Do you have 4th of July van plans this year? The holiday weekend is a busy one and van lifers can either embrace the crowds or find ways to ditch them altogether. It’s really a unique holiday for travelers as the spaces we typically occupy become very popular with weekend campers and newbies who want to camp and celebrate in style.
There are some fantastic destinations to join the party and a few great ways to avoid the noise. How you choose to celebrate depends on your pets and personal preferences. I’ve done it both ways and tend to avoid the crowds these days but I’ve had some great van trips to Lake Tahoe and other destinations on the 4th of July as well.
Places to Join the Fourth of July Celebration
If you want to see great fireworks shows, join group camps and have a great time, these destinations are for you. They are scenic locations with vibrant communities that embrace the holiday.
South Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Cold, clear water, big mountains and sandy beaches combine for the perfect 4th of July destination. South Lake Tahoe has it all and the location serves as a major holiday destination for California and Nevada residents. If you cross over the Nevada state line, casinos offer lodging and all night parties. The beaches tend to fill up and it’s a party across the entire weekend.
Outside of South Lake, Kings Beach and Incline Village are both hot spots. The lake is big however and you can escape the noise by traveling to less populated areas, especially those that aren’t lakefront. Forest service and private campsites do fill quickly during the holiday weekend anywhere near the lake.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
You will find some great campsites and rental options in Myrtle Beach. The firework display is massive and exciting so make sure you stay up for the multiple fireworks shows. They have fireworks at Lake Broadway, 2nd Avenue Pier, Barefoot Landing, Cherry Grove Pier and more. You will be surrounded by fireworks and backdropped by the coastline and ocean here. During the day, they have multiple parades, a 5k run and busy beaches where locals gather to enjoy the weekend.
Rocky Point, Mexico
Arizona residents are especially keen on this destination just south of the border. It’s an easy border crossing at Lukeville and a one hour drive to the Sea of Cortez. If you want a beach vacation convenient to the southwest, Rocky Point is a great option. You will need a passport and Mexican auto insurance but those are the only requirements outside of the visa you will obtain at the border. Rocky Point has beachfront RV sites, great hotels, vacation rentals, local bars and late night clubs as well. It’s a great all around holiday destination.
Flagstaff is hopping on the 4th of July with parades, art shows, orchestra performances and great fireworks. It’s the perfect Arizona destination as the town sits in a mountainous forest. Escape the heat and take advantage of the national forest lands and abundant camping options in your van. You can loop this into a bigger road trip with destinations like the Grand Canyon nearby as well.
The Great Lakes region is loaded with amazing 4th of July destinations and Lexington is one of those charming small towns that you have to see. Located on Lake Huron, they have a day full of events followed by an evening of exciting fireworks over the lake. It’s perfect for van campers because campsites and RV resorts are common up and down the shoreline.
Best Places to Ditch the Noise
For many van travelers, avoiding the noise and crowds is desirable. It’s surprisingly difficult to find campsites away from fireworks and crowds on the 4th of July. There are a few places where the scene is more on the mellow side however. If you really need to get away, consider a backpacking trip or seek out campsites with strict no fireworks policies.
Flathead Lake, Montana
Although it’s a popular summer destination, the lake is pretty quiet when compared to destinations like Lake Tahoe. You can camp at one of the state parks on the lake. Fireworks are restricted at the parks but will still have a few shows visible from Big Fork, Polson and the surrounding communities. It’s a nice middle ground for getting outside without being jam packed on a crowded beach.
You won’t find this destination in many publications but it’s a great place to spend the holiday in the midwest. The modest sized city has a charming downtown and they put on a great fireworks show. Like Flathead Lake, it’s a bit of a compromise because you get the fireworks without the all night party. You will find great food, live music and a very friendly community. Several state parks and a KOA offer nice camping options as well.
Acadia National Park
This national park has the ultimate 4th of July flexibility. They have celebrations and events throughout the day and a big fireworks show at night in both Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor. You can choose to join the fun for a while or camp away from the noise by camping in places like Blackwoods Campground or Mount Desert Campground. There are some incredible road accessible campsites that are quiet and far removed from the parties.
If you have dogs and want to be far removed from the noise, head to Breckenridge. They have a ban on all fireworks and embrace the outdoor culture to celebrate. Join a trail run or mountain bike race to stay active. Fishing is always nearby and they have no shortage of trails and campsites to visit. It’s the perfect destination for a busy day and quiet evening.
Lake City, Colorado
Tucked deep in the San Juan Mountains, Lake City is a scenic town surrounded by public lands. 4th of July celebrations are fun and firework displays take place most years but it’s also easy to drive into the mountains to escape as well. The Alpine Loop road has camping in every direction and there are trailheads and quiet campsites scattered throughout the area.
Tips for Van Camping on the 4th of July Holiday
The 4th of July is a busy weekend and while it’s all about having fun, safety comes first for van life travelers. Follow these simple tips to have a great holiday weekend.
- Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Arrive a few days in advance to secure a campsite.
- Reserve a campsite ahead of time when possible.
- Bring an awning or shade structure for a comfortable camp.
- Leash pets and stay with them during fireworks.
- Get supplies before arriving and keep your van safely parked in camp.
- Hit the backcountry if you want to avoid the noise altogether.