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24 Most Scenic Places to Camp in the United States

From the piney woods of Maine to the sandy beaches of Florida, here's where to enjoy the great outdoors.

epic camping trips

You may be wondering, "What are the best places to camp near me?" One of the greatest things about traveling around the U.S. is that from coast to coast, there's really no shortage of beautiful places to camp. Nature lovers can enjoy fresh air, glorious mountains, and clear lakes and streams during a weekend (or longer) camping trip. Not only can you set up a tent at these picturesque locations, they also come with plenty of picnic areas, hiking trails , and ample opportunities for fishing, swimming, and other outdoor activities in the great wide wilderness. From scenic forests in Maine to peaceful beaches in Florida and majestic mountains in Alaska, these are some of the most beautiful places to camp in the U.S.

Many of these parks have distinct, built-up campgrounds to choose from with features like running water and electricity for RV parking that are ideal if you're planning a road trip . More experienced and outdoorsy types can also find plenty of spots for backcountry camping, where they can really rough it in the wild. Either way, don't forget to bring your sleeping bag and check the website to make sure your desired campground is open before you head out — lots of these sites are only open seasonally after all.

Also be aware that most of the campgrounds and national parks on this list are home to wild bears, whether black, brown, or grizzly. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings, read up on bear safety before you go, and take extra precautions — like locking up your food carefully and keeping some bear pepper spray handy — while you're there.

Acadia National Park, Maine

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Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is the Pine Tree State's natural jewel. The park boasts nearly 50,000 acres of forests, 24 lakes and ponds, and 158 miles of hiking trails, offering a scenic backdrop for all your adventures. You'll also find five campgrounds to set up your tent: Blackwoods (close to Bar Harbor), Seawall (less touristy), Schoodic Woods (situated on the Schoodic Peninsula), Duck Harbor (located on Isle au Haut and only reachable from the mainland by mailboat) and Wildwood Stables (available to guests with stock animals only). Reserve campsites online ahead of time up to 60 days in advance. All campgrounds close seasonally during the winter, though they reopen in May for spring, summer, and fall camping.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire and Maine

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If you're up for a rugged hike, look no further than the northernmost section of the Appalachian Valley, located near the start of the Appalachian Trail (or the end, depending on which direction you're hiking). The sights in White Mountains National Forest are particularly magical during the fall when leaf-peeping season is at its peak. Here, you'll find several campgrounds and cabins , from fully developed campsites fit for families to stark backcountry spots better suited to those who enjoy wilderness camping. The Barnes Field and Hancock campgrounds are open year-round — Barnes Field sites must be reserved ahead of time from mid-May to mid-October but are available on a first come, first served basis during the winter, while group sites at the Hancock campground can be booked anytime.

Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York

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Just 94 miles from New York City, Minnewaska State Park Reserve sits on Shawangunk Ridge more than 2,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by rocky terrain. That's a lot of space to hike, bike, and — especially — enjoy the view. Reservations for the Sam F. Pryor III Shawangunk Campground can be made online starting each year in March, as it's closed during the winter months. There are 50 tent sites (24 walk-in sites and 26 drive-in sites), as well as five car-camping sites, and amenities such as Wi-Fi, coin-operated showers, and communal fire pits and picnic pavilions.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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About a 90-minute drive from Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park offers more than 500 miles of trails, including the popular but strenuous 9.4-mile trek up Old Rag Mountain that's a must-do for avid hikers (book your day-use ticket ahead of time online). This glorious park, spread out over 199,200 acres, offers plenty of views of lush forests and waterfalls. Its facilities are open in the spring, summer, and fall, and there are five campgrounds to choose from. Note that while most campsites can be reserved online up to six months ahead, you must actually be there to book one of the first come, first served campsites — people tend to book long weekend stays starting on Thursday or Friday, so plan your trip accordingly. Text SHENCAMP to 888777 for the latest updates on first come, first served campsite availability.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

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The Assateague Island National Seashore campgrounds are about nine miles south of Ocean City, Maryland, with 37 miles of beaches for camping, swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, crabbing, biking, kayaking, and spotting wild horses. Though Assateague Island National Seashore is located in both Maryland and Virginia, camping is only available on the Maryland side. Campers are not allowed to bring in firewood from outside Maryland, and if you're bringing any furry friends along, you'll need to ensure they're up to date on all their shots and sign a pet policy agreement. Campsites can be reserved ahead of time online from mid-March to mid-November and most come with picnic tables and a fire ring.

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

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You can have one of the world's largest barrier reefs right outside your tent when you go camping at Dry Tortugas National Park , located just off the coast of Key West in South Florida. Campers can rent snorkel gear, spend their days relaxing on the beach, or check out Fort Jefferson , a 19th-century fortress used by the Union army to blockade Confederate shipping channels during the Civil War. This area is also great for stargazing at night and bird-watching during the day, so pack a pair of binoculars. All campers are advised to plan ahead and bring everything they'll need (including tents, fresh water, ice, food, and fuel), carry out all trash, and book their ferry transportation from Key West as early as possible, as tickets tend to sell out months in advance.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

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If you're looking for a great place to go rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, Big Bend National Park along the Rio Grande in Texas is an excellent choice. There are also trails along the park's desert, mountain, and river landscapes for hiking or backpacking. You'll find three developed campgrounds (Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood), an RV camping area, and plenty of opportunities for backcountry camping. All require advance reservations, while backcountry permits are required for river trips and approved backcountry use at the park's primitive sites.

Ozark–St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas

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Arkansas has loads of countryside that is often overlooked. In the Ozark–St. Francis National Forests , you'll find 1.2 million acres of recreational space, home to nine beaches, many lakes and streams, and more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails. Campers can choose between a number of developed campgrounds for RV and tent camping, some of which, including Cove Lake, Redding, and the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area, are open year-round. Other campgrounds, such as Long Pool, Storm Creek, Shores Lake, and Lake Wedington, are open seasonally from May through October. Primitive camping within the five wilderness areas is also permitted — just remember to bring some water (or a water filtration device) and leave no trace.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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Don't underestimate the beauty of the Badlands . The climate may be rough, but it's still gorgeous. Between the many rock formations you'll see throughout Badlands National Park , you'll also find prairies and places to peek at ancient fossils. There are two campgrounds within the park. The first, Cedar Pass, offers 96 campsites, scenic views of the various rock formations, and amenities such as running water and electricity. The other, Sage Creek, is a smaller campground with 22 first come, first served sites and no running water, although you can usually see the bison wandering around.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho

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The steep Smoky Mountains offer stunning views, reminiscent of something out of a Bob Ross painting. There are dozens of campgrounds throughout this 756,000-acre wood, but one of the best spots is Sawtooth National Recreation Area . It's a fantastic place to go hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, rafting, boating, trekking, or cycling, and just get back to nature. While half the sites are available on a first come, first served basis, reservations can be made online ahead of time, with camping season taking place each year from late-May to mid-September.

Glacier National Park, Montana

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There are 13 developed campgrounds and more than 1,000 sites so you can stay and bask in the beautiful views of Montana's magnificent Glacier National Park . Hikers can also enjoy more than 700 miles of trails through forest, meadow, and mountain terrains. Several of Glacier National Park's campgrounds are available on a first come, first served basis , while others require advance reservations . Check the website to see which of them will be open if you plan on doing some wintertime wilderness camping; otherwise, the main camping season happens spring through fall each year.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

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Just north of Jackson Hole, you can peek at the Rocky Mountains and see plenty of wildlife and lakes. Grand Teton National Park is also located next to the National Elk Refuge , where you can spot hundreds of elk, depending on when you go. While you can stay at one of the six campgrounds inside the national park, Signal Mountain in particular has the best reviews. An RV park and a village with tent cabins are also available should you prefer something beyond traditional tent camping. Whatever you do, reserve as far ahead as you can, since online reservations for campsites open up to six months in advance and tend to fill up quickly. Keep an eye out for roaming bison, mule deer, and moose, as well as the occasional bear.

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, Colorado

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With more than 3,000 miles of trails and three million acres of public land, you're guaranteed a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains in Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests . You'll see a variety of landscapes among the 59 campsites, including open meadows, evergreen forests, mountains, and lakes. Most are open seasonally, while a select few stay open all year long — check the website for road conditions beforehand if you plan to camp during the winter months.

Arches National Park, Utah

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Nothing beats waking up on a cold morning to see fresh, white snow set against the red rocks of Arches National Park . One of the park's most popular hikes, the Delicate Arch Trail , takes you on an amazing trek full of photo opportunities. Note that Arches only has one campground, The Devils Garden , which offers a modest 51 campsites, although there are other places to camp nearby in the Moab area . Due to its size and the number of people who visit the park during the busier months, reservations are required for stays between March 1 and October 31 — campsites are available on a first come, first served basis from November to February.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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Located about a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas within Valley of Fire State Park , the Arch Rock Campground is a quiet camping oasis surrounded by dramatic red sandstones. One of just two campgrounds inside the park, Arch Rock offers 29 sites that are open during the busier months (spring through fall), while the other, the Atlatl Rock Campground, has 44 sites and is open year-round. All sites are first come, first served. Established in 1935, the park is home to 2,000-year-old petroglyphs, curious rock formations, and gorgeous vistas featuring its signature red sandstone.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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There's no place like the Grand Canyon if you want a stunning view. Reservations are recommended for two of the three developed campgrounds during the summer. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit. While the South Rim is easier to get to, it can get a little crowded. For a more secluded stay, try the North Rim . Just be aware that it'll take about four more hours to reach it from Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. There's a reason it's called the Grand Canyon, and you'll need to drive a little over 200 miles to reach the opposite side. Also note that North Rim campgrounds are only open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October, while several sites along the South Rim are open year-round, including the Mather Campground and Trailer Village in South Rim Village. Two other South Rim spots, Desert View and Ten–X, are only open seasonally from mid-April to mid-October and mid-May through September, respectively.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

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Keep in mind that timed entry reservations are required for anyone who wants to enter Carlsbad Caverns National Park . While most ranger-guided tours at Carlsbad Caverns National Park remain temporarily suspended due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you can book a spot on the 1.5-hour King's Palace Tour , which offers a look at the unique rock formations found inside the cavern, such as helictites, soda straws, and draperies, among others. The park is also a great place to spot bats in the caves in late summer and early fall. Note that only backcountry camping is available within the park, and every camper is required to secure a permit from the park's visitor center upon arrival (camping facilities and other accommodations can be found seven miles away in Whites City or 20 miles away in Carlsbad). Be sure to ask about the park's seasonal Bat Flight Programs and Night Sky Programs while you're at the visitor center, as these only happen at certain times of the year.

Olympic National Park, Washington

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There's nothing like camping next to this beautiful coastline, marked by several sea stacks. Olympic National Park has 14 different campgrounds, some next to the ocean and others in the rain forest, so you can enjoy a variety of landscapes. Check the Campground Status page on the park's website before you go to see if there are any seasonal or weather-related closures. While most are first come, first served, you can reserve a spot ahead of time online during the summer at the Mora, Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch, and Fairholme campgrounds, as well as the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort RV Park & Campground and Log Cabin Resort RV & Campground.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

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Crater Lake National Park is home to the United State's deepest lake (1,943 feet!) and a sleeping volcano, so there are plenty of photo opportunities for nature lovers. Campers can choose between two campgrounds: Mazama , for RV and tent camping from June to late September, and Lost Creek , which remains closed in 2023 but is normally open from July through mid-October for tents only. And yes, there's also backcountry camping with a permit.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

There are nine campgrounds located throughout Joshua Tree National Park , including Jumbo Rocks , which is known for its big boulder rocks that shelter sites from the wind. It is highly recommended that you book your campsite ahead of time online — especially during the busy season, which happens between November and May, as well as on holidays, weekends, and any spring day — as most of them can be reserved up to six months in advance. Be aware that certain sections of the Cottonwood, Black Rock, and Indian Cove campgrounds may be closed during the summer — those campgrounds as well as Ryan and Jumbo Rocks require reservations year-round, while the others are available on a first come, first served basis.

Yosemite National Park, California

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Everyone who loves nature has to go to Yosemite National Park at some point in their lives, especially for a good camping trip. Nearly 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness, and there are 13 popular campgrounds within its 747,956 acres, as well as backcountry camping for people who really want to rough it. Note that the Tuolumne Meadows Campground is expected to remain closed for renovations through 2023 or possibly 2024 depending on the construction schedule. Visit the campground page on the park's website to learn more about when to make reservations and enter the North Pines Campground early access lottery .

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

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Want to see some of the biggest trees in North America? Look no further than Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks , where you can set up camp among any of 14 scenic campgrounds . Choose from several different areas throughout the parks — Grant Grove Village, the foothills of Sequoia National Park, the Lodgepole and Giant Forest areas, Cedar Grove, and the Mineral King area — and make your reservations in advance. All campgrounds are open spring through fall, while just the South Fork, Potwisha, and Azalea sites are open all year long.

Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii

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Haleakalā National Park is known for its 10,023-foot dormant volcano, which is a great spot for the best views of Maui's natural landscape. Designated campsites are available in the Kīpahulu and Hosmer Grove campgrounds, while additional lodging is available thanks to the park's historic wilderness cabins. Those seeking something a little more natural can try the Hōlua and Palikū primitive wilderness camping areas. No matter what style of camping you're into, you must make reservations ahead of time to camp here throughout the year and are only allowed to stay three nights per 30-day period.

Denali National Park, Alaska

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If you've never been to Alaska, you're missing out, as some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States can be found here. Denali National Park offers 6.1 million acres of land full of wildlife, beautiful trails, and plenty of plants, creeks, and mountains, including Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak. Choose from five established campgrounds — not counting the Wonder Lake campground, which will be closed through 2024 — and be sure to reserve your spot online as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

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25 Badass Backpacking Trips

Not for the faint of heart

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

epic camping trips

There's something about camping in the wilderness that makes us feel tough. We spend a night or two away from our everyday comforts, disconnecting from the modern, technology dependent lives we lead and we reconnect with the rugged explorer inside us. It feels good to know you don't need all that stuff, right? It makes you feel a little more wild. Throw in 20+ miles of hiking before your next night under the stars and you’ll feel like a straight-up badass. 

There are hundreds of treks across the world that will give you that I-can-do-anything feeling - plus bragging rights for the next time you're swapping adventure stories around the campfire. Save yourself some time researching ( use that time to train instead, you're gonna need it!) and check out these badass backpacking trips:

1. Backpack from Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney

Location: California | Distance: 47.5 miles

epic camping trips

Photo: Jeff Driscoll

This is truly a once in a lifetime backpacking trip. Take in the majesty of the High Sierra from the highest summit in the continental United States. Learn more.

2. Hike the Wild Basin’s Ouzel and Ogallala Peak

Location: Colorado | Distance: 20 miles

Hike through isolated, rugged wilderness to panoramic views of Colorado’s Wild Basin, Paradise Park, and Indian Peaks Wilderness. Learn more.

3. Trek in the Swiss Alps

Location: Switzerland | Distance: 68 miles

Explore this iconic landscape full of snowcapped peaks, beautiful alpine lakes, and waterfalls. Hike along the infamous North Face of the Eiger, Jungfra, Monch, and Wetterhorn. Learn more.

4. Backpack Kings Peak

Location: Utah | Distance: 28.8 miles

Summit Utah’s tallest mountain at 13,527 ft. and catch sprawling views of every 13er in the state. Learn more.

5. Backpack the Continental Divide trail in Glacier NP

Location: Montana | Distance: 33.4 miles

Find solitude in Glacier’s backcountry as you explore pristine lakes, gorgeous glaciers, cascading water falls, and impressive mountain peaks. Learn more.

6. Overnight at the Barker Hut

Location: New Zealand | Distance: 29.8 miles

epic camping trips

Photo: Crystal Brindle

New Zealand is home to over 1,000 alpine huts and the Barker Hut is known as one of the very best. As you climb, you’ll be treated to epic views of the peaks, glaciers, and lakes below. Learn more.

7. Backpack the Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton NP

Location: Wyoming | Distance: 38 miles

This incredible trail will take you through canyons, over passes, and around breathtaking mountain scenery. You’ll have amazing views of these famous mountains the entire trip. Learn more.

8. Backpack through Nantahala National Forest vie the Appalachian Trail

Location: North Carolina | Distance: 28 miles

Here’s you chance to tackle a spectacular section of one of the most famous thru hikes in the country, the Appalachian Trail. Learn more.

9. Backpack Desolation’s Primitive Western Edge Through Rockbound Pass

Location: California | Distance: 26 miles

This area of Desloation Wilderness really lives up to its name. Not many hikers venture past the Rockbound Pass so you’ll find total solitude. Learn more.

10. Backpack the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim

Location: Arizona | Distance: 47 miles

With over 10,000 ft. of elevation gain, this has to be one of the more brutal hikes you’ll ever do, but catching sunrise over the Grand Canyon will be worth it. Learn more.

11. Backpack the Full John Muir Trail

Location: California | Distance: 221 miles

If you can find the time to dedicate to the JMT, you’re in for one of the greatest challenges and some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever witness. Learn more.

12. Backpack to Spade and Venus Lakes

Location: Washington | Distance: 28 miles

epic camping trips

Photo: Jason Zabriskie

Explore two of the most remote lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. If you're looking for solitude, you'll find it here. Learn more.

13. Backpack the Lost Coast: Matthole to Black Sands Beach

Location: California | Distance: 24 miles

Spend a few days camping and hiking along the rugged and rocky coast of Northern California. Learn more.

14. Climb Cone Peak in Big Sur (Sea to Sky Route)

Location: California | Distance: 23 miles

Although the summit only reaches 5,155 ft., because it’s only 3 miles from the ocean, the stark rise in altitude provides unbeatable views of the Big Sur area. Learn more.

15. Backpack the Zion National Park Traverse

Location: Utah | Distance: 48.3 miles

Explore the entire width of Zion National Park from narrow canyons, to lush valleys rimmed by red rock, to phenomenal vistas overlooking the best of the park. Learn more.

16. Backpack to Havasu Falls and the Colorado

Location: Arizona | Distance: 20-36 miles

Havasupai’s refreshing pools and misty waterfalls are the ultimate reward for your long hike through the desert. Learn more.

17. Backpack Torres del Paine’s “O” Circuit

Location: Chile | Distance: 70 miles

epic camping trips

Photo: Ian Glass

Take on one of the most iconic backpacking trips in the world and meet people from all over the globe along the way. Learn more.

18. Backpack the Pacific Crest Trail’s Section J: Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie

Location: Washington | Distance: 70 miles

If you really want to be a badass, do the whole PCT. For those of us who don’t have that much time to dedicated to a trek, this section is a good challenge and can be done in five days. Learn more.

19. Backpack around Broken Top

Location: Oregon | Distance: 22.6 miles

Spend a few days hiking through the heart of the Central Oregon Cascades and Three Sisters Wilderness. On clear days, you’ll have views as far as Mount Adams in Southern Washington. Learn more.

20. Backpack the Beartooths via the West Rosebud Trail

Location: Montana | Distance: 21 miles

Bring your fishing gear to stop at one of the five lakes full of trout. If you’re up for it, prepare to hike to the highest point in Montana, also regarded as the hardest summit, Granite Peak (12,808 ft.). Learn more.

21. Hike to McKittrick Ridge Campground

Location: Texas | Distance: 20 miles

epic camping trips

Photo: Andrew Miller

This hike is completely off the grid and leads you through one of the most diverse ecosystems in Texas. Learn more.

22. Backpack Spider Gap to Buck Creek Pass

Location: Washington | Distance: 41 miles

This trip is no easy task, but the effort you put in will result in astounding views of the alpine landscape and amazing wildlife. Learn more.

23. Backpack Scotland’s West Highland Way

Location: Scotland | Distance: 96 miles

Scotland may not be the first place you think of when it comes to epic backpacking trips, but the views on this famous hike will make you think again. Learn more.

24. Hut-to-Hut across Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains

Location: Alaska | Distance: 31 miles

Does five days traversing glaciers, climbing through rocky passes, and sleeping in alpine huts sounds like your kind of good time? Load up your pack and head to Alaska. Learn more.

25. Backpack the Rae Lakes Loop

Location: California | Distance: 46 miles

Let the Giant Sequoias and beautiful views of the Sierras distract you from the burn your legs will feel after four days of 10+ miles of hiking. It’ll all be worth it, we promise. Learn more.

Remember to always pack out what you packed in.

Cover photo: Jason Zabriskie

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.

epic camping trips

Big Bend Bound: Crafting Your 3-Day Adventure

Erin Newman-Mitchell

The unparalleled beauty of the landscapes and mesmerizing dark skies at Big Bend National Park make for an essential bucket list experience. I’ll highlight and recommend some of my favorite things to see and do to help you make the most of your West Texas visit.

epic camping trips

Lake Tahoe's trifecta: 3 Days of adventure at Zephyr Cove

Ranz Navarro

Join us on an exciting three-day journey as we uncover the beauty and excitement of Zephyr Cove Resort, a hidden gem for adventure seekers and nature lovers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

epic camping trips

The perfect 3-day road trip through Lassen Volcanic National Park & Crater Lake National Park

Gwyneth and Amiana Manser

Have you ever dreamt of seeing the volcanoes of the West Coast? Join Gerber Gear for an epic road trip exploring two of California and Oregon’s volcanic national parks!

epic camping trips

A 3-day road trip adventure in Western Rocky Mountain National Park

Nallely Bean

Join us as we explore the side of Rocky Mountain National Park no one ever talks about with the help of Gerber Gear’s More Than Ready Collection.

epic camping trips

8 Amazing national park lakes to explore this Summer

The Outbound Collective

Head to these national park lakes to cool off and enjoy the view.

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The best camping in the United States

We've rounded up the best camping in the United States, from beautiful beachfront stays to mountaintop sites

Rosie Hewitson

From epic hikes to cross-country road trips , outdoorsy getaways are still going strong in 2023. And it’s no surprise, with all that's happening in the world, we're retreating to nature to feel a sense of peace and calm again. So grab your gear, throw on your hiking boots and head off to one of these gorgeous spots to experience the very best camping in the country. Whether you’re looking for glamping spots in New York City , an island stay in Florida , beach getaways in California or a secluded hideout in one of our amazing national parks , our roundup of amazing places to camp offers something for everyone. 

RECOMMENDED:  The dreamiest places to go glamping in the U.S .

An email you’ll actually love

Best camping in the USA

Two Harbors | Catalina Island, CA

1.  Two Harbors | Catalina Island, CA

An hour boat ride off the California coast, Catalina Island boasts summer camp vibes with stunning views (and the chance to see wild buffalos). Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the Two Harbors Campground offers traditional tent camping and cabins with access to showers, toilets, fresh water, picnic tables, BBQs and fire pits. You can even purchase your goods from the Two Harbors General Store and have your items delivered directly to your campsite.

Three Peaks | Governors Island, NY

2.  Three Peaks | Governors Island, NY

Is glamping more your speed? This swanky  facility on Governors Island  has your number. A private water taxi will whisk you away to accommodations like the communal Three Peaks Lodge or a private tent with an en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. And don't expect mere hot dogs here: The on-site chef creates a multi-course, farm-to-table dinner every night. Plus, of course,  there are those unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. 

Kalalau Beach | Kapaʻa, HI

3.  Kalalau Beach | Kapaʻa, HI

The island of Kauai has plenty of incredible campsites, but the campsite at Kalalau Beach is located at the end of a gorgeous 11-mile hike in Na Pali Coast State Park. You'll be rewarded with a waterfall and beach time before you pitch your tent atop cliffs, which offer stunning views of the island's famous coastline. 

Treebones Resort | Big Sur, CA

4.  Treebones Resort | Big Sur, CA

Treebones Resort in Big Sur has a ton of gorgeous camping options, including yurts and a luxury, solar-powered tent, but it's the human bird nest that lands them on this list. Climb the private ladder to the human-size nest, made of eucalyptus branches, and you’ll discover a 180-degree view of the coast. The nest comes equipped with a full-size futon mattress, but you'll need to bring necessities like pillows, sleeping bags and a flashlight.  

North Rim | Grand Canyon, AZ

5.  North Rim | Grand Canyon, AZ

The Grand Canyon might be on everyone's bucket list, but that shouldn't discount the beauty of this natural wonder. If you're camping inside the national park, opt for the North Rim, which is less crowded than the more developed South Rim. Make a reservation via the National Recreation Reservation Service to bask in the quiet and natural splendor of these no-fuss campgrounds. 

Kittatinny Campground | Barryville, NY

6.  Kittatinny Campground | Barryville, NY

The Kittatinny Campground offers 350 secluded campsites nestled in the Catskills Mountains. Set up camp in the thick forest, or adorn your tricorn hat and pitch a tent along the Delaware River (yes, the one George Washington allegedly crossed en route to war). Hop over the river yourself to get to zip lines and paintball at Kittatinny’s Adventure Center. 

Kirby Cove | Marin Headlands, CA

7.  Kirby Cove | Marin Headlands, CA

Situated less than 10 miles northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge, Kirby Cobe's four secluded campsites are famous for their waterfront views overlooking the city. Shaded by Monterey cypress groves, the grounds are within walking distance of a rocky beach, as well as a daytime picnic area. Make sure to look out for the rope swing which usually hangs on the beach if you want some truly epic photos. 

Sage Creek | Badlands Park, SD

8.  Sage Creek | Badlands Park, SD

Don’t be alarmed if you wake up to the sound of bison wandering past your tent, as it’s a regular occurrence at this campground located in Badlands National Park. V ault toilets, picnic benches, and a horse corral are the only amenities that are offered at the rural site, but you will get the chance to watch the prairie turn a golden color at sunset, see prairie dogs pop up from the ground and hear wolves howling at night.

Biscayne Park | Florida Keys, FL

9.  Biscayne Park | Florida Keys, FL

Despite being in sight of downtown Miami, Biscayne National Park feels like another world with amphibians and birds roaming the land and colorful coral and fish lurking just below sea line.  Biscayne offers two campsites, Elliott Key and Boca Chita Key, both of which are on islands and, therefore, only accessible by boat. You’ll need to bring your own drinking water, but toilets are available. As for showers, those will have to wait until you’re back home.

Assateague State Park | Assateague Island, MD

10.  Assateague State Park | Assateague Island, MD

This island has it all: beach camping, swimming, surfing, crabbing, kayaking and, oh yeah, tons of wild horses just roaming the grounds. With 37 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of beachfront campgrounds to go around. Just note that Assateague Island has both a state park and a national park. If you want a warm shower, then camp at the state park campground. And don't forget to lock up your food if you don't want the horses to ransack your tent. 

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epic camping trips

by Mountain House September 06, 2019

10 Epic Backpacking Trips to Take in the US

The United States has no shortage of fantastic backpacking routes in virtually every corner of the country. They include, of course, some of the best-known long-distance hiking trails in the world, including the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. In this roundup of some of the very best backpacking adventures in the country, we’re only including one of the formally designated National Scenic Trails and otherwise focus on shorter, but no less spellbindingly beautiful routes.

Take it from us: A Mountain House meal tastes delicious amid the backcountry scenery of any of the following multi-day traverses!

(1) The Presidential Traverse (New Hampshire)

This famous trek follows the up-and-down crest of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains—the highest peaks in the Northeast—bagging all the summits named for U.S. presidents along the way. In cresting Mounts Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce, you’ll cover some 23 miles and tackle roughly 9,000 cumulative feet of elevation gain, and soak up some of the best views in the East. While some try to bang out the Presidential Traverse in one day, two or three days of backpacking, staying in mountain huts along the way, sweetens the experience and lessens (a little) the physical exertion.

Wooden trail signs directing towards Watson Path or Pine Link on top of mountain trail

(2) The Florida Trail (Florida—obviously)

Some 1,000 miles long, the Florida Trail is a unique National Scenic Trail introducing you to the ecological variety and surprising wildness of the Sunshine State. From palm hammocks and bald-cypress swamps to prairies and pinewoods, a full traverse of the Florida Trail shows off the subtropical to downright tropical beauty of this southeastern toe of the country, and offers the chance to glimpse such thrilling wildlife as alligators, wood storks, black bears—maybe even the elusive puma variety called the Florida panther.

(3) Greenstone Ridge, Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

Among the least-visited national parks in the Lower 48, Isle Royale encompasses the biggest island in Lake Superior. The 43-mile-long Greenstone Ridge Trail gives backpackers the chance to walk through the heart of the park and along the very spine of the island, hitting up its high point of 1,394-foot Mount Desor. You’ve got a healthy chance of spotting Isle Royale’s heftiest residents, moose; if the National Park Service’s plans to reboot the island’s naturally dwindled population of wolves go according to plan, you may also enjoy—as many Isle Royale backpackers have in the past—the serenade of throaty howls along the way.

(4) The Thorofare, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

The Thorofare Trail in the far southeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park explores some of the most remote country in the conterminous U.S., following the upper Yellowstone River between the Two Ocean Plateau and the Absaroka Mountains. You can make a 70-mile odyssey by backpacking the Thorofare from the East Entrance Road and then the South Boundary Trail, which leads westward along the (you guessed it) southern boundary of Yellowstone to—finally—blacktop again at the South Entrance. You need to know your way around river crossings and bear safety to tackle this far-flung route through grizzly-roamed wilderness.

River winding through mountain range

(5) The Highline Trail (Utah)

You’ll cover close to 100 miles walking the tundra path of the Highline Trail in the mighty Uinta Mountains, one of the rare west-east ranges in the Western Hemisphere and host to some of the most extensive alpine terrain in the Rockies. No grizzlies here, but plenty of thunderstorm risk—and some absolutely gorgeous high-country panoramas.

(6) Havasu Falls (Arizona)

Hike the 10 miles down to Havasu Falls in the depths of the Grand Canyon, and you’ll experience some of the most otherworldly, dreamily beautiful countryside on the planet. Situated on the lands of the Havasupai (People of the Blue-Green Waters) tribe and accessible to backpackers with a tribal permit, 100-foot Havasu Falls is only the most celebrated of a series of waterfalls in the redrock depths of Havasu Canyon. You’ll brave scorching temperatures and a rugged descent to get here, but Havasu Creek and its falls boast an almost tropical lushness. (Learn more about reserving a permit for a Havasu Falls backpack here , and check out some footage of the area from Devin Supertramp, whose trip we sponsored with Mountain House meals.)

(7) Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier (Washington)

Several of the great Cascade Range stratovolcanoes have designated backpacking trails circumambulating them, the highest-profile of which loops around the biggest volcano of them all: the Wonderland Trail circling 14,411-foot Mount Rainier. Most hikers take the better part of two weeks to make the full 93-mile journey, which offers dazzling up-close looks at the different faces of mighty Tahoma and immersion in the glorious timberline meadowlands and subalpine forests below the icy edifices of this glacier-blanketed volcano.

(8) Lost Coast Trail (California)

Roughly 60 miles long, the Lost Coast Trail offers backpackers the opportunity to experience one of the wildest oceanfronts in the Lower 48, where the high and rugged King Range has kept the aptly named Lost Coast roadless and primal. The hiking is not easy—tiring beach slogs and up-and-down slope traverses—but the rewards immense: Northern California temperate rainforest, elk and gray whales, spectacular sunsets .

Person and dog both carrying packs hiking trail by ocean beach

(9) John Muir Trail (California)

Easily one of the most celebrated mountain footpaths in the world and definitely a legendary backpacking bucket-list item, the roughly 214-mile-long John Muir Trail—which partly shares the same route as the Pacific Crest Trail—serves as a stunning introduction to the alpine glories of the High Sierra. It links Yosemite National Park in the north to Kings Canyon-Sequoia, where the southern terminus is composed of the highest peak in the conterminous US: 14,505-foot Mount Whitney.

(10) Chilkoot Trail (Alaska/B.C.)

The 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail in Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park in the Coast Mountains of southeastern Alaska and adjoining British Columbia lets you tread the infamously challenging overland trek followed by gold-hungry prospectors in the 1890s. A complete traverse takes you from temperate rainforest to high snowfields, and may land you more than one glimpse of both black and brown bears.

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The Crazy Outdoor Mama

Top 13 Camping Bucket List Trips You Don’t Want to Miss

It’s time to spread your wings and venture beyond the comfort of your favorite local campground. There’s a great big world out there and camping is one of the best ways to fully experience the beauty of each new place. 

That’s why here I want to share with you some epic camping trips that are worthy of making it on your camping bucket list.

But first…

Table of Contents

What Makes a Trip Camping Bucket List Worthy?

Two things… the experience or the place.

Of course, there are some epic places to camp, like places with views that’ll take your breath away or parks that are designed to help you and your family enjoy the outdoors. 

But there are also camping experiences worthy of your camping bucket list — things you can do without having to travel to one specific spot in the world. 

Which are on my list?

Here are some incredible places and unforgettable camping experiences that are worthy of adding to your camping bucket list. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re an RV camper who likes their comforts or an adventurer who’s ready to go off the beaten path. 

Let’s start with some bucket list camping experiences .

epic camping trips

4 Experiences to Add to Your Camping Bucket List

Camp on the beach.

Have you ever fallen asleep to the sounds of the ocean? 

From a house close to the beach with an open window, you can sometimes catch the sounds of the waves. But being right on the sand in an RV or tent, just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge is another feeling completely!

And being right on the beach sets you up perfectly for seeing some spectacular sunrises or sunsets, depending on where you are.

epic camping trips

Want to add beach camping to your bucket list? Check out this article for some of the best beach campgrounds in the U.S .

And don’t miss one of the places on my list that is one of the best spots for beach camping in the U.S.

Go on a Backpacking Trip

It’s one thing to pull into a campground in your overpacked RV with a full kitchen, bathroom, and Wifi (nothing against that, I love my Wifi while camping), and quite another to walk into the woods with just your backpack. 

While backpacking, you’re less distracted by devices and comforts, and more in touch with the nature around you. You see more, experience more, and feel more. 

Sure, you might get a little uneasy the first time you’re in the woods at night without the soothing glow of other campsites around you, but isn’t that part of the fun?

epic camping trips

Plan on doing this bucket list camping trip with friends or family and see how it’ll draw you closer together. Check out my guide (with a FREE printable) for expert tips on planning your first backpacking trip.

Camp Where You Can Watch Both the Sunset and the Sunrise

Any location where you can watch both the sunset and sunrise is going to be an epic location with incredible views at any time of day. 

It’s not too difficult to find a place to camp where you can see one or the other. But any place where you can sit by a campfire while watching the sun go down and then unzip your tent early the next morning to be welcomed by a beautiful sunrise is truly worthy of your bucket list.

epic camping trips

Hint: It may take a little planning. Look for a place that’s higher than the surrounding areas. The top of a hill or ridge close to a body of water usually makes for the perfect sunrise/sunset location.

Here are some sunrise hike locations to give you some inspiration for your camping bucket list.

Try Kayak or Canoe Camping

While similar to backpacking, traveling along a river or lake adds another dimension to your camping trip. Traveling with a kayak or canoe is a bit of an extra challenge, but it also lets you see things from another perspective you normally wouldn’t be able to appreciate while just on foot. 

epic camping trips

Kayak or canoe camping also has some advantages over backpacking. You can generally pack a little more since your boat is doing the work and not your back.

Add kayak or canoe camping to your bucket list of camping experiences and check out my guide for planning your first kayak camping trip .

So there you’ve got four camping experiences to add to your camping bucket list. Keep going to see some epic places you should add to your list to visit.

5 Places You Should Add to Your Bucket List of Camping Trips

I’m gonna divide this list into two parts. The first is a list of places in the U.S. that are worthy of your camping bucket list. Most aren’t a specific campsite but a general area, like a National Park that has various camping options depending on if you’re tent camping, RV camping, or backpacking. 

What they all have in common are the unique landscapes, nature, and views that you just can’t find anywhere else. 

In the second part, I’ll include a few camping trips for the adventurous traveler’s camping bucket list. These can be anywhere in the world and are truly once-in-a-lifetime camping experiences. 

Let’s start with some places for your bucket list camping trips in the USA.

Yosemite National Park, California 

Best Overall

About four million people visit Yosemite National Park every year and with good reason. 

  • You’ve got over 1,000 square miles to explore 
  • Experience giant sequoia forests, glaciers, and the famous El Capitan and Half-Dome granite cliffs
  • It has one of the tallest waterfalls in the world

epic camping trips

Convinced yet? Here’s one more reason it should be on your camping bucket list.

  • When the conditions are right, it’s one of the few places you can see a rainbow at night!

Here are some other unique things you probably didn’t know about Yosemite and some info about its 13 different campgrounds .

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Best for Family Activities and Sports

After you’ve checked Yosemite off your bucket list of camping trips, head north a little and check Lake Tahoe off your list as well. 

Sitting at just over 6,000 feet in elevation, it’s the largest alpine lake in all of North America. It has some of the clearest and cleanest water anywhere in the world. In fact, many of the neighboring towns get their drinking water straight from the lake.

epic camping trips

This is an amazing area that’s full of family-friendly activities and year-round outdoor sports. It’s perfect for using your campground as a home base to let you go out and enjoy things like…

  • Adventure parks and ziplines
  • Brewery tours
  • Whitewater rafting
  • And a lot more (Like seriously, my blog wouldn’t be able to handle the list of everything you can do around Lake Tahoe so add it to your bucket list and find out for yourself!)

Here are some of the top campgrounds around Lake Tahoe .

Assateague Island, Maryland

Best for Secluded Beach Camping

Head to Assateague Island and check beach camping off your bucket list as well. It’s a long sand island just off the coast of Maryland and Virginia and is one of the few places where you can see wild horses roaming the beaches. 

epic camping trips

There are several different camping options from drive-in sites with electricity to walk-in sites right in front of the ocean. 

  • Over 100 campsites
  • Other than the national park and campground buildings there’s no other development on the island so you truly have a peaceful sense of seclusion
  • Backcountry camping areas you can hike or boat to
  • Watch the sunrise over the ocean and head over to the bay side of the island to watch the sunset

epic camping trips

Ready to add it to your camping bucket list? Here’s some more info on Assateague Island camping .

The North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Camp Next to One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World

Although the South Rim of the Grand Canyon receives most of the visitors, the North Rim has some beautiful places to camp. 

epic camping trips

Considered by most to be the best campground around the Grand Canyon, the North Rim Campground offers spectacular views and easy access to trails to explore the canyons and watch bucket list-worthy sunsets and sunrises

Insider tip- Go for campsites 11, 14, 15, 16, and 18 so you can wake up to views of the canyon from your campsite! 

Denali National Park, Alaska

For a Sense of Adventure

Denali National Park is one of the more adventurous options on our list of camping trips in the USA. Imagine a national park that’s bigger than the state of New Hampshire, with North America’s tallest mountain and a single road running down through the middle of it all. 

epic camping trips

Interesting facts about Denali National Park

  • There are 6 campgrounds in the park
  • If you win the road lottery you can get a permit to drive the entire length of the Denali Park Road.
  • See moose, Dall sheep, wolves, caribou, and grizzly bears in the park
  • Some park rangers still use sled dogs to help patrol the park
  • Go in the fall, winter, or early spring to see the northern lights

Learn more about Denali National Park here and add it to your bucket list. 

Is my list missing your favorite camping spot? Send me a DM on instagram or facebook and tell me about your favorite bucket list camping trip.

So… are you feeling a little adventurous? Then add some of these next few trips to your camping bucket list. They take a little more planning, but they’re once-in-a-lifetime trips that are worth taking.

4 Camping Trips for the Adventurous Bucket List

Camp in the moroccan desert.

epic camping trips

Reenact your own version of Lawrence of Arabia with an unforgettable trip to the desert. Ride a camel, go sand-boarding, and see the stars as you’ve never seen them before. Want to give it a try? Check out…

Sahara Desert Camping

Wild Morocco Camping

Spend a Night in the African Savanna

epic camping trips

With a variety of camps in and around the Serengeti National Park, enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime camping experience in luxurious tents and relaxing areas to enjoy the Serengetti’s wildlife.

Add Serengeti Savannah Camps to your camping bucket list.

Go Overlanding on the Balkan Peninsula

epic camping trips

There are some campgrounds that mostly cater to RVs, but wild camping is generally safe and allowed in most public areas. However, the best way to explore the secluded beaches and mountainous terrain is with your own 4×4 vehicle. 

epic camping trips

Hike to Everest Base Camp

epic camping trips

Reaching the summit of Everest would of course be the pinnacle of one of the world’s toughest camping trips. Summiting Everest might be out of our reach, but hiking to Everest base camp is a much more doable, although still challenging, trip. 

epic camping trips

Think this is something you can only do by yourself or as a couple? Think again. Check out this story of a family with two kids who made the trek to Everest Base Camp .

What’s On Your Camping Bucket List?

There are so many amazing and beautiful places to visit, it’s impossible to list them all here. Did I miss some of the ones that are on your camping bucket list? Send me a DM on instagram or facebook and tell me what other camping trips I should add.

Whatever places or experiences you put on your camping bucket list, make sure they don’t just stay on a list. Check them off one by one. Do them and eventually, your bucket list will turn into a list of memories. 

epic camping trips

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  • 9 steps to organize your tiny RV bathroom and gain a ton of space!
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cool camping trip ideas

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1 thought on “Top 13 Camping Bucket List Trips You Don’t Want to Miss”

I definitely have to make it to one of these – they’re beautiful camping spots!

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epic camping trips

HI! I'm Stacy, AKA “The Crazy Outdoor Mama”

I'm the voice behind the website, and I hope you've found what you needed! I'm an outdoorsy married mother of three from Wyoming, and I LOVE creating resources that make camping and other outdoor activities easier!

epic camping trips

Inspired Routes

23 Incredible RV Vacations: Scenic RV Road Trips You Need to Take

Posted on Published: July 7, 2023  - Last updated: January 3, 2024

If you’re seeking the perfect blend of adventure and comfort, an RV road trip may be the perfect getaway! From awe-inspiring national parks to quaint coastal towns and everything in between, the USA offers an incredible array of destinations to explore from the comfort of your home on wheels. Here are the best RV vacations in the USA!

RV vacations in the US view of motorhome near road with dramatic canyon landscape in background

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my  disclosures .

Start packing up the RV (and the family) now! You’re going to love these RV trips all across the country. Whether you’re looking for a route that’s in your home state, or you’re traveling and then renting an RV, this list has something for everyone!

This list goes beyond somewhere to sit your RV – each destination in this guide is an RV road trip with beautiful landscapes, fun national parks to explore, vibrant cities or wide open spaces.

👉Don’t have time to read the whole article? Get the complete Organize Your RV Like a Pro Guide for brilliant organization RV hacks before you go!

Many of these RV routes are best one in the summer months when the weather is (typically) most predictable and reasonable in the USA. But each of these RV vacations below share the best time of year for that particular adventure.

Whether this is your first RV road trip or you’ve been packing up your motorhome or travel trailer for years, these epic destinations are going to blow you away!

Must-see video: RV vacations

RV road trips map

This list covers the best RV trips in the west, east and a bunch of amazing routes in between.  Each pin on this map marks a stop on one of the very best RV routes in the US .

Because I haven’t’ been everywhere in the US in my RV (yet), I’ve asked some of my fellow travel writers to help compile this list of the best RV travel USA ideas! Enjoy!

Epic RV vacations

Get ready to hit the open road and discover some truly unbelievable RV road trips that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Let’s dive in!

1. Great Smoky Mountains: Asheville to Gatlinburg

mountains near Asheville at dusk with purple sky best RV road trips in America

  • Distance: 85 miles
  • Recommended time: 2-3 days
  • Best time of year: Spring or Fall

If you’re looking for a fun getaway in your RV, then look no further than the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee! One of the best RV vacations in the US, the drive from Asheville North Carolina to Gatlinburg, Tennessee is simply gorgeous.

The Smoky Mountains are stunning year-round, though it’s best to avoid this road trip in winter. The National Park Service often closes the road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

This route can technically be done in an afternoon, but you’ll want to spend a day or two on either side of the road trip, at minimum!

While in Asheville, be sure to visit the botanical gardens and the River Arts District. And of course, one of the best attractions in town is the Biltmore Estate . Visit the estate to see the massive 175,000+ square feet of space on 8,000 acres. It’s spectacular!

The drive west towards Tennessee is beautiful, and the Smoky Mountains make their presence known with the hazy-looking views. Stay on Highway 19 until you get to Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s a great spot to grab lunch, a souvenir and check out the cornmeal and grits mill – Saunooke’s Mill .

Next, get ready for an incredibly scenic drive through US Highway 441 (AKA Newfound Gap Road) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This scenic road is RV-friendly, although it does have some steep grades so be prepared as you drive through the mountains.

You’ll want to stop at Clingmans Dome for 360-degree views of the Smokies. It requires a 0.5 mile (paved) hike with a steep incline, but is well worth it.

Pro tip: don’t miss the turn to Clingman’s Dome! There’s RV-friendly parking at the parking lot, but turning around on 441 will be difficult in an RV if you miss the turn.

Gap Overlook and Ben Morton Overlook are other stops worth the view, if the parking situation isn’t too full when you’re driving through. Of course, there’s various hiking trails along the scenic route as well.

Gatlinburg is the official end of this RV road trip. It’s quite the touristy town, and parking is not RV-friendly at all. Instead, you can stay at Elkmont Campground inside the national park or Greenbrier Campground just outside of Gatlinburg. As with most national park campgrounds, be sure to book it well in advance to reserve your spot.

If you have a day or two to explore the park, you’ll want to check out the fabulous waterfalls, which are most impressive in the springtime. Laurel Falls Trail , Grotto Falls and Abrams Falls Trail are really popular hikes, although if you have a vehicle you’re towing it’s easier to access Grotto Falls and Abrams Falls as they’re located on narrow roads.

This is one of the best RV vacations that’s great for beginner RVers or those based in the Eastern USA and looking for a quicker weekend adventure.

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

2. Alaska RV road trip

RV vacations view of purple flowers with mountains in distance in Alaska

  • Distance: 1,200 miles
  • Recommended time: 10 days
  • Best time of year : June, July and August

Alaska is a fantastic state for a scenic and remote RV vacation. An RV road trip through the rugged 49th state allows you to see mountains, glaciers, forests, panoramic coastline, wildflowers, and plentiful wildlife.

Although driving your RV to Alaska is possible, another popular option is to fly into Anchorage and rent an RV. Either way, you should book your campsites as early as possible . Summer is the busy season in Alaska and the good campsites are often booked out months in advance.

The best  10-day Alaska road trip itinerary  will take you to see the diverse beauty of the inland mountains as well as the coastline. But, make sure to plan for at least 10 days to complete this 1,200-mile RV road trip. Alaska is a huge state and you will need to do a lot of driving to see the highlights.

Starting in the city of Anchorage, head north to Denali National Park for a few nights. After Denali, return south to Anchorage for a night and then keep going south to Seward. 

After spending several nights in Seward, drive to the Kenai River Region for a night or two, and then to Homer for your last few nights.  You’ll end your trip by returning north back to Anchorage.

Highlights of the route include Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park, as well as some epic scenic overlooks and state parks along the way.

Two of the best campsites in Alaska for RV camping are Denali Grizzly Bear Resort near Denali National Park and Miller’s Landing in Seward. 

An RV road trip through Alaska will be an incredible and memorable experience!

Recommended by Diane of Travels with Eli

3. Milwaukee to Ludington (an underrated RV vacation idea in the USA)

Ludington State Park lighthouse at dusk with white and black lighthouse sand dunes and tall grass

  • Distance: 148 miles by car ferry or 341 miles driving
  • Recommended time: 3-4 days
  • Best time of year: Mid-May to October, and this small beach town offers amazing outdoor activities. Hence, you want to visit during sunny spring and summer weather to truly enjoy this natural landscape.

Traveling from Wisconsin to Michigan is a unique road trip with an RV, as you can take the S.S. Badger Car Ferry (even for RVs) and enjoy the ride! 

While onboard, you can shop, watch a movie in the movie theater or simply lounge inside. They also have an outside deck with live music, where you can stroll along the deck, play a board game, or even test your luck at the famous Badger Bingo. Kids will enjoy the toddler play area or the kid’s port play area.

If you do not want to take the ferry, you can also easily drive to Ludington. The drive time varies based on traffic, but it is about 4 hours from Chicago, 4 hours from Detroit, and 5.5 hours from Milwaukee.

There are plenty of  things to do in Ludington , including exploring the natural beauty of the region at Ludington State Park. It’s an outdoor enthusiasts paradise with natural beauty from lakes and rivers, forests, and unique sand dunes.

Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, camping, and even bird-watching in Ludington State Park. Located on Hamlin Lake, RVers will enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Lastly, don’t forget to climb and explore the unique Hamlin Lake Sand dunes that give you a scenic view of Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake, and Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

This is one of the best and most unique RV road trips in the US, and one worth adding to your must-do list!

Recommended by Hannah of Getting Stamped

4. Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon and Page Arizona (one of the most scenic RV road trips)

sunrise in sedona with red rocky mountains best rv vacation ideas

  • Distance: 478 miles (one way)
  • Recommended time: 5-6 Days

There are so many amazing places to visit within driving distance from Phoenix. On this RV road trip, you will visit 3 of the most iconic destinations in Arizona , Sedona, the Grand Canyon and Page, Arizona.

Start in Phoenix and make your way to Sedona, one of the prettiest places in the world. There are a ton of places in Sedona to see incredible views or go on a  Sedona sunrise hike  to see the gorgeous red rocks illuminated in bright orange and red colors.

One of the best campgrounds to stay at in Sedona is Pine Flat Campground located on the scenic byway 89a. You’ll combine scenic accommodations with tone of the most gorgeous RV vacations in the USA!

After spending 1-2 days exploring Sedona, it’s time to head to the Grand Canyon, which is only 110 miles north. The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic national parks in the United States, and it’s easy to see why.

Rent some electric bikes and bike along the rim to Hermits Rest and enjoy stopping off and seeing all the incredible views of the canyon.

The best place to stay near the Grand Canyon is at Mather Campground located inside the park. Advanced reservations are required to get a spot at this campground as it’s super popular.

After spending a day exploring the Grand Canyon, head 132 miles north to Page, Arizona. Once in Page, make a reservation to visit the incredible Antelope Canyon which is one of the prettiest slot canyons in the world.

You can also do the 1.5 mile round trip hike to Horseshoe Bend.

The best campground to stay at in Page is The Canyons , which is located only 10 minutes to Antelope Canyon and 10 minutes to Horseshoe Bend.

As one of the best RV vacation ideas, consider taking this road trip in either the spring or fall as the summer in Arizona can get really hot and be super crowded. 

Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage

5. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe

RV vacations to California view of red bridge and hillside with bay and mountains in distance

  • Distance: 200 miles
  • Recommended time: 3+ days
  • Best time of year: summer or early fall

Hands down, one of the best RV vacations is a road trip from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. With so much to do at the starting point, stopping point and in between, you could easily spend a week or more exploring this route. You’ll want a minimum of 3 days to see the highlights!

Starting in San Francisco, this is a great road trip for those based in northern California or southern Oregon. While driving an RV in San Francisco isn’t the most fun thing in the world, I can say it’s pretty spectacular driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in a motorhome (or travel trailer) !

You can spend a day (or more) exploring the sights in San Francisco; visit Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, Exploratorium and more. If you’re towing a vehicle, I’d recommend to leave your RV at your campsite and get a ride share around San Francisco.

From there, make your way northeast to Sacramento . Make a quick gas or food stop, or spend a day or more in the fun city. Highlights include the Capitol Building, Old Sacramento Waterfront, the Old Sugar Mill or do a wine tour.

Next, Lake Tahoe is big! So deciding whether to see (and camp) on the north or south side is important, as you’ll take 2 different routes out of Sacramento. Both areas are wonderful for RV travel, and each has unique experiences.

In north Lake Tahoe, see the incredible views of the lake at Sand Harbor State Park, go swimming, mountain biking or hiking. Furthermore, this dog-friendly destination is great for summertime swimming for your furry friends, too.

In South Lake Tahoe, a must-do is a sightseeing cruise of Emerald Bay. Of course there’s more hiking, paddleboarding and kayaking opportunities, not to mention Van Sickle Bi-State Park.

For camping in North Tahoe, try the Tahoe State Recreation Area or the Alpine Meadow Campground. In South Tahoe, consider the Campground by the Lake or Fallen Leaf Campground . As with most other RV vacations on this list, be sure to book your campground far in advance to ensure a spot.

While Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination, the winter driving in an RV (not to mention freezing temperatures) can create challenges. Summer is the best time for this road trip!

6. Santa Fe to White Sands National Park (one of the most underrated RV trips on this list)

kids walking on white sand dunes with white clouds in sky during rv travel usa

  • Distance: 397 miles
  • Recommended time: 1 week
  • Best time of year: late spring

Travel through the heart of New Mexico on an unforgettable Santa Fe to White Sands RV road trip. It’s a perfect route for RVs as the roads are largely flat with incredible views . Even in the areas where the roads turn hilly, it’s nothing that the average rig can’t handle!

Start your adventures in historic Santa Fe, the nation’s oldest capital city. Explore the Plaza and the oldest church in America before settling into your RV spot at the welcoming Santa Fe KOA.

Next, head over to Albuquerque, where you can tour the Old Town, hike in nearby Petroglyph National Monument, or experience the awe-inspiring Albuquerque Balloon Festival. 

Head south to the quirky Roswell, New Mexico, to uncover what happened in this town in 1947. Even if you don’t believe in alien encounters, the town’s extraterrestrial theming is out of this world.

Finally, complete the last leg of your New Mexico RV road trip by heading over the Sacramento Mountains into Alamogordo.

Camp at the Alamogordo/White Sands KOA, which offers free coffee in the morning, pedal bike rentals, a pool, a big game room, and a playground. You can also rent saucers for your White Sands National Park sledding from the front desk.

In Alamogordo, you can take a photo with the world’s largest pistachio at McGinn’s Pistachioland –don’t miss out on their homemade pistachio ice cream!

The New Mexico Museum of Space History is also an excellent way to spend several hours in Alamogordo. You can even visit the grave of the Ham, the famed monkey who flew to space and back in 1961.

The real gem in Alamogordo is White Sands National Park, which is about 15 minutes west of Alamogordo. Plan to spend at least  one day in White Sands  in order to get the most of the sledding, Dunes Drive, Junior Ranger program and more.

Recommended by Natalie of Camping Kiddos

7. Las Vegas to Zion plus the Grand Canyon

sunrise over mountains with stream and trees in foreground best rv vacations

  • Distance: 425 miles
  • Recommended time: 5-10 days

Ready to go on one of the most scenic RV road trips in the USA?  Start your adventure by flying (or driving) into Las Vegas and picking up your RV.

After your RV is ready to go, set out from Las Vegas making your way to Springdale, Utah – the gateway to Zion National Park.

Springdale is the closest town to Zion with plenty of restaurants and RV parks. Watchman Campground, with both campsites and RV hookups, is one of the best places to stay in the area.

Along the way to Zion, there are several different stops along I15 for more sightseeing and breaks from the road, including Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon.

Zion is one of the most scenic national parks, home to the red cliffs of Zion Canyon, forested trails, waterfalls, and the Emerald Pools. There are lots of hiking trails, including the famous Angel’s Landing.

Next, hit the road towards Grand Canyon National Park. You can stop at Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, or the town of Page along the way.

After exploring the Grand Canyon, start making your way back to Vegas. Along the way, visit the Route 66 Museum in Kingman, visit the “living ghost town” of Chloride, or make a pitstop at the Hoover Dam before arriving back in Las Vegas.

Once your road trip is over, spend a few days in Las Vegas unwinding at the pool and exploring one of the USA’s most fun cities.

Recommended by Sydney of A World in Reach

Best RV trips in the west

The west coast of the USA is full of dramatic landscapes, curvy roads and scenic views that honestly just seem impossible. Some of my favorite RV trips have been along the west coast.

Let’s keep this list going…

8. Sequoia National Park to Monterey via Big Sur (a personal favorite on this RV vacations list!)

view of Big Sur bridge with cliff to ocean and arched bridge

  • Distance: 300+ miles
  • Recommended time: 3-5 days
  • Best time of year: Spring, summer or fall

If you’re looking for the best RV vacations, then this incredibly scenic drive is it! You’ll see the giant Sequoia trees, California’s stunning coastline through Big Sur and the charming town of Monterey.

You’ll want to spend 1-2 days visiting Sequoia National Park , where you can see the General Sherman Tree – the world’s largest tree by volume! Fun hikes like Congress Trail and Moro Rock will help you fall in love with this fun park.

Note: some roads in the park are quite narrow and depending on the size of your RV, you’ll need – or maybe want – to take the park shuttle .

At Sequoia, there’s the Dorst Creek Campground, perfect for RVs inside the park. Alternatively, the Sequoia Resort and RV Park is near the park entrance.

From Sequoia National Park, you’ll actually head southwest, even though Monterey is slightly north.

Drive through Visalia (a great spot to grab gas) and continue southwest to the s mall town of Cambria, California. Stretch your legs on the boardwalk trail along the beach or shop and dine in the charming downtown.

North of Cambria, you’ll take the incredibly scenic California Highway 1, or the Pacific Coast Highway. While there are too many things to do in Big Sur to mention here, a few RV-friendly highlights include the Sand Dollar Beach, McWay Falls and the Bixby Creek Bridge.

If you’re looking to stay in Big Sur and enjoy a few days exploring the area, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is a great spot for RV camping in the heart of Big Sur.

Ending your trip in Monterey, you’ll want to check out the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row . It’s such a fun city, I’d recommend spending 1-2 days exploring the sights.

9. Glacier to Yellowstone National Park

sunset at glacier national park Montana view of lake with colorful sky, mountains and reflection during best rv trips

  • Distance: 420 miles
  • Recommended time: 7.5-hour drive
  • Best time of year: Summer and Fall

There’s just something about the American West that is freeing and magical. It feels like home when you’re out on the open road without a care in the world. 

This is what you get as you road trip between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. But, thankfully, there’s much more to do in this road trip than just gazing out at the vast landscapes. It’s one of the best RV road trips in the west!

You can start your trip in either direction, but for this one, we’ll begin in Glacier and head south to Yellowstone .

At Glacier, you’ll be home to arguably the best views of any National Park in America. With towering peaks cut by glaciers, turquoise waters with glacier silt, and wildlife galore, it’s a mesmerizing experience. 

Do note that you need reservations to enter most of Glacier’s top spots, such as Many Glacier or Going to the Sun Road, or be willing to wake up before 6 am to beat the crowds. 

I suggest spending at least five days in Glacier to see both sides. Your best places to visit are Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg, Hidden and Two Medicine Lakes. 

If you’re curious how long you should allocate for each destination, I’d recommend spending 67% of your time in Glacier – it’s that good!

As for the specific driving portion of it, there’s little to see between the two famous national parks. I suggest cruising through the heartland and getting to Yellowstone quickly. 

Once in Yellowstone, make sure to hit the classics: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, Morning Glory, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. You can see a lot of the park in just two days, allowing you to keep this  epic road trip  to a reasonable length. 

Recommended by Alec of Explore with Alec

10. Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Park (one of the most interesting RV routes in the US)

rv vacation ideas pretty view of cacti at dusk with mountains in distance

Distance: 577 miles (if starting and ending in Los Angeles) Recommended time: 5 Days Best time of year: Fall to Spring

A  Joshua Tree and Death Valley road trip  is the ultimate Southern California experience! Los Angeles makes for an easy starting point, but you can also choose to start in Las Vegas . This whole RV road trip is around 600 miles and you will want to plan a minimum of 5 days.

Spend at least one full day in Joshua Tree, visiting all of the best hikes including the Cholla Cactus Garden, Arch Rock, Barker Dam and Hidden Valley. Joshua Tree is also an amazing spot to stargaze if the weather is clear.

Staying in the park will allow you to make the most of your trip, so reserve your campground in advance!

After having your fill of Joshua Tree, drive up to Death Valley National Park to continue on with one of the best RV vacations.

There are a few reservable campsites in Death Valley, but if you do not get one, there is also a large first-come, first-served campground near Furnace Creek .

In Death Valley, you do not want to miss spots like the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point, and Gold Canyon.

Make sure to stop at the lowest point in North America- Badwater Basin Salt Flats!

Keep in mind some side roads are restricted to vehicles under 25 feet long like Artist Palette Drive, but the majority of the popular spots are accessible.

Plan this trip when it is not too hot out, as Death Valley has the hottest recorded temperature on Earth! Fall and Spring are the best time to visit.

The desert temperatures can drop at night and it can get very windy, so this makes a perfect RV road trip, as you can shelter from the elements.

Recommended by Val of Voyages with Val

11. Ashland to Crater Lake National Park

rv trip west coast view of bright blue lake between trees with mountains in distance

  • Distance: 92 miles
  • Recommended time: 1-2 days
  • Best time of year : July – September (These are often the only months the roads are not closed due to snow!)

Oregon is a state full of beautiful scenery, and makes for one of the best RV trips west coast. Perhaps one of the most beautiful spots is Crater Lake.

This natural lake is the deepest in the United States and one of the most pure. From the blue water to the fresh, clean air, an RV vacation from Ashland to Crater Lake National Park will not disappoint.

Visitors can explore the rim of the lake on a variety of hiking trails. Boats even take visitors to Wizard Island to get a unique view of the stunning scenery. 

The RV road trip from Ashland to Crater Lake is beautiful in its own right. Highway 62 often travels along the Rogue River. You’ll pass through little towns with charming names like Shady Cove and Prospect. 

As you get closer to the lake, watch for bald eagles flying overhead or nesting on top of trees. But the highlight of the day will be cresting the final ridge and getting your first glimpse of the lake . It’s truly breathtaking.

There is one campground nearby that allows RVs. Mazuma Campground is seven miles from the Rim Village Visitor Center .

It’s a beautifully maintained campground and very popular. Be sure to make reservations in advance to secure your spot.

The road trip from Ashland to Crater Lake is short enough for a day trip, but one day may not be long enough to get your fill of the astounding beauty.

Recommended by Sherry of  Digital Nomad and a Dog

12. Highway 395, California (another stunning route on the RV vacations list)

camper through the trees with mountains in distance

  • Distance : 201 miles
  • Recommended time: 7 days
  • Best time of year: Spring or fall

The entire length of Highway 395 is gorgeous, but its southern portion, from Bridgeport, California to Death Valley National Park is next-level epic . It’ll surely be one of your most memorable RV trips on the West Coast (maybe even the whole USA!)

You can even drive along this route as part of a longer trip, such as from Yosemite National Park, whose Tioga Pass entrance is right by Bridgeport (note that this is only accessible from mid-summer through mid-fall).

You’ll drive along the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains the entire time —not only is the scenery breathtaking, but the drive is an RVer’s paradise, with tons of campgrounds and dispersed camping along the way.

Start in the charming town of Bridgeport, where you’ll find the under-the-radar  Buckeye Hot Springs  and Travertine Hot Springs. As an added bonus, there’s lots of dispersed camping spots right by Buckeye in Stanislaus National Forest!

Continue on to Mono Lake , one of the oldest in the United States at over one million years old. The lake is famous for its tufas, unique spires that are a byproduct of calcium carbonate. 

The ski town of Mammoth Lakes is your next stop on one of the best RV road trips in the US. If you visit in the spring, there’s a good chance you’ll still be able to enjoy the fresh powder on Mammoth Mountain , one of the best ski resorts in the country. This area is actually one of the best snowy winter vacations in USA !

During the spring, there’s plenty of natural hot springs to enjoy in Mammoth Lakes as well. 

Next up is Alabama Hills , which looks like something from another planet, with enormous monzogranite boulders scattered across the desert floor and the towering peaks of the Sierras in the background.

Score a spot at the Tuttle Creek Campground to have this scenery as your backyard for a night.

Finally, Death Valley National Park will be the endpoint of your visit. This park is one of the most dynamic in the national park system, offering colorful badlands, sand dunes, salt flats and towering mountains.

If you’re interested in doing more than quickly driving through the park, plan your road trip in either early spring or late fall—it’s famously sweltering in the summer months!

This is easily one of the best RV vacations for those based in or near California.

Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler

13. Los Angeles to San Diego

best rv trips view of California coast from above palm trees rocky shore and buildings

  • Distance: 120 miles
  • Recommended time: 3 days
  • Best time of year : Late spring or early fall

A RV road trip from Los Angeles to San Diego is magical. The 110 mile-drive is filled with scenic sights, beaches, and parks.

If driving straight through, expect it to take right around 2 hours, but I highly recommend at least 3 days to ensure you have time to see everything.

The most popular route (and the most scenic of them all) is the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). It is also known as Highway 1. It offers the stunning views of the California coastline.

While driving, make sure to take the exit 62 to Las Pulgas Road because it offers an oceanic panoramic view that can take your breath away.

After continuing down Highway 1 on one of the best RV trips west coast, you will pass by Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach . They are some of the most popular beach towns in California. If you have time, they would be a good place to stop for brunch, swimming, or just to soak up the sun.

It’s no secret that California is home to some busy roads! The best time of the day to start this road trip is before morning rush hour to avoid the congestion. If you do not make stops along the way, you could even make it all the way to San Diego without any traffic issues!

Finally, after arriving in San Diego you can check out the exciting theme parks such as Seaworld, Disneyland, or Legoland. There’s so many things to do in San Diego with kids , it makes for a great family RV vacation for the whole family!

No matter how you choose to spend your time in California , it will surely be one of your most beloved RV vacations!

Recommended by Ossama of Awesome Traveler

RV road trips in the east

Traditionally the western part of the USA is known for its outdoor adventure, and a great spot for RVers. However, the eastern part of the US has some pretty spectacular RV vacation ideas too. Check these out!

14. Florida’s A1A

Bridge of Lions, St Augustine view of white teal and red bridge with arches on sunny day over water

  • Distance: 338.7 miles
  • Recommended time: 6-8 days
  • Best time of year: Winter

Hop in the RV and fire up the AC for a scenic trip along Florida’s A1A. This State Road runs from Fernandina Beach, just south of Georgia on Amelia Island, to the lively Key West , south of the Sunshine State. It’s one of the very best RV vacation ideas in the USA.

While the drive is pretty, there’s plenty of opportunity to get off the route to see Florida’s coastal cities.

Visit some of the “oldest” streets and buildings in the country at  St. Augustine , spend the day at the beach in Flagler, or watch the fast cars of Daytona.

Continue along the road and be sure to climb the stairs at Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in New Smyrna, go shopping at West Palm Beach and admire the Art Deco in Miami Beach.

Finally, you’ll get to drive over the famous Seven Miles Bridge to the Florida Keys.

According to Google Maps , doing the route with no stops would take just over nine hours. However, many locations featured in the trip are notorious for traffic, so factor this time in. 

Obviously, you’ll want to make stops at attractions, how many will be dictated by your set vacation time! 

There are plenty of options for RVs to camp along the route, such as the Beverly Beach Camptown RV Resort, which has Atlantic Ocean views. Bliss. 

The best time to visit the East Coast of Florida depends on hurricane patterns, with the season running from June until November.

Also, the summer months might be too humid for out-of-staters. While winter is too cold for locals, visitors enjoy the warm temperatures, relatively crowd-free beaches, and the chance to see manatees!  

Recommended by Amanda of Hey! East Coast USA

15. Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park (a great RV vacation for fall colors!)

road through colorful fall trees in Virginia

  • Distance: Skyline Drive is 105 miles from Waynesboro to Front Royal, Virginia. 
  • Recommended time: 3 hours to drive this 35-mph road, but you’ll want to stop and stay in one or two of the campgrounds. 
  • Best time of year: October is the perfect time to take in the fall colors and enjoy cooler weather. 

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful RV routes in the United States, then Skyline Drive is a must-do! Spanning 105 miles of gorgeous mountain scenery in Shenandoah National Park, this picturesque roadway is perfect for RV travelers.

It traverses the entire length of the park and offers easy access to all the amenities and activities the park has to offer.

Although you can drive the entire length of Skyline Drive in just a few hours, you won’t want to leave that soon. And with four  campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park , you don’t have to either!

All of the campgrounds have plenty of pull-thru and back-in sites for all sizes of RVs. There aren’t any hookups (water, power, or sewer), but they do have bathrooms, showers, and dump stations. They are seasonal with a range of operation between March and November each year. 

The drive is home to 61 overlooks allowing your ample opportunity to stop and take in the views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Massunutten mountains.

If you want to experience more of the park on foot, be sure to enjoy some of its 500 miles of trails, including some of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll experience on the east coast. 

One caution for RVers is the low clearance Mary’s Rock Tunnel near Thorton Gap at mile 32. The clearance is only 12’8”, but there are four entrances to Skyline Drive so if your RV is higher than that, you can access it via one of the other points. 

This fun drive is by far one of the best RV trips in the US, and one worthy of putting on your bucket list!

Recommended by Julie of Chickery’s Travels 

16. Boston to Portland

view of Boston skyline and statue during fall on rv road trip

  • Distance: 110 miles
  • Recommended time: 2-5 days
  • Best time of year: Summer or Fall

Making a trip from Boston, MA to Portland, ME can be a fun and easy road trip for those who are looking for a short but beautiful RV route.

Normally the drive is just two hours long (110 miles) on I-95, but if you can spare some extra time there are plenty of scenic stops and charming seaside towns to extend your drive. 

Start your journey in Boston, Massachusetts which is a fun city to explore in itself. If you have a day or two, be sure to check out these date ideas in Boston if you’re on this road trip as a duo!

Don’t forget to stop at world-famous Fenway Park (Go Sox!). Check out the Freedom Trail and join a guided walking tour of some of the city’s most iconic historic sites.

Continue your journey in Salem, Massachusetts and explore the history of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. If you’re visiting in October, there are specialized tours like Hocus Pocus and ghost tours that will help you get in spooky mood!

Head north to the charming seaside town of Ogunquit, Maine for a quintessential  New England beach town . This picturesque town is only four miles long and boasts stunning ocean views as well as a quaint town center. Dont forget to grab a lobster roll!

Cape Elizabeth Maine is a perfect stop to see some quintessential New England lighthouses. There are three main lighthouses – Portland Head Light, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, and Bug Light. 

Finally, end your trip in the city of Portland. It is a hub for art and culture, with plenty of food and drink spots to explore. It’s a fun town to explore, and a perfect stopping point for one of the best RV vacations routes in America.

Visit local breweries like Allagash or Moon Dog Craft Brewery, or take a ferry out to Peaks Island to explore the seashore. 

Optional: you could even take the road trip a step farther and go north to Acadia National Park or Bar Harbor. Maine has so many destinations to offer visitors but a Portland RV road trip is a must!

Recommended by Sierra of Your Guide to Wandering

17. Miami to Islamorada (top routes for RV travel USA)

Islamorada Florida pier with boats and buildings along strip of land

Distance: 90 miles Recommended time: 2 – 3 days Best time of year: Winter and Spring

Traveling to the Florida Keys with your family or friends is an exciting RV road trip. While Key West is the most well-known island to visit, traveling to Islamorada is even better.

Islamorada’s waters are famous for their clarity and rich marine life , earning the title of “Sport Fishing Capital of the World.” Legends like Zane Grey and Ernest Hemingway used to frequent the area to catch big game fish.

It’s situated about 80 miles southwest of Miami, and the driving distance between the two destinations typically covers around 90 miles, depending on the route. Depending on traffic and route selection, it usually takes between 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours to reach Islamorada. However, you’ll want to spend time in Miami and Islamorada to enjoy the destination.

The best time of year to visit Islamorada is during the winter and spring months, specifically from December to April. This period is characterized by warm and pleasant weather, making it ideal for outdoor activities and water sports. 

The average temperatures range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29 degrees Celsius), providing comfortable conditions for exploring the area.

Additionally, visiting during this time allows you to avoid the peak tourist season, which occurs during the summer months when temperatures are hotter and the area can be more crowded.

You’ll definitely want to stay at least 2 days in Islamorada if not 3. This is a great, relaxing drive allows you to get in touch with marine life and nature, and is by far one of the best RV road trips.

While in Islamorada, be sure to visit Olive Morada , which is a local shop that has delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which you can do a free tasting. Plus, it’s a great shop if you are in need of souvenirs that are not cheesy.

A stay at Tavernier Elks Lodge makes this one of the best RV vacations in the USA. Just be sure to reserve your campsite early as space is limited!

Islamorada is a great RV road trip because it is gorgeous, relaxing, and allows you to reconnect with nature and loved ones.

Recommended by Fuse of Fuse Travels

More RV vacations in the US

Rounding out this list are a few of my personal favorites. From the incredible dramatic landscapes of Utah, the underrated Midwest and the beachy coasts, let’s finish out this guide to the best RV routes in the US!

18. Utah’s Mighty 5 (another favorite on this list of RV road trips)

the windows arches national park view of large arch from rock with trees and blue sky

  • Distance: 362 miles
  • Recommended time: 6-10 days
  • Best time of year: spring or fall

This is it! One of the very best RV vacations in the United States, and it’s sooo good! This Utah national parks road trip covers a lot of ground, and some truly spectacular sights.

Starting in Moab, Utah, you’ll discover two nearby national parks. There are many things to do in Moab and you’ll want to spend at least two days there. A great RV campground between Arches and Canyonlands is Sun Outdoors Canyonlands Gateway.

Spend a day exploring Arches National Park. Hike to the famous Delicate Arch and see The Windows area , where there’s several arches within a few minutes walk from the parking lot.

In Canyonlands National Park, be sure to visit the Grand View Point Overlook, Green River Overlook and Mesa Arch. The canyon is beyond impressive! And with fewer visitors than Arches, you may even get a break from the crowds!

Between Moab and Capitol Reef National Park, enjoy the incredible Utah Scenic Byway 24 in your RV . In Capitol Reef, visit the Fruita Historic District and the orchards, and hike the Hickman Bridge Trail . On your way to the next park, stay in Wonderland RV Park .

A personal favorite along this incredible RV road trip is the Scenic Byway 12 between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon. The views are out of this world – and just continue as you see the famous hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce Point and Inspriration Point offer amazing views of the park. And if you’re up for a hike, check out the popular Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop to hike down into the canyon through the funky rock formations. So fun!

Your last stop on this RV vacation is Zion National Park. Home to an amazing canyon, this park is often a bucket list check for travelers. The Zion Canyon Campground just outside the park or Watchman Campground inside the park are both great for RVs.

Hike the Canyon Overlook Trail or The Narrows for incredible views of Zion. And regardless of whether you’re traveling to Zion with kids in the RV or not, this will be a highlight of your trip!

Pro tip: When you’re driving through Zion, the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is tricky to navigate. You’ll pay a separate fee to drive an RV through the tunnel, and you’ll want to time it right to arrive during business hours because the NPS will actually block off traffic to allow your RV to drive down the center of the road. It’s quite the experience!

When you’re thinking about RV travel USA, the Mighty 5 in Utah is the perfect adventure!

19. Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Scenic Byway Trail

amusement park along sandy beach near Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Scenic Byway Trail

  • Distance: 293 miles
  • Recommended time: 2+ days
  • Best time of year: summer

This is truly a hidden gem in the US, and one of the best RV vacation ideas if you live in the Midwest . It connects Toledo with Conneaut, hitting major towns like Sandusky and Cleveland. It’s RV-friendly and offers a ton of outdoor recreation along the way.

The Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Scenic Byway Trail is located along Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes in the northern US. Although you could technically drive this in one day in an RV, it’s much more exciting to stop at the many adventures along the way.

Starting at the west end of the trail in Toledo, check out the botanical gardens, museums, zoo and restaurants. Just near Toledo is a fun Ohio pumpkin farm , Fleitz Pumpkin Farm. In Port Clinton, be sure to enjoy a meal in the adorable downtown. Afterwards, head to the beach at Waterworks Park and the Port Clinton Lighthouse.

One of my favorite stops along this route is the Marblehead Lighthouse. This free attraction is also the most photographed spot on Lake Erie. It just screams summer on the lake vibes!

There’s also so many things to do in Sandusky Ohio , nearby. Get your thrills at Cedar Point, the 2nd oldest amusement park in America. And bonus: it has RV-friendly parking.

Further along the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Scenic Byway Trail is Cleveland, the home of rock and roll. Enjoy the North Coast Harbor, the Great Lakes Science Center and of course, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The next stop in your RV should be Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor. This gem includes a natural, mile-long beach perfect for relaxing. A perfect addition to one of the best RV trips in the Midwest!

Lastly, Conneaut Township Park is a fun spot to see on the far eastern end of the scenic trail. If you’re a history buff, you won’t want to miss the D-Day reenactment at the park each year.

Other outdoor adventures along the route include hiking, biking and a plethora of water sports. There’s also so much wildlife to be seen, especially in the active summer months. This underrated and scenic RV vacation is one of the best in the Midwest!

20. Denver to Santa Fe (another underrated spot on this list of RV vacation ideas)

RV trips best road trip ideas while viewing mountains and field in the American west

  • Distance: The easiest and quickest route from Denver, CO to Santa Fe, NM is 392 miles.
  • Recommended time: This drive could easily be done in one day or could be drawn out over 3-4 days.
  • Best time of year: Fall is one of the best times to take this road trip because of the moderate temperatures and fall foliage that you get to experience along the way.

A road trip from Denver to Santa Fe must be on your bucket list as one of the best RV vacations to embark on throughout the United States. This trip takes about 6 hours in length, making it the perfect road trip to take in one day or to spread out over 3-4 days! 

As you make your way from Denver towards Santa Fe, you will pass through an abundance of beautiful terrain and popular towns. 

About an hour and a half into the drive, you will pass through the marvelous town of Colorado Springs!

For those looking to catch some tremendous views of the surrounding mountains and red rock formations, be sure to stop by the Garden of the Gods . This is the perfect stop for those looking to stretch their legs for a bit and take in the beautiful Colorado landscape. The Siamese Twins Garden of the Gods hike is perfect for a quick adventure!

For those looking to extend their stay in the area, the Garden of the Gods RV Resort is the perfect destination to stop for a night or two along the way. 

After visiting Colorado Springs, we recommend continuing your drive one of the best RV road trips, south through several smaller towns and along I-25 until you arrive at the charming city of Santa Fe so that you can spend as much time exploring this marvelous town as possible. 

We recommend staying for a minimum of 72 hours in Santa Fe so that you can take in the immense history, culture, and cuisine that this delightful city has to offer!

Recommended by Abby of Trekking Price’s

Related read: Denver to Albuquerque Drive: 10 Scenic Stops You Can’t Miss

21. Austin to Corpus Christi

rv vacation ideas view of sandy beach with vehicles on it and sand dunes with ocean waves

  • Distance: 217 miles
  • Best time of year: December – May

This fun and unique RV vacation idea for those located in or near Texas! Because of the extreme heat in Texas, this road trip would be best done in the winter or spring. Just make sure your RV is set up for freezing temperatures as that can sometimes in the deep of winter too.

Start this adventure in the lively town of Austin . With a plethora of street art, live music, good food and entertainment, spend a day (or 2) in Austin.

For outdoor adventures, go hiking in McKinney Falls State Park or check out the views from the top of Mount Bonnell. There are plenty of Austin campgrounds for RVs, too.

From Austin, drive southwest to San Antonio. Visit the famous San Antonio River Walk for entertainment and restaurants. For some thrilling entertainment, visit Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which is open year-round.

Check out The Alamo and the Historic Market Square to round out your time in San Antonio. The KOA in San Antonio puts you in a good position for hopping on and off the main roads while putting you close to the action.

After leaving San Antonio, head south to Corpus Christi. This Texas town has some fun things to do including museums, shopping and restaurants. But the star of the area is the beach-camping in your RV!

Just southeast of Corpus Christi are a few RV parks where you can camp on the beach. Wake up to the sound of the ocean from your RV – so fun! The Port Aransas area is lots of fun, and is home to On the Beach RV Park, which offers a great stay. Book in advance to get a good spot!

For an off-the-grid adventure, you can camp, hike and enjoy water activities at Padre Island National Seashore. There’s no RV hook-ups, but there is water and a dump station in the park.

If you’re looking for the best RV travel USA, this road trip is certainly a fun one, and unique because of beach camping.

22. New Orleans to Panama City (another gorgeous route on this list of best RV vacations)

Panama City beach view of emerald ocean water with pier best rv travel usa

  • Distance: New Orleans to Panama City: 327 miles (via I-10 E), 386 miles (via I-10 E and US-98 E)
  • Recommended time : 1-2 days  
  • Best time of year: May – October 

An RV road trip is one of the best ways to explore a new part of the country. With the freedom to pull off or take a detour on a whim, road trips always make for memorable adventures. The stretch of road between New Orleans to Panama City offers a great RV vacation experience. 

Travelers should begin their road trip in New Orleans, home of jazz, voodoo history, riverboat adventures, and so much more. Make sure to take a  New Orleans food tour or cemetery tour before continuing on toward Panama City. 

Travelers who want to travel efficiently and stick to the shortest route won’t run into any exceptionally fun cities or attractions, except for Mobile, Alabama. But, those who have a bit more time to work with might enjoy slight detours to Biloxi, Mississippi, and Pensacola, Florida. 

There are some amazing beaches to explore along this route if schedules allow for a detour to the coast. Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola Beach, and Santa Rosa Beach are just some of the picturesque places travelers can visit along their way to Panama City.   

Travelers who avoid the coastal detour will also be able to enjoy the beach upon arrival in Panama City. Panama City Beach is a wonderful place to spend some time in the sun as well as St. Andrews State Park. 

Spring through early Fall is the best time of year to take this road trip. Here’s to wonderful RV adventures! 

Recommended by Candice of Exploring the Gulf

23. Badlands to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (get ready for beautiful landscapes on this RV road trip)

RV road trips with scenic views of multicolored rocky spires up close and into distance

  • Distance: 338 miles
  • Recommended time: 3 – 4 days
  • Best time of year: spring, summer or fall

An all-American road trip, this scenic route has surprisingly dramatic landscapes! This is one of the most underrated RV vacations on this list, but is sure to be a fun one.

Starting in Rapid City or Wall, South Dakota, head to Badlands National Park. You’ll want to spend a full day here to see the highlights. Drive the scenic loop, with 16 overlooks in just 39 miles, it’s RV-friendly. The Notch Trail is a must-do if you love hiking, and Pinnacles Overlook is one of the best with ample parking.

From there, take a slight detour before heading to North Dakota to see Mount Rushmore . An American classic, this presidential tribute is a fun attraction for all ages to visit. Completed in 1941, Mount Rushmore welcomes over 3 million visitors – almost 3x the amount of the nearby national park!

Rapid City is a great spot to set up camp for the night. Or, there’s plenty of campgrounds near Sturgis, South Dakota as well. And if you’re in the off-season, stop in town and pick up a souvenir on your road trip!

Pro tip: summer is a great time for this RV road trip, but I’d suggest avoiding late July and early August. This region in South Dakota is extremely congested with the annual Sturgis event, making it extremely difficult to find a campground and a dramatic increase in traffic to the area.

From Sturgis, it’s about 3.5 hours north to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. To see the highlights of this park, you’ll want 2 full days. There are 3 distinct areas of the park: South Unit, North Unit, and Elkhorn Ranch. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is partially unpaved, and not very RV-friendly so we’ll skip that in this guide.

The South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is by far the most visited area . Drive the Wildlife Loop Road, where visitors can often see bison, elk, bighorn sheep and pronghorn. Hike the 1-mile Painted Canyon Nature Trail or Buck Hill, which is barely more than a walk to an overlook rather than a hike.

The North Unit feels much more deserted versus the southern area of the park, yet offers expansive views. Take the scenic drive in hopes of seeing mule deer, coyote, pronghorn and even beavers! The Little Mo Trail is a crowd favorite, coming in at less than a mile and paved.

If you want to get campground reservations for your RV, plan your trip in advance as they sell out quickly, especially in the summer months.

So the next time you think about RV travel USA, consider the Dakotas a great spot for a vacation!

RV vacations recap

RV routes view of two bridges from the air with island and water surrounding it

What an epic list of RV vacations to take in the United States! From fan-favorites, to underrate gems, the options are truly endless! Where will your home on wheels take you next?

Here’s a quick recap of the best RV trips from the above list!

Best RV routes

  • Great Smoky Mountains: Asheville to Gatlinburg
  • Alaska RV road trip
  • Milwaukee to Ludington
  • Phoenix to Page, Arizona
  • San Francisco to Lake Tahoe
  • Santa Fe to White Sands National Park
  • Las Vegas to Zion plus the Grand Canyon
  • Sequoia National Park to Monterey via Big Sur
  • Glacier to Yellowstone National Park
  • Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Park
  • Ashland to Crater Lake National Park
  • Highway 395, California
  • Los Angeles to San Diego
  • Florida’s A1A
  • Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park
  • Boston to Portland
  • Miami to Islamorada
  • Utah’s Mighty 5
  • Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Scenic Byway Trail
  • Denver to Santa Fe
  • Austin to Corpus Christi
  • New Orleans to Panama City
  • Badlands to Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Related content to read next: 30 Gorgeous West Coast Road Trip Routes You Gotta See to Believe 29 Amazing Road Trips USA: Scenic (& Underrated) Routes You’ll Love 26 Absolute Best (and Underrated) Fall Drives in the US You’ve Gotta See to Believe

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text that reads 23 incredible routes rv vacations best rv road trips in the USA with images of roads with rv through canyon near beach and over the water bridge

Sunday 9th of July 2023

Yeeees Nikki!

You choose the best trips as you are so good at including gorgeous natural sights and hikes along the way! The Alaska trip looks like a dream! I am also looking forward to your post after your next Canadian Rockies trip. :)

Monday 10th of July 2023

Thanks so much Josy! Your comment was so nice! Yes, I can't wait for new adventures taking the RV into Canada, too!💙

Anna Schaeffer

Saturday 8th of July 2023

I'm hoping to get a five wheeler in the next year or two! Pinning this for later. Great post!

Oh yay Anna! This would be great inspiration for a new RV!!

I don’t own a RV but this article makes me want to rent one and try these trips! Great roundup.

Oh Terri that's a fabulous idea! You could literally go anywhere on this list too - just fly into the nearest airport, rent an RV and hit the road!

Muscle and Fitness

How to Plan an Epic Camping Trip for Any Season

C alling all first-time campers, (or those who haven’t camped in ages): Your next outdoor adventure away from the hustle and bustle is calling your name. The final days of summer and early fall, make for some fantastic camping weather, as well as the opportunity for some epic outdoor workouts.

Warm days, cool nights, solo or surrounded by your tribe, camping out is a fantastic way to disconnect, recharge, and simply reset your mind . Not to mention, rest for the body and mind can help break through some of the toughest fitness plateaus.

“By seeking out new campsites, you can discover places that are off the beaten path, and experience things that are often hard to experience otherwise,” shares Danielle Dorrie , registered Maine recreational guide and owner of Skyline Maine Adventures.

However, there’s more that goes into camping than popping up shop in the woods, especially if you want the best experience possible.

So, whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the experience, Dorrie is here to make sure your next camping trip is stress-free and fun for everyone.

How to Find a Campsite for Your Next Outdoor Adventure

With these simple tips from Dorrie, finding a campsite for your next adventure will be a breeze!

  • Research Locations: Look for campgrounds in your desired location. National and state parks, as well as online camping platforms , offer comprehensive information on available sites. Most offer maps of the campgrounds as well. Download those and pick the site you want.
  • Consider Amenities : Consider what amenities you need. Some sites offer running water, toilets, and even electricity, while others provide a more primitive experience. Are you walking into the site or are you driving in? These are things to think about.
  • Reservation Requirements : Check if reservations are required. Popular sites often fill up quickly, so it’s extremely wise to book in advance, especially if you have your sights set on a particular site.

Once you’ve found your campsite, it’s time to pack! Here are some essentials to keep you comfortable and make things easier and more enjoyable in the woods.

Grab These Camping Essentials

You don’t have to “glamp” or spend lots of money to have a great time camping. Here are Dorrie’s ‘go-to’ essentials designed to make your next campout a successful one.

  • Camping Tote : A camping tote will ensure you know where your stuff is. Dorrie recommends packing everything in one tote and putting your sleeping bag and pillows on top.
  • Two Coolers: One for food and one for drinks along with blocks and bags of ice. Blocks for the food cooler, and make sure to store things like lunch meat and hummus in reusable bags to keep them from getting wet.
  • A Tent: Dorrie recommends choosing a tent suitable for your group size and weather conditions. Some sites may have lean-to’s (shelters).
  • Sleeping Bag: Opting for a sleeping bag appropriate for the season and a sleeping pad for comfort will set you up for success. Dorrie encourages a sleeping pad cover as it’s helpful in all seasons. “During the Summer I will often use my sleeping bag as a blanket and sleep directly on the pad,” she says and stresses how important it is to select a high-quality pad.
  • Cooking Gear: The basics are needed here, portable stove, utensils, and cookware. “Firepits are a luxury for cooking and are not always available,” says Dorrie. Don’t forget your propane as well.
  • Food and Drinks : Non-perishable foods are great but Dorrie recommends bringing fresh fruits, vegetables, and snacks which will store well in a cooler with packs of ice.
  • Gallons of Water: These will serve as drinking water, cooking, coffee-making, brushing your teeth, and more.
  • Trash Bags: Leave no trace and don’t be a litterbug. Beyond storing trash, trash bags are also good for food storage.
  • Clothing : Pack weather-appropriate clothing, including rain gear. Remember extra wool socks and sturdy footwear. Sandals and hiking shoes.
  • Body wipes or baby wipes are also great for sanitation.

Must-Have Camping Gear for Your Outdoor Adventures

Looking to enjoy the great outdoors? Here is everything you need and more!

How to Set Up Camp for Success.

Setting up camp is more than popping up the tent and calling it a night. Here Dorrie shows you how to get the most out of your chosen spot.

  • Tent Placement: Choose a flat, dry area to pitch your tent. Avoid low-lying spots that might collect water. Make sure you pick a spot with good views if possible. Watch for trees that could present danger around you. (They are called widow-makers for a reason!). Always remember to keep your tent zipped up so that bugs don’t get inside.
  • Sleeping Gear: Match your sleeping bag to the season’s temperature. Dress in layers for optimal comfort during chilly nights. Bring a pillow if you’re car camping or canoe camping. You’ll be glad you have it.
  • Food Storage : Keep food in sealed containers to prevent attracting wildlife. Hang food or use bear-proof containers if necessary. Use bungees to secure the tops on your totes and coolers. These are always good to have as they have many uses such as hanging tarps and clothing, and trash bags. Dorrie has never regretted having too many bungees.

Don’t Forget These Camping Safety Measures

 Lastly, but most importantly, Dorrie stresses the importance of taking safety measures that reach beyond band-aids and flashlights.

  •   Pack a First Aid Kit: Have a well-stocked first aid kit that includes essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications.
  • Navigation: Bring a map and compass or GPS device, especially if you plan on exploring off-trail. Download your maps in advance while you have service in case you have no service where you’re camping destination is. Do not rely on technology Make sure you know exactly where you’re going and have a plan to navigate.
  • Emergency Contacts : Share your itinerary and campsite details with someone reliable in case of emergencies.
  • Wildlife Awareness : Learn about local wildlife and how to safely store food to avoid unwanted visitors.
  • Plan for Weather : Check the weather forecast before you leave and be prepared for changing conditions.
  • Campfire Safety: If fires are allowed, follow campfire rules and keep fires small. Never leave a fire unattended. Learn how to make a campfire before you get out there.

Camping is a fantastic way to make new memories, so be sure to snap some shots and follow these tips for the best camping experience you can have!

How to Plan an Epic Camping Trip for Any Season

  • List Your Property
  • Find A Camping Spot
  • How it Works

Are you a nature lover? Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, is a fantastic place with huge mountains, quiet lakes, dense forests, and fields full of colorful wildflowers. It’s a dream destination for camping and enjoying the outdoors.

In this guide, we’ll tell you about the top camping spots in Colorado and the exciting things you can do there. Let’s get started!

21 Best Camping Destinations & Adventures in Colorado

Discover the beauty of Colorado’s wilderness with our list of 21 must-visit camping destinations and adventures. From majestic mountains to peaceful lakes, prepare for unforgettable outdoor experiences in the Centennial State.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has giant mountains and calm lakes. The park has many big peaks, making it a must-see for people who love mountains.

Whether you love hiking or want to enjoy the pretty views, this park is for you.

Exciting things here include hiking on trails that lead to hidden places like green lakes and waterfalls. You might also see some animals like elk, deer, and sometimes black bears. For a super special experience, go on a hike in the morning to see the mountains all golden from the sun.

Pro Tip: The weather can change fast in the mountains, so bring layers of clothes and important stuff for a safe trip.

2. Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is near Colorado Springs and has gigantic red rock formations that look like giants made them. It’s a must-visit if you’re into exploring Colorado’s cool natural places.

You can do exciting things like hiking and climbing on these big red rocks. For the best view, go in the morning or evening when the rocks turn golden, and it’s super pretty.

Pro Tip: Get there early to find a parking spot because it gets crowded. Don’t forget your camera to take pictures of the awesome rocks.

3. Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is in the southwest of Colorado and has old Native American houses. They’re over 1,000 years old and built on cliffs and top of mesas.

The best part is the guided tours where they tell you about the people who used to live there. You can also explore the old houses, carvings, and cool rooms.

Pro Tip: Plan and book tours early because they fill up fast. Wear comfy shoes for walking and climbing.

4. Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado has the biggest dunes in North America, some as tall as 750 feet! It looks like a dreamy desert.

You can do fun things like sliding down the dunes on boards and hiking up to see the dunes in the morning when they glow in the sunlight. There’s also a creek and cool nature to explore.

Pro Tip: Rent or bring sandboards or sleds to slide down the dunes. In hot weather, visit in the morning or evening to avoid the scorching sand.

5. Aspen’s Maroon Bells

Aspen’s Maroon Bells, surrounded by lovely meadows and clear lakes, is a super pretty place in the Rocky Mountains. They’re also called the “Deadly Bells” because they’re tough to climb.

You’ll love it if you enjoy being in nature. You can take easy walks in the meadows full of colorful flowers, especially in the summer.

Pro Tip: Go early or on weekdays to avoid the crowds. Bring a camera to take photos of the pretty peaks reflecting in the lake.

6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is in western Colorado and is cool. It’s a deep canyon with dark cliffs that drop into the Gunnison River. It’s perfect for adventurous folks and nature lovers.

You can watch birds like eagles and falcons flying over the canyon. Joining guided tours is a great way to learn about the canyon’s history and animals.

Pro Tip: Bring binoculars and sturdy shoes to explore the rough terrain and see the birds.

7. San Juan National Forest

San Juan National Forest is in the southwest of Colorado and is a quiet place with tall trees and pretty meadows. It’s a great place for walking and biking in nature.

You can hike and bike on nice trails that go through the forest. You might see deer, elk, and lots of birds.

Pro Tip: Check the trail conditions and fire rules before you go. Bring water and snacks for your adventure.

8. Steamboat Lake State Park

Steamboat Lake State Park in northern Colorado is calm by a lake with mountains in the background. It’s a perfect spot for camping by the lake.

You can have fun by kayaking or fishing in the clear water. Make a campfire, roast marshmallows, and tell stories under the stars at night.

Pro Tip: Reserve your campsite early, especially in the summer. Don’t forget bug spray for a bug-free time.

9. Rifle Falls State Park

Rifle Falls State Park in western Colorado is a hidden gem known for stunning waterfalls falling over rocks. It’s a great place for nature lovers and photographers.

You can explore caves near the falls and hike on nice trails. Spring is the prime season for a visit, as the waterfalls gain significant strength.

Pro Tip: Wear comfy shoes for exploring caves and bring a camera for pictures of the amazing waterfalls.

10. Eleven Mile State Park

Eleven Mile State Park is a paradise for people who love water near Colorado Springs. It’s all about fishing at Eleven Mile Reservoir with Pikes Peak in the background.

The calm water is great for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. It’s a wonderful place for outdoor fun.

Pro Tip: Check the fishing rules and get a fishing license. Don’t forget sunscreen and water for a comfy time on the water.

11. Lost Creek Wilderness

Lost Creek Wilderness is in central Colorado and offers a real adventure in the wild. It’s a place to escape the modern world and enjoy nature.

You can explore cool rocks and granite domes on the trails. There’s a wide range of trails to find hidden places and wild areas.

Pro Tip: Get ready with hiking gear, maps, and food. There’s no cell phone signal, so let someone know your plans.

12. Trinidad Lake State Park

Trinidad Lake State Park is a quiet place in southern Colorado with a peaceful lake and different animals. It’s excellent for boating, fishing, and birdwatching. You can have fun boating on the calm lake and trying to catch some fish or watch birds.

Pro Tip: Bring your fishing gear and a license. You can rent a kayak or canoe for a nice time on the lake. Don’t forget binoculars for birdwatching.

13. Telluride

Telluride is a beautiful town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. It’s perfect if you want a relaxing mountain vacation.

You can do fun things like bike riding, hiking, and attending festivals. The town is surrounded by amazing nature, and there’s always something happening.

Pro Tip: Check the festival schedule when you plan your visit. If you want to hike or bike, take it easy at first to avoid getting tired from the high altitude.

14. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a peaceful place near Denver where you can escape the hustle and bustle. It’s a great spot to enjoy the outdoors.

You can spot wildlife like elk and deer while hiking on good trails. The park has forests, meadows, and streams, perfect for nature lovers.

Pro Tip: Watch for animals during your hikes and prepare for changing weather, especially at higher places.

15. Highline State Park

Highline State Park is near Grand Junction in western Colorado and is all about water fun. The main attraction is a big lake where you can do many water activities.

Must-try things at Highline State Park include fishing, boating, and birdwatching. You’ll find plenty of fish to catch, and the calm water is great for paddling and enjoying nature.

Pro Tip: Bring your fishing gear and water equipment, or rent them at the park. Don’t forget your binoculars for birdwatching by the shore.

16. Mueller State Park

Mueller State Park, not far from Colorado Springs, offers amazing views of the mountains and tons of wildflowers. It’s a must-visit for nature lovers.

You can adventure by hiking and even riding horses in the beautiful landscapes. The park has many trails to explore and enjoy the wilderness.

Pro Tip: Take binoculars to spot animals and capture the beautiful views. Check the trail conditions before you go.

17. Chatfield State Park

Chatfield State Park is a calm place for camping near Denver, right by Chatfield Reservoir. It’s perfect if you want to relax in nature without driving far.

You can do fun things like paddleboarding on the quiet water, watching birds by the lake, and hiking in the pretty surroundings. It’s a peaceful spot to unwind.

Pro Tip: Consider reserving a campsite near the lake for the best views. Bring your paddleboard or rent one at the park for a chill day on the water.

18. Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Cheyenne Mountain State Park, near Colorado Springs, has different nature areas. It’s a great spot for guided nature walks and wildlife watching.

You’ll find many trails through the forests and fields. Watch for deer, wild turkeys, and lots of bird types. Ranger-led activities can teach you more about plants and animals.

Pro Tip: Check the park’s schedule for ranger-led activities and guided nature walks. Bring binoculars and a camera to capture the wildlife and beautiful scenery.

19. Jackson Lake State Park

Jackson Lake State Park is a dream for water lovers on the eastern plains of Colorado. It’s a must-visit for boating, fishing, and birdwatching by a calm lake.

You can go boating with sailboats or motorboats or try kayaking and fishing for different kinds of fish. Bird lovers will enjoy watching waterfowl and other birds by the lake and wetlands.

Pro Tip: Make sure to follow the fishing and boating rules for Jackson Lake. Bring binoculars for birdwatching and enjoy the peaceful lake view.

20. Rifle Gap State Park

Rifle Gap State Park in western Colorado is another water paradise. It’s all about fishing, swimming, and kayaking by a clear lake with mountain views.

The park is great for fishing trout and bass, and you can also swim in the lake and have fun kayaking. The sandy beach area is perfect for picnics and sunbathing.

Pro Tip: Bring your fishing gear and get a fishing license. Don’t forget sunscreen and water toys for a day of swimming and fun.

21. Cherry Creek State Park

Cherry Creek State Park, near Denver, is a nice blend of city and nature. It’s a must-visit for outdoor activities by a pretty lake.

You can hike on beautiful trails, rent paddle boats or paddle boards to relax on the lake, and enjoy bike rides in the park. There’s also a lot of different birds to watch.

Pro Tip: Rent a paddleboat or paddleboard for a peaceful day on the calm lake. Bring a picnic for a nice meal by the water.

These amazing places in Colorado offer a wide range of adventures for people who love nature and outdoor activities.

Each spot has a special charm and chance for exploration, making Colorado a perfect place to connect with nature and create lasting memories.

Happy Camping!

Colorado’s camping spots invite you to make lasting memories outdoors.

Whether you love hiking, looking at the stars, or want peace away from the busy city, Colorado’s camping adventures have something special for you.

The state’s amazing natural views and many things to do outside guarantee you’ll have a camping trip you’ll always remember.

So, get your bags ready, bring your excitement, and prepare for a memorable Colorado camping trip!

First off, is Colorado Good for Camping?

Colorado is great for camping because it has lovely natural landscapes like mountains, forests, and deserts. You can find different camping spots here, from the mountains to the plains. Colorado has many campgrounds to set up a tent or park your RV.

These campgrounds usually have things like bathrooms, picnic tables, and fireplaces.

When you camp in Colorado, you can do many outdoor activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and looking at wildlife. In the winter, you can even go camping in the snow.

At night, you can see many stars in the sky because there’s little light to block them. It’s a beautiful sight when you’re camping.

Moreover, camping in Colorado is convenient because you can typically reach most campsites by car. And they’re often located near popular tourist destinations.

The best part? You can go camping in Colorado at different times of the year. Most people go in the summer, but you can also in fall, winter, or early spring.

But remember, the air is thinner in some camping spots because they’re very high up in the mountains. This can make breathing harder if you’re not used to it. So, be ready and take care of yourself.

Overall, before you go camping in Colorado, check the rules, the weather, and if there are any fire restrictions. Things can change, especially because of wildfires. Also, get any permits you need, and clean up after yourself so you don’t harm the environment.

How to Safely Camp in Colorado: 10 Valuable Tips

Camping in Colorado can be fun, but you must stay safe. Here’s a list of simple but helpful tips to help you enjoy your camping trip safely:

1. Check the Weather

Look at the weather forecast before you go camping. Colorado’s weather can change quickly, so be ready for rain, snow, or sudden temperature drops.

2. Watch the Altitude

Some camping spots in Colorado reach high elevations. If you’re not used to it, take it easy and drink water to avoid feeling sick from the thin air.

3. Get Permits and Reservations

Some campgrounds need reservations or permits. Make sure you book your spot in advance, especially during busy times.

4. Campfire Rules

Follow the rules for campfires. Use designated fire rings or camp stoves for cooking. Keep water and a shovel nearby and extinguish the fire before leaving.

5. Be Wildlife Smart

Colorado has lots of wildlife, like bears and mountain lions. Keep your food safe from animals, make noise on the trails, and know what to do if you encounter wildlife.

6. Leave No Trace

Keep nature clean by taking all your trash with you, disposing of waste properly, and not harming the environment.

7. Know Where You’re Going

Carry a map, compass, or GPS device and learn how to use them to avoid getting lost.

8. First Aid Kit

Bring a simple first aid kit for minor injuries, bug bites, or altitude sickness.

9. Tell Someone Your Plans

Before you go camping, tell a trusted person where you’re going and when you’ll be back in case something goes wrong.

10. Emergency Stuff

Carry a flashlight, extra clothes, matches, and enough food and water just in case. Bring a charged cell phone or device to call for emergency help.

By following these easy tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable camping adventure in Colorado.

Camping in Colorado Packing List

Before heading out on your camping adventure in Colorado, pack the right gear and essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare:

Essentials:

  • Tent (with stakes and guylines)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad or air mattress
  • Pillow or stuff sack with clothes
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Camping chair or seating pad
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Warm hat and gloves (for cooler nights)
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Sturdy, comfortable hiking shoes or boots
  • Sandals or camp shoes (for relaxing)
  • Sun hat and sunglasses

Cooking and Food:

  • Portable camp stove with fuel
  • Cooking utensils (pot, pan, spatula, etc.)
  • Biodegradable soap and sponge
  • Eating utensils (plate, bowl, utensils, cup/mug)
  • Food and snacks (easy-to-cook meals, trail mix, etc.)
  • Cooler and ice packs (if needed)
  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • A water filter or purification tablets

Personal Items:

  • Personal identification and camping permits
  • First aid kit (bandages, pain relievers, etc.)
  • Prescription medications
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Toilet paper and sanitation supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Trash bags (for waste and cleanup)

Navigation and Communication:

  • Map, compass, or GPS device
  • Fully charged cell phone or satellite communicator
  • Power bank for recharging electronics

Optional Gear:

  • Campfire supplies (if allowed)
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Campsite entertainment (book, games, etc.)
  • Backpack or daypack for hiking
  • Hammock or camping hammock (if desired)

Adjust this packing list according to the season, location, and specific activities you plan to enjoy during your camping trip in Colorado.

What Are the Best Places to Camp in Colorado?

Colorado has many beautiful camping spots, including iRocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Garden of the Gods, Mesa Verde National Park, San Juan National Forest, Chatfield State Park, Rifle Fall State Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and Pike National Forest. Let’s look closely at each:

Rocky Mountain National Park

This place has beautiful mountain views. You can camp here in different places, from easy spots with bathrooms to more remote places. People who like hiking, animals, and peaceful mountains love coming here.

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

This area has tall mountains called Maroon Bells. It’s a wild and tough place to camp, and people who like tough hikes and natural places like it.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

This park is special because it has giant dunes next to big mountains. You can camp here in a unique way. People can play in the sand, go sandboarding, and look at the stars in this cool place.

Garden of the Gods

This place is near Colorado Springs and has amazing rocks. You can camp here in different places. People who like climbing rocks and cool land formations come here.

Mesa Verde National Park

If you like old history, this is a great place. It has very old houses from a long time ago. You can camp here and learn about these old homes.

San Juan National Forest

This big forest in southern Colorado is perfect to camp in a quiet, wild place. You can find different camping spots and do things like hiking, fishing, and looking for animals.

Chatfield State Park

This park is close to Denver, so it’s easy to get to. Families and people who like water activities love it. There’s a big lake for boating, swimming, and fishing.

Rifle Falls State Park

This is a good choice for a peaceful camping spot with pretty waterfalls. You can hike, fish, or relax by the water.

Indian Peaks Wilderness

This is a great place if you enjoy backpacking and want to see beautiful lakes and mountains. You can hike in the wild Rocky Mountains.

Pike National Forest

This forest is close to Denver and Colorado Springs. Many people camp here because it has different options, from easy ones with families to tough ones in the wild. You can pick what suits you best.

Related Questions

Is it legal to camp anywhere in colorado.

No, it’s not legal to camp just anywhere in Colorado. You need to camp in designated campgrounds or get permission from landowners. Camping on private property without permission isn’t allowed. Moreover, camping in most public areas is regulated to protect the environment.

How Much is a Campsite in Colorado?

Campsite prices in Colorado can vary widely. State and national park campgrounds often charge between $20 to $40 per night. Private campgrounds may have different rates. Backcountry camping fees can be lower, but they may require permits.

Does Colorado Have Free Camping?

Yes, some areas in Colorado offer free camping on public lands managed by agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the United States Forest Service (USFS). These are often called dispersed camping areas. However, amenities are minimal, so you need to be self-sufficient.

What Time of Year is Best to Camp in Colorado?

The best time to camp in Colorado depends on your preferences. Summer is the most popular season due to warm weather, but fall offers beautiful foliage. Winter camping is for those who enjoy snow activities, and spring can be great for wildflower viewing.

How Much Does it Cost to Go Camping in Colorado?

Camping fees in Colorado can fluctuate based on the specific campground and the facilities it offers. State and national park campgrounds typically charge a nightly rate ranging from approximately $20 to $40. These campgrounds often provide restrooms, picnic areas, and potable water, making them more convenient for campers.

On the other hand, backcountry camping permits, which allow you to camp in remote, less-developed areas, can be a more budget-friendly option.

These permits generally come at a lower cost than established campgrounds, making them suitable for those seeking a more rustic camping experience.

However, note that backcountry camping requires self-sufficiency. You may need to bring water and follow strict Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment.

Do I Need a Permit to Camp in Colorado?

Usually, you don’t need a special permit when you camp at regular campgrounds in Colorado, like those in state and national parks. These places ensure easy camping and have things like bathrooms and fire areas.

However, if you want to camp in more remote or wild areas called “backcountry” or “wilderness,” you might have to get a special permit. These permits help protect nature and keep campers safe.

To ensure you follow the rules for where you want to camp, look up and understand the specific rules and permits you might need before you go.

That way, you can enjoy your camping trip while respecting the special rules for each place.

How Long Can You Stay in a Campground in Colorado?

The maximum stay duration in campgrounds varies. It’s typically limited to 14 days in national forests and BLM lands. State parks and private campgrounds may have different rules, so check beforehand.

Is it Safe to Camp in a Tent in Colorado?

Yes, it’s generally safe to camp in a tent in Colorado if you follow safety guidelines. Be prepared for weather changes, wildlife encounters, and high-altitude conditions. Secure your food to prevent wildlife visits, and be cautious in bear country.

Here’s a list of tips for encountering wildlife:

  • Stay Calm: Avoid sudden movements or loud noises if you see wildlife like bears or mountain lions.
  • Give Space: Keep a safe distance and never approach or corner wild animals. Use binoculars or a zoom lens for a closer look.
  • Make Noise: While hiking or moving around your campsite, make noise to alert animals to your presence. This can help prevent surprise encounters.
  • Secure Food: Store food and trash securely in bear-resistant containers or bear bags away from your tent. This prevents wildlife from being attracted to your campsite.
  • Carry Bear Spray: Consider carrying bear spray and know how to use it properly in a close encounter with a bear.
  • Travel in Groups: It’s safer to hike and camp in groups, as wildlife is less likely to approach larger parties.
  • Follow Park Guidelines: In national and state parks, follow safety guidelines.
  • Report Sightings: If you have a close or potentially dangerous wildlife encounter, report it to park rangers or authorities.

What Are the Camping Rules in Colorado?

Common camping rules in Colorado include respecting quiet hours, properly disposing of waste, and following fire regulations. Keep wildlife wild and protect the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles.

What Are the Rules for Tent Camping in Colorado?

Tent camping rules include setting up your tent in designated areas, using a campfire ring if allowed, and following safety guidelines for campfires. Always adhere to specific campground rules and regulations.

Camping in Colorado is full of amazing adventures in beautiful places. You can hike and bike in the summer or camp in the snow during winter, so there’s fun all year round.

But, be careful in high places where the air is thin; it might make you feel strange if you’re not used to it.

Moreover, before you start your Colorado camping trip, learn the local rules, check the weather, and follow the fire rules to stop wildfires.

Also, get any permits you need and clean up so Colorado’s natural beauty stays for the future.

Camping Near Water: Mind-Blowing Benefits & Lots of Safety Tips

Unleash your inner bear grylls – with a cocktail in hand, eco-friendly camping: minimizing your environmental footprint, expert camping advice: 15 tips to keep you safe and sound in the wilderness, when feeling down, climb a mountain and reconnect with your true self, get connected with us, sign up to receive our helpful camping bundle.

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Where to Find the Most Epic Campsites

epic camping trips

Don’t just camp anywhere! Use these fantastic tips to figure out where to find the most epic campsites… and then have the most epic camping trip!

If you plan a camping trip, then one of the first things you will need to do is figure out where you’re camping. Anyone who has been camping can tell you that not all campsites are created equal.

If you’re trying out a new campground or looking for something really out of this world, this guide will help you find the most epic campsites in your area, or even in your country! Here is where to find the most epic campsites no matter where you’re looking.

where to find the most epic campsites

Do a Google search

The first way to find fantastic campsites is to do a quick Google search! Try typing in “the best campsites in ___ or best campsites with ___ view.” This will bring up a bunch of search results of the top reviewed campsites in your area!

You can find what other people are recommending and give you a good sense of some of the best campsites in your area.

camping

Use an app or website

There are so many great camping apps or websites you can use to help you find great campsites. Whether you are tent camping or RV camping, you can find an app or website that will help you find the best campsite for your needs!

Here are some of the ones I recommend:

  • Reserve America
  • The Dyrt 
  • Allstays Camping

epic camping trips

Visit a National or State Parks website

If you are camping in the United States, check out the National Parks website that is closest to you! They will have a ton of information about different campsites within that National Park so you can find something that will work for you!

You can also visit NPS.gov for more details about all the National Parks if you’re unsure which one will be the best fit for you.

Look up reviews from past campers

Reviews will give you a lot of insight into what camping at that specific campground will be like! You can search Google or Yelp to review campsites in your area to find one with the best reviews. From there, it comes down to doing your research. If someone had a great camping experience, they might share their campsite info or what they loved.

Lately, even TripAdvisor has become a great resource for camping sites!

go camping

Check a travel bloggers website

The last place I recommend looking is your favorite travel blogger website! What makes these sites so much better than other camping websites is that you will get a more in-depth review of the campsite.

You’ll be able to see pictures and get a real family’s experience of what it’s like to stay there instead of an overview of the campground. If you’re not sure what blogger to follow, start by typing in the campsite you’re looking for. Most blogs have a resource page and if they have a blog article on that campsite, you can find it.

If you want the best possible camping experience for your family, it all starts with the campsite! I promise that if you follow these steps, you’ll find a genuinely breathtaking campsite and a perfect fit for your family.

camping equipment that goes beyond the basics

Check Out These Great Camping Resources Too!

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  • How to camp in the rain and still have a blast!
  • 20 fun camping activities to try with your kids
  • 10 awesome reasons to take your kids camping this fall!
  • Keep the bugs away while camping

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epic camping trips

The Ultimate Camping Checklist

Written By: The Planet D

Travel Gear

Updated On: April 13, 2023

Camping has always been a big part of all of our epic adventures . Whether you are backcountry camping or just doing a quick weekend car camping trip, you want to make sure that you have all the essential camping gear to get through that trip in comfort.

We have found that the best way to do that is to have a comprehensive camping checklist. This is the list we have used when camping on 5 different continents, so you know it has been tested. We recommend that before you head out on your next camping trip go through this checklist and make sure you have all of these camping essentials.

Table of Contents

The Essential Camping Checklist

Before you can start compiling your list of camping gear you should ask yourself these questions as it will determine what gear is necessary. You don’t want to be loaded up with items that you can easily find at the campground and you don’t want to be missing items if you are heading out off the grid.

Are you camping at a campground or in the backcountry? If you are going to a campsite, they may have facilities you can take advantage of that are not available to you if you are in the backcountry. Things like electricity, picnic tables, washrooms, and even swimming pools.

What activities do you want to do on your camping trip? If you are simply going out to relax in the outdoors you may need different gear than if you were planning on doing outdoor adventures like hiking, rock climbing, or fishing.

How primitive or luxurious do you want your camp to be? Everyone has different comfort levels. Some prefer to rough it and others want certain comforts. Camping can be everything basic backcountry trips to luxury glamping vacations. Knowing what type of camping experience you want is key to having fun.

If you determine this before you go camping, you will have all the proper gear to keep you comfortable.

Epic Camping Trips Around the World

  • Camping in Africa: The Tour D’Afrique: The Trip That Changed Our Lives
  • Camping in Thailand: Sea Kayaking In Thailand And Island Camping With John Gray’s Sea Canoe
  • Camping in Mongolia: Essential Tips For Driving The Mongol Rally
  • Antarctica: Camping On Antarctica
  • Camping in Mexico: Sea Kayaking Baja Mexico – A Remarkable 10 Day Journey
  • Ontario Canada Camping: The Wild Coastal Trail Of Pukaskwa National Park
  • Camping in Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan Trekking By Horse – Into Jyrgalan And The Boz Uchuk Lakes
  • Camping in Bhutan: Bhutan Trek To Laya – A Himalayan Adventure To The Remarkable And Remote

Planning Your Camping Trip

Every good camping checklist starts off with these essentials. This list of camping gear contains items that should be packed for all camping trips that will directly contribute to both your comfort and fun. You definitely want to be prepared for all weather conditions, from cold weather to rainy weather. Mother Nature can change things up in an instant and being prepared can really save your bacon.

All of these items on our camping checklist are ones that we have personally used. Quality and durability are really important to us especially when it comes to choosing your sleeping bag and your tent. We think it is always a good idea to spend a little more initially to save from re-buying items time and time again.

Shelter and Sleeping Essentials

  • 3 Season Tent (with rain fly)
  • Tent footprint / groundsheet
  • Extra Tent Stakes
  • Tent Repair Kit
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad / Thermarest
  • Camp pillow

Camping Furniture and Set-up

  • Camping chairs or Stools
  • Camp table if there is no picnic table
  • Solar Lanterns
  • Bug shelter
  • Tarp with tie downs

Camp Kitchen

Probably one of the most important parts of a good camping checklist is having the right tools for campfire cooking and camp kitchen items. It can be overwhelming when trying to decide what to bring and what to leave behind.

Here, we list all the necessities you will need for a great camp kitchen set up.

Note: We left out food as that is really a personal preference. But we do suggest if you are camping in the backcountry to consider some freeze-dried food packages and boil-in-a-bag options to really cut down on weight. It is always good to have a meal plan when you are camping as it helps with bringing the right amount of food.

You can buy camping-specific cooking gear at your local MEC (in Canada) or REI in the United States. We have also linked to our favorite camping gear for cooking in the lists below.

Cooking Gear

  • Camp Stove and Fuel ( backcountry option )
  • Stackable Cooking Pots with lids
  • Matches and Lighter
  • Coffee AeroPress
  • Water filters and a purifier (backcountry only )

Utensils & Dishware

  • Kitchen Utensil Kit
  • Plates and Bowls
  • Coffee Cups
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Food Storage Containers
  • Bottle opener

Kitchen Cleaning

  • Foldable sink
  • Bio-degradable Soap
  • Sponges or scrubbers
  • Quick-dry Towel
  • Eco-Friendly Trash Bags a nd Recycling Bags

Kitchen Extras

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Stainless steel wine glasses
  • Table cloth with clips
  • Washcloth/Paper Towels
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring Cups/spoons

Personal Gear

After camping in so many different situations we have gone through a lot of the trial and error for you. We have perfected a personal gear list that prepares you for most situations without overpacking. Everything from toilet paper to baby wipes, are the items that often make the difference in how comfortable you are in the outdoors.

Don’t forget that these are personal items, so if you have something that you know you can’t go camping without, add it to the list.

Camp Clothing

  • Hiking Boots
  • Rain Jacket
  • Quick dry shorts/pants
  • Wicking short sleeve shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts for sun and bugs
  • Quick Dry Underwear
  • Wicking socks
  • Hats (one for warmth and one for sun)
  • Base layer tops and pants (can double as sleepwear)
  • Light sweater
  • Bathing suit
  • Sandals/Camp shoes
  • Fleece Jacket or down jacket

Outdoor Gear

  • Water Bottle
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Map with compass or GPS
  • Extra batteries
  • Re-usable Zip ties
  • Campsite Reservation
  • Backcountry Permits
  • Credit Card
  • Identification

Toiletry Essentials

  • Toilet paper
  • Quick-dry bath towels
  • Bio-degradable shampoo
  • Bio-Degradable wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer

First Aid Kit

A good camping first aid kit can help you be prepared for most minor injuries that may occur at the campsite or on the trail. What we have listed below is the bare minimum that you should have on your camping checklist when it comes to First Aid. See our complete Packing a Travel First Aid Kit For Long Term Travel

If you don’t want to buy all of these things individually, make sure to check out special camping or backcountry first aid kits that include most of the basics. Make sure you keep on top of the supplies in your first aid kit. There are some things that are used more than others for first aid and you will want to re-stock those after each of your camping trips.

  • Bandages (different sizes)
  • Moleskin (for Blisters)
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Prescription Medications
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antihistimine for allergies
  • Insect Repellent
  • Aloe or Aftersun
  • Tums or Zantec

Optional Camping Checklist Items

When it comes to making your camping trip fun you might want to bring along a few of these items in your pack. They can help pass the time when you are not out exploring the great outdoors.

We always make sure to pack some games we can play on a rainy night, ( travel scrabble is our favorite), a deck of cards, books we can read to relax, and some other things that may come in handy depending on what type of camping we are doing.

  • Axe or folding saw
  • Waterproof matches
  • Firestarter
  • Tarp to cover wood
  • Roasting sticks for marshmallows

Entertainment

  • Playing Cards
  • Smartphone or Tablet
  • Books or E-Reader
  • Navigational tools (Compass and maps)
  • Binoculars or small camera
  • Portable speakers
  • Fishing Gear

Comfort Additions

Camping doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. In fact, there are so many different products on the market that can help increase the comfort level, you can make your next camping trip as luxurious as you want. Provided you want to carry all the extras that is. This works great when car camping.

Remember, space and weight are usually at a premium when you are camping and your tent and sleeping bag will take up the most room and be the heaviest items you will carry. That doesn’t mean you should cut comfort items out altogether, just weigh their value against the effort to get them to the campsite.

These are a few things that we think should be on the camping checklist, mostly on car camping trips, that have really made a difference for us.

  • Camp Mat: Great to put outside your tent so you don’t track dirt and dust into your tent
  • Coffee Press: If you love good coffee pack a french press and your own ground coffee beans.
  • 100w Solar Panel : Keep all your necessities charged.
  • Hanging Fan : Perfect for inside the tent on those hot summer nights.
  • Hand Powered Blender : If you love a smoothie in the morning like we do this is a perfect addition.
  • Beverage Coolers : Keeping drinks cold is a luxury when camping and a set of coolers can really help. We always pack a few coolers whenever we are heading to accessible campsites
  • Drink Cooler and Ice: Ice is like gold when camping, so it is essential to anyone car camping to make sure you have a cooler and some ice to keep food fresh.

We love to camp and making sure that we are well prepared for fun, comfort and safety are things that we have found are vital to making it a successful outing. Truthfully this list could go on forever as packing for a camping trip is really based on your personal comfort level and how much you are willing to carry.

Our advice is to always make a checklist of the items you need to bring and then add on the items you would like to bring. That way you are not caught without any of the essentials and your camping checklist will never let you down.

If you are heading into the great outdoors this year make sure you use this camping checklist as a baseline for your next adventure.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Plan Your Next Camping Trip With These Resources

  • 25 Camping Tips – Our Top Hacks for Happy Nights Outdoors
  • 25 of the Best Places to Camp in Ontario, Canada
  • The Ultimate Travel Packing List (By Professional Travellers)
  • Best Travel Organizers for Smarter Packing

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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10 thoughts on “The Ultimate Camping Checklist”

Preparing your camping gear beforehand can help you avoid any unexpected situations and keep you safe. And you will fully enjoy the camping. Thank you for the guide it’s a big help.

I agree to all of this! Especially the coffee aeropress. very much needed for a perfect camping getaway. thanks for sharing this list!

Wow! What an amazing tips shared by you. I really like it. I love camping and trip. Thanks for sharing with us.

Debra, Dave, that coffee press was little too much for me – but otherwise – a comprehensive list 🙂

Great contribution, thanks for sharing it, at this moment I think it is the best way to travel and the safest. Thank you very much.

Its great, thanks for sharing your experience. I never does camping but near future I am planing to go for a bike trip to a high terrain so that time your advice help me a lot.

This is a great list…several things I didn’t think of!

I don’t think you guys have left anything. It seems to be perfect. Camping is no doubt is one of the best experience in Travel. Whenever you visit India , Please give us a chance to host you Guys. We will love to do.

this is great i like it

ooooh – the Bowron Lakes circuit!

epic camping trips

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Home > Take Me Fishing Blog > July 2023 > 5 Epic Camping Trips in July

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5 Epic Camping Trips in July

When you're considering destinations for memorable family camping in July, you must consider not only the amenities and available July camping activities and events in those locations but also July camping weather, because some parts of the country are just plain inhospitable during the summer months! For example, there’s some great camping on offer in Big Bend, Texas but the 100-degree heat advisories make it less attractive for some would-be campers looking for pleasant camping trips in July. Whether you want to go fishing in National Parks or pontoon boating , hiking or biking, or simply want to try out some new camping recipes for July, here are five July camping vacations to book this summer!  

1. Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York

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2. Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas

There are well over one million acres of recreation space in this lush Arkansas haven that is perfectly suited for epic camping trips in July. July camping activities here include swimming and water sports at a total of nine beaches, in gorgeous lakes, and on many idyllic streams, as well as hiking on the more than 1,000 miles of trails throughout the forests. July camping vacations in the Ozark-St. Francis Forests in Arkansas can be at a proper RV or tent campground, or for something more primitive, try wilderness camping in any of the five designated Wilderness Areas. There are no facilities, campgrounds, or water, so when you're making your July camping checklist, you must pack bot-tled water or use a water filtration system when truly roughing it this summer.  

3. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

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4. Kanab, Utah

The July camping events at the Dark Sky RV Campsite include soothing sound baths, sunrise meditation sessions, handmade markets for shopping, and Thursday evening socials to meet and mingle with other campers. And then of course there’s the best camping activity of all, the stunning unfiltered night sky glittering every night during July camp-ing vacations in this remote Utah paradise. You can also rent e-bikes to get moving during your camping trip and ride into Zion for one of the coolest July camping activities anywhere in the country!  

5. Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri

The nine forests that make up Missouri's only National Forest cover over 1.5 million acres of public land in the Show Me State. There are phenomenal July camping vacations waiting for you and your family, with a mix of RV, manicured tent, and self and full-service cabin campsites available, each individually suited for fishing, hiking, biking, water sports, and the other July camping activities your family loves.

Looking for more July campaign trips in National Parks? Check out the best parks to visit this summer !

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Jeff Bogle

Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, OWTK.com and on Instagram @OWTK . Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion

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When planning an epic camping trip, regardless if you define "epic" as a month in alpine backcountry or a short weekend at the local KOA or anything in-between, there are six fundamental questions to always consider.

  • Why are you going camping?
  • Where will you go camping?
  • What type of camping will you be doing?
  • When and for how long will you be camping?
  • Who will you go camping with?
  • What will you do while camping?

1. Why are you going camping?

This is the first question to ask yourself before you even start planning. Why are you going camping? Is it to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for several days? Are you hoping to have a bonding weekend with some old college pals? Will you be camping as part of a long-distance thru-hike?

Are you adventurous or conservative? Do you like spending a lot of time in nature, or would you prefer to spend most of your time inside an RV with only short stints outside?

Will you be doing anything strenuous, like hiking or running, or do you prefer to kick back at the shore of a beautiful lake with some brews and a fishing pole?

Having a clear understanding of your purpose for the trip will help guide the answers you provide for the remaining trip-planning questions.

2. Where will you go camping?

Now that you know why you are going camping, it's time to select a destination. Again, knowing the purpose can help guide your decision here.

If you are planning to go on a weekend camping trip with your spouse and kids, and you prefer to interact with other families, then selecting a family-friendly campground that's not too far from home would be an ideal choice.

If it's just you and a few friends looking to get together for a fun, relaxing weekend, and you want to be away from the crowds, you might consider boondocking on National Forest or BLM land, if such areas are accessible to you.

Wherever the destination, it is always best to do some research on the area to ensure it is open and available. Popular campgrounds are great options but can book up months in advance. Mountain destinations are beautiful, but access can be restricted if an unexpected weather event or fire occurs that prevents access. Always do your research and know before you go.

3. What type of camping will you be doing?

This question addresses the method by which you will camp. There is a multitude of options, depending on what you have access to and what suits the needs and desires of you and your camping crew.

Some of the more common options include:

Recreational Vehicle (RV) Camping

RV camping, also known as recreational vehicle camping, involves using a motorhome, camper trailer, or some other similar rig as a mobile accommodation. RVs are essentially portable homes on wheels that provide both transportation and living space, allowing people to travel and camp in comfort and convenience.

RV Camping

RVs come in various sizes and types, ranging from compact camper vans to larger motorhomes. They typically include amenities such as sleeping areas, a kitchenette or full kitchen, bathroom facilities, and dining/living areas. Some larger RVs may even feature additional amenities like air conditioning, heating, entertainment systems, and slide-out sections that expand the interior space when parked.

RV camping provides a self-contained camping experience. Campers drive their RVs to campsites or RV parks, where they can hook up to utilities such as electricity, water, and sewage. These campgrounds often offer amenities and facilities like restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, dump stations, picnic areas, and sometimes even recreational activities such as swimming pools or playgrounds. RV camping can also take place in more remote locations, known as boondocking or dry camping, where no hookups or amenities are available.

One of the advantages of RV camping is the convenience and comfort it provides. It allows campers to have a mobile home with them, complete with sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and bathroom facilities. This eliminates the need for setting up tents and provides more space and amenities than traditional tent camping. RVs also offer protection from the elements, such as rain or extreme temperatures, and can be more suitable for families or individuals who prefer a higher level of comfort while camping.

RV camping offers flexibility in travel and accommodation. Campers can explore various destinations and easily move from one place to another without the need for additional lodging arrangements. It allows people to bring along their own belongings, cook their own meals, and have access to familiar comforts while enjoying the outdoors.

However, it's important to note that RV camping requires planning and consideration. Campers need to consider factors such as the size and weight restrictions of their RV, campground availability and suitability, fuel costs, and maintenance of the vehicle. Additionally, RV camping may have different regulations and etiquette compared to traditional tent camping, so it's essential to be aware of and respect the rules and guidelines of the campgrounds being visited.

Tent Camping

Tent camping typically involves finding a suitable campsite, pitching a tent, and spending one or more nights in the tent. Campsites can vary, ranging from designated camping areas in national parks or campgrounds to more remote locations in the wilderness. Some campsites offer amenities such as restrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, and access to potable water, while others may have minimal facilities or none at all.

Tent Camping

Tents used for camping come in various sizes, shapes, and designs, ranging from small, lightweight backpacking tents to larger family-sized tents. They are typically made of durable materials, such as nylon or polyester, with waterproof coatings to protect against rain and moisture. Tents usually have a floor and a rainfly (a waterproof cover) to provide shelter from the elements and insects. They also have mesh panels for ventilation and to keep bugs out.

Tent camping allows individuals to have a personal and private space to sleep, store gear, and take shelter from the weather. It offers a sense of closeness to nature while still providing some comfort and protection compared to sleeping directly under the stars. It can be a solo activity for individuals seeking solitude or a social activity for families and friends to bond and enjoy outdoor experiences together.

While tent camping can be relatively simple and affordable, it does require some planning and preparation. This includes selecting a suitable tent, considering the number of occupants and weather conditions, bringing appropriate sleeping gear, packing essential camping supplies and equipment, and ensuring adherence to campground rules and safety guidelines.

Tent camping offers the opportunity to disconnect from the modern world, immerse oneself in nature, and enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, campfires, stargazing, and more. It is a versatile and accessible way to experience the great outdoors and create lasting memories.

Backpacking Camping

Backpacking camping, often referred to simply as backpacking, is when hikers carry their camping gear in a backpack and hike to their camping destination. It combines the activities of backpacking (hiking with a backpack) and camping (sleeping outdoors in a tent or shelter).

Backpacking Camping

Overlanding

Overlanding is a type of self-reliant, long-distance travel that typically involves driving over land in a specially equipped vehicle, such as an off-road vehicle, truck, or SUV. The primary objective of overlanding is to explore and experience remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations, often in rugged and challenging terrains.

Overlanding

Unlike traditional road trips, overlanding is characterized by its focus on the journey itself rather than the destination. Overlanders embrace the adventure and the process of traveling through diverse landscapes, encountering different cultures, and immersing themselves in nature.

Key features and aspects of overlanding include:

1. Vehicle Preparation

Overlanding requires a well-equipped and capable vehicle that can handle off-road conditions. Modifications and additions are often made to enhance the vehicle's capabilities, such as adding roof racks, auxiliary fuel tanks, suspension upgrades, off-road tires, and communication equipment.

2. Self-Sufficiency

Overlanders aim to be self-sufficient during their journeys, carrying essential supplies, equipment, and provisions needed for extended periods on the road. This can include camping gear, cooking equipment, food, water, fuel, tools, spare parts, and navigation aids.

3. Remote and Unexplored Destinations

Overlanding focuses on reaching remote and less-traveled destinations, such as national parks, wilderness areas, deserts, mountains, and other challenging terrains. These journeys often involve navigating through unpaved roads, dirt tracks, and even off-road trails.

4. Camping and Outdoor Living

Overlanders typically camp along their routes, setting up camp in designated campgrounds, wild camping spots, or other suitable areas. They embrace the outdoors and connect with nature, enjoying activities like hiking, fishing, photography, and stargazing.

5. Slow Travel and Flexibility

Overlanding emphasizes a slower pace of travel, allowing for flexibility and the ability to deviate from planned routes based on changing circumstances or newfound discoveries. It's about taking the time to appreciate the journey and adapt to unforeseen situations.

Overlanding can range from short expeditions lasting a few days to epic transcontinental journeys spanning several months or even years. The spirit of overlanding lies in the spirit of adventure, exploration, self-reliance, and a desire to escape the confines of traditional travel to seek out unique and remote experiences.

It's important to note that overlanding should be conducted with a focus on responsible and sustainable travel, respecting local communities, and minimizing the impact on the environment.

Bicycle/Motorcycle Camping

Bicycle camping and motorcycle camping are when people use bicycles or motorcycles as their primary means of transportation and carry their camping gear to explore and camp in various locations.

Bicycle Camping

Bicycle Camping

Cyclists load their camping gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and other essentials, onto their bicycles or trailers specifically designed for bike touring. They then ride their bicycles to designated campgrounds, remote campsites, or even wild camping spots. Bicycle camping allows for a slower-paced journey, close connection with nature, and the opportunity to cover longer distances compared to hiking.

Motorcycle Camping

Motorcyclists load their camping equipment, including a lightweight tent, sleeping gear, cooking utensils, and other necessary items, onto their motorcycles. They embark on journeys, often on paved and sometimes unpaved roads, to reach camping destinations. Motorcycle camping offers the freedom to explore more extended distances, access remote areas, and cover diverse terrains while enjoying the convenience and speed of motorized travel.

Both bicycle camping and motorcycle camping offer unique advantages and experiences:

1. Freedom and Mobility

Both modes of transportation allow campers to travel freely and cover greater distances compared to hiking or walking. They provide the flexibility to explore various routes, access remote locations, and discover hidden gems.

2. Outdoor Experience

Bicycle and motorcycle camping provide an immersive outdoor experience. Campers can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature as they ride through scenic landscapes, camp under the stars, and engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, or wildlife observation.

3. Minimalist Approach

Due to the limited carrying capacity of bicycles or motorcycles, campers must pack light and prioritize essential gear. This minimalist approach fosters a sense of simplicity, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance while minimizing the burden of excess weight.

4. Sense of Adventure

Bicycle and motorcycle camping can be inherently adventurous, offering a blend of freedom, exploration, and a connection with the open road. Campers can navigate winding roads, tackle challenging terrains, and enjoy the thrill of the journey itself.

Glamping, short for "glamorous camping," combines the comforts and amenities of traditional indoor lodging with the immersive experience of camping. It offers individuals the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature while enjoying luxurious amenities and conveniences.

Glamping

In glamping, accommodations are typically designed to be more upscale, stylish, and comfortable compared to traditional camping. Instead of traditional tents, glamping sites often feature various types of structures such as safari tents, yurts, treehouses, cabins, domes, or even luxurious RVs or trailers. These structures are equipped with comfortable beds, cozy furnishings, heating or air conditioning, electricity, and private bathrooms with hot showers and flushing toilets.

The concept of glamping revolves around creating a unique and high-end outdoor experience. Some glamping sites offer additional amenities such as private decks, fire pits, outdoor seating areas, fully equipped kitchens or kitchenettes, Wi-Fi access, and even on-site dining options. The goal is to provide guests with a comfortable and pampered stay while immersing them in nature.

Glamping sites are often located in scenic and natural surroundings, such as national parks, forests, coastal areas, or other picturesque landscapes. They allow guests to appreciate the beauty of nature, engage in outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife spotting, or stargazing, and enjoy the tranquility of the outdoors without sacrificing comfort.

Glamping appeals to a wide range of people, including those who desire a unique and luxurious camping experience, those who prefer not to invest in camping gear, and those who want to enjoy the outdoors without compromising on comfort or amenities. It is popular among couples, families, and individuals seeking a more glamorous and memorable way to connect with nature.

4. When and for how long will you be camping?

Now that you know why you are going camping, where you will be camping, and how you will be doing it, it's time to decide when to go and for how long. Again, this can be highly variable depending on the purpose of the camping trip.

Of course, you're availability and the availability of your fellow campers is a critical consideration. Most people who work 9-5 jobs will camp on a Saturday and Sunday when they are off work, with a possible extension to Friday and/or Monday if feasible. You will want to consider this fact if you plan on visiting a place that may have high traffic. This is particularly true during the more pleasant times of the year, such as the spring and summer when the milder weather attracts more people to the outdoors.

5. Who will you go camping with?

A camping experience is always best when shared! If you don't already have a family to join you on a camping trip, consider inviting friends. This can be particularly fun when you have activities planned around the trip, such as fishing, running, hiking, or cycling.

6. What will you do while camping?

If you want to just sit around and do nothing, you can always do that at home. When exploring the great outdoors, the experience is enhanced by including fun activities.

Thinking back to your purpose for the trip, consider congruent activities. Is this a fun trip with a bunch of pals? Having games like cornhole or horseshoes is a great way to pass the time outdoors. Having a guitar for campfire songs can also be fun.

If the purpose of the trip is to do an epic hike, then having all of the appropriate hiking equipment will be critical.

Whatever your reason for camping, make sure to select activities that mesh with that purpose.

How to plan an epic camping trip

Plan your meals.

Decide on your meals in advance, considering the duration of your trip and the availability of cooking facilities. Prepare a menu and create a shopping list for all the ingredients you'll need. Consider simple and easy-to-cook meals that are suitable for camping, and don't forget snacks and drinks.

Pack Properly

Organize your camping gear, clothing, food, and personal items efficiently. Pack items in sturdy containers or waterproof bags to protect them from moisture. Prioritize essential items and ensure you have appropriate clothing for various weather conditions.

Check Local Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the camping rules and regulations of the chosen location. Be aware of any fire restrictions, waste disposal guidelines, wildlife precautions, BLM or other federal land regulations, and other important information to ensure you abide by the rules and leave no trace.

Safety First

Prioritize safety during your camping trip. Share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member and ensure you have reliable communication devices such as a mobile phone or a two-way radio. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures, including the location of the nearest medical facilities.

Leave No Trace

Respect the environment and leave your campsite as pristine as you found it. Follow the principles of "Leave No Trace" by properly disposing of waste, minimizing your impact on the surroundings, and being mindful of wildlife habitats.

Enjoy the Experience

Once you're at your campsite, relax, unwind, and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Disconnect from technology, connect with your fellow campers, and savor the tranquility and adventure that camping provides.

Remember, flexibility and adaptability are key when camping. Embrace the unexpected and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly to make the most of your experience.

We hope this article helps you plan a memorable camping trip that you will remember for years to come. Remember, every camping trip is a learning experience. With each outing, you will better understand what to do, where to go, and who should join you, depending on the purpose of your epic camping trip.

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Back Road Ramblers

Epic 7-Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary (Camping Edition)

By Author Tara Schatz

Posted on Published: September 20, 2023

Categories Destinations , road trips , Southwestern United States , United States , Western United States

Towering red rocks against a turquoise sky. Vast landscapes of barbed plants. Rugged hiking trails. Spring carpets of colorful wildflowers. Arizona conjures up all kinds of beautifully accurate desert associations.

Scenes from an Arizona road trip - red rocks, snowcapped mountains, and a campervan.

And a few that have been designed to strike fear into your non-desert-dwelling heart — coiled rattlesnakes waiting behind every giant saguaro, cactus spines that jump right off the plant into your tender skin, and sun so hot that just looking at it will leave you listless.

The truth is that Arizona’s varied topography and huge tracts of public land make it the ideal destination for outdoor lovers, who come from all over the world to discover a bit of Arizona magic.

Arizona is the ideal state for a camping road trip, and your biggest issue will be pairing down your trip to aptly explore a state that offers a lifetime of adventures.

Table of Contents

Check out Escape Campervans for an Enchanting Arizona Road Trip

Eric playing a little guitar in our Escape Campervan rental.

Because my dad called Arizona home for many years, Eric and I have spent lots of time exploring, and each time we visit, we are a little more blown away but Arizona’s varied beauty.

In February, we tried a new-to-us adventure — an Arizona road trip with Escape Campervans . We picked up our campervan in Phoenix, just a few miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and from there we motored to the Superstition Mountains, north to Cottonwood and Sedona, and south again for a few days of camping near Phoenix.

Our seven-day road trip took us through three state parks, two national forests, and two national monuments. We hiked dozens of trails, camped under the canopy of a billion stars, and shivered through a couple of snow storms.

This was our very first van-camping trip and it surpassed our expectations in so many ways!

As avid tent campers, setting up and breaking down camp is just second nature. We do it without complaining, and we don’t even hate sleeping on the ground.

Having the ability to wake up and drive from our campground to the trailhead (or the coffee shop) was a game changer for me. As was climbing into a cozy bed with real sheets each night. We even had heat for three nights of our trip (thanks to electricity at the campground and a plug-in space heater).

I will freely admit to being smitten with van camping, and I’ve already started planning more adventures.

Disclaimer: We are affiliate partners with Escape Campervans, and except for an auto insurance policy, our van rental was free. We designed our Arizona road trip itinerary and paid out of pocket for all other expenses.

7-Day Arizona Road Trip Map

Google map showing our Arizona road trip.

Day 1: Phoenix to Lost Dutchman State Park

Drive time: Approximately 40 minutes

An Escape Campervan in Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona.

The Phoenix area is known locally as the Valley of the Sun, and it’s surrounded by jagged mountains just begging to be explored.

The good news is that you don’t have to travel far to explore these beautiful mountains, especially on the first full day of your Arizona road trip.

Put your van in drive and head east for about 40 minutes to Lost Dutchman State Park on the edge of the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest. This is one of Arizona’s most popular state parks in the winter and spring, so be sure to make camping reservations ahead of time.

There are 135 sites at Lost Dutchman, 68 of which have electricity and water hookups. The bathrooms have free hot showers and a dishwashing station for easy clean-up. Sites are $25 for “rustic” sites without hookups and $35 for sites with hookups.

Located at 3,000 feet in elevation, the campground offers three campground loops with no limit on RV size.

During our February visit, we only encountered RVs and campervans, and I suspect that tent camping is far less popular due to the large paved pads and prickly plants covering much of the ground.

Insider tip: When you pick up your Escape Campervan , definitely ask for the electric kit ($40 extra), which includes an extension cord, power strip, and a small space heater. We used the space heater four out of seven nights during our February trip (whenever we had an electric hookup at our campsite). The temperatures were well below freezing, but we were very toasty in the campervan.

Take a Hike into the Superstition Wilderness

Superstition Mountains in Arizona.

So many trails loop through Lost Dutchman State Park and lead into Tonto National Forest, and many of them can be combined to create longer loops.

During our stay at Lost Dutchman State Park, we were able to squeeze in an afternoon hike and a morning hike before moving north, but if you want to explore more of the park, plan on camping here for two nights instead of one.

Treasure Loop Trail #56 :  This 2.4-mile loop gives you a nice overview of the area by looping through the foothills at the base of the mountains. It’s rated as moderate and gains 500 feet in elevation. In late February through March, this is one of the  best wildflower trails  you’re likely to come across (dependent on winter rains).

Siphon Draw Trail : Siphon Draw winds into the canyon and up to the top of Flatiron Mountain, gaining 2,640 feet in elevation over 2.75 miles (5.5 miles round-trip). We hiked for a few miles into the canyon but did not make it to Flatiron. The last mile is a steep scramble, and not maintained. It’s a gorgeous hike, even if you don’t make it to the top.

Day 2: Montezuma Castle National Monument and Cottonwood, Arizona

Drive time: 2.5 hours

Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ will be your home base for the next three days and nights. From this lovely state park, you’ll be within an easy drive of some of our favorite spots in Arizona, including Sedona, Jerome, and Montezuma Castle.

You will not run out of things to do, I promise!

Drive north on Interstate 17, which travels from the land of endless sunshine into the rocky mountains of central Arizona.

Check out Montezuma National Monument in Camp Verde, Arizona

Montezuma Castle National Monument.

It’s a bit of a misnomer, as Montezuma Castle has nothing to do with Montezuma, the famous Aztec emperor, nor is it a castle.

The dwellings at Montezuma Castle National Monument were built by the Sinagua People, who were living in the Verde Valley as early as 650 CE.

Montezuma Castle is a collection of 20 rooms originally belonging to multiple families, similar to a modern-day apartment building. The Sinagua lived in pueblos and cliff dwellings until around 1400 CE and then abandoned them for unknown reasons.

It’s a short, 1/3-mile accessible trail leading to the base of the cliffs, and while visitors aren’t permitted to see Montezuma Castle up close, it’s still impressive to view it from the ground. After reading interpretive signs and viewing the Sinagua ruins, loop back to the Visitor Center along Beaver Creek.

Entry into Montezuma Castle National Monument is $10 for adults. Children under 15 are admitted free.

Insider tip: This trip explores two national monuments and Coconino National Forest. Entrance to all of these sites can be obtained by purchasing an annual America the Beautiful Pass for $80. You can purchase yours at Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Explore Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona

Decorative mural in Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona.

Head into civilization for a bit to explore the adorable mountain town of Cottonwood where the streets are lined with wineries and shops, and the snow-capped mountains loom just beyond town.

An afternoon is all you’ll need to explore Old Town Cottonwood, but you’re staying just down the road at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, so chances are, you’ll be here for meals, shopping, and sipping for the next few days. Here are some of the cool spots we discovered while meandering around town:

Rubrix Wine (formerly Burning Tree Cellars ): We couldn’t visit Arizona without trying a few of the local wines. I wish I could say that we researched a bunch before choosing, but honestly, we were walking through Old Town Cottonwood when it started pouring, so we popped into Rubrix Wines for a tasting.

We chose to do a combo flight of red and white wines and while we enjoyed them all, we went “home” with a bottle of the 2020 Colibri Syrah, which was rich and complex, perfect for a cold night in the van.

Pizzeria Bocce in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Pizzeria Bocce : We asked all the locals we could find where we should eat in Old Town and without exception, everyone said we should go to Pizzeria Bocce.

There was a short wait for indoor seating, so we opted for a table outside. We enjoyed a hand-stretched wood-fired pizza, local craft beers (Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale), and a special Valentine’s Day dessert sampler.

Food: 5/5 stars Beer: 4/5 stars Service: 6/5 stars

Belfry Brewery : We popped into Belfry to sample a few beers and did not try the food, but it looked delicious. We tried McKillion’s Irish Red   Ale (sweet and malty) and a Heavenweizen (refreshing).

Old Town Cafe : For the biggest, flakiest croissants and a heavy pour of strong coffee, stop at Old Town Cafe!

Home-Sweet-Home: Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

100+ RV sites with no size restrictions, electricity and water hookups, and fully heated bathhouses with free hot showers. This is why we chose to spend a few nights at Dead Horse Ranch State Park .

Gorgeous sunrises, wonderful camping neighbors, and a fantastic location. These are things we appreciated after we spent three days here. There are also 20+ miles of trails that we didn’t get a chance to take advantage of (this time).

At Dead Horse Ranch State Park, there are three camping loops for RVs or tents and an additional loop that is reserved only for tents.

Because it was so busy during our February trip, we reserved two nights in Red-Tailed Hawk and an additional night in Cooper’s Hawk for $35 per night.

Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire pit, and a hookup for electricity and water. Sites are close together and there isn’t much privacy, especially in the winter without leaves on the trees or bushes.

The amenities and friendliness of the staff made up for the lack of privacy, and we loved coming back to Dead Horse Ranch State Park each evening. Camping here was one of the best parts of our Arizona road trip itinerary!

Days 3 and 4: Hiking in Sedona Arizona and Exploring Jerome

Drive time: 30-minute day trips

sedona hiking

Just 30 minutes north of Cottonwood and Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Sedona might as well be on another planet.

And while we loved hiking in Sedona more than any other part of our trip, we’re so glad that we stayed in Cottonwood. Sedona is a busy place, and we really appreciated the peace and quiet of our campground after our hikes.

The truth is you could spend months exploring Sedona hiking trails without hiking the same path twice, and while many trails require rock scrambles and uphill climbs, there are plenty of easy hikes in Sedona that you can tackle without much effort.

Hiking in Sedona was one of our primary goals on this trip, and we crammed a lot of hiking into days 3 and 4, plus the morning of day 5.

Our favorite trail of all of them was Brins Mesa-Soldier Pass Loop, which was 5.5 miles of enchantment. Here’s an overview of nine easy Sedona hiking trails so you can plan a perfect couple of days of hiking.

Eric sitting near the Seven Sacred Pools in Sedona, Arizona.

Here’s how we scheduled our hikes into this part of our Arizona Road Trip itinerary:

  • Day 3: Brins Mesa-Soldier Pass Loop (5.5-mile loop rated moderate) and Chapel Trail (1.9 miles round-trip rated easy).
  • Day 4: Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte (3.9-mile loop rated as easy/moderate) and Baldwin Trail (2.5-mile loop rated easy).
  • Morning of Day 5: Marg’s Draw (4 miles round-trip rated easy).

If you have more time to spend, and you enjoy hiking, I would definitely add a day or two in Sedona. There are so many lovely trails for all skill levels to choose from.

Explore Jerome, Arizona

Jerome, Arizona covered with snow.

Located just nine miles from Dead Horse Ranch State Park, you should have time to spend an afternoon or evening in the tiny village of Jerome, which is perched precariously on the side of Cleopatra Hill and boasts a fascinating history.

The town sprung up around a booming copper mine and was once known as the “Wickedest Town in the West.”

Jerome was once the fifth-largest town in Arizona, with 15,000 residents. When the copper mine closed in 1953, the population quickly dwindled to fewer than 100 hearty souls.

Today, Jerome is a delightful mix of art colony and tourist destination with an abundance of shops, wineries, and restaurants. Its hillside location provides incredible views of distant Sedona, the San Francisco Peaks, and the Mogollon Rim.

To learn everything you could possibly want to know about the history of Jerome at Jerome State Historic Park, and then head into town for a history walk and lunch at the Haunted Hamburger .

Day 5 and 6: Tonto National Forest at Roosevelt Lake

Four Peaks and a Cholla cactus.

Time to head south again! From Sedona, take the gorgeous Red Rock Scenic Byway (State Route 179) south and take in a few last views of Red Rock Country. From here, you’ll be taking Route 260 to Route 188 into Tonto National Forest and Cholla Recreation Site on Roosevelt Lake.

This is a beautiful drive, with high-elevation mountains and snow in the winter.

For lunch, I recommend stopping at THAT Brewery in Pine. They have a great selection of beers and the food, while nothing out of the ordinary, is fresh and tasty.

THAT Brewery lunch in Pine, Arizona.

Cholla Campground is a sprawling desert campground in Tonto National Forest on Roosevelt Lake, which is central Arizona’s largest Lake, and an important stop for migratory birds.

Each of its 206 campsites has a shade ramada, firepit, grill, and picnic table. Playgrounds, showers, restrooms, and potable water faucets are scattered throughout the campground and there is a paved boat launch nearby.

Our Escape Campervan in Cholla Campground, Tonto National Forest.

The tent sites here were our favorite. They are right on the water and very secluded. Alas, with our campervan, we were stuck in the RV area, but our site was spacious and our camping neighbors were very nice.

During our two-day stay at Cholla Campground, we saw and heard so many birds! Pelicans, geese, and ducks were plentiful on the water, and our campground was full of warblers, finches, quail, and roadrunners. We spotted a few eagles and osprey too!

There are numerous trails throughout the campground and leading into the hills. The best way to explore this area is to just meander and see where the wind blows you!

Tonto National Monument

Tonto National Monument in Arizona.

Another really interesting cliff-dwelling that you can go right into, Tonto National Monument preserves two ruins built by the Salado culture, who lived in the Tonto Basin between 1250 CE and 1450 CE.

According to archeologists, the Tonto Basin was a true cultural melting pot, a mix of Ancestral Puebloan, Ancient Sonoran Desert People, and Mogollon cultures.

Entrance into Tonto National Monument is $10 per adult. Children and America the Beautiful pass holders are admitted free. From the Visitor Center, you can hike a steep 1/4-mile trail to the lower cliff dwelling.

The lower cliff dwelling is open from 8 am to 4 pm between September 1st and May 31st. In the hot summer months, the trail closes at 12 pm.

Tours are offered to the Upper Cliff Dwelling  from November through April, every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but must be booked in advance.

The hike up to the lower cliff dwelling was a tough one, but it was so worth it. A ranger is available to answer all questions and the views of Roosevelt Lake are gorgeous.

Bonus – Tonto National Monument is just nine miles from your campground!

Day 7: McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Our Escape Campervan at a campsite in McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

From Tonto National Forest, it’s time to head back toward Phoenix for your last night of camping. Escape Campervan drop-off times are between 8:30 and 10 am, which is why we chose a campground close to Phoenix for our last evening.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park is a massive county park (21,099 acres) with excellent hiking and mountain biking trails and beautiful, spacious campsites. I had no idea that a county park could be so incredible.

A northern mockingbird in McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

We hiked a few of the trails near our campsite, but this last day was mostly spent tidying up the campervan, packing our bags, and eating up the last of our food.

There are more than 40 miles of trails throughout the park and 75 campsites, each with a picnic table and fire ring. Flush toilets and free hot showers are provided in each campground loop, and ranger-led programs are offered on the weekend.

Extend Your Arizona Road Trip!

We wanted to spend more time at every single place we visited on our Arizona road trip, but all good things must come to an end, at least for now!

If you have more than a week to spend on your Arizona road trip, we’ve got even more ideas for you!

  • Visit Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge
  • Say Hi to the Wild Burrows in Oatman, Arizona
  • Go Camping on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Follow us on social media for more road trip inspiration!

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An Escape Campervan on an Arizona Road Trip.

Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She is the co-author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont and currently blogs at Back Road Ramblers and Vermont Explored , where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone.

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How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip [7-Part Series of Ideas to Consider]

by Angela Hardman

SOWLE RV | How to Plan for an RV Camping Trip

It is super easy for us to book a reservation at a local campground, pack up our Travel Trailer, and head to the lake for a weekend (or longer) trip. We have done it for many, many years. However, when we purchased an additional RV, a motor home, so that we can travel a little further, we didn’t even think about HOW we would book a campsite or WHERE we would go! We really needed to figured out How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip all over again!

How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip: The Questions

I mean sure, we had locations in mind but not actual campgrounds or any idea what campsites are like anywhere else! Honestly, it had me a little stressed at first because I AM A PLANNER! I MUST have a plan (in my head at least) and then if things change, then I can deal with it then.

Many questions then began to run through my mind… Do we need to research memberships? Which ones? Is there an App to help us make reservations if we don’t stay in a state park? Which one? What is the best way to keep all our information straight? Do we need a Travel Planner? Which one? There are so many questions about how to do this new-to-us way of RV Camping!

How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip: The 7-Part Series of Ideas to Consider

Here is our next BIG SERIES!!! We will share with you what we have found that works best on How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip!

Included in the How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip [7-Part Series of Ideas to Consider] are the following articles:

5 Essential Steps in Planning for an RV Camping Trip – We discuss the 5 essential steps in planning an Epic RV Camping Trip starting with the Trial Run and ending with Menu Planning!

How to Document Your Travel Memories – We share 11 creative ways to document all of your RV Camping Trips! You do not want to forget any trips so documenting them is a fun way to remind all family members of the adventures!

The Complete List of State Park Passes – This is a Complete List of every state park in every one of the 50 United States!

5 of the Best RV Camping   Memberships and Pass Options – We give detailed information about 5 of the very BEST RV Camping Memberships that can save you lots of money!

National Park Pass Options that may get you in for FREE – We list 7 Amazing National Park Pass Options for you to choose from!

How to Make RV Camping Reservations with App Support – We share the top 10 apps for making RV Camping Reservations to get you under the stars fast!

Introducing the S.O.W.L.E. As You G.O.A.L. FREE printable TRAVEL BINDER – 50 FREE Travel Binder Pages to Print out so that you can keep track of all of your travel plans in one place! Updated annually.      

Get the Entire How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip [7-Part Series of Ideas to Consider] Now!

Don’t miss out! Sign up to receive the entire “How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip [7-Part Series of Ideas to Consider]” sent to your Inbox so you do not miss a thing! 

Conclusion of How to Plan for an Epic RV Camping Trip [7-Part Series of Ideas to Consider]

We hope that this 7-Part Series will help you learn how to plan for an epic RV Camping Trip! if you have any questions for us, drop it in the comments below or Contact Us privately !

*TRAVEL NOTICE*

SOWLE RV recognizes that these are uncertain times for traveling during the Covid-19 Pandemic. While we continue to share information about RV Camping and Traveling, we are not encouraging you to travel at this time. We suggest that you make travel plans and wait to follow through with those plans until it is safe to do so in your area. If you do plan to go RV Camping now, we strongly suggest that you practice Social and Physical Distancing, and observe all safety precautions during this pandemic.

*AFFILIATE LINK NOTICE*

This post may contain affiliate links.  Additionally, SOWLE RV (Soaring On Wings Like Eagles RV), is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. It is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This results in NO additional expense to you and helps us to continue to offer free content on our website.

Bearfoot Theory

Car Camping 101: Complete Beginners Guide

Plan an epic camping trip with this complete 101 guide to camping for beginners including tips for planning, what to pack, gear, and cooking.

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

Is it your first time camping or are you looking to take your camping game to the next level? Consider this your car camping 101 crash course! You’ll learn everything you need to know about camping for beginners including how to plan an epic camping trip, what to pack, what gear you’ll need to be comfortable, what to cook, and more.

Camping is an easy and enjoyable way for any kind of outdoor enthusiast, beginner or not, to get outside and soak up the benefits of the great outdoors. If you plan it right, your camping trip will put you close to hiking trails and other outdoor adventures. It’s also one of the best introductions to sleeping under the stars for those who are interested in learning how to backpack. Plus, car camping makes it easy to score scenic (and secluded) spots, travel locally on a budget, and do more in a shorter amount of time.

Ready for an epic car camping trip? This guide to camping for beginners has you covered!

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How to Plan a Car Camping Trip

How to pick a campsite, how to pack for a car camping trip.

  • Camp Cooking Essentials

What to Wear Car Camping

  • How to Leave No Trace

How to Find Things to Do While Car Camping

Taking the time to prepare for your first car camping trip will allow you to make the most of your experience. Luckily, planning ahead doesn’t take up a whole lot of time and you’ll have a much better shot at snagging the best campsites on the dates that you actually want them. It might take a little bit of practice to get into the swing of things, but after your first few car camping trips, you’ll be a pro at navigating online reservations and scoring some prime real estate.

Here’s a quick guide to planning your first car camping trip:

  • Pick a region that you want to visit, and start exploring the campgrounds in the region.
  • Pick a few dates that will work for your car camping trip. Consider your schedule, your companion’s schedule (unless you’re going solo!), and weather.
  • Determine how many nights you’d like to camp.
  • Look into the reservation process: Is it first-come, first-serve or are advance reservations required?
  • Make a reservation (if needed), then start planning your itinerary by researching the area.

If you’ll be camping in the fall, check out our tips for camping in fall so you can prepare for changing weather and stay warm.

Pro Tip: Reservations for campgrounds in popular areas such as National Parks and beaches tend to fill up months in advance, especially in the summer and around holidays. Look up the places you want to visit as far in advance as possible to see when campground reservations open, then mark your calendars so you can book as soon as reservations open.

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

There are a variety of different types of campsites out there. Some campsites are tent only while some can accommodate larger vehicles like vans and truck campers or have full hookups for RVs, and some campsites are designed for large groups. Most campgrounds also have a few accessible campsites designed to accommodate wheelchairs.

Another thing to point out is that in addition to paid campgrounds that generally cost anywhere from $8-35/night, there are also plenty of free campsites (also called dispersed campsites) across the U.S. Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between the two.

Paid Campsites

Paid campsites are established campsites at campgrounds that are managed by a public lands agency, the state, or a private owner. They require a fee that varies by location and the type of amenities they provide. At minimum, paid campsites usually have pit-toilets, picnic tables, and a fire pit while some have more features and services such as flush toilets, hot showers, potable water, and dish washing stations.

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed campsites are free campsites located on public lands and can be found mainly across the Western US. They are places people have camped at before, but they aren’t actively managed by a camp host. They usually don’t have amenities like water, bathrooms, trash cans, and picnic tables so you’ll have to come fully prepared with everything you need.

If you decide to dispersed camp, you’ll need to be ready to pack out all your trash (including toilet paper) and everything you bring with you in accordance with Leave No Trace principles. Since dispersed campsites don’t have bathrooms, you’ll also need to bring a toilet with you or know how to properly poop outdoors with minimal impact where this is allowed. Note that many places are starting to require you to bring a basic toilet system since they are becomming more impacted as more people get outside, so be sure to check the requirements of the areas you plan to camp in to arrive prepared. Always pack out all your used toilet paper and do your best to leave the places you camp better than you found them.

>> Check out my favorite tools and apps for finding free campsites

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

Having your car camping gear dialed will make packing for your camping trip a breeze, plus once you’ve got it all together, you’ll always be ready for spur-of-the-moment camping trips. Consider a good set of car camping gear an investment for years of camping trips and outdoor adventures.

Check out our complete Car Camping Packing Checklist for a full rundown of all the items we take on car camping trips, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter to get access to our free resource library which includes a downloadable, printable packing list so you don’t forget anything when you’re loading the car.

For you ladies out there, these camping tips for women share a few additional items we like to bring along to help us feel fresh and clean on camping trips.

If you’re heading out in the winter or shoulder seasons, check out or post on cold weather camping tips to help you stay warm.

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

Car Camping Cooking Essentials

It’s easy to become a camp chef when you’ve got a fully-stocked camp kitchen for your car camping trip. Start by getting your cooking essentials organized in a bin with a lid so it’s all in one place – that’ll make it easy to load into the car, find what you need at camp, and store at home, ready for your next adventure. Add a few dynamite recipes that can feed a crowd and you’re golden.

Check out the full list of my favorite camp cooking essentials to get your camp kitchen gear together. These Stanley cookware and drinkware items make great additions to any camp kitchen as well.

It helps to plan your meals in advance so you can buy and bring what you need without ending up with all kinds of excess items you don’t end up using. Doing a little prep work at home will make cooking at camp easier too and will give you more time to hike and enjoy the area.

Ready to get cooking? You’ll find all my best beginner camping cooking tips in these blog posts:

  • The Best One-Pot Camping Meals
  • A Guide to the Best Camp Coffee
  • How to Use an Aeropress Coffee Maker

Cooking at camp / This complete guide to beginner camping will turn you into a camping pro in no time

We recommend packing comfortable activewear for your camping trip. Think versatile pieces that don’t show dirt easily, can be worn more than once, and can be layered. Go for breathable moisture-wicking base layers that have a good amount of stretch – clothing you can lounge in, hike in, and really do anything in. I suggest avoiding cotton, as it retains moisture and won’t keep you cool, warm, or dry if you get sweaty. You’ll want warm outer layers like an insulated jacket, hiking pants, and a rain jacket as well depending on the weather, plus a warm pair of socks, a hat, and gloves especially if the temps will dip down after sunset. Be sure to check the forecast before heading out and pack plenty of layers in case of unexpected weather.

Check out our guide on what to wear hiking for some good car camping apparel suggestions.

You’ll find plenty more suggestions for comfortable, versatile, car camping clothing in these blog posts:

  • What to Wear Hiking in Fall
  • Winter Hiking Clothing & Cold Weather Layering Basics
  • The Best Lightweight Rain Jackets
  • The Best Synthetic Down Jackets for Women
  • The Best Women’s Hiking Pants
  • The Best Women’s Hiking Boots
  • The Best Women’s Hiking Underwear
  • Teva Sandals Review

Comfortable camping clothing / This complete guide to beginner camping will turn you into a camping pro in no time

How to Leave No Trace on Your Car Camping Trip

Take a few minutes to learn the seven principles of Leave No Trace , a set of guidelines created by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. These guidelines will help you reduce your impact while enjoying the outdoors when you’re car camping. As more people get outside, it’s more important than ever that each and every one of us follow Leave No Trace principles so we can take care of the places we recreate in and leave them better than we found them whenever possible.

Here are a few more helpful guides that dive into different aspects of Leave No Trace as well as the unspoken rules of the trail:

  • How to Pick a Campsite and Leave No Trace
  • How to Reduce Waste on Car Camping Trips
  • Campfire Safety Tips
  • Trail Etiquette 101: The Basic Rules of Hiking
  • How to Poop Outdoors and Leave No Trace

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

Going car camping is one of the best launchpads to more outdoor adventures, or to simply soak it all in and have a great time hanging outside. If you’re looking for some ideas or want to know what to do while car camping, we’ve got a few tips.

  • Look up local hikes near your campsite – here are some of The Best Trailfinder Apps and Websites for Discovering Local Hikes
  • Practice your photography – here are some photography tips from a pro photographer
  • Listen to some of the Best Outdoor Podcasts 
  • Bring along something to keep you occupied at camp: A Sketch pad and pencils, a hammock and a great book (check out our roundup of the best adventure books ), a deck of cards, a ukulele or guitar — if you’re musically-inclined
  • If you’re camping close to town and go out to eat, sit at the bar and chat up the bartender to get some suggestions or local favorites
  • Use the REI MTB Project or Trailforks to find local bike trails
  • Download a constellation app, like Sky Map, for stargazing on a clear night

This complete guide to camping for beginners covers what to pack, what to do, how to find campsites, and more.

Got any questions about car camping for beginners? Leave a comment below!

Related Posts

Plan an epic car camping trip with this complete beginner guide including tips for finding campsites, gear, cooking, what to pack, and more.

With two decades of hiking and seven years of van life under her belt, Kristen has has dedicated her life to helping people experience the positive effects of nature. As a pioneer in the outdoor blogging space, she founded Bearfoot Theory in 2014 and has since authored more than 350 blog posts about outdoor travel, hiking, camping, and van life. Her writing empowers more than 2.5 million people every year to prioritize time outside by equipping them with a robust outdoor skill set and preparing them to face whatever challenges nature throws their way. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Backpacker, and when she’s not on the road, she lives in Park City, Utah with her partner Ryan, their son, and two adventure pups.

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10 Comments

This is a great comprehensive guide. I’m a total city girl and just went car camping for the first time last month. It’s a total game changer. I feel like the outdoors is so much more accessible to me now!

Glad you found this helpful and that you’re getting out there!

Thanks for reminding me to check with my companion’s schedule and consider the weather if we were to plan for our first camping trip. My friend mentioned that it is time for us to catch up and I suggested that we spend a weekend outdoors. Since she agreed, I’ll ask her when she would be available and see if it’s time to purchase a rooftop tent for my vehicle.

https://bundutecusa.com/bundutop-rooftop-tents

Hi there Kristen

Very impressed with this beginner’s guide.

Do you have any suggestions , of how to convert a LandRover Defender 110 into a camping car?

Looking forward ,

Hi Rolf, thanks for reading! We dont have any direct experience with a conversion like that but I’m sure it’s doable and that you could find some helpful resources online by googling that. My husband and I converted a Lexus GX470 into a camping car by taking out the back seats, installing a platform for a bed with storage space underneath, and creating a table and kitchen setup out of the back. Best of luck!

Good read and a good reminder to prepare. Planning is the key. It sounds easy and fun to jump in the car and go but there is actually a lot more to it.

Thanks for sharing such a fantastic ideas. It will be a great source of information for the people who are looking for it.

I totally agree with what you have said, I have taken down notes for our next camping adventures. I need to search more about LED tent lights thou for our tools at night.

A month before my elementary school’s graduation we were taken on a so called “Camping Trip and Make a Camping Tent .” Since this was my first ever time away from home without my parents, it’s stored in my ‘always gonna remember side of my brain.’ Even though we were in Year 6, we were already very mature and did stuff by our self.I totally agree with what you .

your story is interesting and i like it your idea to make a camping tent and enjoy the nature.

Yervana Outdoor Adventure

5 Tips for Planning Epic Summer Camping Trips

  • August 16, 2021
  • Maegan Matthews
  • Staycation Series

epic camping trips

The Yervana Staycation Series is your guide to staying local but keeping your travel spirits high! Throughout this series we will bring you staycation inspiration, guides to must-see destinations in BC and Alberta, road trip and weekend itineraries to help you plan, and a chance to win a staycation of your own!

Whether you’re an avid weekend warrior or you’re craving a little more adventure in your life, this summer is the perfect opportunity to get out and explore your local area. Are you ready to start planning epic adventures and summer camping trips? Keep reading for our camping planning tips!

epic camping trips

Enter our staycation giveaway!

We’ve partnered with two adventurous local companies to give you the chance to win a Staycation Camping Package for two . Head over to our Instagram page to enter and tag us in your summer adventures!

Ultimate Camping Staycation package includes:

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$250 Yervana Adventure Credit

Discover off the beaten path Adventures! Head out rafting, biking, hiking, rock climbing, and more, all hosted by locals!

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$250 Hipcash Booking Credit

Plan the ultimate end-of-summer camping trip in unique stays from tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping!

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epic camping trips

Get Camping Ready with these 5 Planning Tips! 

Camping gives us the perfect opportunity to escape the city life and connect with nature. Whether you’re a weekend warrior looking to get out and explore new areas or you’re in need of a little staycation to just sit back and relax, we’ve got 5 tips on how to plan an epic camping trip this summer for all types of campers!

1. Decide What Kind of ‘Camper’ You Are

Camping is all about sleeping under the stars, exploring and appreciating nature, indulging in traditional camp eats and enjoying the company of who you are with.

When it comes to how you camp there are options! Does the idea of pitching a tent under the stars and cooking your meals over an open flame sound enticing? Or does the thought of sleeping under a roof and enjoying coffee from the comforts provided by a campervan or RV sound like the perfect getaway?

Whether you’re pitching a rent, towing your camp trailer, or heading out in a converted campervan, camping is an incredible experience in nature.

Yervana Tip:  Find the best places to camp under the stars on Hipcamp! Perfect for every type of camper, you’ll find tent camping, glamping, treehouses, cabins, and RV spots!

2. Choose Your Adventure

No two camping trips are alike, which is why we love camping so much! Whether you plan camp-side adventures or head out for the day on a tour, there are so many fun things to choose! Most campsites provide many nearby attractions that can help you stay as busy or as relaxed as you’d like to be.

Depending on your location, try your hand at hiking, bird watching, biking, kayaking or spending time on the water. After the sun goes down, enjoy the lack of city lights and take in some serious star gazing.

Need some more ideas? Discover local-lead adventures around your camping area.

3. Plan Your Menu

This might be our favourite part! Which meals will you have on the trip? You can bring all your ingredients and chef around the fire or prepare meals and cook them on a propane stove. Looking for more of a glamping experience? Plan trips into nearby towns to get a taste of local cuisines! Pick a new local restaurant every day and find your favourite.

Yervana Tip:  Unless you’re a self proclaimed camp chef, making a delicious and nutritious camp meal can be a challenge! Which is why we love Backcountry Wok’s dehydrated Asian-inspired and plant-based meals. They are even made in 100% compostable packaging!

4. Map Out Your Stay

The camping experience you’re looking for depends heavily on where you decide to go camping. If you’re really looking to get get off the beaten path for the weekend, you’ll want a more secluded camping site. However, if you want to get out of town, but still have the amenities being close to civilization offers, then you’ll opt for a more frontcountry camping location.

When it comes to where you’re going to camp, you can either plan your trip in advance and book your campsites or opt to find a campsite while on route. Provincial campsites tend to fill up even before camping season begins so you need to plan ahead and book in fast!

Don’t get discouraged however if all the spots are booked before you’ve decided on where you want to go. Most campsites offer first-come-first-serve spots, so  if you like to live on the edge a little this can be a fun way to start your trip with the anticipation of not knowing exactly which campground you’ll end up staying at. Make sure to have a few options to try out and backup plan if they are all booked!

5. Enjoy the Moments

In the end, the point of camping is to escape from the city life, relax and have fun with your friends or family while enjoying the outdoors!

Share your local camping adventures with us by tagging your photos on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our page!

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JASPER, AB Mt Edith Cavell Meadows Picnic $101 per explorer

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CANMORE, AB Wilderness & Wildlife - 3hr Hiking Tour $55 per explorer

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GOLDEN, BC Kicking Horse River Rafting from $89 per explorer

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Intentional Travelers

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip

If you are you going on a long camping road trip, being prepared and packing the right gear can make a big difference. In this post, we’ll share our recommended packing list, with details on our favorite items.

* Download our printable Packing List PDF here *  

Updated: 2023. Originally published: 2016.

Disclosure: This free article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Your support helps us continue to provide helpful, free content for you.

Our Big Road Trips

So far, we’ve completed two epic road trips, one month each, through the National Parks. Our first road trip took us to about a dozen parks. We spent most of the month camping but tried to stay somewhere with a hot shower and wifi every four (or so) days. In the second road trip , we spent almost half of the time staying at friends’ houses, but we still had a two-week stint in the middle of the trip where we camped in National Parks.

Note: We get most of our camping gear from REI. Why?

  • Great products, reviews, and advice from a community of people that are passionate about outdoor adventures.
  • Great return policy and customer service.
  • Amazing benefits for becoming a member . Cost of membership? Free. Benefits like: you get 10% cash back off of regular priced items.
  • Access to their famous REI Garage Sales where you can get returned, hardly used items at ridiculous prices.

Table of Contents

Road Trip Camping List: Essentials

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

Tent with Rain Fly and Footprint We borrowed tents on both of our trips. While most nights we didn’t need the rain cover and footprint, we were really glad we had them for protection during two surprise storms. We Recommend: REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus Tent

Sleeping Bags We invested in mummy-style, down sleeping bags from REI Co-op which kept us warm when temperatures dipped into the 30’s at night in Banff. We Recommend: REI Co-op Trailmade Sleeping Bag

Compact Sleeping Pads On our first trip we took our own, bulky sleeping pads and they took up too much space in the car. (Air mattresses would also require extra room.) The second time around we borrowed some great, compact inflatable pads from our friends. We Recommend: REI Co-op Camp Bed Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

Camp Pillows We always kept a pillow in the front of the car with us as well, which doubled as back support on long drives. We Recommend: REI Co-op NEMO Fillo Pillow

Camp Towels We both have thin, quick dry towels from REI that take up very little space. We not only used them camping but also at one AirBnB rental which did not provide towels. We Recommend: REI Co-op Multi Towel

Fold-up Camping Chairs Camp chairs were perhaps our bulkiest item after the suitcase. The seating in most campsites is limited to a picnic table, so chairs are necessary if you want to be able to sit by your fire at night. We Recommend: REI Co-op Camp Chair

Hot/Cold Bag These take almost no space and can come in handy if your groceries exceed the size of your cooler. We Recommend: REI Co-op Cool Haul 24 Soft Cooler

Canvas Shopping Bags Multi-purpose f or grocery shopping, keeping clothing items separate, etc. We Recommend: Grocery Tote

Laptops and Laptop Cases Obviously these are not required for going into the wilderness, but for budding digital nomads like ourselves, we had to keep up on our online work every once in a while!

Bag for Cords and Chargers It’s easy to lose track of cords and chargers for your electronics, so we keep them all in one bag. Remember to bring chargers that can be used in your car.

Large Rolling Duffle Our one big suitcase from REI acted as storage for the bulk of our clothing and toiletries. We like to keep our clothing a bit neater by packing in separate canvas bags or packing cubes within the suitcase. We Recommend: REI Co-op Big Haul Recycled Rolling Duffel and Eagle Creek packing cubes

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

Small Suitcase for Overnights Due to the nature of our second car camping road trip, we made a lot of short stops at friends’ houses so we packed a small carry-on bag with the stuff we needed that night and left the rest in the large suitcase in the car.

Day Backpack Jedd carried a small backpack on almost every day hike we did. It held a water bottle, camera, phone, bear spray, mosquito repellent, and extra jackets if necessary. We Recommend: REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack

Dust Broom and Pan This always comes in handy to dust off your tent before packing it up or clean your shoes after a hike. We Recommend: OXO Good Grips Little Dustpan and Brush Set

Bin for Cooking Stuff We kept all of our cooking-related items in one box so we could pull it all out easily for meals. We Recommend: IRIS Stack & Pull Clear Storage Box, 53 Quarts

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

Reusable Water Bottles Our Sahara waterbottle is excellent for staying cold, regardless of the outside temperature. Put an ice cube in there in the morning, there’s a good chance it will still be intact at the end of the day! They’re a bit hefty but we’ve managed to cart them around Jamaica for two years and all of our other trips too. If you’re camping without a clean water source, Sagan Life bottles have a built-in purification that eliminates 99% of bacteria, viruses, germs, and toxins. We Recommend: Tiger Sahara Sports Bottle 1.0L  

Blanket Apart from one chilly Ranger talk where I bundled up in the blanket, we primarily used the blanket to hide any items in the car that weren’t covered by the trunk.

All-Purpose Tool A leatherman or other all-purpose tool with knife and pliers has all sorts of uses and is a must-have in your long term camping gear. We Recommend: Leatherman Skeletool

Lantern and Headlamp We kept these in the tent for getting around the campsite at night. We Recommend: MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern & Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

Sunscreen Use SPF 30 or above with wide spectrum and remember that the sun can be stronger at higher altitude. Reef-friendly Broad Spectrum Sunscreen and other reef-safe options here

Small Bug Spray We found mosquitos in the most unexpected places, so it’s good to have something small and effective. We Recommend: Off! Family Care Insect Repellent and Ranger Ready deet-free repellent

*Take 10% off any travel-size bug spray at rangerready.com with code IntentionalTravelers10 >

Bear Spray According to the Park Rangers, making noise on a hike is the best way to avoid a scary encounter in bear country. But if you do encounter a bear up close, bear spray is almost 100% effective to deter them. For hiking in Parks like Banff and Glacier, it is highly recommended. (And you can donate them to the Park Rangers when you’re done.) Maximum Strength Bear Spray by Mace

iPhone with podcasts, music, audiobooks We made sure to have fresh downloads on the iPhone to keep us going during the long drives between stops.

Smartphone Holder and Car Charger How did we find anything without GPS and smartphones? This holder works great and this specific car charger can recharge phones (USB C and USB A inputs) quickly! We Recommend: iOttie Easy One Touch 4 Dash & Windshield Car Mount and Anker USB C Car Charger, 50W 2-Port PIQ 3.0 Fast Charger Adapter

Camera Thanks to a generous donation from our cousin, we had an excellent digital point-and-shoot which we carried with us everywhere. If you’re not a travel blogger or photographer, your smartphone will probably do the trick just fine. We Recommend: Sony RX100 VII

Umbrella We keep two compact-but-sturdy umbrellas under the seat of the car. We Recommend: Totes Compact

First Aid Kit While car camping typically has fewer risks than wilderness camping, it’s a good idea to at least pack bandaids, ointment, pain meds. We keep a small first aid kit in the trunk of our car at all times. Of course, don’t forget your prescription medications as well. We Recommend: Ultralight Watertight Adventure Medical Kit   Gifts for friends We tried to bring something to thank our hosts for putting us up along the way. See this post for our recommendations.

* Download our free printable Packing List PDF here *  

Other Camping Supplies:

Laundry Detergent We brought both a one-time use packet and liquid laundry soap in a plastic carry-on bottle. Remember to use environmentally-friendly detergents, especially if you’ll be washing while camping outdoors (Example: Sea to Summit washes ).

Wipes and   Paper towel Keeping a clean, odor-free campsite is very important, especially where bears are concerned. Find out if the campsite has a dish washing station and follow their guidelines about containing waste water. In some places, even water used to boil pasta should not be discarded because it can attract unwanted wildlife. You can do some creative dishwashing with wipes and towels and minimal water. Baby wipes and wet wipes are also a great option where showers are limited.

Olive oil We found that a short water bottle carried just the right amount for several weeks of cooking and we added leak protection by sealing it in a ziplock bag.

Favorite Seasonings We even took Johnny’s seasoning to Peace Corps with us because we use it on everything! For this trip, we also packed teriyaki sauce for stir fries and parmesan cheese for pasta.

Sweetener of Choice This time it was agave.

Tin foil Tin foil can have multiple uses while camp cooking, so we always make sure to bring a small roll.

Soap We brought dishwashing soap in a carry-on size bottle.

Extra Gear (depending on your campsite) – Toilet Paper:  If using your own luggable loo or in case the campsite runs out. – Your Own Water:  If potable water is not available on site. – Duct Tape:  For quick repairs and “macguyvering”

Camping Kitchenware Checklist:

Kitchenware Packing List Camping Trip Essentials | Intentional Travelers

Tablecloth (A) Something easy to wipe down and store away every night.

Plates, bowls, utensils (B) Stackable or collapsible can help save space.

Flexible cutting boards (C) These are great because they can be used as work spaces while cooking and they store easily.

Small Cooler (D) The size will vary depending on how many people you’re serving and how often you can restock at the grocery store. 

Tupperware (E) Pack your lunch, keep certain kitchen items together in them, or use them to store perishables in the cooler without getting everything soggy from melted ice.

Good knives (F) Chef Jedd recommends one pairing knife and one chef’s knife.

Vegetable peeler (G) If you’re cooking with carrots, potatoes, and the like. 

Spatula (H)

Boiling Pots – mini and large (I) Our large pot doubled as a dishwashing bin when we didn’t have access to a designated campsite sink. The smaller one is good for using less gas when boiling water for a cup of tea or something, in place of a camping kettle. Also makes a good cup for “bucket baths.”

Can opener (J)

Wine bottle opener (K)

Oven mitts (L)

Strainer (M) If boiling pasta/veggies

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

Portable mini burner and extra fuel (N) When not cooking over the campfire itself, we made good use of the mini burner we borrowed on both trips. We even cooked a full meal on it in the corner of a snowed-in parking lot in Yellowstone! We recommend Snow Peak LiteMax Stove

Travel mugs (O)

Non-stick pan (Q)

Lighter and/or matches (R) Essential for building a campfire or lighting the propane stove.  I prefer the lighter “gun” to keep more distance between my hand and the fire.

Tongs (S) For cooking and also moving around hot fire wood.

Marshmallow/hotdog roasting sticks (T)

Dish soap in a carry-on bottle (U)

Wash cloths (V)

Cast iron pan (not pictured) This is great for cooking over the fire  pit. Just remember not to use soap when washing it.

Large tub or pot (for dishwashing)

Clothes for a Long Road Trip:

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

Our second road trip took us to the extremes, from an evening wedding in Seattle to doing yardwork at a friend’s house; from nights below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in Banff to days above 90 degrees in Denver. We’ve only included the stuff we wore to the National Parks below, since it’s not likely for other trips to include the same variety of circumstances.

After the wedding and yard work in the first week of our trip, we stuffed those clothes in a crevice of the Prius and didn’t see them again until we got home.

Read next: Best Long-Term Travel Clothing

Running/Hiking Shoes Since we weren’t doing anything too hard core, I pretty much lived in my running shoes and used them for all of our hiking. Jedd brought separate, sturdier hiking shoes as well as running shoes for when we exercised.

Flip Flops For hang out time as well as public showers.

Nicer Every-Day Shoes For going out to eat when we visited friends in town.

Short and Long-Sleeve Layers We both took a couple high-tech fabric under shirts (and long johns) for the frequent changes in temperature through the day.

Beanie or Ski Hat To keep warm at night when temperatures dip.

Good Socks One of the most important things to consider is your socks. It will help you feel comfortable and avoid blisters- socks that wick moisture are important to keep your feet warm. We Recommend: Smartwool & Injinji Socks

Exofficio Underwear W e’ve used Exofficio underwear all through our Peace Corps service and they are perfect for camping and road trips, too, because they are high quality and dry really quickly. We Recommend: Exofficio Underwear

Hooded Sweatshirt

Soft Shell Jacket

Swimsuit   Note: you might be wondering why we don’t suggest a rain jacket in this road trip gear list. If you are hiking and you get caught in a rain storm, we find it best to put on a poncho over your warm gear to keep you dry, warm, and free to continue to hike. Rain coats tend to get muggy and sticky if you’re active, plus they’re more bulky to pack. In most other situations, the best defense against rain is an umbrella.

* Free Printable Camping List Download *

Optional Gear:

Portable Camp Toilet  To better social distance while camping , we recently bought a simple bucket toilet, which we use with cedar wood chip pet bedding and trash bags for easy disposal. This is great to avoid using public facilities at campgrounds and even while driving on a road trip. We Recommend: Bucket-Style Toilet or upgrade to the Dometic Sani-Potty Toilet

overhead of power station charging two phones and a laptop on checkered camping table

Solar Shower We received this as a gift and were able to use it while camping in Glacier where there were no shower facilities nearby. We only used it to rinse off though because discarding soapy waste water was prohibited. We Recommend: Pressure Shower

The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

Hiking Poles I really appreciate the stability these give me when we’re hiking around steep drop offs with loose footing! They collapse so we’d often carry them up in the backpack and take them out when the trail got more sketchy.  We Recommend: Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Rain Ponchos In Colorado, summer brings the threat of some intense afternoon storms. We did most of our hiking in the morning for this reason but compact ponchos are light and easy to take along, just in case.

Collapsible fishing rods Another great gift from a cousin, which allows us to hike and fish without too much trouble. 

Fishing hooks

Bike rack, bicycles, and helmets

Bathing alternatives: Wilderness wipes – Wipe away sweat and odors. Gentle and alcohol-free, no need to rinse. Campsuds biodegradable soap – Concentrated soap for the body, or even dishes. Environmentally-friendly but you should still use away from natural water sources. No-rinse shampoo – Biodegradable, just lather in hair and dry.

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Everything you need for big camping road trips - gear recommendations, kitchen supply list, and free printable PDF checklist for your next trip | The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

What NOT to bring camping

Here are a few more tips about what to leave out as you put together your epic camping road trip packing list:

– Bulk supplies: Space in your car is limited. Just packing the quantity you need for the duration of your trip. – Scented cosmetics: Floral scents can attract bugs. – Glass bottles: Consider repackaging food, drinks, and toiletries into containers that won’t break if they drop or get knocked around in your car. – Bulky entertainment items:   Unless you have plans to use them frequently, some non-essentials aren’t worth they space they take up, especially when you can enjoy the great outdoors instead. For us, we didn’t use Jedd’s guitar enough to justify bringing it again. – Valuables:   Jewelry and expensive electronics are best left at home to avoid damage or theft. Your favorite fancy clothing will likely smell like campfire smoke, so leave that at home, too.

That’s our packing list for a long camping road trip. We hope it helps you find all the road trip camping essentials you’ll need, wherever your adventures take you! Let us know if you have questions or suggestions.

Want a free, printable version of our road trip checklist? Sign up with the form below, and we’ll send the PDF to your inbox!

You might also like: – Top Resources for Traveling Full-time in the U.S. – Long Term Travel Packing List Essentials: Clothing Recommendations

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Everything you need for big camping road trips - gear recommendations, kitchen supply list, and free printable PDF checklist for your next trip | The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip | Intentional Travelers

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16 Comments

A great list to have for future reference. Some items you’d never think to bring, especially some of the cooking supplies!

Great list, very useful information, thanks! Me and my family also go on a road trip once a year here in AU and we always forget something or there is no more space in the car to bring everything with us. We want to go on road trips more frequently, so I am thinking about buying a custom built caravan. Thank you again for this packing list, it’s very helpful. Cheers

Helpful hint too put your butter, cheese ect in a glass mason jar in your ice chest. Keeps it cold without the water getting into it and ruining your food.

Thank you for putting together a great list! I’m sharing this now 🙂

I am looking to get a solar charger for my backpacking trips but I am a little lost as to which would hold up well on trips. I see a lot of Goal Zero at REI but have read that they are more hardcore for sailing, etc. I will be using them really just to charge smartphones with USB cables. Do you have any recommendations?

Hi Kate! We don’t have too much experience with solar chargers as most of our travels aren’t off the grid. We sometimes rely on powerbanks to recharge our phones and camera. REI does a pretty good job of vetting their products but they offer a limited range of products for electronics. I would suggest going through the options on Amazon and carefully reading reviews and questions by users: http://bit.ly/solar-chargers

Hope this helps. I’d love to hear if you find one that worked for you.

Saving this for later! Thanks guys!

Thanks for stopping by, Therie. Happy travels!

I know it’s a little late for the meat question–but I buy lean ground beef and after browning it I boil it a couple of times, rinsing in between to get as much fat off as possible. I then dehydrate it and vacuum seal it. Simply use a little extra water to rehydrate it. Add it to spagetti sauce and mac and cheese. I also use a lot of canned meat–canned chicken, beef, Pork, turkey, and tuna are all good. Finally, using shelf stable bacon and fresh eggs (unwashed) straight from the chicken along with powdered milk rounds out breakfast. Lunchmeat can consist of spam and shelf stable packages of salami. None of the above ever needs refrigerated or placed on ice. I like to be able to camp without being dependent on ice. As for the eggs–I always place them in a bowl of water before I use them. Throw them away if they float. If they sink, they are good. Two week camping trips in the summer with eggs and no cooler and I’ve never had one float…. But I always check to be safe. Hope this helps someone!

Thanks, Vicki. Great tips!

My boyfriend and I are camp hosting in Wyoming next summer. We are trying to find ways to store meats! How did you do this? We will be VERY remote. At least an hour drive from the nearest town/city. Typically I backpack and use freeze dried foods, however, we will be camping for the entire months of June through September. We will be fishing quite a bit as there is a river very close to the campsite, but fish gets old! Thanks in advance!!

Hi Leanne. We kept a small ice chest with us and on the few occasions that we bought meat or other perishables, we would also buy a pack of ice from the store to fill the cooler. For some things, we also had a collapsable hot/cold insulated bag. It’s good for going to and from the store, but not quite enough to refrigerate meat for more than a couple hours. Let me know if you find any other tricks, and enjoy camp hosting!

Bear spray is amazing. Me and my husband met a bear when we were in Denali last year. Only the spray made this animal go away. It was a little bit scary, though. I hope you don`t have to use it. Greetings!

Good point. That is definitely needed in some camping spots. We have not had to use it yet, but we did borrow a can from our friends when we headed to Glacier.

Very useful list that I’m sure will come in handy to many! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, Sanjana!

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Here Are 7 Unique Day Trips In Idaho That Are An Absolute Must-Do

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Super-rad musician, scholar, photographer, and travel writer. The PNW and Mountain West = home, but can be found wherever there's adventure.

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While extended road trips over weekends are always an adventure, sometimes a long excursion simply isn’t possible. Instead, a quick day trip or outing with the family is your destiny. So instead of obsessively planning, forget about those other complicated vacations and hit the road to enjoy these quick, easy, and inexpensive day trips from nearly every major city. Or, mini-vacays, if you will. If you’ve ever Googled “road trips near me in Idaho”, today’s your lucky day!

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Do you want to make your day trip last even longer? Take this historic road trip or check out this unique backcountry drive . Have any ideas for more ultimate road trips in Idaho? Tell us about them in the comments!

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Road trips in idaho near me.

What are some of the best road trips in Idaho I can take?  

You know, Idaho gets a lot of flak. People refer to it as a “flyover” state, which implies that it’s boring -- and that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s plenty to do – especially if you’re a lover of the open road like we are. Basically, if you can dream it, you can probably drive it. You can spend time traveling the Magruder Corridor, which is a beautiful, scenic drive you’ll never forget. You can drive the famous “road to nowhere” or make a whole thing out of visiting the most haunted places in the state. We also suggest making a whole trip out of Idaho’s spectacular waterfalls. If you’d like more inspiration for the best road trips in Idaho,  take a peek at this list .   

Where are the must-visit places in Idaho?   

There are several places that come to mind as definitive, iconic “must-do” activities. For instance, it’s imperative that you visit the incredible Shoshone Falls as soon as you can (if you haven’t already). Explore a dormant volcano at Craters of the Moon National Monument, where you’ll have an out-of-this-world fun experience. You won’t believe the surreal beauty on display at Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and Twin Falls is a wonderful place to come to on a hot summer day. Lake Coeur d'Alene, in northern Idaho, is also a must-see – and don’t forget to bring a camera! These locations are all ridiculously photogenic, and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with them as quickly as we did.   

Where can I find unique attractions in Idaho?  

Believe it or not, Idaho is a state with plenty of unique and otherwise oddball attractions to check out in your spare time. You can explore any number of the interesting (and a bit eerie) ghost towns all over the state, like Custer ghost town, near Stanley, and Burke ghost town, near Wallace. It wouldn’t be Idaho without a museum dedicated entirely to the potato, and Blackfoot, Idaho, has that taken care of. You can also sleep in a giant potato in Boise. In Arco, Idaho, you’ll find the world’s first-ever nuclear power plant. And did you know the center of the universe is a manhole in Wallace? Well, at least they think so...

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THE 10 BEST Moscow Winter Activities

Winter activities in moscow.

  • Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
  • Gear Rentals
  • Nature & Wildlife Tours
  • Ski & Snow Tours
  • District Central (TsAO)
  • 3rd Transport Ring (TTK)
  • Maryina Roshcha (Jewish Quarter)
  • District North-Eastern (SVAO)
  • District Eastern (VAO)
  • District South-Western (YuZAO)
  • Lomonosovskiy
  • Ostankinskiy
  • Meshchanskiy
  • Good for Couples
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good for Kids
  • Good for Big Groups
  • Honeymoon spot
  • Good for Adrenaline Seekers
  • Hidden Gems
  • Adventurous
  • Good for a Rainy Day
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

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1. Easy Russia Tour Guide

alizain1985

3. UTS GROUP

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4. 365AltaiMongolia

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5. Julia Politova

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6. Aviashop.Ru

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7. Transsib Moscow

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8. BASK TOUR

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10. Elbrus Reisen Alexios Passalidis

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EPIC MOSCOW Itinerary! (2024)

Moscow is the heart of Mother Russia. Just the mention of this city conjures images of colorful bulbous pointed domes, crisp temperatures, and a uniquely original spirit!

Moscow has an incredibly turbulent history, a seemingly resilient culture, and a unique enchantment that pulls countless tourists to the city each year! Although the warmer months make exploring Moscow’s attractions more favorable, there’s just something about a fresh snowfall that only enhances the appearance of the city’s iconic sites!

If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or simply wanting to see as much of the city as possible, this Moscow itinerary will help you do just that!

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Best Time To Visit Moscow

Where to stay in moscow, moscow itinerary, day 1 itinerary in moscow, day 2 itinerary in moscow, day 3 and beyond, staying safe in moscow, day trips from moscow, faq on moscow itinerary.

Here is a quick look at the seasons so you can decide when to visit Moscow!

The summer months (June-August) are a great time to travel to Moscow to take advantage of the enjoyable mild temperatures. This is considered peak travel season. Bear in mind that hotel prices rise along with the temperatures!

when to visit moscow

If you’re planning a trip to Moscow during fall (September-November) try to plan for early fall. This way the temperatures will still be pleasant and winter won’t be threatening.

Russian winters (December-February) are not for the faint of heart as Napoleon learned to his peril. Some days the sun will be out for less than an hour, and snow is guaranteed. Although winters are exceptionally cold, this is when you’ll get a true glimpse of the Moscow experience!

The best time to visit Moscow is during spring  (March-May). The temperatures will begin to creep up and the sun begins to shine for significant portions of the day. Hotel rates will also have yet to skyrocket into peak ranges!

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With a Moscow City Pass , you can experience the best of Moscow at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!

Moscow is a large city with many accommodation options to choose from. Staying in a location that fits with your travel plans will only enhance your Moscow itinerary. Here is a brief introduction to a few great areas of the city we recommend checking out!

The best place to stay in Moscow to be close to all the action is Kitay-Gorod. This charming neighborhood will put you within walking distance to Moscow’s famous Red Square, thus cutting down on travel time. This will allow you to see more of the city in a shorter amount of time!

where to stay in moscow

It’s surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or just planning a quick weekend in Moscow, then this area is perfect for you!

Another great area to consider is the Zamoskvorechye district. This area of the city offers a blend of new and old Moscow. It has an artsy vibe and there are plenty of fun sites you can explore outside of the main touristy areas of Moscow.

Of course, as in all areas of Moscow, it’s close to public transportation that will quickly connect you with the rest of the city and make your Moscow itinerary super accessible!

Best Airbnb in Moscow – Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Modern and cozy, this apartment is in the heart of Old Moscow. Bordering the Basmanny and Kitay-Gorod districts, this two-bedroom flat is walking distance to the Kremlin and Red Square. Safe, quiet, and comfortable, this is the best Airbnb in Moscow, no question!

Best Budget Hotel in Moscow – Izmailovo Alfa Hotel

moscow itinerary

The Izmailovo Alfa Hotel is a very highly rated accommodation that provides all the components necessary for a comfortable trip to Moscow. There is an on-site restaurant, bar, fitness center, and an airport shuttle service. The rooms are modern and spacious and are equipped with a TV, heating/air conditioning, minibar, and more!

Best Luxury Hotel in Moscow – Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre

moscow itinerary

If you’re touring Moscow in luxury, the Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre is the hotel for you! Elegantly furnished rooms are equipped with a minibar, flat-screen TV,  in-room safes, as well as tea and coffee making facilities! Bathrooms come with bathrobes, slippers, and free toiletries. There is also an onsite restaurant, bar, and fitness center.

Best Hostel in Moscow – Godzillas Hostel

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station. Guests will enjoy all the usual hostel perks such as self-catering facilities, 24-hour reception, Free Wi-Fi, and security lockers. This is one of the best hostels in Moscow and its wonderful social atmosphere and will make your vacation in Moscow extra special!

Godzillas Hostel is one of our favourites in Moscow but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

An important aspect of planning any trip is figuring out the transportation situation. You’re probably wondering how you’re going to get to all of your Moscow points of interest right? Luckily, this sprawling city has an excellent network of public transportation that will make traveling a breeze!

The underground metro system is the quickest and most efficient way to travel around Moscow. Most visitors rely exclusively on this super-efficient transportation system, which allows you to get to pretty much anywhere in the city! It’s also a great option if you’re planning a Moscow itinerary during the colder months, as you’ll be sheltered from the snow and freezing temperatures!

moscow itinerary

If you prefer above-ground transportation, buses, trams, and trolleybuses, run throughout the city and provide a rather comfortable alternative to the metro.

Moscow’s metro, buses, trams, and trolleybuses are all accessible with a ‘Troika’ card. This card can be topped up with any sum of money at a metro cash desk. The ticket is simple, convenient, and even refundable upon return to a cashier!

No matter which method you choose, you’ll never find yourself without an easy means of getting from point A to point B!

Red Square | Moscow Kremlin | Lenin’s Mausoleum | St. Basil’s Cathedral  | GUM Department Store

Spend the first day of your itinerary taking your own self guided Moscow walking tour around the historic Red Square! This is Moscow’s compact city center and every stop on this list is within easy walking distance to the next! Get ready to see all of the top Moscow landmarks!

Day 1 / Stop 1 – The Red Square

  • Why it’s awesome: The Red Square is the most recognizable area in Moscow, it has mesmerizing architecture and centuries worth of history attached to its name.
  • Cost: Free to walk around, individual attractions in the square have separate fees. 
  • Food nearby: Check out Bar BQ Cafe for friendly service and good food in a great location! The atmosphere is upbeat and they’re open 24/7!

The Red Square is Moscow’s historic fortress and the center of the Russian government. The origins of the square date back to the late 15th century, when Ivan the Great decided to expand the Kremlin to reflect Moscow’s growing power and prestige!

During the 20th century, the square became famous as the site for demonstrations designed to showcase Soviet strength. Visiting the Red Square today, you’ll find it teeming with tourists, who come to witness its magical architecture up close!

The Red Square

The square is the picture postcard of Russian tourism, so make sure to bring your camera when you visit! No matter the season, or the time of day, it’s delightfully photogenic! 

It’s also home to some of Russia’s most distinguishing and important landmarks, which we’ve made sure to include further down in this itinerary. It’s an important center of Russia’s cultural life and one of the top places to visit in Moscow!

In 1990, UNESCO designated Russia’s Red Square as a World Heritage site. Visiting this historic site is a true bucket-list event and essential addition to your itinerary for Moscow!

Day 1 / Stop 2 – The Moscow Kremlin

  • Why it’s awesome: The Moscow Kremlin complex includes several palaces and cathedrals and is surrounded by the Kremlin wall. It also houses the principal museum of Russia (the Kremlin Armory).
  • Cost: USD $15.00
  • Food nearby: Bosco Cafe is a charming place to grat a casual bite to eat. They have excellent coffee and wonderful views of the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin!

The iconic Moscow Kremlin , also known as the Kremlin museum complex, sits on Borovitsky Hill, rising above the Moscow River. It is a fortified complex in the center of the city, overlooking several iconic buildings in the Red Square!

It’s the best known of the Russian Kremlins – citadels or fortress’ protecting and dominating a city. During the early decades of the Soviet era, the Kremlin was a private enclave where the state’s governing elite lived and worked.

The Kremlin is outlined by an irregularly shaped triangular wall that encloses an area of 68 acres! The existing walls and towers were built from 1485 to 1495. Inside the Kremlin museum complex, there are five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers.

The Armoury Chamber is a part of the Grand Kremlin Palace’s complex and is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1851. It showcases Russian history and displays many cherished relics. Definitely make sure to check out this museum while you’re here!

The Moscow Kremlin

The churches inside the Moscow Kremlin are the Cathedral of the Dormition, Church of the Archangel, Church of the Annunciation, and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki (a church tower).

The five-domed Cathedral of the Dormition is considered the most famous. It was built from 1475–1479 by an Italian architect and has served as a wedding and coronation place for great princes, tsars, and emperors of Russia. Church services are given in the Kremlin’s numerous cathedrals on a regular basis.

The Grand Kremlin Palace was the former Tsar’s Moscow residence and today it serves as the official workplace of the President of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Putin seems to have bagged that title for life) .

Insider Tip: The Kremlin is closed every Thursday! Make sure to plan this stop on your Moscow itinerary for any other day of the week!

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Lenin’s Mausoleum

  • Why it’s awesome: The mausoleum displays the preserved body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin .
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Khinkal’naya is a charming Georgian restaurant with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick. It’s a popular place with locals and right next to the Red Square!

Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as Lenin’s Tomb, is the modernist mausoleum for the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. It’s located within the Red Square and serves as the resting place for the Soviet leader! His preserved body has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924.

It’s located just a few steps away from the Kremlin Wall and is one of the most controversial yet popular Moscow attractions!

Admission is free for everyone, you’ll only need to pay if you need to check a bag. Before visitors are allowed to enter the mausoleum, they have to go through a metal detector first. No metal objects, liquids, or large bags are allowed in the mausoleum!

Lenins Mausoleum

Expect a line to enter the building, and while you’re inside the building, you’ll be constantly moving in line with other visitors. This means you won’t be able to spend as long as you’d like viewing the mausoleum, but you’ll still be able to get a good look. Pictures and filming while inside the building are strictly prohibited, and security guards will stop you if they see you breaking this rule.

The mausoleum is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday – unless it’s a public holiday or a day scheduled for maintenance. The hours it’s open for each day are limited, make sure to check online before you visit to make sure you can fit this into your Moscow itinerary for that day!

Insider Tip: The Lenin’s Museum is there for people to pay their respect; remember to keep silent and move along quickly, it’s not intended for people to congregate around. Also, men are not allowed to wear hats and everyone must take their hands out of their pockets when inside the building.

Day 1 / Stop 4 – St. Basil’s Cathedral

  • Why it’s awesome: A dazzling designed cathedral that showcases Russia’s unique architecture. This cathedral is one of the most recognizable symbols of the country!
  • Cost: USD $8.00
  • Food nearby: Moskovskiy Chaynyy Klub is a cozy cafe serving food items and pipping hot tea; it’s the perfect place to go if you’re visiting Moscow during the winter months!

Located in the Red Square, the ornate 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral is probably the building you picture when you think of Moscow’s unique architecture. Its colorful onion-shaped domes tower over the Moscow skyline!

The cathedral was built from 1555-1561 by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. It was designed with an iconic onion dome facade and enchanting colors that captivate all who see it. Fun fact: If you’re wondering why Russian churches have onion domes, they are popularly believed to symbolize burning candles!

This iconic cathedral has become a symbol of Russia due to its distinguishing architecture and prominent position inside the Red Square. It’s one of the most beautiful, wonderful, and mesmerizing historical cathedrals in the world!

St. Basils Cathedral

The interior of the church surprises most people when they visit. In contrast to the large exterior, the inside is not so much one large area, but rather a collection of smaller areas, with many corridors and small rooms. There are 9 small chapels and one mausoleum grouped around a central tower.

Visiting the inside is like walking through a maze, there are even small signs all around the cathedral tracing where to walk, and pointing you in the right direction! The walls are meticulously decorated and painted with intricate floral designs and religious themes.

The church rarely holds service and is instead a museum open for the public to visit.

Insider Tip: During the summer months the line to go inside the cathedral can get quite long! Make sure to arrive early or reserve your tickets online to guarantee quick access into the cathedral!

Day 1 / Stop 5 – GUM Department Store

  • Why it’s awesome: This is Russia’s most famous shopping mall! It’s designed with elegant and opulent architecture and provides a real sense of nostalgia!
  • Cost: Free to enter
  • Food nearby: Stolovaya 57 is a cafeteria-style restaurant with a variety of inexpensive Russian cuisine menu items including soups, salads, meat dishes, and desserts. It’s also located inside the GUM department store, making it very easily accessible when you’re shopping!

The enormous GUM Department Store is located within the historic Red Square. It has a whimsical enchantment to it that sets it apart from your typical department store.

A massive domed glass ceiling lines the top of the building and fills the interior with natural sunlight. There are live plants and flowers placed throughout the mall that give the shopping complex a lively and cheerful feel! A playful fountain sits in the center, further adding to the malls inviting a sense of wonder and amusement!

The GUM department store opened on December 2, 1893. Today, it includes local and luxury stores, including Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and many more! There are numerous cafes, restaurants, and even a movie theater inside!

GUM Department Store

For a special treat, head into Gastronom 1. This 1950s-style shop sells gourmet food items, like wine, freshly-baked pastries, cheese, Russian chocolate, and of course, vodka! Also, be on the lookout for a bicycle pedaling ice cream truck with an employing selling ice cream!

The ambiance is simply amazing, a trip to this idyllic shopping mall is an absolute must on any Moscow itinerary!

Insider Tip: Make sure to carry some small change on you in case you need to use the restroom, you’ll need to pay 50 rubles – or about USD $0.80 to use the bathroom in GUM.

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Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

Novodevichy Convent | Gorky Park | State Tretyakov Gallery | All-Russian Exhibition Center | Bolshoi Theater

On your 2 day itinerary in Moscow, you’ll have a chance to use the city’s excellent public transportation service! You’ll explore a few more of Moscow’s historic highlight as well as some modern attractions. These sites are a little more spread out, but still very easily accessible thanks to the metro!

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Novodevichy Convent

  • Why it’s awesome: The Novodevichy Convent is rich in imperial Russian history and contains some of Russia’s best examples of classical architecture!
  • Cost: USD $5.00
  • Food nearby: Culinary Shop Karavaevs Brothers is a cozy and simple place to have a quick bite, they also have vegetarian options!

The Novodevichy Convent is the best-known and most popular cloister of Moscow. The convent complex is contained within high walls, and there are many attractions this site is known for! 

The six-pillared five-domed Smolensk Cathedral is the main attraction. It was built to resemble the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral and its facade boasts beautiful snowy white walls and a pristine golden onion dome as its centerpiece. It’s the oldest structure in the convent, built from 1524 -1525, and is situated in the center of the complex between the two entrance gates.

There are other churches inside the convent as well, all dating back from many centuries past. The convent is filled with an abundance of 16th and 17th-century religious artworks, including numerous large and extravagant frescos!

Novodevichy Convent

Just outside the convent’s grounds lies the Novodevichy Cemetery. Here, you can visit the graves of famous Russians, including esteemed authors, composers, and politicians. Probably the most intriguing gravestone belongs to Russian politician Nikita Khruschev!

The Novodevichy Convent is located near the Moscow River and offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The convent remains remarkably well-preserved and is an outstanding example of Moscow Baroque architecture! 

Insider Tip: To enter the cathedrals inside the complex, women are advised to cover their heads and shoulders, while men should wear long pants.

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

  • Why it’s awesome: A large amusement area in the heart of the city offering many attractions!
  • Cost: Free! 
  • Food nearby: Check out Mepkato, located inside Gorky Central Park for a casual meal in a cozy setting. There are indoor and outdoor seating options and the restaurant is child-friendly!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure is a large green space in the heart of Moscow. The park opened in 1928, and it stretches along the scenic embankment of the Moskva River. It covers an area of 300-acres and offers a lovely contrast from the compact city center.

You’ll find all sorts of wonderful attractions, from boat rides to bike rentals to tennis courts and ping-pong tables, and much more! there are an open-air cinema and festive events and concerts scheduled in the summer months.  A wide selection of free fitness classes is also offered on a regular basis, including jogging, roller skating, and dancing!

Although many of the options you’ll find here are more suited for outdoor leisure during the summer, you’ll also a selection of winter attractions, including one of Europe’s largest ice rinks for ice-skating!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

If you’re trying to decide what to do in Moscow with kids, the park also offers several venues designed specifically for kids. Check out the year-round Green School which offers hands-on classes in gardening and art! You can also feed the squirrels and birds at the Golitsinsky Ponds!

The park is very well maintained and kept clean and the entrance is free of charge, although most individual attractions cost money. There is also Wi-Fi available throughout the park.

With so many attractions, you could easily spend all day here! If you’re only planning a 2 day itinerary in Moscow, make sure to plan your time accordingly and map out all the areas you want to see beforehand!

Day 2 / Stop 3 – The State Tretyakov Gallery

  • Why it’s awesome: The gallery’s collection consists entirely of Russian art made by Russian artists!
  • Food nearby : Brothers Tretyakovs is located right across the street from the gallery. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric restaurant serving top quality food and drinks!

The State Tretyakov Gallery was founded in 1856 by influential merchant and collector Pavel Tretyakov.  The gallery is a national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the most important museums in Russia!

It houses the world’s best collection of Russian art and contains more than 130, 000 paintings, sculptures, and graphics! These works have been created throughout the centuries by generations of Russia’s most talented artists!

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The exhibits range from mysterious 12th-century images to politically charged canvases. The collection is rich and revealing and offers great insight into the history and attitudes of this long-suffering yet inspired people!

All pictures are also labeled in English. If you plan to take your time and see everything inside the museum it will take a good 3-4 hours, so make sure to plan your Moscow trip itinerary accordingly! This gallery is a must-see stop for art lovers, or anyone wanting to explore the local culture and history of Russia in a creative and insightful manner! 

Insider Tip: When planning your 2 days in Moscow itinerary, keep in mind that most museums in Moscow are closed on Mondays, this includes The State Tretyakov Gallery!

Day 2 / Stop 4 – All-Russian Exhibition Center

  • Why it’s awesome: This large exhibition center showcases the achievements of the Soviet Union in several different spheres. 
  • Food nearby: Varenichnaya No. 1 serves authentic and homestyle Russian cuisine in an intimate and casual setting.

The All-Russian Exhibition Center is a massive park that presents the glory of the Soviet era! It pays homage to the achievements of Soviet Russia with its many different sites found on the property.

The center was officially opened in 1939 to exhibit the achievements of the Soviet Union. It’s a huge complex of buildings and the largest exhibition center in Moscow. There are several exhibition halls dedicated to different achievements and every year there are more than one hundred and fifty specialized exhibitions!

All Russian Exhibition Center

The Peoples Friendship Fountain was constructed in 1954 and is a highlight of the park. The stunning gold fountain features 16 gilded statues of girls, each representing the former Soviet Union republics. 

The Stone Flower Fountain was also built in 1954 and is worth checking out. The centerpiece of this large fountain is a flower carved from stones from the Ural Mountains! Along the side of the fountain are various bronze sculptures.

You will find many people zipping around on rollerblades and bicycles across the large area that the venue covers. It’s also home to amusement rides and carousels, making it the perfect place to stop with kids on your Moscow itinerary! Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and allow a few hours to explore all the areas that interest you!

Day 2 / Stop 5 – Bolshoi Theater

  • Why it’s awesome: The Bolshoi Theater is a historic venue that hosts world-class ballet and opera performances!
  • Cost: Prices vary largely between USD $2.00 –  USD $228.00 based on seat location.
  • Food nearby: Head to the Russian restaurant, Bolshoi for high-quality food and drinks and excellent service!

The Bolshoi Theater is among the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world! It also boasts the world’s biggest ballet company, with more than 200 dancers!

The theater has been rebuilt and renovated several times during its long history. In 2011 it finished its most recent renovation after an extensive six-year restoration that started in 2005. The renovation included an improvement in acoustics and the restoration of the original Imperial decor.

The Bolshoi Theater has put on many of the world’s most famous ballet acts! Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premiered at the theater in 1877 and other notable performances of the Bolshoi repertoire include Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker!

Bolshoi Theater

Today, when you visit the theater, you can expect a magical performance from skilled singers, dancers, and musicians with the highest level of technique!

If you don’t have time to see a show, the theater also provides guided tours on select days of the week. Tours are given in both Russian and English and will provide visitors with a more intimate look at the different areas of the theater!

The stage of this iconic Russian theater has seen many outstanding performances. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, the Bolshoi Theater is one of the greatest and oldest ballet and opera companies in the world, making it a must-see attraction on your Moscow itinerary!

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station.

  • Towels Included

Cosmonautics Museum | Alexander Garden | Ostankino Tower | Izmaylovo District | Soviet Arcade Museum

Now that we’ve covered what to do in Moscow in 2 days, if you’re able to spend more time in the city you’re going to need more attractions to fill your time. Here are a few more really cool things to do in Moscow we recommend!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

  • Hear the timeline of the ‘space race’ from the Russian perspective
  • This museum is fun for both adults and children!
  • Admission is USD $4.00

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a museum dedicated to space exploration! The museum explores the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration, space technology, and space in the arts. It houses a large assortment of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits, and the museum’s collection holds approximately 85,000 different items!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

The museum does an excellent job of telling the full story of the exciting space race between the USSR and the US! It highlights the brightest moments in Russian history and humanity and is very interesting and fun for all ages!

If you’re a fan of space or just curious about gaining insight into Russia’s fascinating history of space exploration, make sure to add this to your 3 day itinerary in Moscow!

The Alexander Garden

  • A tranquil place to relax near the Red Square
  • Green lawns dotted with sculptures and lovely water features
  • The park is open every day and has no entrance fee

The Alexander Garden was one of the first urban public parks in Moscow! The garden premiered in 1821 and was built to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s forces in 1812!

The park is beautiful and well maintained with paths to walk on and benches to rest on. The park contains three separate gardens: the upper garden, middle garden, and lower garden.

The Alexander Garden

Located in the upper garden, towards the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame. This monument was created in 1967 and contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War!

The park stretches along all the length of the western Kremlin wall for about half a mile. Due to its central location in the city, it’ll be easily accessible when you’re out exploring The Red Square.

It provides a bit of relief from the city’s high-energy city streets. Bring a picnic lunch, go for a walk, or just sit and people watch, this is one of the best Moscow sites to wind-down and relax!

Ostankino Television Tower

  • Television and radio tower in Moscow
  • Currently the tallest free-standing structure in Europe
  • Make sure you bring your passport when you visit, you can’t go up without it!

For spectacular views of the city, make sure to add the Ostankino Television Tower to your itinerary for Moscow! This impressive free-standing structure provides stunning views of the city in every direction. The glass floor at the top also provides great alternative views of the city!

Ostankino Television Tower

It takes just 58 seconds for visitors to reach the Tower’s observation deck by super fast elevator. The tower is open every day for long hours and is a great site in Moscow to check out! There is even a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy rotating views of the city while you dine on traditional Russian cuisine or European cuisine!

The tower is somewhat of an architectural surprise in a city that is not known for skyscrapers! To see the city from a new perspective, make sure to add this stop to your Moscow itinerary!

Izmaylovo District

  • The most popular attractions in this district are the kremlin and the flea market
  • Outside of the city center and easy to reach via metro
  • Most popular during the summer and on weekends

Travel outside the city center and discover a unique area of the city! The Izmaylovo District is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and one of the coolest places to see in Moscow! The two main attractions we recommend checking out are the Kremlin and the flea market.

The Izmailovo Kremlin was established as a cultural center and molded after traditional Russian architecture. This colorful complex is home to several single-subject museums, including a Russian folk art museum and a vodka museum!

Izmaylovo District

Next to the Kremlin is the Izmailovo open-air market, which dates back to the 17th century! The market is connected to the Izmailovo Kremlin by a wooden bridge. Pick up all your Russian souvenirs here, including traditional handicrafts, paintings, books, retro toys, and Soviet memorabilia!

You will find many hand-made and hand-painted options available at higher prices, as well as mass-produced souvenir options at lower prices!

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

  • Closed on Mondays
  • Filled with old arcade games that visitors get to try out!
  • The museum also includes a small cafe and burger shop

For something a little different, check out the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games! The museum features roughly 60 machines from the Soviet era, including video games, pinball machines, and collaborative hockey foosball! The machines inside the museum were produced in the USSR in the mid-1970s.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

The best part is, most of the games are still playable! Purchase tickets and try the games out for yourself! The museum also has a neat little screening room that plays old Soviet cartoons and an area with Soviet magazines! This unique attraction is a fun addition to a 3 day itinerary in Moscow, and an attraction that all ages will enjoy! 

Whether you’re spending one day in Moscow, or more, safety is an important thing to keep in mind when traveling to a big city! Overall, Moscow is a very safe place to visit. However, it is always recommended that tourists take certain precautions when traveling to a new destination!

The police in Moscow is extremely effective at making the city a safe place to visit and do their best to patrol all of the top Moscow, Russia tourist attractions. However, tourists can still be a target for pickpockets and scammers.

Moscow has a huge flow of tourists, therefore there is a risk for pickpocketing. Simple precautions will help eliminate your chances of being robbed. Stay vigilant, keep your items close to you at all times, and don’t flash your valuables!

If you’re planning a solo Moscow itinerary, you should have no need to worry, as the city is also considered safe for solo travelers, even women. Stay in the populated areas, try and not travel alone late at night, and never accept rides from strangers or taxis without a meter and correct signage.

The threat of natural disasters in Moscow is low, with the exception of severe winters when the temperature can dip below freezing! Bring a good, warm jacket if you visit in Winter.

However, please note that Russian views on homsexuality are far less accepting than those in Western Europe. Likewise, Non-Caucasian travellers may sadly encounter racism in Russia .

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance for Moscow

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

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SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Now that we’ve covered all the top things to see in Moscow, we thought we’d include some exciting day trips to other areas of the country!

Sergiev Posad (Golden Ring)

Sergiev Posad Golden Ring

On this 7-hour guided tour, you’ll visit several scenic and historic areas of Russia. Start your day with hotel pick-up as you’re transferred by a comfortable car or minivan to Sergiev Posad. Admire the charming Russian countryside on your drive and enjoy a quick stop to visit the Russian village, Rudonezh!

You’ll see the majestic Saint Spring and the Church of Sergiev Radonezh. You’ll also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, one of the most famous Orthodox sites in Russia!

Lastly, you’ll swing by the local Matreshka market and enjoy a break in a nice Russian restaurant before returning to Moscow!

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

On this 13-hour trip, you’ll discover old Russia, with its picturesque landscapes and white-stoned beautiful churches! You’ll visit the main towns of the famous Golden Ring of Russia – the name for several cities and smaller towns north-east of Moscow.

Your first stop will be in the town of Vladimir, the ancient capital of all Russian principalities. The city dates back to the 11th century and is one of the oldest and the most important towns along the Ring! Next, you’ll visit Suzdal, a calm ancient Russian town north of Vladimir with only 13,000 inhabitants!

The old-style architecture and buildings of Suzdal are kept wonderfully intact. If you’re spending three days in Moscow, or more, this is a great option for exploring the charming areas outside the city!

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

On this 9-hour private tour, you’ll explore the ancient town of Zvenigorod, one of the oldest towns in the Moscow region! As you leave Moscow you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery along the Moscow River, and make a few stops at old churches along the way to Zvenigorod.

Upon arrival, you’ll explore the medieval center, including the 14th-century Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. Next, you’ll take a break for lunch (own expense) where you’ll have the chance to try out the Russian cuisine! Next, you’ll visit the Museum of Russian Dessert and sip on tea at a Russian tea ceremony.

The final stop of the day is at the Ershovo Estate, a gorgeous place to walk around and enjoy nature!

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage & Faberge

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage and Faberge

On this full-day tour, you’ll enjoy a a full round trip to St Petersburg where you’ll spend an exciting day exploring another popular Russian city! You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Moscow and be transferred to the train station where you’ll ride the high-speed train ‘Sapsan’ to St Petersburg.

Upon arrival, you’ll start the day by touring the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace. Next, you’ll visit the Faberge Museum, where you’ll explore the impressive collection of rare Faberge Eggs! In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing boat ride and a traditional 3-course Russian lunch.

If you’re spending 3 days in Moscow, or more, this is an excellent trip to take!

Trip to Kolomna – Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

Trip to Kolomna - Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

On this 10-hour tour, you’ll escape the city and travel to the historic town of Kolomna! First, you’ll visit the 14th-century Kolomna Kremlin, home to the Assumption Cathedral and an abundance of museums!

Next, enjoy lunch at a local cafe (own expense) before embarking on a tour of the Marshmallow Museum – of course, a marshmallow tasting is provided!  Your final stop is the Museum of Forging Settlements, where displays include armor and accessories for fishing and hunting.

Discover this beautiful Russian fairytale city on a private trip, where all of the planning is taken care of for you!

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Find out what people want to know when planning their Moscow itinerary.

How many days you need in Moscow?

We recommend that you spend at least two or three days in Moscow to take it all in.

What’s the best month to visit Moscow?

The best time to visit Moscow is over the spring, from March to May as temperatures are mild, crowds are thin and prices are reasonable.

What are some unusual things to do in Moscow?

I mean, queuing up to see an almost 100 year old corpse is pretty unsual! Check out Lenin’s Mausoleum if you fancy it!

What are some fun things to do in Moscow?

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a fun place to explore the famous space race from the perspective of the ‘other side’!

We hope you enjoyed our Moscow itinerary! We’ve made sure to cover all the Moscow must-sees as well as some unique attractions in the city! Our addition of insider tips, favorite food stops, and day trips from Moscow is an added bonus and will guarantee you make the most out of your exciting Russian vacation!

Immerse yourself in the modern and traditional Russian lifestyle! Get lost in museums, witness awe-inspiring architecture, and indulge in Russian cuisine! Spend the day strolling through all of the charming sites of Moscow, admiring the beautiful scenery and discovering the city’s fairytale-like enchantment!

epic camping trips

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Alya and Campbell

Alya and Campbell

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