Looking for a memorable RV road trip with some of your closest friends? Although not the stereotypical journey, traveling from California through the midwest can be super fun, rewarding, and adventurous.
Joshua Tree has become one of the most well-known vacation spots over the last decade, and for good reason. The environment surrounding this small town is magical, with incredible desert landscapes and plenty of outdoor fun to be had when the weather isn’t too hot.
If you choose to head east from Joshua Tree instead of to the coast there are so many hidden gems waiting for you and your friends to encounter. Give yourself around seven days to navigate your way to Wichita and you will have plenty of time to enjoy the natural and manmade attractions that don’t get as much attention as those on the coasts. Driving through parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas will allow you to see a diverse natural landscape that ranges from mountainous terrain to flat farmland and many different climates.
Wichita has a lot going for it, and waiting for you at the end of your journey will be a city with many fun activities. So, what are you waiting for? Call your friends, pack up your RV and hit the road!
Fancy yourself a cowboy or cowgirl? Along the US-50 around 155 miles west of Wichita is one of the more unique museums that you will encounter when traveling throughout the country. The Boot Hill Museum is a not-for-profit group that highlights and celebrates the history of the old west that used to encompass the modern-day Dodge City.
Formally a frontier town, the museum contains an astonishing 60,000 artifacts related to life before modern technology. Included within this collection is over 200 guns that are in original condition that cowboys used to use on a regular basis. Included in the museum complex are several buildings that recreate the look and feel of how shops were like back in the day.
Be prepared to pay a small admission fee when visiting the Boot Hill Museum but it is well worth it. You won't find a comparable archive of the old west in many other places.
Before you make your journey into the state of Kansas you will be able to experience some of the best water-based recreation in all of eastern Colorado if you visit John Martin Reservoir State Park. The park consists of 13,000 acres and the reservoir is the second largest body of water in The Centennial State.
Any type of boating is allowed within the John Martin Reservoir, so if you and your friends are want to zip around the water you are free to do so. Fishing is also very popular and swimming is permitted on the smaller Lake Hasty during the peak summer months.
John Martin Reservoir State Park is a great place to spend your last night in Colorado since it has two campgrounds for you to choose from. The Lake Hasty Campground is the more popular of the two since all 109 sites have electric hookups.
Leaving Taos Ski Valley and heading north for a few hours will mean that you will end up in the gorgeous city of Colorado Springs. While there are dozens of attractions in the city, the National Museum of World War II is a must-see for those who are history buffs.
The museum specifically honors and remembers those involved in the United States Air Force during the second world war with several fantastic exhibits on display where you can learn more about this crucial time in the world. You will be able to see many restored aircrafts from this time period and also have the option to take a guided tour for a small fee that takes around two hours to complete.
Once you have finished the tour you can enjoy the sights of Colorado Springs where you can visit the zoo or climb Pikes Peak.
Although Taos Ski Valley isn’t directly on the way to Witchita, road trips are all about taking the road less traveled and enjoying the best places on the drive, even if that means a change in direction. Taos Ski Valley is one such place where you and your friends can enjoy outdoor recreation at whatever time of year that you visit. The ski valley is busiest during the winter and is one of New Mexico’s most well-known ski fields. There are ski trails suited for all skill levels and since 2008 snowboarders have also been allowed to make their way down the mountain.
Visiting when the snow isn’t falling? Don’t fret, there are still plenty of great activities to enjoy. Fishing is very fun in the area and there are also e-bikes for rent if you want to zoom around without using up all of your energy.
Continuing east along the 40, after around three hours of easy driving you will arrive at New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. This will be the first major city you encounter on your trip to Wichita and it is an ideal place to let your hair down and go out for a few drinks. The downtown area of Albuquerque is home to many trendy bars, including Founders Speakeasy. Using locally sourced ingredients, Founders Speakeasy is in a hidden downtown location that has an old-timey charm.
During your visit to Albuquerque, this is also a great time to stock up on any supplies that you might need before you continue to the less populated areas that are waiting for you. Many private RV parks are located nearby so you won’t have to fret about finding a place to stay during your first stop in New Mexico.
You will notice the change in scenery when you depart Flagstaff and head along the 40 to continue your road trip, especially when you reach Petrified Forest National Park. Located less than two hours from Flagstaff, this national park couldn’t be any more different from the towering trees in Flagstaff. The park has hardly any trees and is famous for its petrified logs that the park takes its name from but there are also plenty of badlands, buttes, mesas and incredible vistas for you and your friends to enjoy.
Hiking is the most popular recreational activity and there are many trails that will allow you to explore in peace and quiet.
This national park may look empty, but there are plenty of birds who call the park home so the birding opportunities are great. Ranger talks are also scheduled throughout the year, so make sure you check the park schedule to see if you will be able to enjoy one during your visit. There are no campgrounds within Petrified Forest National Park, but the Holbrook / Petrified Forest KOA will have everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay.
One of the best-hidden gems in the whole country is the small city of Flagstaff. Known by most as the closest populated area to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and its high desert climate has so much to offer visitors who take the time to stop by.
The climate in Flagstaff separates it from most of Arizona, so don’t expect it to be boiling hot when you visit. During the winter months, the town is often transformed into a winter wonderland that is perfect for snowshoeing or cross country skiing in many of the trails that are located on the outskirts of the park. Flagstaff offers incredible astronomy opportunities and the Lowell Observatory was the place where Pluto was first discovered.
Feeling adventurous? Flagstaff has many national parks and monuments near it, including the Lava River Cave Trail where you can explore a former lava tube. This mountain city is a must-stop and it will be hard to leave once morning comes.
Undoubtedly the most well-known and most visited attractions in the Mojave and Colorado deserts, you have to visit Joshua Tree State Park if you are beginning your RV road trip in town. Designated as a national park in 1994, Joshua Tree National Park consists of over 790,000 acres that attract over two million visitors each year to experience life out in the desert.
Hiking and rock climbing are the two most popular recreational activities to do in the park, but if you aren’t interested in working up a sweat you can also do some birdwatching during the day and experience some incredible stargazing thanks to the extremely dark nights.
After you have finished with the park there are plenty of restaurants in Joshua Tree that will fill you up, including the Joshua Tree Saloon, Natural Sisters Cafe, and Crossroads Cafe. Joshua Tree National Park has you covered for RV camping with eight campgrounds for you to choose from.
After you have traveled over 1300 miles, reaching Wichita will invigorate you and your friends with a sense of accomplishment. What better way to celebrate than by parking your RV and hitting the city streets to explore this hidden gem?
Wichita has something for everyone, including the chance to throw an axe at a target! Yep, that's right, Wichita is home to the Blade & Timber axe throwing range where you can let off some steam and see how good your aim is. Looking for something a little more chill? Take the RV and grab some popcorn at theStarlite Drive-In. This old school drive-in theatre is a real throwback, but if you visit be sure to park your RV up the back so you aren't blocking anyone else's view!
You’ll be able to easily find a place to stay once you are done exploring Wichita since there are many private campgrounds that are RV friendly. Congratulations, you did it! Your road trip is over, so now it's time to plan the next one.