Rainy Day Camping Activities for Adults

Don’t let the rain ruin your camping trip. Here are the best rainy day camping activities for RVing adults.

Rain, rain, go away,

Come again some other day,

We want to go outside and play,

Come again some other day,

Even as an adult, that nursery rhyme always pops into my head whenever it rains. Especially when we are camping and all we want to do is go outside and recreate!

But with over 25 years of enjoying the RV Lifestyle and lots of rainy (and a few snowy) days, we’ve learned how to keep ourselves entertained on days when the weather is not cooperating with our original itinerary.

I’m going to offer numerous ideas on how to spend a rainy day while camping plus some links to help you make the most of these ideas.

I’ll start easy but don’t expect all of these activities to be lounging activities—they’re not! Sure, rainy days are a great day to relax but that doesn’t mean you have to be completely inactive.

Savannah is the setting for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Read a good camping book (not just any book)

Now I know you may think this isn’t original advice but reading a book is a go-to rainy-day camping activity for good reason. There’s something about the pitter-patter of rain that helps you immerse yourself in the pages of a good book.

I will point out, too, that I said you should read a good camping book. Not just any book! 

A good camping book will transport you to another world while keeping you connected to your current travel experience. It will help inspire and motivate you to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors as soon as the rain lets up. That’s why I highly suggest you keep at least one of these great books to read while camping at the ready on every road trip.

Here’s a few to get you started:

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer
  • Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Into the Wild by John Krakauer
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Watch a good camping movie (again, not just any movie)

That’s right, not just any movie—a good camping movie. As I said about books, you should choose a movie that keeps you immersed in your travel experience. That way, you still get a taste of adventure even if confined to your RV. 

To make it easy for you, I’ve made a list of 10 Iconic Road Trip Movies. This list includes a WIDE RANGE of movies bout life on the road. I researched the history of road trip cinema and chose 10 of the most iconic films in which people drive across the U.S.

Speaking of movies, I have posted articles on film-making in various regions of America. Here’s a quick sampling:

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Invite camping neighbors over

No matter the size of your RV, you could always invite fellow campers over. Whether you squeeze inside or tuck under your awning, it’s always nice to gather together on a rainy day.

Plenty of campers will agree that one of the best rainy-day camping activities is playing games. So, invite some people over and have a game night! Or, rather, a game rainy day!

This brings me to my next rainy day suggestion…

4. Host a championship game day

Forget game NIGHT. Host a championship game day! Whether you invite your camping neighbors over or play at your travel party, games are always fun on a rainy day.

But don’t get stuck playing the same game for hours. Instead, organize an impromptu championship series where you play various games to determine an ultimate winner.

Since every person has different strong suits, this style of game day levels the playing field. Each player can pick a game and then the person who wins the most games is the champion.

You can pick standard board games or card games or you can get creative with different challenges. 

There should definitely be a prize for the champion, whether it’s a silly homemade trophy or an inexpensive gift for RVers.

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

5. Cook up some comfort food

Comfort food and rainy days go hand in hand! Whether you’re curling up to a good book or movie, doing crafts, or playing games, comfort food is the perfect complement to all the activities on this list.

6. Camping puzzles and adult lego

What can be more relaxing than working on a puzzle while listening to raindrops hit your RV roof? If you think it’s not practical to do puzzles in a bumpy RV that you move from campground to campground, you’d be (happily) wrong!

You can use a roll-up puzzle mat to preserve your progress until you finish!

And I’m a big fan of crossward puzzles. As well as a rainy day activity, it helps to keep ones brain active as we age.

And on that same note, what about 3-D puzzles? Yep, I’m talking about Lego! Lego aren’t just for kids anymore.

Like the puzzle mat, you can use an organizer box to stay tidy. As an RVer, you might consider the following:

  • Lego Volkswagen Camper Van
  • Lego Wildflower Bouquet
  • Lego Birds Model
Journaling © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Journaling and scrapbooking

Another great rainy day camping activity is journaling and scrapbooking. It’s the perfect time to sit down and catch up on your recent experiences on the road.

If you want to be prepared for such a rainy day, you can check out my Guide to Journaling.

Some of the journals have prompts, while others give you plenty of space to write freely. 

8. Unique crafts and related activities

Doing arts and crafts is one of the best ways to keep yourself busy while being stuck inside on a rainy day. You can draw, paint, knit, quilt, leatherwork, carve, or even color. You can also enjoy many different activity books from crossword puzzles, sudoku, and miscellaneous games.

Okefenokee, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Plan your next RV road trip

There’s no time like the present to plan your next RV trip especially if rain is keeping you from enjoying your current one. If you’re stuck inside, you might as well make good use of your time and start planning your next adventure whether it’s reworking your current itinerary or starting a new one.

I have lots of articles about planning a great trip but I recommend starting with The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip.

Or, you can take the opportunity to review some of my tried-and-proven road trip guides. That way you only have to decide where to go next rather than plan the whole trip yourself.

Bernheim Forest, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Go out in the rain

Just because it’s raining, doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! It doesn’t mean you can’t hit the trail or enjoy what you had planned for the day regardless. (As long as there’s no thunder storm, of course.)

Rain is just water, after all. You’re not going to melt. Like they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. 

So, whip out your camping poncho, put on your Tilleys hiking hat, and slip on your waterproof shoes. Get out there and see how the world looks different under its cover.

Jump in puddles if you will, turn your face up to the sky, and enjoy the rain!

Worth Pondering…

The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

—Ray Bradbury

The Most Filmed Locations in Every State

A pop culture road trip

Cinema was born in France but it grew up in Hollywood. Filmmakers of vision and ambition capitalized on the Californian outdoors and built a city of studios that could double for any place on Earth—or beyond. But as cameras got portable and audiences demanded greater story variety, America’s filmmakers branched out or sprouted up in every state.

Some states were chosen for their particular flavor (Minnesota for Fargo) or history (Mississippi for In the Heat of the Night). Others are cast just because they are not Big American Movie States: think of the horror movies of Anytown, USA. But altogether, this huge variety of cultures and landscapes has made American cinema a candy box for global audiences to pick from. Today, the U.S. movie industry makes more money than any other (although notably, India makes the most films, and China sells the most cinema tickets).

Sonoran Desert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But despite America’s diverse cast of locations, California and New York continue to dominate the U.S. cinematic landscape. While California remains best known for its studio productions, you’d probably guess that New York’s most filmed location is Central Park—and as the new study proves, you’d be right. But what are the most filmed locations in the other states? And what does the cinematic landscape look like when broken down by genre or location type?  

Recent data analysis by HawaiianIslands.com identified the U.S. locations with the most film credits not including movie studios. They categorized the top locations by state, type, and genre to rank the most filmed locations in each category.

>> Related article: Most Iconic RVs from the Movies

Key findings include:

  • Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California is the most filmed location with 399 credits
  • Pearl Harbor is Hawaii’s top film location with 17 credits
  • Union Station in LA has more credits than the White House, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Grand Central Station—but it rarely plays itself
UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the desert to the university, America’s landscape of top locations covers every part of U.S. life—and history. The Sonoran Desert is Arizona’s most filmed landscape with a blazing 268 film credits. A desert is a versatile location: in addition to westerns such as McLintock! (1963), the Sonoran’s history of UFO activity makes it an apt sci-fi setting (A Fire in the Sky, 1978). And it even stands in for the Al-Hajarah desert in Iraq for Three Kings (1999).

Hawaii offers two stand-out attractions for filmmakers: the history around Pearl Harbor such as the classic From Here to Eternity (1963) and the good times in paradise portrayed in pictures such as Blue Hawaii (1961). The latter is a classic musical romance starring Elvis Presley who filmed scenes in locations such as Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Mount Tantalus, and Hanauma Bay. But Pearl Harbor emerges as the top location with 17 credits including Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and the Michael Bay blockbuster Pearl Harbor (2001).

Movie crew at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, the study identified the most uniquely filmed U.S. location for every top genre—which is to say, the location that is used for a particular genre at a higher rate than others. So, for example, Arizona’s Paiute Wilderness has fewer Western credits than the Sonoran—but the Sonoran’s prominence as a Western location is watered-down by the science-fiction and other genres that are filmed there. The Paiute is America’s most uniquely filmed western location. The 87,900-acre Paiute Wilderness is a remote area in the northwestern corner of Arizona with limited access.

>> Related article: 11 Must Watch Films Shot on Route 66

Hawaii’s top movie location, Pearl Harbor, is also the U.S. location most dedicated to the war genre. Most genres have a top location in California or New York but the adventure genre is another exception. Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah is the top location for that genre. Remember when Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) gets a self-destructing call-to-action in Mission Impossible II (2000)? That’s Dead Horse.

Grand Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Canyon and Yosemite stand out as the most filmed National Parks in the U.S. with Yellowstone trailing not too far behind. The latter stood in for the Planet Vulcan in the first Star Trek movie (1979). The crew made extensive use of the park’s otherworldly Minerva Hot Springs but mixed imagery with model shots to create Spock’s home planet.

Montana’s Glacier National Park offers a greener and meltier landscape. The national park with the fifth-most film credits, Glacier, has offered a picturesque backdrop in films ranging from the epic box office bomb Heaven’s Gate (1980) to the family dog picture Beethoven’s 2nd (1993).

The beach: What better backdrop to “play out the liquid politics of time in an attempt to find new temporal realities beyond the horizon of representation”? The most filmed beaches are all in California offering stars a chance to show off their bodies while giving their characters an air of vulnerability. And then there’s Adrenochrome (2017), about “a gang of Venice Beach psychos who are killing people to extract a psychedelic compound from their victim’s adrenal glands.”

Daytona Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Venice Beach has the most credits of all beaches but a special mention goes to 10th-placed Dockweiler Beach. As well as trashy titles like Time Trackers (1989) this stretch can count crime movies like Starsky & Hutch (2004), Point Break (1991), and Lethal Weapon (1987) amongst its modest filmography—and eagle-eyed viewers will even catch a glimpse of it at the start of Moon (2009).

A sports stadium comes with its drama baked in—dizzying heights and memories of nail-biting games, the buzz of the crowd. Perfect for the scene in Space Jam (1996) when alien Nerdlucks check out an NBA game at Madison Square Garden and drain some familiar stars of their talent. Madison Square Garden is the most filmed sports stadium in America.

>> Related article: 10 Iconic Road Trip Movies

Fantastic storylines and sports stadiums seem to go together; perhaps it is the sense of spectacle. Angels in the Outfield (1951) one-ups Space Jam by having its invaders come from Heaven itself. Paul Douglas plays Aloysius X. ‘Guffy’ McGovern, an obnoxious and down-on-his-luck baseball coach who is visited by an angel with the task of making McGovern a better coach and human. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the team with scenes shot at the neighboring Wrigley Field stadium, home of rivals the Chicago Cubs. 

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

The nice, orderly museum you got there. Shame if it was to get… messy. Museums in movies are used to contrast calm with the potential for disruption. The template was set at the fifth-placed American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan with Bringing Up Baby (1938) in which Cary Grant’s staid paleontologist has his life (and his museum) turned upside down by Katharine Hepburn and her pet leopard. Night at the Museum (2006) would later add supernatural surrealism to the mix at the same location.

In Manhattan (1979), the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) comes to represent Manhattan itself as well as the best and worst of the gallery experience. On the one hand, Woody Allen’s character is quick to point out pretentiousness and boredom; on the other, the scenes at MOMA put the characters’ lives in perspective and give them a chance to know each other and look twice at the world around them. MOMA is the 10th-most filmed museum in U.S. cinema. 

America’s most filmed buildings are mostly an iconic bunch of big-name structures that convey an immediate sense of place and grandeur. No building catches this essence more succinctly and recognizably than the White House which has 91 movie credits. The president-with-a-gun Jack Ryan franchise makes regular use of the building’s exteriors although only documentary crews get to film inside.

Art Deco in the old train station in Chattanooga, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite the big star names among the top buildings, it is a lesser-known character actor that takes first place. The cavernous Art Deco Union Station in LA is America’s most filmed usually doubling as a different building altogether; a futuristic police station in Blade Runner (1982), a fictional movie studio in Hail, Caesar! (2016), and Demi Moore’s evil lair in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) feature among its 97 roles.

>> Related article: 12 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Filmed in Arizona

Whether it’s a cinephile’s pilgrimage or a longing for a glamorous destination that motivates you, visiting America’s most-seen real-life movie locations makes for a high-octane trip—with epic selfies guaranteed.

Better yet? Combine multiple movie locations with exquisite beaches, great golfing, and a sunset spectacle that eclipses Hollywood’s most breathtaking scenes. 

Worth Pondering…

I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians.

—Francis Ford Coppola

12 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Filmed in Arizona

The following movies are remarkably diverse in nature but share this description: filmed in Arizona

Movies filmed in Arizona go beyond Westerns. From Oscar-winning dramas to titans of sci-fi, big-screen stories have been making the most of Arizona’s iconic landscapes since 1912.

Anyone can recognize a famous skyline in a blockbuster flick but scene-spotting for movies filmed in Arizona brings a unique challenge. How many people can pinpoint Amado’s cow-skull restaurant in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore? And who recognizes the Canyon de Chelly backdrop that outperforms the plot in Poltergeist 2?

Petrified Forest © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s this very thing—the shape-shifting quality of Arizona’s geological terrain—that has enticed more than 2,000 productions to film in the state.

“We have the most diverse topography of anywhere in the U.S.,” says Matthew Earl Jones, director of Film & Digital Media for the Arizona Commerce Authority.

This means that if a film scout seeks New England in the fall they can find it in Arizona’s White Mountains. A director who desires an alien planet? The vast badlands near the Petrified Forest will more than suffice.

When it comes to the silver screen, Arizona does it all from starring roles in legendary movies to bit parts in indie films. Here’s a peek at some of Arizona’s best work.

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Who can forget Clark Griswold’s classic Grand Canyon visit? After a few seconds of wonderment, Clark and the family were off to their next adventure.

The classic Chevy Chase comedy revolving around a family road trip gone awry was filmed in several Arizona spots including Flagstaff, Monument Valley, and Sedona—the site of Aunt Edna’s famous death scene.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tombstone (1993)

Okay, this one was easy. Tombstone, Arizona remains a famous tourist attraction for being the site of Wyatt Earp’s gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

>> Related article: 11 Must Watch Films Shot on Route 66

The 1993 film starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer revolves around the gunfight and the ensuing Earp Vendetta Ride. Tombstone was filmed primarily at the Old Tucson Studios.

Yuma © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Star Wars VI, Return of the Jedi (1983)

Parts of a galaxy far, far away are actually located in Arizona. The Return of the Jedi is the final film in George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy. After using parts of Tunisia to film the Imperial Sand Dunes in the previous films, Lucas and the company wanted to stay closer to home.

For the last film, they decided on building a set about 15 minutes away from Yuma around Castle.

Near Casa Grande © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three Kings (1999)

George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube starred in this drama set in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

In order to make the setting look like Iraq, director David O. Russell needed a flat and barren desert landscape. He chose Arizona—with many of the scenes being shot in the deserts of Casa Grande.

Old Tucson Studios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

¡Three Amigos! (1986)

Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short star in this irreverent comedy about silent movie stars forced to save a Mexican village from the famous (or infamous) El Guapo. Hilarity ensues while fish out of water actors sing and dance their way to heroes.

>> Related article: The Ultimate Road Trip for Clint Eastwood Fans

Set in Mexico, much of the film was shot in Old Tucson Studios and the Coronado National Forest south of Tucson.

Yuma Territorial Prison © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3:10 to Yuma (1957)

This story about a small-time rancher transporting an outlaw by stagecoach is one of the most famous westerns and even spawned a remake starring Christian Bale in 2007. While the remake doesn’t stay true to its Arizona roots, the original was filmed all over the state.

Filming occurred in Old Tucson, Sedona, Dragoon, Yuma, and Willcox.

Old Tucson Studios © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Into the Wild (2007)

Few movies showcase Arizona’s natural beauty. One exception is Sean Penn’s Into the Wild starring Emile Hirsch. As Hirsch’s character hitchhikes to Alaska, audiences get a glimpse at many of Arizona’s lesser-known but gorgeous areas.

Some of the areas captured in the movie include Kingman, Lake Mead, Topock, and Page.

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planet of the Apes (1968)

One of the most iconic movies in sci-fi history, Planet of the Apes re-imagines the world. An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future. Intelligent talking apes dominate, while all the humans remain mute, oppressed, and dressed in animal skins. Terrifying stuff!

The desert scenes were all filmed on location in Arizona in the desert-like terrain of northern Arizona. The Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, and Page all make blockbuster appearances.

Canyon de Chelly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Sea of Grass (1947)

This western begins with St. Louis resident Lutie Cameron (Katharine Hepburn) marrying New Mexico cattleman Col. James B. ‘Jim’ Brewton (Spencer Tracy) after a short courtship. When she arrives in Salt Fork, NM she finds that her new husband is considered by the locals to be a tyrant who uses force to keep homesteaders off the government owned land he uses for grazing his cattle—the so-called Sea of Grass. Lutie, has difficulty reconciling her husband’s beliefs and passions with her own.

>> Related article: Most Iconic RVs from the Movies

Filming occurred at Canyon de Chelly.

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

After a long absence, Chris McCormick returns to his quiet hometown of Prosperity, Arizona, to reopen his late father’s mines. However, a chemical spill and lethal toxic waste have created an unstoppable army of giant spiders who prey on the unsuspecting locals turning Prosperity into an endless buffet. Now, it’s up to Chris; Sheriff Sam Parker; her son Mike; Sam’s plucky daughter, Ashley; the conspiracy theorist, Harlan, and a handful of survivors to stop the hairy menace and save the town. But, who can stand in the way of the disgusting eight-legged freaks?

Filming locations include Glendale, Superior, Black Canyon City, and Lake Powell.

Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Edge of Eternity (1959)

Helped by socialite Janice Kendon, Arizona Deputy Sheriff Les Martin works to solve three brutal murders in and around the Grand Canyon. His efforts lead to the killer fleeing with Janice as a hostage and a chase by car and helicopter leading to a climax on a miner’s bucket on cables a mile above the canyon floor.

Some of the areas captured in the movie are Grand Canyon, Kingman, and Oatman.

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

John Carter of Mars (2012)

John Carter, a Civil War veteran who in 1868 was trying to live a normal life is asked by the Army to join but he refuses so he is locked up. He escapes and is pursued. Eventually they run into some Indians and there’s a gunfight. Carter seeks refuge in a cave. While there, he encounters someone who is holding some kind of medallion. When Carter touches it he finds himself in a place where he can leap incredible heights, among other things. He later encounters beings he has never seen before. He meets a woman who helps him to discover that he is on Mars and he learns there’s some kind of unrest going on.

>> Related article: Filmed in Utah: 9 Itineraries through Hollywood’s Most Iconic Settings

Filming occurred in a variety of locations including Lake Powell.

Worth Pondering…

I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been associated. The very earliest people who made film were magicians.

—Francis Ford Coppola

Most Iconic RVs from the Movies

You’d know these rolling homes anywhere

RVs have featured prominently in many movies and TV shows. Over 70 movies and TV shows feature RVs.

There have been examples from the early days of travel trailers such as the comedy Long Long Trailer in the early 1950s with Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball about a couple who take a trailer on their honeymoon. There’s also the mobile meth-making motorhome that was a large part of the Breaking Bad TV series.

Airstream at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located at the company’s headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio, the new Airstream Heritage Center showcases the history of perhaps the most famous travel trailers in the world. The word iconic gets thrown around a lot these days but these silver bullet trailers deserve the title. They still evoke the optimism of the space race although now of course are filled with all modern conveniences.

Airstream and NASA have a long tradition of partnership including the construction of the quarantine chamber used by returning Apollo missions and the RV that took astronauts to the launch pad right up to the era of the Space Shuttle. And it is also synonymous with the way Hollywood told these stories. The Airstream used by Tom Hanks when he was shooting the movie Apollo 13 sold at auction several years ago for $235,200.

Airstream at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From families clustered around TV sets in 1969 to silver screen blockbusters, to highways and side roads across the country, Airstream RVs and trailers are instantly recognizable to everyone. And this got me thinking: what other RVs have achieved lasting fame? Or maybe infamy?

Watching Robin Williams roll through Colorado in a RV and young couples embarking on their first cross-country RV road trip is kind of the same as being there, right? Okay, maybe it’s not the same, but it’s definitely the next best option.

Related article: 10 Iconic Road Trip Movies

These RVing movies feature what those of us in the RV community loves most about this lifestyle—beautiful scenery, wide-open spaces, family and above all, a good sense of humor. Check out some of my favorite RV movies below.

Winnebago at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spaceballs — 1986 Winnebago Chieftain 33

One of the few parodies that stand the test of time, Spaceballs perfectly skewers the Millennium Falcon with this slightly decrepit winged Winnebago. No, it will not go to plaid but it will make the jump to hyperspace thanks to secret onboard jets allowing Lone Starr and Barf to outrun the evil Dark Helmet.

The joke here is to double down on the rough around edges feel of the Falcon. The Eagle 5 (complete with vanity plate) is a shabby ol’ bird, fine for a man-dog named Barf but not up to the standards of the prissy Princess Vespa. Still, it’ll jam any radar. Literally!

Spartan Motor Home at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Breaking Bad — 1986 Fleetwood Bounder

If the Eagle 5 skirted galactic law then the Fleetwood from Breaking Bad was definitely up to no good. A rolling laboratory for cooking up illegal methamphetamines, the “Krystal Ship” became something of a recurring character on the show.

Despite being destroyed in a crusher in season six (another RV was destroyed), the Fleetwood survived filming. There was even a charity contest in 2018 that offered fans a chance to cook in the RV with Aaron Paul—not meth, just breakfast.

Touring Ford at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation — 1972 Ford Condor II

RVs don’t seem to get the glamorous roles in movies and television. This particular crusty-looking machine was a reflection of just how rude and crude the Griswolds’ Cousin Eddie was. Case in point: his most famous line isn’t even printable here.

Related article: 11 Must Watch Films Shot on Route 66

Yet even Eddie becomes a lasting part of the Christmas spirit. The motorhome is too. It’s parked at Castle Noel in Ohio, an entire museum dedicated to Christmas movies.

Winnebago at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Independence Day — 1967 Winnebago Brave

It’s time to redeem the RV a little. When aliens invade the earth, a herd of RVs flees into the desert rescuing Will Smith along the way and ending up at Area 51.

A classic Winnebago with a suitably apt name leads the way. It’s a bit of redemption for Cousin Eddie too, in a way. Actor Randy Quaid takes on another RV-driving role here but this time he’s a disgraced fighter pilot who gets his revenge.

GMC Motorhome at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stripes — 1976 GMC Motorhome

Beloved comedian John Candy makes another motorhome-related appearance here (he played Barf) with the EM-50 Urban Assault vehicle. With more gadgets than a Bond car—periscope, missiles, bulletproof armor—the EM-50 easily saves the day.

Stripped of the movie magic, the EM-50 was actually a GMC Motorhome from the 1970s. These were pretty advanced for their day being front-wheel-drive and having a low floor. After filming, Candy reportedly kept one of the motorhomes and used it for touring around.

GMC Motorhome at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Blues Brothers — 1976 Fleetwood Southwind

Direct from Nashville, it’s the Good Ole Boys playing both kinds of the best music there are—Country and Western. They’re touring the country in a Fleetwood RV painted with desert cowboy scenes and fitted with bull horns.

Unfortunately, Jake and Elwood Blues get on the wrong side of the Ole Boys which resulted in a car chase. Most things in this movie result in car chases. In this case, Elwood’s messed with the accelerator pedal—“glue, strong stuff”—and the RV ends up going for a swim.

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Lost World: Jurassic Park — 1996 Fleetwood Southwind Storm

The original Jurassic Park was such a huge smash that we all couldn’t wait to travel back. This time, though, we’d need something a little tougher than a painted-up Ford Explorer.

Related article: The Ultimate Road Trip for Clint Eastwood Fans

Enter the Southwind Storm done up as the Challenger trailer. A mobile lab equipped with anti-dinosaur defenses it was theoretically the safest way to study dinosaurs at a distance. Unfortunately, it ended up getting rolled into the ocean by two angry T. Rexes.

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Far Green Country — 2005 Bounder

This is a real life story—an overcoming adversity story. This is a story about a great adventure in the wild spaces—whether in national parks, within oneself, or in relationships with others. A young couple struggling to stay afloat set out on the road in a class A motorhome in search of the hope of healing. This real-life documentary tells of the comedy, the hardships, and the passion of living intentionally and adventurously in marriage and with children.

House Trailer at RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

About Schmidt — 2001 Winnebago Adventurer

This 2002 Oscar-winning movie features Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt, a bitter and recently retired widower who travels to his estranged daughter’s wedding in a 35-foot 2001 Winnebago Adventurer. Along the way, Nicholson’s character narrates via long letters to Ndugu, a Tanzanian orphan that he’s sponsoring.

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’re the Millers — 2013 Coachman Encounter

This raunchy 2013 comedy features Jason Sudeikis’ character hiring a fake family to smuggle a massive amount of marijuana across the Mexican border. “Me, crossing the border alone? Huge red flag! But families, don’t get a second look so I need you to be my wife,” he says to Jennifer Aniston’s character, a stripper. The RV in the movie is played by a 2013 Coachmen Encounter.

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV — 2005 Forest River Georgetown 395 and 1948 Flexible Clipper

This Robin Williams-helmed film stars the late actor as Bob Munro who takes his family on a road trip that, of course, results in all manner of shenanigans and tomfoolery—including some of the specifically RV variety. The family’s rig is a 2005 35-foot Forest River Georgetown 359 but another RV—the vintage 1948 Flxible Clipper—kind of steals the show. The latter can be toured at the Jack Sisemore RV Museum in Amarillo, Texas.

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nomadland — 2001 converted Ford Econoline

As the title suggests, the RV in this film features prominently as Fern, played by Frances McDormand travels the western half of the U.S. in 2001 converted Ford Econoline she names Vanguard. The Chloé Zhao-directed film—nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture—explores themes of economic collapse, community, and survival, and features real-life nomads alongside McDormand’s performance. 

Related article: Fort Langley: The Fort, Charming Village, and Movie Set

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Supernova — 2004 Auto Trail Cheyenne 632

In this 2020 film, Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play Sam and Tusker, partners of 20 years who travel the English Lake District visiting friends and family in a camper van as they try to come to terms with Tusker’s early-onset dementia diagnosis. The RV in this critically acclaimed movie is a 16-year-old Auto-Trail Cheyenne 632.

RVMH Hall of Fame Museum, Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meet the Fockers — 2016 Fleetwood Pace Arrow

Since the first movie, Meet the Parents (2000), the main character Ben Focker has been accepted by his fiancé’s parents and it is time for her parents to meet him. Sounds easy enough but the parents are polar opposites. The movie follows Ben and his fiancé, Pam, trying everything they can to try to make the parents get along and come to terms with being one big family. Their attempts lead to some hilarious scenarios like when Ben decides to take a trip with his fiancé’s parents to meet his parents in an RV.

Worth Pondering…

It’s crazy isn’t it? Look at that RV it’s like a camper on steroids.

—Robin Williams (the dad) in the movie, RV