Hit the Road and Camp America!
Hit the Road -
Ready to answer the call of the open road? Then you've come to the right place. Here you'll find great ideas for finding the best camping and RVing road trips. We'll show you which routes to take, which exits have a "don't miss attraction and profile great campgrounds along the way. So grab your gear, pack the car or the RV and get ready to hit the road.
Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway
The 54-mile route of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway is essentially two loops, winding through Minnesota from the Pequot Lakes to Crosslake. Visitors to the byway will enjoy the scenery, the interpretive kiosks, the recreation, and more, all while celebrating the tale of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Visitors to this region can enjoy a leisurely day of driving on the Byway, or it can be stretched into an entire vacation. The region is filled with lakes including the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, which, as the story goes, are the hoof prints of Babe the Blue Ox. In fact, the lakes of the entire region are said to have come from the legendary Paul Bunyan.
Not only is the Byway a great way to enjoy this region of Minnesota, but it also is a fantastic way to revel in the legend of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox and their influence on the region. This Byway is the only one in the country named after, and dedicated to, a fictional legend.
Beyond the delightful stories of Paul Bunyan, the Byway route offers plenty of opportunity for recreation. In fact, there are even 70 miles of paved trails for biking alone. The roads of this byway have wide shoulders to accommodate cyclists.
The abundant lakes make this a fantastic summer destination. Visitors can enjoy many opportunities to stop and relax, swim, boat and even fish. If you are a nature enthusiast, this region is also a great one for birding. This region is also know for its resorts and golfing.
The nature of the region is a reason to go in and of itself. Along the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, you'll travel through the forests of Minnesota. In addition, the region also has the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which hikers and bikers can enjoy throughout the spring in summer. Should you visit during the winter, you can cross-country ski the same route.
Travelers will find delightful little communities along the route. Within these communities there are fabulous antique and souvenir shops as well as great dining. Also, don't forget to stop at the interpretive site kiosks along the route.
The Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway
The Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway provides an amazingly scenic drive through some of Florida's (and the United States') most unique ecosystems. Along the way you'll enjoy rivers, lakes, forests, rare plants and animals, natural springs, and much much more.
The byway encompasses about 123 miles of road along SR 40 and SR 19. The western point of the byway lies in Silver Springs and the easter-most point of the byway is in the city of Ormond Beach. Should you wish to take a shorter route, you can remain on SR 40 and drive between Silver Springs and Ormond Beach. This abbreviation of the byway still has a great deal of amazing sights and activities to enjoy. However, the part of the byway on SR 19, which travels right through the Ocala National Forest, will lead you to some of the most amazing sights that Florida has to offer.
If you drive west to east, you will start your journey in Silver Springs. This delightful town has plenty to offer any and all visitors. It has entertainment, fresh food, and much more. The greatest attraction of this town is the Sliver Springs themselves. Silver Springs is one of the largest spring systems in the world, and it feeds the beautiful Silver River. Visitors simply must take a ride on the glass bottom boats, which ferry people across the springs. From these boats, visitors can marvel at the vents that feed the springs.
The centerpiece of the byway is the Ocala National Forest. SR 19 bisects the forest from north to south and SR 40 crosses it from west to east. The Ocala National Forest is home to some of the rarest and most unique habitats, plants, and animals in the United States. It is the oldest National Forest east of the Mississippi and it is also the most southern National Forest in the continental United States.
The byway crosses the Big Scrub within the Ocala National Forest. The Big Scrub is the world's largest scrub forest, also called a sand pine scrub. The sand pine scrub is a very rare ecosystem that provides a home to plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. The sand pine scrub is a very desert-like ecosystem. The poor soil quickly draws the water down and away from the reach of the root systems. This scrub forest also relies on the occurrence of fires every 20-80 years in order to remain healthy. The sand pine scrub is a stunninly beautiful and remarkably rare sight, and it alone is worth a visit on the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway.
Another interesting feature of the scenic byway is the Florida black bear. The Ocala National Forest comprises much of the habitat for the Florida black bear. This bear is related to the American black bear, but it is smaller and makes its home in Florida. Not surprisingly, the byway is named after this amazing animal. As you travel through the forest, be on the lookout for these bears, especially in the early morning.
Beyond the amazing scrub forest and the Florida black bear, the Ocala National Forest has much to offer. Within the forest, visitors will find springs, lakes, and plenty of hiking. Nature lovers will have the opportunity to view plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. The recreational opportunities range from camping, canoeing, and kayaking to swimming and scuba diving.
Travelers on the scenic byway should also spend some time enjoying the waters at some of the springs along the way. Juniper Springs is one of the best and most popular swimming spots. The water is always a pleasant 70-73 degrees. At this spring you can swim, snorkel, and just relax in the beautiful water.
Along SR 19, near the town of Salt Springs, byway travelers can take a dip in the Salt Springs. The Salt Springs provide a home to a variety of wildlife normally found only in ocean habitats, but because of the high salt content in the water these species have found a home at Salt Springs. The salt content comes from a salt deposit that the spring water rises through.
Birders and day hikers alike will also love a visit to Salt Springs. From this town, you can take the 2 mile round trip hike on the Salt Springs Trail, which will lead hikers to the Salt Springs Run. There, visitors can enjoy amazing vistas and keep a look out for birds from the observation platform. This short hike is only one of many great options for hikers along the scenic byway. Over 100 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail run through the same area as the byway, and there are many trailheads and access points along this route.
Road Trip - Arches National Park to Santa Fe
The trip between Arches National Park and Santa Fe isn't one of the longest trips you can take, but you should plan plenty of time to truly enjoy this route through sandstone, mountains, valleys, and desert beauty. Throughout the trip, every stop you make will offer some sort of recreational opportunity. Below are a few of the places you can make into destinations along the the road-trip.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of Utah's most beautiful destinations. The park preserves many sandstone arches, created through millions of years of exposure to the elements. You should plan to stay for a few days in order to best enjoy the multitude of recreational opportunities and the beauty of all of the arches. If you want to explore Arches National Park in your car, there are many paved roads and viewpoints. If you want to get even closer to each of the most amazing arches in the park, get out your boots and hike along the desert trails. For an even better understanding of the park's features, take in one of the park's ranger-led programs. The Fiery Furnace Tours are especially popular.
Moab, Utah is a great destination for recreation enthusiasts. In Moab you can mountain bike on the popular Slickrock Trail. It is also a great spot to go white-water rafting on the Green or Colorado River. Moab also has great off-roading and rock-climbing. The town has much to offer its visitors as well, from fine dining to enjoying a spa day.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park is a great spot to stop, get out of your car, hike and enjoy some amazing archeological sites. This park celebrates the history of the Pueblo people in the southwestern United States. You will find over 4000 archeological sites at Mesa Verde, including the 600 cliff dwellings. Some of the best cliff dwellings, including Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House, require the purchase of tickets for guided tours. The Mesa Top Loop Road is a great scenic drive in the park. You can also enjoy a wide range of amazing hikes some of which culminate in cliff dwelling overlooks.
Near Mesa Verde is the town of Mancos. Like most of Colorado, Mancos enjoys about 300 days of sun annually, making it a great spot for hiking, rock climbing, biking, and other outdoor pursuits. For those who enjoy fishing, the Jackson Gulch Reservoir is a good spot to stop. In winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at the Chicken Creek cross-country Ski Area. Mancos is also a great spot to enjoy some of the unique art of the southwest.
San Juan National Forest
The San Juan National Forest is another great spot to enjoy a myriad of recreational activities. You can enjoy camping year round in the forest, although if you want to camp in the winter you may have to do a little extra research to find an open campsite. At the San Juan National Forest you will find plenty of trails, horseback riding opportunities, and hunting, among other recreational activities. The Chimney Rock Archeological Area is another great feature of the San Juan National Forest.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Springs is one of Colorado's amazing camping and recreating destinations. One of Pagosa Springs' best features is the hot springs. The water's high mineral content, which gives it the strong smell, is believed to have medicinal properties. Today you can enjoy the hot springs at one of the three resorts and spas. Pagosa Springs also has access to great skiing. The , one of the oldest ski resorts in Colorado. Colorado is known for its great powder and blazing sunshine; if you are looking for a great ski destination, Pagosa Springs is a great place to try.
Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico
For those travelers who want to enjoy the beautiful art of the Pueblo Indians, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is an ideal place to stop along your road-trip. The town once known as San Juan Pueblo has a long and rich history. Now the headquarters for the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, this is the location of the Oke-Oweenge Crafts Cooperative, an amazing pueblo art center. You can also enjoy fishing at the nearby San Juan Lakes, provided you get a permit in advance.
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Los Alamos, New Mexico is a little off the road between Arches National Park and Santa Fe, but it is well worth the detour. Like many of the places along the road, Los Alamos has an amazing array of recreational activities. Los Alamos is also an important location for scientific research. Visitors can stop at the Otowi Station Bookstore and Science Museum Shop or the Bradbury Science Museum. Los Alamos is also an important cultural center. Visitors can enjoy dance, theater, art and history.
Bandelier National Monument
This National Monument is another great spot to enjoy recreation and archeology. If you only have a short amount of time, you can take a nice short walk on the Main Loop Trail, which leads you from the Visitor Center through some archeological sites into the Frijoles Canyon. On the Main Loop Trail you can see Pueblo dwellings and petroglyphs along with other interesting archeological sites. Another great destination in Bandelier National Monument is the Alcove House.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The beautiful city of Santa Fe is a fabulous place to end a road-trip. After all of the recreation along the way to Santa Fe, the city is a great spot to stop and enjoy some culture, art, and fine dining. The city has a large number of historic sites, including the San Miguel Mission, possibly the oldest church in the country. The Indian Market, held in August, is another great event in Santa Fe. Visitors can enjoy the artwork of over 1,200 artists. The market features all different types of Native American artwork. Many people return to the market every year to collect unique pieces of art from their favorite artists.
U.S. Highway 101 in California
This is the year to explore the West Coast's U.S. Highway 101. U.S. 101 runs along the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The highway starts in Olympia, Washington, runs north and around the Olympic Peninsula, then heads down along the Pacific Coast. Its terminus is in Los Angeles, where it merges with Interstate 5 to continue down the coast of California. For a somewhat less demanding road-trip than the drive along all of U.S. 101, instead focus on spending some time along the beautiful coast of California.
Traveling south on 101, about 20 miles from the Oregon boarder, drivers will come into the little town of Crescent City (at this point the Highway is called Redwood Highway). This little town is a great jumping off point to visit some of California's beautiful state and national forests and parks. Nearby, visitors will find Pelican Bay, Lake Earl, Tolawa Dunes State Park, Jedediah Smith State Park, Six Rivers National Forest, Klamath National Forest, and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
A little farther south along the Highway, travelers will come across the town of Klamath. Klamath is a great place to stop to enjoy some of northern California's recreational opportunities as well as some interesting sights. Redwood National Forest has truly amazing drives and hiking opportunities. The Klamath River Overlook is a spectacular spot to look for grey whales and seabirds, not to mention the awe-inspiring Redwoods. The visitor centers provide information about the area.
The city of Klamath has a few interesting tourist activities. For those who are in smaller vehicles, there is the Tour-Thru Tree. This is a giant Redwood which has a car-sized hole carved through the middle, so people can drive right through the tree. The Tour-Thru Tree is an interesting stop even for those whose vehicles are too large to go through the tree. There are picnic tables where visitors can watch others drive through the tree. Visitors can also take some time to see the Trees of Mystery, which are easily recognizable by the giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox. The Trees of Mystery tour highlights some of the amazing and oddly shaped trees that can be found in the area.
Eureka is another fabulous jumping off point to enjoy the coast of California. The city is bordered by Humboldt Bay and the Redwood Forests. As visitors drive through Eureka, they may be lucky enough to see Gabriel's Garden, a delightful exhibit of folk art. In addition, in nearby McKinleyvile visitors can stop to see the World's Largest Totem Pole.
Calistoga, just a bit off U.S. 101 near Santa Rosa, has many attractions for its visitors. Many people stop to see California's Old Faithful Geyser. This geyser is called an "old faithful" because it is one of a very few geysers that erupts with regularity. Calistoga is also home to the Petrified Forest. This forest is an amazing example of a pliocene forest and is open to visitors daily. Since Santa Rosa and Calistoga are in the Napa Valley, the middle of California's wine country, there are many nearby wineries. Visitors should plan on finding a few great local wineries and schedule a few wine tastings as they pass through Napa Valley on U.S. 101.
Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco
As U.S. 101 passes across the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco, it becomes the Bayshore Freeway rather than the Redwood Highway. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic images of California and the west. Visitors should stop to enjoy the view of the Bridge, hopefully without too much of the San Francisco fog. San Francisco has much to offer its visitors beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. Over a few days in San Francisco, visitors can enjoy the Aquarium, take a cruise to Alcatraz, and explore the vast International District in San Francisco. Near Coyote/Fontanelle the Bayshore Freeway becomes the S. Valley Freeway, even though it remains U.S. Highway 101.
Salinas and Pinnacles National Monument
Around Gilroy, U.S. Highway 101 changes from S. Valley Freeway to El Camino Real. Salinas hosts a few interesting events each year, including the California Rodeo, the California International Airshow, and the Steinbeck Festival. Also, nearby to Salinas is Pinnacles National Monument. Pinnacles is a great spot to spend some time camping and recreating. The National Monument is best visited during the spring and fall when the weather isn't too hot. At Pinnacles National Monument, you can enjoy hiking and special guided programs. In addition, Pinnacles has some good rock climbing and -- for those who aren't afraid of bats -- a walk through the Talus Caves is a great experience.
San Luis Obispo
Visitors will find plenty of recreational opportunities in San Luis Obispo. One of the most interesting nearby attractions is Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle is located on top of Hearst's La Cuesta Encantada, which is now a museum open to the public. Tours of this luxurious, monstrous castle are very interesting and feature art from around the world.
Santa Barbara is another one of California's famous cities. Visitors can stroll the boardwalk, play on the beach, or enjoy the fine dining and culture of the city. Santa Barbara is especially fantastic in the summer when the beaches are at their best. On the California Coast in Santa Barbara, there are miles of beautiful beaches. A little ways along U.S. 101, its name changes once again from El Camino Real to the Ventura Freeway.
Hollywood and Los Angeles
Near the end of the road-trip along the California Coast, U.S. 101 passes through Hollywood and becomes the Hollywood Freeway. Visitors to Hollywood have to stop and see a few of its most famous sights. Among these are the Hollywood sign, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hollywood and Los Angeles are separate cities, but they are part of one continuous urban area at the terminus of U.S. 101. Los Angeles is large enough to spend weeks exploring. In LA, visitors can get tickets to the LA Philharmonic or catch a showing of Cirque du Soleil. Families can make plans to visit Universal Studios or spend some time at the LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
Although US Highway 101 ends in Los Angeles, the road-trip does not have to end there. Those road-trippers who hunger for more miles of exploration can continue south along Interstate-5. Also, U.S. 101 winds along the Pacific Coast from Washington to Los Angeles. For a longer trip start in Washington or Oregon and enjoy even more of the Pacific Coast.
Historic Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, was once the well-traveled U.S. Highway 66. Today the original highway is gone, but the legend is not. Travelers who want to take Route 66 have to do a little planning ahead of time, since the path of Route 66 is occasionally confusing and poorly marked. If you choose to embark on this historic journey from Chicago to Los Angeles you will have the chance to see some of this nation's living history.
Route 66 was one of the original gems of the U.S. Highway system. Opened in 1926, the highway is featured in hit songs by Bobby Troup, the Nat King Cole Trio, The Rolling Stones, and others. In the 1960s, there was a popular Route 66 television show. Here are just a few of the interesting stops and attractions along Historic Route 66:
Chicago is the start of historic Route 66. A sign at Grant Park on Adams Street marks the official beginning of the Route. Route 66 travelers in Chicago should also make sure to keep a look out for the long-closed, but still standing, Castle Car Wash. Before embarking on the Route 66 journey, stop for a bite to eat at Lou Mitchell's Restaurant, which has been in business since 1923.
St Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is another must-see stop along Route 66. Visitors to St. Louis can view the Gateway Arch in the downtown area, tour the Museum of Westward Expansion, and wander through the National Museum of Transportation, which has a carefully reconstructed piece of the Coral Court Hotel.
The piece of Route 66 between Rolla and Lebanon were the last parts of the historic highway to be completed. Rolla has plenty of interesting sights for visitors including the John A. Dillon Log House, which was built in 1857 and still stands today, and the Mule Trading Post. Route 66 travelers may want to take some time to enjoy the outdoors and recreation near Rolla, which is the headquarters of the Mark Twain National Forest. Rolla is also home to Rolla Stonehenge, which is a partial reconstruction of the real Stonehenge and well worth a visit.
When driving through Kansas on Route 66, you will pass through a little town called Riverton. Many of the town’s former attractions are gone now, however, any Route 66 traveler should be sure to stop at the Eisler Brother Store. This store, founded in 1925, offers travelers old-fashioned deli sandwiches and a variety of souvenirs.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City still has a few remnants of the success of Route 66 in the downtown area. Visitors have to see Ann's Chicken Fry House, which is located in a 1948-era gas station. The restaurant will bring its patrons back to Route 66's heyday with memorabilia and great food. Route 66 travelers should also take some time to visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which will satisfy curiosity about the frontier days.
A stop in Amarillo will take visitors back to the era of the Old West. The town is surrounded by ranches that work nearly the same way today as they did in the 1800s. Visitors to Amarillo should make sure to stop for a meal at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, which is no longer located on the original Route 66, but started its history along the highway. This restaurant still offers the free 72-ounce Steak Dinner for customers who can eat it in less than an hour. As you leave Amarillo, keep your eyes peeled for The Cadillac Ranch. The Cadillac Ranch was founded by Stanley Marsh III, the Texas millionaire, as a piece of art outside of Amarillo.
Tucumcari, New Mexico
Tucumcari was once known as a rowdy town full of outlaws. Old Route 66 passed through Tucumcari on Tucumcari Boulevard, which brings visitors back to the 1940's-50's. Route 66 travelers can also learn more about the history of Route 66 in Tucumcari at The Tucumcari Historical Museum. The Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce offers a Visitors Guide, which has information about many Route 66 attractions in and around Tucumcari; it even highlights the neon signs that light up the night along the Route in town.
Canyon Diablo and Two Guns, Arizona
When I-40 was built, many old Route 66 towns could not survive the change. Canyon Diablo and Two Guns Arizona are both ghost towns today, but you can see the remnants of what were once travelers’ stops. Canyon Diablo is the old town, which died when travelers were diverted by the building of the Canyon Diablo Bridge. Two Guns started in the same area when Route 66 was built, but suffered its end when travelers were diverted away by I-40. Today visitors to Two Guns can still see the buildings that were full of life when travelers stopped on Route 66. Travelers who wish to visit these ghost towns need to be aware that this stretch of road is not in good condition. Best for four-wheel drive vehicles.
Travelers along Historic Route 66 have to stop at the Route 66 Museum in Barstow, California. This museum is housed in a former Harvey House, Casa Del Desierto. The Harvey Houses were run by the Fred Harvey Company and built by the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company. The museum has lots of information about Route 66, including photos and artifacts. If you want to take some time away from driving, the Mohave National Preserve, located 60 miles east of Barstow, is a great place to play outdoors.
Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica marks the end of Route 66. Stop at the Will Rogers State Historic Park, where you can see Will Rogers' ranch, which is being restored to look as it did during Will Rogers' lifetime. No stop in Santa Monica is complete without a stop at the Santa Monica Pier, where you will see street performers, a historic Carousel, and beautiful sunsets from the pier.