There are many roads and highways throughout the country that are in poor condition and in need of repair.  This becomes very apparent to RV owners, especially motorhome drivers as they travel within the living quarters. On some of these “Goat Paths” rattling chinaware can be deafening, even when securely packed.  However, through the years the bad roads get resurfaced and the good ones become bad. So, reporting on the current rough areas may be a relatively inaccurate picture except perhaps for the near future.  But, there are roads that are not necessarily friendly for all RV’s. These range in some cases based on the type, size and weight of the recreational vehicle. Let’s take a look at some of the worst roads for RVing.

California’s Scenic Coastal Route 1/101 – This is unquestionably one of the most scenic drives in the country, but unfortunately one of the worst roads to cruise on with your RV. It winds down the Pacific coast sometimes precariously clinging on the stone cliffs on a steep mountainside. The road is very narrow and has tight hairpin turns in some sections. Many of these areas are not suitable for rigs much over 22 feet or so long.  The danger of slides also exists, particularly during or after heavy rain falls.

480683351Going To The Sun Road – Located in Glacier National Park, Montana, this scenic roadway offers dramatic mountain landscapes. Much of the 53 mile route has winding narrow roads that can only accommodate up to a 21 foot long RV. Signs restricting any longer vehicles are displayed in these sections.

The Streets of San Francisco – While these city roads may look inviting and very picturesque, they are far from being RV friendly.  The steepness of many are not conducive to most, if not all, recreational vehicles. In addition, the sharp grade angle from the level roadways will ground the rear of the majority of RV’s, even those with a favorably high departure angle. Subject to the length, some of the narrow streets may not provide adequate space to turn around should it be required.

Highway 4 to Tofino – To reach this popular British Columbia Long Beach town, with its luxury ocean front resorts, you will need to travel on highway 4. From Port Alberni to the town of Tofino, traveling with a medium to large RV can be very challenging.  Not only are sections winding and mountainous, but rock cliffs at the road edge narrow as they rise.  Though semi’s use this highway daily to service this thriving tourist town, it is previous knowledge and skill that guides them.  Also, if you didn’t like the RV trip into Tofino, you are not going to like the trip out.  Highway 4 is the only access, and the eastern direction is probably the most challenging.

These are just a few RV routes you probably want to tour only with your dingy. It’s ironic that some of the most alluring and scenic drives are also the worst roads to RV. So, what forbidden RV paths have you discovered?

Leave a Reply


  1. Jennifer Raines

    We are traveling from Arizona to Grants Pass, Oregon through Nevada to Hwy 395 in northern CA. What is the road like for pulling a 28′ trailer on Hwy 44 and Hwy 89 to I-5 at Mt Shasta? I’m getting mixed information on steep grades and hairpin curves.

  2. Patricia Henisse

    The Alaska Hwy in Yukon and any of the “highways,” in Alaska should be added to your list. The folks up here either do not know how to fix the sections of roadway damaged by permafrost, can’t afford to fix them or simply don’t want to fix them. I got a flat tire in a two-month-old tire after having driven a week in Yukon and Alaska. I drive at or below the speed limit. The highway departments up here also don’t like putting up signs. It took me a couple times to learn that if you see a bump sign down the road, it means, SLOW DOWN NOW! You get one sign at the very start of the disaster, that’s it. Another trick is that, instead of fixing the damage, the highway departments put up a ROAD CONSTRUCTION sign and throw a few loads of gravel OVER the damaged area of road. They don’t actually work on the road, they just put up the sign and spread the gravel. In some cases, the gravel goes on for a few miles. For a state dependent on tourism, Alaska has a lot to learn. Be careful out there.

  3. Rich

    Drove south on 1/101 with just my Tundra (no rig, just the pickup) and almost got pinned to the slope by a pickup towing a 30+ foot trailer at one of those hairpin turns. Missed me by two inches. Section of road had signs at either end cautioning against RVs and trailers.

  4. Mike Johnson

    I-5 from the 99 split to Stockton (yes, that’s 250 miles) beat the dickens out of my motorhome and us! High taxes, high fuel prices due to taxes and the worst roads in the U.S. I HATE this state (well, at least the dummies who run it) and I’ve lived here most of my life.

  5. Michael Eaquinta

    US 199 from Grants Pass OR to Crescent City CA. Somewhat related to nearby US 101, it is very twisty as you get closer to the coast. Use caution.

  6. Mike

    I would recommend extreme caution in attempting the 550 HWY from Ouray, CO to Durango, CO in a large RV. (30-40 ft.) While it is doable, it will challenge the most experienced drivers and is listed as one of the most dangerous roads in America. Tight twisty climbs and desserts require your full attention for a long time. Even in a car, it is very scenic, with no inattention allowed for the driver. Silverton is a great destination in between, but a rental car is safer, for sure! Or take the train from Durango. Much more relaxing!

  7. Mike

    Peter, the construction has been ongoing and was not emergency for an accident or other unpredictable event, but just lack of proper preparation. I’ve traveled all over the U.S. and never had such an experience. But, the GPS advertises that it is for RVers. Check out CA 174 off of I-80 East, Colfax exit to Grass Valley. It was recommended rather than CA 49, clearly a safer route than the 5 miles of twisty, tight turns on a downhill road. It was life threatening. There are existing “Truck” maps that do not suggest this road, so “updates” should be unnecessary. Please for safety, if you have any influence, alert the map company to actually review their suggested routes and warn RVers. Any inexperienced driver would have been most challenged by the suggested route.

  8. Peter Mercer

    Mike, It sounds like this construction may have been an emergency, hence the ” No warning was issued by GPS, construction crews or signage.” Additionally, I presume you had uploaded the latest information from Rand McNally’s website.
    I have both an in-dash and a portable Rand McNally and have not experienced such issues. Anyway, sorry to hear of your experience and hope the future guidance events are better.
    Thanks for your input on this topic.

  9. Mike

    The Good Sam GPS by Rand McNally routed me on roads unfit for my RV. After just completing a 1200 mile round trip San Diego to N California, there was NO warning that I 5 was under serious construction which caused damage to my 40 ft RV. No warning was issued by GPS, construction crews or signage. We experienced a 1 1/2 hr traffic jam around the Hanford area. My IPhone was more useful as it showed traffic backups. I love Good Sam Road Service, but THIS GPS is useless!

  10. darcy

    Rode the 1 from Monterey to Malibu with 37′ MH and 12 ‘ trailer with motorcycle. No problem at all. Less options for turnouts to take pictures, that’s about it. Yes, it’s tight in some places. but not difficult at all. If you are southbound, your passenger has the best view down the cliffsides to the ocean.

  11. Richard Roemmich

    Several years ago we took highway 212 over Brear Tooth Pass to the NE entrance of Yellowstone National Park. We were in a 28 foot class a motorhome towing. I would advise against this route. If you have anyone on board that is afraid of heights there will be 14 miles of sheer terror for them. You will have a lot of hairpin turns and hang on the side of a cliff for that 14 miles. Our average speed was around 10 to 15 mph.

  12. Andrea

    Good Sam’s RV GPS works great for alerting you to these issues. But as far as height goes, all overpasses are required to be posted ahead of the closest exit so you can exit if need be. 101 is relatively safe most of the way, except in my opinion in LA where everything is congested! They have done a lot of work over the year ( and still working in some areas) to widen the ride where it was needed. Much safer now than it was even five years ago!

  13. Andrea

    The street and parking in Philadelphia are not rv or big rig friendly. We couldn’t find a place to park our dodge dually and we were lucky to squeeze through some of the narrow streets. There has to be a way to see the sites in the city, we just haven’t figured it out yet.

  14. lktaylor731

    ADD…..AK Old Denali Hwy, Yukon Top of the World, AK Taylor Hwy

  15. Dwayne

    I think we both know the answer to that one Pat. This is my greatest fear on my upcoming tour. It is too late if you are headed down the wrong road – I think I have been having nightmares about it…It is one thing in a 31 foot motorhome (which we traded in) but quite another in a 41 foot fifth wheel (not counting the truck) that is also over 13 feet high???

  16. Gil Ogle

    I have traveled Rt1 along the California coast in my 30′ Class C towing a Chevy Cobalt. I did not find it at all difficult and nothing that would have made it anything less than a fantastic trip. On the other hand I would never take my RV onto the streets of San Francisco or over the Road to the Sun(RV’s are not allowed on the Road to the Sun as far as I know)!

    Larry Ryan…The worst of the road from Ely to Delta is the potential for very strong winds, check to see what the conditions are before leaving Ely, otherwise it is not that bad a drive, but as Gary suggested allow for at least 3 hours, maybe a little more.

  17. Kathleen Jones

    Left off one of the worst drives, although not forbidden, the Beartooth Highway out of Red Lodge, MT is better for motorcycles than motorhomes and RV’s, a 4 to 5 thousand foot climb, navigating multiple hairpin turns and very steep climbs with cliffs on one side and granite walls on the other. The better route from Red Lodge to Yellowstone would be the Chief Joseph Highway, almost as scenic and much more sane.

  18. Ann Ritchie

    Highways 4 and 108 where they cross the California Sierra Nevada mountains.

  19. Pat

    This is good information, but although this may sound like a stupid question I still need to ask it. So if we are driving on 101 for example in our RV (many parts would be just fine) how do we know that it is getting to a place where the road becomes too challenging for an RV? Once we are there, it is too late. The same question applies for over passes. If you are driving on a highway, and you see an overpass that is too low for your RV, what do you do? You cannot go through… you cannot get off the highway at that point… and you cannot go back.

  20. mike

    Your story on hwy 101 is somewhat accurate, we drove down this hwy with our 28foot, the sign said it recommends smaller than 31 ft to use. Yes the road was hairpin turns but we had no probs going down as long as you watched for traffic.
    We turned in just after the redwood forest area. And came out after fort Bragg
    I would do it again, most beautiful scenery ever.

  21. Gary Shemorry

    Larry Ryan, I have not been over that particular stretch but mapquest shows less than 3 hours, Ely has nice KOA

  22. Gary Shemorry

    Traveled a small section of hwy 1 last fall driving a 35′ class diesel towing a jeep wrangler, it is not for the faint of heart. We drove from the 101 west through the Anderson valley to 1 then south to Manchester, very narrow with switchbacks and crawling to 5 – 10 mph. One must be very focused on the road, no room for error. We also drove through San Francisco on the same trip staying on the 101 which goes through the downtown, very narrow and busy. It will make a better driver out of you to do this, don’t be afraid to try, be patient and courteous because you will back up traffic. It is well worth the effort.

  23. Larry Ryan

    Your observations on these routes is very accurate. I have another issue that maybe someone with experience on this route can help me resolve. I am planning on a trip through Nevada and Utah in June. I see no facilities between Ely, Nevada and Delta, Utah. Looks pretty lonesome on that stretch. Does anyone have experience with this stretch of road that could help me out with overnight support. I’m traveling in a 36′ motorhome. Have a 95 year old WWII vet traveling with me and I need hookups or at minimum a safe spot for the night.