Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

Recommended Tent Camping Sites for 2011 - AR, CA, CO

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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Colorado Tent Camping Trip

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Colorado’s scenery is dramatic, diverse and downright beautiful. Towering mountains, exquisite wildflowers, rivers, streams, forests, snow-blanketed hills and bright blue skies overwhelm the senses. So pack a camera and a pair of binoculars for close-up views of the "Centennial State’s" abundant scenery and wildlife. Then set off on a slow and easy drive through remarkable, memorable Colorado. Stay at fantastic Colorado tent campgrounds along the way.

Pack a camera and a pair of binoculars for close-up views of the "Centennial State’s" abundant scenery and wildlife.

In northwest Colorado, and extending over the border into Utah, Dinosaur National Monument is near the town of Dinosaur. The park’s Dinosaur Quarry is in Utah and is most definitely worth the trip. Experience the exhibit of more than 1,500 dinosaur bones plus life-size reproductions of prehistoric beasts. There’s even an observation window that lets visitors peek inside the park’s active paleontology lab. There are engaging automobile tours to wonders like Tilted Rocks and Echo Park, where the Green and Yampa Rivers merge. Guests can inspect petroglyphs carved by prehistoric American Indians or they can walk along nature trails that lead to waterfalls or glorious, western vistas of mountain crests and sandstone canyons. The fishing is fine on the Yampa and Green Rivers; rafters find amazing adventures on local whitewater excursions.

Mesa Verde National Park is a World Heritage Site and a notable archaeological center in southwestern Colorado near Mancos. The name translates as "green table." But its primary attraction is the ample evidence of mechanical engineering that originated between 600 A.D. and 1300 A.D. The park preserves pueblos or villages skillfully carved into the existing walls of Mesa Verde’s rocky canyon. Fortunately for today’s tourists, these pueblos were constructed so well that curious visitors are permitted to climb on up and check them out without compromising their structural integrity. From an archaeological perspective, it’s interesting to note that twenty four, modern day, southwestern native tribes trace their ancestry to the ancient, pueblo-building people who once lived and thrived at Mesa Verde. Besides individual house tours and visits to the Mesa Museum, park guests explore the preserve’s hiking trails or drive Mesa’s Top Loop Road. The roadside displays and panoramic stops on this automobile trail are well worth the extra time required. There are a number of great Colorado tent camprounds in the area.

In the west central part of Colorado near Gunnison, Curecanti National Recreation Area includes the Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal Reservoirs. Besides preserving the state’s biggest waterway and the nation’s prime Kokanee salmon fishery, Curecanti contains archaeologically significant dinosaur bones and the remnants of aged dwellings dating back six millenniums. The scenic drives, horseback rides and an impressive variety of hiking trails where Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, bobcats and great blue heron might be seen, aren’t too shabby, either. Curecanti’s guests also find good hunting grounds and top-notch fishing with likely catches of trout and Kokanee salmon. Boating, sailing, windsurfing, and skiing are popular summer activities and the winter season attracts guests who are ready for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing or skating. There is also great Colorado tent camping in this area.

Colorado’s north central region is the home of Rocky Mountain National Park, a Biosphere Reserve located between Estes Park and Grand Lake. Dozens of Colorado line the park, for close proximity to hiking and biking the great trails. The park is a land of fabulous contrasts – rugged, frosty summits; eerie, windswept tundra; rushing waters; woodlands; and meadows of vibrant wildflowers. Visitors should treat themselves to the 50-mile driving tour of Trail Ridge, which is both an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway. Trail Ridge takes visitors across the Continental Divide and on a 400-feet ascent to the alpine tundra. Up above the timberline, the tundra is an arctic-style zone of miniature plants and treeless terrain that looks more like a lunar exploration site than a national park byway. After the Trail Ridge experience, guests may choose to hike to a waterfall, ramble past Bear Lake, or attend a ranger-guided "Full Moon Walk" where a moose or tuft-eared squirrel might be encountered along your path.

Pike’s Peak, towering a majestic 14,110 feet, is one of our country’s crown jewels. A round-trip drive along Pike’s Peak Highway to the summit provides breathtaking views of the Sangre de Cristo Range, and the Gold Rush town of Cripple Creek. Journey to Seven Falls and South Cheyenne Canon and take a look at the Pillars of Hercules, the spot where the canon narrows to 42 feet in width as 1,000-foot cliffs tower overhead. Because you can take a mountain elevator, everyone can enjoy a trip to this spectacular natural wonder.

Yet another "must-see" in the area is Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Here you’ll find the world’s highest suspension bridge – soaring 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. Enjoy an aerial tram ride as well as an incline railway. Other attractions include Gardens of the Gods, a park complete with beautiful scenery.

In south central Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is just above Alamosa. The North American continent’s highest dunes are 700 feet tall and set against the contrasting backdrop of the jagged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Great Sand Dunes encompasses 30 square miles of desert-like mounds, as well as spruce and pine forests, grasslands, and wetlands. The park has a number of 13,000-foot mountain peaks plus icy lakes and tundra. There are creeks, meadows, canyons, and cascades, a million nooks and crannies for wildlife and people to wander. It’s an exceptional range of terrain for one park to span, and fortunate Great Sand Dunes visitors have a chance to experience them all.

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