8 Cool RV Destinations to Beat the Summer Heat

Ah, the joys of summer. There’s nothing like sweating under a glaring sun to make you truly forget what’s so great about the great outdoors. While some travelers embrace hot sunny rays others feel like drooping when the mercury rises. If you’d like to beat the summer heat, check out these destinations for relief.

Your summer vacation does not have to be hiding indoors in front of the air conditioner trying to stay cool from high temperatures or unbearable humidity. There are lots of places in summer where you can enjoy beautiful pleasant temperatures while spending time outside. Whether you prefer cities, towns, national or state parks, mild summer weather is available in many spectacular destinations.

As summer descends on the United States, the mercury begins to soar in many places with daily temperatures reaching into the triple digits. While you could embrace the heat like a lizard or retreat behind air conditioning for the next few months, perhaps you should consider a refreshing getaway to cooler climes.

Here is a great article to help you do just that: High-Elevation RVing: How to Beat the Heat and Camp in Perfect Weather

Here are eight favorite spots for beating the worst of the summer heat.

Cedar Breaks National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet, Cedar Breaks is shaped like a giant coliseum dropping 2,000 feet to its floor.

Cedar Breaks resembles a miniature Bryce Canyon. Some visitors say its brilliant colors even surpass Bryce. The Native Americans called Cedar Breaks the Circle of Painted Cliffs. Millions of years of uplift and erosion have carved this huge amphitheater.

Deep inside the coliseum are stone spires, columns, arches, pinnacles, and intricate canyons in varying shades of red, yellow, and purple. The bristlecone pine, one of the world’s oldest trees, grows in the area and can be found along the Spectra Point Trail. The Dixie National Forest surrounds Cedar Breaks providing lush alpine meadows clustered with ponderosa pines and quaking aspens. During the summer months, the wildflower display is spectacular.

Cedar Breaks’ neighbor, Brian Head Resort is also a superb spot to seek cooler temps resort-style. The mountain’s tallest summer hiking trail takes you near the summit of 11,307-foot Brian Head Peak. And if you feel resort-y (or have kids in tow), you’ll definitely want to hit up the zip line, bungee trampoline, bike trails, disc golf course, or climbing wall while you’re at it.

Here are some helpful resources:

Stowe Community Church © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is a Vermont Ski town that is lovely to visit in summer thanks to an Alpine setting that doesn’t get too hot and lots of outdoor activities. It is one of the best places to spend time to avoid extreme summer heat.

Summer weather ranges from high 60s to high 70s. There is little temperature difference between June, July, and August and only 4 percent of the days are humid.

For fun summer hiking, choose trails that lead to waterfalls like the easy Bingham Falls Trail in Smugglers Notch State Park or Moss Glen Falls trail in nearby Putnam State Park.

For more challenging hikes, take the ski gondola to the top of Mansfield Mountain where it can be cold and windy even when it’s warm down below. A handful of trails start at the top of the mountain and reward you with stellar views of the Green Mountains. However, be prepared for rugged trails that require proper hiking boots and a willingness to go scrambling over rocks.  

A greenway starts in town and winds for several miles toward the ski mountain. It’s an easy and scenic ride with ample opportunities to stop at local brew pubs, cideries, and ice cream shops that sell Vermont creamies, dense, high-fat soft-serve ice cream often flavored with maple syrup. With all the outdoor activities, you can indulge without any guilt!

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Thor’s Hammer, monstrous hoodoos, and a Sinking Ship. Bryce Canyon’s red-orange-pink amphitheaters stage a Norse myth 70 million years in the making.

Wind, water, and time have eroded Bryce Canyon National Park‘s sandstone cliffs into otherworldly characters plucked from the unconscious of a mad Viking. Rows of humanoid pillars crosshatched by rock strata look almost intentional but perfectly surreal. So silent, eerie, and beautiful! So improbable it has to be true.

If you need ideas, check out:

Ocean Drive, Newport © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Newport, Rhode Island

Set on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island is the coastal city of Newport. This resort town is a cool, relaxing destination to explore in the summertime. Its rich Gilded Age history and sailboat-filled marinas make for a scenic and luxurious vacation. 

Soak up ocean views. Newport has panoramic ocean views that go on for miles. The best way to capture it is to take a stroll along the Cliff Walk. This 3.5-mile cliffside trail features tranquil picnic spots, benches, and access points to other interesting Newport experiences. 

Insider tip: If you plan to walk the entirety of the Cliff Walk wear layers, sturdy shoes, and sunblock. Utilize the public restroom found a mile into the walk—it’s the only one directly along the route.

Tour the lavish mansions. The most famous Newport features are its Gilded Age mansions found across the city. These lavish summer cottages built for the rich and famous are open to the public for tours. Head to Bellevue Avenue to explore the iconic Breakers and Marble House.

Mount Washington Cog Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. White Mountains, New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s White Mountains comprise stunning alpine peaks cloaked in forest. The higher you go, the cooler it will be. While low elevations see summer temperatures in the mid-70s the high points are perpetually chilly sometimes not even shedding their layers of snow until well into July.

Temperatures on Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast range from about 40 to 55 degrees at the height of summer. Visitors can climb out of the heat by foot on the many hiking trails or drive up the slopes on the scenic Kancamagus Highway.

There are some special towns nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Quaint villages like Sugar Hill enjoy blooming fields of lupines in the summer while North Conway is home to ziplining tours and Alpine Slide adventures.  

The White Mountains are filled with exciting activities like hikes and sweeping summit views. Ride the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to feel like you’re flying, hike the famous Artists Bluff Loop, or drive to the summit of Mount Washington. Don’t want to take the difficult hike or the foreboding drive up to Mount Washington? Ride the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway. This steam train will chug its way up to the summit.  

Lake Champlain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Lake Champlain, New York and Vermont

Nestled between Quebec, Vermont, and New York is the freshwater Lake Champlain. Surrounded by the New York Adirondacks to its west and the Vermont Green Mountains to its east a summer at Lake Champlain offers fun recreational opportunities in every direction. 

Take a lakeside stroll. For a lakefront park with plenty of outdoor activities head to Point Au Roche State Park in New York. Its open-forest walking trails and sandy beaches along Lake Champlain will have you exploring for hours. 

Discover Burlington. Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain is the picturesque town of Burlington, Vermont. Locals love getting active at Waterfront Park and Burlington Bike Path. If you want to venture away from the lake browse the eclectic shops of Church Street Marketplace. 

Insider tip: Burlington has its own folklore: Champ the Lake Monster. Sightings of this Loch Ness-looking monster in Lake Champlain date as far back as the 1800s, and since then there have been over 300 sighting claims. Can you spot Champ?  

Icefields Parkway connects Banff and Jasper National Parks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park is not only one of the most breathtaking places on earth but it also offers cool temps during the summer months with highs around 72 and lows in the upper 40s. If you’re looking for a mountain retreat with mild weather, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking this is your spot.

Banff Townsite offers lots of small-town charms as well as making a great base for exploring the gorgeous glacier-fed lakes and a multitude of wildlife. It even boasts a thriving arts and culture scene with a number of museums, art galleries, and concert venues along with a diverse array of fine restaurants and shops.

Enjoy the scenery and wildlife on Icefields Parkway named a Drive of a Lifetime by National Geographic. It traces the Continental Divide and connects two national parks, Banff and Jasper as well as Lake Louise and Jasper Townsite. Taking the ride to the top of 7,500-foot Sulphur Mountain from Banff provides panoramic views of the park.

Thumb Butte Trail, Prescott

8. Prescott, Arizona

Nestled at an elevation of 5,200 feet above sea level among the largest stand of ponderosa pine forests in the U.S., Prescott‘s breathtaking landscapes are complete with granite mountains, lakes, streams, and rolling meadows. With two lakes to choose from, several options for paddling on the water are found in this Arizona mountain town. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards await to help visitors get out and explore. Plan a ride around a full moon and enjoy the glow on the water, peaceful surroundings, and nighttime views.

When not on the lakes activities include horseback riding, golfing, hiking, mountain biking, shopping, or visiting the local breweries and restaurants.

Once the territorial capital of Arizona the City of Prescott is rich with Western history embodied in its world-famous Whiskey Row, abundant historical landmarks, and the World’s Oldest Rodeo.

Sharlot Hall Museum is the perfect place for families to learn the town’s history. Tour historic homes, explore educational exhibits, and wander through the gardens. Kids can complete a scavenger hunt and redeem it at the museum store for a prize.

Step outside of town and explore the beautiful Prescott National Forest. Pack and picnic lunch and take a hike while basking in the fresh wilderness air. The Thumb Butte Trail, just minutes from downtown leads visitors on a two-mile loop with views of the area and interpretive signs. 

There are also two lakes in the area for recreation and fishing. Unique rock formations surround Watson Lake, creating fun channels to kayak through. Alternatively, Lynx Lake is lined by tall pine trees. Both lakes offer onsite kayak and canoe rentals.

For an overnight stay in Prescott, check out the many camping options in Prescott National Forest including RV sites and dispersed camping.

Worth Pondering…

Summertime and the living is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high.

—Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Summertime