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RV Road Trips That Will Get You Off the Beaten Path

If you want to unshackle yourself from the tediousness of everyday life, there is no better way but to take yourself and your RV on an adventurous RV road trip. This way, you can go in search of breathtaking valleys, secluded beaches, and budding forests – taking in the beauty of nature while you camp in exotic locations.   

But before you set out on your adventure you must plan and plan again to ensure your trip is worry-free. This includes buying the right equipment for camping, inspecting the RV for faults, and jotting down the routes on a map. After all, you would want to avoid mishaps if you intend to have fun.

Luckily, we are here to help out on this matter. We will tell you how you plan road trips, which areas are worth exploring, and how you can use the knowledge you learn here to plan more successful trips in the future.

Considerations for Choosing RV Road Trip Routes

Road trips in a car or SUV are completely different compared to traveling in an RV. You have to keep in mind a host of other factors, like checking the road quality, keeping in mind the weather, jotting down the number of bridges on the way along with their height, and calculating the gain or loss in elevation.

You might never have thought about such things before, but that is the kind of extra work that comes with planning an RV road trip.

If you are an RV newbie you should learn the importance of planning. So, keep in mind the following points to cover all your bases.  

Road Conditions

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The quality of roads is a big concern when you are traveling in a motorhome. These large vessels cannot handle bumps, cracks, or off-road terrain as well as a regular passenger car or an adventure SUV. As a result, you have to be extra careful before choosing a particular highway or side road on your route.

It is always helpful to ask questions in online RV forums and communities. The people there share their good and bad experiences, which can prove helpful for you in planning your route.

Height Restrictions

Another thing that comes as a curse with an RV road trip is planning ahead for bridges. If you are traveling through major cities, bridges should be the least of your concerns. But if you are planning to take a side road as part of a detour or to cut your journey short, you should account for bridge heights.

Minor highways or off-road tracks might have smaller bridges to cross ditches, lakes, or water streams. The problem is they might not be built to withstand the weight of an RV or to have enough height to accommodate one.

Therefore, you should plan and take an RV road trip route that is safe and suitable for your vehicle.

Don’t know where to gather information about low-clearance bridges and steep hills? You should try out these apps and helpful websites to chart the perfect route for your RV road trip:

  • RV Life Trip Wizard: This useful planning tool helps you chart a trip from start to finish. It gives you information about low-clearance bridges, steep uphill and downhill climbs, gas stations, and eateries along the way. In short, this tool is the best resource for anyone who doesn’t want to put too much thought in the planning process.
  • Mountain Directories: Truck and other heavy vehicle drivers use mountain directories to learn more about the route they choose. These guides have all the information you might need to plan your next RV trip.
  • Dedicated RV GPS: Since travelling in an RV is so common in the states, many companies have jumped on the idea and made dedicated RV GPSs. The renowned brand Garmin makes an accurate RV GPS, then there is one called the RV Life app. This app does the same thing, but you have it on your mobile phone.
  • LowClearances.com: The name speaks for itself! This unique website has the latest information on low clearance bridges, passes, and tunnels. You can consult this website before planning your detailed trip.  

Fuel Costs & Elevation Gain/Loss

Perhaps the first thing you consider when setting out on an RV road trip is the fuel costs you’d incur. But most people make a very simple mistake when calculating the cost of fuel. They forget to add the gain and loss in elevation as a factor. That’s a rookie mistake, in all honesty.

“But I have an electric RV, why should I care?”

Well, you should be the first to worry about the gain in elevation, as uphill driving exerts more force on the electric motors. The result is higher battery consumption and a lower overall driving range. In other words, more frequent charges! If you haven’t experienced range anxiety yet, you’ll have nightmares now.

Range anxiety and filling up the tank aside, you should keep in mind the basic laws of physics while driving a motorhome on steep hills. The first question you need to answer is when you are going uphill:

 “Is my RV capable of climbing steep hills with the load I have?”

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Let’s say your motorhome has the power to pull all its weight up the hill. Can it handle going downhill?

The brakes on an RV or on any vehicle are not meant to withstand constant braking. When they get hot, the brakes stop working and then you are nothing but a sitting duck, waiting for the inevitable.

Therefore, you must ensure your RV has a hill-assist feature. If you have a manual vehicle, you should use engine braking and your main brakes in tandem with each other. This way, your RV might have a good chance of safely descending any kind of hill.

4 of the Most Breathtaking RV Road Trip Routes

Road trips are meant to refresh your soul and excite your senses. We kept that in mind before compiling this list of scenic RV road trip routes for you to add to your bucket list. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia & North Carolina

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If you are looking for a real adventure that consists of a nearly 500-mile scenic drive and is littered with exotic camping locations, you would love the Blue Ridge Parkway. The breathtaking highway stretches from the state of Virginia going all the way down to North Carolina. It connects the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains with lots of nature’s bounties in between.

The best part is, the speed limit on the highway is 45 mph, and commercial vehicles are not allowed. So, you get unhindered access to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, drive through the twisty roads, and camping in the surrounding forest. We recommend spending at least 3 days exploring the area and enjoying the beauty of nature.

Going to The Sun Road in Montana

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The name is not the only unique thing about this highway. If your calling leads you towards snow-capped rocky peaks, then you should definitely add the Sun Road on your RV road trip route.

The highway was built back in 1932 to promote tourism in the area, and since then it has been achieving its purpose. The road winds through Montana’s Glacier National Park, where you can witness numerous glaciers, lakes, snow-covered peaks, and tunnels. But before you go, make sure to calculate the gain and loss in elevation, and your RV’s height. The road is a bit tricky to drive on, especially if you are traveling in a large RV, so avoid going there in winter and always be on your toes.

Hana Highway, Hawaii

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You cannot drive to Hawaii in your RV because the last time we checked there was a massive ocean in between, right? But there is a way, so hear us out!

First, you have the option to ship your beloved RV over to the island. If that sounds too overwhelming, you can fly yourself over and rent an RV to begin your adventure. But why should you go to such lengths when you can practically travel to any other destination on the mainland?

That’s because every second you spend on a road trip, enjoying the Hana highway is worth the hassle. The 60-mile drive from Kahului to Hana can best be described as traveling through paradise. You get to witness lush green landscapes, filled with sights of the crystal-clear blue ocean throughout the drive. At the halfway park you can also take a detour to the Waianapanapa National Park, where the scenes are next to none.

At the end of the highway, you can trek to the Pools of Oheo, located within the Haleakala National Park.

But beware before you decide to camp in the area. You need a permit to camp with an RV, and you are only allowed to do so in certain areas. Even then, the law prohibits sleeping inside a vehicle, so you’d have to camp out under the stars. Some people might think of that as a hassle, but for us, it sounds more like an adventurous night.

Columbia River Scenic Highway, Oregon

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If you are an avid fan of lush green scenery, hiking trails, and deep gorges, you should go on an RV road trip to the Columbia River Scenic Highway. The 75-mile highway may be short, but it is worth passing through to enjoy the fruits it has to offer.

We are talking about witnessing the Columbia River Gorge, and some of the most exciting multi-day hikes you can undertake while in the area. In short, the area is tailor-made for adventure lovers and RV enthusiasts.

Tips to Build Your Own RV Road Trip Route

There is one big advantage to going on an RV road trip: You decide where and when to go according to your convenience. But before even thinking about hitting the road, you must plan an RV road trip route.

Follow these tips to find the best routes for your RV adventures:

  • The internet is your best friend in situations like this. If you intend to go somewhere and you are unsure if the area is worth going to, you can look at online forums on Reddit or other travel-based YouTube channels to judge the location’s worth.
  • Always start with your hometown and trace a path that goes through other states and brings you back to yours, with a timeline in mind. You don’t want to lose track of your time and funds to end up stuck somewhere far away from home.
  • Any area with mountains and greenery is worth going to. So, you can choose one of the many National Parks in North America and chart a course toward that area to enjoy the scenery and secluded camping.
  • Never save money on good-quality camping gear. You don’t know when you would have to spend a night out in the open. So, try to keep two sets. One that you can carry when you are on a hike and another that you can extend from your RV.

By now, you should be all geared up and ready to leave on your next adventure. But if you still lack motivation, it is probably because you are too worried about traveling with and taking care of such a huge vehicle. Let us assure you when you set your sights on the first lush landscape of your journey, it will all feel worth the effort and trouble. So, don’t think twice, take out that map, chart your route, and start exploring!

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Andrew Kuttow

Andrew Kuttow lives life on the road, exploring new places and experiencing new adventures. He takes their homes with them and can make any spot their own. From open roads to hidden gems, he discovers the world in all its beauty.

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