Campings Dream Itinerary English

Discover the Most Beautiful American National Parks with this 30-Day Itinerary

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30 days is enough to do a lot of kilometres! In this itinerary that I created and tested in 2013, you will discover 6 must-see national parks, 2 state parks and two major American cities. Of course, you must love being on the road to enjoy this trip. Dont be scared by these big numbers that represent the distances. This itinerary offers enough time to enjoy and relax!

Itinerary at a glance:

  • Overnight parking (1 night)
  • Van Burren State Park, Michigan (3 nights)
  • Overnight parking (1 night)
  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota (2 nights)
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (4 nights)
  • Overnight parking (1 night)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (3 nights)
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (2 nights)
  • Monument Valley, Arizona (1 night)
  • Moab, Utah – Arches National Park and Canyonland National Park (3 nights)
  • Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado (3 nights)
  • Overnight parking (1 night)
  • Chicago area, Illinois (3 nights)
  • Overnight parking (1 night)

Day 1 – 800 km

About 1200 km separates you from the first stop. Try driving at least 800 km of road on this first day. Plan an overnight stop.

Day 2 – 400 km. Arrive at Van Burren State Park, MI

You can expect to arrive at Van Burren State Park on day 2 around noon. Enjoy the day in the park. Camp there for 3 nights.

Day 3 & 4 – Van Burren State Park, MI

On the shores of Lake Michigan, this provincial park in Van Burren County offers beaches worthy of the East Coast. Recharge your batteries and take the opportunity to swim and visit the pretty villages around. The town of South Haven just minutes from the campsite could easily be the inspiration for a novel by Nicholas Sparks.

Day 5 – 900 km

The next two days are spent on the road heading to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Aim to drive 900 km on day 5. Plan an overnight stop.

Note: Be sure to shop before entering the area. Grocery stores are far away and small businesses in nearby stores have limited choices. On the other hand, you will find authentic souvenirs made by Sioux artisans.

Day 6 – 700 km. Arrive at Badlands National Park, SD

After driving for 1600 km, you will arrive at Badlands National Park in South Dakota at the end of day 6. You are now officially in the far west! Camp in the National Park or in one of the private camprounds near the park like the White River KOA that we enjoyed.

Day 7 – Badlands National Park, SD

In the heart of the Sioux territories, this mythical place north of the Great Plains will offer you extraordinary points of view. The best way to visit this park is by car, crisscrossing the scenic roads and stopping at the view points.

The park and its surroundings is rich in history, do not miss to visit the interpretation center of the park to learn about the Indian tribes of the region. Although the land seems arid, wildlife is also present. If you are lucky you can see hordes of wild bison.

Day 8 – 800 km. Stop at the Mount Rushmore Memorial. Arrive at Yellowstone National Park, WY

Head early for Yellowstone National Park which is 800 km away. After a 2 hour drive, you will reach Mount Rushmore Memorial. It’s the perfect stop for a break. 90 minutes is enought time to visit this monument and admire the impressive sculpture of the faces of four of the most prominent presidents in American history. The organization is impeccable and you will be able to park your RV without any problem.

Enter Yellowstone National Park via East Entrance (Cody Town), to Fishing Bridge RV Park in the heart of the park. This campground is centrally located in the park and is the ideal base camp to visit Yellowstone. Camp in the park or nearby for 4 nights.

Note: Wildlife is very present in the park. The campground allows access to trailers and RV only. No tent is allowed. In addition, the campsite dont have BBQ’s or picnic tables avoiding leaving traces of enticing odors for bears.

Day 9, 10, 11Visit Yellowstone National Park, WY

The park is known for its beautiful thermal springs, mudflats, geysers, waterfalls, unique natural phenomena and incredible wildlife. 3 days will not be too much to discover the natural wonders found there.

The park is visited by car. Distances and driving times may be longer than expected. At some point you will be in a traffic jam because of a buffalo or a bear suddenly crossing the road. It is a popular park. Be patient.

Day 12 – 900 km

Leave the park via South Entrance towards Las Vegas. You will cross the Grand Teton National Park and admire the beauty of this route. Plan an overnight stop.

Day 13 – 300 km – Arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada

Since you’re in Vegas, why not camp directly on the famous strip? Be careful, this is not the most picturesque campsite! The Circus Circus RV Park is actually a parking lot with all the amenities of a campground. It may sound far-fetched but if you want to be in the heart of Vegas action, I recommend it!

Day 14 & 15 – Visit Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas does not need an introduction. Have fun and enjoy all that this city has to offer for the next two days.

Day 16 –  450 km. Arrive at Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

You will reach Grand Canyon National Park in less than 5 hours. If possible, use the legendary route 66 to get there. 

If you book early you will be able to camp in the national park. Otherwise, go camping near the city of Flagstaff.

Day 17 – Visit Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

The Grand Canyon is one of the geological jewels of the United States and a must-see destination. Given its huge size and impressive selection of activities and things to do and see. Do your research before leaving!

Day 18 – 300 km. Arrive in Monument Valley, Arizona

There’s little road to travel on day 18. Take your time. Head to Monument Valley. Camp 1 night in the vicinity of the park.

Day 19 – Visit Monument Valley.  Drive 250 km. Arrive in Moab, Utah

An iconic symbol of the American West and the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley Tribal Park is notable for its geomorphic formations including mesas and hillocks.

Visit Monument Valley  in the morning before the crowds, then head back to your next base camp 250km away, Moab City, Utah.

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You will arrive in Moab, Utah in the evening. Moab will be your base camp for the next segment of the trip. Camp in Moab 3 nights.

Day 20, 21 –  Moab, Utah

A visit to Arches National Park is one of the main reasons people come to Moab. Spend at least a day exploring it. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful park in this itinerary.

The nearby Canyonlands National Park is less known but is well worth a short trip from Moab. Do not miss Island in the Sky located about 40 minutes from Moab or take a short hike to Mesa Arch. Phenomenal landscape!

Day 22 – 600 km. Arrive at Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado

Drive 600 km to your next stop in Colorado. You should reach Rocky Mountains National Park in late afternoon. Camp 3 nights in the park or in the city of Este Park. You will be well located to visit the park.

Day 23, 24 – Visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountains National Park

Estes Park is a place for outdoors activities, excellent culinary experiences and delicious craft beers. With so much beauty around you, you’re sure to want to spend a few days here. It is the ideal base camp to visit the American Rocky Mountains. Be sure to cross Trail Ridge Road, a stretch of Highway 34 that runs through the park and reaches 12,000-foot peaks in places. You will see some of the most beautiful views of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Day 25 – 900 km

The next two days are spent driving. You have to travel 1700 km to your next destination. Drive as many km as possible on day 25. Plan for an overnight stop.

Day 26 – 800 km. Arrive at Illinois Beach State Park, IL

After another full day of driving, you’ll arrive in the Chicago area. Camp at Illinois
llinois Beach State Park, IL for 3 nights.

Day 27, 28 – Visit Chicago, IL 

The Illinois Beach State Park offers a great proximity to the city of Chicago and is ideal if you would like to plan a day trip to this exciting city. Zion Metra Station is right on the doorstep of the park, allowing you to easily get to downtown Chicago by train.

Stretching for 6 1/2 miles along the sandy shoreline of Lake Michigan, this park is known for its unique flora, beaches, boating, hiking, picnicking and especially biking!

Day 29, 30 – 1500 km. Arrive home

Hit the road back home. Allow two days to cover 1500 km.  Plan an overnight stop.

The end!
Feel free to ask me questions about this itinerary in the comments. I loved this trip. Writing this post makes me nostalgic! I hope I was able to inspire you and give you the urge to see these wonderful places I had the chance to see during this memorable trip to the US Midwest.

Véronique

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