2012 Heartland Caliber
2012 Heartland Caliber
Visit Little Rock, Arkansas, where many great entertainment options and great attractions await road trippers starting their RV journey from this beautiful Arkansas city. While in Little Rock, enjoy annual events which include sports, festivals, and music. Visit the Little Rock Zoo, splash pads and water parks, or museums. Find plentiful agritourism opportunities, go shopping, and enjoy fine dining.
RV camping is available at Ouachita Lake and Lake Catherine State Park. Heading northeast to Cape May, roadtrippers will pass through or by National parks and major urban centers. Attractions in city centers and heavy traffic on the Jersey Cape may make travel in a large RV difficult. A small RV or camper van may make it easier to get around on this attraction-packed trip.
The 1200 mile trip starting in Little Rock takes you east on Interstate 40 through Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee, to exit 421 where you will pick up Interstate 81 and continue on to exit 300. From exit 300 take Interstate 66 to exit 64B where you will head north on Interstate 495 to exit 27, then north on Interstate 95, across the Delaware River, and onto Highway 40, 55, and 47, then route 657 which will take you south to Cape May, New Jersey.
Traveling from Little Rock, Arkansas in the fall? Be sure to catch the Arkansas State Fair held at the State Fairgrounds. This event lasts for nine days and attracts thousands of visitors. RVers can camp on-site and be conveniently located near all the excitement. Camping at the fairgrounds is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so get there early to secure a spot. The RV parking spots are through Gate 11, and there are water, electric, and sewer hookups available. There are many other RV campgrounds in and around Little Rock, and large parks with campgrounds out of town.
The fair provides free music entertainments, numerous food vendors and dining opportunities, thrilling carnival and family-friendly rides, as well as interesting industrial, technology, and arts and crafts exhibits. The main attractions at the state fair are the agricultural and livestock exhibitions and competitions.
The fair is an excellent showcase for local and visiting producers who bring their cattle, horses, sheep, goats, beef and dairy cattle, rabbits, and poultry, to promote their industry and compete. Many youth and kids programs make this event family-friendly.
Elvis fans will not want to pass through Memphis, Tennessee, without a stop at Graceland. Graceland is not just Elvis’s former home; this beautiful mansion was his family retreat. The complex is intended to honor Elvis, his music, and his accomplishments.
Today the 200000 square foot complex features an entertainment venue, a museum, restaurant, and gift shop. You can stroll in the peaceful gardens, view “The King’s” iconic costumes, artifacts, and personal mementos, and even tour his private aircraft. Several tour options are available and visitors are encouraged to check out their website at Graceland for live music concerts and other events that are held regularly throughout the year.
Take in the ambiance of Elvis’s personal home and listen to his beloved music while enjoying the exhibits here. RVers can camp just off-site at the Graceland RV and Campground. The campground features full hookup sites, a bathhouse and laundry facilities, WiFi, biking and walking trails, a camp store, and a swimming pool.
Continuing east through Nashville, “melophiles'' can continue to indulge their love of music at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is sometimes called “The Smithsonian of Country Music”. This music museum is located in downtown Nashville and contains 350000 square feet of galleries, archives, shops, and event venues.
The Country Hall of Fame seeks to celebrate and share country music through their collection, preservation, and interpretation of the history and traditions of country music. The museum contains exhibits for viewing, access to publications, and conducts educational programs, workshops, and performances to share the cultural significance of the country music art form. Go to their website at Country Music Hall of Fame for current exhibits, events and features.
RV campers will find KOA campsites with plenty of amenities and services nearby, as well as, county, municipal and state run campgrounds in and around the Nashville area with plenty of excellent campsites.
As you pass through Knoxville, you are just a short distance from the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south. The park has numerous wonders, great RV campgrounds, and you can easily make day trips to nearby Knoxville for entertainment, shopping, dining, or to visit the one of a kind Sunsphere.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a popular park, with more annual visitors than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon parks combined. The park features ancient mountain ranges, sparkling waterways, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, and historical sites. There is no shortage of great activities to enjoy, with amazing scenic drives, hiking and cycling trails, fishing, and whitewater rafting.
The Appalachian Trail runs through the park, and the ascent to Clingmans Dome is the highest point on the trail, where you can take in a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also explore the Alum Cave, learn about the park history and features at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and explore the 90 plus historic structures that dot the park.
Numerous campgrounds accommodate RVs such as the Smokemont Campground, with 142 sites, and the Elkmont Capgourmd with 220 sites. Several smaller campgrounds that also accommodate RVs are distributed around the park.
Continuing down Interstate 81, you will pass just north of the small city of Roanoke, in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Transportation aficionados will delight in the Virginia Museum of Transportation located here. Visitors can take a ride on the decades-old steam locomotives at the museum while watching their modern-day counterparts whiz by on the mainline tracks.
The museum is located at Roanoke's century-old freight station, and includes a vast collection of steam, diesel, and electric trains, including the two famous steam locomotives the Norfolk & Western J 611, and Class A 1218. There are also automotive and aviation exhibits, model trains, buggies, a trolley bus, and even a Jupiter Rocket. The museum also features a gift store with transportation-related souvenirs, toys, books, and media. Tour the railyard which features 50 examples of rolling stock, or head inside to visit the indoor exhibits in climate-controlled comfort. Many of the automotive exhibits are famous cars used in movies. There is also a theatre with various transportation related shows.
Further up Interstate 81, RV road trippers can turn south at Harrisonburg, Virginia, to reach Shenandoah National Park. The park features 105 miles of the Appalachian Trail with views of the breathtaking Blue Mountains, so named because of the blue haze that frequently wraps around these scenic peaks. The park is heavily wooded with 70 overlooks, the 105 mile Skyline Scenic drive, hiking trails, waterfalls, and a plethora of local wildlife.
Numerous park campgrounds and KOAs provide camping for RVs. The national park sites tend to accommodate smaller to moderately sized units; however, the KOAs have more amenities, hookups, and accommodate larger rigs. There are reservations and first-come, first-serve sites, and backcountry camping is also available for real nature lovers who want to get away from it all.
Alternate activities in the park area include pony and trail rides, available from privately run stables, a great way to view the scenic park from the back of a four-legged friend, and numerous rock climbing options. Local outfitters can help arrange for equipment and guided tours. Whether you decide to hike, bike, climb, or ride be sure to bring a camera to capture the magnificent scenery in this spectacular park!
As you pass north of Washington, D.C., on Interstate 495, consider making a detour into the city to view the monuments, museums, and historical sites the capital has to offer. For those looking to take in a one of a kind, unique digital art experience, check out the Artechouse, a multimedia art museum and gallery that won’t disappoint.
The museum's goal is to “Inspire, Educate and Empower the creation of new, experimental and exploratory art forms” and the exhibits here are truly original, aided by the endless possibilities that the combination of technology, science, and creativity can provide. The museum provides an expert “Visitor Experience” team to interpret art exhibits, and answer questions. Many of the art experiences available on site are interactive, participatory, and immersive.
The museum is centrally located in the city just south of the National Mall and parking is limited. Vans may be accommodated, however, larger RVs and tow vehicles will need to be left at a nearby campground. There are KOA campgrounds conveniently located in Washington, D.C. and numerous private, municipal, regional, and state parks in the area where RVers can camp and proceed to the Washington D.C. attractions in a passenger vehicle, or via public transportation.
You're almost at your destination when you cross the Delaware River and head south to the Jersey Cape. The Cape is known for its more than 30 miles of beaches, numerous resorts, and great RV camping sites. Enjoy the magnificent sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean, or the sunsets to the west over the Delaware Bay. Kick back and tickle your toes in the fine sugar sand on the famous beaches which attract thousands of visitors! Wade, swim, stand up paddleboard, sunbathe, surf, picnic, or build a fabulous sandcastle while enjoying the beach. Hear the sounds of the waves crashing and breathe in the sea air.
There are also plenty of attractions, shops, and restaurants nearby to enjoy. Wildlife lovers can view tidal creatures and shorebirds or visit the wetlands and wildlife preserves in the area to view and learn about the unique coastal habitat and the creatures that thrive here. The peak season for beachy fun on the Jersey Cape is during the summer months. However, many beaches are open well into September. Some locations host movie nights, fireworks, fun runs, sand sculpting competitions, hermit crab races, kite festivals, volleyball and bocce ball tourneys, and yoga on the beach. During the offseason, there are even polar plunges for brave sea goers!
Your destination of Cape May, New Jersey, is known as an ideal vacation spot with fabulous sun, surf, and white sand beaches that stretch for miles. Cape May is more than just the beach though! Visit historic sites like the Cape May Lighthouse, Hereford Lighthouse, or Cold Spring Village.
The Cape May Museum is located in the circa 1755 John Holmes House and displays period rooms, furnishings, costumes, and artifacts. Cape May is unique in that it is so filled with sites and buildings on the National Register of Historic Places that it is the state’s only National Historic Landmark City. You can take trolley or horse and carriage tours of the numerous interesting sites. Cape May also features numerous music festivals and concerts, as well as film festivals, casual boardwalk art shows, plays, shopping, and dining experiences. There is even a local zoo! RVers can stay at the Cape May KOA or further north at camping which is available in the Belleplain State Forest.