Top 2 Places To Visit in 2017

You’ve seen lists of the top travel destinations for 2017. Some lists include such exotic spots as Croatia, Zimbabwe, Uruguay, Finland, Dominica, Rwanda, Costa Rica, and Azores. But, like us, you travel by RV—and not air or sea.

There’s an incredible variety of places around the U.S. and Canada to enjoy in your RV.

It’s a big world out there, even for RV traveler so we’ve narrowed it down for you.

Here are our top two RV destinations to visit this year.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

A 1/2-mile trail climbs steeply to an observation tower at the "top of old Smoky." © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A 1/2-mile trail climbs steeply to an observation tower at the “top of old Smoky.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The fire is out, and it’s time to play in the Smokies.

Wildfires ravaged Tennessee in autumn 2016, spreading through the eastern part of the state and into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Officials, fearing the worst, shut down the park indefinitely as fires raged. The resort town of Gatlinburg evacuated residents just as one of its heaviest tourism seasons, Smoky Mountain Christmas, was ramping up.

Some 2,400 buildings in Sevier County were damaged or destroyed before, at last, the rains came. The firefighters won. Life returned to the Smokies, just in time for the holidays.

Wander Gatlinburg, go hiking in the park, visit Dollywood, shop, or eat in the many restaurants of Sevier County (Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wander Gatlinburg, go hiking in the park, visit Dollywood, shop, or eat in the many restaurants of Sevier County (Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gatlinburg will be a different place this year, but it’s still one of the finest RV destinations. And chances are that in 2017 the locals will be ecstatic to see you. Buy a national parks pass, book an site at one of the numerous RV parks in the area, wander Gatlinburg, go hiking in the park, visit Dollywood, shop, eat in the many restaurants of Sevier County (Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg), or just drive around the Great Smoky Mountains to enjoy the view. If you want something really special, plan a trip in June when the firefly migration takes place, one of the only spots to see synchronous fireflies (those that can sync up their light patterns) in the country.

On the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains, tens of thousands of horny, synchronous fireflies put on a psychedelic fireworks show. They gather near the Elkmont Campground (approximately 6 miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center), flashing simultaneously as part of a two-week mating ritual that lights up the entire forest and draws spectators from around the world. The flashes happen in short bursts and end with abrupt periods of haunting darkness. Visit between late May and mid-June, and make reservations in advance.

Banff National Park encompasses Banff and Lake Louise, Mount Norquay, Cascade Mountain, more than a thousand glaciers, Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Banff National Park encompasses Banff and Lake Louise, Mount Norquay, Cascade Mountain, more than a thousand glaciers, Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canada

As “The Great White North,” Canada has long been beloved by visitors for its wide open spaces, well-preserved natural parks, and untamed natural beauty.

With mountainous trails and isolated islands, as well as a diversity of flora and fauna, Canada offers visitors a chance to see the wilderness as it might have been nearly 150 years ago when Canada first became a nation.

Visitors who explore and enjoy Canada’s national parks this year will get the added benefit of a free Discovery Pass admission that waives entrance fees at 46 national parks and 171 historic sites throughout the country. Travelers can acquire their free pass to the parks through the Parks Canada website.

The New York Times named Canada as the number one place to visit in 2017, in part because of the free admission to Canada’s national parks and historic sites during the 150th anniversary year.

Wildlife is abundant in Canada's Mountain Parks. Pictured above Rocky Mountain Goat in Jasper National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wildlife is abundant in Canada’s Mountain Parks. Pictured above Rocky Mountain Goat in Jasper National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National parks are among Canada’s—and the world’s— natural jewels. These wild places, located in every province and territory, range from mountains and plains, to boreal forests and tundra, to lakes and glaciers, and much more.

National parks are located on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts, across the interior mountains and plains and Great Lakes, reaching as far north and south as Canada extends. They include world-renowned names such as Banff and Jasper, Cape Breton Highlands and Fundy, Pacific Rim and Yoho.

National Geographic Traveler magazine has put the Banff area on its “Best of the World” list of 21must-see places in 2017.

Banff National Park encompasses Banff and Lake Louise, Mount Norquay, Cascade Mountain, more than a thousand glaciers, Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

Glacial Skyway at Columbia Icefields midway between Jasper and Lake Louise along Icefields Parkway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Glacial Skyway at Columbia Icefields midway between Jasper and Lake Louise along Icefields Parkway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The fact that you can go about anywhere just with nature and forget about the rest—that’s my favorite part. That feeling of being free is awesome.

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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