Detroit to Charleston Road Trip Guide


Detroit is a city in the southern region of the state of Michigan that's bordered to the east by the expansive waters of Lake St Clair and to the south by the Detroit River. It's a city that's renowned not just in the United States but all around the world for its long time involvement in both the automobile and the music industry. It's a city that means business, but while Detroit may have a Downtown area crammed with contemporary high rise towers, it has retained the low level and more characterful suburbs around them.

After suffering serious financial problems in the second decade of the millennium, Detroit is now a city in redevelopment and has a fantastic new riverside walkway lined with parks and plazas as well as numerous cafes and restaurants. While the city's population has declined drastically, the number of visitors to the city has surged mainly because of high profile events like the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix and the annual music festival Movement Detroit to name just two that bring the crowds flocking.

Detroit is, in its own musical way, still a city buzzing with life and the nineteen million plus yearly visitors it receives just add to the constant thrumming vibe. That's great when you're in the mood for it, but not when you'd prefer some peace and quiet. If you have a long weekend free, set off on an RV road trip from Detroit to Charleston in West Virginia to rediscover tranquility.

While Charleston is still another bustling city, it's surrounded by the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington National Forest so it will definitely give you that weekend escape feel. Plus, there are lots of amazing places to stop off at along the way that will make you remember that your ears are for something more than listening to the roar of engines or the beats of Motown and techno music.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 2-3 days
Recommend rig: any
audience: all

Point of Interest

Wayne National Forest

After you've motored through Columbus, you'll find you're driving into a region that is completely covered with so many state parks and forests, you'll have trouble deciding which one you want to pitch camp in. You'll be able to choose between the Hocking Hills State Park, the Tar Hollow State Forest and the Vinton Furnace State Forest, but for somewhere truly outstanding keep going until you're in the Wayne National Forest.

The Wayne National Forest covers such an extensive area, around a quarter of a million acres, and has a three-hundred-mile-long network of trails, so running into other folks who are getting away from it all too won't happen much. No matter what type of outdoor recreation you want to do, from hiking, mountain biking, off-roading, rock climbing or horse riding, you can do it here. There are creeks, rivers, and lakes in the forest, so no shortage of locations to fish or go boating in either. Once you've pitched at a campground, and there are several for RVs, you may find you'll forget about Charleston being your destination as you may well not want to hit the road again.

Biking & Hiking

As you're driving south through Ohio before you get to Columbus, take a rest break from the road to go hiking or mountain biking around Alum Creek Lake. There are a couple of parking facilities where you can leave your rig while you get some exercise. One is by the visitor center for the Alum Creek State Park and the other above the reservoir dam. If you're in no hurry, take a few minutes to have a look at the natural history exhibitions in the visitor center. The rangers there will appreciate your visit.

Whether you're hiking or biking around either of the Alum Creek Lake Mountain Bike Trails, it'll be a tranquil experience. The single-lane dirt-surfaced loops run through the wooded areas on the lake shores and are lightly trafficked so you won't encounter too many other users. Take a picnic with you and find a comfortable spot by the water and you'll be able to eat lunch out in the open while bird or wildlife spotting. Alum Creek Lake is an enchanting spot and if you decide you'd like to stay longer, the state park has a campground that's open all year.

Wyandot Indian Mill

If you enjoy taking scenic photos after you've passed through Findlay on your weekend road trip from Detroit to Charleston, make a short detour to the Wyandot Indian Mill in Upper Sandusky. From Findlay, it's only a thirty minute drive, so hardly out of your way at all and when you get there, you'll be pleased you took the turn off.

The Wyandot Indian Mill is a mid-19th century built mill that sits on the banks of the Sandusky River next to a small cascade and is surrounded by trees. Whatever season you visit, you'll find the setting picturesque, though in the fall after the leaves turn golden, it is even more beautiful for photographing. Inside the mill, there are examples of the original machinery as well as other artifacts in what was the miller's office.

The mill is open for public viewing from May through to October during the hours of one until four-thirty in the afternoon Thursday to Sunday. If your visit doesn't coincide you can arrange a private viewing by appointment or just admire it from outside.

Maumee Bay State Park

Leave Detroit on the I 75 southbound and in around one hour you'll be driving over the state border with Ohio and along the western coast of Lake Erie as you head to Toledo. On the way, you'll be able to catch glimpses of Canada without even leaving the US. To get your first experience of true tranquility after leaving Detroit, program Maumee Bay State Park into your navigational app. The park sits along the southern shores of Lake Erie a few miles east of Toledo and is an ideal place to choose for your first weekend road trip stopover.

The Maumee Bay State Park makes an ideal getaway retreat from the city. The campgrounds are open all year round so it doesn't matter what month you roll up in your rig or what size it is as the park can cater for RVs up to one hundred feet. If you're heading to Charleston in the summer, strip off and enjoy some relax time on the beach, go fishing, float a boat, or just get out a deckchair, put your feet up and chill out by your rig. If you're on a winter RV road trip, you'll be able to explore the trails surrounding the park on skis or snowshoes. No matter what the season, the lake views are incredible and it's peaceful so you'll soon forget about the noise of Detroit.


After all the peaceful locations you stopped at on your RV road trip from Detroit to Charleston, being back in a city environment may come as a shock to your system. Don't worry too much, Charleston is quieter than Detroit and has pretty, tree-lined streets with lots of historical buildings.

That said, if you want your road trip to end as peacefully as it started don't arrive in the city the weekend of the Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival unless you take some ear plugs with you.

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