There’s nothing quite like America’s many national parks to explore the great outdoors, and there’s no better way to experience many of them than by RV. When you travel by RV, you get the best of both worlds: a home base on wheels and the freedom to quickly travel between some of the most striking natural landscapes in the world, right in the great US of A. Here’re our picks for the best national parks to enjoy in the comfort of your very own RV.
1. Take Your RV to Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is one of the most popular US national parks, and for good reason. Beyond Old Faithful, the famous geyser that shoots water up to 185 feet in the air, there are breathtaking sights and wildlife that make Yellowstone an unforgettable trip on over 2.2 million acres of land. As the heart of one of the most intact temperate ecosystems in the world, Yellowstone is home to dramatic waterfalls and hydrothermal features you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.
Of note, there are 12 campgrounds at Yellowstone with over 2,000 established campsites, all of which must be reserved in advance except Mammoth Campground, which is first-come-first-serve from October 15-April 1. Most campsites are booked well in advance, so it’s worth planning your RV trip to Yellowstone many months (or even a year or more) in advance so you aren’t stuck with nowhere to park.
2. Grand Canyon National Park by RV
No top 5 national park list is complete without Grand Canyon National Park. One of the most famous national landmarks in the world, the Grand Canyon is absolutely a must-see destination for any lover of the great outdoors. When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, you should first consider whether you’d like to visit the North or the South Rim. If you plan a long trip, it is worth the 215 mile, 5-hour drive between them to see both sides, as long as you have the time and means to do it and have an enjoyable, meaningful visit.
The South Rim is open year round, and it features many museums, hiking trails, attractions, and historic lodges that make it the more frequently traversed of the two access points, receiving over 6 million visitors every year. The North Rim, by comparison, is more remote and only open from May to October due to its higher elevation, fewer services, and less accessibility.
If you choose to visit the South Rim, you will want to either take a shuttle from nearby Tusayan or arrive at the gate before 9 AM, as RV designated parking is only available in 3 lots inside: the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Lot 1, Market Plaza, and the Backcountry Office in Grand Canyon Village. Mather Campground is open year-round on the South Rim, offering accommodations for RVs up to 30 feet long. In the winter, this campground is first-come-first-serve, but you’ll want to make a reservation 6 months or more in advance if you want to camp here in the summer months. Another option, Desert View Campground, is about 26 miles from Grand Canyon Village and can accommodate RVs up to 30 feet long, though it does not offer hook-ups.
On the North Rim, the in-park campground is only open from May 15-October 31 due to weather changes. Since the season is so short, you’ll want to make reservations if you’d like to camp here, and make sure that you are prepared, as this campground does not feature full hook-ups.
3. RVing in Acadia National Park
A jewel of the Northeast, Acadia National Park’s rugged coastline, lush forests, and rocky islands have enchanted visitors since 1919. As you explore Mount Desert Island as the main part of the national park’s 47,000 sprawling acres through the Maine wilderness, make time for Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, Isle au Haut, and the Schoodic Peninsula on your trip. Whether you visit for fall foliage, fishing, hiking, or winter sports, Acadia is an enchanting destination to take on by RV.
RVers will find ample accommodations around Acadia National park, including Bar Harbor Campground, Schoodic Woods Campground, Smuggler’s Den Campground, and others. Most are open from May to October, and because of the short window of availability, we recommend reserving your spots a few months in advance.
4. Explore Shenandoah National Park by RV
With its fields of wildflowers, peaceful wooded hiking, and cascading waterfalls, Shenandoah National Park is a welcome retreat just 75 miles outside of Washington, D.C. Featuring over 200,000 acres of protected lands, you’re sure to spot deer, songbirds, and maybe even a black bear on your Shenandoah adventure. With biking, night sky viewing, hiking, fishing, camping, and more, it’s the perfect family excursion for adventurers and casual travelers alike.
Shenandoah’s temperate climate allows it to stay open longer than some of the other parks on our list, from early May to late October. Mathews Arm Campground, Big Meadows Campground, Loft Mountain Campground, and others are available as a combination of reserved sites and first-come-first-served sites, depending on the season. Most of the campsites in Shenandoah National Park feature seasonal potable water, food storage lockers, and firewood for sale, though few offer internet hookups or have cell phone service.
5. Tour Glacier National Park by RV
A beautiful Montana wilderness destination featuring crystal clear lakes, rugged peaks, and winding mountain highways, Glacier National Park is a stunning national treasure. Its many hiking trails and scenic views make Glacier a popular choice for RVers and other adventurers of all levels of experience. Make time to park right next to Lake McDonald to watch the sunrise and wind along Going-to-the-Sun Road to take in everything you can from Glacier National Park by RV.
Glacier National Park has 13 front country campgrounds in a combination of first-come, first-served and reservation sites. Avalanche, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Apgar, Fish Creek, Spraque Creek, and St. Mary Campgrounds are available by reservation only and may be booked on recreation.gov. Park rangers recommend reserving campsites well in advance, and phone service in the park is unreliable at best.
Hit All the National Parks in an RV of Your Very Own
We know that buying an RV is a big investment, no matter where you want to go. That’s why we’re always available to help you choose from the highest quality motorhomes made by top manufacturers. Check out a Transwest location near you today, or shop our online inventory and let us help you find the perfect RV for your next national park road trip.