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America the Beautiful: A Guide to RVing the National Parks
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America the Beautiful: A Guide to RVing the National Parks
from RVshare.com

RVing across the United States can make for an amazing vacation. Whether you stay in luxury campgrounds or boondock in national parks, you'll get to see the country (and what it's like to live in an RV). If you're the more adventurous sort, you're probably more drawn to the idea of camping overnight in a national park. There are hundreds of beautiful places where you can camp overnight, from the pine forests of Maine to the Badlands of South Dakota. We've put together a guide to some of the most notable parks, along with some tips on getting ready for national park camping.

5 National Parks You Can't Miss

Acadia National Park, Maine
They don't call Maine vacationland for nothing; with towering pine forests and thousands of miles of rivers, lakes, and streams, Maine is the perfect to explore the wilderness. Acadia National Park is a three-hour drive from Portland, located along the coastline of beautiful Bar Harbor. There are several places to park your RV overnight, some of which have hookups. If you want electricity and water, head to Schoodic Woods Campground, where overnight sites for RVs are $40 with hookups. If you're into roughing it, Seawall Campground has $30 sites with no water, electricity, or showers. Either way, you'll want to make a reservation ahead of time since the spots fill up quickly.

Redwood National Park, California
Taking our trip to the other side of the country, Redwood National Park in California is truly a sight to behold. Camp among the tallest trees on earth in one of the Park's four developed campgrounds. We'll give you fair warning there are no hookups at any of them, so prepare to dry camp. The parks accept RVs between 24 and 36 feet in length, depending on available sites. Jedidiah Smith Campground will take RVs up to 36-feet, and has showers, a dumping facility, and fire pits. The standard camping fee for all four parks is $36 per night.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
You can't make a list of National Parks without including Yellowstone. Home to the infamous Old Faithful, Yellowstone was the first National Park in America. There are 12 campgrounds throughout the park, seven of which are operated by the National Park Service. Mammoth is the only campground that's open all year, and they enforce a 30-foot limit on RVs during the winter. Fishing Bridge RV Campground is the only one with hookups, and the overnight fee is $47.50. Other campgrounds range from $15 to $29 for overnight stays.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Staying overnight in the Badlands of South Dakota is like taking a trip back in time. Once home to saber-toothed cats and other prehistoric mammals, the Badlands are quite literally packed with natural history. In fact, the Badlands have one of the richest fossil beds on the planet! There are two options for camping: overnighting with electrical hookups at Cedar Pass Campground ($37) or going primitive at Sage Creek Campground for free. If you're camping in the winter, you'll find a select few spots at Cedar Pass, which stays open throughout the year.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Probably one of the most intriguing National Parks in the U.S., Mammoth Cave Park in Kentucky is home to the longest known cave system in the world. Channel your inner explorer as you meander through the cave's winding tunnels and expansive chambers. There's only one campground in the park, which is just a few minutes' walk to the visitor's center, where your descent into the cave begins. Keep in mind, you won't have hookups here, but you'll have access to clean drinking water, bathrooms, and a dump station. Overnight fees range from $20 to $25, depending on the season.

National Park Camping What to Know Before You Go
Camping in an RV is convenient and comfortable, but it requires a bit of planning. Whether you own an RV or are renting one from a peer-to-peer site like RVshare, you'll need to get your ducks in a row before you head out on your adventure. The following tips will make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible:

  • As with any RV trip, always plan your route ahead of time. This isn't just for your wallet's sake; it's for safety's sake, too. Many of the country's national parks are in areas you can only reach by steep, winding, or unpaved roads. There are several options for RV-specific GPS devices, which help you avoid tight turns and other tricky driving conditions.

  • Call the campground ahead of time when making a reservation. Each campground has their own limitations and restrictions. For example, many campgrounds don't accept RV's over 30 feet. Some of them aren't accessible to RVs that are too high or too wide. Take measurements of your RV and call the campground for advice.

  • Since most national park campgrounds are primitive, meaning they don't have hookups for electric and water, you'll need to know how to dry camp. Camping without hookups is cheap, but it can be tricky. You'll need to watch every drop of water you use and every minute you run your generator. In fact, you should avoid using your generator as much as possible. This blog has a great list of boondocking tips.

  • Lastly, do your research on the particular park in which you'll be staying. You may need to make additional preparations for some parks. For example, Yellowstone is known to have a lot of bears, so they suggest you purchase a can of bear spray and keep it on you at all times. Make sure you research any safety hazards and other pertinent information before you arrive.
  • The Wrap Up
    America has some of the most diverse landscapes in the world. From ancient trees to labyrinthian cave systems, there's no end to the places you can explore in the U.S. National Parks offer RVers a way to experience the natural beauty of the country for a fraction of the price of staying in hotels. No matter what park you decide to call your temporary home, you're sure to have an adventure you'll never forget.

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