The southwestern United States offers many must-see places. Taking a road trip in this area is the best way to see it all. But if you’re coming from a distance, it might make more sense to fly in and rent a car on arrival. 

Road trips might seem easy, but if you don’t have a reliable vehicle, things can be tricky. Do you know the requirements for renting a vehicle? Not just anyone can walk in and rent at a desk. 

We’ll cover everything from navigating the rental car process to sample itineraries for your trip.

Finding Travel Deals

If you start your journey from anywhere other than the Southwest, flying and renting a car might be your best option. To keep the budget in check, you’ll want to shop around for the best deals.

Search Cheap Flights

The search tool Google Flights and other comparison tools are a good starting point for finding cheap flights. But remember that not all airlines list their flights on comparison sites, so check directly with airline websites too.

Budget airlines can be a great option to get from point A to point B. If you don’t mind traveling light, you can save money. However, watch out for baggage fees and upgrades, as those extras add up quickly.

Finding cheap flights will allow you to splurge on other road trip aspects. However, if you aren’t packing light, luggage fees add up quickly. 

If you open a credit card specific to a single airline, you can save money in the long run. In addition, there are additional perks like preferred seating and airport lounge access.

Airline perks programs and frequent flier miles are another opportunity to save on flights. However, if you fly only once a year, your miles may expire before you can get enough to use them.

Get Deals on Car Rentals

Online search tools are a great way to start your quest for cheap car rentals. They will give you an idea of the going rate and probably offer the best price. 

Try this trick to get 20% off your rental. Go online to a car rental company, go through the process to rent the car you want, including supplying your email address, then stop on the last page before confirming. If you let the page sit, it might trigger an “abandoned cart” sequence, which sends an email to you with an incentive to complete your rental. 

Many cities offer car-sharing opportunities. You can find them online, where you choose the actual car. Some sites coordinate with car owners who loan out their personal vehicles. Many entrepreneurs have started their own mini fleet for these sites. Look for well-rated people. 

Consider renting an SUV with good ground clearance and all-wheel drive to handle the mountain roads and provide you the chance at some fun off-roading experiences.

The most important part to remember when renting a car for a road trip is to check the mileage limits on the rental agreement. For example, some rentals limit daily miles.

Make sure you understand insurance coverage for your rental or personal vehicle. The longer you spend on the road, the more likely you’ll run into car trouble or accidents. Check what rental car insurance you may already have; for example, there are a few credit cards that feature it, such as Capital One.

Save on Lodging

Compare Airbnb and Vrbo. Usually, the longer you stay, the cheaper your rate. But since you’re making a road trip, you will likely search for shorter stays.

Online tools are abundant for finding lodging. Whether you check major comparison sites for hotels or look at local travel guides, planning your trip around your lodging options will give you an outline to work with. 

Use a credit card that has hotel or travel perks. Many credit card companies have cash-back rewards for travel expenses. Some credit cards specify which hotel lines are honored.  

Try camping. Ultimately, tenting is the cheapest option for frugal travelers. If your Southwest road trip centers around national parks and outdoor attractions, tenting allows you to get up close and personal with nature.

Remember, lodging is harder to find when traveling the vast expanses of the Southwest. So, do your homework ahead of time and reserve your stops to save money. If you feel free-spirited and want to go where the road takes you, allow extra wiggle room in your budget. 

Must-See Places in the Southwest

There are so many wonderful sites to see in the Southwest that it’s difficult to narrow down the options. Wherever you roam, make memories and cherish the travel experience.

If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, and you are coming from out of town, consider Las Vegas and Phoenix airports. 

Las Vegas Road Trip

However you plan to get to the Southwest, Las Vegas is one of the cheapest destinations to fly into. Once you get your rental or car share, it’s time to set out. 

Starting in Vegas, you can travel northeast on I-15. This route will take you to Zion National Park in a little over two hours. Southern Utah is a fantastic place to explore, and you could make your whole trip around the parks and forests there.

However, if you want to hit the highlights, continue on to the Grand Canyon. Take US-89A to AZ-67 South, and you’ll be at the south rim in two hours. That route will take you through scenic landscapes and unique towns. 

Just an hour south of the south rim, you can check out a wildlife preserve called Bearizona. While in Williams, you can hunt for peridot, a semi-precious stone. Arizona is a popular place for rock hounds.

Wrap up your Las Vegas loop with a stop at the Hoover Dam. Take AZ-93 North to Clark County, Nevada, and check out the impressive hydroelectric power plant. 

Phoenix Road Trip

Phoenix to Tucson is a great first leg for an Arizona road trip. Colossal Cave Mountain Park is a great place to explore and will excite you for what else to see in Arizona.

The Mt. Lemmon Highway will take you on a short and breathtaking jaunt out of Tucson. You can take it purely for the driving beauty or hop out at Mt. Lemmon and hike around the scenic grandeur. 

Taking a lengthier drive from Mt. Lemmon to Tonto National Forest provides excellent camping options. Tonto is a stopping point between Tucson and Flagstaff.

Flagstaff is a must-see town with great shopping, good food, and unique lodging. The whole city is set on a mountain backdrop and will provide the quintessential road trip feel.

From Flagstaff, you are within hours of the best spots along the Grand Canyon. Choose your hike depending on the time of year you travel. 

Head back to Flagstaff, where you can head south on AZ-89A. Travel through Sedona, and spend some time among the scenic red rocks. If you’ve rented a capable vehicle, exciting off-roading opportunities abound.

Take 179 S to I-17 through Saguaro cacti back to Phoenix. Phoenix itself merits some time spent, so carve out time at the beginning or end of your road trip to do it justice.

One last thing to consider, who will you take with you? If you travel solo or with friends, it’s good to inform someone of your itinerary and check in periodically.

Here’s what you need to remember when taking any road trip:

  • Know the terms of your rental (insurance, miles, etc.).
  • Notify someone of your plans and check in with them at appointed times.
  • Take opportunities to stop and enjoy the views as they come.

Preparing before you leave can help you enjoy yourself once you hit the road. While a road trip can be spontaneous, there are some unwanted surprises you prevent by following these tips. 

What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with the promise of hiking along the way. With its spectacular landscapes, diverse terrain, and a plethora of outdoor activities, the United States is a hiker’s paradise. From exploring some of the tallest peaks in North America to trekking down stunning coastal trails, there are countless hiking road trips here that can provide an unforgettable experience for any intrepid adventurer. From Oregon’s Pacific Coast to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, these are some of the best road trips in the USA for hikers. So get your car ready and hit the road!

Oregon Loop

Embark on an unforgettable hiking adventure with the Oregon Loop, a road trip perfect for outdoor enthusiasts! The Oregon loop is a popular hiking road trip that takes you from Portland, through the Willamette Valley, and down to the rugged coast of this beautiful state.

Rolling Hills of the Willamette Valley, best road trips in the USA for hikers

Rolling Hills of the Willamette Valley

Set against the backdrop of unspoiled beaches, volcanic mountains, and idyllic valleys, this majestic tour stretches over 1,400 miles of Oregon’s natural beauty. Along the way, hikers can venture onto some of Oregon’s most iconic trails, including the epic Mt Hood, Timberline Trail, or the Three Sisters Loop.

Hikers can also explore stunning coastal trails like the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Yaquina Head Natural Area, or the world-famous Columbia River Gorge. With stunning views, lush forests, and plenty of wildlife, this hiking road trip is sure to provide a memorable experience.

Arizona Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world and it deserves a spot on any hiker’s road trip list.  With its dazzling array of colors and breathtaking views, there’s no better way to explore this iconic landscape than with a hiking road trip through Arizona. From Flagstaff, explore the vast terrain and take in views of the canyon’s red-rock walls, winding rivers, and lush forests.

The Always-Impressive Grand Canyon

The Always-Impressive Grand Canyon

Hikers can explore the many trails that wind through this stunning natural wonder, from easy day hikes to challenging backpacking treks. Popular trails we recommend include the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and the Rim Trail.

The South Rim provides a great introduction to the area, with an array of trails for all levels. For the more adventurous, venture further into the canyon to find even more secluded trails and unique views.  Road-tripping around the Arizona Grand Canyon is sure to have you returning home with some incredible memories.

Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

Double rainbow and Lower Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail, best road trips in the USA for hikers

Double rainbow and Lower Falls from Uncle Tom’s Trail

For the ultimate hiking road trip, embark on a journey from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park. This epic adventure will take you through some of the United States’ most spectacular scenery. Starting in Wyoming, take a scenic drive through the sprawling tundra of Yellowstone National Park and marvel at the geysers, wildlife, and stunning vistas.

From here, cross the border into Montana and drive through the awe-inspiring landscape of Glacier National Park. With over 700 miles of trails and countless opportunities for exploration, hikers can take in views of pristine alpine wilderness, cascading waterfalls, and glacial-carved valleys. Popular trails include the Grinnell Glacier Trail, Highline Trail, and the St Mary’s Lake.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

No matter what trail you choose, hikers are sure to leave with unforgettable memories from this incredible road trip.

Colorado Rocky Mountains

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains provide the perfect getaway for any hiker looking to explore America’s national parks and trails. With over 600 miles of breathtaking scenery, hikers of all skill levels can find a trail that’s just right for them.

Stunning landscape in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Stunning landscape in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

From Denver, traverse the Rocky Mountains and take in views of snow-capped peaks, shimmering lakes, and jagged canyons. With hundreds of miles of trails, you can spend days exploring the area’s stunning vistas. Popular hikes include the Maroon Bells and Longs Peak, or for a more relaxed experience, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.

With roads that lead from the state’s high mountain passes through alpine forests, winding rivers and past wildflower-covered meadows, road-tripping around Colorado’s Rocky Mountains will leave visitors with plenty of memories to cherish.

California’s Yosemite National Park to John Muir Trail

For the ultimate hiking road trip, take a journey from Yosemite National Park to John Muir Trail. This spectacular journey will take you through some of California’s most breathtaking landscapes, from the soaring cliffs of Yosemite to the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Yosemite National Park, best road trips in the USA for hikers

Yosemite National Park

Starting in Yosemite National Park, explore the vast terrain, take in views of towering granite cliffs and trek through ancient forests. Popular trails include Half Dome, Mist Trail, and the John Muir Trail.

From here, venture further into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and explore the majestic wilderness of John Muir Trail. This stunning trail stretches over 200 miles, taking hikers through a variety of stunning landscapes and providing unparalleled views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

This hiking road trip is sure to provide an unforgettable experience and leave you with incredible memories.

The Pacific Northwest Coast

For a road trip full of stunning views and incredible hikes, head to the Pacific Northwest Coast. This stunning region of the United States is home to some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. From sea stacks to emerald forests, there’s plenty of natural beauty to explore and take in on this hiking road trip.

Unique Landscape of the Pacific Northwest

Unique Landscape of the Pacific Northwest

Start in Seattle, Washington and explore the city’s waterfront and famous attractions such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. From here, take a hiking road trip up the coast and explore the stunning natural beauty of Washington’s Olympic National Park. Take in views of pristine lakes, rugged coastlines, and lush forests.

Continue your road trip up the coast and explore Oregon’s stunning landscapes. Popular places to visit in Oregon include the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Mount Hood, and Crater Lake.

No matter which trail you take, you’re sure to leave with incredible memories from your journey along the Pacific Northwest Coast.

The Appalachian Trail

For adventurous hikers looking for an epic road trip, take a journey along the iconic Appalachian Trail. Stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, this legendary trail will take you through some of the United States’ most stunning landscapes.

Appalachian Trail Heading to Double Springs Gap from Clingmans Dome

Appalachian Trail Heading to Double Springs Gap from Clingmans Dome

Starting in Georgia, take a hiking road trip up the eastern seaboard and explore the diverse terrain of the Appalachian Trail. From towering mountain peaks to lush forests, this trail takes hikers through a variety of stunning landscapes and provides unparalleled views of the Appalachian Mountains. Popular places to visit along the Appalachian Trail include Mount Katahdin, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

The Best Hiking Road Trips in the USA – Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the best road trips in the USA for hikers. No matter which one you choose, these incredible journeys are sure to provide an unforgettable experience and leave you with lasting memories.

To ensure you have a great hiking experience, be sure to get the AllTrails app before you go. The app has an extensive list of the best hiking trails all over the world, with reviews from other hikers to keep you up to date on the latest trail conditions. You can filter by trail difficulty, length, and suitability and download trail maps to help keep you on track even when you’re offline.

The USA covers a huge area that is often underestimated. Perhaps because of the vast distance, the country lacks the train and bus infrastructure that is found in many other parts of the world, so the intrepid traveller is usually left with the option of renting a car to get around. Why not go a step beyond and rent portable accommodation as well? By taking an RV across America, you have flexibility, everything you need in a self-contained vehicle, and you will have experiences that wouldn’t be possible by just renting a car. Imagine enjoying the national parks once the daytime tourists have gone home.

Travel the US by RV and enjoy the US National Parks after the crowds go home

Enjoy the US National Parks after the crowds go home

What’s more, the benefits of travelling with an RV across America are not only great for camping and visiting National Parks. Road tripping and city hopping with an RV in the USA is sometimes the most practical way of exploring certain regions.

This article walks you through everything you need to know about RV travel in the USA, as well as some of the greatest road trips in the country.

Driver’s License Requirements for Renting an RV

You do not need a special class of license to rent an RV to travel across America. However, you must be at least 25 years old and your license must be valid for 12 months beyond the date that your rental contract starts.

Renting a Camper for your RV Trip

To rent an RV in the USA, you have a few choices. Cruise America is the most well-known company– if you’ve travelled in the USA you’ve surely seen these vehicles on the road. You can’t miss their branding. There is also a site called RVshare which functions as a sort of Airbnb for RVs. RV owners list their own vehicles for rent, which means you’ll have a large variety, often with cheaper options than renting directly from a large company.

How to Make Reservations for Campsites in the USA

Especially during the summer high season, it’s best to plan your overnight stops as far ahead as possible. In popular national parks, campsites are sometimes reserved a year in advance. If you dream of sleeping overnight in Joshua Tree or Yosemite, plan as far ahead as possible. Nowadays, you can easily book campsites using You can filter by amenities, check out reviews from other campers, and reserve most places with free-cancellation policies. Or, you can visit the homepage of the National Park where you’d like to stay.

In the off-season and in the lesser-known national parks you should generally be ok with just showing up.

For city trips, it’s not impossible with an RV but once you get closer to the compact downtown you may have problems finding parking. It’s best to park in the outskirts of the city and then rely on public transportation. You can usually find RV-friendly parking lots like shopping malls or a subway station.

How to Plan your Budget for an RV Across America

Costs during your RV road trip adventure will come down to the RV rental costs, campsite fees, fuel, National Park fees, and food/drink. However, there are some tricks of the trade to keep your expenses low.

  1. Use your RV kitchen! Even when on the road, try to limit your restaurant pit stops.
  2. If you plan to visit at least 3 national parks (entrance fees cost about $30 per car), it’s worth investing in a national park pass. With it, you get a year of access to national parks for $80.
  3. Learn to love ‘dry camping’ aka parking for free wherever it’s legal. You won’t have hookups for water or electricity, but your water tank and generator should be enough for a night. Park on a friend’s property, on National Forest land, or in any Walmart parking lot– they allow parking overnight for free, as long as you ask the store manager’s permission.

4 Itineraries for RVing Across America

USA RV Itinerary #1: California Highlights (plus Las Vegas)

With this RV itinerary, you’ll hit the best national parks and major cities in California, plus take a small detour to Las Vegas. The camping sites along this RV itinerary range from forest sites to beach-side camping. This is a circular route, so you could start from any point.

Highlights: San Francisco – Monterey – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles – San Diego – Joshua Tree – Las Vegas – Yosemite Valley – Lake Tahoe – Napa

USA RV Itinerary #2: Iconic American Southwest

The American Southwest is full of National Parks where red sandstone has been carved by wind, water, and tectonic activity. These are some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the entire world. Even with all the major highlights, this RV route is surprisingly compact — most people choose to combine it with RV Itinerary #1 so that they can do California plus these desert landscapes in one trip.

Highlights: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, The Wave, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park

RV camping near Monument Valley, Arizona, USA

RV camping near Monument Valley, Arizona

USA RV Itinerary #3 New England (plus some Canada)

The states are smaller in the Northeast, which means you can visit some world-famous cities and National Parks all in one trip. Plus, it’s not too far to drive to the French-Canadian cities of Montreal and Quebec City.

During half of this itinerary, you’ll be surrounded by pristine nature, but you can also visit major metropolitan areas like Boston, Manhattan, and Washington D.C.

Rather than navigate the busy cities in your RV, it’s best to park at a Subway station in the outskirts, and take public transportation into the center.

Highlights: Manhattan, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. Niagara Falls, Finger Lakes, Montreal, Quebec, Acadia National Park, Boston


USA RV Itinerary #4: The South

Camping in the South is a different type of trip. The focus of this RV itinerary is not national parks, but we think this region is best seen with a road trip. This region of the USA has a uniqueness that some of the larger cities in the rest of the USA have lost long ago. It feels like a completely different country from what you would experience on the West Coast or in New England.

Highlights: New Orleans – Memphis – Nashville – Charlotte – Miami – Key West

So there you have it, the essential information you need to plan your RV across America camping experience, as well as some great itineraries to explore. Last but not least, here are some websites you can use to plan your trip and make reservations online as you go:

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How to travel USA in RV

Incredible RV USA roadtrips