The big trip

Trip of the week: driving across the American desert

For freedom, fun, and sheer crazy ‘Americanness’, RV holidays rule

If your children love camping, but you hate the hassle of packing every day, a US road trip in an RV might be the thing for you, says Francisca Kellett in The Times.

Driving these behemoths is not relaxing – indeed, negotiating a six-lane urban highway in one is “a white-knuckle trial”. And there’s something “surreal” about cruising through the wilderness with a fully-fitted kitchen and bathroom at your back, not to mention double beds and a fridge that is likely to be bigger than the one you have at home.

But there’s also something to be said for being able to take your time on the road, making impulsive detours, and roasting marshmallows nightly beneath the stars, without forsaking the comforts of suburban living. For freedom, fun, and sheer crazy “Americanness”, RV holidays rule.

To match the size of your vehicle with the largest of landscapes and the biggest of skies, head across the deserts of the southwest from Los Angeles to Santa Fe. After the hassle of getting out of the city, the “cactus-filled plains and shimmering salt pans” of the Mojave offer a soothing calm; chances are that on that first day, you’ll often pull over just to marvel at the “vast, bone-dry” valleys and “red-striped” cliffs.

Next comes the “vast, dusty bowl” of Death Valley, then an optional detour to Las Vegas, to ooh and aah at “the fakeness of it all”. Every day then reveals more “gobsmacking” views, as you head through the “bucket-list” parks of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Zion is a glorious introduction, with its “bizarre-shaped” rocks and plunging canyons; Lake Powell is “otherworldly”; a boat trip on the “jade-green” Colorado River is a must; and Monument Valley cranks up the “awe” to a whole other level. Just be sure not to brake suddenly at the sight of tumbleweed – the “ominous swoosh” of the “black water” aboard your RV is not a sound you want to hear. 

Original Travel (originaltravel.co.uk) has a seven-night trip from £1,615pp, including flights.

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