Trailering a boat a long distance to visit remote, off-the-grid locations can be an awesome way to experience an on-the-water vacation that’s exciting and rewarding. Plus, in the day and age of boating during COVID-19, nothing’s safer than leaving civilization behind and taking a boat camping trip on some undisturbed waterway.
Ready to hitch up and try towing that pontoon boat long distance? Cruise down the highway with a center console riding behind your bumper? Or, jump on the interstate with your jet boat? Then pack up the gear and fill the fuel tanks.
Before diving into the top 10 destinations for long distance towing, first let's take a look at some long distance trailering tips.
5 Tips for Towing a Boat Long Distance
When trailering a boat long distance it’s obviously prudent to follow all of the usual trailering advice you’ll find in our Towing and Trailering Guide. On those very long trips, however, a few additional tips are in order:
- Every couple of hours, stop even if you don’t need fuel or a restroom, and give the trailer a visual inspection.
- Run the fuel out of your boat and empty its water tank before you hitch up and go.
- If your boat has a folding Bimini top, consider removing it from the boat’s gunwales and hauling with it secured to the deck or in the back of your to vehicle
- During the summer months wrap your boat’s windshield in plastic food wrap.
- After a long haul, always take your time before launching the boat. You want to give the hubs plenty of time to cool down, because if the hit chilly water hits them while they’re hot they can suck in water.
Inspecting Your Trailer
Hour after hour of travel on the road subjects the rig to constant vibrations that can loosen straps, shift gear, or otherwise cause your boat and/or gear to become less secure. When inspecting your trailer, feel the trailer’s wheel hubs every chance you get. If they’re burning hot to the touch, that means a bearing needs grease or could be failing.
Keep in mind that water weighs around eight pounds per gallon and fuel is about 6.5 pounds per gallon, so towing with empty tanks can significantly lighten the load.
Bimini Top Care
Even when a bimini top is folded up, a corner of the canvass can start flapping or a strap can work itself free. Beating against itself in highway-speed winds can cause rips and tears. If your bimini is not removable, be sure to make every inch of the fabric as secure as possible.
When you get where you’re going you can peel off the plastic food wrap covering your windshield, and all the bug splatters and road grime that would otherwise impede your view from the helm will come right off with it.
Now, let's dive into some of the top destinations to tow your boat...
Boat Trailer Laws, Rules & Regulations
10 Best Locations to Tow Your Boat
1. Blackbeard Island, Georgia
About 50 miles south of Savannah and accessible by boat only, Blackbeard Island is known as a top birdwatching destination which also has excellent fishing opportunities. Overnight camping in the refuge is not permitted so this is a day-trip destination, however, combined with other nearby destinations (including the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area and the Ogeechee River) you’ll have endless boating opportunities to keep things interesting for days on end.
2. Florida City, Florida
Known as the “Gateway to the Everglades,” Florida City sits just west of Biscayne Bay and north of the Florida Keys. From here it’s a short jump to the wilderness of Everglades National Park in one direction, and to Key Largo in the other. Waterborne highlights include epic fishing opportunities, alligator watching, and diving at Biscayne National Underwater Park.
3. Fort Peck Lake, Montana
Montana may not have any oceans, but whether you’re towing a pontoon boat long distance or you have a fishing machine sitting on the trailer, Fort Peck Lake is big enough to keep you exploring for an extended period of time. With over 1,520 miles of shoreline it has more “coast” than California, and finding secluded spaces will not present a problem.
4. Laguna Madre, Texas
If driving to Mexico sounds like a long tow, stop just short of the Texas/Mexico border along the Gulf of Mexico coast and you’ll find yourself at Laguna Madre. Sheltered from the open Gulf by Padre and South Padre Islands, Laguna Madre is famous for its speckled trout fishery and also has healthy populations of red and black drum, as well as a number of other species. There’s also fabulous birdwatching, and both regular and primitive campgrounds (including some accessed via boat) are available on Padre Island.
5. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona
Lake Powell is visited by millions every year and is so popular it even made our list of the 10 Best Lakes in the U.S. So, why include it in a roundup of places you’d want to tow your boat long distance to get away from the crowd? Because it’s so massive—Lake Powell is the second-largest manmade reservoir in the nation—that it’s quite easy to cruise for a few miles and find your own private cove or hideaway to anchor up and enjoy.
6. Mississippi River
Though it encompasses a number of destinations instead of just one, it would be remiss to not include the Mississippi River among the boating locations you can go to get off the beaten path. Whether you approach the Mississippi from the east, west, north, or south, and whether you’re driving through Minnesota, Missouri, or the state of Mississippi, you can bet there will be a launch within driving distance and plenty of remote cruising grounds to explore.
7. Mockhorn Bay and Island, Virginia
It’s nearly impossible to get farther from civilization along the Mid-Atlantic coast than Mockhorn Island. With a boat ramp in Oyster, VA, and “primitive” camping allowed in the Wildlife Management Area, this is a bird-watching paradise with herons, egrets, osprey, and countless other shore birds thriving in over 7,000 acres of tidal marshland. One important tip: don’t forget bug repellent during the summer months, because these waters are known for the mosquitoes and black flies.
8. Morro Bay, California
While it’s not quite as “off the grid” as many of these other locations, Morro Bay has waterfront campsites, a large public launch ramp, and close access to the open Pacific ocean. Top draws include the (extinct) volcanic peak Morro Rock, over six miles of beaches, and the protected bay sanctuary—but watch out for all the otters!
9. Scopan Lake, Maine
If you’re considering a northward trajectory, why not visit one of the northernmost boat ramps in the Continental US? Scopan Lake, in Aroostook County around 15 miles from the Canadian border, has 9.5 miles of shoreline and water-access campsites with fire rings, picnic table, and privies.
10. Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area, Wisconsin
In northern Wisconsin, the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters area offers 66 remote campsites, all accessible only by the water. There are multiple access points with boat ramps, fishing for walleye, muskies, and more, plus nature trails and logging roads to explore on terra firma.
Read Next: 10 Best Boating Destinations in the US
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