The Absolute Best Places to RV This July

There is nothing that compares to the freedom of the open road, especially when following it takes you to some of the most magnificent scenery and interesting places in the United States and Canada

July means independence. Or, more accurately, watching people eat an inhuman amount of hot dogs before drinking and playing with fireworks to celebrate independence.

All of this is great fun, but it only gets you to the fourth day of the month. After that, you’ve got four weeks when the weather is nicer, the pace is slower, and half of America is on vacation. So why not take some time off as well?

To help you plan your mid-summer getaway, we found places with some amazing stuff going on. Here are the best places to travel this July. And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in April, May, and June.

Canadian Rockies, Alberta

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Canadian Rockies stretch 900 miles northwest from the Montana border. The lakes and peaks combined create gob-smacking scenery at any time of the year. But since an RV/car is indispensable for visiting the Rockies, accessing their beauty is easiest in the warmer months, when the highways are clear of ice and snow.

Glacial Skywalk along the Icefields Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Banff and Jasper are the two most popular destinations for visitors to the Rockies. They are connected by a 140-mile Icefields Parkway that offers unobstructed mountain views on both sides.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you doubt the Appalachians can hold their own with any other mountain range on the continent, travel this 469-mile stretch of road from Rockfish Gap, Virginia, to Swain County in North Carolina. Coupled with sweeping views of some of the oldest mountains on earth, you’ll see 300 miles of forest, tons of wildlife, rock tunnels, and two national parks (Shenandoah and Smoky Mountains).

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along the way, you’ll find the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, Chimney Rock in North Carolina, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Virginia.

New Hampshire

Wolfsboro in the Lake Region © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For outdoor-adventure types in the east, no place beats New Hampshire in July. White Mountain National Forest is more green than white this time of year, with some of the best mountain biking and off-road cycling trails in the country.

Weirs Beach in the Lake Region © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kayaking and canoeing along Squam Lake makes for a calm, serene mountain getaway. Or hit Newfound Lake in the state’s Lake Region for the largest freshwater swimming beach in the state.

Newport, Rhode Island

The Breakers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nowhere in New England compares to the Gilded-Age splendor of Newport, a coastal town set upon cliffs dotted with some of the most spectacular mansions of the 19th century. The must-do activity here is, obviously, touring the Newport Mansions, but that’s far from the only draw.

Historic Newport © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newport also hosts the annual Newport Regatta, one of the biggest sailing races in America bringing with it the best sailing parties. Held in July, the Regatta is the ideal time of year to visit, but even if you miss it there are still plenty of wide, sandy beaches to lounge on for the day, and a surprisingly good wine region just on the outskirts of town. 

Great Smoky Mountains

Clingmans Dome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This isn’t just Blue Ridge Parkway, Part II. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 816 square miles unto itself, and you won’t see much of it from where the Blue Ridge Parkway drops you in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Touristy goodness of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Actually, for this trip, we’d recommend coming into the park from the other entrance in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and taking in all the touristy goodness of the Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and ski area, the Ripley’s Aquarium, and, in nearby Pigeon Forge, Dolly Parton’s own amusement park, Dollywood. The latter has has roller coasters and other thrill rides, but the Southern cooking, country music, musical revues, barbecue and bluegrass festivals and more that make it more than just some fair-food-and-cheap-thrills theme park.

Smoky Mountains on steroids © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Great quote from travel writer Doug Lansky: “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he comes to see.” Think about it.

RV To Canada This Summer

Explore the great outdoors and breathtaking natural beauty of Canada during the day and relax in your RV at night

Your friendly neighbor speaks your language and knows your favorite sports team.

Dollar dollar bill y’all. Canada has its own dollar— nicknamed the loonie, slang for its $1 coin whose backside depicts a floating loon.

Icefields Parkway connecting Lake Louise and Jasper © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How you’ll spend it: Canada surely seems to be having more fun these days—add the 25 percent currency discount and you’re off, eh? They’re like Americans, kinda. And Americans are kinda like Canadians, eh?

Okanagan Lake and SS Sicamous in Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Canada-United States border is the longest international border in the world. Eight Canadian provinces and 13 U.S. states are neighbors along the 5,525 miles of border that run from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. Of the 119 border crossings, the Ambassador Bridge, between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, handles around 8,000 trucks and 68,000 travelers daily, making it one of the busiest land border crossings in North America.

Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia

In quiet contrast, the Hyder-Stewart border crossing, which connects the communities of Hyder, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia, has no U.S. customs station. The rough-and-tumble road is used predominantly as access to up-close bear watching in Hyder.

Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sometimes the border officers ask only a few typical questions, but other times they ask many questions or even reword a question and ask it again to see whether you give the same answer. It is important to always answer questions honestly, politely, and succinctly and to keep your dialogue with customs officers as simple as possible. Always remove sunglasses. Only answer questions you are asked. And never argue or attempt to be funny. Customs officials have all the power.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you are a full-time RVer, don’t share that fact unless officers ask. If you are asked, be prepared to prove your ties to the United States. Telling a customs officer you have no fixed address could delay your journey.

Rocky Mountain Goats in Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Upon entering Canada you may be asked:

  • Where were you born?
  • What is the purpose of your trip?
  • Where are you going? What is the address of the place where you will be staying?
  • How long are you staying in Canada?
  • Do you have any alcohol or tobacco? If so, how much?
  • Do you have firearms, pepper spray, mace, or drugs?
  • Do you have gifts or goods that you will be leaving in Canada? What is their value?
  • Do you have any fruit, vegetables, or meat?
  • Do you have large sums of money with you? More than $10,000?
Okanagan Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel with a passport, because you must present proof of citizenship. You will also require a passport when returning to the United States.

Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If children or grandchildren travel with you, they need proper identification. A notarized affidavit is required if you travel with minors and the adult does not have full legal custody.

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Traveler’s medical insurance is highly recommended for U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, even for brief visits. No Canadian health-care provider accepts U.S. domestic health insurance, and Medicare coverage does not extend outside the United States.

Mount Rundle in Banff National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highway distances and speeds are posted in kilometers per hour; gasoline is sold in liters; and temperature is measured in Celsius. The easiest way to convert mileage to the U.S. system is to multiply the number of kilometers by 6 and move the decimal point one number to the left. And so, if the posted speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour, it converts to 60 mph.

Columbia Icefields in the Canadian Rockies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Because fuel is sold in liters, don’t be fooled by what appear to be bargain prices at the fuel pumps. There are 3.785 liters to the U.S. gallon. So, if gasoline costs $1 per liter, the price is $3.785 per gallon. As for temperature, 30 degrees Celsius is hot; the Fahrenheit equivalent is 86 degrees.

Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Though Canada and the United States share a North American lifestyle, subtle differences between the two countries have led to rules and regulations pertaining to those differences. By doing a little research ahead of time, you can get behind the wheel of your RV, turn the key, and enjoy a Canadian adventure.

Elk (Wapati) in Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go see your long-lost cousins.

Worth Pondering…

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.

―John F. Kennedy

The Most Instagrammable Travel Destinations for 2019

The RV lifestyle makes it easy to explore these Instagram-worthy travel destinations

For fun and adventure, consider our top Instagram-worthy travel destinations for 2019.

This compelling list of photogenic destinations captures some of nature’s most beautiful spots.

The RV lifestyle makes it easy to truly immerse yourself in the culture of a destination while checking off those bucket list destinations.

Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

Driving through Monument Valley makes you feel as though you’ve just traveled back in time. It combines old country western feels with road trip vibes, and offers some of the most perfectly framed photo ops that are totally ‘Instaworthy.’

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Nearly 800,000 acres of desert east of the Coachella Valley, Joshua Tree National Park rewards visitors with a full range of peculiar treasures: spiky yuccas, spiny cacti, spindly ocotillos, gangly Joshua trees, and geological formations, including Jumbo Rocks.

The lower Colorado Desert merges into the higher Mojave Desert, and cholla cactus and ocotillos give way to Joshua trees. An even bigger wow (think Instagram-worthy) can be had at Keys View. To the west, distant San Gorgonio Mountain and San Jacinto Peak—both topping 10,000 feet—scrape the sky. Looking south, you can spy the Salton Sea.

Canadian Rockies, Alberta

The Canadian Rockies stretch 900 miles northwest from the Montana border. The lakes and peaks combined create gob-smacking scenery at any time of the year. But since an RV/car is indispensable for visiting the Rockies, accessing their beauty is easiest in the warmer months, when the highways are clear of ice and snow. Banff and Jasper are the two most popular destinations for visitors to the Rockies. They are connected by the Icefields Parkway, a 140-mile highway that offers unobstructed mountain views.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virginia 

One of the most scenic roads in America, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile road that winds along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains providing a unique view of picturesque landscape and history. The Parkway connects Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park at the north end with North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the south end.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Step out of your car and into a natural wonderland. The vibrant colors of the Petrified Forest will keep your eyes engaged, while these fascinating ancient fossils will engross your mind. Check out the Rainbow Forest Museum first, so you can orient yourself and determine your trail route.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Take a break from being a road warrior and go caving instead. Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves—formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes. Experience the Big Room and Natural Entrance trails at your own pace. Ranger-guided tours include King’s Palace, Left Hand Tunnel, Hall of the White Giant, Lower, Spider, and Slaughter Canyon cave. If you visit from May to October, be prepared to witness the spectacular flight of bats at twilight.

Sequoia National Park, California

I love being close to nature, especially feeling the fresh clean air passing through my lungs and hearing birds sing as a river passes by. Sequoia National Park is a truly special place that is definitely Instagram-worthy. Those huge trees hold an amazing energy and knowledge. At over 3,000 years old, some even pre-date the birth of Christ.

Moki Dugway, Utah

Driving the Moki Dugway in southeastern Utah is not for the faint of heart. A three-mile section of gravel switchbacks chiseled into a nearly vertical cliff side, Moki Dugway descends 1,200 feet down to the western end of the Valley of Gods (known for its buttes and towering pinnacles). The few guardrails don’t hide the wreckage of the occasional vehicle that went over the edge. 

Worth Pondering…

Every picture I take is like a diary entry.

—Gilles Peress