Saturday, April 13,2024 10:09 pm EDT

Do Our National Parks Need more RV sites in their Campgrounds?

Camping in National State and Provincial Park Campgrounds

Some of the most breathtaking protected parks in the Great Outdoors that you will ever experience are in North America. Parks like Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park are crawling with wildlife, gorgeous plants, walking trails and scenic views.

But where are the RV camping friendly spots? There is a shortage of RV campsites in national park campgrounds and in national forest camping. State park campgrounds also often lack RV facilities, preventing some campers from accessing these beautiful sites.

Not all campers are able to set up tents, sleep on the ground and cook on the fire. While some campers prefer backcountry camping, others need an RV to provide comfort, safe sleeping areas and accessible toiletries. Booking a campsite is easier if you come prepared.

Bring a tent, firewood, or a pop-up camper to national, state, or provincial parks. This will make your camping experience much smoother. But owners of larger RVs are often unable to book sites that will accommodate their vehicles.

Many national park campgrounds within North America were built in the 1960s and 1970s. So it is understandable that the campsites were designed for small area camping and small vehicles. As RV’s got larger as consumers demanded more features, it became more difficult for them to fit in smaller sites.

The average size of an RV camping spot in American campsites is 27 feet. The average size of a Canadian RV camping spot is 25 feet. So, an RV that is longer than 25 feet will be unable to fit on the campsite.

RV Camping in Canada

In Ontario, the provincial parks campgrounds website, Ontario Parks Reservations makes it much easier to make a campsite reservation. Select the dates you’d like and the size of your rig and it will pinpoint which parks can accommodate you. You can find Big RV-friendly campsites in many Ontario parks, but not as many there are for as smaller campers.

Booking systems like this are an RV owners dream, they eliminate a lot of stress around finding a spot. Campsites in British Columbia are alike, but it’s harder to find RV-friendly places in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta. With no easy booking system for provincial and national park campgrounds, RV owners have to make countless calls with questions for staff. Even worse, it leaves them to show up at the park only to find out they cannot fit.

rv in yellowstone national park campground

National Park Campgrounds in the United States

In America there is a similar struggle. Some states have great booking systems which will allow you to search by lot size, hook up type and available amenities. This makes planning your trip a breeze.

The National Park Service offers online reservations for national park campgrounds. Check out the campground website or call the reservation phone number at (877) 444-6777 or internationally at (606) 515-6777 outside the US or Canada . All of the states have online booking or reserve by phone capabilities. RV camping in Colorado is a great example of this. Their booking site has everything searchable at the click of your finger.

Another great booking site to simplify bookings for national parks and state park campgrounds in Reserve America

Other states like New York, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin all have great booking sites as well. These states allow campers to use the length of their RV to start a search. Some states like Maine, Kentucky and Florida don’t offer this functionality in their booking sites. making it slightly tougher to find sites based on RV length.

Sadly, many parks do not offer hook ups for recreational vehicles. Constructing campgrounds with hook ups would take a lot of time and commitment on the parks’ behalf. Yet without these hookups they are limiting the guests who could attend their beautiful parks.

It is not impossible for an RV owner to park in a non-hook up spot. But, sometimes dry camping is not for everyone because it requires more gear and supplies. Not everyone is able to acquire that additional gear.

RV Community

One of the great things about being an RV owner is the community that is built around this lifestyle in national park campgrounds. There are countless blogs and websites dedicated to helping RV owners find the best campgrounds and sites in North America.

Some RV owners have written whole books about how to travel across North America in their RV. This has inspired thousands of others to do the same. The camaraderie that is shared among RVers helps make the lifestyle a great experience. An overwhelming theme voiced within the RV community shows just how many areas are off limits to RV owners.

There are some national parks or state/provincial park camping areas where limitations are expected. Others that have limitations for no good reasons.

Seven of Alaska’s state parks have no RV camping whatsoever. In Hawaii, there are 2 with no RV camping. However, these two states are detached from the lower 48 and these limitations are expected.

While there are a lot of spaces in campgrounds in Yosemite National Park

Across America the average RV campsite length is 27 feet while the average Class A RV spans 33 feet. So there are length limitations all across the country. There is also the limiting factor of the number of spaces.

Most provincial and state parks have hundreds of camping spaces available, depending on the size of the park. Yet most of those spaces are only suitable for tent, pop-up trailers or campervan size vehicles.

For example, in Mew Lake Provincial Park which is within the Algonquin area of Ontario, Canada, there are 131 campsites. Only 66 of those sites have an electricity hook up. Only 52 of those are available to RVs.

The majority of those 52 sites have a size limitation of 32 feet. It is clear that more sites need to be made available that are RV friendly.

It is safe to say that RV owners across North America are facing issues when booking camping trips. Many sites accommodate recreational vehicles, but not will accommodate trailers or motorhomes over 30 feet. Many campground sites are exclusively tent use only.

The lack of larger campsites, and a lack of hook up spots available leaves some RV travellers with limited options in national park campgrounds. While there are RV tips and tricks which can make some aspects of this easier, it is still a growing frustration.  As people are growing more adventurous and choosing nature over big city adventures, they need more access to these beautiful locations.

What does NR mean for campsites?

NR stands for No Reservation when referring to campsites.

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Ashley Juneau
Ashley Juneau
As an Environmental Technician, I have developed a deep passion for protecting our environment and promoting sustainability. Over the course of my schooling and career, I have gained extensive knowledge and expertise in a wide range of environmental issues, including pollution control, waste management, and environmental compliance. I have also honed my skills in conducting environmental assessments, analyzing data, and developing effective strategies to mitigate environmental risks. Throughout my work, I have demonstrated a strong commitment to delivering high-quality results while adhering to strict safety standards and regulations. I am a dedicated professional who is always seeking new ways to improve my skills and make a positive impact in the world.
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