National Parks offer the most beautiful landscapes this country has to offer. Camping in the parks brings you as close to that beauty as possible while still offering many of the benefits you’ve come to love about camping in an RV. RVing in National Parks is unique and much different than your local state parks. Knowing these differences and restrictions are important to ensure you’ll have a smooth and relaxing trip.
1, Reserve Your Spot Early
Since these campsites are located in some of the most beautiful places in the U.S. it makes snagging one more difficult. You can make reservations online and browse available spots for your travel window. (Recreation.gov). Pay close attention, many national parks have different rules and regulations across the loops within those sites. Some have showers, some don’t. Some allow generators to be run during certain hours, some don’t allow any generator use at all. Planning ahead ensures you’ll have the best chance at a campsite that offers everything you’re looking for. Can’t find the campsite you want? Don’t worry, most of the major parks offer non-reserved RV campsites on a first-come first-serve basis. If all else fails, there are usually spots available with private campgrounds just outside the park entrance. These options tend to be more expensive but will often times offer full hook-ups and amenities that you won’t find within the national park.
2, Know the Road Restrictions
A lot of parks in the National Park System have different road restrictions for vehicles over a certain length and weight. RVs often times are not allowed in these restricted areas and are rarely allowed to be parked at trailheads or scenic stops. Additionally, some of these restrictions won’t allow you to drive straight through the park. For example, Glacier National Park does not allow vehicles over 21 feet to drive across the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road. These restrictions are important to know if you’re planning on traveling to other areas before heading back home. An RV GPS will really help you navigate your trip with information specific to your rig.
Garmin and Magellan offer hard devices to make your trip a breeze. You can additionally get RV GPS apps for most Android and Apple devices for much cheaper than a stand alone device. There are lots of apps out there to make camping and RVing a breeze. If you’re planning on exploring all the corners of your national park, you should check if your motorhome rental allows towing a vehicle. A car will allow you a lot of freedom for exploring all the national park offers and lets you leave the motorhome set-up for the most comfortable experience.
3, Limited Hook-ups | Dry Camping 101
The majority of National Parks do not allow full utility hookups for your RV. The NPS wants to preserve and protect the land as much as possible. Full hookups would require laying miles and miles of pipes and wires to make this possible and that directly conflicts with the mission of preserving and protecting these lands. So get familiar with dry camping and how you can best be prepared for your trip. You’ll want to make sure all of your waste water tanks are empty and your fresh-water tank is full before parking the RV. Your RV rental company will take care of this for you. Your fridge and lights use up a surprising low amount of the RV battery and should last you multiple days away from power. Newer RV rentals include LED lights that are extremely energy efficient and use very little of the RVs designated battery power. If you have a campsite that has generator hours, it’s a good idea to run that while preparing meals so the lights, water pump, and any other resources you may be using don’t drain those batteries. Monitor your LP, water, and battery levels multiple times throughout the trip so there won’t be any surprises and always have flashlights and lanterns just in case.
4, Stock Up on the Road
Waiting to buy your food and supplies until you get to the park can be a costly mistake. The benefits of RVing is you have space to store and pack all the meals and snacks you’ll need for your trip. Plan your meals out ahead of time so you can save time and money, which will make exploring the beauty of the park that much more enjoyable. While you’re at it, fill up on gas before you get to the park as well. Food, drink and fuel prices all increase the closer you get to the park, and stocking early could save you hundreds of dollars.
5, RV Length and Lot Sizes
You know the saying “Can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.” Well, you can’t fit a 33ft motorhome in a 30 ft lot. Knowing the dimensions of your RV and the campsite will save you the headache of driving all the way to the park before realizing you can’t fit into your site.
6, Go Hiking!
The National Park system has some of the best hikes in the world. One of the best benefits of RV camping is having a comfortable place to relax after a day filled with adventure. So go out, explore, and come back to your campsite and unwind. Your bed is waiting for you when you get back.
Ready to take that trip? Reserve your RV rental and get exploring today!