Coronavirus may have stopped travel plans for a while but it seems like many people are eager to hit the road again. Many people are opting for a road trip in a camper van and are choosing to stay in the US rather than hopping a flight and traveling abroad. With that in mind we decided to share some of our favorite and best long weekend camper van road trips in the US. Keep in mind that the mileage listed next to the route is one way and from point to point. Road trips, however, are best when you take an unknown road and make a few U-turns. Note: Some of the trips are loops, others are out and back. There are a great number of camper van rental companies that will help you execute your adventure, some of which offer drop-off services in places other than your departure city.
Asheville Road Trip | 163 miles
Asheville, North Carolina makes a great jumping off point for a camper van road trip. You can pick up any and all supplies that you need before your voyage and then set off on what we think is one of the best long weekend road trips in western North Carolina. You’ll travel on the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, see some of the best waterfalls in the area at Linville Falls, walk across a swinging bridge a mile high in the sky at Grandfather Mountain and on your return check out the highest point east of the Mississippi River at Mount Mitchell State Park (elevation 6,684). Before heading back into town, swing through the tiny town of Weaverville and check out two of the coolest craft breweries in the area.
North Key Largo to Key West | 106 miles
Driving from North Key Largo to Key West along route one is an iconic road trip. Why? Because the Florida Keys are home to palm trees, sunshine, crystal blue waters and a laid back party vibe that’ll make even a three day weekend feel a bit longer. (But lookout, cause we guarantee you’ll want to stay a longer than just a few days. We did, at least). Oh, and when you get to Key West, make sure to see at least one sunset celebration in Mallory Square!
Places to visit on your Florida Keys road trip: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the Dolphin Research Center, Florida Keys Brewing Company, Mallory Square and the Southernmost Point of the Continental United States, Lazy Dog Stand-Up Paddleboards.
Portland to Acadia National Park | 185 miles
We recommend taking this camper van road trip during the summer months to avoid colder, messier weather. But no matter when you go, this trek is sure to please. Think quintessential New England vibes with old wooden boats in the water and signs for fresh seafood (you must stop and try something from at least one of them) as well as rosy sunsets and lighthouses. You can keep your camera on your lap for this road trip.
Places to visit on your New England road trip: Allagash Brewing Company, Wolf’s Neck Woods State Park, Owls Head lighthouse, Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula (this was our favorite part of the entire park.)
San Francisco to San Diego | 564 miles
This west coast camper van road trip we’re suggesting is the longest on our list. But it’s too good not to do. At 564 miles long, you’re going to need to do a couple hours of driving each day. But a good bit of it will be along the coast and with stunning views (especially at sunrise and sunset.) Plan on very little cell reception near Big Sur but tons of photo ops. You’ll see signs for Los Angeles as you make your way south but on this trip, we recommend skipping it and continuing south along the coast. Note: For those of you with only a few days you may want to make this a point to point trip and fly home, especially if you only have three days to adventure. You can also lop off a section on the north or south end and spend a little more time in each spot. The choice is yours but that’s the beauty of a camper van road trip is it not?!
Portland Road Trip | 287 Miles
This long weekend road trip is perfect for a camper van, even the smaller ones without an air conditioner, fan or vent (like our van), because the temperatures, even in the summer, are bound to be fairly pleasant. If you use Portland as your beginning and end point then Salem is most likely to be your ‘hot spot’ on the route with average daytime temps in the low 80’s and nighttime temperatures in the low 50’s (ideal for sleeping). There are some incredibly scenic places to check out along this trek. You’ll get a taste of some of the best sights and scenes in the Pacific Northwest, just cross your fingers for fog-free days along the coast!
Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park | 71 miles
Before we ever owned our camper van, we did this exact same road Colorado trip for Caroline’s birthday. We flew into Denver, picked up a rental, made tracks out to Boulder and were hiking in the mountains as soon as we were able. It’s only about 30 miles from Denver to Boulder so you can be sipping on a microbrew and plotting out your afternoon hike in the Flatirons without much trouble or time. From there, it’s only about an hour to the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park) which will leave you plenty of time to explore. It’s also a short enough drive that you can make it back to Denver in time for an evening flight after getting one last hike under your belt in the Rocky Mountains.
Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park | 121 miles
Don’t let the bright lights of Las Vegas pull you into her venus fly trap. Plunk down a few bucks if you must but stay focused. Take one lap along The Strip and point your rig towards Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. There’s hiking, climbing, and even petroglyphs to see in this area. As cool as this place is, don’t spend all your time there. You’ve got Death Valley National Park to see! Be sure to pack extra water, make sure your vehicle is working properly and then head on into the park.
Places to visit on your Las Vegas camper van road trip: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Dante’s View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin
Additional Resources for a Long Weekend Camper Van Road Trip
Need a few recommendations on camper van rental companies? Check out the post we wrote about this very same subject. 7 Best Camper Van Rental Companies in the US.
7 Best Long Weekend Camper Van Road Trips in the US Recap
There are so many great places to adventure, many of them in your own backyard. We are based in Asheville, North Carolina but we have enjoyed each of these trips above so much that we’ve done many of them several times. That said, in order to get to these locations we’ve often been on the road for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. These trips are merely suggestions. We hope that for your sake, you sometimes turn off the GPS, discover new sights and sounds and smells with the windows rolled down, and that you find more than you bargained for.
NOTE: Due to Covid-19 many of the places above have special requirements and restrictions. Some are currently closed. Be sure to visit or call before traveling and practice safe social distancing.
We’d love to know your thoughts. Please feel free to pin and share this post with others.
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are travel writers, photographers and the authors of Authentic Asheville.