Being full-time RVers, you can imagine we’re often asked what our favorite destination has been. It’s such a tough question to answer because we’ve fallen in love with many different places for many different reasons. However today we’re going to try and narrow down five years of travel to a list of our Top Ten destinations that we’ve been and why they’re so fantastic. In no particular order:
1. THE FLORIDA KEYS
Being that we mostly stick to the western half of the United States getting to the Florida Keys takes some effort but with so much to offer it’s an area that’s hard to resist. We prefer to stay in the more affordable state park campgrounds, but when those are booked be prepared to pay a premium to stay down here. As you can imagine, beauty abounds in the Keys. We loved paddling in the crystal clear waters at Bahia Honda State Park and snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center in Marathon are great ‘field trips’, and you’ve got to visit the eclectic hub of Key West – there are plenty of shops, beaches, and bars to check out, as well as the Butterfly Conservatory. Just be sure to also catch a sunset at Mallory Square. If possible we recommend bringing bikes with you to Key West or renting scooters!
2. MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA
This has got to be one of the most scenic stretches of coastline in all of California and we consider it a must do if you’ve never been to the area. The city of Monterey feels small and inviting with locally owned businesses and lush landscaping. In the heart of town you’ve got the world class Monterey Bay Aquarium situated in historic Cannery Row. Nearby is the Old Fisherman’s Wharf full of colorful shops and dining options. Then you have all the coastal beauty: Lovers Point Park, 17 Mile Drive, Asilomar State Beach, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and the incredible drive down to Big Sur. We always stay at the Monterey Fairgrounds RV Park which offers a slight discount for their weekly rate – we appreciate that it’s gated overnight and is a pretty easy bike ride to get to the heart of things.
3. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA
In our travels, we’ve visited 24 national parks and hands down our favorite has been Glacier. The views rival what you’d expect to find in Alaska without having to make that massive drive. We recommend visiting when the Going to the Sun Road will be open (typically early July to mid October) because some of the most stunning views and hikes will be found along here. On the west side of the park we loved paddling on Lake McDonald and hiking to Avalanche Lake. On the east side we were amazed by the St. Marys/Virginia Falls hiking trail and the incredible views at Swiftcurrent Lake. On the Going to the Sun Road, we were in awe hiking Piegan Pass and Hidden Lake. Parking can be difficult in this incredibly popular park, so we recommend arriving at most trailheads before 8am, trust us this majestic park is worth the effort!
4. DURANGO, COLORADO
We might not have visited this fantastic city were it not for friends who lived here but it’s such a great area to include in a summer roadtrip. You’ll find fantastic dining options in historic Downtown, there’s a great bike trail that winds along the Animas River, you’ll find several local breweries, and tons of opportunity for outdoor recreation like whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, fishing and more. While here be sure to head up to Fort Lewis College for amazing views of the city and surrounding mountains or hop on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Train for a breathtaking scenic ride to and from Silverton (we still need to do this!). Also, Mesa Verde National Park is just about 40 minutes away. We like to stay in town at the La Plata County Fairgrounds which is right next to the bike path but you can find boondocking further out.
5. MOAB, UTAH
Scenic boondocking, amazing night skies, and incredible hikes? Count us in! Moab is one of those places that has become a tourist mecca, so you’ll definitely encounter crowds here during the high season. If you can visit during the shoulder seasons you’ll have a bit better luck at finding camping and parking. The biggest draw here of course is Arches National Park with it’s amazing trails and scenic views. Hiking to Delicate Arch is a must but you can’t go wrong with any trail. There are also lots of hiking options outside the park, which can be a great way to get away from the crowds. Our favorite was the Corona Arch hike. You might also consider renting a Jeep to explore Moab’s 4x4 trails or head out on a guided rafting trip on the Moab River.
6. STANLEY, IDAHO
Let me start by saying that Idaho completely blew our expectations out of the water and it’s a place we need to spend a lot more time in. Stanley is a small out-of-the-way town who’s population soars in the summertime, so keep that in mind while you plan. There are amazing lakes and rivers, beautiful hiking, and even hot springs, all against the backdrop of the striking Sawtooth Mountains. You might try snagging a campsite at Redfish Lake or check Campendium.com for boondocking options – just know that these could be difficult to come by on the weekends. Cell service can also be hit or miss in this area, making it a more difficult destination for full-time RVers looking to work, but the views and hiking make this a place we will return to again and again. Sawtooth Lake is a 10 mile roundtrip hike and sits high on our list of favorites.
7. SEDONA, ARIZONA
For us, Sedona is all about the hiking but if you love mountain biking or rock climbing you’ll find plenty of options for that as well. The incredible red rock formations greet you at every turn in this picturesque, but incredibly popular city. Parking can be really difficult so we would recommend arriving at trailheads before 8am or trying to go during the week. Some of our favorites from this area are Devil’s Bridge (we hiked this at sunrise), Cathedral Rock, and Seven Sacred Pools. With over 200 hikes listed on AllTrails in Sedona, there’s no doubt you can find some secluded options if you prefer. Boondocking locations can be found on Campendium.com, which is our preferred option.
8. MT. BAKER, WASHINGTON
We only spent a brief two nights at picturesque Baker Lake but we are desperate to make a return trip someday. Not only is the lake gorgeous, it’s a great place to launch a kayak with views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan from the water. There is also incredible hiking in this area. We chose the Park Butte Lookout Hike – which was a bear of a trail clocking 7.2 miles roundtrip and a whopping 2000’ of elevation gain. We also loved finding the delicous gluten-free 5b’s Bakery in nearby Concrete (so good we stopped there twice!). There are also a number of amazing hikes on the north side of Mt. Baker, so if you have the time, we highly recommend a visit to that side as well. We stayed at Horseshoe Cove Campground but FYI there is no cell service available in the area.
9. SOUTHERN OREGON COAST
Some of the most beautiful stretches of Highway 101 can be found between the lovely little coastal towns of Brookings and Gold Beach in Oregon. As you travel north from Brookings you’ll find yourself in the stunning Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Cooridor. There are natural bridges, off-shore sea stacks, tide pools, and beautiful vistas but a lot of it is hidden from view along the forested highway so be sure to allow plenty of time for stops at pullouts and keep an eye on the tide tables so you can make the most of low tide and tide pools. Some of our favorite stops are Chetco Point, Natural Bridges, Secret Beach (only accessible at low tide), Meyers Creek Beach, and Otter Point (definitely no RV parking) but there’s no doubt you’ll find exceptional stops the entire way. We usually prefer to stay at state parks but we found out that some of the RV sites and cabins at Turtle Rock RV Resort have private hot tubs and that made for an exceptional few days.
10. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
It’s incredibly difficult to summarize all the fantastic things to do in a city as vibrant and diverse as this. Some of our favorite things to do include lunch in Old Town, strolling around picturesque Balboa Park, drinks and seafood in Seaport Village, and making a visit to Coronado Island (by car or by ferry) to get amazing views of the San Diego skyline. In nearby La Jolla there is the Birch Aquarium, La Jolla Cove, and walking trails at Torrey Pines Reserve. In Mission Beach there’s Belmont Park or paddling on Mission Bay. The one downside is that many private RV parks have age limits on the rigs they allow, so we always try to stay at the state parks just north of town which are busy but beautiful options.
While there are dozens more amazing places we’ve visited, we love all of these for their sheer beauty and the amount of outdoor recreation they provide. We would LOVE to hear about some of your favorite destintions in the comments below. Happy Trails everyone!