Deciding where to take that long-anticipated summer RV vacation can be a daunting challenge.
Where will you be this summer? Here are five destinations that promise to deliver family adventure and magical memories.
Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, New Mexico
If you’re in the mood for dry heat and history up close, the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway is calling. West of Albuquerque is Chaco Canyon, an important ceremonial site for the Pueblo peoples between 850 and 1250 A.D. After taking in the incredible expanse of the canyon, drive south to El Moro National Monument. Ogle the 2,000 or so signatures weary travelers have carved into the sandstone over centuries.
Continue east through the Zuni Reservation to Zuni Pueblo, an arts community still practicing ancestral traditions and ways of life. Cap off this winding 360-mile desert tour in Farmington, where you can see Aztec Ruins National Monument and Salmon Ruins, both of which date back to the 1050s.
The Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota
Together, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park in South Dakota offer 5 million acres of grassland, forest, and rock formations. Might we recommend not hitting it all in one day? Instead, start out on the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway near the town of Interior. Check out the millions-year-old (literally) jagged geographic deposits before heading north to Spearfish Canyon, home of sky-high pink limestone and gorgeous waterfalls.
Meander down through Black Hills National Forest to check out Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Set aside a few days for the entire 232-mile journey because you’ll probably find yourself either driving slowly to take it all in or stopping every few miles to hike or take photos.
Lake Powell, Arizona
Northern Arizona is the home of red rocks and stone formations, but Lake Powell is where things start to get really interesting. It’s like visiting the Grand Canyon, if the Grand Canyon was underwater. Stretching the Utah/Arizona border, this 186-mile lake houses 96 canyons, many of which you can drive down and have all to yourself.
You’ll also find the Rainbow Bridge (the world’s largest natural bridge) on the water, as well as free-flowing waterfalls, if you’re lucky enough to catch some rain.
Spend a week on the lake with your friends and family, boating through slot canyons, anchoring on deserted beaches, and camping under the stars. Most houseboats come with waterslides attached to the back of them, and many have BBQs and hot tubs on the roof, too.
Don’t miss Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, just outside of the town of Page, on your way in or out.
Amador County, California
California is awash in world-class wine regions. And while classy restaurants and dozens of breweries make the other areas—like Santa Rosa—great places to spend some time, little Amador County southeast of Sacramento is a throwback to what Napa and Sonoma once was.
Here you can drive through the tiny towns of Plymouth and Jackson and visit tiny, family-owned wineries tasting vinos you won’t find elsewhere. The restaurants in Amador might not boast the famous chefs, but Taste in Plymouth can hold its own against any spot in Napa. And a stop at the Amador Brewing Company will help add a little variety to your wine-heavy routine.
Road trips have beginnings and ends, but it’s what’s in between that counts.