National Parks are among the most popular places for RV travelers. Add in the fact that RV sales are booming and that makes it even harder than ever to actually get a reservation in a national park campground. Luckily there are many other camping options in and near national parks.
Watch the video below or read on for recommended alternatives to national park campgrounds.
If you are willing to forego the water and power hook ups, some national parks have dispersed campsites. At Big Bend National Park, you can get a 10-day permit. At Joshua Tree National Park, there is plentiful Bureau of Land Management (BLM) boondocking land right outside the south entrance.
Another boondocking option you may find near a national park, is through the Boondockers Welcome program. This is a membership program that allows you to stay for free on private owner’s land. Many of the Boondockers Welcome hosts are avid RVers themselves and are happy to welcome travelers.
Some membership campgrounds are located near national parks. For example, if you wanted to visit Yosemite National Park and were an Escapees member, you could stay at their SKP Park of the Sierras. Thousand Trails members can stay at Yosemite Lakes RV campground five miles from Yosemite National Park. This is a situation where being a member has its benefits!
If you really have your heart set on using your National Parks pass (especially if you can use the 50% senior or access pass discount), look for nearby national forests. Kaibab National Forest’s Ten X Campground is the perfect example as its located near the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
So many state parks are located near national parks. Adjacent to Big Bend National Park is Big Bend Ranch State Park. Jonathan Stewart State Park is only a 30-minute drive from Crater Lake National Park. And we really enjoyed Shenandoah River State Park, which is only a 10-minute drive from the north entrance of Shenandoah National Park.
Privately Owned Campgrounds
We have stayed at some of the most wonderful campgrounds right outside of national parks. One of our favorites was the Redwoods KOA in Crescent City, California. Another fabulous option is the Tucson LazyDays KOA near Saguaro National Park. The bonus here is that you get to visit stunning natural areas while enjoying all the amenities of a private RV resort when you are back at your right.
Given Zion National Park’s incredible popularity, scoring a campsite inside the park can be extremely tough, and if you park your RV far away, you may get stuck in a long line of traffic waiting to get in at the front gate. One solution is to book a site at Zion Canyon Campground. While, admittedly, the campground is busy and its sites are close together, it offers unparalleled access to Zion. In fact, you can leave your car parked at the campground and simply walk into the park (and then hop on one of the park’s shuttles to get around inside the park.) It is an ideal campground to use as a base for exploring this gorgeous national park.
As you can see, there are many options for you if the national park campground is full or simply isn’t the right fit for you.
Related post: Are you thinking of going to Acadia National Park? Here are my tips on what not to miss in Acadia.
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