Written by KATE MOORE
If you crave adventure, traveling in a camper van is one of the most intimate ways to experience the US. In 2017 I set off on a two-year road trip with my husband and dog, camping in 48 states.
While every state added a unique aspect to the itinerary, some stand out as our favorite states to visit in a camper van.
Camping in the desert is particularly enjoyable because of the starry nights, predictable temperatures, and few flying bugs. New Mexico is home to a desert landscape unlike any other.
There are distinctive hoodoo rock formations, an unending trail system, and large swaths of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas that allow free camping.
This state generally flies under the radar, which makes it less crowded even in the most scenic areas. A lack of trees in the north allows for excellent landscape visibility and magnificent sunsets.
For outdoor enthusiasts who love mountain biking, rock climbing, and stunning hikes, Arizona can't be beat. Most people think of visiting the Grand Canyon, but the entire state is ripe for adventure.
Free campsites scatter the forests surrounding Sedona, Flagstaff, and Southern Arizona. That makes it one of the most budget-friendly places to visit year-round.
Arizona is a mecca for off-grid living. Each February the town of Quartzsite swells to accommodate nearly 2 million travelers that visit in camper vans, RVs and school bus conversions.
Workshops and community events are held in the outskirts of Quartzsite so travelers can learn about van life, get help with solar panel installations, and plan out future road trips.
Home to the big five national parks, Utah is one of the most picturesque states. Make it a goal to hit all five: Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, and Zion.
One tip: get to the national parks early. We were able to beat many of the tourists and end up with the park to ourselves even during peak season.
Climbing Angel’s landing in Zion had always been a goal, but the trail is crowded by 10am. Arriving early makes a difference and was the best way to take advantage of the mobility of a camper van.
The state of California is large and diverse. Vast amounts of land makes finding campsites easy despite it being a popular tourist destination.
Spend evenings under the famous redwood trees, picnic along the ocean, and wander aimlessly among the cacti of Death Valley. If we had to pick one state to with bit of everything, California's it.
You don’t need to drive too far to see something new. Within days we could rock climb in Joshua Tree National Park, take a dip in Lake Tahoe, and hike among the volcanoes of Lassen Volcanic Park.