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Summer Road Trip Ideas to Beat the Crowds

This article was originally sponsored by Good Sam Roadside Assistance in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand.

Updated 05.29.2020:  Are you looking for summer road trip ideas? Alan and I usually avoid summer road trips unless they’re off-the-beaten-path travel destinations. We’re not fans of busy, crowded roads or the safety issues they present.

Unfortunately, boomers who are still working don’t have the luxury of traveling in the off-season. Or perhaps you’re a boomer traveler who would like to take the grandkids on an RV road trip while they’re on summer vacation from school.

If a summer road trip is on your itinerary, try our ideas for beating the crowds.

Are your feet itching to get out on the road? You’ll discover lots of ideas in our Road Trip Newsletter. Subscribe here.

New Mexico Backroads Adventure

Concrete walkway bordered by a fence next to a limestone monolith.

On a summer road trip to El Morro National Monument, discover graffiti from western explorers.

A drive along New Mexico’s western border with Arizona, will introduce you to a New Mexico Backroads Adventure that includes two off-the-beaten-path national monuments. At El Morro, you’ll discover ancient petroglyphs and graffiti from early explorers carved into stone. And if it’s not too hot to climb the Mesa Cliff Trail, continue your journey for a glimpse of an ancient pueblo.

The volcanic landscape of El Malpais National Monument is just 25 miles west of El Morro. Enjoy the hiking and scenic views but bring along plenty of water on this summer road trip.

Pacific Coast Highway north from Jenner to Mendocino

Grassy bluffs look out to the blue, Pacific Ocean

You’ll find plenty of Pacific Coast Highway views on a road trip to Mendocino.

For a California coastal drive that’s less crowded than Big Sur, drive the section of the Pacific Coast Highway from Jenner to Mendocino. Although you’ll still find traffic, appreciating the incredible ocean views at pullouts won’t be as hectic. And Mendocino makes a fun two or three-day stop for hiking, exploring and delicious dining.

Needles Section of Canyonlands National Park

Jagged buttes of orange and beige in the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park.

On a summer trip to Moab, skip crowded Arches National Park in favor of the isolated Needles section of Canyonlands.

If you’ve visited Arches National Park near Moab, then you know how crowded the park gets. But if you’re willing to drive a bit, the Needles Section of Canyonlands National Park will greet you with big views and very few people.

On the drive south from Moab, stop at Wilson’s Arch before continuing on. After turning on Highway 211, take your time on the 35-mile drive to the Needles Overlook. The mesas and canyons that you see once comprised a ranch that was larger than the state of Rhode Island. This is a great spot for a sunset Canyonlands photo shoot.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

rock formation with a space that looks like a window

Driving to Cape Royal is a favorite North Rim of the Grand Canyon activity.

Any summer road trip to Grand Canyon National Park includes crowds. Those willing to drive the extra miles to the North Rim, will discover slightly cooler temps and a less touristy setting.

For scenic overlooks and short hiking trails, enjoy the 15-mile drive on Cape Royal Rd. RV’ers will appreciate a clean, well-maintained campground—reserve ahead! And don’t miss the sunset view from the back deck of Grand Canyon Lodge.

Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway

Meadow of golden grass surrounded by trees, mountains and a sky with lots of clouds

You’ll discover Montana’s big sky while exploring the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway.

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path road in southwest Montana that’s doable for RV’s, Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is for you. First of all, the 49-mile highway is paved.

But second, and best of all, you’ll travel through a scenic slice of Montana’s Pioneer Mountains that includes excellent primitive camping spots away from crowded campgrounds.

Be sure to take the drive (unhitch the fifth wheel for this one), to Coolidge ghost town. A short walk reveals the crumbling buildings of a former mining town that is quickly being reclaimed by the forest. Later, hunt for crystals, soak in Elkhorn Hot Springs or fish in blue-ribbon trout streams.

Man in shorts watches a man jeans change a tire on a red SUV.

Flat tires are no fun. Rely on Good Sam Roadside Assistance.

Now that I’ve encouraged you to get away from the crowds on an off-the-beaten-path summer road trip, what will you do in case of a flat tire or breakdown? If you belong to an auto assistance program, the towing mileage may be limited to 4 miles. Well that’s definitely going to get expensive with the road trip ideas I’ve just given you.

But there is an answer. Good Sam Roadside Assistance provides unlimited distance towing to the nearest service center. And no paying up to $75 per additional driver like some companies require. With Good Sam Roadside Assistance, a member’s spouse and children under 25 years of age are covered at no additional cost.

Looking for an auto plan? They’re discounted, too.

Don’t forget to sign up for our Road Trip Newsletter. Subscribe by clicking here.

Disclosure: Good Sam Roadside Assistance, in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, sponsored this article. I was compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.

 

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