Summer may not be the best time to visit Death Valley or the Grand Canyon but it is the prime season to head north. Make sure you check out these eight national parks in the next couple of months while the roads are open and the temperatures are nice and warm.
1. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Summer is short in Crater Lake National Park. Most of the main roads and trails in the park are closed from mid-October all the way until the following June.
The centerpiece of this park is the deepest lake in the United States, which formed from a collapsed volcano. Wizard Island, an ancient volcanic cinder cone, sits in the middle of the water and can be reached by taking a boat tour.
This season also brings blooming wildflowers and summer afternoon storms. There are two seasonal campgrounds on the south side of Crater Lake; Mazama Village is the only one that can accommodate RVs and the only one that takes reservations. Lost Creek is first-come, first-served for tent campers only.
2. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park is open all year but summer is the best time to visit. July through September brings warmer weather, easier vehicle access (most roads are closed in the winter), the campgrounds are open, and the meadows in the Paradise area get a splash of color from world-renowned wildflowers like purple lupine and white avalanche lilies.
There are trails for hikers of all ages and skill levels around Mount Rainier. You can take easy nature walks, moderate day hikes, or challenging backpacking treks, and many will give you great views of the tallest mountain in Washington.
Sunrise Road also opens this season by late June/early July and closes by late September/early October. It leads to the highest point in the park that you can reach by vehicle and has panoramic views of Rainier and the surrounding peaks.
3. North Cascades National Park, Washington
North Cascades National Park is north of Mount Rainier and a much less-visited park where you can get a little more peace and quiet. The main road through the park and the campgrounds close by the winter and much of the park becomes inaccessible.
You can read more about the park and campgrounds in my recent article on Do It Yourself RV.
4. Acadia National Park, Maine
Maine gets brutal winters and wet spring weather, but the mild July and August temperatures make it the perfect time to visit Acadia National Park. Drive the Park Loop Road while the entire route is open for the season and stop off to see Thunder Hole.
There are several options for camping whether you’re pitching a tent, pulling a trailer, or driving a motorhome. Dry campsites are available at Blackwoods Campground and Seawall Campground, and water/electric hookup sites are offered at Schoodic Woods Campground.
5. Denali National Park, Alaska
Late May through early September can be a more comfortable time to visit Alaska’s Denali National Park. By winter, temperatures can range between -40 degrees F and 20 degrees F and most of the park’s sole road is closed.
Summer weather in Denali NP is typically more mild, about 33-75 degrees F. You can go hiking, biking, fishing, or find lots of photo opportunities between the incredible natural landscape and wildlife. Get photos of the tallest mountain in North America and take a bus tour which is offered every season through September. There are even ways to go flightseeing through the Alaska Range.
6. Glacier National Park, Montana
RVs can camp at Many Glacier, Rising Sun, St. Mary, and Fish Creek Campgrounds, but none have hookups. If you’d rather have power and water, check out the West Glacier KOA only a couple of miles from the West Glacier Entrance, which is open seasonally through October 1.
7. Olympic National Park, Washington
Most of Olympic National Park can be accessed year round, but summertime brings the best sunny weather. By winter, the Washington coast gets powerful storm waves, the Olympic Mountains become blanketed in snow, and the forest and rainforests are poured on.
Drive up Hurricane Ridge Road in the mountains or visit Shi Shi Beach and Rialto Beach on the coast. The park has several campgrounds including RV sites in the Hoh Rainforest and on a bluff overlooking the ocean at South Beach Campground.
8. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Voyageurs National Park borders Canada in northern Minnesota and encompasses several lakes and small islands. In the summer, the warm temperatures are perfect for water activities like kayaking, fishing, and swimming. From mid-November through April, the lakes freeze and the park becomes covered in snow.
You can access the park visitor centers and several boat ramps by vehicle, but the only way to get to the main area of the park is by water, whether it’s by kayak, canoe, boat, renting a houseboat, or taking a guided tour boat. Hikers can follow about 50 miles of trails and anglers can cast a line for walleye, smallmouth bass, and crappie in the major lakes.
The campsites in the park can be reached by watercraft only, but The Pines of Kabetogama Resort provides a great home base on the shore of Lake Kabetogama next to the park. ‘