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For many families, summer is prime time when it comes to RV trips. The weather’s warm, the kids are home from school, and it’s the perfect time to go camping. If you’re planning a summer RV trip this year, here are our picks for the best places to visit.
Channel Islands National Park
If your favorite thing about being outdoors is spotting wildlife, consider visiting Channel Islands National Park this summer. This park is located off the Ventura coast of California and offers beautiful scenery and plenty of activities for visitors. But even more notable are its 2,000 species of plants and animals, including some that aren’t found anywhere else on earth. (Be on the lookout for the island fox, a smaller relative of the gray fox that only lives on the Channel Islands!)
You'll be able to hike, kayak, and snorkel in and between the five islands that make up this scenic park. Channel Islands National Park is also one of the top spots in the world for whale watching, which is best in late summer and early fall.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oregon, and for good reason. It’s full of natural beauty, and summer is the only practical time to visit due to the park’s elevation and weather patterns!
Every year, thousands of visitors come to see the dramatic scenery and unique geology of Crater Lake and the surrounding area. The lake itself is one of the deepest on earth, as it formed after a volcano erupted, creating a caldera. The clear blue waters of the lake are a stunning sight, but while you’re there, you can also take advantage of the hiking, fishing, camping, and stargazing in the area.
Glacier National Park
There are a lot of reasons to put Glacier National Park on your summer bucket list, but here’s the most significant: some scientists predict that by 2030, all of the glaciers in this park will have melted.
On a less dire note, Glacier National Park is a must-visit destination known for its beautiful scenery, particularly along Going-to-the-Sun Road. With towering mountains, stunning waterfalls, and abundant wildlife at every turn, it's no wonder that this park sees millions of visitors every year. You'll find plenty of opportunities for fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing, but if you want to go when the weather is at its best, be sure to visit in July or August.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park is one of the country’s newest national parks—it was added to the National Park System in 2019. It’s also one of the smallest national parks, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on things to see and do. The park has more than 15 miles of trails, so hikers can explore the various ecosystems present in the park. If you want to take things at a slower pace, the expansive sandy beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. It’s a great place for a first camping trip!
Be sure to visit Mount Baldy, a sand dune that rises an impressive 126 feet above sea level!
Sequoia National Park
With towering sequoia trees, majestic mountains, and an abundance of wildlife, Sequoia National Park in Central California offers visitors a chance to connect with nature in a deeper way.
Although it’s famous as the home to some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees, Sequoia National Park is also full of scenic drives. Traverse the 32.5-mile Generals Highway and see Native American pictographs, Mount Whitney, and Beetle Rock, which offers panoramic views of the area. Don’t miss General Sherman, the iconic 275-foot tall, 25-foot diameter sequoia.
Voyageurs National Park
Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Voyageurs National Park is a piece of unspoiled wilderness located in northern Minnesota that boasts of 900 islands and 30 lakes. This makes it an ideal destination for anyone who loves being on or near the water.
Fishing, kayaking, and canoeing aren’t all there is to do at Voyageurs National Park, though. It’s also one of the best places to go stargazing in the United States, and its lush forests are home to over 240 bird species and an array of wildlife, from wolves to moose and bald eagles.
The Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota
Want to try boondocking? This area of South Dakota is an excellent place for it! While South Dakota may not have been on your radar for an RV expedition, don’t sleep on this beautiful region of the country, which is home to towering mountains, meandering rivers, vast prairies, and plenty of history.
Don’t miss Mount Rushmore when you’re there, and also be sure to visit Devil’s Tower, Custer State Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Take a short trip to Wall Drug so you, too, can stick a Wall Drug bumper sticker on the back of your RV.
Acadia National Park
Few places in the United States can rival Acadia National Park when it comes to natural beauty. Located off the Atlantic Coast in Maine, Acadia is home to 158 miles of hiking trails, a range of natural habitats, and a rugged, rocky coastline. While summer is the busiest time of year here, it’s worth braving the crowds to experience this national park at its peak.
Although it’s one of the smaller national parks, there’s no shortage of things to do, from hiking and biking to kayaking and fishing. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a place to relax and recharge, Acadia National Park fits the bill.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is well-known as one of America's favorite scenic drives. This 469-mile road winds through the Appalachian Mountains, providing stunning views at every turn, including some of the oldest mountains on the planet, rushing waterfalls, forests as far as the eye can see, and both Shenandoah and Smoky Mountain National Parks.
There’s also an abundance of things to do in the area, from the Biltmore Estate and the vibrant downtown area of Asheville to the Monticello estate in Charlottesville to rafting, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. There are dozens of campgrounds along the Blue Ridge Parkway that can accommodate RVs, and we recommend making a few stops along the way to make the most of your trip!
Banff and Jasper National Parks
Plan a summer RV trip north of the border and visit Banff and Jasper National Parks, two of Canada's most popular tourist destinations. Both parks offer miles of hiking trails and breathtaking views, but the area is best known for the pristine waters of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Parks Canada operates campground accommodations at both Banff and Jasper National Parks, with opportunities for backcountry and frontcountry camping. We recommend bringing bikes if you’re visiting Jasper National Park so you can take advantage of its bike trails!
Grand Tetons National Park
Yellowstone gets so much attention that many visitors to Wyoming overlook nearby Grand Tetons National Park and Jackson Hole. If your family can’t decide between outdoor recreation and urban adventure, the Jackson area is the perfect compromise—there’s history, culture, and fine dining in the City of Jackson and a wide array of outdoor activities in and around Grand Tetons National Park.
Whitewater rafting is terrific in the Snake River, but you can also enjoy a more relaxing jaunt down the river with a scenic float tour. The area is known for its fly fishing, wildlife watching, hiking, and horseback riding, and Jackson is also home to some well-known championship golf courses.