Holy heatwave! Summer is officially here, and we’re blasting the AC (and stereo) while figuring out the next place we’re gonna jump in a sparkling glacial lake or slow-winding river. If you’re looking for some respite from the soaring temps this season, we’ve assembled the best of the best when it comes to campervan travel destinations that’ll help you escape the heat.
From Minneapolis to Phoenix, head to one of these 6 destinations near our rental cities:
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
With a name like that, you already know this is one of our favorites. Essentially a maze of interconnected waterways, you’ll likely spend more time on the water at Voyageurs National Park than you will on solid ground. The gigantic dome of volcanic bedrock that forms the park is sectioned off into islands, meaning you’ll always be steps away from the water. Canoeing, kayaking, swimming, island hopping — this landscape is one of the best places to take a break from the heat of the day.
Distance from Minneapolis: 4.5 hours
Highlight: Anderson Bay, a super scenic area with trailheads and picnic areas.
Pedernales Falls State Park, Texas
Thanks to the Pedernales River and 5,212 acres of downright beauty, you’ll find ample ways to enjoy the landscape at Pedernales Falls State Park. Flowing along massive slabs of limestone rock, these waters vary from slow-moving streams all the way to raging torrents. Take your pick of swim spots, between canyonside hangouts and refreshing natural pools. If you’re feeling particularly laid back, there’s nothing like grabbing an inner tube and drifting around for a bit.
Distance from Austin: 1 hour
Highlight: Twin Falls Nature Trail, a quick 0.5 mile jaunt that overlooks the falls themselves
Glacier National Park, Montana
Bright blue glacial pools and stunning mountain peaks are two of the more compelling reasons to visit Glacier National Park, and it doesn’t stop there. Wildlife ranging from grizzly bears to mountain goats, comfortable summer temperatures, and over 700 miles of hiking trails make this national park a perfect escape during the toasty months of the year. River camping and boating are the norm around here, so pack your swimsuit in preparation for those oh-so fresh mountain waters.
Distance from Minneapolis: 17 hours
Distance from Phoenix: 19 hours and 45 minutes
Highlight: Hidden Lake, an iconic trail and swim spot that’s entirely postcard-worthy
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario
There’s nothing sleepy about it — Sleeping Giant Provincial Park sits pretty just over the Canadian border on Lake Superior. It’s a wonderland of trails, all of which come with bird’s eye views and ample places to swim. Take in staggering lakeside views from 1,000 feet above along Top of the Giant Trail, or rent a canoe or kayak on Marie Louise Lake. That breezy lakeside air will keep you comfortable and relaxed, either way.
Distance from Minneapolis: Just under 7 hours
Highlight: Thunder Bay Lookout, a worthy stopping point for striking views of Lake Superior
Upper Peninsula + Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
For an ultra-isolated experience, head to Isle Royale National Park: A rugged island in the middle of glistening Lake Superior. It’s about as remote as it gets, offering unparalleled solitude, and myriad quiet coves and bays to take a dip in. The van will stay on the mainland, but you can easily catch a ferry for a day trip from Copper Harbor, Houghton, Grand Portage, or Grand Marais. While you’re in the area, we highly recommend hopping around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s extra divine during the summer months.
Distance from Minneapolis: 7-10 hours, depending where you go
Highlight: Copper Harbor, at the top of the Keweenaw Peninsula
Lake Travis, Texas
You’d hardly believe it’s only 30 minutes away from Austin with how “out there” it feels in some parts. Not only is Lake Travis the most visited freshwater destination in the entire state of Texas, it’s also one of the biggest. With over 271 miles of shoreline and a lake that covers 18,929 acres, there’s truly no shortage of places to spend time on the water. We’re talking water skiing, jet skiing, swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing, even scuba diving — that’s right. Not to mention, there are tons of fun bars and restaurants in between all the activities.
Distance from Austin: Half an hour
Highlight: Hamilton Pool, a swimming cove with a rocky backdrop
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