For centuries, man has wandered into the woods in pursuit of the undiscovered. It is the desire for new terrain that keeps us all on the road, searching for the new and traveling in RVs. With spring underway, we’ve rounded up our favorite “secret spots” (because just how secret is anything anymore with the internet) inside a few iconic national parks. Though you may have heard a thing or two about these locations, there’s nothing like seeing them with your own eyes.
1.Canyonlands National Park
Favorite Feature: Needles
Needles district is located nearly 75 miles south of Moab. Distinctive for its sandstone spires and unspoiled terrain, there are over 60 miles of interconnecting trails waiting to be explored. As you can imagine, this part of the park is remote. Obtain as much information as you can on the routes and trails you want to enjoy before you venture out. The majority of trail signage is primitive and difficult to read. Check out the visitor’s center before you go to have your questions answered by a ranger.
2. Channel Islands National Park
Favorite Feature: Painted Cave
This sea cave, which happens to be the longest in North America, is a quarter-mile into the side of Santa Cruz Island and almost no one sees it. Due to the mere difficulty of getting to the Channel Islands and having to book a guided paddle trip into the mysterious cave, most people skip it (or don’t know about it.) We promise the experience is well worth the effort. At low tide you paddle in and at about two-thirds of the way, the cave narrows and turns pitch black. It’s a surreal experience as you continue in and begin to hear dozens of sea lions barking and playing on what is to you an invisible beach.
3. Kings Canyon National Park
Favorite Feature: Kings Canyon Scenic Byway (Hwy 180)
This spot requires no physical effort to get to but offers some of the most scenic views in the country. The byway begins in the Sierra Nevada foothills and traverses 50 stunning miles to Roads End. We suggest you start at the foothills outside of Fresno. You will enter the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon and then descend through Sequoia National Forest and end at Cedar Cove. There are endless highway pull-offs that offer canyon overlooks, one of which is the deepest in North America at 8,200 feet.
4. Grand Canyon National Park
Favorite Feature: Royal Arch Loop
This challenging five-day hike is considered to be one of the most difficult of the established south side hikes. The U.S. Department of the Interior suggests this is only for experienced canyon hikers with basic canyoneering skills, off-trail navigational skills, and the ability to rig a rappel anchor. If you have the know-how we suggest you go, as the National Parks System states the canyon is, “replete with more natural beauty than humans can absorb.”
5. Capitol Reef National Park
Favorite Feature: Cathedral Valley
Cathedral Valley is open year-round and accessible by a 57-mile dirt road north of Capitol Reef National Park. Road conditions can vary greatly depending on recent weather. Spring and summer rains often leave roads muddy and impassable. Vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended. As you can tell, getting there is most of the battle. Once you arrive, the bounty of Upper and Lower Cathedral Valley is yours for the taking. These sites offer exquisite views of sculptured monoliths with fascinating names, such as, “the Walls of Jericho” and “the Temple of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.” 160 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, the deposition of sand and silt in tidal flats created the iconic Cathedral formations.
6. Everglades National Park
Favorite Feature: Chickee Camping
Want to explore Everglades National Park unlike most visitors? Try your hand at seeing the park the traditional way, by camping on a chickee. Chickees are elevated camping platforms that resemble docks and are located right on the water. You will kayak through trails of Mangroves and surely spot tons of marine life on the way to your campsite. You must obtain a backcountry permit from the Flamingo Visitor Center. Try to plan your trip during spring, as summers are scorching and plentiful with mosquitoes.
7. Kobuk Valley National Park
Favorite Feature: Great Kobuk Sand Dunes
These dunes are the largest active sand dunes in the Arctic and a relic of the last Ice Age. Over time (28,000 years to be exact) the slow retreat of the glaciers grounded the rocks beneath them into fine sand which was blown by the wind into the ice-free Kobuk Valley. The 25 square miles of shifting, golden sand is breathtaking. If you can’t make it until summer, be aware – temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.
If you’re in search of additional destinations to head to this year, check out our list of the Top 10 Spots to Venture to in your RV.