May 262010

We’re getting hitch itch and are looking forward to getting back on the road in a week or two. Since we’re sitting still right now, I’ve been looking over past issues of the Gypsy Journal and thinking about some of our favorite routes from past travels. Here are my ten favorite RV routes.

Natchez Trace Parkway – They called it the Devil’s Backbone back in the days when Indians, outlaws, and renegades prowled this historic route, preying on unwary travelers But today, the Natchez Trace Parkway is pure heaven for RVers! Picture 450 miles of good two lane road that meanders through  hardwood forests and past charming small towns, with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, and no commercial traffic allowed, with frequent pullouts large enough for any size RV, and you can see why we love this historic highway that winds from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. If you haven’t put this trip on your travel itinerary, do it now. You’ll be glad you did!

trace entrance sign 4

US Highway 101 – Further south in California, this scenic route loses much of its charm, but from Eureka, California to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, US 101 will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll find anywhere in the country. Take your time, because you’ll be treated to dramatic ocean views, charming small towns, lighthouses, fishing villages, and if you’re really lucky, even whales passing by just offshore!

LoLo Pass Trail – If I had to choose my very favorite route in America, in terms of scenery, it would be US Highway 12 between Missoula, Montana and Lewiston, Idaho, which locals call the Lolo Pass Trail. The excellent two lane highway follows the route explorers Lewis and Clark took on their epic trek west, with towering mountains on one side and the beautiful Clearwater River on the other.  Keep your camera handy for an opportunity to photograph deer, elk, moose, and whitewater rafters. 

Lolo Pass River 5

US Highway 2 – If you love unspoiled forests, friendly small towns, scenic views of deep water, and a slower travel pace, you should take some time to travel US Highway 2 across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For most of the 140 miles between Escanaba on the west, and St. Ignace on the east, you’ll be passing within spitting distance of beautiful Lake Michigan. It’s a good highway, and you can make good time if you want to, but with scenery like this, why would you hurry?

Great River Road – The Great River Road is one of America’s national treasures, and a route every RVer should take at least once. From the headwaters of the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota,  this series of local, state, and federal roads follows the course of the river south through ten states, to where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico, introducing you to beautiful views, wonderful small towns, river barges, and history every mile of the way.

Route 66 – Much of this historic route has been swallowed up or paved over by interstate highways, but there are still many sections of the Mother Road to be explored between its origin in Chicago, Illinois and its terminus in Santa Monica, California. You could spend an entire season tracing the many alignments of this nostalgic highway by RV and with your dinghy, and still not see it all.

RV Route 66

Overseas Highway – The Overseas Highway, the southernmost leg of US Highway 1, carries you from Miami, Florida to Key West, affording views of the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Along the way, you’ll pass funky tourist towns, a dolphin sanctuary, beautiful beaches, cross over the impressive Seven Mile Bridge, and back into history. One note here, while this is a great trip, you’ll have to park your RV somewhere else at the end of your journey, because the streets in Key West, at the southern end of your route, are not suited for large vehicles.

Smather Beach boat

Old Spanish Trail – Incorporating US Highway 90 in the east and US Highway 80 in the west, the route known to old time travelers as the Old Spanish Trail, is an interesting and memorable journey that will carry you from Jacksonville Beach, Florida all the way west to San Diego, California, as you trace America’s history from coast to coast.

Lincoln Highway – The Lincoln Highway was America’s first transcontinental highway, stretching from New York to San Francisco, and though the old route has been replaced by Interstate 80, you can still drive much of the original route, especially in the east and Midwest. It’s a slow paced trip to remember.  

US Highway 60 – Beginning at an intersection with Interstate 10 in Quartzsite, Arizona, and stretching all the way to Virginia Beach, Virginia, we love to take this slow, scenic highway when we travel east from our old hometown in Show Low, Arizona. Sure, we could go north a few miles and jump on Interstate 40, but what fun would that be? We prefer to take our time, stop for lunch in small town cafes, and experience the real America that the superslab bypasses.

So there you have it, my ten favorite great RV routes. Tell us about some of yours.

Bad Nick doesn’t have hitch itch, but he is pretty ticked off at the latest rip off coming out of Washington. Check out his new Bad Nick Blog post titled Adding Insult to Injury and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day –A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  14 Responses to “10 Great RV Routes”

  1. Nice rundown on some interesting places!

  2. Nick, I’ve been on several of these routes and agree with your great choices. I would add one of my favorites: Idaho Highway 200 from Sand Point, ID (on Lake Pend Oreille) toward Missoula, MT. The road skirts Lake Pend Oreille through the small towns of Hope and East Hope (and you can stay at Beyond Hope Resort) and continues as Montana Highway 200 skirting the Clark Fork and reservoirs, through forests and more small towns. This is one of the most pristine and gorgeous parts of Idaho and Montana, it takes your breath away!

  3. In the East, I like US 11, which runs from New Orleans all the way to Pennsylvania, and probably farther (but PA is as far as I’ve gone). Most of the way, it parallels an interstate but takes you through all the interesting little towns, some with great historical interest. When it gets into eastern Tenn. western VA MD PA, the mountains are just gorgeous and the drive is fun, but not too strenuous.

  4. While we have done some of those routes and enjoyed them one of our favorite routes is in Utah: Route 12 from route 89 in Panguitch east to Torrey. This is a National Scenic Byway and goes thru beautiful red rock canyons and across some outstanding scenery. Along the way are short trips to see Bryce Canyon National Park, Escalantee Grand Staircase National Monument and fantastic views of Capitol Reef National Park. One can spend months exploring the mulitude of things in the area.

  5. We have been on most of those roads and our fav is the 101. The ocean views are fantastic, the smaill towns are charming, and the fresh fish is out of this world!

    BTW… did you hear that Flying J will now be charging for dumping? Yup, five bucks to dump! We all need to contact them and polietly tell them that we will not be spending our dollars with them anymore! I don’t have my sofa stuffed with five dollar bills, do you?

  6. We’ve been on parts of all 10. We’ll be on the Natchez Trace this weekend on our way to the RVSEF Clinic in Bowling Green, KY. Spending a few days at the Thousand Trails there.

  7. Thanks Nick for suggesting these great historic highways for the RV community. I feature several of these, including the Old Spanish Trail, Route 66, and El Camino Real (US 101), on my web site.

  8. I would like to take some of the routes as we will be heading to DC in a few week. I would like to try Highway 60 but the main thing is finding a place to stay each night.We like to boondock most of the time and spend time in small towns.
    Any ideas ??

    Thanks Don and Barb

  9. You made me feel smart since we’ve done all of some of those and parts of others. You didn’t mention the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive just north of it–also great trips. We also drove California Hwy 1 when we had the 24′ motorhome–don’t try it in a big rig, though.

  10. Tcloud,
    There are lots of boondocking opportunities aong US 60 in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as in small town parks and city owned campgrounds along the way in other states.

  11. Paula,
    I disagree with your thinking about Flying J. Think about this for a minute; it costs money to maintain the dump stations, and as the market has changed, the company has had to tighten its belt and start charging a very minimal fee. Not all of their customers use the dump stations. They could have raised their prices for fuel or other services, making everybody foot the bill for a service that only a relative handful of their customers use, or they could charge those who do use it. Makes sense to me. Keep in mind that Flying J also usually has lower fuel costs by a penny or two a gallon, and they usually have an area where RVs can park free overnight.

    However, the real problem I have is with people who have been getting something as a courtesy, but then feel ripped off when they are asked to pay. Why? We’ve been to a lot of fuel stops and campgrounds that charge a fee for dumping, and always have. I’m happy to pay my way if I need a service. Nobody is forcing anyone to use the Flying J dump stations. We seldom do. We wait until we get to a campground and dump there.

  12. What a great list of beautiful drives, Nick! Of course, we’re a bit partial to the Lolo Pass Trail, as it means you’ve visited us at the North entrance to Hells Canyon! Did you stay in our valley while you were hear, or were you just passing through? We often recommend the Granite Lake RV Park ( to RV travelers when they stop in the office –

    I’d like to pass this blog on to our Facebook & Twitter communities and would love to have you join us there ( (@HellsCanyon).

    Have a beautiful day!

  13. Can you recommend how many days to plan for traveling the Natchez Trace, allowing enlighten time to see and enjoy the sites in an RV.


  14. Allen,
    I’d say 3-5 days if you want to take your time and see and explore all of the things near and on the Trace. 2 days if you just want to say you drove it and not stop much.

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