From the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest to the jagged coastlines of Maine, our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers know the U.S. is home to some of the most enchanting landscapes in the entire world.
Take, for example, the waterfall that looks like it’s practically made of fire. And that’s just one of the destinations I’m talking about here.
The destinations may leave you speechless, but you needn’t worry: I managed to find a few words to convey our appreciation.
For more on 12 of some of the most transcendent places within a stone’s throw (or RV trip) away, check out the list below.
Horsetail Fall – Yosemite National Park, California
The time is perfect right now for this one as visitors can only spot this “firefall” effect from mid-to-late February, Yet despite the short window of time, this attraction gets an immense amount of attention — so plan ahead. The Horsetail Fall flows over the edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, and during most sunsets in February, the waterfall actually appears to glow orange, and looks almost like a lava flow. You can either purchase a parking permit or hike to the fall, though, since you are arriving at sunset, the walk back will likely be dark and icy, so be prepared.
Mono Lake – Mono County, California
This shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California, boasts some of the best sunsets in the state and has also maintained a productive ecosystem for centuries. The landscape of this lake is made completely unique and unmistakeable with scenic limestone formations, known as tufa towers, rising from out of the water. If you plan for more than just a quick pit-stop, consider indulging in one of the naturalist-led walks intended to educate others about the wildlife and beautiful structures along Mono Lake.
Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California
Fort Bragg, California, is home to one of the most unique beaches in the U.S.: Glass Beach, which, like its name implies, is comprised of sea glass formed by decades of trash dumped along its coastline. There are actually three of these glass beaches in Fort Bragg, and they’re all easily accessible by foot. Visitors can search for sapphire gems left by apothecary bottles strewn about these former dump sites, now serving as a testament to the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Bonneville Salt Flats – Tooele County, Utah
Located west of the Great Salt Lake, these expansive salt flats were formed when the Lake Bonneville dried up, leaving a large land mass of salt stretching in every direction. Tourists are provided easy access to this area via a rest stop located just outside of the flats. Walk across the salt, or simply take in the majestic beauty of this area, surrounded by mountains and Utah desert.
Smoky Mountains – North Carolina/Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, offering endless panoramic views of the mountains and forests of the region. Aside from the abundance of black bear sightings, visitors will also get a chance to better understand Southern Appalachian mountain culture via historic homes and churches.
RVing tip: For the best scenic drive in the country, be sure to pay a visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which meanders for 469 miles along the rugged crags of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The Wave; Paria Canyon – Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona
This magnificently-colored sandstone, stretching across regions of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness in Arizona, is without a doubt one of the most photogenic places you can visit. The rich colors of its walls, which were created by deposits of iron, cast a stunning glow across the canyons. Since the average hike to and from the Wave is around six hours, it is recommended that hikers pack for a full day hike, and use caution in the heat. Since only 10 walk-in hikers are allowed per day, those interested in seeing the Wave up close will need to apply through an online lottery system.
Badlands National Park – South Dakota
The beauty encapsulated in this national park attracts thousands of visitors annually, each with a desire to stroll through the striking rugged land created by vast geologic deposits. Whether you’re hiking through the badlands or enjoying a perfect view of the Milky Way, this national park boasts some of the best fun you can find.
Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park captures the most beautiful parts of rugged Wyoming within its borders — and from a wide array of interesting wildlife to pristine lakes and alpine terrain. With over 200 miles of hiking trails, this park is perfect for RVers who are avid outdoor adventurers. Not into hiking? The nearby town of Jackson Hole can provide indoor entertainment like browsing through the Old West shopfronts and indulging in the local art at National Museum of Wildlife Art.
Adirondack Mountains – New York
Our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers may recall a series of reports we filed from here in 2019. Although it’s not a “National” Park, New York’s Adirondack Park is immense. It’s greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.
With a mixture of public and private land, the park allows for conservation and civilization to thrive. There are about 3,000 beautiful clean lakes in the region, surrounded by lush forests. As well as mountains scattered about with dog-friendly hiking trails and dozens of small charming towns to visit. We put together a Seven Day Adventure Guide to the Adirondacks that you can find here. For more on the Adirondacks, check out our video below.
Kings Canyon National Park – California
Resting just on the other side of Sequoia National Park, this California treasure is home to some of the largest trees on the planet. The park was named after its most defining feature — Kings Canyon, the rugged valley carved out by a glacier that’s left an almost mile-deep ridge through the mountains. While you’re in the park, be sure you don’t miss a chance to visit Grant Grove, the once-upon-a-time home to General Ulysses S. Grant and the current home to second largest tree in the entire world.
Pro tip: With one of the nation’s best national parks just next door, consider a visit to the nearby enchanting hiking trails at Sequoia National Park.
Zion National Park – Utah
Follow in the footsteps of the ancient settlers who once called this rugged part of the Utah desert their home by visiting Zion National Park. Hike through the narrow slot canyons, or experience the various careening canyon passageways on horseback — no matter what route you take at Zion National Park, you can feel the magic and greatness contained in every sloping rock formation.
Balboa Park Botanical Building – San Diego, California
A more surreal destination of the man-made variety, the Balboa Park Botanical Garden in San Diego brings the outside indoors with an elegant display of nearly every plant variety. After thoroughly exploring the cycads, ferns, orchids, and palms inside, be sure to meander outdoors to the Lily Pond and Lagoon — the perfect area for a truly romantic and magical evening spent amongst the flowers.