If your RV is over-sized, don’t give up on finding national parks with big rig camping. Plan carefully and there’s no need to deny yourself the experience of living among regional wild animals and timeless scenery in a national treasure. Here’s how.
How to Score Great Spots in National Parks with Big Rig Camping
Many U.S. national park campgrounds were designed decades ago, but they’re not always off limits if you have a larger RV. Do a little digging and you’ll find plenty of ways to RV camp inside park boundaries.
Unfortunately national park camping is so popular now that reservations are mandatory during the high season. The days of spontaneous road trips and first-come, first-served camping in national and state parks is slowly fading away. The trick for a big rig RV owner to score camping inside the park is to get your reservation in early.
It pays to plan for at least a six month window from booking your spot until arrival. And if your RV is longer than 40-feet, be patient in your reservations search. You’ll need flexible dates and plenty of good luck on your side since extra long RV spots are limited in most national parks.
Now that your reality check is out of the way, consider pointing your rig to the west. There you’ll find the easy life inside these three great U.S. national parks with big rig camping.
Big Bend National Park’s Rio Grande RV Village
True to the motto that “everything is bigger in Texas,” so are the Big Bend big rig RV accommodations. The 25 extra-long back-in full-hookup campsites at the concessionaire-run Rio Grande RV Village aren’t much to look at with their parking-lot ambiance, but you’ll be close to must-see Big Bend attractions, trails and gorgeous scenery.
Big rig RVs of nearly any size easily fit into these bare-bones campsites adjacent to the Rio Grande Visitor’s Center. The Fall and Spring seasons are perfect times to secure a spot.
Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells
Another park that’s great to visit in fall or spring, Death Valley National Park’s 5,262 square mile vistas and stark, beautiful landscapes offer an otherworldly experience. Nearly as vast as the west itself, this below sea-level destination has tons of spots for large RVs.
You can find a big rig boondocking campsite almost any time of year at Fiddler’s Campground or Sunset Campground in Furnace Creek. But for more comfort, secure one of the 19 full-hookup sites at Furnace Creek RV Park. It’s located on the south end of the park and features a restaurant, swimming pool, fuel and laundromat.
When you’re done exploring southern Death Valley delights like Badwater and Artist’s Drive, pull up stakes and move to Stovepipe Wells in the north. You’ll find it slightly less charming but offering just as many creature comforts. As a bonus, these RV spots are near other attractions like Scotty’s Castle, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Badlands National Park, Cedar Pass Campground
The massive 244,000-acre Badlands National Park is as endless as the open prairie. It’s also one of America’s most big-rig friendly national parks. Whether this is your ultimate destination or a stopping point on the way to Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, the Badlands feels like driving backward in time.
Your big rig home base will be Cedar Pass Campground, an easily accessible location perched in the midst of geologic wonders and ancient fossil deposits. The 96 reservable campsites are on the rustic side. You’ll only get an electric hookup for comfort, but drinking water, restrooms and a dump station are available. Campsites are near a lodge, restaurant and amphitheater with ranger-led campfire chats.
This is just glimpse of a few great national parks with big rig camping. For more tips, bounce ideas around with other oversized RV owners in the iRV2 Discussion Forums topic “Camping, Travel and Trip Planning.”
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Jerry Domagala says
You did not mention the Furnace Creek Campground which has many sites that will hold big rigs including done that are pull thru sites with full hook ups. This is different than the Sunset Campground.
Ronald Hiemann says
Regarding the Rio Grande Village RV Park in Big Bend, what you call the “extra long” sites is a matter of opinion. They can not take a rig longer than 40 feet and even at tghat, the way it is laid out, straight instead of angled, you wonder how people park their rigs. While it is great to have FHU, go right next door into the National Park campground, where they have plenty of sites for big rigs. We were there for a week just 2 months ago and had no problem parking our 45ft rig. Of course, you will not have FHU, so you have to arrive with empty tanks and run the generator for a couple of hours every day. Worth it because the surroundings aka nature are so much more enjoyable.
Gary Barnes says
Cedar Pass Campground campsites are just a wide spot on the road. If you have a long rig there is only a few sites you can get far enough off the road. Of the 96 sites only 30 have electric. The majority of the sites are suitable for tenting or small campers. If you want an electric site during the prime months reserve early.
Scott VanHoose says
Please help us stop the push to make camping 100% reservable on federal lands and in National Parks. People are retiring and hitting the road with their RVs and tents in record numbers and need first come first served sites available. Rec.gov serves the vacationing public who must plan their vacations out months in advance because of work and family schedules, but it doesn’t always work for the traveling public. We need to make sure that every campground maintains at least 1/3 of their sites for this segment of travelers who do not need to, or do not want to plan every detail of their trip in advance. Having to compete with vacationers to get a site six months or a year in advance doesn’t work for this huge segment of people that want to travel. The proponents of rec.gov do not tell you that10%
of sites reserved at most campgrounds go unfilled every night while weary travelers are turned away. This may happen when campgrounds open up reservations that many months in advance with a lenient cancellation policies. Please do your research and you’ll find that I’m only scratching the tip of this very real issue being brought on by bureaucrats who think there actually helping solve a problem but creating another problem I fear will forever take away the excitement and the experience of hitting the road. This needs to be written about. Please help save FF camping. There’s room for both at all campgrounds.