Small towns were quite popular with us. We wanted to be in on the action, close to bars and restaurants. This landed us in plenty of privately owned RV parks. That style of travel is fun, particularly as you have less children. As our little entourage of rugrats grew in number, our desires changed a bit. What follows is a succinct explanation of the average costs, typical hookups, and more or less what to expect from state parks around the United States.
Listed by state, with a picture or two here and there, and our notes and the thoughts of other full-time travelers sprinkled throughout. Alabama It was six months into our relationship, the Lady and I—along with my then 9 year old son—were living in a Volkswagen Bus and making a pilgrimage from Texas to Florida. A small state park just outside of Mobile, Alabama set the scene for a romantic dinner of smoked salmon and torn bread, a little mustard, a few pickles, and some beers. The sun set down over the Gulf of Mexico, and it was all quite serene.
We were young and in love then, that mad kind of early love that makes everything—a butterfly flapping its wings or a semi spewing noxious black gas into the air—more beautiful. I want to be positive about Alabama, and so there it is. On the other hand, the state is constantly in turmoil. It ranks 4th in terms of the percentage of people who live in poverty and has the 7th worst education record in the nation. From the mountainous north to the Gulf, it can be a very beautiful state, but economic concerns plague even the natural beauty: as of April 15, , the state is looking at closing 15 of its 26 state parks, including 14 of those that offer RV camping.
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That would only leave 7 parks open that could accommodate RVs for overnight stays, and it leaves the state of the entire parks system in question for the future. What was it that Neil Young sang about her? Alaska has 3. What information is available tends to indicate that most of the sites are primitive, occasionally with water available but not at your site. There are dozens of places to camp in Alaska. Much of Alaska is only reachable by dirt roads, or in many cases by plane or boat. Figuring out every state park that accommodates RV camping has been difficult, thus the list below is likely a partial one, and common sense will tell you to call ahead or do some research of your own before heading on up into the Last Frontier.
Home to botanical wonders from the Saguaros to Organ Pipe cactus, red rocks to golden desert sands, bands of color in the earth to sparkling lakes, Arizona is one of the most beautiful, still wild states left in the nation. While the Grand Canyon gets much of the attention in Arizona, the state park offerings are exemplary as well.
Catalina State Park stands out. From the campground, the Santa Catalina Mountains boast impressive granite cliffs to the south. Saguaros with dozens of arms, a rarity, can be found along the trails. The sun shines heavily across the entire campground, and velvet mesquite trees provide opportunities for shade. I watched the moon set over the mountains one early morning, and the stars—even just 9 miles from bustling Tucson—were impressive. The proximity to the city means that within a few minutes you can find everything from a locally owned guitar store to a Whole Foods.
Modern conveniences but without the noise and hectic affairs of a city as soon as you slip back into the state park. For a completely different landscape, near the sleepy towns of Cottonwood and Jerome, Arizona there is Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a perfect basecamp for exploring the ancient Indian ruins of Tuzigoot National Monument or the natural beauty surrounding Sedona. Arizona does have a State Junior Ranger program. Some parks have an individual additional activity you can do as well. The Natural State, as Arkansas claims, offers a more luxurious RVing experience than most states, simply because all of its parks have at least water and electric, and often full hookups.
Still, from the Sierras to the Redwoods, the deserts to the oak forests of the central valley, you certainly get what you pay for. Like living in the shadow of a history older than Jesus Christ, and knowing that these massive trees will still be hear long after I and my offspring are gone.
Every park has a maximum number of nights you can stay. Additionally, each park is supposed to enforce a 30 day max stay per calendar year. We have heard this rule is rarely enforced. Ranger setup.
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Some of the other parks listed above are seasonal only. One of the most rugged, beautifully mountainous states in the nation, Colorado is home to 42 state parks, 31 of which have some type of camping available. While everyone thinks of the Rockies, Colorado offers landscapes from desert to prairie. On the other hand, we often joke that—as a family—we never even bothered to visit nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, because so very much of Colorado is like a national park or forest. You can stay in any given Colorado State Park for 14 consecutive days, and up to a max of 14 days in any 45 day period.
You can always go to another park, though. Many of the Connecticut State Parks that offer camping are not available year round, and most are actually only open from Spring through early Autumn. In most Connecticut State Parks, you can stay 14 days, and then you have to leave for 5 days. Two parks, Hammonasset Beach and Rocky Neck, allow a 21 day maximum consecutive stay.
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Again, you then have to leave for the 5 days before you can camp at those parks again. Quaint coastal towns and easy to find empty beaches separate Delaware from many of the other ocean states in the Northeastern US. Delaware only has five state parks where you can camp or RV.
They range from dramatically gorgeous to more or less parking lots beneath a big, lit up bridge. Most have water and electric hookups, and like everywhere in Delaware, all are generally pretty close to civilization. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there is a 14 consecutive day limit per park.
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You can camp up to 14 days per 21 day period in any given park, but can move back and forth between parks to avoid this limitation. Because of this, it can be nearly impossible to get into a state park in the southernmost part of the state, particularly the Keys. Planning ahead is your best bet, but know that retirees and vacationers alike often book these places up entirely almost a year in advance. When you do manage to find yourself a spot, though, the rewards are plentiful.
From the northwestern and Panhandle parks ripe with crystal clear springs and their adjoining rivers to the island parks in the Keys where you can watch the sun rise over the Atlantic and set into the Gulf, to the jungle habitat of the interior parks, Florida is a place like no other in the Continental US. It can be hot, humid and critters of all sizes and unrecognized shapes abound, but open your mind a little and enjoy an escape from the typical woods and mountains experiences of most state parks.
Generally, the rule is a maximum of 14 days at any given Florida State Park. At the discretion of any given park, the rangers can extend that period up to 28 days if there is availability. We have never stayed for 14 consecutive days in any given park, but have stayed longer than two weeks as we hopped around from park to park.
First, you get a starter kit with 6 core activities. You complete these and get sworn in, as most Jr. Ranger programs. The passport has four different categories, each of which you need to get three stamps in. We backed into a spot in Unicoi State Park, near Helen, Georgia, and even with a lackluster shine on our Airstream, the autumn foliage painted itself in the reflection of yellows, reds and ambers as tall, tall pines swayed in the wind above us.
A few weeks and a few dozen miles south at Fort Yargo, we arrived at a pristine moment in time: when there was only one campsite left and since we had a reservation and no one else could show up that night , we scored the ADA accessible site right next to the lake itself. Easily our favorite southeastern state, Georgia looks good for months at a time on any travelers East Coast Agenda. So you can start in one park and finish in another. Additionally, there are three badge levels—Deer, Owl and Fox. Earn your first badge and keep at it to get the other three. So sleeping in a car, let alone any type of RV, is not permitted.
From the raging rivers like the Salmon and Snake to some of the most untouched, rugged terrain left in the United States, Idaho is a paradise for fisherman seeking solitude to naturalists desperate for one of those few remaining places in the world where the sound of civilization truly cannot be heard. Max stay of 14 days out of 30 at any particularly campground, and reservations often need to be made 5 days in advance. You can stay a maximum of 14 consecutive days at any given Indiana State Park. All of the parks listed below have electric hookups.
Many of these campgrounds have additional non-electric sites suitable for RVs.
The Sunflower State is perhaps best known for being that huge, flat tract of land that adds an extra day to any good westward roadtrip. And though that is largely what it is, for those who are interested in looking beyond the typical 75mph non-stop via I to Colorado, there are some sites worth seeing. Clinton State Park is a great place to call home while exploring the trendy college town of Lawrence, Kansas, where everything from fancy shopping to kayaking to great local beers can easily soak up a week or so.
Eisenhower and El Dorado could be strung together with a smidgeon of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve thrown in the middle. The information below reflects the number of reservable campsites. Actual campsites are about double these numbers. The resort parks typically offer WiFi and have a lodge you can rent rooms from, and additional extras like golf courses or restaurants.
The number of sites and list of hookups below is not necessarily even. On one hand, it belches of stupidity, on the other, it breathes a testament to what humanity is willing to do for a piece of land. Ranger programs have been cut. Prisoners clean the bathrooms. Many amenities are closed indefinitely.
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By far the most rugged place left in the Eastern United States, at times Maine can almost mimic the larger, more mountainous West, particularly when it comes to steep cliffs towering over the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Between the last Saturday in June and the third Saturday in August, you can camp a maximum of 14 nights in any given park, period, the entire summer. Outside of those days there is no official limit on how long you can stay at any one park, but you can only make a reservation for 14 days at a time.
Additionally, you can also get a Passport and then get it stamped as you visit various state parks in Maine. However, the state does have a few gems, the shiniest of which is its association with Assateaugue National Seashore, and its adjoining state park. Feral horses are free to roam or run, and grow slightly fat with saltwater laden plants on a sandy, dune-laden shore, all with a state park campground for you and yours to kick back and watch the wild grapes grow ripe. Maryland does not allow the consumption of alcohol in state parks, even at your own camp site.
The only exceptions are during certain special events, or if you rent a cabin or are inside of your own motorhome but not necessarily tent. Cape Cod, and particularly Provincetown, have always stuck out for us when we look back at our time traveling Massachusetts.
From whale watching to some pretty flamboyant locals who chose to paint clothing on rather than bother actually wearing any, this corner of the state captured us for its beauty and small town charm alike, though the closest state park is still 40 minutes away. Amherst and Northhampton, closer to the middle of the state, were some other wonderfully delightful small and college towns, but there are no state parks which offer RV camping near those towns either.
Seventy two state parks, recreation areas and state forests should speak for itself. State Parks in Michigan are typically pretty rustic, though they almost always offer electric hookups. Bring your own water and use a dump station. All parks have electric available. While these are largely concentrated in the eastern part of the state, there is at least one state park that can accommodate trailers and motorhomes in every corner of Big Sky Country.
Note that many of state parks in Big Sky Country have short RV length limits, sometimes 25 feet or less. With that in mind, and your imagination on overdrive, the stretch of US Route 20 that runs through the northern part of the state is particularly enjoyable.
Small towns fighting off ghost town status, an easy two lane highway, and as you approach the northwest corner, sand dunes covered in flowing waves of amber grain. I guess a beer at 11pm is worse than one at 7am? These campgrounds offer at least electric and a non-dirt camping service, and sometimes water and sewer right at your site. Those with electric are noted below. Fill up somewhere, hit the red line just in time to see another one a few miles down the road.
Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park can make that an even more remote experience with a little southerly detour. But far from just the massive empty desert most of the state is comprised of, state park experiences in Nevada can range from camping under massive pine trees near the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe to the striating red rock experiences of Valley of Fire State Park, and yes, plenty of that Great Basin tan desert expanse the majority of the state exudes.
There is a fun program called the Nevada State Park Passport Booklet which is an actual passport-like book with lots of info on every park. You get one, visit parks, and get stamps for each park visited. Fifteen stamps and you get a free annual pass to Nevada State Parks. All sites are primitive, i. Inversely, if you make a reservation before April 1st, you have to reserve at least 3nights. So if you plan on hanging around for a couple of months, you could save some decent cash…. From old growth forests along mountain ridges in the Adirondacks to crashing waterfalls and sparkling water in the Fingerlakes area, the Empire State is full of nature.
Including below is information on not only every state park in New York with camping, but also many public campgrounds found in the Catskills and Adirondacks as well. From July 1st — Labor Day, 14 consecutive nights max per campground. Reservations can only be made for 14 days any time of year, but outside of those dates they can be extended if availability allows. When it came time to settle down for a few months and find a spot where our third son could be born, we knew that this time around we wanted to be back east.
The decision was based purely on wanting to be relatively close to family in Pennsylvania and Florida for awhile, before the little guy was born and we headed back out West.
Also, keep in mind that slot canyons aren't usually dog-friendly if they involve very tight spaces and scrambling. Consult with a local ranger if you want an authoritative opinion.
Many slots also require a cross-country schlep to get back to your starting point, and these walks are usually in full sun, with diminutive cairns that blend into the landscape. You will have earned it by the end of your excursion. The trailhead is found in the Goblin Valley area, which has a lot to explore and ample camp spots.
But Little Wild Horse is a treasure within an extraordinary landscape. The hike is long enough that many people make an overnight backpacking trip out of it, leaving a shuttle car at one end.
Another option: Go as far as you can for the day, then turn back to where you started. Be smart about only hiking it when there are no storms in sight—and no storms upstream, either. You need to snag a permit for this hike, and remember to wear water-friendly shoes in case you end up slogging a bit deep in the canyon.