Hiking

Hiking

Below is a list of fun and adventurous hiking locations throughout Southern California I believe any van or RV nomad will enjoy. Each of these locations is easily accessible for a van or RV; except Catalina Island of course. 

Hiking

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Aliso and Woods Canyons Wilderness Park is a great place for any van or RV nomad to hike and mountain bike. The park offers miles of trails throughout the park that range from easy to hard. There’s a nice pay for parking lot at the trailhead with a restroom. Its a great place to spend the day.

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Exploring

Amboy Crater

Amboy Crater is located off Route 66 in the middle of the Mojave desert in one of the youngest volcanic fields in the United States. The crater is 250 feet high and 1,500 feet in diameter. The hike from the trailhead to the craters is approximately a 3-mile round trip. The trailhead offers parking, picnic tables, restroom facilities, and an overlook for viewing the crater.

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Hiking

Anniversary Narrows Trail

Nestled amidst the rugged terrain near Lake Mead lies a hidden gem awaiting adventurous vanlifers: the Anniversary Narrows hike. This lesser-known trail offers a thrilling mix of stunning landscapes, challenging terrain, and secluded camping spots, making it an ideal destination for those seeking an off-the-grid adventure.

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Exploring

Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves

The Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves is a memorable adventure for any van or RV nomad looking to explore the Anza-Borrego Desert Park. If you like exploring the middle of the desert and navigating your way through tight caves, this is the place for you. Just make sure you don’t explore the caves solo and bring a partner.

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Bend Oregon

Bend Oregon is one of my favorite places to visit in my van. The town is extremely friendly towards van life and it seems everyone here has their own van. There are plenty of adventures to be experienced around the city. There are also plenty of camping and boondocking opportunities just outside the city to take advantage of. Bend is a must-visit for any van lifer.

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Town

Big Bear

Big Bear has it all; hiking, camping, mountain biking, snow skiing, boondocking, sailing, horseback riding, good restaurants, bars, and much more. This makes it one of the best places in Southern California for any van or RV nomad looking for adventure and to get away from the city.

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Biking

Black Star Canyon

Black Star Canyon is located in the Santa Ana Mountains by Irvine Reservoir and has a rich, violent history. It is a popular destination for mountain bikers, bird watchers, and hikers who want to get out of busy Orange County and explore the countryside. Black Star offers van and RV nomads a nice retreat from the city where they can experience the mountains and great views of Irvine Lakes.

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Hiking

Bridge to Nowhere

Hiking to the Bridge to Nowhere is a fantastic option for van or RV nomads wishing to get out of the city and see a genuinely one-of-a-kind Los Angeles landmark in the San Gabriel Mountains. The East Fork Trail is a popular loop that passes by a waterfall and requires hikers to cross the river several times on their way to the bridge. Bungee jumping off the bridge is an option as well.

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National Monument

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado is a hidden gem for vanlifers seeking a unique blend of ancient history, rugged landscapes, and outdoor adventure. This vast monument offers a glimpse into the past, with thousands of archaeological sites set amidst stunning canyons and mesas.

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Town

Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island is located 29 miles from Long Beach and is an amazing destination for any van or RV lifer looking to adventure. Activities on the island offer hiking, horseback riding, zip-lining, scuba diving, camping, parasailing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, golf, and much more. When you are done with any of these activities, you can lay on Descanso Beach, have an excellent meal.

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National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is one of those hidden jewels in Utah that everyone must visit. It often gets overshadowed by its more popular parks but it still has the same level of beauty as they do.

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Camping

Chino Hills State Park

Chino Hills State Park is a 14,102-acre park right in the middle of Los Angeles that is perfect for any van or RV lifer who wants to spend the day exploring. It’s a unique park in that it provides refuge for both biodiversity and solitude to the visitors who enjoy their outdoor experiences. The park allows its visitors to hike, mountain bike, or ride a horse on miles of trails.

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Beach

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a great place for any van or RV nomad looking to explore the Southern California coast while in the middle of Orange County California. The park has camping, hiking, surfing, and a federally listed Historic District, an enclave of vintage rustic coastal cottages originally built as a seaside colony.

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Exploring

Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock is a fun destination for any van or RV nomad who wants a quick day hike to see a unique rock formation. The Eagle Rock Trail is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Warner Springs that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is accessible year-round, dog-friendly, and located on a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Park

Franklin Canyon Park

Franklin Canyon Park is one of the hidden jewels of Los Angeles. The park is located less than 3-miles from the crowds and is an excellent place for any van or RV nomad to spend the day. The park has restrooms, an outdoor center, trails, a pond, and water. The road is leading into the park is narrow, so I advise against a large RV.

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National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding Jackson Hole area is a hot bed for van life during the summer months. There is plenty of boondocking in the surrounding national forests and local campgrounds. The area offers everything you could want from hiking, fishing, exploring, mountain biking and much more.

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Hiking

Hiking the Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs Trail

Nestled within the rugged landscapes of the Mojave Desert, the Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs Trail offers avid hikers a thrilling adventure filled with breathtaking scenery, challenging terrain, and the ultimate reward—a rejuvenating soak in natural hot springs.

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Hurricane Cliffs BLM

Hurricane Cliffs Recreational Area BLM is one of my favorite places to boondock and visit as a van lifer. It’s only 10min from teh city of Hurricane and 20min from Zion National Park. This area also features great mountain biking and hiking through put the are.

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Hiking

Indian Canyons

Indian Canyons makes a wonderful adventure for any van or RV nomad who wants to hike and learn more about the Indian culture surrounding Palm Springs. It’s comprised of Palm, Andreas, and Murry Canyons. Each canyon offers trails that take you back into these vast canyons with their towering walls. During the winter and spring months, the river will be flowing, and the wildlife will be on display.

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Hiking

Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain is a great place to go hiking for any van or RV nomad. Iron Mountain is located between the cities of Poway and Romona. The hike is one of the most popular hikes in San Diego because of the moderate elevation change. When you make it to the summit, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounded areas.

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Exploring

Kelso Sand Dunes

The Kelso Sand Dunes are a great place for any van or RV nomad to visit who wants to explore the vast Mojave desert. They are the largest dunes in the Mojave Desert and are protected by the Mojave National Preserve.  What makes these dunes different from others in the area is that no ATVs and motorcycles are allowed on the dunes. This means peace.

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Boating

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is located in the San Bernadino Mountains and is a perfect place for any van or RV nomad who wants to escape the city. There are a variety of activities to do from mountain biking, water skiing, camping, hiking, boating, and exploring. The town also has a few nice RV resorts, restaurants, and Lake Arrowhead Village.

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Boondocking

Lizard Head Pass

Lizard Head Pass, located just outside Telluride, Colorado, offers vanlifers an idyllic escape into the rugged beauty of the San Juan Mountains. With stunning vistas, rich history, and abundant hiking opportunities, this boondocking destination is a gem for those seeking a serene and adventurous retreat.

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Camping

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is located in the Santa Monica Mountains 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The park has camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, swimming, rock climbing, and horseback riding. Located in the park is the Malibu Lagoon, a small lake that allows swimming, and the M*A*S*H filming location.

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Hiking

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park is located 12 miles from downtown San Diego and makes an excellent place for any van or RV nomad to spend the day. The park consists of 5,800 acres of natural and developed areas and contains miles of hiking trails, a visitor center, and the Kumeyaay Lake Campground

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Hiking

Mt Baldy

Mt. Baldy is an excellent adventure for any van or RV nomad looking to escape the city for the mountains for the day. There is a large parking lot that can accommodate your van or RV while you explore and hike the mountain. There is a chair lift at the trailhead parking that takes you to the “Top of the Notch,” where you can get a drink or lunch.

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National Monument

Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument, located in northern Arizona, offers vanlifers a unique opportunity to explore ancient cliff dwellings, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural history. Nestled in the Navajo Nation, this lesser-known gem is perfect for those seeking a blend of adventure and tranquility in a truly unique setting.

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Paddle Boarding

Newport Beach Back Bay

Newport Beach Back Bay is a wonderful place to spend the day for any van or RV nomad. Back Bay offers its visitors a great place to hike, ride your bike, paddleboard, sail a boat, and relax on the shore. There is always a lot of activity going on in the Back Bay and a fun place to get away from the crowds on the beach.

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Hiking

Piedra River Trail

The Piedra River Trail, located just outside Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is a hidden gem for vanlifers seeking a blend of adventure, natural beauty, and serenity. This scenic trail offers a delightful hiking experience through lush forests, along a rushing river, and into the heart of the San Juan Mountains. 

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Park

Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park has everything a van and RV nomad could want. The park offers a vast amount of hiking and mountain biking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. It also offers camping, surfing, paddleboard, volleyball, fishing, and relaxing on its beaches.

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Camping

Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park

Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park is a great place for any van or RV nomad looking to camp and hike in Orange County. The park is only located 15-min into the Santa Ana Mountains but seems a lot further. The park offers great camping, wildlife viewing, and some of the best hiking in the region.

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Camping

Saddleback Butte State Park

Saddleback Butte State Park is a great place for any van or RV nomad to spend the day hiking or camping. The park is easy to get to and offers plenty of parking. A 2-mile hike to the summit will provide amazing views of the Antelope Valley and the Mojave Desert. I particularly enjoy watching the planes take off and land at Palmdale Airport and Edwards AFB in the distance.

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Sinks Canyon State Park

Sinks Canyon State Park is an excellent place for any van lifer looking to spend a day or two exploring a beautiful canyon with a river and waterfall. The park and surrounding area offer hiking, climbing, fishing, and camping. Bring your camera because you are going to love taking pictures of beauty.

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State Park

Snow Canyon State Park

Tucked away in the red rock wonderland of southern Utah lies a hidden gem just waiting to be explored by van lifers seeking adventure and natural beauty: Snow Canyon State Park. With its towering sandstone cliffs, ancient lava flows, and breathtaking vistas, this park offers an unforgettable experience for those looking to immerse themselves in the splendor of the desert Southwest. 

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St. George

St. George has it all for any van or RV lifer. This medium sized town of 180k people has some of the most beautiful parks our country in its backyard that this country has to offer. These parks offer countless hiking and camping opportunities. There is also plenty of boondocking locations surrounding the city. St. George is a must visit.

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Hiking

Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz Canyon a great quick getaway in Palm Springs. The canyon is one of the most beautiful and culturally sensitive areas of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. Tahquitz Canyon is home to a spectacular 60-foot waterfall, rock art, ancient irrigation systems, native wildlife, and plants. Located at the canyon entrance, the Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center offers educational and cultural exhibits, displays of artifacts, an observation deck, and a theater room for viewing.

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Hiking

Three Sisters Falls

Three Sisters Falls Trail is a fun day hike for any van lifer looking for an adventure out of the city. The hike is a 4.1 mile out and back trail located near Julian that features three waterfalls and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. There’s a steep descent into the canyon where the falls are located so make sure you have enough energy for the return hike.

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Beach

Torrey Pines State Beach & Natural Preserve

Torrey Pines State Beach is a long expansive beach that is perfect for any van or RV nomad looking to spend the day on the beach. It allows you to park your van alongside Carlsbad Boulevard and stare at the ocean. It offers surfing, fishing, volleyball courts, restrooms, showers, and everything else.

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Hiking

Trail of a 100 Giants

The Trail of 100 Giants, located within the Sequoia National Forest in California, beckons van lifers to embark on a remarkable journey into the realm of the colossal sequoia trees. This accessible and awe-inspiring trail offers an array of adventures, providing a unique opportunity to connect with nature’s giants.

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Camping

Valley of Fire State Park

If you find yourself in the Las Vegas area, the Valley of Fire State Park is a must-visit for any nomad. The park is 40,000 acres full of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, petrified trees, and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. The Visitor Center provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory, and history of the park and nearby region.

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Hiking

Whitewater Preserve

The Whitewater Preserve is a great place to visit if you are traveling through the Palm Springs and Joshua Tree areas. The preserve has the Whitewater River which runs year-round going through it which supplies water to its pools. The canyon has a robust population of bighorn sheep, deer, bears, and is an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains.

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Biking

Whiting Ranch

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a great day trip for any van lifer looking to go hiking or mountain biking. The park is highlighted by scenic rock formations, including the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. There are three intermittent streams: Borrego, Serrano, and Aliso Creek meandering through the park, each hosting an abundance of wildlife.

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Hiking

Will Rogers State Historic Park

Will Rogers Historic State Park is a fun place to spend the day for any van or RV nomad. The park features many hiking trails that lead into the Santa Monica Mountains and range from easy to hard. The park also has ample amenities to include restrooms, picnic tables, polo grounds, BBQs, a ranch house, a large lawn, and a visitor center.

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Hiking

Willis Gulch Trail

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Willis Gulch Trail offers vanlifers a fantastic opportunity to immerse themselves in Colorado’s pristine wilderness. This trail, located just outside Twin Lakes, Colorado, provides a perfect blend of scenic beauty, rich history, and outdoor adventure.

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National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park needs no introduction. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in all of America. It is a must-visit location for any van lifer. The amount of adventures you can have here is never ending. Some of the most popular activities include hiking Angeles Landing, camping amount the canyons, bird watching, and exploring the Narrows.

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