In case you crave journey, touring in a camper van is among the most intimate methods to expertise the USA. In 2017, I set off on a two-year road trip with my husband and dog. We camped in 48 states, hiked numerous nationwide parks, ate in native cities and drove from coast to coast in our 1996 Dodge Ram Van.
All through the journey, we rapidly discovered that some states had been extra conducive to van life than others. The Southwest USA, for instance, has a large range of landscapes inside their free public lands. The East Coast amazed us with beautiful fall colours and historic cities we had beforehand solely seen in books.
Whereas each state added a singular facet to our itinerary, a couple of stand out amongst our favourite states to go to in a camper van.
1. New Mexico
Tenting within the desert is especially satisfying due to the starry nights, predictable temperatures and few flying bugs. New Mexico is residence to a desert panorama in contrast to any I’ve skilled. There are distinctive hoodoo rock formations, an never-ending path system and enormous swaths of Bureau of Land Administration (BLM) areas that permit free tenting. New Mexico typically flies underneath the radar, which makes it much less crowded even in essentially the most scenic areas. An absence of bushes within the north permits for glorious panorama visibility, and a few of the most opulent sunsets we’ve got seen. An underrated food haven, New Mexico gave us vibrant and inexpensive cuisines that we may discover in each city. It’s additionally residence to our favourite cave system, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, on the state’s southern border.
For out of doors fans who love mountain biking, mountain climbing and beautiful hikes, Arizona can’t be beat. Most individuals consider visiting the Grand Canyon, however your entire state is ripe for journey. Free campsites scatter the forests surrounding Sedona, Flagstaff and southern Arizona, which makes it one of the crucial budget-friendly locations to go to 12 months spherical. One of many issues we cherished most about this space was the sort reception to exterior explorers. Arizona is a mecca for off-grid residing. Every February, the city of Quartzsite swells to accommodate almost 2 million vacationers that go to in camper vans, RVs and college bus conversions. Workshops and neighborhood occasions are held on the outskirts of Quartzsite so vacationers can find out about van life, get assist with photo voltaic panel installations and plan out future highway journeys. The climate, providers out there to nomads and sense of neighborhood make Arizona the proper place to launch a highway journey.
California is so giant and various that it is nearly unfair to say. Huge quantities of land made discovering campsites simple regardless of California being a preferred vacationer vacation spot. We spent evenings underneath the well-known redwood bushes, had picnics alongside the ocean and wandered aimlessly among the many cacti of Death Valley National Park. All of this might maintain us occupied for any size of time. If we needed to choose one state to expertise a bit of little bit of the whole lot, California could be it. There’s such a variety of environments that you just don’t must drive too far to witness one thing new. Inside a matter of days, we had been in a position to rock climb in Joshua Tree National Park, take a dip in Lake Tahoe and hike among the many volcanoes of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Coming from the west coast, Minnesota was a refreshing different. We had been in a position to journey all the best way north to the border of Canada and take a canoe journey within the Boundary Waters. Generally known as the state of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota had no scarcity of fishing holes and quiet campsites by the water. Minnesota shouldn’t be a state that you’d usually discover included in a prime 10 listing of highway journey locations, however to us that’s what made it so particular. Winter in Minnesota is exceptionally chilly, however touring within the fall, likelihood is good which you can see the northern lights on a cloudless evening.
Michigan varies wildly from the southern stretches to the Upper Peninsula. This state has a shocking variety of pristine seashores that aren’t full of vacationers like those we visited in California. In the summertime months, there are recent berries to select and vibrant farmers markets to attend. In Michigan, we had been capable of finding tenting all the best way north to the Higher Peninsula, and we feasted on whitefish and pasties alongside the best way. One in all my favourite reminiscences of Michigan is tenting on the shore of Lake Superior. We had dinner on a pebble seashore after a number of days of visiting lighthouses.
Great Smoky Mountains is essentially the most visited nationwide park and for good cause. Driving by way of Tennessee within the fall is a particular deal with. Rolling mountains and an enormous variety of waterfalls dot the panorama. We discovered numerous surprises round every nook of the twisty again roads. Touring in a camper van, we’re all the time looking out for inexpensive issues to do. The mountain city of Gatlinburg is the proper entrance to free trails, and we spent the vast majority of our go to mountain climbing by way of the colourful forests and climbing hearth towers to get the perfect viewpoint.
8. New York
New York was one of many hardest to decide on for our prime 10 listing – not as a result of it’s missing, however as a result of it shares many issues we cherished about Vermont and New Hampshire as nicely. The bushes are unimaginable within the fall, and New York has a shocking quantity of geography to go to. From Everlasting Flame Falls to wineries in the Finger Lakes and watchtower hikes excessive within the Adirondacks, we had been rapidly working out of time to test off the whole lot on our listing. That’s to not point out the extra well-known Lake Placid Olympic village, Niagara Falls and Letchworth State Park. New York was not on our radar for mountain climbing, however now that we’ve visited, it’s on the prime of our itinerary for future highway journeys.
Pennsylvania turned out to be one in all our most memorable states in the case of historical past. We spent a whole day taking an auto tour across the Gettysburg National Military Park. Seeing the battlefields in particular person dropped at life the historical past books we had learn at school and made us respect previous accounts in a brand new manner. Visiting Eastern State Penitentiary and Valley Forge National Historic Park had been different stops we hadn’t thought-about earlier than rolling into Pennsylvania. Whereas federal public land is sparse this course, Pennsylvania has plenty of state parks which might be simply accessible totally free tenting.
Driving into Maine from the northwest aspect, we skilled extremely tall pine bushes, skinny roads and no mobile phone service for miles. The setting personified a Stephen King novel, and to us it was the unfamiliar territory that made the journey that rather more thrilling. In northern Maine, your entire panorama smells like Christmas bushes. We discovered from a fellow camper that balsam fir collected from Maine offers the most important provide of Christmas wreaths within the nation. Persevering with to the coast, Acadia National Park is the place the mountains meet the ocean. We had been comfortable to seek out that this is among the most dog-friendly parks within the USA, so we bought to carry our journey companion alongside most of the trails.