faithful Geyser, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone) is rivaled only by the wildlife itself. Grey Wolves, Grizzly Bears, Moose, Bison, and Wolverines are just a few of the species you’ll want to see (but not touch) during your stay in the park.

Just when you think you’ve had your fill of natural beauty, it’s time to get back on the road and head north to Glacier National Park. Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must-see here, but remember to check the restrictions we mentioned earlier before trying to drive your rig through the park.

If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like two weeks in pristine National Parks to boost your spirit of adventure, so consider adding a third week to your itinerary and heading on up north to Alberta to take in all that is Banff National Park as well.

Distance:

368-653 miles

The Perfect RV Road Trip For:

Two-three weeks. These are both massive, beautiful destinations, and you’ll need about a week in each. If you’ve got more time (and a valid U.S. passport) you’ll be too close to the Canadian border to skip driving up into Banff National Park.

Key Stops Ideas:

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Look, Yellowstone National Park is huge. Over 2.2 million acres if you want to get specific. You’re going to want to see everything, and you absolutely should… BUT… If you don’t see anything else, make sure you see this epic series of waterfalls crashing through a glorious canyon. This one puts the Grand Canyon to shame in my book.

Waterfall in Yellowstone Grand Canyon – Photo by Vicky T.

Going-to-the-Sun Road: Chances are you won’t be able to drive your RV up this epic mountain pass, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip Going-to-the-Sun Road. Book yourself a guided tour and leave the driving to someone else so you can enjoy the views.

Going-to-the-Sun Road – Photo by James Hunter

The Icefields Parkway: If you do choose to head up to Alberta, don’t miss the chance to drive along the Icefields Parkway, taking in striking mountain views of the Canadian Rockies jutting up from emerald-green glacial lakes. You’re going to want to pull over more times than you can count, and you absolutely should.

Glaciers Lake
Glaciers Lake – Photo by Joshua Woroniecki

The Bottom Line

The USA is as defined by its diverse cities as it is by its emblematic national and state parks. An RV is the perfect vessel to see it all. Part rugged camper, built for respite in even the wildest places. Part luxury accommodation, filled with as many amenities and modern conveniences as you please.

If adventure is what you seek, we recommend splitting your search between both cities and parks along the way.

Photo by Tim Wilson

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