The American Southwest makes for as good a place as any in the world for an RV tour. The concentration of national parks and other gorgeous places is unusually high, and at the same time towns are spread out enough that having an RV to stay in when you stop can be particularly convenient. Touring the area in this fashion can make for a truly unforgettable experience. The only question is where you ought to start.
We have a few suggestions, based on both location and activities you can enjoy before or after you set out on the road.
1 - Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah is a perfectly natural starting point for a Southwest RV tour, first and foremost because of its proximity to some of the top spots. To the north, a reasonable drive into Wyoming will get you to Grand Teton National Park; drive east and you’ll reach the underrated Ashley National Forest; and toward the southern parts of the state you can see famous places like Zion National Park and Arches National Park. And this is all to say nothing of the Great Salt Lake and the smaller preserves right around the city!
Meanwhile, in part because it’s such a perfect gateway to some of the country’s most beautiful places, Salt Lake City has ran excellent resort scene. This won’t be your main focus during an RV excursion, but there’s nothing wrong with a day or two at a resort when you get back to town to return your RV, or catch a flight home. Relaxing venues like Sorrell River Ranch Resort and Spa or even the Waldorf Astoria Park City can be just the ticket after a long road trip - particularly if you’ve worn yourself out hiking along the way.
2 - Aspen, Colorado
You may have to fly into Denver if you’re aiming to start off in Aspen, but this famously charming ski village can ultimately make for a perfect base for your RV trip. You need only look at a map to see that Aspen is practically surrounded by incredible protected natural areas. White River National Forest and Black Canyon are within hours, and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park can be reached in less than a day, to the south and north respectively.
Aspen itself is also surrounded by beautiful peaks and challenging hiking trails, meaning even once you’ve wrapped up your trip you can keep enjoying the beauty of the area. And while most of the city’s coziest hotels and resorts are almost prohibitively expensive, there are plenty of comfortable places to stay - and lots of incredible restaurants to enjoy after a week of grilling and snacking in your RV.
3 - Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas flies under the radar as a national parks destination simply because the city itself is such a hot spot for tourism. But the reality is that as much as any city in the Southwest, Vegas gives you easy access to spectacular places. Once you have your RV ready to go, you can visit Death Valley National Park (which is just west of the city), Red Rock Canyon (which is so close you don’t actually need your RV), and Lake Mohave National Recreation Area. But those aren’t the highlights. With a bit more of a drive, Vegas puts you in reach of Joshua Tree, Zion National Park, and even the Grand Canyon.
The city itself, meanwhile, can be a blast to return to after an extended trip through nature. To some extent the traditional appeal of Vegas is taking a hit. Most of the popular casino games can now be found online and with New Jersey and then Pennsylvania welcoming online sportsbooks, even the betting side of Vegas is less unique. That said, the city is still thriving on most every sort of entertainment or luxury you could imagine. Whether you want to wrap up your trip with spa treatments and poolside lounging or a fancy dinner and a show, Vegas can feel like quite a treat after a few national park hikes.
4 - Page, Arizona
Up to this point we’ve covered fairly major cities. But if you fly into Phoenix and make the trip out to Page, Arizona - right on the northern border with Utah - you’ll be in for a tremendous experience. This is the closest of all of these options to the Grand Canyon, which for many travelers will be the main highlight. But it also puts you within driving distance of places like Prescott National Forest, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Petrified Forest National Park.
We picked Page specifically though because it rests on the side of Lake Powell, which winds across the Utah border and makes for an incredible place to spend a few days before or after you set out in your RV. Particularly if you’re traveling during the hotter months, nothing beats a massive Colorado River reservoir - essentially a lake in a canyon - for relaxation. In fact, the lake itself has been referred to as one of the most underrated national parks in the region (even though technically it isn't one).
Information on this website is our opinion only. This site was created to help others considering this wonderful lifestyle, and for our own use.