Affectionately known simply as “The Rockies,” this wild, rugged mountain range defines and divides the continental US. Stretching more than 3,000 miles, from Canada down to New Mexico, the Rockies serve as the gatekeepers to the West. Today, the mountain range defines the wild landscapes of states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and more. While the eastern Appalachian mountain range has soft curves and rounded peaks, eroded over millennia by wind and rain; The Rockies are characterized by sharp, peaks and valleys, carved by glaciers and dramatic tectonic shifts.
Spanning several states, the Rocky Mountains are no quick trip. To see, experience, and fall in love with the mountains, you’ll want to get up close and personal–in an RV. Imagine falling asleep to the howl of a herd of coyotes, or waking up to a field of grazing elk outside your doorstep. In an RV, you’re connected to the land–seeing the sun warm up the mountainsides in the morning, and watching it sink behind the ridgeline as you keep warm by an open fire at night.
Get ready to harness your inner Lewis and Clark. The Rockies are truly “the Wild West,” and you’ll need a fully stocked RV and a penchant for adventure to see it all.
Weather in the Rocky Mountains
Elevation is everything when it comes to exploring this mountain range. No matter the time of year, pack layers for a trip to the Rockies. The summer months are the best time to enjoy the mountains as the weather is fair and predictable. Still, some regions of the mountain range are open year-round. A 4WD vehicle won’t go to waste scaling the grades of the mountains. Remember to plan and prep accordingly for an RV trip in the mountains.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Start at the namesake Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to introduce yourself to the mountain range, its history, and the origin story of this national treasure. A scenic drive along Trail Ridge Road will introduce you to the alpine tundras and forests that characterize the Rockies. Hiking, night sky photography, and backcountry camping are popular here, pushing visitors to unplug and sink into solitude.
If the park campgrounds are filled up, park your RV right outside and use the park’s shuttle system to take you around. Traversing some of these alpine roads may be less stressful when left to the experts anyway. Pack a picnic and enjoy it at Bear Lake or Lily Lake, while taking in the wonder of the mountains and that Rocky Mountain air.
Campgrounds Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park
Yellowstone National Park
The first national park of the United States, Yellowstone is an American tradition. Best known for the geothermal geyser, “Old Faithful,” the eruption of this underground hot spring is a site to behold. True to its name, the geyser erupts routinely about 17 times a day and has been doing so since 2000. Yellowstone sits at the joint between Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. You can enter the park from five different entrances.
Beyond Old Faithful and the other 500 geysers within the park, there’s much to do in Yellowstone. Take a guided horseback ride through the mountains. Hop on an e-bike and enjoy the Rocky Mountain range from two wheels. Photograph wildlife like bison, elk, or even bears (from a safe distance). RV camp inside Yellowstone park and wake up in the wild. Some Yellowstone campgrounds require reservations, while others are first-come-first-served.
Campgrounds Nearby Yellowstone National Park
Glacier National Park
Head to Montana, aka “Big Sky Country,” to visit Glacier National Park. Best enjoyed in July and August, this majestic park is more than one million acres of alpine meadows, glacial lakes, and jagged mountain peaks. Glacier’s main attraction is the scenic alpine drive along Going-the-Sun-Road. The road’s narrow window of drivability opens up in the warmer months, and it’s worth watching the Glacier National Park road status webpage to catch it when it’s open.
Every turn at Glacier National Park is picture-perfect, and traveling in an RV allows you to soak it in without feeling rushed. Beyond scenic drives, activities at the park-like hiking, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and boating, bring visitors through its fairytale valleys to soak in its pure beauty.
Campgrounds Nearby Glacier National Park
- West Glacier RV Park & Cabins
- Mountain View RV Park
- Glacier Peaks RV Park
- Rocky Mountain ‘Hi’ RV Park & Campground
Great Sand Dunes National Park
It may be called the Rocky Mountains, but believe it or not, the Rockies are home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. Located in Colorado, The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is a sandy playground and a must-see destination for adrenaline seekers looking to sand surf, sand sled, or shred the dunes on a fat-tire bike.
A family fun day at Medano Creek will feel strikingly similar to a day at the beach, as the Medano creek surges and breaks softly on the sand dunes, like waves. Don’t forget a tube and some water shoes to enjoy the fun.
Try dark sky photography if you’re RV camping here after dark. In the springtime, the Mosca pass hike is a bed of wildflowers. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy casting for Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
Do you want to explore the Rocky Mountains in an RV? Tell us in the comments below.