Summer Is Halfway Over! Time to Hit up the Great Outdoors

Discover and explore these wide open spaces in the Great Outdoors

Cities often get the lion’s share of our travel-dollar love. It’s easy to see why—there are world-class attractions, amazing restaurants, booming breweries, surprising food trucks to visit.

Who can argue with spending your time riding a bike through a booming metropolis with a gelato in hand? Who can complain about booking trips to San Antonio, or Seattle, or Miami?

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But cities aren’t the only gems this country has to offer. America—densely populated as it is—has huge swaths of open and wild spaces, otherwise known as the Great Outdoors.

Joshua Tree National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just how much open space are we talking? Take this as an anecdotal example—Montana and Germany are roughly the same size, but Montana has just over one million people compared to Germany’s 82 million. Germany still has a large amount of wide open spaces. So, comparatively, Montana may as well be empty.

Amelia Island, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Those wide open spaces come in many forms across America. There are alpine mountain highs, desert valley lows, dense forests, gator-filled swamps, giant lakes, and two coasts peppered with every kind of beach you can think of. There are lots of opportunities out there to unplug, turn off your smartphone, and take in a little of the nation’s nature.

Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To help in your quest to explore America’s backcountry we’ve compiled a list of a few choice destinations. These are some cool trips where nature is front and center. These are places where you can find a little quiet amongst the stunning natural beauty of America’s backcountry. And you can discover and explore them all in an RV.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Regional National Parks

There are 61 national parks to choose from across these great states. Hitting all of them in one summer vacation is nigh on impossible. However, hitting all the national parks in a region of the United States is more doable than you may realize.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Grand Circle Tour includes Utah’s Big 5 (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonland, and Capitol Reef), Natural Bridges National Monument, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon National Park.

The East Coast Route takes you down the entire east coast of America and includes Acadia, Shenandoah, the Great Smoky Mountains, Congaree, Biscayne, the Everglades, and Dry Tortugas.

Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other possible national park routes include:

  • California Dreamin’ Route (all nine California national parks)
  • Traveling North to the Future (all eight Alaska national parks)
  • Pacific Northwest Route (four parks in Oregon and Washington)

Navajo Nation

Canyon de Chelley National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why not go to whole other country within the United States? The Navajo Nation is an immense (27,000 square miles) corner of the country encompassing Canyon de Chelley National Monument, Navajo National Monument, Monument Valley, Bisti Badlands, Churchrock Pyramid, Rainbow Bridge, and Window Rock, just to name a few stops.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can easily self-guide yourself around the wonders of the Navajo Nation. However, with over 40 percent of the Navajo living in abject poverty, it’s important to inject your tourism dollars directly into the community by hiring local guides for touring, hiking, camping, fishing, and cultural activities. And don’t forget to eat fry bread. Every day.

The Roads Less Traveled

Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are hundreds of byways across America that provide unparalleled opportunities to experience the cultural, historical, ecological, recreational, or scenic qualities of the area. These routes are perfect for spontaneous Sunday drives or pit stops along a greater cross-country journey.

Colonial Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are several designations used to honor these routes. The most common type of designation is the National Scenic Byway, though there are also state scenic byways, National Forest Byways, and Back Country Byways. Another type of scenic byway is a National Parkway, which is a protected roadway within federal park lands. If a particular byway is especially outstanding, it may sometimes be bestowed with the additional title of “All-American Road.”

Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not sure where to start planning your next road trip? Our favorites include Scenic Byway 12 (Utah), Cherohala Skyway (North Carolina and Tennessee), Creole Nature Trail (Louisiana), Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina and Virginia), Amish Country (Ohio), Colonial Parkway (Virginia), and Red Rock (Arizona).

Scenic Byway 12, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

It’s not just a drive.

It’s an experience.