HIT THE ROAD
Lodging is typically one of the biggest travel expenses, but it doesn't have to be. Taking a vacation in a recreational vehicle is a great way to reduce accommodation expenses. It also provides a memorable way to explore beautiful, wide-open spaces by combining the fun of camping with comforts that can't be found in a tent, such as air conditioning, a kitchen, and indoor plumbing. Here are 26 popular tourist destinations that have RV campgrounds nearby. Some RV parks charge less than $25 a night.
BRYCE CANYON | UTAH
One of the more stunning and unusual national parks, Bryce Canyon is known for its otherworldly hoodoo rock formations. Hiking amid the hoodoos is one of the best ways to experience the park. But be sure to catch a sunset here, when the glow of the sun and the color of the rock formations create a sight you won't soon forget. Bryce Canyon Pines RV Park offers sites surrounded by ponderosa pine forest. Nightly rates start at about $50 for midweek and weekend stays. The sites, which are equipped with full hookups, come with fire pit and picnic table. There are also restrooms, hot showers, and laundry onsite.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK | MONTANA
Encompassing more than 1 million acres, Glacier National Park has more than 130 lakes, 700 miles of hiking trails, and about 1,000 species of plants. It's also home to mountain goats, grizzly bears, moose, wolverines, and Canadian lynxes. Just 9 miles from the park is Mountain Meadow RV Park and Cabins. The RV park is in a forested mountain area and has 56 RV sites that all include barbecue grills, campfire rings, and picnic tables. Complimentary Wi-Fi is also provided. Sites range from $47 to $50. There are also shower facilities and a laundry room onsite.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK | CALIFORNIA
Iconic sights such as El Capitan and Half Dome are among the highlights of Yosemite National Park. Located in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, the park is also famous for its giant, ancient sequoia trees. You'll also find stunning waterfalls, valleys, meadows, and massive tracts of wilderness among the 1,200 square miles here. Yosemite Lakes RV Resort provides a convenient base camp. It's just 5 miles from the park and an interesting place to visit in its own right. It's a 400-acre preserve where visitors can swim, fish, and pan for gold. There are 254 RV sites with full hookups. Public RV sites are about $82 per day during the summer. In the fall, sites are listed for about $70.
MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK | COLORADO
Mesa Verde National Park showcases the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the region some 700 years ago. The park is known for its fascinating cliff dwellings, where visitors can take guided tours. Biking and hiking are allowed here, and don't miss the park's Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Visitors can park RVs at Mesa Verde RV Resort, which is just outside the park. Rates range from $36.95 to $46.95 per night, depending on the site. The resort offers water- and electric-only sites, premium pull through sites and premium back in sites. All of the sites have water, sewer, electric, and Wi-Fi.
ZION NATIONAL PARK | UTAH
Zion, Utah's first national park, is distinguished by massive sandstone cliffs that range in color from cream to pink and red. A variety of animals can be seen here, including mule deer, wild turkeys, spotted toads, and porcupines. Just a few minutes from the park, Zion River Resort offers pull-through and back-in sites starting at about $50 per night and which vary depending on the size of the site and the season. All of the sites come with full hookups and cable. The resort also has a pool, sauna, and laundry facility.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK | MAINE
Known for its picturesque, rock-strewn beaches and craggy bluffs, Acadia National Park has hiking trails, historic carriage roads for biking, and over 340 bird species, making it one of the premier bird-watching areas in the country. Bass Harbor Campground is open from early May through late October. The campground offers RV sites starting at $42 per night. Campground amenities include hot showers, a swimming pool, store, and laundromat. Reservations must be made by phone; they cannot be made by email.
WALT DISNEY WORLD | FLORIDA
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK | WYOMING
A nearly unspoiled wilderness brimming with wildlife, forests (including one that's petrified), rare plants, rivers, canyons, and waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park is probably best known for its geysers and hot springs. Located within the park, Madison Campground is 16 miles from Old Faithful and an easy drive to the Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins. For the 2018 season the campground is open until mid-October. The sites are basic — no utility hookups — and the overnight rate is $25.25. There are public restrooms and dishwashing stations but no showers; pay showers are available elsewhere within Yellowstone.
PORT ARANSAS | TEXAS
Take a dip in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico while vacationing on Mustang Island, one of the barrier islands along Texas' east coast and across the bay from Corpus Christi. Port Aransas' population swells in the summer with boaters, beach lovers, and others who are attracted to the burgeoning eco-tourism scene, which includes activities such as birding, dolphin sightings, and kayaking. As its name suggests, On the Beach RV Park offers prime real estate, where the daily rate for an RV spot starts at $53 and covers two guests, electric hookup, cable TV, and one additional vehicle. Wi-Fi. Pets, additional guests, air conditioners, and space to park an extra car, boat, or trailer up the price modestly.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK | CALIFORNIA
Hug a tree at Sequoia National Park, home to the largest tree in the world (the General Sherman Tree) and other giant sequoias and old-growth specimens. Take a gander at Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the Lower 48, and be on the lookout for badgers, coyotes, woodpeckers and owls. There are falls and meadows galore, trails to hike, and a "tunnel log" to walk through. At Lodgepole Campground, 2 miles from the sequoia grove and 21 miles from the entrance to the park, the fee is $22 a night for RVs. Reservations are available through Sept. 25 and are strongly recommended. Camping after that date is first-come, first-served. There are no electric hookups, and generator use is strictly limited to three hours in the morning and three hours in the early evening. There are flush toilets on site, and showers and laundry facilities a short walk away.
Washington is always a popular vacation spot thanks to its wide range of affordable attractions. The Capitol Building, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the National Zoo, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture are just some of the top sights. Cherry Hill Park in College Park, Maryland, is the closest RV campground. RV start at $73 per night. Amenities include electric hookups, restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi and cable TV, playgrounds, a hot tub and sauna, and two outdoor pools.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK | NORTH CAROLINA
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is awash in magnificent wildflower displays, overflowing with diverse animal life, and filled with waterfalls and deciduous forests (leaf-peeping in fall is a prime sport). Bicycling, hiking, and fishing are some of the many things to do. The Happy Holiday Campground in Cherokee, North Carolina, offers back-in RV sites with electric hookups for $42 night, or $47 a night for pull-through sites; weekly rates are available. There are also economy sites for $32. Amenities include a swimming pool, playground, and a game arcade.
WISCONSIN DELLS | WISCONSIN
During the last ice age, glaciers covering the Midwest carved a 5-mile series of gorges now known as the Dells of the Wisconsin River. These sandstone formations have made the Dells a popular tourist attraction since before the Civil War. The modern city of Wisconsin Dells is known as the "Waterpark Capital of the World," and nearby Mirror Lake State Park is known for its natural beauty. Take a scenic boat tour, play a round of golf, hit the gaming tables, visit a museum, or just chill. Sherwood Forest Campground and RV Park is a couple of blocks from the city's downtown River District. Rates for a full hookup site (including sewer, water, and electric) are $54 to $59 a night during peak season. Off-season rates drop to $39 per night.
FIRST LANDING STATE PARK | VIRGINIA
Camp out on a piece of the nation's history at First Landing State Park, the spot where English colonists came ashore in 1607. The park encompasses cypress swamps, lagoons, and a variety of unusual flora and fauna. It offers miles of hiking trails and 2.5 miles of beachfront. Nearby Virginia Beach is packed with tourists in summer and offers the usual assortment of beachside attractions, including a boardwalk and nightclubs. Fees range from $24 to $32 per night. The campsites are just off Chesapeake Bay.
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA
GETTYSBURG | PENNSYLVANIA
Civil War buffs surely have Gettysburg in their line of sight when planning a vacation. The historic battlefield is part of the Gettysburg National Military Park, where visitors can view artifacts from the Civil War and the site where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous 1863 speech extolling equality for all and the value of one union. There's lots more to do in the area, from agri-tourism to ghost tours to golfing and biking. For cheap RV accommodations, pull into the Gettysburg Campground. Rates range from $44 to $55 for basic to premium RV sites on weekdays. Weekend prices are higher. Amenities include Wi-Fi and cable TV, swimming pool, playground, laundry, game room, and an RV repair shop.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA
LAKE OF THE OZARKS | MISSOURI
Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks is a man-made reservoir created in 1931 when a hydroelectric dam built on the Osage River was completed. The serpentine lake stretching through former Ozark valleys soon became a popular tourist destination offering the usual set of summertime activities, including fishing, boating, golfing, hiking, and bird-watching. Shopping, another highlight, provides year-round entertainment. Part of the land abutting the lake forms the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Ozark Trails RV Park and Campground rents pull-through sites with full hookups (water, electric, sewer) for $38 a day, or $215 for a week. The rate includes cable television, high speed internet, access to a swimming pool, rec room, and playground. There are also hiking trails on site.
BLACK HILLS | SOUTH DAKOTA
Head for the Black Hills and stash the RV at Custer's Gulch RV Park in Custer. The area is rich with wildlife (deer, elk, bison, prairie dogs, and more), fossil bones at Mammoth Site, caves that beckon explorers, hiking trails for the adventurous, and fishing spots for contemplative sport. Enjoy a patriotic moment at Mount Rushmore, just 23 miles away. Rates at the park range from $34 to $50 a night for two adults and two children under 13; each additional adult is $5 a night. Sites are outfitted with full hookups. The campground also provides free Wi-Fi and features hot showers, a clubhouse, volleyball, and more.
STONE MOUNTAIN PARK | GEORGIA
Stone Mountain Park, about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, is home to the Confederate equivalent of Mount Rushmore: The visages of three major figures from the Civil War (Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis) are carved into the side of the dome-shaped Stone Mountain. The park also offers a variety of family-friendly attractions, including a petting zoo with goats that perform tricks, mini golf, and rope bridges and net tunnels. There is a history museum and a "historic square" with buildings dating to the 1800s. Rates start at $39 a night (for basic sites with just water and electricity); and go up to $65 per night for sites that include sewer and cable.
In a city known for its many glitzy hotels, it may be hard to imagine rolling up in an RV. But the Circus Circus RV park is close to the Strip, and it offers full hookups and free Wi-Fi and equips each site with outdoor furniture. When it's time to take a break from the casinos, campground guests can take a dip in the pool or hot tub. Golfing, hiking, and tourist attractions, including the nearby Hoover Dam, offer plenty of diversions. Rates start at $31 for midweek. (There’s also a $32 resort fee added to all nightly rates). The park includes shower and laundry facilities, and a seasonal hot tub and swimming pool.