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12 Surreal US Destinations Worth the RV Trip

| Updated Jun 19, 2023

RV travel is filled with some amazingly surreal US destinations for RVers to explore. Here is a list of our favorites from across the country.

Take, for example, the waterfall that looks like it's practically made of fire. And that's just one of the surreal US destinations I'm talking about here. The places 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.

12 Surreal US Destinations to Explore

Horsetail Fall – Yosemite National Park, California

Surreal US Destinations
Horsetail Fall

First up for your surreal travel plans is Horsetail Fall.

The perfect time where visitors can only spot this “Firefall” effect is 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

Surreal US Destinations
Mono Lake

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 unmistakable 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

Surreal US Destinations
Glass Beach

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 dumpsites, now serving as a testament to the saying “one man's trash is another man's treasure.”

Bonneville Salt Flats – Tooele County, Utah

Bonneville Salt Flats Surreal US Destinations
Bonneville Salt Flats

Located west of the Great Salt Lake, these expansive salt flats were formed when the Lake Bonneville dried up, leaving a large landmass 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 the Utah desert.

Smoky Mountains – North Carolina/Tennessee

image of the great smokey mountains
The many attractions of  the Great Smokey Mountains make for great surreal US destinations for an RV road trip

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, is certainly a surreal U.S. destination

 Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness

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, or

And this from one of our commenters below: “The road to the Wave is not paved and they recommend a four-wheel drive so unless your RV has four-wheel drive you probably should rent a four-wheel drive to get there.” Or hike in as suggested above.

And another comment from below: “Odds are much greater to get a walk-in permit than one online. There is a $5 online fee for each try (nonrefundable). The walk-in is free unless you win a permit. It is very difficult to get a permit due to its popularity.”

So always check these locations online first to know what's the current situation.

Badlands National Park – South Dakota

badlands Surreal US Destinations

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. Surreal enough for you? 

Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming

Surreal US Destinations
See why the attractions around the Grand Tetons make for surreal US destinations for RVers. What a backdrop!

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 the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

Adirondack Mountains – New York

12 Surreal US Destinations Worth the RV Trip 1
Jennifer overlooking the Ausable River in the Adirondacks

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, here's a video we did on a recent trip. 

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 the 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

zion Surreal US Destinations

Next up in our surreal adventures, 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. We have a 7-Day Adventure for Southern Utah, too!

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.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-08-03

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

8 Responses to “12 Surreal US Destinations Worth the RV Trip”

February 14, 2021at11:05 am, Matthew Asai said:

The road to the Wave is not paved and they recommend a four wheel drive so unless your RV has four wheel drive you probably should rent a four wheel drive to get there.


February 14, 2021at11:03 am, Roger Eastman said:

We have been to a number of these places. Great trips and the natural beauty is awesome. So much to see in the USA, why go overseas?


February 14, 2021at9:05 am, Barry said:

You mentioned The Great Smoky Mountains but didn’t mention beautiful Cades Cove. You can’t beat leaving your campsite in the Cove at day break to ride the loop road. Animals everywhere. Deer, bear, fox, turkey, horses and more. And sunrise is glorious with early morning sunbeams on the green foliage of the surrounding mountains, cast against a deep blue morning sky. Utterly unforgettable.


October 11, 2020at2:59 pm, 8 Fascinating Facts About Yosemite - RVing Outdoors said:

[…] featured it in “12 Surreal U.S. Destinations Worth the RV Trip” and “10 Most Visited National Parks in 2019” and “13 Stunning Waterfalls in the U.S.” […]


September 24, 2020at6:47 am, 8 Fascinating Facts About Yosemite | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] featured it in “12 Surreal U.S. Destinations Worth the RV Trip” and “10 Most Visited National Parks in 2019” and “13 Stunning Waterfalls […]


March 02, 2020at7:33 am, 10 Clearest Lakes in the U.S. | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] written about surreal destinations, magical caves, and a whole lot more, but there’s just something extra special about a clear, […]


February 20, 2020at7:52 am, Bev Parkison said:

Just wanted to mention that thousands enter the online lottery every day for a permit to hike “The Wave”. Only ten online permits are issued (total twenty counting walk in). Odds are much greater to get a walk in permit than one online. There is a $5 online fee for each try (nonrefundable). The walk in is free unless you win a permit. It is very difficult get a permit due to it’s popularity.


September 24, 2020at8:50 am, Sam G. said:

Thank you Bev. Good to know the facts. Happy camping, hiking. Stay safe.


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