39 Best Apps for RV Travel (iOS & Android)

Apps for RV travel can come in handy on the road. From finding a place to stay to documenting your journey, chances are you will find more than one app that fits your needs.

Planning and executing the perfect RV road trip can be a challenge and having the right RV-related apps makes all the difference.

Whether you’re going on a weekend camping trip or you’re full-timing in your rig, there are numerous things to consider when you’re hitting the road in your RV. Where are you going to camp? Will there be internet? Will it rain and keep you trapped inside all weekend?

Whether you’re looking for free dispersed camping options, a place to dump your RV tanks, read campground reviews, connect with other travelers, plan your route, or check the weather there’s a mobile app or two (or three) to help you do just that. 

Keep reading for my list of favorite apps for RVing and travel.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel: Find a place to overnight

Finding a place to stay, of course, is integral to any successful RVing adventure which is why five of the 39 apps deal with finding a place to stay overnight.

Allstays: Allstays lists campgrounds, boondocking spots, BLM land, parks, attractions and more, and it shows them all on a map. You can search near you or along a route or by state and you can have the map show you everything from campgrounds to interstate rest areas to Walmarts, RV dump sites, pretty much anything an RVer needs to find.

Harvest Hosts: More than 5,100 farms, wineries, breweries, and attractions across North America are listed in this subscription service…places where RVers can stay free overnight. The app shows details, gives directions, contact numbers, photos, and reviews from other RVers. Many of the Harvest Hosts offer overnight camping in absolutely beautiful spots.

KOA: KOA is the go-to campground for many RVers. The app lets you see photos of the campground, get an idea of what amenities are available, and read reviews from other RVers who have stayed there. You can also reserve a spot from the app.

Overnight RV Parking/TogoRV: Togo RV is now integrated into Roadtrippers Premium

Cracker Barrel: The Cracker Barrel app shows Cracker Barrel locations near you or on your route, many of which allow free overnight stays in the parking lot for RVers. You can also order take-out meals from restaurants along your route allowing you to have it ready by the time you get there. Cracker barrel is very friendly to RVers usually offering parking even for big rigs.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Plan a trip

Whether plotting out a trip or already on the road and looking for a place to stop, these apps help you find the destinations you’ll be seeking out.

iExit: Making a pit stop for food, gas, or a bathroom break is easy when you have the iExit app. Whether you’re looking for well-known franchises like Starbucks and Walmart to convenient amenities like free Wi-Fi and truck or trailer parking, this app has you covered. It locates fuel stops, tells you the average cost per gallon, notes what restaurants and businesses are at that exit.

Yelp: Yelp can help you find restaurants, bakeries, donut shops. Pick a location and see what’s near you.

Here’s a hint: Always look for places with the best reviews, four or five stars.

Roadtrippers: This app helps you find fun and interesting things to see along your travel route. You can filter it however you want but the app covers just about every region in the country and makes some great suggestions for off-the-beaten-path exploration. Read the reviews from others who have been there and you’ll find some fun places to stop.

Waze: Waze is a community-driven travel app that shows you the shortest possible route to your destination. Like Google Maps, Waze makes real-time adjustments for traffic jams and other obstacles—but Waze is often more accurate since it caters specifically to drivers.

Yes, you may have GPS built into our RV. But Waze is hands down the best app I have found to not only navigate us to where we need to be but to show us in almost real-time things like traffic backups, speed traps, road construction, debris on the road, and other important information about what’s ahead. It’s updated by users like you who are up ahead and you’re encouraged to report issues you encounter for those behind you.

GasBuddy: GasBuddy is an app specifically designed to find nearby gas stations and save money on gas. Use it to find the cheapest gas in your area and filter gas stations by amenities like car washes, restaurants, and bathrooms.

It’s the app you want to have if you’re serious about finding the cheapest gas around. Information comes from users like you, so you have the most up-to-date prices.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Connect with a physician while on the road

Health care should always be a priority when you’re on the road. These apps can connect you with a physician via smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Keep in mind of course there will be costs/insurance involved.

Teladoc connects you with a board-certified doctor 24/7/ via phone or video. Teladoc physicians can diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication, for many medical issues, including sore throat and stuffy nose, cold and flu symptoms, and respiratory infection. The app is free for iOS and Android with costs for connecting with a doc dependent on insurance and other factors.

Doctor On Demand allows users to connect face-to-face with a doctor through video on your smartphone or tablet. Doctor On Demand works with or without insurance and is available at reduced rates through many major health plans and large employers. Providers are licensed and board-certified. The app is free for iOS and Android with costs for connecting with a doctor dependent on insurance and other factors.

MDLive offers virtual doctor visits with board-certified physicians from wherever you are, whenever you want. Users can schedule a non-emergency appointment at a time and day that’s convenient or have an on-demand visit in around 15 minutes. The app is free for iOS and Android though there are costs for connecting with a doc dependent on insurance and other factors.

Apps for RV travel – Keep track of your family and friends

Keeping track of family members and friends you might be traveling with is important. Likewise, if you’re traveling solo, you want to make sure others know where you are located while on the road. These apps take the idea of staying connected to a whole new, safer level.

Life360 sets up small circles of friends to automatically share information such as location and arrival. You can create custom circles, too, like if a group is going on a hike or exploring and wants to keep track of each other for a short time. The app allows for chatting and sending private messages to other users. It’s free for Android and iOS.

MamaBear Family Safety: MamaBear Family Safety is designed for parents to monitor their kids’ location. But since it allows users to get updates and messages, it can easily be oriented towards RVing. For example, you could use it to check in with family back home and keep them updated as to your location without having to text or call or check-in. The app even has a panic button that can be activated if needed.

For parents, the app has a social media monitor that allows Mom and Dad to see what the kids are doing on social media. It even can be set to show their teen’s driving habits to know if they are speeding. But RVers could use those features so friends and family back home could follow their social media posts and see whether they are on the road or camped somewhere.

Apps for RV travel – Summer Safety

With the brunt of RVing during the summer it’s important to remember the elements presented by Mother Nature during the warmest time of the year. These apps help you practice even better summer safety.

OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps you take precautions against outdoor heat while working or playing. It features a real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific to your location. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Waterlogged app makes sure you stay hydrated. The app tracks your water intake with minimal effort and can send reminders of when it’s time to drink water. The app is free for iOS and Android with in-app purchases for premium features.

EPA’s SunWise UV Index app provides a daily and hourly forecast of the expected intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun as well as sun safety tips to help you plan your outdoor activities. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Get help in the kitchen

I suppose you could technically dine out for every single meal you have while on the road but that doesn’t seem especially economical or super healthy. Be sure to check out these steady flows of recipes tailored to RVing as well as resources for great-tasting dishes.

Tasty Meal Planner & Cookbook offers more than 3,000 recipes right at your fingertips. The app features an innovative search tool that allows you to filter by ingredients, cuisine, and social occasion you’re in the mood for. There are even videos to help you figure it all out. The app is free for iOS and Android.

NYT Cooking browses and searches thousands of recipes from The New York Times. Recipes feature photography and easy-to-follow instructions. It sets up your own personal recipe box. Mark recipes you’ve cooked, rate recipes, and leave notes. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Food Network Kitchen includes more than 80,000 recipes and step-by-step cooking classes. Choose from more than 50 live classes each week taught by your favorite Food Network stars, culinary experts, award-winning chefs, and surprise celebrity guests. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Connect with nature

Use your smartphone or tablet to (ironically) connect with nature.

Audubon Bird Guide is an app that helps you get outside and get your birdwatching on. It covers 810 species using photos instead of drawings, includes range maps, has a good selection of audio recordings including alternate calls and regional variations, and slightly more descriptive text including habitat, range, and nesting information. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Sky Guide shows a detailed picture of the heavenly bodies above as well as what’s over the horizon and on the other side of the world. The app points out constellations and their exact locations so you can look up at the real sky and find everything. The app is $2.99.

iNaturalist app helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature when you document what you’ve seen. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Fishing apps

What’s a great RV trip without doing some fishing? We have three apps for RV travel that will help you.

Fishbrain is currently the number one fishing app serving as a personal fishing log, map, and forecasting tool. Other features explore the most effective baits and you can know exactly what you’ve caught with the app’s species recognition tool. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Fishing Points lets you save and find your favorite fishing locations and trolling paths. There are satellite views from Google Maps or you can use offline mode with nautical charts for boating whether on open seas, lakes, or rivers. The app is free for iOS and Android.

BassForce puts the expertise of the greatest bass anglers of all time right at your fingertips. Just input the conditions for your fishing day and the app’s pros will show you the specific baits that have worked for them under those exact same conditions. The app is free for iOS.

Apps for RV travel – Streaming video apps

With so many TV shows and movies available in so many different services like Netflix, Hulu, and more, keeping track of it all can be a big job—especially if you’re looking for your favorites.

JustWatch Streaming Guide lists streaming services where you can watch movies and TV for free, rent, or buy. There are nearly 40 streaming providers including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go. The app has lots of interest and genre filters and newly added shows and movies for each service. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Yidio Streaming Guide monitors major services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as well as smaller services, delivering more than 100 in total. When you find a TV show or movie, the app will list the streaming sites that have it available. Choose one and you will be taken to their app or website to buy, rent, or watch. Some shows you can watch in-app. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Improve your sleep

Having trouble sleeping? These apps can monitor how well you sleep—or don’t. This information can be especially useful if working with a physician to address what could be pretty serious problems.

SleepScore app tracks your sleep and shows when you sleep light, deep, and when you wake up. The app uses sonar technology so you only have to have your phone by your bedside for it to work. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Sleep Cycle provides analysis to help you get a good night’s sleep. The app has an intelligent alarm clock designed to gently wake you up while you’re in your lightest sleep phase. It also integrates with Apple Health. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Apps for RV travel – Weather apps

Bad weather can happen anytime. There are several apps for RV travel that will help you prepare for the worst when it comes to the potential devastation that can be brought by Mother Nature.

Drive Weather app illustrates the National Weather Service’s forecast shows weather along your route at the expected time you will be at each point on your trip. Drive Weather also compares weather on different routes allowing drivers to add stops and interactively change departure time to find the safest time to travel. The app is available for Android and iOS.

NOAA Weather Radar Live provides weather forecasts with features including a radar overlay that shows areas of rain, snow, and mixed precipitation in high resolution and vivid colors. Set your device to received alerts from the app whenever severe weather is on the way. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Storm Radar app brings you up-to-date high-definition radar provided by NOAA. In fact, Storm Radar lets you view weather patterns up to six hours ahead of time. Allow the app to send you notifications and you won’t even have to keep checking the app for bad weather that might be on the way. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Weather Radar app from AccuWeather goes beyond your local forecast to provide a daily snapshot of the UV index, visibility, allergy, precipitation, and air quality reports, all the information can be accessed directly via the app. Look ahead 15 days to ensure you’re prepared for any weather or use the app’s MinuteCast feature for hyper current and local forecasts. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Petcare on the road

With so many RVers traveling with their pets, I would be remiss to not include two apps that can be useful for RVing with four-legged friends.

Pet First Aid from the American Red Cross is a first aid guide and knowledge base for owners of dogs and cats. The app provides instant access to simple first aid lessons, step-by-step guides, and how-to videos. There’s also a section for vet contact details. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Rover: Dog Sitters & Walkers is often called a Uber for dog sitters. It helps you find dog sitters near you all of whom have been vetted for trustworthiness and the service is covered by insurance. Book a pet sitter for boarding, house sitting, and doggy daycare. Sitters can use the app to provide photo updates and notifications to pet owners. The app itself is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Document your journey

When it’s all said and done, you may want to document your story for your records—or to share with others.

Driftr: Social Travel Platform app supports photos and videos and encourages sharing reviews and travel advice. Create your own travel blog instantly. Quickly and easily find the best places to stay, attractions, places to eat anywhere in the while taking advantage of exclusive offers. It’s helpful in planning a trip as well. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Day One Journal lets you create an entry with just one click or use one of the numerous templates. You can add data like location, weather, the music you are listening to, and more. Plus, you can embed photos and videos or even draw. And to make sure you stay consistent, you can set notifications to remind you that it’s time to journal. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Worth Pondering…

You don’t need to have all the answers. What you need to do is be curious and open-minded enough to learn.

—David Fialkow, co-founder of General Catalyst

The Best Scenic Drives in the South (2024)

The South is full of natural beauty and road trips are one of the best ways to experience it. Any of these scenic drives will take you past stunning landscapes and breathtaking views. So, grab your road trip essentials, fill up with fuel, and hit the road!

The South’s best scenic drives invite travelers to experience the landscape up close as they wind through small cities and tiny towns, beaches and mountains, rolling countryside, and deep forests.

Some of these drives are short, others are much longer, but no matter the length of your getaway, don’t forget to allow some time for side trips. Small towns, state parks, hiking trails, and historic markers await travelers willing to make a stop and set out on a rambling route to somewhere new.

Keep the camera handy because panoramic vistas, fields of wildflowers, and sandy beach scenes are just some of the sights to look for and marvel at as you navigate these scenic drives across the South. Once you’ve begun the drive, you’ll know that on these memorable Southern routes, the journey truly is the destination.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, Virginia

It’s no surprise that the Blue Ridge Parkway topped this year’s list of the South’s best scenic drives. A meandering road snaking for 469 miles along the crest of Blue Ridge Mountains from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway provides access to more than 100 trailheads and over 300 miles of trails. It passes through a range of habitats that support more plant species than any other park in the country: over 4,000 species of plants, 2,000 kinds of fungi, 500 types of mosses and lichens, and the most varieties of salamanders anywhere in the world.

If you need ideas, check out:

Newfound Gap Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newfound Gap Road, North Carolina and Tennessee

When you get to Newfound Gap, you won’t believe the wealth of overlooks, picnic areas, and trails to explore. Take this spectacular road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park to experience the pristine wilderness that drives millions of Americans to this wildly popular park year after year. The views get increasingly breathtaking, putting a lifetime’s worth of astonishing natural eye candy into a couple of gallons of driving.

Bayou Teche at St. Martinsville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bayou Teche National Scenic Byway, Louisiana

This Louisiana byway reaches through three of the state’s southern parishes—St. Martin, Iberia, and St. Mary—as it winds through Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya Basin from Morgan City to Arnaudville. Travelers can make stops along the byway’s 183 miles to explore inviting small towns, go kayaking in Breaux Bridge, and enjoy authentic local Cajun food in the destinations along the route.

Here is an article to help:  ‘Pass a Good Time’ on the Bayou Teche Byway

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive, Virginia

For a dreamy drive, look no further than this Virginia road. Skyline Drive extends for 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park following the crests of Blue Ridge peaks as it goes. That means vistas galore with views over the rolling Virginia landscape. It’s also a lovely place to watch the seasons change; visit in autumn to see the leaves turn.

That’s why I wrote Ride the Sky along Skyline Drive.

Lookout Mountain Parkway. Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee

Easily accessible from several states and a great day trip, the route along Lookout Mountain Parkway runs from Gadsden, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and passes through Georgia in the process. It’s 93 miles long and travelers are invited to stop for the nearby attractions—including waterfalls, canyons, and national parks—along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for scenic vistas as you make your way along the route.

Plan a day, plan a week. There is so much to see and do along the Lookout Mountain Parkway and you won’t want to miss a thing.

Come see…just for the fun of it!

Creole Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, Louisiana

One place in Southwest Louisiana that never ceases to amaze is the Creole Nature Trail, a 180-miles-long scenic byway where natural wonderlands abound. Affectionately known as Louisiana’s Outback, the Creole Nature Trail is a journey into one of America’s last great wildernesses.

The Creole Nature Trail features four wildlife refuges (three national and one state): Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge, and Rockefeller Refuge. While there are five entrances to the Creole Nature Trail, the most popular entrances are off I-10 in Sulphur (Exit 20) and just east of Lake Charles at Louisiana Highway 397 (Exit 36).

Here are some helpful resources:

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alabama’s Coastal Connection, Alabama

This 130-mile scenic byway connects the people and places in coastal Mobile and Baldwin counties and showcases the rich culture and flavor of Alabama’s Gulf Coast region. You’ll discover beautiful beaches, authentic downtowns, wildlife preserves, historic sites, and the freshest seafood in the state.

Check this out to learn more: Experience the Alabama Gulf Coast along the Coastal Connection Scenic Byway

Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway, Georgia

Surrounded by the beauty of the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway runs 40 miles from Blairsville to Brasstown Bald, the state’s highest peak, and access points along the Appalachian Trail. This national byway winds through the valleys and mountain gaps of the southern Appalachians.

From the vistas atop Brasstown Bald to the cooling mists of waterfalls, scenic wonders fill this region. Hike the Appalachian Trail or fish in a cool mountain stream. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains and piedmont. Several scenic overlooks and interpretive signs are features of this route

Bay St. Lewis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Coast Scenic Byway, Mississippi

The Gulf Coast Scenic Byway is the 36-mile stretch of roadway that runs through the cities of Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach Gulfport, Biloxi, and Ocean Springs. Long Beach, Pass Christian, and Gulfport are all home to historic downtown districts through which the byway either runs or borders to the south.

Magnolia Plantation © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ashley River Road National Scenic Byway, South Carolina

This short 13-mile byway is a historic journey along the Ashley River. Plantations and expansive gardens dot the route along with significant Revolutionary and Civil War sites. This pastoral scenic drive makes an illuminating route to Charleston or a must-experience daytrip if you’re already there.

Step back in time and immerse yourself in history at Middleton Place Plantation. The National Historic Landmark preserves the stories of the Middleton family, the enslaved, and the freedmen. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded by the Drayton family in 1676 as a rice plantation. Built in 1738, Drayton Hall Plantation is a prime example of Palladian architecture and has never been restored.

Road trip planning

Road trips take a little planning. Here are a few tips that will help make your scenic road trip a success:

There is so much to see and do in the South

The South is home to many fascinating, attractive, and unusual destinations. Because the Southern states occupy a significant portion of the United States, anybody planning extensive travel in the country will inevitably find themselves in the region sometime. Once you arrive, you will be in for a real treat.

Worth Pondering…

The journey not the arrival matters.

—T. S. Eliot

Is It Safe For RVers to Travel Under Current Global Threats?

Nerves are on edge as lone wolf terror threats are on the rise in the U.S. Is it safe for RVers to travel during such threats?

There’s been a lot of chatter in the RV community about whether it’s safe to travel amidst the global and national threats hitting the media. At the time of this writing, Homeland Security has not released a new advisory since the Israeli-Hamas conflict began.

However, the FBI Chief warns of growing lone wolf terror threats on US soil that we should “be on the lookout” for.

We are not altering any travel plans at this time. But, I want to share what information I’ve heard so you can make a better-informed decision for yourself.

RVs parked at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The FBI Chief’s warning

On Saturday, October 14, 2023, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that the US is facing a growing number of terror threats especially from lone wolves who may be inspired by the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict. This warning came a day after the “Day of Jihad” declared by former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Wray recently spoke at the International Association of Police annual conference. According to FBI transcripts, Wray stated, “In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, and we’ve got to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own.”

Wray did not provide information on any specific domestic threats but he urged law enforcement officials to stay vigilant.

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Current travel advisories

Since the conflict started, the U.S. Department of State has (as expected) elevated the risk level of traveling to certain Middle Eastern cities and countries. You can see the threat levels on this interactive global map.

However, there has been no official increase in the threat level domestically. No specific domestic threats have been released to the public on a national level.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What does this mean for RVers?

Since there are no elevated domestic travel advisories, there is no official reason to alter any domestic RV trips you have planned. Traveling in Canada is still at the “exercise normal precautions” level, as well.

As with any road trip, you should always exercise precautions and it doesn’t hurt to be extra vigilant as this conflict continues. It is advisable to pay attention to the news for any credible domestic threats that may arise as this conflict continues.

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How can RVers prepare for potential threats?

If you want to “wish for the best but plan for the worst,” you can take standard safety precautions as you would any threat whether for a weather threat or international threat.

Here are some things you can do to help feel better prepared for an upcoming RV road trip in this social climate:

  • Review the cancellation policies on any upcoming RV park and campground reservations. That way, you know if and when you can cancel and how much you will be refunded if you decide to cancel.
  • Stock your RV with extra food and water.
  • Take inventory of your emergency supplies and restock accordingly.
  • Leave details of your travel plans and how to contact you with friends and family.

Now let’s look at several articles for more pressing dangers relating to the RV lifestyle.

Sunrise RV Park, Texarkana, Arkansas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23 Must-Have Items for your RV Roadside Emergency Kit

Anyone who takes a road trip of any distance or duration should be prepared for potential roadside emergencies. But, RVers who tend to travel roads unknown with some frequency while carrying heavy loads in their home-on-wheels need to be well prepared for unexpected events that can occur based on weather, tire blow-outs, and other breakdowns. And they can (and often do!) happen in the most remote areas. This is why having an RV roadside emergency kit is so important.

Keep reading…

RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm

Driving or towing an RV is an exciting experience but it’s a totally different ballpark compared to driving a car. You’re dealing with a lot more weight and bulk which will give you less control and precision on the road.

Keep reading…

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to Stay Safe When RVing

There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.

If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.

While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.

Keep reading…

Best RV Roadside Assistance Plans for Peace of Mind

Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one… and we wouldn’t be without it.

Roadside assistance plans are like a type of insurance, though they’re not insurance. So what is a roadside assistance plan, who needs one, and what are the best RV roadside assistance plans available to us?

Keep reading…

Worth Pondering…

The road is there, it will always be there. You just have to decide when to take it.

—Chris Humphrey

Tips on How to Get Better Fuel Mileage in Your RV

Here’s advice on how to get better fuel mileage in your RV

With fuel prices skyrocketing across the country, you may be concerned about your next big road trip. And rightly so! You may not know this but the average RV is driven about 5,000 miles each year. For us, it’s somewhat more.

Some rigs get only 5-7 miles per gallon (mpg) while other more fuel-efficient models can get up to 18-25 mpg. This is important because gas mileage efficiency can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your RV (and maybe even on one long, road trip).  

How you drive and take care of your RV can have a big effect on how much fuel you use.

Class A motorhome in northern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The cost of RV driving

Most RVs average about 10 mpg. If you have not calculated your RV’s mpg or have an upcoming trip that you would like to prepare for, you may find this helpful:

Check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer says your mpg is. 

Google the average cost of fuel in the area you are traveling. This matters because the fuel price is much higher in California and Washington than it is in Texas and Louisiana

Map out your entire route in miles.

Divide the total number of miles by the mpg of your RV. Then multiply that number by the average cost of gas in the region you’ll be traveling in. 

Class C motorhome on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Getting better fuel mileage in your RV

RVs are perfect for road trips but they can consume a lot of fuel. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your RV’s fuel efficiency. Here are 13 tips to help you get more out of the fuel you buy.

1. RV size/weight

One of the most obvious ways to increase your fuel efficiency is by purchasing a smaller RV. If you want a better mpg, you need to go smaller and lighter.

On average, class A motorhomes will get about 6-13 mpg. Class B motorhomes will average approximately 18-20 mpg. And Class C rigs usually average 10-15 mpg. To learn more, read Meet the RVs: Find the Right RV Class for Your Travel Style.

If you already own an RV and don’t want to purchase a different one, there are other things you can do. We’ll cover those other options in just a bit.

Diesel Pusher at Sea Breeze RV Park in Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Consider diesel

You can choose to a diesel engine in any class and see some fuel savings. Overall, diesel provides about a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared to regular gasoline engines. 

Diesel engines do require considerably more oil than gas engines, though. So there’s an added expense there. But you only need to change the oil once a year or every 15,000 miles compared to every 6 months with a gas engine. Also, the initial cost of a diesel motorhome will be higher than a comparable gas engine.

3. Trip planning

Plan ahead. Trip routes matter! You get better fuel mileage on highways than on winding backroads. If you’re trying to maximize fuel efficiency, select a route that avoids gusty winds and intersections as much as possible. Google Maps has a setting for this. It’ll show a little leaf next to the most fuel-efficient route when presenting your route options.

Many other apps, however, try to route you to your destination in the shortest way possible. But sometimes, these routes can have increased stops or mountainous roads. Some routes may be slightly longer but can save you fuel because you can drive smoothly and at a steady speed. 

Do the little research before you go!

Motorhomes at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. RV maintenance 

Be sure to stay current on your RV maintenance. A dirty air filter can decrease your fuel efficiency by about 10 percent. A faulty oxygen sensor can be even more damaging by cutting your gas mileage by up to 40 percent. 

By staying on top of your rig’s regular maintenance, you can avoid any hidden gas zappers. 

I have a few helpful articles on maintenance:

5. Towing weight

The heavier weight of your RV, items that you pack, and any tow vehicles can affect your mileage. Avoid carrying items you don’t need. In other words, the heavier your rig, the less mileage you can get. This also goes for vehicles (toads) that you may be towing. 

Check air pressure every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Maintain the correct tire pressure

Maintaining your RV’s tire pressure can profoundly affect your fuel mileage. Properly inflated tires can boost your RV fuel efficiency by up to 3 percent. 

There’s usually a sticker in your door frame that shows what tire pressure you should use. Or, check your user’s manual. 

Don’t fill your tires based on the psi number on your tires! That’s the maximum pressure your tires can hold, NOT the recommended pressure for your vehicle.

By the way, you should always check your tire pressure when the tires are cold, not after driving. And be sure to check the psi on EVERY travel day.

7. Check your oil

Keeping your oil at the recommended level for your vehicle helps maintain the efficiency of your engine. When your engine runs smoother, your fuel efficiency increases.

Keep your oil between the minimum and maximum marks on the oil dipstick to maintain your RV’s performance. 

8. Watch your speed

Maintaining a steady speed and keeping that speed below the maximum for the road you’re traveling on can help with your fuel mileage. Driving too fast can cause your engine to be overworked, needlessly using fuel. 

The greatest improvement comes with slowing down. The difference between 65 and 70 mph is surprisingly dramatic.

Overall, slowing down and maintaining a steady speed can prevent you from braking and repeatedly accelerating which also zaps your fuel. 

Balance the weight in your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Balance matters

RV owners can improve fuel economy by optimizing their RV’s weight distribution. Heavy items should be closer to the floor and RV owners should try to distribute their weight to balance front to rear and side to side. 

10. Don’t idle excessively

An idling engine can eat up a ton of your fuel. If you make a stop that will last more than a few minutes, you’ll want to turn off your engine. 

You also want to try and avoid hitting rush hour traffic in the cities through which you are driving. Not only will it save fuel but it will be less stressful.

Avoiding idling not only saves you money on wasted gas but over time it can also save wear and tear on your engine. 

11. Mind your air conditioner

Another tip for increasing your fuel economy is to mind your A/C. Turning off the air conditioner and changing the A/C filters can also save you money. 

Running the A/C adds strain to your engine especially when you are traveling at lower rates of speed. That strain equates to more fuel usage. In addition, replacing your A/C filters can reduce that strain on your engine and increase your fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. 

That might not seem like much, but combined with all of these other tips, a vast gas-saving!

Tear drop trailer in RV park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Avoid rough terrain

Avoiding rough roads can also end up saving you money in the end. That is because unnecessary braking and acceleration can sap your gas. 

Scan the roads for hazards, drive slowly, and use highways or smoother and well-maintained roads as much as possible. 

Fifth-wheel trailer at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Keep track of your fuel economy

A drop in your vehicle’s fuel economy can be a sign of engine trouble. Keep track of your fuel economy by noting the odometer reading and the number of gallons purchased each time you fill up. To calculate your fuel mileage, divide the number of miles traveled between fill-ups by the number of gallons purchased.

By following these few simple steps, you can prolong the life of your RV’s engine and save money on fuel and maintenance costs. Overall, being a smarter driver can make your RV lifestyle less expensive and more enjoyable. 

We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite Go-To places―places that draw us back again and again.

Arizona is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter. 

That’s why I wrote these five articles:

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Say Hello to Your Future Travel Companion: AI

Can you REALLY use AI to plan a camping trip?

If you have been following the news this year, you have heard much about the debate around artificial intelligence—that is using a machine to do things humans do—be it writing, painting, or solving problems that require human reasoning.

AI has become intertwined with every aspect of our lives. For the last 60 years, countless scientists and philosophers have worked hard to advance the field to what it is today. 

Say hello to your future travel companion—AI is here to make traveling both easier and more enjoyable. In the coming years, AI will transform nearly every step of the journey from planning your route and booking campsites to navigating unfamiliar destinations. Are you ready to let an AI assistant help manage your next road trip?

Wall Drug, a South Dakota roadside attraction © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hello AI

Artificial intelligence is slowly but surely making its way into every aspect of our lives including the world of travel. Increasingly sophisticated AI assistants are poised to become your traveling sidekick, help with the planning, recommend sightseeing spots and roadside attractions based on your interests, and provide anything else you may need along the way.  

AI technology aimed at assisting travelers has been in development for the past 5-10 years. Many of today’s major tech players like Amazon, Google, and Apple have been incorporating AI into their products to improve the travel experience.

However, AI travel assistants have only started to gain mainstream adoption in the last 2-3 years as the technology has matured. Improvements in machine learning and natural language processing have allowed AI to become more sophisticated and useful for tasks like trip planning, navigation, and travel advisories.

The future looks promising as AI continues improving and more startups enter the space. Within the next 5-10 years, AI assistants could essentially handle every part of planning and executing your road trip with little to no input from the traveler.

Truth BBQ in Brenham, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AI travel assistants: Your virtual tour guide

While traveling, AI assistants act as your personal tour guide. They can provide route directions and recommend restaurants and attractions based on your preferences. AI assistants can also offer real-time alerts about road construction delays and other travel advisories.

While traveling, AI assistants act as your personal tour guide helping you navigate unfamiliar surroundings and find what you need along the way. Their capabilities include:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation: AI helpers provide step-by-step walking or driving directions to your destination, identifying the optimal route in real time
  • Personalized recommendations: Based on your stated interests, previous travel history, and ratings of venues, AI companions suggest restaurants, attractions, sights and activities that you will enjoy the most
  • Transit: Many AI assistants can provide transit info and ticket purchases
  • Real-time advisories: AI keeps you up-to-date on local news, road disruptions, traffic conditions, weather alerts, and other travel-related information that impacts your journey
  • 24/7 assistance: AI travel assistants are available around the clock to answer questions, provide guidance, and handle any issues that arise while you’re traveling
A road trip on the Potash=Lower Colorado Scenic Byway near Moab, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AI assistants are making road trips easier to plan and more enjoyable

The convenience of having an AI companion handle many of the planning and navigational tasks of traveling frees you up to enjoy your road tip. You no longer have to stress over finding your way around an unfamiliar city—your AI assistant can provide turn-by-turn driving and walking directions and even alert you to interesting sights along your route. The goal is to make travel simpler and more carefree through the help of artificial intelligence.

By taking on many of the time-consuming and stressful tasks involved in planning and executing a road trip, AI is allowing people to truly relax and enjoy their road trips.

Camping at Palo Casino RV Resort neat Temecula, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some of the ways AI companions are making travel more pleasant include:

  • Reducing pre-trip planning hassles: AI assistants compare route and campground options, make reservations
  • Providing guidance and recommendations: AI helpers recommend tailored restaurant selections, sightseeing options, and activities based on your interests leading travelers to unique discoveries
  • Taking navigation duties off your plate: AI companions provide turn-by-turn directions, construction and traffic alerts and notifications of nearby points of interest freeing travelers from constantly checking maps

By automating so many of the hassles involved with planning and executing a trip, AI travel assistants allow people to spend more time actually experiencing a destination on its own terms. The technology aims to make our road trips as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Touring the Museum of Appalachia near Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The functions your future AI travel companion will handle

As AI continues to get smarter and more sophisticated, the range of tasks that AI travel assistants will be able to independently handle during your trip will only increase. Some of the functions your future AI companion may take on include:

  • Planning full itineraries: Future AI helpers may autonomously schedule activities, tours, events, and meals based on your interests similar to what a personal travel planner would do
  • Making camping/dining reservations: AI travel assistants in the future could make campground/RV park and restaurant bookings for you based on your stated preferences for amenities, type of camping site, cuisine type, price range, and more
  • As AI continues to become more sophisticated over time, you can expect your future AI travel companion to essentially take complete control of planning and executing your vacation so that you can truly enjoy your time away without being distracted by trip logistics.
Touring Makers Mark Bourbon Distillery near Bardstown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AI will transform every stage of your journey

In the coming years, AI technology is poised to revolutionize the travel experience from start to finish. Sophisticated AI assistants already on the market today represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s possible. The further integration of AI into our travels promises to make road trips less stressful and more memorable enabling you to focus your full attention on having an amazing experience.

Cautions to relying solely on AI

One of the problems with using AI will be similar to the use of GPS for mapping. People will rely on these results without independently thinking or confirming results. GPS can direct you to take a desolate dead-end road or railroad tracks. And AI can recommend (and possibly take over your vehicle where systems are integrated through smart devices) routes and events that AI wants you to use. Who can forget HAL in the movie, 2001 A Space Odyssey?

Touring Jungle Gardens on Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved=

AdventureGenie went live May 1, 2023

AdventureGenie is the first RV planning program powered by AI. The company was co-founded by Scott Lengel, a former Microsoft senior technology executive and David Greenberg, AdventureGenie’s chairman, a veteran CEO/investor. Both men are RVers: Scott and his wife Lisa travel in a Newmar Ventana and David and his wife Becky in a Newmar NewAire. 

According to Lengel, the story of building AdventureGenie is a familiar one. See a need, fill a need. After spending years planning extensive RV Adventures across the continent, they found it painful to use planning tools to answer these simple questions:

  • What to do?
  • Where to stay?
  • How to get there?

The program pulls on a database of more than 25,000 public and private campgrounds and pairs it with proprietary AI-based algorithms to take planning the details of your next RV adventure to a new level.

Worth Pondering…

The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. […] It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.

—Stephen Hawking

The Coast-to-Coast Road Trip is 120 Years Old

In 1903, a Vermont doctor bet $50 that he could cross America by car. It took him 63 days, $8,000, and 600 gallons of gas

The coast-to-coast road trip, that American essential, turns 120 this year. In 1903, Horatio Jackson and Sewall Crocker became the first people ever to drive a car from one side of the United States to the other.

Cars were an exciting novelty at the time and their numbers were exploding—from 8,000 in 1900 to 32,920 in 1903—but many still considered the horseless carriage a passing fad. There were few suitable roads let alone a nationwide road network. So theirs was an adventure like none before. And it all started with a $50 bet.

Horatio Nelson Jackson (1872–1955) was a medical doctor from a prominent Vermont family. One of his brothers was the mayor of Burlington. John Holmes Jackson won the 1917 mayoral election with a margin of just 10 votes, a record matched by Bernie Sanders in 1981. Another was the lieutenant governor of the state.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip in Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No maps, no car, and very little driving experience

Jackson was an early automobile enthusiast. While in San Francisco (which he and his wife had reached by train), he accepted a bet that he could drive a car cross-country. He took the wager despite not owning a car, having very little driving experience, and not having any useful maps.

>> Related article: Epic Road Trips for this Summer and Beyond

For such practical matters, Jackson enlisted the help of Sewall K. Crocker, a driver and mechanic, and on his advice purchased a 1903 Winton. He named the two-cylinder, 20-horsepower touring car Vermont. The two left San Francisco on May 23 with their car stuffed with sleeping bags and blankets, rubber suits and coats, an ax and shovel, a Kodak camera and a telescope, a rifle and a shotgun, spare parts, and tools, and as many cans of gas and oil as they could stow.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The plan was to avoid the deserts of Nevada and Utah and the higher passes of the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies so the expedition swung north to follow the Oregon Trail in reverse. They were only 15 miles into the journey when the car blew a tire and they had to use the only spare they had brought.

North of Sacramento, a woman misdirected them for a total of 108 miles so her family could see their first automobile. When more tires blew out on the rocky road towards Oregon, they wound the rope around the wheels. Along the way, they wired the Winton Company for supplies to be sent ahead. Nevertheless, they occasionally had to walk or cycle long distances to find gas, oil, or spare parts.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip in Oatman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A bulldog named Bud

In Idaho, Jackson and Crocker acquired a bulldog named Bud as a traveling companion and fitted him with goggles to keep the dust from his eyes. And then the press caught on. Jackson, Crocker, and Bud became celebrities. Reporters and ever-larger crowds awaited the trio at every stop.

Despite more hardships—they lost their money and their way on the road to Cheyenne forcing them to go without food for 36 hours—things got easier once they crossed the Mississippi as there were more paved roads in the eastern half of the country.

>> Related article: No Matter Where You Are, These Road Trips Are Sure To Inspire

When they arrived in New York City on July 26, 63 days after leaving San Francisco, they had completed the first cross-country road trip in American history. And it only took them about $8,000 ($260,000 in today’s money), financed entirely by Jackson, and 800 gallons of gas. They never collected the $50 wager.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip in Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bud retired to Vermont with Jackson and his wife. Jackson went on to receive multiple medals for his active service in World War I and became a successful businessman in Vermont. His only other car-related feat of note is a traffic ticket for breaking the 6-mph speed limit in Burlington. In 1944, he donated his car to the Smithsonian Institution. It is on permanent display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. with the added likenesses of Jackson and Bud. Crocker died in 1913 at the young age of 30 but that is hardly a reason for leaving him out.

The cross-country adventures of Jackson and Crocker bring to mind a few other long-distance record-breakers such as Lewis and Clark or Phileas Fogg (the latter admittedly fictional). Their groundbreaking trip was the subject of a book (Horatio’s Trip) and a Ken Burns documentary of the same name with Tom Hanks voicing Horatio Jackson.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip on Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No household names

Despite the book and the documentary, the pair has never quite become household names on par with aviation pioneers such as Charles Lindbergh or Amelia Earhart. The cross-country adventurers who followed in their tire tracks and are even less remembered though they are on a map and table in the 1907 Blue Book brings their accomplishments back from oblivion for just a moment.

Jackson and Crocker hadn’t even arrived in New York when two other car expeditions left San Francisco for New York. E.T. (Tom) Fetch and M.C. Krarup would get there in 61 days, two days faster than the originals. Lester Whitman and Eugene Hammond took 73 days setting a slowness record.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip in Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A year later, Whitman got his revenge. With his new teammate Charles Carris, he shaved off almost a month of the previous record driving from San Francisco to New York in just under 33 days. In so doing, Whitman became the first person to drive coast to coast twice.

>> Related article: Texas Road Trips Sampler

There were no fewer than four coast-to-coast drives in 1905. Reversing the direction, the first three left from New York to arrive in Portland, Oregon. The first two were obviously in a race against each other both leaving on May 8 and both in eight-cylinder Oldsmobiles.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip with Forrest Gump © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three hurrays for Percy Megargel

But who won? The table says Dwight Huss and Milford Wigle completed the crossing in only 44 days versus 51 days for Percy Megargel and Barton Stanchfield—but it shows both teams arriving on June 21. It seems likely Megargel lost (arriving on June 28 instead of June 21), because he went straight back and tried again, this time with David Fassett. Their time was a disappointing 84 days. The pair returned to New York by car setting off from San Francisco but the result was even worse: 201 days. At least Megargel was the first person ever to drive coast-to-coast three times.

The year 1906 saw three coast-to-coast road trips. William Gehr and W.E. Canfield brought their wives with them—also a first. Whitman and Carris broke their speed record crossing the country in just over 15 days. Richard Little and D. Haggerty arriving in San Francisco 24 days and eight hours after leaving New York would have made headlines just two years earlier. But by that time, the novelty, if not the attraction, of coast-to-coast road trips had already started to wear off.

A cross coast-to-coast road trip in Greenville, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Final note on Horatio Nelson’s maiden trip

As the road transport paradigm shifts from fossil fuels to electric, there’s a whole bunch of early automotive records now ripe for a do-over including Horatio Jackson’s coast-to-coast road trip.

>> Related article: Absolutely Best Road Trips from Las Vegas

In 2022, Jack Smith and two friends did just that. They retraced Horatio’s route in a 1964 VW Bus that had been converted into an electric vehicle. It went well enough for them to immediately double back: “Once we reached New York City, we turned around and followed the 1913 version of the Lincoln Highway back to San Francisco,” Jack writes.

Worth Pondering…

Do you know why a vehicle’s WINDSHIELD is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE! So, look ahead and move on. 

National Road Trip Day

Today is National Road Trip Day

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer and millions of Americans take a vacation over the holiday weekend primarily by car or recreational vehicle. The Friday before Memorial Day has been declared National Road Trip Day. 

Today is National Road Trip Day and I’m celebrating two kinds of road trippers, the tourist and the pilot. Sightseeing tourists like to take their time choosing scenic routes with numerous breaks for exploring, hiking, and photography while pilots are on a mission to get to their destination with as few breaks as possible. However, you like to road trip, be sure to drive safely.

Plan your route with a full tank of fuel, snacks, music, and other travel necessities along your route no matter which kind of road tripper you are.

In case you care, today is also National Cellophane Tape Day, National Grape Popsicle Day, National Cooler Day, and National Don’t Fry Day.

Road tripping on the Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s National Road Trip Day: Check out these interesting facts about the Interstate Highway System

The interstate highway system was officially born on June 29, 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act. Eisenhower’s interest in the concept was piqued during his tour of the German autobahn system in World War II when he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Initially, he saw its significance in terms of military logistics. Today, almost everything we use in daily life—food, apparel, furniture, appliances, tools, building materials, medical supplies, you name it—has traveled an interstate highway on its way to a local store.

Road tripping along the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are some interesting facts about the Interstate System, some of which have practical value:

  • Even-numbered Interstate highways always travel east/west
  • Odd-numbered Interstate highways always travel north/south
  • The side of the small sign with the exit number will tell you whether the exit is on the right or left
  • On one- or two-digit Interstates, the mile marker numbering begins at the southern or western state line
  • If an Interstate originates within a state, the numbering begins from the location where the road begins in the south or west
  • The Interstate Highway System stretches 47,622 miles and includes 10 transcontinental routes varying in length from 18 miles to over 3,000 miles
  • Longest Interstate: I-90, 3,085 miles (Seattle to Boston)
  • Shortest Interstate: I-97, 17 miles (Annapolis to Baltimore, Maryland)
  • State with the most Interstate mileage: Texas, 3,232 miles
  • State with the most Interstate routes: New York, 29 routes
  • Interstate routes across the most states: I-95, 16 states (Florida to Maine)
  • Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico use their own interstate system as they are not connected to the rest of the country
Road tripping in Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s National Road Trip Day: Check out the history and significance of the day

Whether it’s to pay tribute to fallen national heroes by visiting war memorials across the country or an excuse to get out of town for a change of scenery, the road trip has been loved by Americans throughout history. From great works of literature inspired by the road to songs that we know and love—road trips mean something to everyone which is why it’s exciting that the road trip has a special day of its own.

National Road Trip Day is the day when families hit the road and find out the wonders that await them on the journey. Road trips are a great way to relax and spend time with your family and friends. In simple terms, a road trip means a journey or trip on the road.

Road tripping in Custer State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Road Trip Day became an official holiday in 2019, thanks to Pilot Flying J, the largest travel center operator in North America. They chose the Friday before Memorial Day because of the long weekend ahead and with May being the start of summer it kick-starts the travel season, too. Since travel stories are ingrained into the very history of America with wagon trains heading west in the 1840s and Native Americans exploring the country long before that—it makes sense to observe a day that celebrates travel by road.

Looking back at history, the concept of the road trip was described back in 1888 in Germany. The first recorded road trip across the U.S. began in 1903 with a bet. Someone bet Horatio Nelson Jackson (a physician and automobile pioneer) that he could not travel from San Francisco to New York City in less than 90 days. Accompanied by mechanic Sewall K. Crocker and a dog named Bud, they set off in a 20-horsepower Winston to prove them wrong. Despite numerous mishaps, Jackson and Crocker completed the trip in 63 days.

Road tripping on Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By the 1930s, the famous Route 66 opened America to cross-country travel. Many began to migrate west while others took to the road for vacations. By the 1950s, America was the world’s largest car manufacturer and nearly 75 percent of American families owned a car which became a symbol of American pop culture.

Road trips became the typical holiday of the American middle classes leading to a boom in drive-ins and roadside motels. Hippies in the ’60s then converted the road trip into a full-blown lifestyle, turning vans and buses into homes on wheels.

Road tripping in Amish Country, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s National Road Trip Day: Tips for planning a road trip

Everything is in the planning. It can be a lot of fun and relieve a lot of stress along the way.

Use a travel app: Apps are everything, so why not leverage technology to help you plan your route.

Soup up your ride: Check everything out beforehand from wipers to registration papers, leave no stone unturned.

Plot a course: Keep in mind important factors like traffic flow, bathroom stops, and roadblocks/diversions.

Compile a playlist: The majority of travelers say that what you listen to can make or break your trip experience, so prep well.

Stakeout your take-out: While snacks are essential, plan your meals and take-out stops in advance, too.

Road tripping in Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s National Road Trip Day: Take healthy habits on your road trip

So while you’re checking your budget and consulting maps and travel guides, here are some health-related factors to consider.

Stay hydrated, but wisely: Travel with water bottles and a cooler rather than sodas.

Build in breaks: When you’re sitting in the car or RV for hours at a time, blood doesn’t pump as well throughout the body. It’s a good idea to stop every two to three hours just to get up and stretch and walk around to get the blood flowing.

The sun doesn’t shine just at the beach: It’s blasting through the windows. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses while you’re driving.

Road tripping in White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to spend National Road Trip Day in 2023?

National Road Trip can be celebrated by planning a quick road trip with family and friends. You can spend the day hitting the road to discover unknown destinations or attractions. You can drive a scenic byway or All-American Road. You can even finish it by watching a road trip movie.

Worth Pondering…

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.

—Emma Chase, Tamed

How to Plan a Southwest Road Trip

The landscapes across America’s Southwest are some of the most spectacular to be found anywhere on the planet

A Southwest road trip is America at its best. Picture yourself driving along desert roads sometimes for hours on end. Highways snake between burnt red canyons, beside acres of geological anomalies you can’t quite imagine until you’ve seen them for yourself. Your Southwest road trip itinerary may have you passing through tiny towns with names like Tropic and Beaver and diners slinging Navajo tacos alongside more classic greasy spoon fare.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A road trip is a perfect way to explore special spots in the Southwest—Nevada, Utah, and Arizona—where you can see ghost towns, hoodoos, natural arches, sandstone spectacles, dark-sky stars, and a huge hole in the ground.

But, the real reason to undertake a road trip through Utah, Arizona, and the rest of the American Southwest is the National Parks. Legendary parks include the Grand Canyon and Utah’s The Big FiveZionBryce, ArchesCapitol Reef, and Canyonlands. The Southwest is a quintessential part of any US National Parks road trip.

Cedar Breaks National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On top of that, there are tons of national monuments (Bears Ears, Dinosaur, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge, Cedar Breaks, and Grand Staircase-Escalante, to name a few) and plenty more state parks and federal lands worth checking out. It goes without saying that you might not see everything in the American Southwest in one sweep. While fully customizable, I’d recommend at least a two-week itinerary to get the most out of your Nevada, Utah, and Arizona road trip.

Before you begin, consider purchasing an annual national parks pass at the first park you enter. That $80 pass gets everyone in your car into every national park for a full year. You don’t have to be an American citizen to buy an annual pass but if you are and you’re age 62-plus buy your lifetime pass for $80 and never again pay to enter a U.S. national park. (Considering that Zion National Park’s entry fee is $35 per car, getting the annual pass is something of a no-brainer.)

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nevada: Ghosts, gold and Red Rock

While the lure of Sin City in Nevada is strong, there’s more to the Vegas environs than casinos and outlet malls. So sleep in Las Vegas to start your adventure, if you’d like, perhaps at Las Vegas RV Resort where we have stayed on several occasions.

Start with an easy ride to Red Rock Canyon Park where you’ll need a timed reservation to enter between October and May. It’s just 15 minutes west of the Strip but transports you to a completely different world of massive striated red rocks where easy walking trails lead to ancient Native American petroglyphs.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Rock is lovely but a favorite Nevada stop is Rhyolite, a gold-rush ghost town northwest of Vegas. Founded in 1904, it grew to a city of 5,000 residents—and was abandoned by 1916. Today it is a delightful mix of art installations (begun in 1981) known as the Goldwell Open Air Museum and the ghost town’s abandoned brick homes, banks, railroad depot, and a house built of glass bottles. The combination is absolutely fascinating and well worth the drive into what seems to be the middle of nowhere.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located on the Colorado River about 25 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. With 1.5 million acres of mountains and valleys there are plenty of activities visitors can enjoy at and around Lake Mead. Bicyclists are welcome to ride on park roads, on routes designated for bicycle use, and hikers can enjoy beautiful trails with impeccable views. 

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah: Hoodoos, arches and more

Rolling north into southern Utah transports you into a world of contrasts from vast arid deserts to densely wooded mountains, massive sandstone cliffs, amazing natural-stone arches, and seriously wacky rock formations.

Begin in Zion, Utah’s first national park where most months you’ll need to park your car and ride the free shuttle from the visitor center into the park. This park and its famous sites—Zion Canyon, Kolob Arch, the Narrows, Great White Throne, and Angels Landing—are so popular that massive crowds form especially during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Jump on and off the shuttle as often as you’d like but don’t miss the last one as you’ll be walking nine miles to get out of the park if you do!

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bryce Canyon National Park is probably the most eye-popping, mind-boggling place you will ever see with its hoodoos (to call them irregular rock formations is just inadequate) of every shape and size. It’s the largest concentration of these magical forms anywhere in the world and a true must-see.

Set up camp at one of Ruby’s beautiful campsites nestled in the pines. Located ½-mile from the entrance to Bryce Canyon, Ruby’s Campground & RV Park offers RV spaces with full hookups.

Make your way up the road to see all of the incredible sights, hike down into the canyon for a closer look, and don’t miss the Milky Way stargazing led by a park ranger. Much of the Southwest is toasty in summer but you’ll need a warm coat for this park where the night (and early morning) temps can be seriously chilly at any time of year.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moving on to the northwest, Capitol Reef National Park is the true undiscovered gem of Utah. You’ll be gobsmacked at the huge cliffs of bright, rainbow-colored sandstone looming high above you with peculiarly shaped hoodoos hanging at perilous angles. Find hidden arches and petroglyphs, take a horseback ride or a hike and be sure to spot the iconic white sandstone dome, shaped like the U.S. Capitol building.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Approaching the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park on the Utah/Arizona border brings a strange sense of deja vu if you’re a film fan. Turns out those iconic landscapes are real, not cinematic sets. Monument Valley served as the spectacular setting of numerous famous movies. Think Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Fort Apache for this is the place that John Wayne and John Ford turned into the world’s ultimate vision of the Wild West; later, Forrest Gump cemented it as an Instagram hotspot.

Monument Valley is owned by the Navajo Nation so book a camping site at The View RV Park and then drive in, paying $8 per person to see the Mittens, Elephant Butte, John Ford’s Point, Artist’s Point and more on the 17-mile loop drive within the park. Taking a Navajo-guided tour is an incredible way to learn more about this sacred place and the indigenous people who still call it home.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona: Sunrise, sunset, and a flyover at the Big Hole

The last stop on our Wild West road trip is Arizona’s big hole in the ground also known as the Grand Canyon. One of the world’s truly astonishing natural wonders, the canyon is the longest on the planet but not the deepest despite being more than a mile down. The Colorado River began eroding away this sandstone and limestone eons ago to create this eye-popping place.

El Tovar Hotel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Book way ahead to stay at the iconic El Tovar Hotel inside the park for it’s the best way to see the sun rise and set right out your front door as the canyon changes hues. Alternately book a camping site at Mather Campground (no hookups) or Trailer Village (full hookups) in the South Rim Village.

Hike down into the canyon as far as you can go to see it up close but do remember that climbing back out is a lot harder to do. For an once-in-a-lifetime thrill, hop on a helicopter via Grand Canyon Helicopters at the airport just outside the south rim entrance, soar over the edge and swoop down into the canyon—a perfect ending to a Wild West journey filled with adventure.

>> DIG DEEPER

Worth Pondering…

One of my favorite things about America is our breathtaking collection of national and state parks, many of which boast wonders the Psalmist would envy.

—Eric Metaxas

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Safe (and Fun) RV Road Trip

Unexpected hurdles don’t have to spoil the fun—here’s what we have learned over the years about staying safe and comfortable on the road

If this is your first time planning an RV trip, make sure to start planning well in advance so you have time to wrinkle out any complications. There are numerous resources available to help with your RV itinerary as well as different tips and tricks to have a great RV trip.

Over the past few decades and more than a million miles, we’ve learned—sometimes the hard way—about the many things that can go wrong on a road trip and how to plan for them.

Here are some tips to stay safe and comfortable, no matter what the open road throws your way.

Do your dream but plan wisely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set a budget

I put this first on the list because it will dictate your overall trip. Setting a budget will determine how far you can drive, your nightly budget for camping and activities. Campgrounds in national parks and state parks tend to be less expensive but often without the services of a private park.

If you drive a shorter distance, your fuel costs will be lower. Setting a budget is an important part of RV road trip planning.

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack wisely

Being smart is essential for any road trip but it’s even more important when traveling in an RV. This is because you have limited space and you need to be able to make the most of it.

Here are a few tips for packing wisely for your RV road trip:

  • First, start by making a list of everything you need. This will help you get organized and ensure that you don’t forget anything important.
  • Prioritize the items on your list. You’ll need to decide what is essential and what would be nice to have if space is available.
  • Think about how you’ll use each item during your trip. This will help you determine what needs to be packed and what can be left at home.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack for safety

Unexpected delays and breakdowns are part of the game and if you plan for them they’re easier to deal with. Here are basic items to pack as well as some extra things that are helpful to have on hand.

Items to bring for your vehicle include:

  • Tool kit for basic roadside repairs including wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, shop towels, rags, duct tape, and Rhino tape
  • Extra windshield washer fluid, coolant, oil, and transmission fluid
  • Basic roadside breakdown kit with flares, a reflective vest, jumper cables, a heavy-duty tire pressure gauge, flashlights, and a pair of work gloves
  • Comprehensive and up-to-date paper maps of your intended route and destination
Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s what to bring for your safety and comfort:

  • Enough food and water to sustain you and your passenger(s) for at least several days
  • Protection from the elements including a raincoat, good walking shoes, insect repellent, wide-brimmed hat, winter toque, sunglasses, and sunscreen 
  • First aid kit including bandages, pressure dressings, antibiotic ointment, and a sting/bite kit 
  • Can opener, knife, and multi-tool
  • Phone charger and power bank
  • Bear spray for safely repelling curious bears or bad people. Note: Bear spray is very potent, so read about how to use it safely
Lesser Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prepare your RV

Before hitting the road, check your tire pressure, wiper blades, and lights and make sure your fluids are topped off.

St. Marys, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your route

There are a many things to consider when planning the dates for your RV road trip and where you will go. Are there timely events you want to attend? If so, you will want to plan your trip around that. If not, it is a great time to look at your destination bucket list. It is also important to consider the weather where you will be.

Whether you’re spontaneous about routes or a meticulous reservation maker, Rex Talks RVing can help you on just about every level. Keep in mind holidays and local events that can make driving through a city or finding a campground difficult. For example, driving through Houston at rush hour or traveling from Vegas to Los Angeles at the end of a holiday weekend can be frustrating and is usually avoidable. 

Don’t forget a paper atlas. There are many areas where a phone-based GPS doesn’t work and other times when you’ll need to find alternate routes. Plus, it’s fun to browse untraveled sections of a map to plot future adventures.

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

Get off-the-beaten path

One of the best things about an RV road trip is that you have the opportunity to explore places that are off the beaten path. This is a great way to really experience the culture and beauty of the area you’re visiting. Additionally, it’s a great way to avoid the crowds and really relax and enjoy your trip. 

Look out for RV-friendly routes and avoid low bridges and narrow roads as appropriate.

Rochester, New Hampshire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Know what to do in a weather emergency

Anticipate the weather conditions you might encounter—including tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, wildfires, dust storms, blizzards, and extreme heat—and research how to get through each situation safely without panicking. This is when a weather radio is important.

Covered bridge, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Avoid dangerous encounters

It’s easy enough to figure out what wild animals you might encounter like bears and take precautions for them. But also keep in mind unsavory people. If you do not feel safe where you are, then relocate. Trust your instincts.

Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Traveling safely

To stay alert, get plenty of sleep each night, take regular breaks and walk around, have spicy snacks and caffeine drinks on hand, and don’t eat a big meal before driving. If you do need to pull over for a break, do so at a rest area.

Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recreate wisely as you travel

It’s easy to think you won’t get hurt on vacation but it does happen. While enjoying the sights outside of your vehicle don’t take a selfie with a buffalo, avoid swimming in Yellowstone, and look both ways before crossing Bourbon Street—among other things.

Fort Adams State Park, Rhode Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Additional tips: 

  • Sign up for real-time, current-location alerts on your weather app or check Weather.gov for weather stations on the radio
  • Keep up your situational awareness as in lock your vehicles when you leave your camp site
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full especially in remote areas where fuel stations are less frequent
  • Practice defensive driving
  • Stay alert for wildlife on the road especially at dawn or dusk and after dark and on secondary roads
  • Pull over or change lanes if there’s a line of traffic behind you; not only is it annoying but you’re creating a hazardous situation where people will likely try to pass you in dangerous places
  • Pay attention to the mile marker signs on the side of the road as well as the county so you can accurately identify your location for emergency responders or roadside assistance

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

The Best National Parks to Visit in April

If you are seeking the best national parks to visit in April, this guide’s for you! It will detail eight beautiful National Parks to visit in April, why you should go to them, and what to expect during this month.

The national parks are a treasure—beautiful, wild, and full of wonders to see. But there’s more to experience than taking in gorgeous scenery from your vehicle or lookout points. National parks are natural playgrounds, full of possible adventures.

The most famous  National Park Service (NPS) offerings are the 63 national parks including ArchesGreat Smoky Mountains, and Grand Canyon. But 424 NPS units across the country also include national monuments, seashores, recreation areas, battlefields, and memorials. These sites are outside the main focus of this guide.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning a trip to America’s national parks in April but don’t know which ones to visit? April brings warmer temperatures to most of the US. Travel begins to pick up during this month both because of the warmer weather and because families are hitting the road for spring break. There are many great national parks to visit in April that I cover in this guide plus six bonus parks and a road trip that links several of these parks together.

About this National Park series

This guide is part of a series about the best national parks to visit each month. In this series, every national park is listed at least once and many are listed multiple times. It is a series of 12 articles, one for each month of the year.

These articles take into account weather, crowd levels, the best time to go hiking, special events, road closures, and my personal experiences in the parks. Based on these factors, I picked out what I think are the optimal times to visit each park. Since I haven’t been to all of the national parks I include only the parks we have visited on at lease one occasion.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For an overview of the best time to visit each national park, check out my Best National Parks by Season guide. This guide will cover the best time to visit each national park based on these factors. First are the links to my posts about the best parks to visit, month-by-month. This is followed by a list that illustrates the best time to visit each national park based on weather and crowd levels. Please note this overview will be posted following the completion of this 12 month guide in February 2024.

And at the end of this article, I have links to the other guides in my Best National Parks by Month series.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information I provide for each national park does not include temporary road closures since these dates are constantly changing. Roads can close in the national parks at any time so I recommend getting updates on the National Park Service website while planning your trip. 

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visiting the National Parks in April

If you are seeking the best national parks to visit in April, this guide’s for you! It will detail eight beautiful National Parks to visit in April, why you should go to them, and what to expect during this month.

April is a big month for spring break travel. The warmer weather also draws more crowds now that much of the country is warming up.

That warmer weather means that a bunch of parks are now warm enough to visit without facing freezing temperatures and the chance of snow. For the most part, you won’t need a warm coat and gloves to visit the majority of the national parks on this list and in some places, shorts and a t-shirt is what you’ll be packing in your RV.

If you want to visit the national parks with great weather and lower crowds that flood the parks in the summer months, April is a great time to plan your trip.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona

People from around the world travel to the Grand Canyon, making it one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. It also makes the list of Seven Natural Wonders of the World and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For millions of years, the Colorado River has been carving out this massive canyon. Grand Canyon National Park is enormous and with four rims to visit, there are many different ways to visit this park.

In April, the North Rim is not yet open (it typically opens in mid-May). The South Rim is the most spectacular area of the park to visit in April with sweeping, iconic views of the Grand Canyon and several epic hiking trails to choose from.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit the Grand Canyon in April: In April, daytime highs finally climb up into the 60s and with a low chance of rain the weather is very pleasant this time of year. Crowds are large in April but not as big as they are in the summer months so if you want good weather and lower crowds, April is a good time to visit the Grand Canyon. This is also one of the best times to go hiking in the Grand Canyon since the days are cool, rainfall is low, and you have over 12 hours of daylight. 

Weather: The average high is 61°F and the average low is 29°F. April is one of the driest months of the year to visit the Grand Canyon.

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 5:50 am and sunset is at 7 pm.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: Visit the South Rim viewpoints, watch the sunset, hike below the rim on the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trail, raft the Colorado River, and take a flightseeing tour or a ranger-guided tour.

Ultimate adventure: Hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. You can either hike a portion of the South Kaibab or Bright Angel trails out-and-back or combine them into one big loop. Called the rim to river to rim hike, only those who are very fit with lots of hiking experience should attempt it.

How many days do you need? I recommend spending three to four days on the South Rim to visit the highlights. Four days gives you enough time to visit the best overlooks on the South Rim, go on a helicopter ride, and spend some time hiking below the rim.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Badlands National Park

Location: South Dakota

Badlands National Park is a highly underrated park in the United States.

The colorful buttes, spires, and pinnacles create one of the most photogenic landscapes in the country (it’s the feature photo for this article). Bison and bighorn sheep roam the largest mixed-grass prairie in the United States. The sunrises and sunsets are magical, the hiking trails are short and sweet, and for those looking for more solitude, you can take your pick from a handful of backcountry experiences.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Badlands in April: In April, the weather is getting warmer and this is the last quiet month in the park before visitation really picks up. In 2022, 35,000 people visited Badlands in April and this number jumped to 100,000 in May and increased throughout the summer months. So, in April, you can take advantage of good weather and low crowds. 

Weather: The average high is 62°F and the average low is 35°F. April is the start of the rainy season. March is drier but with low temperatures and the chance of snow, I think April is a better time to visit. 

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6 am and sunset is at 7:30 pm.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: Drive Badlands Loop Road and visit the overlooks, watch the sunrise and/or the sunset, hike the Notch Trail, hike the Door and Fossil Exhibit Trails, drive Sage Creek Rim Road, visit Roberts Prairie Dog Town, hike the Castle Trail, and count how many bison you can find.

Ultimate adventure: For the ultimate experience, venture into the backcountry. In Badlands National Park, you are permitted to hike off-trail and the Sage Creek Wilderness and Deer Haven Wilderness are great places to go hiking and spot wildlife.

How many days do you need? One day in Badlands National Park gives you just enough time to visit the highlights and hike a few short trails. Make sure you catch either sunrise or sunset in the park because these are one of the best times of day to look out across the landscape. To explore beyond the basics plan a second day.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Big Bend National Park

Location: Texas

Big Bend National Park is located in southwestern Texas. It bumps up against Mexico and the Rio Grande forms the border between Mexico and Big Bend National Park. Big Bend gets its name from the prominent bend in the Rio Grande on this border.

This national park protects the largest area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the US as well as the Chisos Mountains. Big Bend is a top hiking destination in with trails leading high into these mountains and into canyons along the Rio Grande.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Big Bend in April: In April, crowds are diminishing (March tends to be the busiest month of the year to visit Big Bend) and the weather is warm and sunny. However, if you are here during a heat wave temperatures can get up into the 90s, even reaching 100 degrees, so early April is the better time of the month to visit in order to avoid these hotter temperatures. By May, this park really begins to heat up.

Weather: The average high is 82°F and the average low is 54°F. Rainfall is very low. 

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 7:30 am and sunset is at 8:20 pm.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: Hike the Lost Mine Trail, go star gazing, hike Santa Elena Canyon, go for a drive on Maxwell Scenic Drive, visit Boquillas del Carmen, hike to Balanced Rock, and hike to Emory Peak, the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains.

Ultimate adventure: For the ultimate adventure in Big Bend, go on a half-day to multi-day canoeing trip on the Rio Grande.

How much time do you need? Spend at least three to four days in the park. Because of its large size and remote location, it takes a while to get here and you need a few days to explore it, so four days should work for most people.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Canyonlands National Park

Location: Utah

Canyonlands National Park is both the largest and the least visited national park in Utah. I also think that it is one of the most underrated national parks.

This enormous national park preserves the canyons, buttes, and mesas that have been carved out by the Colorado and Green Rivers.

Enjoy the overlooks at Island in the Sky, go hiking in The Needles, drive the White Rim Road, and photograph Mesa Arch at sunrise. The list of things to do here is long and wonderful whether you prefer to visit the overlooks, hike a trail or two, or venture into the backcountry.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Canyonlands in April: The weather is great for hiking and exploring and the crowd levels are increasing but not yet near their peak for the year.

Weather: The average high is 62°F and the average low is 40°F. Rainfall is very low.

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:40 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: Visit the overlooks on Island in the Sky, watch the sunrise at Mesa Arch, go hiking in The Needle, drive Shafer Canyon Road, hike below the rim of the Island in the Sky mesa, and explore The Maze.

Ultimate adventure: Drive or mountain bike the White Rim Road. This is a 100-mile unpaved road that makes a loop around the Island in the Sky mesa. It takes 2 to 3 days to do this drive.

How much time do you need? You need at least two full days in Canyonlands National Park. Spend one day in Island in the Sky and one day in the Needles. But more time is better if you want to venture deeper into the park.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Petrified Forest National Park

Location: Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park is small and easy to visit. This park is named for the petrified wood that dates back millions of years to a time when this land was lush and fertile.

But there is more to this park than looking at chunks of crystallized wood. The Painted Desert and the Blue Forest with their colorful, zebra-striped hills are a beautiful sight to see and they are very similar to Badlands National Park, mentioned earlier. There are also a few great trails to hike which are perfect for all ages and ability levels.

Petrified Forest is another park that can go on the underrated national parks list.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Petrified Forest in April: With highs near 70°F, this is one of the best months to visit Petrified Forest with regards to weather. It also makes a great addition to an Arizona or American Southwest road trip if you also plan to visit places like Monument Valley, Sedona, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Weather: The average high is 68°F and the average low is 35°F. Rainfall is very low.

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 5:45 am and sunset is at 6:50 pm.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: View the Painted Desert from the overlooks, see the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock, see the Teepees on Petrified Forest Road, hike the Blue Mesa Trail, and see the petrified wood at Crystal Forest and along the Giant Logs Trail.

Ultimate adventure: The Blue Forest hike is a favorite experience in Petrified Forest National Park. This 3-mile trail takes you through the badlands, one of the most beautiful parts of the park.

How much time do you need? One day is plenty of time to drive through the park, visit the overlooks, and hike a few short trails but I recommend a second day to explore hikes you missed on the first day.

Petrified Forest National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Capitol Reef National Park

Location: Utah

With beautiful scenic drives, thrilling hikes, historical sites, backcountry roads, slot canyons, and unique desert landscapes, Capitol Reef National Park is an unexpectedly amazing national park to visit.

If you love the idea of leaving the crowds behind and exploring a vast, remote area, you have several options. Cathedral Valley with its sandstone monoliths and sweeping desert vistas is a beautiful, unique way to spend one day in Capitol Reef. Or you can Loop the Fold, another remote driving day along the waterpocket fold.

There are also slot canyons to explore, low-traffic hiking trails in remote areas of the park, and some of the most dramatic landscapes in Utah which you can see right from your car.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Capitol Reef in April: Because the weather is pretty close to perfect. In April, Capitol Reef gets an uptick in visitation but it’s not as busy as it will be in May and June.

Weather: The average high is 65°F and the average low is 39°F. Rainfall is very low.

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:50 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: Drive the 16-mile round-trip drive along Scenic Drive, drive Capitol Gorge Road, hike to Hickman Bridge, and watch the sunset from Sunset Point, hike to Cassidy Arch, and Loop the Fold.

Ultimate adventure: For the ultimate adventure, drive the Cathedral Valley Loop. This rugged, remote district of Capitol Reef National Park is one of the best backcountry experiences in the national parks if you like exploring by 4WD.

How much time do you need? Plan to spend three to four days in Capitol Reef. This gives you enough time to explore and hike the trails in the core of the park (along Scenic Drive and Highway 24) and venture into the backcountry either in Cathedral Valley or by looping the fold.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Pinnacles National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Pinnacles National Park

Location: California

Pinnacles National Park protects the mountains on the eastern end of Salinas Valley. These mountains are the remnants of an extinct volcano. The rocky pinnacles are a popular rock climbing destination and wildflowers in the spring draw the biggest crowds of the year. This park is also one of the few locations where you can spot the California condor in the wild.

Pinnacles National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Pinnacles in April: April is the best month to visit Pinnacles to see the wildflowers in bloom. Plus, the weather is fabulous.

Weather: In April, the average high is 72°F and the average low is 39°F. Rainfall is low.

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:30 am and sunset is at 7:40 pm.

Pinnacles National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: See the wildflowers in the spring, hike the High Peaks Loop, hike the Bear Gulch Cave Trail, explore the Balconies cave, spot California condors, enjoy the view from Condor Gulch Overlook, and go rock climbing.

How much time do you need? Pinnacles National Park can be visited in one busy day but for the best experience spend two days here which gives you enough time to visit both sections of the park.

Pinnacles National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Bryce Canyon National Park

Location: Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park is small and easy to visit. With several days, you can hike through a garden of hoodoos, take in the view from multiple viewpoints, and thoroughly explore the park.

What’s a hoodoo? Hoodoo can also be defined as a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin. Geologically, hoodoos are found all around the world but they occur in the most abundance in Bryce Canyon. Here, hoodoos are the main ingredient of this unique landscape. The thousands of hoodoos in Bryce are what attract so many visitors every year.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why visit Bryce Canyon in April: April is the end of the shoulder season in Bryce Canyon when the weather is cool and park visitation is still relatively low for the year. Go now, because in May, this park really begins to get busy. 

Weather: In April, the average temperature is 54°F and the average low is 29°F. There is a small chance of snow in April. 

Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:50 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top experiences: Some of the best viewpoints are right along the rim and easily accessible by car or the seasonal shuttle (mid-April to mid-September): Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop, a 3-mile hike past some of the best scenery in the park. Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point are also nice viewpoints.

Ultimate adventure: Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail, an 8-mile strenuous hike.

How much time do you need? One day is all you need to see the views from the rim and hike one to two short trails in the park. I recommend another day or two for additional time to hike into the canyon. You won’t regret it

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan your visit

2 more National Parks to visit in April

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a great place to visit in April. The weather is perfect but higher crowd levels kept if off of the list above. However, if you are planning a visit to Canyonlands or the other national parks in Utah, its worth including Arches on your list just get an early start and expect busy parking lots and hiking trails.

Congaree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Congaree National Park

In April, the weather is just about perfect…daily highs of 75°F and one of the driest months of the year. However, those mosquitoes are starting to arrive and by the end of the month, the mosquito meter at Congaree with be ticking up to the mild to moderate levels.

Bonus! 4 NPS sites to visit in April

Canyon de Chelly National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

You can see many of Canyon de Chelly’s top sights from the rim roads, but you’ll get a deeper understanding of its significance on a jeep tour with a Navajo guide. The only self-guided hike, the White House Trail, zigzags 600 feet down (and back up) to the spectacular White House ruins. Don’t miss the staggeringly tall spire known as Spider Rock; it rises 830 feet from the canyon floor.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Natural Bridges National Monument

The amazing force of water has cut three spectacular natural bridges in White Canyon at Natural Bridges National Monument. These stunning rock bridges have Hopi Indian names: delicate Owachomo means rock mounds, massive Kachina means dancer while Sipapu, the second largest natural bridge in the state, means place of emergence. A nine-mile scenic drive overlooks the bridges, canyons, and a touch of history with ancient Puebloan ruins.

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

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Encompassing over 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah. Outdoor activities are what Glen Canyon is all about. There is something for everyone’s taste. 

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore includes one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. The park is home to a herd of feral, free-ranging horses. Most visitors come to Cumberland for the natural glories, serenity, and fascinating history. Built by the Carnegies, the ruins of the opulent 59-room, Queen Anne-style Dungeness are a must-see for visitors.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

April road trip idea

With 10 days, go on a road trip through four of the national parks in Utah—Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Park. This itinerary is perfect if you are looking for adventure, solitude, and unforgettable experiences. You also have enough time to journey into the backcountry where the real adventures await.

On this itinerary, you can also visit several state parks and national monuments in Utah which are just as great as the national parks. On this list are Natural Bridges National Monument and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Hovenweep National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More Information about the National Parks

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best National Parks to visit by month

Worth Pondering…

However one reaches the parks, the main thing is to slow down and absorb the natural wonders at leisure.

—Michael Frome