Asheville to Bismarck Road Trip Guide


For families looking to enjoy their next great RV adventure, a seven-day road trip from Asheville, North Carolina to Bismarck, North Dakota is sure to be a treat.

Asheville is a metropolitan city found in the state ofNorth Carolina. Nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountain range, this much-loved center is a haven for those with a love for a prosperous arts community and stunning architecture. From the gilded dome of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence to the historic Biltmore Estate and the Downtown Art District, culture is alive and well in this popular city.

Asheville is a city that enjoys a thriving music scene. Live music plays a significant role in the daily life of this metropolitan area. Throughout all seasons of the year, RV campers can enjoy live entertainment via street performers, concerts, or local nightclubs. The area is also home to a number of different festivals including the Bele Chere and the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival.

When it comes to foodie destinations, Asheville is not a place that will disappoint. The Green Restaurant Association has recognized Asheville as the very first city to become a Green Dining Destination (an area with a high concentration of eco-friendly dining establishments). Two of the most popular places to stop by for a visit are Plant and the Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Asheville is also a haven for those involved in the entertainment field. A much-loved annual event in the region is the Asheville Film Festival as well as the 48-Hour Film Project. Several Hollywood blockbusters were filmed in Asheville including The Last of the Mohicans, The Fugitive, Richie Rich, Forrest Gump, and Dirty Dancing.

There are many interesting attractions for families to enjoy during a visit to this metropolitan city. RV campers can spend the day perusing the Arras, the largest building in Asheville itself. Other must-visit destinations include the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, and McCormick Field.

But Asheville is far more than simply a place to enjoy great cuisine and the fine arts. The city offers many great things to do when it comes to outdoor recreation. From beaches to public parks, campgrounds, national monuments, and more, Asheville is one spot that has got it all.

Traveling through Asheville in an RV is not so hard to do. However, many families prefer parking their rig at their campground or a public lot and hopping a bus or taking a taxi into town to do some exploring.

Among the best places to enjoy an RV stay in Asheville are Lake Powhatan Recreation and Campground and French Broad River Campground.

Share this road trip guide


Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

The Body Farm

Just 117 miles from Asheville is one of the most unique destinations found en route to Bismarck: The Body Farm. The Body Farm's official name is the William K. Bass Center for Forensic Observation. The subject matter under consideration at this facility is quite unusual with its primary focus being the decomposition stages of the human body.

This research center is found near the University of Tennessee and sits on 2.5 acres of land that is encased by a fence of razor wire. The facility was founded in 1981. At the time, there was only one body contained within an enclosed space measuring 16 feet in total. During the year 2007, the research center had grown to accommodate over 150 dead bodies.

One of the most unique features of the research center is the arrangement of the specimens under observation. Each of the bodies is positioned in scenarios that replicate a crime scene. Some are clothed while others are naked. There are even some bodies that are submerged in water or placed inside vehicles.

The studies done at this center have been responsible for great advances in the field of forensic anthropology.

For RV campers that choose to visit this attraction, it is important to note that this is a working facility with access restricted to staff and students only. However, visitors are free to view the research subjects from outside the fenced area.

Thinking a good night's rest is in order before hitting the open road en route to your next stop? Consider an RV stay at Clinton/Knoxville North KOA Journey or Poland Creek Campground.

The Monroe Moosnick Medical and Science Museum

Another interesting place awaits RV campers just 174 miles away: the Monroe Moosnick Medical and Science Museum. This unique attraction was named for a former chemistry professor at Transylvania Univesity. Mr. Monroe Moosnick served on the faculty at the educational institution for over five decades. The museum that bears his name contains many pieces of medical equipment and instruments that were considered modern during the 1700s and 1800s. Though state of the art at the time; today, they look quite alien and are even reminiscent of something from a Jetsons episode.

The instruments housed in the museum still serve a functional purpose. They have been very useful as an educational tool to teach future generations about chemistry, biology, and physics. Found among the artifacts are models for anatomy, paintings featuring rare botanical species, and many other pieces. Most of the items found within the facility were obtained from medical offices and hospitals in Paris and London.

Two of the most unique items found in the museum are a 14" hairball which is believed to have been found in the stomach of a buffalo and a structure referred to as Medical Venus, a wax figure of a woman that can be dissected.

After a day spent exploring the museum, a good night's rest might be just what the doctor ordered. Park your rig at Kentucky Horsepark Campground or Elkhorn Campground for the night.

Louisville Zoo

After a good night's sleep, RV campers will be refreshed and ready to travel the 74.6 miles to their next stop: the Louisville Zoo. Louisville Zoo, a facility sometimes referred to as the Louisville Zoological Gardens, first welcomed people to its grounds in 1969.

Louisville Zoo houses more than 1,100 animals and consists of 130 acres of property in total. The zoo is laid out to reflect many different geographical regions and several unique habitats. Among the sections found at Louisville Zoo are Glacier Run, Africa, Islands, New World Exhibits, Australian Outback, and HerpAquarium.

Louisville Zoo is actively involved in animal conservation and is also proud to play a role in preserving endangered species. The facility has an active breeding program and is involved in the breeding and preserving of black-footed ferrets, the creature considered to be the most in danger of extinction within North America.

One of the strengths of this popular attraction is the zoo's commitment to building environments for its animals that are both physically and mentally stimulating. This helps to ensure the animals enjoy an excellent quality of life while housed in captivity. Throughout the day, zookeepers and other animal experts meander through the grounds providing information sessions on the care and upkeep of the different species of animals found within the zoo.

Other popular things to do at Louisville Zoo include concession stands, playgrounds, gift shops, amusement park rides, a splash park, a petting zoo, camel rides, and much, much more.

For hours of operation, event schedules, and any associated fees, consult the zoo's website.

Looking for a place to enjoy an overnight stay while in Louisville? Park your rig at Louisville North Campground or Louisville South KOA Holiday.

North Market

It's a bit of a trek at 209 miles but is well worth the RV trip to spend the day enjoying Columbus, Ohio's North Market. North Market is a popular spot that welcomes over one million visitors annually. It maintains its position as one of the most beloved public markets in the United States on a year-round basis.

One of North Market's greatest attributes is its commitment to maintaining a space that speaks authentically of Columbus' culture through support for local retailers, small businesses, and handcrafted goods.

North Market was founded in 1876. It was constructed upon the second of what were once four similar markets that rested on a public cemetery known as "The North Graveyard."

Sadly, in 1948, this original market was destroyed during a fire. The merchants worked together to raise the money to buy a Quonset hut left over from the war in which to start the market again. During the 1970s, financial hardship saw the North Market struggling to survive with an eventual closure in the days ahead.

However, a committed group of citizens formed a group dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of this historical attraction. It is this group that took over the oversight and management of the North Market on an ongoing basis beginning in 1988.

The board realized the importance of moving to more modern facilities and undertook the task of raising the money to purchase land upon which to build the new North Market. In 1995, construction was completed and the new North Market was unveiled to the public. Today, the property is also home to a public park as well as 22 different unique shops for families to enjoy.

Tuckered out from a day exploring North Market? Plan to enjoy an RV stay at Korbel North Campground or Buckeye Lake/Columbus East KOA Holiday.

Rotary Jail Museum

For another truly unforgettable experience, RV campers will enjoy the 230-mile drive to spend the day exploring Rotary Jail Museum in Crawfordsville. At one point in history, great effort went into designing a jail cell that was escape-proof. During these attempts, many different forms of imprisonment were tested; some of which employed very cruel means.

One prototype of these early days was known as the rotary jail. This type of cell is still proudly on display at the Rotary Jail Museum and is still operational today. The design of the rotary jail was quite ingenious with each cell created in the shape of a wedge attached to a central room. The entire unit was then set in motion, revolving in a circular fashion which was set in action by a hand crank. With the cells continually in motion, only one door could be accessed at a time.

The rotary jail was first designed in the late 19th century and gained great prominence after its introduction. However, one design flaw was discovered. As the cells rotated, the limbs of inmates would often become trapped between the moving bars, causing breaks, ruptures, and immense pain. As a result, these types of jails were abandoned.

Thinking of spending the night in Crawfordsville catching up on your zzz's? Do some RV camping at Raceview Family Campground or Indianapolis KOA Holiday.

Rock Cut State Park

Rock Cut State Park is found 237 miles from Crawfordsville in Winnebago County. This popular center is a haven for those looking to enjoy some of the finest outdoor recreation in the state of Illinois. This naturally landscaped space is near to the much-loved Rock River and is also home to the city of Rockford, a region that was once a popular stopping place for travelers as well as the locale from which they traversed the river.

Rock Cut State Park has many interesting topographical features. It is marked by gently hilly terrain, a rich history, and a plentiful amount of outdoor activities to enjoy.

This public park consists of 3.092 acres. Found on the grounds are two bodies of water: Pierce Lake and Olson Lake. Among the most popular activities to enjoy on the water here are fishing, ice fishing, and ice skating.

Rock Cut State Park is also home to a vast network of hiking trails that are suited to hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. The region is a natural habitat for many different varieties of wildlife, making it an excellent spot to keep a camera on hand.

For those that enjoy camping, there is a public campground here with over 270 campsites in total. Also found on the grounds are a rustic cabin for rent, a group camping area, and several shelters. Reservations are required for all RV and tent stays.

RV campers should note that no alcohol is permitted in Rock Cut State Park.

Picnic Point Beach House

A very interesting attraction lies just 65.3 miles from Rock Cut State Park. The Picnic Point Beach House, a facility sometimes called the Bath House or the Change House, is well worth the drive to spend the day exploring.

Found in Madison, Wisconsin, the Picnic Point Beach House rests to the north of Picnic Point near to the Picnic Point Marsh. Access to the building is gained by following the Lake Mendota Lakeshore Path.

The building consists of only one story and tells a unique tale. The beach house was constructed in 1968 with its main purpose to function as a bathroom and changing room. When the building was completed, the beach house never did open to the public.

Though now fully equipped to accommodate visitors to the beach, the building was never used since the sandy shores were considered too difficult for public access. It was also discovered that during the late 1960s that dangerous algae was developing on Lake Mendota, making swimming conditions unfavorable.

The building is now a storage facility.

The beach house's architecture is quite unique and was designed to mimic the style of an in-vogue designer of the day known as Frank Lloyd Wright.

To reach the beach house, RV campers will need to be prepared to do some hiking. There is a gate that provides entrance to Picnic Point. From here, families can take a left to continue through a grassy area to reach the trail that leads to the beach house. In addition to viewing the building, it is now safe to swim in the area. Picnicking is also a popular attraction.

Tuckered out and in need of some zzz's? Consider an RV stay at Lake Farm Campground or Capital Springs State Recreation Area.

Mall of America

No trip from Asheville to Bismarck would be complete without a stop at the Mall of America. Located just 15 minutes from the downtown core of the city and only a short drive from the airport, this destination hotspot is not to be missed.

Minneapolis' Mall of America is considered to be the biggest facility for shopping and entertainment in the country. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and sees approximately 40 million visitors annually.

A relatively youthful facility, the Mall of America has been in operation for nearly three decades. It is believed that its location near to an international airport is one of the keys to its continued success. Another draw for visitors is the fact that all shopping in the state of Minnesota is completely tax-free.

In addition to its bountiful shopping opportunities, the Mall of America is also home to two hotels with an additional 50 close by that offer shuttle service to and from the mall at no cost to guests.

To date, the Mall of America is home to more than 520 stores, 60 restaurants, and a large indoor amusement park. Other attractions include the Lego store, mini-golf, a comedy club, casino-style gaming establishments, and much, much more.

Shopped and ready to drop? Park your RV for an overnight stay at Minneapolis Northwest KOA Journey or Lebanon Hills Regional Park Campground.


The final leg of the journey to Bismarck is a lengthy one at 438 miles, but the hours will fly right by with the thrill of an extended RV stay in the days ahead.

Bismarck, the capital city of North Dakota, is a popular and attractive city with much to offer RV campers. The North Dakota State Capitol building sets an imposing figure with its statuesque art deco design set against a backdrop of lush greenery. To learn more about the culture and history of the region, a stop by the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum will definitely be an enlightening time. Other attractions found in the city include the Former Governor's Mansion and the Dakota Zoo.

Bismarck has a prosperous arts community. Its Belle Mehus Auditorium, a facility named for a local pianist and teacher, was built in 1914 and is the most popular place for concerts and other events. Here, RV campers can enjoy performances by the Northern Plains Dance or the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra.

When it comes to outdoor activities, Bismarck has lots to keep families entertained. The city is home to a vast network of parks and trails. There are also several public pools and golf courses for those looking to enjoy swimming or a round on the greens.

One of the most beloved attractions is the World War I Memorial Building, a property that has been included on the National Register of Historic Places. Other places well worth visiting during a trip to Bismarck include Sertoma Park and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.

Navigating through Bismarck in an RV is not a difficult chore. However, the transportation system in this city is good, so many RV campers opt to park their rig and hop a bus or hail a taxi to head into town for some fun.

Among the best places to enjoy an RV stay in Bismarck are Bismarck KOA Journey and Hillcrest Acres Campground.

Share this Road trip guide