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? It’s one of America’s National Scenic Byways, and a route where fascinating history, splendid landscapes and excellent campgrounds come together for a trip you’ll long remember.

How Do We Get There?

To give you the overall picture of Michigan’s Copper Country, let’s start by saying that it lies in the Keweenaw Peninsula, that finger of land jutting into Lake Superior at the top of the Upper Peninsula.

The Copper Country Trail is a 47-mile section of US-41 that runs from Houghton, Michigan to Superior’s shores at Copper Harbor. The Keweenaw is about eight hours north of Chicago on I-90.

It may seem like forty-one miles of byway isn’t worthy of an RV camping vacation, but once you’ve discovered the beauty and historic significance of the Keweenaw Peninsula, you’ll find yourself wishing for more vacation time.

What Can We See and Do Along the Byway?

Let’s cover a little history before we highlight the wonders of the Copper Country Trail. From 1841 to the Great Depression, copper mining was the main economic force of the region, with a high percentage of America’s copper output being mined there.

Immigrants from many countries arrived to mine copper ore, run the businesses that supported the mining industry and share in the economic upswing. As with other industries at the time, however, the 1930s brought the collapse of copper mining and the closure of the last mine.

But that’s not to say that you won’t find plenty of evidence of this region’s copper-laden history as you travel the Copper Country Trail.  We start our journey in the city of Houghton, MI, the perfect access point to the Keweenaw Water Trail. This series of lakes, rivers and canals cuts across the peninsula to connect to Lake Superior at both ends. It was an important addition to the region’s ability to ship copper to other parts of the country, and is now a nationally-recognized water trail for kayak and canoe paddlers. There are lighthouses at both ends of the water trail, as well as developed and primitive campgrounds and access to inland trails along the way.

Travel north from Houghton along the Copper Country Trail (US-41) to find Keweenaw National Historical Park, an expansive collection of museums, mining-related buildings, historic mining towns and visitor centers that tell the tale of the peninsula’s past.

Quincy copper mine

Quincy copper mine

At the southern end of the collection is the Quincy Unit, where you can tour Quincy Mine on a cog rail tram and walk the historic village streets to explore a blacksmith shop, a mine office and other structures.

Farther north along the Byway, you’ll arrive at Calumet, MI, where the Calumet & Hecla Copper Mining Company brought unrivaled prosperity. Many of the historic structures built during the copper mining boom remain and can be located on the self-guided Calumet walking tour.

One more stop, just twenty miles north at the Delaware Mining Company, will complete your education on the valuable mineral that changed this peninsula forever. This mine, also part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park collection, allows self-guided walking tours suitable for families (and pets!)

Visiting these villages and mines will certainly give you a better understanding of the Keweenaw’s past, but the present-day beauty of the area will also capture your imagination. All along the National Scenic Byway, you’ll find mountain lakes and lush, tree-studded hillsides sweeping upward to tempt your eye.

When you reach road’s-end at Copper Harbor, there’s still more to discover. A visit to Fort Wilkins Historic State Park offers a restored 1840s military outpost, a developed campground and the chance to tour Copper Harbor Lighthouse. 

For RV travelers who enjoy a good hike, the Copper Harbor area is an outdoor wonderland! Just a couple of suggestions to get you started: for a short walk in the woods, consider the 1-mile Cathedral Grove Trail through the oldest white pines in Michigan at Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary. To fully appreciate the rocky Superior shoreline and the coastal forests that surround it, hike the trails at Keweenaw Shore Nature Sanctuary just east of Brockway Mountain.

And speaking of that high point along the Superior shoreline, be sure to treat your fellow campers to nine miles of breathtaking scenery along Brockway Mountain Drive from Copper Harbor east to Eagle Harbor. The entire drive is awe-inspiring, and a stop at the top promises full-circle views of Lake Superior.

Where Can We Camp Along the Way?

Besides Fort Wilkins State Park campground at the northern end of the Copper Country Trail, the peninsula offers many camping possibilities, from private lakeside resorts to basic state park campsites. 

The City of Houghton RV Park along the Keweenaw Water Trail accepts self-contained RVs, with quick access to downtown Houghton, the Water Trail and an adjacent city park.

The Village of Lake Linden Campground, north of Houghton and just east of US-41 on Torch Lake, is also adjacent to a village park, within cycling or walking distance to shops and eateries.

McLain State Park, west of Calumet, is right on Lake Superior, with a modern campground, hiking trails and a sand beach.

One more tip for RV camping along the Copper Country Trail—Lake Fanny Hooe Resort in Copper Harbor is a popular place to stay while enjoying the sights at the trail’s northern tip.

For camera-grabbing views, interesting historic sites and friendly, scenic campgrounds, Michigan’s uppermost peninsula takes top honors. Be sure to send us your favorite memories as you travel by RV along the Copper Country Trail.

Photo Credit: NPS.gov, Keweenaw NHP Archives, Koepel–8×10–B.F. Childs–Quincy

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 a small bite of this iconic byway, focusing on the section through Cape Cod beauty, from Provincetown, MA to Providence, RI. What’s the reason for our narrow focus, when US-6 offers so much to RV campers? Because the scenic wonders, historic significance and fascinating folks you’ll find along this highway’s Cape Cod section are plenty for one RV road trip!

So, let’s get started by checking the attractions at the highway’s eastern end—Provincetown, Massachusetts. One of the nicest surprises about this coastal town on the very tip of Cape Cod is the camping available. Dune’s Edge Campground, run by the Trustees of Reservations, is tucked up against Cape Cod National Seashore. You’ll also find several private campgrounds on the Cape, so choose your level of amenities and be sure to make reservations before you come.

Don’t miss the windswept dunes of the National Seashore itself. It’s a treasure that’s been preserved for all visitors to America to enjoy, filled with marine and animal life and pristine Atlantic beaches.

You’ll want to walk the streets of Provincetown, as well, because that’s where the hidden charms come alive. Favorite spots reported by RV travelers to Provincetown include Whydah’s pirate ship museum, the shops and galleries on Commercial Street and climbing the steps for the view from Pilgrim Monument.

When you’ve had your fill of Provincetown pleasures, make your way west along US-6(A) to continue the search for small town charm. You can travel the main US-6 highway, instead. It all depends on whether time and speed are a factor, as US-6(A) is a slower route with more regional charm. Either way, the two highways converge above Truro, the next stop you should make.

Also at the northern end of Cape Cod, Truro is the perfect jumping off place for a day of nautical adventure. Popular ways to spend time outdoors include taking a whale watch tour or fishing charter, enjoying three local beaches that don’t require a resident parking sticker or touring Highland Light, the tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod. There’s also an excellent local vineyard, and a wildlife sanctuary just down the road at Wellfleet Bay.

Depending on the time you have to spend, you’ll want to treasure the sights, sounds and tastes of Cape Cod as you wander west along US-6 through the towns of Eastham, Barnstable and Sandwich, MA, never out of sight of glorious Cape Cod Bay. Take the time, at least, to relish the luscious lobster and other seafood readily available throughout the Cape!

Here’s a tip for camping, if you’re ready to stop in Sandwich. Shawme-Crowell State Forest offers basic, state forest style campgrounds and gives you a home base to investigate the glass museum, the beaches and other Sandwich, MA attractions.

It’s just a three-hour drive from Sandwich to the western end of our US-6 road trip at

Ned's Point Lighthouse, Cape Cod

Ned’s Point Lighthouse, Cape Cod

Providence, RI, but give yourself the gift of slowing things down as you hug the Atlantic coast through towns like Mattapoisett (home to Ned’s Point Lighthouse),  New Bedford (fascinating whaling museum and zoo) and Fall River, where the town’s excellent museums detail the area’s military and railroad history.

And we end our trip at Providence, Rhode Island, a city worth of its own RV vacation. From the awe-inspiring beauty of the WaterFire performance at Water Place Park (check the schedule, you won’t want to miss it!) to the extraordinary collection of historic buildings and parks (we highly recommend the Italian American section of Federal Hill) you’re going to love this college town.

We can’t say enough about the treasures awaiting RV travelers in Cape Cod and beyond on US-6. Whether you rent an RV or dust off the motorhome in your garage, it’s time to make plans to visit the eastern stretch of this historic highway.

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 traces the trail followed by the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery through Idaho in 1805 and 1806. It’s now known as the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway.

RV travelers longing to study these intrepid explorers, and the native people they lived among, won’t find a better route to follow than US-12 from Lewiston, ID east two hundred miles to the Montana border at Lolo Pass.

How Do We Get There?

Lucky for you, RV traveler, this gorgeously remote byway is easy to reach from a couple of major cities. It is, for example, only five and a half hours east from Portland, OR to Lewiston, ID along US-12. Lewiston is also about ten hours north of Salt Lake City via I-84. Either way, once you make your way to Lewiston, ID, the journey really gets spectacular.

As we mentioned, you’re going to follow US-12 from Lewiston all the way to the Montana border, through Lolo Pass. A spur of the Byway branches south at Kooskia, ID on Hwy 13 to Grangeville, so plan time to make that side trip for even more historic interest.

What Can We See and Where Can We Camp?

Whether you’re looking for historic sites, outdoor recreation or simply stunning views to capture in vacation photos, you’re going to love traveling the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway by RV.

By starting your journey at the Byway’s western terminus, you’ll be able to visit the Lewis & Clark Discovery Center on the Snake River in Hells Gate State Park. Take time to watch the half-hour video presentation From the Mountains to the Sea: Lewis & Clark in Idaho to learn the high points of this famous exploration. You’ll also find roomy campsites along the river, so consider a stop here before continuing along the Byway.

To fully understand the history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, we must also know the role the Nez Perce people played. Follow the Scenic Byway (US-12) east along the Clearwater River to Spalding to find the Nez Perce National Historic Park. There’s a visitor center and museum here, plus access to numerous sites sacred to the Nez Perce.

As you continue east along the Byway, you’ll find the site of Canoe Camp, where the Corps of Discovery stopped to fashion canoes from large pine trees. A little farther east, in the town of Kamiah, be sure to visit the city park, where an interpretive exhibit highlights Long Camp,

Lewis & Clark with the Nez Perce Indians

Lewis & Clark with the Nez Perce Indians

where Lewis & Clark camped with the Nez Perce people. Don’t leave Kamiah without visiting the Heart of the Monster, the site where legend says the Nez Perce people were created.

From Kamiah, you have a choice to make. If you’re ready to stop for another night of Idaho RV camping, this is the perfect place to do it. The Kamiah, ID area boasts numerous private RV campgrounds along US-12 as well as campgrounds beyond Kamiah in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.

Should you decide to travel on to Kooskia and then south to Grangeville on Hwy 13, there are also private RV campgrounds in Grangeville. To fully understand the role of Western expansion in the history of the Nez Perce, seek out the interpretive signs on Hwy 13 near Stites, ID that tell the story of the Battle of the Clearwater and the forced migration of the Nez Perce into Montana under Chief Joseph. Once you’ve studied this site, it’s time to return to US-12 at Kooskia to conclude your journey.

You’re moving now through the remote beauty of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, along the Byway to the 1920s Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. Take time to soak in the stunning views in this rugged country and you’ll understand why it was sacred to the Nez Perce and highly praised by the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

At the end of your journey, two-hundred-two miles from where we started in Lewiston, you’ll find yourself at Lolo Pass, the main route over the Bitterroot Mountains into Montana. Stop at Lolo Pass Visitor Center to complete your education of the Northwest Passage Expedition and the final exodus of the Nez Perce people.

Are you ready to visit North Central Idaho by RV? The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway is the place to start. Whether you rent an RV for the trip or travel in your own beloved home-on-wheels, this trip through time is one every modern-day explorer should make.

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 National Scenic Byway loops through Wild West towns, a frontier fort and enough outdoor experiences to keep you busy for weeks. 

How Do We Get There?

Billy the Kid Trail is easy to reach by RV.  From Albuquerque, travel south on I-25 to the ghost town of San Antonio, NM and then southeast on US-380 to Capitan (about a three-hour journey). It’s also an eight-hour drive from Denver using the same interstate.

The Trail itself is the loop formed by NM-48, Hwy-70 and Hwy-380, with a dash across the middle to Fort Stanton NCA on NM-220. On your way you’ll pass through Ruidoso, Hondo, Lincoln and Capitan, NM.

What Can We See and Do There?

Billy the Kid Trail takes you through the pine forests, mountains and mesas of Lincoln National Forest, with two rivers—the Rio Bonito and Rio Ruidoso, providing scenic and recreation possibilities. You’ll begin to understand why the Trail’s namesake, that infamous teenage gunslinger, was able to hide so well here with his Regulators following the bloody Lincoln County War in the late 1870s.

The Sierra Blanca Range will surround you throughout your journey, with the highest peak in southern New Mexico, Sierra Blanca Peak, visible to your southwest on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. Besides the Southwestern wilderness through which you’ll travel, you’re also going to discover some fascinating Wild West locations.

Starting with the town of Ruidoso, at the intersection of Hwy-70 and NM-48, you’ll get a sense of the many cultures who built the region. This mountain town with a scenic river flowing through it is also surrounded by adventure, with Ski Apache on Sierra Blanca Peak offering excellent skiing in winter (and views from New Mexico’s only ski gondola year-round) and world-famous horse racing just down the road at Ruidoso Downs.

Plunge into New Mexico’s outlaw history by traveling east on Hwy-70 to Hondo and then north on Hwy-380 to Lincoln, NM, scene of the two-year skirmish known as the Lincoln County War. Lincoln State Monument is a well-preserved collection of 1870s structures that tell the story of two ranchers who once owned the only store in immense Lincoln County and kept a stranglehold on supplies for nearby Fort Stanton, as well as neighboring ranches.

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

The museums, buildings and exhibits bear witness to the bloody struggle that erupted when a second store was opened in the region, supported by Billy the Kid and his ‘Regulators’. They also tell the story of the arrest, escape and murderous exploits of the Kid following the Lincoln County Wars, before being gunned down by Pat Garrett in 1881.

And that’s not all you’ll find along this national scenic byway that tells the tale of this region’s history. Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area, in the middle of your loop, is a national treasure. From the Rio Bonito Petroglyph National Trail, bearing witness to the Jornada Mogollon people who lived in the region from 1 AD to 1500 AD, to artifacts from the days African American Buffalo Soldiers were based at the fort, the story will be fascinating.

Besides the Petroglyph Trail, more than ninety miles of trails invite hikers and mountain bikers to discover the secrets of the NCA’s desert mountain terrain. Keep your eyes open for mule deer, elk and black bears as you drive, hike or ride within the National Conservation Area. Speaking of conserving wildlife, Snowy River Cave isn’t open to non-scientific exploration at the present time, in order to eradicate a disease threatening area bat populations.

Where Can We Camp Near Billy the Kid Trail?

You may have already guessed that this national byway is a favorite of RV travelers to New Mexico. Because it is, you’ll discover every style RV campground along your route. In Lincoln National Forest, for example, fans of boondocking are allowed to camp along forest roadways, as long as they observe certain guidelines.

There are also two developed campgrounds with inexpensive campsites within the national forest. For those who prefer a little more comfort when RV camping in New Mexico, private campgrounds near Ruidoso and Alto are waiting to welcome you on your visit.

There you have it, one more reason to rent an RV or take your own motorhome out of storage when camping season calls. Billy the Kid Trail—a journey to find history, beauty and adventure in New Mexico.

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