These fifty states, or at least the forty-eight you can easily drive to without crossing a border or finding yourself in the Pacific, are home to a vast network of tiny villages where the homes often don’t last more than a night, the cost of electric is never a thought, and the largest discrimination you’ll find from their residents is often how adept any given person is at backing up a motorhome.
Indeed, the RV park landscape of America is an ever growing–and by nature, ever changing–series of wide right turns and paved, numbered spaces where retired couples from Maine and young Southern Californian families alike appear, pay a few dollars, plug in, shake a few hands, and then head back out onto the road to the next destination they may call home. It’s a momentary backyard’s worth of camp chairs and charcoal grills, a walk around the loop admiring your neighbors rigs and a constant struggle to recall the bathroom code.
In some RV parks, it’s about ice cream socials and swimming pools and a little store selling sewer pipes and s’mores. Others tend toward semi-permanent residences setup for a season, flamingos dressed in Christmas lights or a wooden sign out front declaring that indeed, “The Wilson’s from Wisconsin” are here and beware, their dog cannot hold its “licker.”
While the variety is only as endless as the two and a half thousand miles that span the country’s fat little belly, there are commonalities, and there are differences that can only be seen by some people, some of the time. “The bathroom was dirty,” for example, is irrelevant to the Class A couple who never stray from their personal lavatory while comments like, “lots to do!” may mean you can hike the day away or just that the RV park in question has a pool table.
No one can claim the best of the best when it comes to RV parks, it’s simply too personal an experience to say that what backs Barb up will pull Pattie through, but thanks to the tens of thousands of folks out there kind enough to take time and review RV parks all across this nation, we’ve got some pretty impressive data and thought we’d use it to put together this little guide on the top RV parks in the United States.
It’s worth mentioning that there is no set definition of an RV park. These typically privately-owned businesses vary as much as the United States’ regions, and while images of paved pads with water, electric and sewer hookups neatly spaced short distances apart, separated by small patches of grass and a picnic table come to mind, that is only a recipe and as any good campground cook knows, recipes are malleable.
Will they have a cable television hookup? Will the bathrooms be clean? Will the bathrooms be open? Will the WiFi work (that is one of the few questions that can be almost universally answered: probably not!)
Not all RV parks even offer electrical hookups, though this is rarer than a lion’s steak and twice as likely to keep the average human moving along. In the vast majority of cases, what RV parks offer is a place to find fellow travelers seeking the convenience and comfort of hookups, hopefully a relatively level site, and maybe some extracurricular activities to go along with it. In exchange, expect to spend around $30 – $50 for said convenience.
What to Expect from RV Park Camping
Every great parent knows that the difference between an amazing Christmas morning and tossing Veruca Salt over your shoulder is setting expectations. This isn’t just true with RV parks, but every camping situation you may run into while exploring the nation in your rig-as-a-residence.
If you fell in love with the idea of traveling in RVs because of sweeping views of mountains clasping hands in prayer to royal curtain sunsets while pristine rivers hum you into a perfect calm just an earshot away…you may be setting yourself up for disappointment upon pulling into your first privately-owned campground.
On the other hand, if you know what’s likely behind door number one, opening it will just be opening another portal into one of many options for your RV traveling adventures. Once more though, pin a note on your fridge clarifying that there is no specific formula for any given RV park, and results may vary from place to place.
The Pros: Much of this will depend on your setup. If you’re completely self-sufficient, ie, you’ve got a blazing hot water tank and couldn’t be happier with your husband using the toilet while you’re half an inch of particle board away, you may not care about the fact that RV park bathrooms will nearly always be better than the facilities you’ll find in state and national parks, and the typical lack of anything more than a pit toilet in BLM and national forest land. For those RVers who find the facilities in their rig unsuitable for whatever reason, RV park bathrooms will become a key part of their experience, if not down right necessary.
When it comes time to stream Netflix, power up the air conditioner, crank up the toaster, pop some tarts in the microwave and blow dry your hair, a steady connection to the park’s shore power (though you’ll want to double check before running all of those things!) will practically be a necessity. So if you didn’t get into traveling to give up the little luxuries in life, RV parks may very well end up being your go-to choice when it comes time to start making reservations.
That goes for getting water in and waste out, too. If you don’t find the idea of lugging jugs of water around or stopping off at a dump station regularly to clean the tanks out, having dedicated connections right at your site makes life all the easier.
Many RV parks have additional amenities too, from the aforementioned cable TV hookup to swimming pools, playgrounds, line dancing lessons, mini golf courses, real golf courses, clubhouses, rec rooms and drive-in movie theaters.
Another side effect of private RV parks, and an arguable advantage they hold, is proximity to other conveniences. Where more primitive camping areas are–literally by nature–way out in the forest or desert, RV parks tend to be within easy driving, even walking distance to shops, restaurants and civilization in general.
Perhaps more than any of the above, RV parks offer community. You’re not out camping alone in the forest, miles from civilization. People are walking their dogs, fiddling with their awnings, and making campfires all the day long. You can say hi, or you can keep to yourself, but the opportunities to make a new friend or just say hello to your neighbor-for-a-day are prevalent. And while many of us get into RV camping for things like hiking trails into pristine nature, there is absolutely something to be said about the joys of walking an RV park loop and ogling your fellow campers’ setups as you pass by.
The Cons: A great and wise philosopher once said, “For every flower, there is a bee, for every R, a V.” No one knows who said it or what it means, but like every pop-top on a vintage camper van proves, what goes up, must come down.
So what are the downsides to RV parks? Well, they cost money. A lot of money sometimes, and while the average nightly fee these days tends to run between $30 – $50, prices can skyrocket even into the triple digits if you’re looking for, say, waterfront property in the Keys come dead of winter. Those instances are rare though, and deep discounts can be had simply by staying for longer periods at a time (think weekly and monthly rates) but even then you’re still typically paying considerably more than you would in more traditional public campgrounds.
Rivaling the cost, the other major downside to RV parks is the lack of space and privacy. Private RV parks are there to make money, and the more spaces they can fit into the amount of land they have, the more potential for cartoon like “ka-ching” sounds turning their owners’ eyeballs into dollar signs. If you’re not worried about your awning tapping on your neighbor’s slide out or little Fido licking at his sewer hose, this may not be an issue for you, but it’s certainly something to consider.
The last warranted complaint some travelers have with private RV parks is the rules. Yes, without rules there would be chaos, and without rule breakers there would not be grumpy RV park owners over-enforcing them, but this is life: one bad apple results in a world coated in pesticide. At the very minimum, you’ll need to keep your pup on a short leash, have any combination of special sewer pipe donuts or connectors, keep it down after 10pm and get the heck out of there by 11am or so. Some rules are common courtesy, like don’t smoke in the laundry room and clean up after your pets. Others seems puzzlingly unenforceable, like no fires greater than six inches high and requests to respect the privacy of other campers, even though you were told to park only five feet away from them. Still others are clearly there to enforce a certain demographic of campers: no one under 55, for example, or those that only allow RVs that are 10 years old or newer. You’ll find, however, that most park owners are genuinely decent human beings whose sole ambition is not to ruin your vacation. If you can simply remember that you’re not out in the wild but in a shared environment, everything should be just fine.
The Best RV Parks in the United States
Without further ado, the best RV parks in the USA:
The Best RV Parks in Alabama
In 2016, Lonely Planet named Birmingham the “coolest city in the South.” Explore the Heart of Dixie from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville or try and learn how to pronounce coastal Mobile, Alabama.
The Best RV Parks in Alaska
You won’t be able to check this one off your list without a passport and likely a rock or two to the windshield, but if you’re looking to explore the wilds of Alaska from the comfort of an RV park, you can bet all of the big peak, riverfront, ocean bound scenery is just a glance out that big front window.
The Best RV Parks in Arizona
Easily one of the top states for RV parking, Arizona is not only open all year long but home to everything from the biggest hole in the world to the Southwest’s craziest megalopolis. Indeed, a grand canyon, a petrified forest, those saguaros and a sun that shines warm infinity over your bones leaves it easy to imagine why so many of us end up migrating to and through the Copper State so regularly.
The Best RV Parks in Arkansas
You won’t find Arkansas trying to top any must see RV lists or touting the virtues of its landscape in comparison to some of the other destinations in the US, but if watching the endless river traffic of the Mississippi from the comforts of your lawn chair or dipping your bikini in perhaps America’s most lavish public lands (Hot Springs National Park) doesn’t float your boat, perhaps a visit to bustling Little Rock will get your wheels rolling?
The Best RV Parks in California
A city that needs no introduction, the best RV parks in the Golden State might position you beachside, the waves tossing salt on your awning while the city of San Francisco looms just a bus ride away. They might find you deep in wine country or minutes from the Mexico border, basking in the bows of a redwood or pondering the moppy top of a Joshua tree.
The Best RV Parks in Colorado
Silver capped triangles cut through an almost always blue sky even as the fly fishermen lace crisp rivers painting their own curves through it all. Colorado by RV requires good brakes and a fierce determination to soak in some of the most grandiose sites the US has to offer. Pull up and plug in under the first snows of thousands-feet high forested peaks or under the hot sun of a Southern Colorado desert sparse.
The Best RV Parks in Connecticut
Hand-built stone walls dating back to the nation’s beginnings line winding roads to family fun and riverside retreats alike.
The Best RV Parks in Florida
From America’s Oldest City to Mickey’s castle, there’s more to love while careening the coasts of Florida than just palm trees swinging over keys swarming with suntanned fisherman and frozen cocktails…just in case that wasn’t enough.
The Best RV Parks in Georgia
Georgia’s best RV parks live among tall pines, the sweeping layers of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Spanish moss-draped coastal Savannah.
The Best RV Parks in Idaho
Boise, the state’s capital, is home to two of the best RV parks in Idaho. When you’re ready to get lost in one of the few still truly wild states left in the US, head to Coeur d’Alene and setup basecamp outside of the national forest strewn mountains and lakes of Idaho’s panhandle.
The Best RV Parks in Illinois
Camping in the Land of Lincoln is quintessential Americana, from deciduous forests to lakefront views and, of course, even a casino!
The Best RV Parks in Indiana
The best full hookup RVing amongst the Hoosiers promises the excitement of exploring cities from Indianapolis to Illinois, or simply relaxing along a lake in your typical RV setting.
The Best RV Parks in Iowa
It’s perhaps the perfect example of Middle American drive through, what may not prove to be a big destination state nevertheless has no shortage of RV parks.
The Best RV Parks in Kansas
No one was skimpy when Kansas started handing out colorful names for their RV parks, the state–particularly Dodge City–sends the welcome party to those leaving the historic east for the wild west or vice versa.
The Best RV Parks in Kentucky
The biggest draw for RVers in the Bluegrass state is also the world’s longest cave, and a national park to boot! Explore Mammoth Caves from two of the state’s most popular RV parks in Cave City, KY.
The Best RV Parks in Louisiana
A pond speckled fisherman’s camp, the loud and lascivious raucous nightlife of the French Quarter, and easy living along the Mississippi top the reasons RVers make their way to the Bayou State.
The Best RV Parks in Maine
While the state is well known for unusually sharp mountains for the east and moose peppered forests, survey says the best thing about Maine is still the rugged coastline when it comes to RV camper satisfaction.
The Best RV Parks in Maryland
Looking for a way to explore the Capitol of the United States of America? Maryland has an RV park, or two, for that, you’ll pay for the proximity and still be thirty or forty minutes out, traffic willing. Less concerned about politics and just looking to watch feral horses run the beaches before a quiet evening in one of the quaintest little towns in America? Maryland has an RV park for that, too!
The Best RV Parks in Massachusetts
With RV parks topping our favorites list both more toward the Plymouth and Salem sides of Boston, you’ll have no shortage of destinations if you’ve come to explore the birthplace of our country. If whale watching along Cape Cod or people watching in Provincetown seems more up your peninsula, Massachusetts is ready to host you and your hooked up home on wheels there, as well.
The Best RV Parks in Michigan
Nothing shines as brightly in an RV adventure through Michigan’s windshield like the Upper Peninsula, but if you find yourself stuck in the “mitten” of lower Michigan, Grand Rapids is home to the most inviting places to launch your explorations along Michigan’s namesake Great Lake.
The Best RV Parks in Minnesota
Minnesota is a state where family fun and quiet evenings are second only to the portal to Voyageurs, one of the nation’s most elusive national parks nestled between the North Woods and the Canadian border.
The Best RV Parks in Mississippi
It’s a helping heaping of southern hospitality that sets the best of the best’s standards in a state nicknamed for it’s generous welcomes.
The Best RV Parks in Missouri
Thrive in the nightlife of busy, bluesy St. Louis, explore a cave before a one man show next to a museum celebrating one of our nation’s most beloved authors, or just kick back and enjoy those little extra touches, like an accompanying waterpark, while calling Missouri’s best RV parks home.
The Best RV Parks in Montana
Whether you want to square dance or hipster hop, Montana’s best RV parks are as diverse in experiences and location as Big Sky Country is wide.
The Best RV Parks in Nebraska
Given the proximity to I-80 that each of Nebraska’s best RV parks share in common, it’s safe to say that the major attraction in the state tends to be convenience while traversing from one place to another. That said, you won’t find yourself short on great places to stay on your next cross country trip!
The Best RV Parks in Nevada
While casino towns like Vegas, Carson City and Sparks (right next to Reno) play host to many of the most popular RV parks in the Silver State, plenty of opportunity to get lost abounds along the shores of Lake Mead or in small towns along US-50, aka “America’s Loneliest Highway.”
The Best RV Parks in New Hampshire
The Old Man in the Mountain may have fallen, but you can still live free and die in gorgeous New Hampshire as you nestle among rolling hills and rambunctious weekend warriors alike.
The Best RV Parks in New Jersey
You can find an RV park with great proximity to the City of Brotherly Love, just across the border in Pennsylvania, but the cream of New Jersey’s RV crop will pull you out into much more natural areas like you may not have known this small eastern seaboard of a state was capable of hiding.
The Best RV Parks in New Mexico
Just because the lion’s share of great RV parks will lead you to Albuquerque doesn’t mean you can’t lead your pride into the vast expanse of far away and few between small towns that make the Land of Enchantment such a curiosity.
The Best RV Parks in New York
Everyone knows that the line, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere,” alludes to getting out of the city and into Upstate and Western New York, right? Now if we could only remember how the ditty about GPS coordinates between Albany and Niagra Falls went again…
The Best RV Parks in North Carolina
While the Old North is famous for everything from first flights to tar heels, the true magic lives in Western North Carolina where hidden vistas and the Smoky Mountains await.
The Best RV Parks in North Dakota
One of the least reviewed states here on Campendium, North Dakota is begging to be explored.
The Best RV Parks in Ohio
Another state often seen as an obstacle from one destination to another, Ohio takes its drive-through reputation in stride and comes heavily dotted with RV parks in general.
The Best RV Parks in Oklahoma
A lodge to bring strangers together, personal waterfront decks and a drive-in movie theater set the best RV parks in “Native America” above the rest.
The Best RV Parks in Oregon
Oregon’s most popular RV parks also show the state’s ecological diversity, from the high desert hot springs of small town Burns to the pine-laden foothills of hip Bend to the lush and wild drama of the Oregon Coast’s landscape.
The Best RV Parks in Pennsylvania
The Keystone State’s most beloved RV parks seem to have a theme. Chocolate outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania Dutch fudge and…Philly cheesesteaks. All great, healthy options to keep your motor running as you travel north of the Mason Dixon.
The Best RV Parks in Rhode Island
A small state with plenty of small town charm, just be ready to pay a premium for coveted land in Rhode Island.
The Best RV Parks in South Carolina
All of the Palmetto State’s premiere camping tends to happen in the well known coast towns of Myrtle Beach and Charleston. While those destinations serve plenty of opportunity for exploration all on their own, the sole exception to this rule in our best-of-the-best list happens way out in the western corner of the state, where state parks and wilderness areas boast forested mountains a world away from the Atlantic’s never-ending, slow wave.
The Best RV Parks in South Dakota
You can’t blame the rest of flat, billboard boasting South Dakota for its lack of allure when compared with the southwest corner of the state’s amazing Black Hills National Forest, a series of Main Streets, monuments to the past, national and state parks like nowhere else in the nation.
The Best RV Parks in Tennessee
Camp twenty minutes from the Home of Country Music or head farther east for views of the Smokies and easy, family fun.
The Best RV Parks in Texas
The Lone Star State never ceases to amaze, and the best RV parks within tend to follow suit. A hipster paradise in the middle of nowhere? Check. Society’s forgotten artists and lost convicts living side by side along the Mexican border? You betcha. Vintage Airstreams rotting away between the bustle of Austin, a full hookup “oasis” in the middle of oil country, or a stopover haven while crossing Texas in general? Believe it or not, all of these make it to the top of Texas’ tip, too!
The Best RV Parks in Utah
The thing about Utah is that, well, it’s absolutely gorgeous, and so any RV park will feel a little more like paradise among the red rocks and national wonders of the Beehive State.
The Best RV Parks in Vermont
Rolling hills and historic towns galore, it’s hard to go wrong in Vermont, and now you know you won’t ever have to!
The Best RV Parks in Virginia
Old Dominion’s best adventures live where the state’s best RV parks tend to be, from Shenandoah National Park and the rest of the Appalachians that line the western side of the state.
The Best RV Parks in Washington
The Evergreen State’s map of best RV parks largely shows like a ring of hookups around the Olympic Peninsula, from tiny highway towns north of the national park to Skagit Bay, down to Seattle and south of Olympia.
The Best RV Parks in West Virginia
It’s wild and it’s wonderful, but the best of WV is to be found near the New River Bridge.
The Best RV Parks in Wisconsin
Expect a traditional RV camping experience and Wisconsin will not let you down.
The Best RV Parks in Wyoming
Solitude, riverfront calm and the Grand Tetons all await your RV adventures in the Cowboy State.