There’s no shortage of scenic places to explore throughout the U.S. From ocean views to mountain panoramas, you’ll be able to stop and enjoy some of the best scenic surroundings America has to offer. Best of all, these routes are equipped with campgrounds to boondocking opportunities, making them the ideal road trip destination for any type of vanlifer. Fill up your tank, stock up on supplies, and choose one or more of these scenic road trip routes for your next van trip.
The Florida Keys, a chain of islands tucked away at the bottom of the Sunshine State, provide a great place to head to in your van for amazing views and a laidback water adventure. The Overseas Highway provides a convenient way to explore the length of the Keys from Key Largo to Key West. Just take US Route 1 past Miami and continue going south until it turns into the Overseas Highway. Once you’re in the Keys, you can spend your days sailing, snorkeling, diving, exploring Dry Tortugas National Park, and visiting other local attractions, such as the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.
Where to stay: Curry Hammock State Park, located roughly halfway between Key Largo and Key West, has ocean-view campgrounds available with gravel areas for vans and RVs, a dump station, and easy access to hiking and other activities.
Driving along California State Route 1, also know as the Pacific Coast Highway, means being able to enjoy gorgeous ocean views for 650 miles over the span of a few days. Going from north to south, starting near Leggett and ending near Dana Point, gives you clear views of the Pacific Ocean throughout your road trip. Santa Barbara, PIsmo Beach, Hearst Castle, Limekiln State Park, and Bixby Bridge are just some of the places and sites you’ll get to see along the way. This is arguably one of the most stunning routes in the entire country.
Where to stay: Kirk Creek Campground in Los Padres National Forest, offers scenic views on a bluff overlooking the ocean, as well as access to hiking and other outdoor activities. RV campsites are available, but no hook-ups are included.
Historic Route 66 covers 2,278 miles between Chicago, Illinois and Santa Monica, California, which makes for a road trip lasting roughly two weeks. If you’re not planning a road trip that’s quite that long, you can still see plenty of attractions on parts of this famous route, from the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, IL to the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville, CA. Quirky roadside attractions, ghost towns, national parks, cultural museums, historic sites, and more dot the landscape along Route 66.
Where to stay: Midpoint Campground, located in Adrian, Texas, is roughly the halfway point along Route 66. The campground accommodates RVs and has full hook-ups available. Several other campgrounds for vans and RVs are available in each state that Route 66 passes through.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway provides sweeping views of the Appalachian Highlands in Virginia and North Carolina. The parkway starts near Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive in Virginia and extends down to Great Smoky Mountains National park in Cherokee, NC. This 469-mile drive goes through wooded areas and hilly terrain and provides access to nature trails, lookout points, picnic areas, and other amenities and activities. During your trip, you can plan on going hiking, fishing, biking, and more. From waterfalls to wildflowers, the Blue Ridge Parkway has many sights to see while also making it easy to enjoy local attractions, including art galleries, historic villages, and orchards.
Where to stay: Otter Creek Campground, located in Bedford, Virginia, has rustic campsites available for RVs and other vehicles, although no hook-ups are available. The campground includes drinking water, toilets, and a dump station.
Kancamagus Highway, or Route 112 in New Hampshire, offers a great way to explore the White Mountains region with all of its natural beauty. The highway starts in Lincoln, NH in the White Mountain National Forest and runs for 34.5 miles to Conway, NH. Along the way, you can catch views of the Pemigewasset River and the Osceola Range from multiple overlooks. Both ends of the highway offer local attractions, including The Conway Scenic Railroad, Loon Mountain, and Alpine Adventures.
Where to stay: Big Rock Campground, located on the west side of the highway about 6 miles east of Lincoln, has several campsites available with amenities such as drinking water, picnic tables, and bathrooms. The campground is open from May through mid-October. Backcountry camping sites that are open year-round are also available along the highway.
Great River Road
The Great River Road isn’t just one road. It includes several local and state roads that run alongside the Mississippi River on both sides. When you want a long and winding van trip with calming river views, this is the ideal road trip to plan. This route starts in Louisiana and goes all the way up to Minnesota with opportunities to enjoy local sightseeing and scenic views in multiple states, including Mississippi, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The Great River Road offers access to many national parks, museums, outdoor activities, and charming towns.
Where to stay: Grand Gulf Military State Park, located in Port Gibson, Mississippi, has campgrounds available with full hook-up sites if needed, as well as local attractions, including a Mastodon bone, artifacts from the early 1800s, and more.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway
The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway in Taos, New Mexico, takes you in a loop circling around Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in the state. Starting in the town of Taos, this scenic route offers serene views of the mountain and its wooded surroundings, as well as a glimpse of the Rio Grande River. The 83-mile byway takes a few hours to drive along with added time if you stop in the local towns of Taos and Questa to visit art galleries and do some local shopping and dining. Skiing is also available in the Taos Valley area if you’re looking for a winter activity.
Where to stay: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, located at 1120 Cerro Road, offers spots for boondocking in your van, as well as access to mountain biking, fishing, whitewater rafting and other activities.
Badlands Loop Road
Badlands Loop Road, or Highway 240, gives you stunning views of rugged rock formations and grasslands as you make your way through this part of South Dakota. Located close to Interstate 90, the road winds through the northern area of the Badlands and offers multiple overlooks to stop at, including Big Badlands Overlook and White River Valley Overlook. The entire drive only takes a couple of hours, but you can make a day of it or spend an even longer time in the park and check out attractions such as the fossils on display on Fossil Exhibit Trail.
Where to stay: The Wall at Badlands National Park, located about 6 miles south of the town of Wall, South Dakota on Highway 240, offers a clifftop boondocking site with beautiful views of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and Badlands National Park.
Whether you do one of these scenic road trips or several of them, make sure you’re aware of local rules and regulations for boondocking before pulling over for the night. This helps ensure that you’ll have a fun and memorable trip without running into any trouble. Enjoy your travels!