What could be more fun than coming together for a weekend of good food, good music and outdoor festival camaraderie? RV camping at festivals adds an additional layer of enjoyment to multi-day festivities. Whether you’re camping right in the heart of festival action or at a comfortable campground nearby, the convenience and affordability of festival camping make it a favorite activity of RV travelers.

We’ve picked two special festivals for you to consider for this year’s camping itinerary—and both take place the first week in May! From smokin’ hot blues in Memphis to a luscious celebration of South Carolina strawberries, they’re both good reasons to reserve an RV rental and plan your own Southern festival weekend.

South Carolina Strawberry Festival, Fort Mill, South Carolina, May 5-6, 2017

If you love the experience of small-town festivals, where local elementary school choirs take the same stage as regional country-rock bands and well-known blues artists, you’ll want to turn your RV toward Fort Mill, SC this May.

Fort Mill, a four-hour drive from Roanoke, VA on US-220, and just across the state border from

South Carolina Strawberry Festival

South Carolina Strawberry Festival

Charlotte, NC, is home to the annual South Carolina Strawberry Festival that honors the sweet red fruit that comes ripe right as this festival begins.

There are festival-related events like a pageant and golf tournament the week prior to Festival Weekend, but the action really starts to get sweet on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Home-spun fun such as shortcake and hot wing eating contests and a ring-full of professional wrestlers raising funds to fight cancer will keep RVers plenty occupied. That’s even before we mention the musical talent that takes the Strawberry Jam Stage both Friday night and all day Saturday.

There’s even a Strawberry Pancake Breakfast Saturday morning at the local high school. And it’s all within easy reach, as most festival events take place in or near the town’s Walter Elisha Park.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But you may be wondering where to camp close to the festival. You’ll find plenty of private campgrounds in the area. Here are just a few:

  • Camp Wilderness at Carowinds Amusement Park, fifteen minutes north of the Festival grounds. Why not plan to stay and play at Carowinds to round out your South Carolina family RV camping vacation?
  • Charlotte/Fort Mill KOA, just off I-77 and less than ten minutes from Walter Elisha Park, gets high marks from RV travelers.
  • Crown Cove RV Park on the North Carolina/South Carolina border, minutes from Fort Mill, is another highly-recommended campground close to the Festival.

Our next festival takes us to Memphis, home of blues, barbeque and sassy Southern hospitality.

Beale Street Musical Festival, Memphis, Tennessee, May 5-7, 2017

Each May, more than one hundred thousand music lovers congregate on the banks of the Mississippi at Tom Lee Park in Memphis to enjoy musicians as varied as Snoop Dogg to Drive-By Truckers. The 2017 Beale Street Music Festival will be held May 5-7 and promises to be one of the best reasons to travel to Memphis by RV this year.

Bring your blanket (no coolers, outside beverages or lawn chairs, please) and your love of good music to this three-day festival in a city world-renowned for its musical offerings. The eclectic mix of artists on four stages will ensure everyone in your camping crew has a stellar festival experience. And what could be more exciting than a festival with the South’s most iconic river as a backdrop? (By the way, you’ll need to buy your tickets now, as Tier I and II passes have already sold out!)

Where to camp close to the Beale Street Music Festival? Try these campgrounds for RV camping within thirty miles of the Festival:

  • Memphis Jellystone Park, Horn Lake, MS
  • Graceland RV Park & Campground on Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis
  • Memphis KOA, twenty minutes away, across the state line in Marion, Arkansas
  • Tom Sawyer RV Campground in West Memphis, Arkansas

Bonus Memphis RV camping idea: While RV camping in Memphis to attend the Beale Street Music Festival, while not schedule a longer stay to enjoy the other Memphis in May International Festival events? Kicking off with the Beale Street Music Festival the first weekend in May and stretching to the 901Fest in late May that celebrates all the 901 (Memphis) area code has to offer, this quartet of Memphis festivals in May will tempt RVers to linger longer.

It’s time to start planning your festival RV camping experiences! Use these ideas as a springboard to make your 2017 festival camping plans, and don’t forget—we’re here to help you have your best RV travel experience yet.

In a previous post, we shared the attractions to be found on the Connecticut River Byway’s southern half, from Hadley, MA to Bellows Falls, VT. For this post, we’ll pick up the Byway there and follow it all the way to West Stewartstown, NH, where this storied route bids us farewell.

How Do We Get There?

As we mentioned in our earlier post, this section of the Byway combines state highways on both sides of the Connecticut River, the geographic boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire. This gives RV travelers the chance to experience double the historical attractions and natural areas as they travel, camp and play along the way.

To experience the Byway from the Vermont side of the river, you can follow US-5 until it connects with US-2 near Lunenburg, and then pick up VT-102/US-3 and follow it north all the way to where you cross the Connecticut River for the final time at West Stewartstown, NH.

But what we haven’t said is that, whether you follow this Vermont route or choose to travel the New Hampshire side along NH-12 to NH-10 and finally US-3 to the northern end of the

Covered bridge, New Hampshire

Covered bridge, New Hampshire

Byway, you’re going to want to slow down and travel across at least some of the twenty  bridges that span this scenic state border. It’s the only way to fully appreciate the important role this waterway has played in the history, culture and industry of the region.

What Will We See Along the Way?

Before you leave the Village of Bellows Falls (part of the greater Rockingham area), be sure to cross Arch Bridge into North Walpole, NH. You’ll see Fall Mountain rising above the river gorge on the New Hampshire side, where a trio of quaint villages is waiting to be explored. If you travel back to the Vermont side of the Byway, be sure to visit the Connecticut River Byway Waypoint Center near the Bellows Falls Canal for more information on the region.

You’ll notice as you travel north by RV on either side of the Connecticut River that it splinters into numerous tributaries in this mountainous, mostly rural area. Hiking, fishing and paddling opportunities are abundant along these waterways.

You’ll also find the Connecticut River Byway Waypoint towns of Claremont and Windsor, NH. There’s an excellent Heritage Trail that starts in Claremont, with both walking and driving tours leading to historic districts, covered bridges and the Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, a fascinating collection of buildings, memorials and gardens that tell the story of the sculptor who created some of the best known public monuments of the Civil War era.

Back on the Vermont side of the Byway, there’s a nicely scenic campground at Mt. Ascutney State Park near Windsor. Being a typical state park RV campground, you won’t find hookups there, but you will find a quartet of hiking trails that lead through hardwood forests to rocky overlooks for fantastic views of the countryside. For further outdoor adventures along this section of the Byway, be sure to make a stop at North Springfield Lake Recreation Area, just across the river from Claremont, NH. It’s a favorite of area paddlers, and there’s historical interest in the trail markers where Crown Point Military Road once lead between forts during the French and Indian War, as well as the site of an 18th century cemetery.

As we roll farther north into Vermont and New Hampshire, we’ll reach White River Junction, a village within the town of Hartford, VT. Plan to spend some time here to connect with the region’s railroad, commercial, educational and natural heritage. This village is the epicenter of each, with Dartmouth College just up the road, several major railways intersecting here, reminders of the mills that once dominated the region, and historic districts enough to keep you busy for days.

You’ll also soon find, as you drive north along the Byway, that the Appalachian Trail intersects it just north of Hartford. Why not hike at least a mile or two along the epic footpath before moving on? Another popular way RVers play outdoors along this section is with a stop at Quechee State Park near Woodstock, VT. Camping, hiking trails and breathtaking views of Quechee Gorge make it well worth the short jaunt west from the Byway.

Farther north, we encounter the twin towns of Wells River, VT and Woodsville, NH, joined by yet another Connecticut River bridge you’ll want to cross. Paddlers will soon learn the white water along this stretch is legendary, so pencil in extra time for water play. If your interest is history, instead, spend your time waiting for them to come in off the water by exploring the river valley in search of covered bridges, eighteenth century villages and uniquely New England features such as village forests.

You may also want to plan a side trip into White Mountain National Forest on the New Hampshire side, for a chance to hike wooded trails to summits, past gorges and through mountain meadows rich with wildlife. Campgrounds in White Mountain NF (PDF) are sprinkled from New Hampshire to Maine, offering plenty of opportunity to discover all ‘The Whites’ have to offer.

As we travel by RV into Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and the corresponding wilderness areas of New Hampshire, you’ll find the Connecticut River making more turns than a sidewinding snake. In this final run to the Canadian Border, the Byway loops up to St. Johnsbury (home to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium) then east to Moore Reservoir before swinging north again to Lancaster, NH.

This is your chance to learn, if you haven’t been RV camping in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods, why it draws outdoors enthusiasts year-round. A perfect first stay is at Coleman State Park near Colebrook, NH, close to the Byway and located on a pristine trout fishing pond.

What will you see as you complete the final leg of the Connecticut River Byway? Wildlife! Thousands of moose walk the woods and mountain slopes, so keep an eye out for that giant symbol of the northern wilderness. You’ll also encounter scenic mountain towns such as Colebrook, once populated by loggers and the workers who ran the paper and saw mills along the Connecticut River. You’ll be surrounded by scenery unlike that of any other US region, with the White Mountains framing vast stretches of hardwood forests.

And when you make your way to the Byway’s northern terminus, you’ll find a chain of four Connecticut Lakes from which the mighty Connecticut River gets its start. Whether you choose to spend time exploring those northern lakes and the Pittsburg, NH area or to turn your RV toward home, you’ll leave with a renewed sense of the role this waterway plays in providing recreation and historical interest for millions each year.

Ready to go? Let us know how we can help you plan your RV camping journey along the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway.

Here’s some motivation to follow this week’s route by RV—the chance to visit three New England states while tracing the path of a wonderfully scenic waterway. The Connecticut River Byway charts a course from near the Canadian border, along the Vermont/New Hampshire line, all the way south into western Massachusetts. It’s just short of a five-hundred-mile journey altogether, but we’re going to break it down into two parts, to allow RV travelers time to savor the experience.

How Do We Get There?

The Byway’s northern terminus is just across the border from Quebec in West Stewartstown, New Hampshire. You’ll be following the Connecticut River from near its headwaters in the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Natural Area, all the way to the Byway’s southern-most point at South Hadley, Massachusetts. That’s the big picture, but remember, for this itinerary, we’re only taking in half the Byway.

The Byway invites RV travelers to find the treasures in villages, natural areas and historic sites throughout the region. We’re going to wind our way back and forth across the Connecticut River from Vermont to New Hampshire once we leave Massachusetts, but don’t worry, we won’t leave you stranded. You can get a complete picture of the route from bottom to top at the America’s Byways website.

What Will We See Along the Byway?

One of the reasons so many travelers follow the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway more than once is that there are hundreds of points of interest along the route. As we start our journey in South Hadley, MA, we find the first Byway signs at the intersection of MA-116 and MA-47. You’ll follow MA-47 north through the villages of Hadley, North Hadley and Sunderland, but let’s take a minute to talk about the sights you’ll see along the way.

South Hadley, a pre-Revolutionary War town, is home to Mount Holyoke College and invites you to wander its streets for memorable finds such as Village Commons, home to nationally-famous Odyssey Bookshop.

Skinner State Park, MA

Skinner State Park, MA

As you travel north on MA-47, be sure to stop at Skinner State Park south of Hadley, MA, where a one-and-a-half mile hike up Mount Holyoke will reward you with stellar views of the Connecticut River, as well as the chance to see historic Mount Holyoke Summit House (open for tours on weekends).

The rolling hills surrounding Hadley are home to farms owned by the same families for generations. During the summer, you’ll find the Byway dotted with abundant farm-to-table offerings from local fruit and vegetable stands, creameries and bakeries.

You’ll also find access points for launching canoes and kayaks all along the Massachusetts section of the Connecticut River. Use this handy interactive map to the Connecticut River Paddlers Trail to plan your water excursions.

Another excellent way to explore the state’s Connecticut River Valley is along hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails. These can lead to a multi-day New England adventure, or simply a pleasant day spent hiking or cycling through forests, hills and glorious river frontage. Besides the trailheads within the region’s many state parks and reservations, the Norwottuck Rail Trail is a popular path for cyclists and hikers to follow.

We’ll finish this leg of the Byway by following MA-63 north to the town of Northfield, on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire or Massachusetts/Vermont border, depending on which side of the river you’re driving, to Bellows Falls, VT.

Once you’ve crossed the state line, you can visit historic villages, nature preserves and historic sites in both Vermont and New Hampshire by crossing back and forth across the river. Some RVers may decide to stick to one state on the journey up to the Canadian border and follow the other route on their return trip south.

Or you could stop for a few days and explore the entire Connecticut River Byway between the Massachusetts border and Bellows Falls. From the fascinating walking tour through the Village of Bellows Falls, VT to the swimming beach on the south shore of Spofford Lake, there’s something for everyone in your crew to enjoy.

Where Can We Camp?

Private campgrounds create a cozy home on the road for RV campers who explore the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Brattleboro North KOA-East Dummerston, VT
  • Kampfires Campground-Brattleboro, VT
  • Northampton/Springfield KOA-Westhampton, MA
  • White Birch Campground-South Deerfield, MA

While traveling the southern half of the Byway, choose one of these RV campgrounds as your home base and then journey to mill towns, nature preserves, historic town centers and mountaintop aeries to your heart’s content.

Next week, we’ll move up the Byway to explore the north woods and the wild beauty of the Connecticut River. In the meantime, start reserving your campsites and get in touch to plan your RV rental in Pennsylvania. You’re going to love this RV camping itinerary!

Photo attribution:  By User:Magicpiano (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Are you up for a five-hundred-mile RV road trip that promises to be the journey you’ll never forget? We’ve got your next itinerary—camping and sightseeing your way along two Great Lakes and two mighty rivers in Pennsylvania and New York. The attractions along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail run the gamut from Niagara Falls to lakeside villages, with charming campgrounds all along the way. Ready to go? Let’s look at the high points.

How Do We Get There?

We’re going to start our journey at the western end of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Pick up PA Route 5 just east of the Ohio/Pennsylvania line and parallel Lake Erie all the way to the New York border. From the town of Ripley, NY, you’ll be following State Route 5 east to Buffalo. The Trail then continues east on a series of NY state highways, north through Niagara Falls and then east once more along the shore of Lake Ontario through Rochester and Oswego.

From there you’ll climb north once again along the lakeshore through Sackets Harbor and Cape Vincent, to the St. Lawrence Seaway, following that mighty river east to the town of Rooseveltown, NY, where our byway ends. An epic journey, indeed, filled with historic importance, stunning scenery and roadside attractions you won’t find along the interstate. 

What Can We Do and Where Can We Camp?

Speaking of attractions, it will be easier for you to follow along if we break up the journey into the five sections detailed on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail official website.

In Pennsylvania, you’ll enjoy views of the Lake Erie shoreline all along your route. Special places you’ll want to visit include Presque Isle State Park near the town of Erie, a three-thousand-acre peninsula with sandy beaches, an 1870s lighthouse and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center inviting you to explore. Beachside camping near the park can be found at Sara’s Campground.

Once you’ve visited Erie’s two additional lighthouses, numerous maritime history sites and historic districts, you can move northeast along Lake Erie to the Chautauqua/Niagara Section of the Trail via Buffalo. Slow down and enjoy the trip on Route 5 through classic harbor towns like Barcelona and Dunkirk, each with a lighthouse waiting to be photographed. Before heading into Buffalo and Niagara Falls, you could camp at Evangola State Park in Brant, with a sand beach and modern campground facilities.

Just across the Niagara River from Canada, Buffalo, NY has been reborn in recent years to offer world-class attractions RV travelers will want to enjoy. From Canalside, a vibrant entertainment district on the water, to the city’s collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, you could spend weeks getting to know this city that serves as the gateway to Niagara. Fishermen will want to pursue their sport in the city’s many waterways, as well, with legendary smallmouth bass, lake trout and musky fishing available on the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Buffalo Harbor.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

As you settle in to enjoy Niagara Falls,   you’re going to find numerous camping options along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in Buffalo/Niagara. Here’s a link to Niagara area campgrounds to help you start planning. Even if you’ve seen the Falls before on your RV travels, there’s nothing quite like the power of the three mighty waterfalls that make up what’s known as ‘Niagara’. And there’s plenty of historic interest, too, on both sides of the international border, including Old Fort Niagara just north of the falls on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Let’s keep traveling! Moving east along Lake Ontario’s shore, you’ll drive through five state parks and beaches, as well as having the chance to tour Thirty Mile Point Light. Three additional lighthouses will be visible as you travel the Lake Ontario West section of the trail, through Rochester and Oswego, NY.

If you’d like to detour just a little south of the Trail to the Finger Lakes near Rochester, you’ll find more than one hundred vineyards and wineries, with ‘Wine Trails’ highlighting most of the lakes, to tempt your palate. Riverfront parkways and Seneca Zoo along the Genesee River in Rochester also offer RV travelers entertainment.

As our byway sweeps north along Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence Seaway, the dramatic shoreline, numerous lighthouses and historic Sackets Harbor on Black River Bay will once again tempt RV travelers to slow down and savor their surroundings. Be sure to visit the War of 1812 battlefield before leaving Sackets Harbor, and also visit at least one of the area beaches before traveling on to Cape Vincent in New York’s 1000 Islands district.

Whether you linger near Cape Vincent to view the historic sites, to cross the Canadian border to visit Ontario and Thousand Islands National Park, to paddle whitewater rapids or hike or bike your way through quaint harbor villages, you’ll want to need a home base for your RV. Campgrounds are available at Burnham Point, Keewaydin and Grass Point State Park to meet your needs.

This finds us in our final section of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, along the St. Lawrence Seaway. From Cape Vincent to the end of our journey at Rooseveltown, we follow the shoreline of that remarkable collection of canals and locks that enable ocean-going vessels to make the journey from the Atlantic down the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes. On your way to the Trail’s western terminus, be sure to stop at the Eisenhower Locks Visitors’ Center to watch huge ships being raised and lowered in the lock.

We’ve reached the end of our journey and, if you’ve made the commitment to go the distance, you’ll have RV travel stories to tell for years. From the Lake Erie shoreline in Pennsylvania to the northern New York river towns along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is waiting to amaze you. Book your New York or Pennsylvania RV rental now and start making campground reservations. It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime!

Finding America by RV—Michigan’s Copper Country Trail

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Hoping to find an RV camping destination where you can learn about America’s past along an epically beautiful lakeshore? Why not venture north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and learn how copper mining shaped the region along the Copper Country Trail? …

 

Finding America by RV—US-6 through Cape Cod Beauty

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Besides being the longest contiguous highway in America (3,205 miles from Provincetown, MA to Bishop, CA) US Route 6 promises RV travelers unique landscapes, vibrant towns and interesting characters as they follow this American highway. Today’s post will take just …

 

Finding America by RV—Idaho’s Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

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Lewis & Clark, the mighty Nez Perce people, wild and scenic rivers rushing through remote canyons—just three of the many reasons to go in search of America in the wilds of North Central Idaho. One of America’s famed Scenic Byways …

 

Finding America by RV—New Mexico’s Billy the Kid Trail

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Chasing down legends of the Old West doesn’t have to be a rugged journey, thanks to modern RV comforts.  Our next installment in our Finding America by RV series takes us to east central New Mexico, where Billy the Kid …

 

Finding America by RV—Rockefeller Memorial Parkway

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What would it take to turn your mind to an RV road trip? How about two national parks, twenty-thousand-plus acres of rugged Western beauty, and wildlife roaming free all along your route? John D Rockefeller, Jr Memorial Parkway, twenty-seven miles …

 

RV Camping Destinations—Where to Get Great Ideas

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So many things to see! So many campsites to discover! But how in the world do we decide where our RVs will take us when we next go camping? For some of us, the answer is simple—we go to the …