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.
Lakes to Locks Passage: “The Great Northeast Journey”
Lakes to Locks Passage is a designated New York State Byway that runs along the interconnected waterways of Lake Champlain, Lake George, Champlain Canal, and the Upper Hudson River. This byway has been called “The Great Northeast Journey” and is a door into the history of nation building in the northeastern United States and Canada. Visitors to the byway will have access to 225 miles of historic and recreational sites, including a series of 32 “Waypoint Communities,” which have come together to provide visitors with walking, biking, and driving tours of the region.
Lakes to Locks Passage is a gateway to many recreational activities including, boating, biking, hiking, rock climbing and snowshoeing. In addition to its route through New York state, this byway unites the waterway between Canada and New York. Richelieu Valley, the northernmost region of the byway, is in Quebec, one of North America's most fascinating cities. The byway continues south into New York through the Lake Champlain region into Lake George, ending in the southern region, Champlain Canal, in Troy, New York just north of Albany.
Along the Lakes to Locks Passage in New York, each town has unique historical and regional activities. The history of this region includes sunken ships in the waterways and lakes, lock systems built hundreds of years ago, battlefields and military sites, and even examples of daily life in the 1800s. Golfing and boating are also very accessible activities along the byway. Most towns have golf courses nearby and those located along the water have boat launches.
Starting in the north of New York and proceeding south along the byway, here are a few of the most interesting things to do.
Rouses Point: This town is home to the First School House, built in 1816. Visitors can also visit a variety of homes built in the 1800s, which have been preserved and are open for visitors.
Plattsburgh: People enjoying the byway should make sure to stop at the Myers Fine Art Gallery, which houses Plattsburgh State’s fine arts programs. The galleries feature the art of students and professionals as well as an entire gallery dedicated to the sculptures of Nina Winkel. Plattsburgh is home to the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and the Battle of Plattsburgh Association/War of 1812 Museum. Visitors can also travel by boat to Crab Island, the site of a military hospital during the Battle of Plattsburgh.
Peru: Those who stop in Peru can see the markers for Underground Railroad sites in the town.
Keensville: The region has a large number of historic bridges. Keensville has a group of bridges included in the Historic Bridges of the AuSable River. The self-guided map includes the 1843 Stone Arch Bridge and others within the town.
Willsboro: Willsboro features the 1812 Homestead Farm/Museum, which is a working farm with equipment and buildings dating from the 1800s.
Crown Point: Visitors to Crown Point will find it well worth their time to visit Champlain Monument and Lighthouse. The monument was build by New York and Vermont to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the lake's discovery by Champlain.
Ticonderoga: A hike up Mt. Defiance provides visitors with views of the entire Champlain Valley.
Hague: The town of Hague has a few interesting geological features for visitors along the Lakes to Locks Passage. Roger’s Rock was named for Captain Robert Roger, a recruit for the British Army during the French and Indian War; the rock is also a great climbing destination. Indian Kettles, glacial holes used by Native Americans for food preparation and other things, are also located near Hague.
Bolton: The Tongue Mountain Range and the Cat and Thomas Preserve have opportunities for hiking and give visitors the chance to see the nature of the region.
Lake George Village: The Lake George Recreation Area is a great spot of winter sports. In addition, there are three shipwrecks located in Lake George; visitors interested in sunken ships can seek out more information about the wrecks.
Hudson Falls: Visitors to Hudson Falls can watch the Five Combines of Glens Falls Feeder Canal. The five locks were built in 1845 as replacements for the old wooden locks.
Fort Edward: Fort Edward was a military fortification which saw action throughout the early history of America. The Old Fort House Museum in the town of Fort Edward was built in 1772 from materials taken from the fort. A large collection from Fort Edward is now located in the Old Fort House Museum.
Schuylerville: Visitors can stop at the Saratoga National Historical Park visitor center near Stillwater and learn about the Historical Park, collect information, and gather maps. The Saratoga Battle Monument, an obelisk commemorating the victory at the Battle of Saratoga, is one part of the Saratoga National Historical Park located near Schuylerville. Visitors to Schuylerville can also stop at Schuyler House, the historic home of General Philip Schuyler. Schuylerville is also the location of Schuylers Canal Park and Fort Herdy, the site of the Field of Grounded Arms where the British General Burgoyne surrendered.
Waterford: One of the last cities in the southern region of the byway is the home of Peebles Island State Park, which is located at the junction of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. This park has miles of paths for visitors.
Lakes to Locks Passage has much more to offer visitors. Those who choose to embark on this historic journey are sure to learn about the history of our nation and enjoy the northeast as it is today. Be prepared to take a few walking and biking tours in order to truly enjoy the many adventures the byway has to offer.
Florida's Space Coast
The next time you hit the road, combine your fascination with space travel with your love of sunny beaches and spend some time on Florida's Space Coast. This bit of the coast, nearest to Orlando, stretches from the Canaveral National Seashore down to Sebastian Inlet State Park. Along this coast you can enjoy some of the best surfing spots, saltwater fishing, the wildlife of Florida, sunny beaches, and the history of space travel at Kennedy Space Center.
There are a few places along Florida's Space Coast that all visitors need to take some time to see and explore. The Canaveral National Seashore has over 24 miles of undeveloped beaches. Throughout the year you can fish, boat, swim, hike along the trails, and even surf. The National Seashore is just north of the NASA Shuttle Launching Facility, which may cause temporary closures of the Canaveral Seashore.
Another important piece of culture and history of the Space Coast is its part in America's history of space travel. During a visit to this part of Florida, be sure to make time to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. At the Kennedy Space Center you can tour launch areas, see rockets, experience the space flight simulators, and speak to an astronaut. If you are really lucky and time your visit right you may even be able to view a shuttle launch. Space enthusiasts should also visit the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. At this museum you can see what space travel was like for the first astronauts. Try out the astronaut training simulators and look at the museums large collection of the astronauts personal items.
Surfing is another big part of Florida's Space Coast culture. Stop by Ron Jons Surf Shop, a 24-hour surf shop is considered to be one of the world's most famous surf shops. At Ron Jons you can explore 52,000 square feet of surfing gear.
For those who want to experience surfing, there are many places that offer surfing lessons. If you want to observe some world-class surfing, visit Sebastian Inlet State Park. This state park hosts surfing contests. Sebastian Inlet is also a great saltwater fishing destination. Visit the McLarty Museum and the Sebastian Inlet Fishing Museum to learn about the history of the area.
Another great surfing area is Cocoa Beach. From the Cocoa Beach Pier you can enjoy a delicious nosh while watching some of the area's pro surfers, as well as some of the amateurs. Cocoa Beach is also a great destination for non-surfers who like the swimming and sunbathing. The pier also offers entertainment, including the "Concert of the Beach" series, which features many big names.
For visitors interested in wildlife, the Brevard Zoo is a must-see family attraction. This zoo is home to more than 550 animals. At this zoo you can view African, Latin American, and Australian animals, and animals native to Florida. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to bird watch, spot wildlife, and even observe manatees from a special observation deck. You can also enjoy the varied habitats while boating and canoeing.
Another great way to enjoy the natural habitat of the Space Coast is on an eco-tour, possibly in an airboat. These tours will guide you along central Florida's rivers and Everglades.
South Dakota's Highway 14 and 16
Travel across South Dakota, west to east along US Highways 14 and 16, and along the way you will enjoy some our nation's finest treasures. You will have countless opportunities to learn about the rich history of our nation, from the prehistoric ages to modern history. Revel in the history of the Black Hills, explore the notorious Badlands, and get to know the American Indian peoples who have live there. Soak in the sweet, vanilla-like smell of the ponderosa pines as you tromp through these gorgeous, dry pine forests. This trip across South Dakota is a chance to really immerse yourself in the beauty and history of the United States.
Start your trip at the western end of South Dakota in the Black Hills National Forest. To start you will need to determine if you want to start on the more southern US Highway 16 or a head little farther north on US Highway 14. Both 14 and 16 merge with Interstate 90 at Rapid City, but along the way to Rapid City there are a few different sights to see along each route.
If you decide to take the more northern Highway 14, you can see Black Hills National Forest by taking the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. This byway is one of the best ways to really enjoy the scenery of the Black Hills while driving. Black Hills National Forest also offers amazing camping, hiking, biking, and many other recreational activities.
One of the first cities you will find yourself in is Lead. In Lead you can enjoy snowmobiling and cross-country skiing -- visit the Mystic Miner and Terry Peak Ski Resorts for winter activities. If you want to learn more about the Black Hills and the history of mining in the area, stop at the Black Hills Mining Museum.
Continuing along Highway 14, you will soon reach Sturgis, home to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. If you want to learn more about motorcycles, stop in at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. From Sturgis you can also enjoy the Fort Meade Museum, which is home to remnants from the historic Fort Meade cavalry post.
Within the Black Hills National Forest, be sure to stop at the Mount Rushmore National Monument, the Crazy Horse Monument, Harney Peak, and Wind Cave National Park. If you are looking to visit these major sights, driving along Highway 16 will give you more direct access. However, Rapid City is a great jumping off point to visit these locations and both highways lead into Rapid City.
At Rapid City, both Highway 14 and 16 merge onto Interstate 90. Rapid City is one of South Dakota's larger cities. It is a great jumping-off point for day trips to Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave as well as a fun town to tour on foot or by car. Golfing is popular here, as are walking, hiking, and mountain biking. If you are looking for a little art and culture, take a walk through downtown Rapid City and see The City of Presidents, the life-size bronze sculptures. You can also visit the Journey Museum to learn even more about the Black Hills. Wildlife lovers will enjoy a trip to the famous Bear Country USA.
If you choose to take Highway 16 to Rapid City instead of Highway 14, you'll pass through the charming town of Custer, South Dakota. Custer is minutes away from the Crazy Horse Memorial where you can see the likeness of Crazy horse and visit the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and even see the American Indian dancers throughout the summer. You can also pause here to climb Harney Peak, the tallest peak east of the Rockies.
In Custer, you'll be conveniently closer to Mount Rushmore National Monument which celebrates four of our nation's great presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. At Mount Rushmore you can take guided ranger tours and see an evening program with the lighting of the faces.
Nearby Wind Cave National Park is home to one of the world’s longest and most complex caves. The park also has many different types of ecosystems, including ponderosa pine forests and prairie. Not far away, Custer State Park is the second largest state park in the United States. It is home to buffalo, numerous lakes for fishing, and excellent rock climbing sites.
After Rapid Cit,y if you choose to continue along US Highway 14, you will leave Interstate 90 near Wall, South Dakota and will drive through Fort Pierre, near Lake Oahe. On Lake Oahe you can enjoy swimming, boating and fishing.
If you choose to continue along Highway 16, continue along Interstate 90 through South Dakota. Along Highway 16 you can visit Badlands National Park with its amazing fossil beds and colorful, striped hills. After Chamberlain and views of the Missouri River, pay a visit to the arts center of Sioux Falls, which is on the eastern end of South Dakota. Be sure to take in the Sioux Falls Symphony Orchestra or visit one of the many galleries or performing arts venues.
North Carolina – Havelock to Wilmington
The short, but charming trip between Havelock and Wilmington gives you the opportunity to truly get to know a small piece of North Carolina. Between these two cities, you’ll find natural wonders like the Croatan National Forest, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Along the way you can explore the fascinating beaches and islands that dot the coast.
Havelock, North Carolina is the home of the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and is bordered by Croatan National Forest. Croatan has all sorts of interesting areas where you will be able to recreate and discover the flora and fauna of the forest. Croatan has all sorts of swamp habitats, and estuaries, unique habitats that are filled with native water birds and colorful migrants. Within the forest you can hike the many trails, or go enjoy canoeing on the lakes. While hiking, canoeing, or fishing, watch for lizards, birds, mammals, and the rare and unusual carnivorous plants that grow here. Anytime you go near the water, even in a canoe, keep an eye out for alligators.
After you have taken your fill of Havelock and the Croatan National Forest, follow US-70 and turn onto Harkers Island Road. From Harkers Island you will need to take a passenger ferry to the Cape Lookout National Seashore. After you decide when you’ll visit the national seashore, call the ferry service you plan to ride beforehand to confirm the schedule. You should also plan for the weather, as the boats and docks are all exposed.
The seashore offers all sorts of recreational opportunities. You can hike, bird watch, swim, boat, and fish (during the appropriate seasons). Certain areas of the Cape Lookout National Seashore are open to primitive camping. Some of the more unique activities you can try while visiting the seashore are collecting shells and watching the wild horses. The seashore has all sorts of seashells, and you are even allowed to take some shells home with you. You will also find that the seashore is home to over one hundred wild horses, which you can observe from a safe distance.
After your visit to Cape Lookout National Seashore, follow US-70 along the coast until you reach Highway 24, then stay on 24 until the junction with US-17. Continue on US-17 until you reach the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Between Cape Lookout National Seashore and Holly Shelter you can visit Emerald Isle and many of the great beaches and islands on the North Carolina coast.
The Holly Shelter Game Lands were set aside for protection by the state of North Carolina. These lands have preserved certain habitats, including wiregrass uplands and different types of swamps. This land was protected in part to preserve the wildlife and water within the region. This is a perfect place to take a hike or a stroll, watching for rare birds and native wildlife.
Once you’re ready to progress to Wilmington, continue along US-17. Wilmington, North Carolina, is an excellent city from which to experience the Cape Fear Coast, and it has many interesting sights and activities to offer as well. Pay a visit to the Bellamy Mansion Museum and Gardens, a historic mansion built just before the Civil War. Wilmington is also home to the Battleship, North Carolina, a World War II era restored ship. The battleship is open for visitors, and you can learn about the history of the ship in the visitor center or tour parts of the ship’s nine decks.
Wrightsville has a charming village and beautiful beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoy sand-castle building. A little south of Wrightsville, lies Carolina Beach on Pleasure Island, a haven for fishing and boating. Carolina Beach has amazing access to charter excursions for arrange offshore fishing trips or party cruises in the evenings.
North Carolina has a lot of fabulous adventures to offer. If you want a beautiful coastal road trip route, try taking some time to drive from Havelock to Wilmington. Along the way, you can walk along the beaches of the Cape Lookout National Seashore and watch the wild horses. You could canoe within the Croatan National Forest or stop for a little outdoor adventure in the Holly Shelter Game Lands. Once you reach Wilmington, you can revel in its history and swim or boat on some of North Carolina's amazing beaches. While on your trip, try to spot a Venus Flytrap or another one of North Carolina's native carnivorous plants. Whatever you choose to explore along the way, you are sure to find lots of fantastic adventures throughout your road trip.
Follow the Columbia River
The Columbia River is an amazing body of water. It stretches from its headwaters in British Columbia to the mouth at the Pacific Ocean on the border of Washington and Oregon states. Following the Columbia River on your next road-trip would be an amazing way to experience the wild beauty and raw power of one of the United States' great rivers. You could drive from the headwaters to its mouth and have the opportunity to see much of Washington State. When you arrive at the border of Washington and Oregon stop for a while in Hood River, Oregon, where you can enjoy the great windsurfing at this Oregon hotspot.
On its way to the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia winds over 1200 miles from British Columbia into Washington and runs along the Washington and Oregon border. The Columbia is fed by many tributaries throughout the Columbia Basin. The Columbia River Basin is about 260,000 square miles and includes British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and a little bit of Utah and Nevada.
Along your path from British Columbia to Oregon you will see some amazing sights including the Grand Coulee Dam. This dam is almost a mile long and took over 40 years to construct. You can take in a laser light show which tells the story of the dam with lights flickering across the span of the dam. You can also take a guided tour of the dam. After you pass the dam, you will discover Lake Chelan.
On Lake Chelan you will find many recreational opportunities. In addition, the Chelan area has many fantastic vineyards with locally produced Washington wines. If you spend a few days on Lake Chelan, you can enjoy boating, swimming, and jet skiing.
When you reach the Washington-Oregon border, you can cross into Oregon and drive west on the Columbia River Highway or follow the River on the Washington side along the Lewis and Clark Highway. If you continue westward toward the Pacific Ocean, you will find yourself in or near Hood River, Oregon. Once you reach Hood River, plan to stay for a while.
Hood River, Oregon is now known as the windsurfing capital of the world. The area is also known for its fruits and its proximity to beautiful Mt. Hood. You can visit Mt. Hood or check out one of the areas orchards, but the real excitement in Hood River is to be found on the Columbia River. Windsurfers come from all over to ride the waves on the Columbia. There are great spots for windsurfers of all experience levels. The wind in Hood River is best during the middle of the day. You can even take windsurfing lessons if you have never been lucky enough to try the sport before.
In Hood River you will find everything for your windsurfing adventure. You can also experience other wind and water sports. One growing sport you can enjoy is kite-boarding. Kite-boarding is similar to wake-boarding, but a kite, which you use to catch the wind, propels you instead of a boat. The winds in Hood River are excellent for kite-boarders as well as windsurfers. There are many businesses that provide windsurfing and kite-boarding gear and instruction. These local businesses can also direct you to the best spots on the river to experience your sport in this beautiful town.
After you finish learning or mastering windsurfing,continue your trip along the Columbia River towards its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. Along the way you will pass by the Mt. Hood National Forest and head into Portland, Oregon. Portland has all sorts of interesting activities, from performing arts and a great nightlife to exciting neighborhoods and excellent dining.
The last stop on your trip along the Columbia is Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. Astoria is located in a temperate rain forest and it is also historically significant as the western end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. You can ride the Astoria Riverfront Trolley and learn about the rich history of the region while admiring the beauty of the Columbia River's mouth.