Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Recommended Tent Camping Locations - AR, CA
Arkansas Tent Camping Trip
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Highway-70 runs west to east, traversing some delightful terrain in Middle America. Here, Arkansas tent camping is plentiful. Along the way you’ll find many outdoor retreats, a few enchanting cities, and wind up outside Memphis, Tennessee.
Your first stop along US-70 will be the hoppin’ town of Hot Springs. The town, of course, is a great jumping off point for the Hot Springs National Park, where you can tour some stunning landscape and learn firsthand why Arkansas is called “The Natural State.” Be sure to stop by the visitor’s center to learn more about how the town was born from the thermal pool industry that once drew scores of visitors during the turn of the century. The historian on your team (most likely a Democrat historian) should enjoy the many sites dedicated to former President Bill Clinton. Hot Springs served as his childhood home and you can visit his birthplace, his elementary school, and – most importantly – his favorite burger joint. Ouachita National Forest is one of the great Arkansas tent campgrounds to check out in this area.
Continue heading east and you’ll soon find yourself in Little Rock, the state capital. Continue your Bill Clinton tour with a visit to the recently opened William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, which houses thousands of artifacts from his two terms. An often-overlooked gem in Little Rock is a visit to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, home to a collection of fine arts galleries.
From Little Rock, US-70 runs parallel to I-40 as it heads east towards Tennessee. Make a stop in Brinkley and brush up on your Louisiana Purchase history at the Central Delta Depot Museum. Harlow’s Completely Unique Shop, is, well, definitely unique shop, and where the local artisans go to sell their wares.
At Forrest City, don’t miss a chance to drive the Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway. Sure, it ain’t necessarily full of nostalgia, but what kind of RVer ever passes up a scenic drive?
From Forrest City, you’ll find yourself in the Mississippi River Valley and your US-70 trip is coming to an end. But really, the Arkansas tent camping adventure is just beginning. Cross over the Mighty Mississippi and you’ll find yourself in one of the South’s finest cities, good old Memphis, Tennessee.
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California Tent Camping Trip
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This California tent camping trip begins from Yuma. Head due west on Interstate 8, which skirts the southern boundary of California on its way to San Diego and the California coast. When you reach San Diego, one must-see attraction is the venerable San Diego Zoo, featuring undoubtedly one of the finest and most impressive collection of animals in the world. The zoo is well-known for its collection of rare species, as well as its progressive “cageless” displays that put the animals in a near-natural habitat. When downtown, stop by the magnificent Presidio Park and the historic Mission San Diego while you’re at it. Campland on the Bay is one of the great California tent campgrounds to check out in this area.
From sunny San Diego, go north out of town through Orange County, an area that experienced the lion’s share of Southern California’s urbanization during the late-twentieth century. In this vast landscape sits one of the most universally recognized locations of the 20th century, one of America’s greatest monuments to Americana – Disneyland. Come on, you can’t pass by without a ride on newly-reopened Space Mountain or visit its many other attractions. Sure, it’s not as impressive and overwhelming as its Florida sister park, and for many that’s considered a good thing. However, if Walt Disney’s visionary world isn’t your preference, head over to the nearby, and charming Knott’s Berry Farm, “America’s Oldest Theme Park.” It might be this country’s most underrated theme park as well. Enjoy.
Heading north you’ll soon find yourself in the expansive sprawl that is the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Check out the famed Hollywood Bowl, which has played host to some of the world’s finest music acts – and still does. If you’re in L.A. during the New Year, be sure to stop in Pasadena to soak in all the Rose Bowl ballyhoo.
If the major city doesn’t intrigue you, hold tight, the amazingly beautiful Highway 1 (The Pacific Coast Highway) offers a chance for you to enjoy the best California tent camping as you winds your way north along the coast all the way to Oregon. True, the winding roadway and continuous Pacific Ocean view might make for some white knuckles, but it’s a gorgeous way to take your trip north. Those looking for an inland route should then consider US-101, which runs parallel to Highway 1 most of the way through the state. Lompoc is a sleepy little town where Jalama Beach Park is one of the great California tent campgrounds to check out in the area.
From Los Angeles on Highway 1 north, your next stop might be quaint Santa Barbara, a charming city with an impressive display of Mediterranean-style architecture. Further on, just north of San Luis Obispo lies one of the nation’s most impressive architectural examples of conspicuous wealth – Hearst Castle. Built by publisher William Randolph Hearst in the mid-19th century, Hearst Castle became one of the world’s finest showplaces and today stands as a monument to American indulgence. It seems Hearst was never satisfied with his massive homestead and over the years he continued to add rooms. Today, the stunning complex boasts 56 bedrooms, 41 fireplaces, 61 bathrooms, over 90,080 square feet in all. Imagine if Hearst designed a similar RV, it might be three miles long!
Wonders of a more natural theme await you north along Highway 1, including the Monterey Peninsula and incomparable Big Sur. Slow down and enjoy. The scenery along this part of the California coast ranks it as one of the most beautiful regions anywhere on earth. Continuing north you’ll soon find yourself in Monterey, an impressive seaside town known for its charming folk art and architecture. More great California tent camping is possible in nearby Salinas.
In Monterey you’ll find Cannery Row. Today, the area is more of a tourist trap with few remnants of the Depression Era romanticized in John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name. Consider stopping at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It has an impressive collection of the wildlife found along the California coast into its artificial marine displays.
Heading north from the Monterey area, you’ll soon find yourself entering San Francisco, a city chock-full of attractions and must-see’s. Take your time, this is not a city to rush through. Start your tour with a ride on one of the many cable cars that still serve San Franciscans and tourists alike. Also, you might think about enjoying your lunch or afternoon tea in Golden Gate Park, under the shadow of one of America’s most recognizable engineering icons, the Golden Gate Bridge.
Even if you don’t remember the 60’s, the hippie in you will muse nostalgic at beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore, a landmark that, in the 1950s and ‘60s regularly hosted intimate reading from such luminaries as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Afterwards, take a stroll through Haight-Ashbury. You’d never know it from the neighborhood Starbucks and Gap stores, but this former hippie haven was once home to rock bands the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. You’re also just a short ferry boat ride away from a tour of prison isle Alcatraz. When in Rome, right?
From San Francisco on Highway 1, keeping the Pacific Ocean off your left shoulder, you’ll once again find yourself among the natural wonders that draw travelers to Northern California. Consider a stop at Point Reyes National Seashore or Bodega Bay. Both offer prime opportunities to explore California’s romantic natural landscape. Remember to bring three key items to get the most out of your visit: binoculars, hiking boots, and a decadent picnic lunch stocked with examples of the area’s finer wineries. Sit back and say, “Ah, life is good.”
Eventually you’ll come across the fog-draped town of Mendocino. Today, the town takes pride in its wine-country fame as well as its timbering beginnings. Nostalgia chasers will also appreciate the character of this authentic and charming town. It was the setting for classic Hollywood flicks Summer of 42 and East of Eden, the James Dean film based on the Steinbeck novel.
As you head further north, you’ll soon find yourself in the land of the giant redwoods. Don’t miss an opportunity to drive the impressive Avenue of the Giants, a 33-mile route through a redwood forest. You’ll find little has changed from those classic black-and-white photos you’ve seen of families exploring these environs in simpler days. Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek is one of the great California tent campgrounds to check out in the area.
Your next stop is Eureka, home to the William Carson Mansion. They say “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and most people will have much to behold of this eclectic Victorian mansion. It’s definitely worth a stop to judge for yourself.
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