Spectacular RV Camping in U.S. National Parks

RV Camping: Yosemite is one of the gems of the U.S. National Park system, in California.
Yosemite is one of the gems of the U.S. National Park system, in California.

Exploring America’s Treasures in an RV

By Max Hartshorne

Bridal veil Falls Yosemite National Park, California.
Bridal veil Falls Yosemite National Park, California.

America is blessed with some of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful National Parks.

And the best part is that those parks are all connected by one of the world’s best road systems, to make getting there with an RV both easy and inexpensive.

If there was ever a time to enjoy an RV road trip, the summer of 2020 sure sounds like it. For one thing, gas prices have almost never been this low, we’re talking less than $2 per gallon of unleaded gasoline. No other countries except Venezuela and Saudi Arabia can even come close!

RV Camping in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of California’s most spectacular parks, from the humbling majesty of the famous Half Dome to the camping areas that afford such gorgeous views.

Yosemite has 10 campgrounds that can accommodate RVs and trailers (including fifth wheels) of varying lengths. If you plan to spend the night in your RV, you must be in a designated campsite–you can’t park in a parking lot or along the side of the road.

Reservations: campgrounds requiring reservations are usually full from around April through September. You should make a reservation as early as possible. If you don’t have reservations, find out more about camping without reservations.

Electrical, water and sewer hookups are not available in Yosemite, although dump stations (with freshwater) are available at Upper Pines Campground (all year), near Wawona Campground (summer only), and near Tuolumne Meadows Campground (summer only).

Small RVs like this are built on the Sprinter chassis and save parking space.
Small RVs like this are built on the Sprinter chassis and save parking space.

Generator use is allowed, but only between 7 am and 9 am-noon and 2 pm, and 5 pm to 7 pm. Generator use is not allowed at other times.

Making a Reservation

Camping Without a Reservation

RV Camping


Camping Regulations

Maximum RV/trailer lengths: In Yosemite Valley, the maximum RV length is 40 feet and maximum trailer length is 35 feet, however, only a total of 8 sites of this size are available (six sites in Lower Pines and two in North Pines, which are open spring through fall).

grazing bison
Grazing bison at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Shelley Seale photos.

Many more sites exist in Yosemite Valley and elsewhere in Yosemite that can take RVs up to 35 feet or trailers up to 24 feet. You’ll be better off if you rent a smaller RV since space is limited for the longest models.

Food storage: You may store food in hard-sided RVs and trailers, as long the food is out of sight, and windows, doors, and vents are closed when you’re not at your campsite. Food may not be stored in pop-up or tent trailers, or other soft-sided campers.

Yosemite National Park
PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
(209) 372-0200

Yellowstone National Park RV Camping

The Granddaddy of all National Parks in the United States is Screen Shot 2020 05 12 at 10.25.40 AM 1home to the Old Faithful Geyser and the famous bison and wolves who make the park famous.

RV’s have always been welcome at Yellowstone, a massive 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness that sprawls across three states has lots of sites–2000 to be exact.

12 Campgrounds 

Yellowstone offers 12 campgrounds with over 2,000 sites. Yellowstone National Park Lodges takes reservations for five of these campgrounds: the rest are first-come, first-served.

You might even want to leave your RV parked and take advantage of the opportunity to camp in the park’s backcountry, for $3 per night. But one thing you have to watch out for whether you’re in an RV or a tent: Bears.

Beware of Bears in Yellowstone

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone
A grizzly bear in Yellowstone.

All of Yellowstone National Park is bear habitat—from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. geyser. Prepare for bear encounters no matter where you go.

Your safety cannot be guaranteed, but you can play an active role in protecting yourself and the bears people come here to enjoy.

Never feed bears. Bears that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed.

If a bear approaches or touches your car, honk your horn and drive away to discourage this behavior. Review the best practices before you hike or camp in bear country, and learn what to do if you encounter a bear.

Camping in Yellowstone National Park.
Camping in Yellowstone National Park.

Learn about bear spray, a highly effective, non-lethal bear deterrent. Make sure you know what areas are closed for bear management.

Yellowstone National Park
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

RV Camping at Arcadia National Park, Bar Harbor Maine

One of the jewels of the huge state of Maine in the Northeast corner of the US is Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.

There are few places to greet the sunrise that are more dazzling than atop a rocky crag in this 47,000-acre national park, and RVs are welcome here too!

map of RV campgrounds in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park in Maine.
Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park in Maine.

You can camp with your RV at the Blackwoods, Schoodic Woods and Seawall Campsites. But you need to make advance reservations, as there is only a remote chance it won’t be already full.

You will enjoy views of the Atlantic but only the hardiest of swimmers will want to go in, the water stays very cold even in the summer. The park admission costs are varied, here is the list

Arcadia National Park
PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609 (207) 288-3338

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One thought on “Spectacular RV Camping in U.S. National Parks

  1. This was really interesting- thank you. We’re touring Europe in our motorhome and our dream is to either ship it to the USA or rent an RV there for a few months. It’s an amazing way to travel and explore the world.

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