Last Updated on June 16, 2023 by Christina
The National Parks Service operates some of the top camping destinations in the world. With dozens of locations spread across the U.S., campers can enjoy everything from lush forests and sweeping mountain ranges to white, sandy beaches and desert oases.
According to the National Park Service, 1.5 million camping trips were tallied across the 34 national parks in 2022. The top 10 parks in the NPS system accounted for more than 66 of those trips. While the other 24 parks may not be as popular, there is still plenty to be explored.
The parks listed in this article saw less than 25,000 visitors in 2022 – meaning they may be the perfect destination for campers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some solitude.
National Parks in South Dakota
Badlands National Park
From hiking to visiting the fossil preparation lab and watching paleontologists work, there is so much to do in Badlands National Park. The Badlands contains one of the world’s richest fossil beds, making it a haven for researchers and travelers who want to try their luck hunting for fossils. The Badlands’ remote location is perfect for stargazing. The park even holds an evening ranger program in the summer along with telescopes to see the clear sky. The Badlands is also close to other South Dakota destinations including Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave National Monument and Minuteman Missile National Historic Park.
RV campers can experience Badlands National Park overnight in one of its two established campgrounds: Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground. In 2022, this South Dakota park welcomed less than 600 RV campers. Limited RV sites are available so reserve ahead if you want to explore the wonders of the Badlands.
Wind Cave National Park
Located just two hours away from the Badlands, Wind Cave National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the country. The destination allows travelers to get a glimpse at two very different worlds. Campers can enjoy sunny skies while exploring the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides or they can head underground to explore one of the top 10 longest caves in the world. There are over 30 miles of trails that hikers of all levels can enjoy.
This park had 5,528 RV campers visit in 2022. You can reserve your campsite from May through September, however, the park is open year-round, and in the off-season months, it is first-come, first-served. Over 45 campsites are available at the campground and can allow up to 40-foot-long RVs.
National Parks in Utah
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is like a massive playground for outdoor enthusiasts. This national park is great for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and auto touring with your car or ATVs. Take a step back in time and explore the history of cave paintings and ruins. After the sunsets, turn your eyes to the sky. The Canyonlands is a designated dark sky park that is perfect for night photography and stargazing.
Canyonlands National Park is open year-round and welcomed just under 8,000 RV campers in 2022. Canyonlands has two remote campgrounds that are perfect for boondockers. There are no RV hookups available onsite, so be sure to bring everything you may need along with you.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is a red-rock wonderland. It is one of the United States’ most memorable parks because of its contrasting colors and unique rock formations. The red-hued natural sandstone arches make this Colorado destination one of the most photographed national parks. After checking out the massive, world-famous Delicate Arch, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive rock fins and giant balanced boulders. Make sure you stop by the visitor center, which is open every day except December 25, to learn more about hiking trails, ranger programs, stargazing and more. If you’re visiting from April 1 to October 31, visitors are required to have a timed entry ticket to enter the park.
RV campers can stay at the Devils Garden Campground. You can reserve a site from March 1 to October 31. During the busy season, the campground is usually full every night. Outside of those times, campsites are first-come, first-served. There are no RV hookup sites available which make this place a great destination for boondockers. More than 20,000 RV campers stopped at Arches in 2022.
National Parks in Texas
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park protects the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in Texas and an environmentally-diverse collection of flora and fauna. Spanning over 86,000 acres, visitors can enjoy everything from mountains and canyons to deserts and dunes. The diverse trail system is the largest wilderness area in Texas, making it perfect for hikers looking to explore something new.
Guadalupe has three developed campgrounds that are open year-round. In 2022, 9,607 RV campers set up camp at the Texas national park. The campgrounds have a number of RV campsites available, but they do not have hook-ups or dump stations available. The Guadalupe Mountains are perfect for campers looking to go off-grid.
National Parks in West Virginia
New River Gorge National Park and Preservation
If you’re traveling to West Virginia, you have to visit New River Gorge. New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent and the park has plenty of things to offer for campers. There are spaces for day hikes, biking, climbing and hunting. There is also white water rafting, fishing and plenty of scenic drives and gorgeous views. Visitors will also be able to see a modern marvel – the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the western hemisphere, which has four lanes of traffic, suspended 876 feet over the river. History buffs will also enjoy strolls through the preserved railroad town, mining towns, logging towns, army camps and glimpses of the past.
All the campsites at New River Gorge are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The park offers primitive camping along the river. Developed campgrounds are available nearby. In 2022, the national park welcomed 9,963 RV campers.
National Parks in Indiana
Indiana Dunes National Park
Nestled along the coast of Lake Michigan, campers can enjoy sand and sun at Indiana Dunes National Park. On the land, campers can enjoy biking, hiking and horseback riding with over 50 miles of trails that lead through shifting sand dunes, quiet woodlands, sunny prairies and lush wetlands. On the water, you can swim, fish and partake in watersports. The small park may only be 15,000 acres, but there is plenty to explore.
Indiana Dunes welcomes campers from April through October. There are over 50 RV campsites available that can be reserved online. Just over 11,000 RV campers visited the national park in 2022.
National Parks in Colorado
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is an adventurer’s delight. Climbers and hikers are exposed to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rocks and craggiest spires in North America. For over two million years, the Gunnison River has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water and sky. From easy, short trails to long, strenuous hikes, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking. In the winter, you can also take part in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on many of the trails.
RV campers have their choice when it comes to camping at this Colorado national park. The South Rim campground has 23 spaces with electric hookups and reservations are available online. The North Rim and East Portal Campground has boondocking sites on a first-come, first-served basis and allows RVs up to 22 feet long. Just under 13,000 RVers camped at Black Canyon of the Gunnison in 2022.
National Parks in Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park
Despite having over three million visitors stop by in 2022, Yellowstone National Park is not a common RVing destination. People come from across the globe to camp at Yellowstone, but just 18,454 RVers camped at the park in 2022. Known as the world’s first national park, Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres spans three states. Visitors have unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife, explore geothermal areas that contain about half the world’s active geysers and take a glimpse at many geological wonders.
Yellowstone National Park has 12 different campgrounds with over 2,000 established campsite. However, only the Fishing Bridge RV Park offers full hookups. Most campsites are reserved far in advance, so it is recommended that you make a reservation as early as you can.
National Parks in Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park
Home to the world’s largest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park is best known for its underground attractions. The Kentucky park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. Cave tours are offered daily from late spring until early fall. During the warmer months, the forest floor on the surface comes alive with stunning flora and fauna. At night, ranger-led stargazing programs are offered year-round to provide visitors an opportunity to experience clear views of the starry night. You may even be able to spot the International Space Station on a clear night.
Mammoth Cave has three campgrounds that offer common camping amenities located close to the park’s visitor center area and cave tours. 18,810 RVers set up camp in 2022. RV sites are available at both the Mammoth Cave Campground and the Maples Springs Campground.
When it comes to campgrounds and RVs, size matters
While most national parks have campgrounds that accommodate RVs, there are various size restrictions. Before you book, make sure to read the size restrictions carefully. If your RV is over the size limit, you may be turned away. Even worse, you may not be able to make the tight turns necessary to get to the campground.
Ready to start your RV camping adventure?
Let General RV help you discover the RV lifestyle. We offer a huge selection of new motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers, as well as used RVs for sale. Visit our RV Virtual Showroom to start browsing now. Or find a General RV dealer near you. Whether you shop online or in store, our experts will help you camp with confidence.