America’s Top National Parks for RV Camping

Mar 29, 2017 |

America’s Top National Parks for RV Camping

By Nathan Paul Swartz

The concept of the “national park” was born in the United States, way back in the day when a former leather tanner and farmer by the name of Ulysses S. Grant decided that a slice of mountains known to regularly send a fireworks-like display of steaming water into the air should be preserved and protected by the United States Government. While there are indeed many beautiful places the world over, few countries protect their natural resources in the way we do here in the US, where we not only cherish the innate beauty and diversity of our corner of the planet, but allow visitors to physically enter and enjoy the parks as well.

Technically, there are 59 areas with the official designation of “national park,” though these are managed by the National Park Service, which manages hundreds of other types of recreational, historical and protected areas in the US. Think national monuments, seashores and historic places. Some are massive, like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, and some are simply a single building, like the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania. Therefore, not all of the places designated under the management of NPS have camping, and even less have camping suitable for RVs.

For those that do, we’ll cover them all, one state a time (though only 32 states have national parks with RV camping directly in the park itself).

Denali National Park RV Camping in Alaska

When it comes to untamed spaces, the Last Frontier is still our largest resource, and if it weren’t for official designations and borders, one might argue that the entire state is akin to a national park. Denali, named for the mountain with the highest peak in North America, is perhaps the shining star of all of Alaska’s eight official “national parks.”

When it comes to RV camping, you can choose from three locations directly in Denali National Park itself (the first two shown below as well as Riley Creek), or a handful of private RV parks on the outer perimeter.

RV Camping in Arizona’s National Parks

From the Grand Canyon painted with snow in the winter to the high heat of Organ Pipe Cactus in the state’s southeastern corner, the Copper State is replete with camping opportunities for RVers, and its six portions of the national park system that offer camping suitable for RVs are among the most spectacular sites in the Southwest.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument RV Camping

One of the few units in the NPS not owned by the United States Government, Canyon de Chelly aims to preserve a landscape inhabited for centuries by the indigenous people of North America. While the land is owned by the Navajo Nation, it’s visited by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world every year, making it not only one of the most visually stunning areas designated as a national monument, but certainly one of the most visited as well.

It’s sole campground is suitable for even the biggest of RVs and, as its name implies, promises the shade of massive cottonwood trees to keep you company in between your adventures into the canyon itself. An additional, private RV park outside of the park proper is another option should you need it.

Chiricahua National Monument RV Camping

This national monument, and the surrounding Coronado National Forest, combine to serve a multitude of options for claiming your stake and exploring the forested mountainside for as long as you might desire, given the ease of hopping from one campsite to another, despite the typical 14 day limit on camping in any one campground.

The monument itself promises spectacular examples of hoodoos and balancing rocks, in addition to protecting an historic ranch associated with conflicts between early American pioneers and the native Apache people of the region.

While there are nearly twenty private and public places to camp in the area, here are some of the highlights from public lands, including Bonita Canyon Campground, the only spot directly in the park.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area RV Camping

This massive reservoir was once yet another gorgeous canyon carved by the Colorado River as it made its way through Utah and into Arizona. While some controversy exists around the recreation areas formation, particularly the damming of the river, for those interested in participating in the myriad of aquatic activities available here, RV camping is certainly available.

Grand Canyon National Park RV Camping

As the Eight Wonder of the Natural World and the biggest hole in the ground the Earth has to offer, the Grand Canyon needs little introduction. Opportunities for camping near this painting of an outdoor enthusiasts wildest dream are as varied as the layers of rock that stripe the canyon’s walls. Whether you’re looking for full hookups only a short walk from the main attraction, or something forested and a bit more remote, you can find it all at Grand Canyon National Park.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area RV Camping

Approaching Lake Mead from the east can feel like driving across the lifeless surface of an entirely different planet, craggy black rock for as far as the eye can see. As you approach the lake (another reservoir created from the mighty Colorado), the landscape begins to show signs of life, though sometimes sparse. As the largest reservoir in the US, that’s to be expected. If for no other reason, one might appreciate Lake Mead for its testimony to how powerful man’s effect on his planet can actually be.

While campgrounds are plentiful, from private RV parks near Vegas to the popular Valley of Fire State park to the north, there are abundant opportunities to camp in eleven of the national recreation area’s official campgrounds.