Campgrounds, RV Parks, and RV Resorts: How Are They Different?

Difference between RV parks, RV resorts, and campgrounds

When you’re looking for a place to set up your RV you may find several different options depending on the location you are planning to stay. You will probably come across three very common terms: campground, RV park, and RV resort. They may raise some questions especially if you are new to RVing.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Asking what the difference is between campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts is a bit like asking the difference between a cabin, a condo, and a mansion.

Think about it. They’ll all give you a place to stay. But, similar to the types of houses, the campground, RV park, and resort all offer different amenities. 

Today I’ll break down the difference between these three types of RV camping experiences. Let’s dive right in!

Irvins RV Park, Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to look for in a campsite

What you want in a campsite is highly dependent on personal preference. Something that is an absolute must for one person might be at the bottom of someone else’s list!

The best way to approach this is to ask your self a few questions:

  • What amenities do I need or desire? (Consider: flushing toilet or vault toilet, shower facility or not, full hookups or partial or no hookups, Wi-Fi or no internet)
  • What is my goal when RVing? (Consider: adventure, work while enjoying nature, getting away from it all, and experiences)
  • How much are you willing to pay? (Consider: < $35, $35-$60, >$60)
Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And live by one statement: You will not be able to see everything, do everything, eat or drink everything, or experience everything. So live in the moment, you’re in. Go ahead, repeat that last sentence. I will live in the moment I’m in. You’ll be much happier for that.

Great! You’ve adopted a new life mantra. However, you will still have plenty of choices to make.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And depending on where you are, when you are, and your preferred activities/experiences, your choices and answers to those questions may be different every time you decide where to stay.

Once you have answered those questions, though, it is quite helpful to have a basic understanding of the differences between campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts.

Pro tip: Here is an RVers guide to campground etiquette

Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parks

RV parks are generally located either in a town/city or nearby. Their pricing can range anywhere from $35 a night to $60 a night. Many RV parks also participate in discounted camping programs such as Passport America or Good Sam, making their nightly rates even cheaper.  Many will also offer weekly and monthly rates upon request. 

Most RV parks have space for overnight campers as well accommodations for long-term campers, seasonals, and full-time RVers. Some RV parks have a mix of mobile homes and RV sites.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Typically RV parks will have full hook-ups at most sites but some will offer partial hookups and/or dry camping at a reduced rate. Most RV parks offer laundry facilities, Wi-Fi (but often iffy), showers, and restrooms. 

Sites are generally spaced fairly close together. Except for a few extremely old RV parks, most have available space for big rigs to access and get in and out of fairly easily.

Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In general, RV parks will have the basics that every RV needs, but without all the fancy bells and whistles. You will typically get what you pay for with the basics. RV parks cost less than RV resorts, but not always less than campgrounds.

Pro tip: Here are 10 RV parks across America that are one step above the rest

White Tank Mountains Regional Park Campground, Maricopa County, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds

Speaking of campgrounds, if you are paying more than an RV park for a nightly stay, what you’re really paying for is the natural beauty that surrounds you. Consider this when you’re looking for amenities at a campground. Pricing can vary from about $15 per night to $40 or $50 a night depending on the location and amenities offered or lack thereof.

Campgrounds are more like what you would get if you’re staying in a state park, national park, or county/regional park. Because campgrounds are normally located in nature-surrounded areas such as forests or water, you’ll usually have more privacy here than you would in a typical RV park.

Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The sites are often larger but the maneuverability for big rigs might be more difficult due to dirt roads, narrow roads, and all the trees. Most will have shower facilities and restrooms and partial hookups. Oftentimes the hookups do not include sewer at your site but a dump station is usually provided.

What you may not get in RV amenities, you’ll get back in natural ones. Most campgrounds have hiking and biking trails right outside your door.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And, some campgrounds have campstores and rental places on site allowing you to learn how to canoe or kayak. But don’t count on great cell service. You are, after all, tucked away in a forest of trees.

Pro tip: Explore America’s beauty at these scenic campgrounds from coast to coast

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV resorts

Want it all? Including cell service, Wi-Fi, nature trails, full hook-ups, privacy, and ample space.  RV resorts can give you that and more. With prices ranging anywhere from affordable to well over $100/night, usually you get more if you pay more.

Some RV resorts are truly lavish in their resort style. From hot tubs to swimming pools and golf courses to private dinner clubs and a spa, you can get it all. Of course, you can get all the amenities in a typical RV park, but be wary, some are billed as RV resorts when they resemble a typical RV park, maybe with a tree or two more in between spaces.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One drawback of RV resorts may be the numerous rules and restrictions that are often in place. Although, that may be one thing you desire when choosing your campsite giving you the ambiance you seek. One of those rules may state how new your rig must be and another could be dictating whether you can or cannot have children or pets. And some resorts are restricted to Class A motorhomes

Whether or not you like that type of organizational style is up to you. Maybe all those rules are well worth the fancy amenities. After all, you are spending your well-earned money and you should get the level of luxury you desire.

Pro Tip: For resorts that have it all, here are 10 luxurious RV resorts for summer travel

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV park, campground, and RV resort: Which is right for you? 

So you think you now know your exact needs and wants when it comes time to choose between an RV park, a campground, or an RV resort. Good for you! Hold on to that thought! Your needs and desires may change based upon traveling to scenic destinations or camping in a big city.

Pro Tip: Prioritize your wants and needs when choosing RV parks and campgrounds

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My best advice: Go with what you need and want in that moment. Traveling in an RV has probably made you pretty flexible and has taught you how to go with the flow. From that lesson, your new mantra of living in the moment you’re in and knowing the differences between RV parks, campgrounds, and RV resorts, you’re prepared to know which one is right for you when that moment arises.

Worth Pondering…

Life is like an RV, always moving, always different, and always an adventure.

Don’t Book a Campsite Online. Call the Reservation Desk!

10 questions to ask when booking a campsite

Online reservation systems are handy when it comes to plugging in your rig requirements and quickly booking a site. (Ok, maybe if you are tech savvy; is it just me or are some booking systems just downright confusing?!)

Despite our digital world, computers don’t know what kind of site you prefer. Reservation systems only assign sites based on the rig requirements given. 

Call the reservation desk to find your perfect RV campsite.

Here’s why… 

A perfect RV campsite at Maeher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preferences matter

A site may work perfectly for one family but not for another. For example, some may prefer to be in the heart of the action surrounded by exciting amenities such as the campground playground, pool, and clubhouse. Others may have a different experience in mind, perhaps wanting a more secluded and peaceful location. Waterviews or riverfront locations may be a strong desire for others to watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. On the other hand, this could be a dangerous deal breaker for a family with small children.

A perfect RV campsite at The Motorcoach Resort in Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The computer system doesn’t know if you’d rather be by the bathhouse, be away from the noisy pool, or prefer more shade than the sun. It simply plops you in the next available site by the RV criteria you’ve entered in the online system.

Related: Finding the Right RV Site

Depending on the RV Park online booking may be the ONLY method for reserving sites. And that would be unfortunate.

A perfect RV campsite at the Lakes Golf and RV Resort in Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you are unfamiliar with the campground, require specific rig accommodations, have site or amenity preferences that would make or break your stay, or have questions that are not answered on the website, phone the reservation desk and talk to a live human being. 

Calling and speaking to an actual person can be the difference between a GREAT camping experience and a disappointing one.

Check out the list of questions below. Some may not apply to you, however, a few listed below may help spark your memory to ask for your next camping trip.

A perfect RV campsite at Coastal Georgia RV Resort in Brunswick, Georgia Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Call the reservation desk and ask these questions to get your ideal site, savings, and campground information for an exceptional experience. Ask all that apply to you. Simply fill in the blanks with your information or preferences.

1. Do you have site availability for the dates ___ (your preferred date of arrival and departure) that can accommodate a ___  (pop up, travel trailer, 5th wheel, Class A, Class B, Class C, big rig, etc.)?  My rig requires a site with  ___ (30, 50 amp power, sewer, water).

Related: The Best RV Camping November 2022

It may be useful to have your rig requirements and information written down especially for those new to RVing. (After all, that’s a lot of specifications to remember.) That way, the reservation desk can assess all the information given and determine site availability and specific RV accommodations. 

A perfect RV campsite at Terre Haute RV Park in Terre Haute, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Do you have pull-through sites/back-in sites/pull-in sites? (Some travelers prefer pull-through for quick and easy departure in the morning. Others may prefer back-in sites given the layout or how their windows face in the rig. Pull-in sites generally are for motorhomes; for example, pulling in a site right on the waterfront.)  

3. What are your rates? Do you have season specials, weekly/long term rate plans, RV club membership discounts, or military discounts that would apply to my stay?

A perfect RV campsite at Columbia River RV Park in Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. What is your cancellation policy? (This is always good to know before booking a site so that you’re not left with an unknown cancellation fee if unable to make the trip.)  

Related: 9 Things to Consider Before Making an RV Park Reservation

5. Does your campground offer shady spots with tree cover or will my rig be in the sun?

Even if you plan on running your AC, camping in the sun will make for a much hotter experience than you’d find under the natural shade of trees. But at the same time, trees can make for a sticky mess of sap and bird droppings on your RV’s roof. Also, consider that during a severe storm wind can break off large branches with the potential of damage to your RV or toad/tow vehicle.

A perfect RV campsite at Seabreeze RV Park in Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Does your campground have pet restrictions? Are certain breeds excluded? (If you’re traveling with pets, it’s critical that you make sure they’re actually allowed on the property.)

7. Do you have any activities scheduled during our stay?

8. Do you have cable TV?

Related: More Campsites Coming

9. Do you have Wi-Fi? How well does it work? Do you offer a VIP WiFi service/access for those working remotely?

10. Is your pool/spa open?

A perfect RV campsite at Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVING IS BEING adventurous.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

More Campsites Coming

The physics of the camping industry dictates that it takes a lot longer to build a new campsite than it does the RV that’s waiting to fill it

The past winter saw the construction of more than 50 new campgrounds and RV parks offering more than 15,000 new RV sites. At the same time work continued coast to coast on the expansion of many existing parks.

An estimated 81,000 new outdoor recreation sites could be constructed within the next year. That’s according to the 2022 Industry Trends and Insights Report released by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
It’s all a result of record recreational vehicle sales which gained a big boost from the pandemic-sparked drive to spend less time indoors and more in the great outdoors. Increased interest in the recreational vehicle lifestyle has also flowed from the ability of many to leave offices in the rearview mirror and work remotely from their RVs.

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why are so many RV parks opening and expanding?

The pandemic changed many things. It ignited record sales of RVs as people sought to spend more time outdoors while enjoying all the comforts of home.

In 2021, it seemed everyone wanted to buy an RV of some type and go exploring. Also, the phenomenon of working remotely became the norm for many workers. When you work remotely it doesn’t matter where you are as long as there is a good Wi-Fi signal. RV parks can be as good as anywhere else for working remotely. Many remote workers found RV living to be ideal for work and play.

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As more people got into RVing, campgrounds struggled to keep up with the unprecedented demand for campsites. In 2021, campsite shortages became a real challenge for many RVers. RV parks responded by expanding existing facilities to have more RV sites available. Landowners realized that developing their land into RV parks and resorts would meet a market need and could be very lucrative.

Related: Campgrounds and RV Resorts Can’t-Wait To Go Back To

Another thing that RV campgrounds started doing was adding unique or luxury accommodations for those who want to get away but didn’t own an RV. Many RV owners want to vacation at parks with family and friends who don’t own their recreational vehicles.

Rain Spirit RV Resort, Cottonwood, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Non-RV camping at RV parks ranges from site-built cabins to furnished glamping tents, covered wagons, treehouses, and a wide range of other distinctive lodging options. Among the newer twists is the offer of yurts, also known as gears, which are circular structures that are both lightweight and portable and are held up without center supports. The ability of parks to offer lodging aside from RV sites can help businesses claim distinct competitive advantages.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Florida on track to add more than 5,000 campsites by next year

By early next year, RVers will have thousands of new campsite options in Florida. Florida will see an additional 5,300 campsites by 2023. That will come as the result of the opening of 15 new RV resorts and the expansion of 13 already existing parks.

“It’s all to meet the needs of the ever-expanding interest in outdoor recreation,” said Bobby Cornwell, Executive Director and CEO of the Florida RV Park and Campground Association.

Related: 10 Luxurious RV Resorts for Summer Travel

That organization hosts CampFlorida.com, a travel-planning website that features more than 400 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts, totaling more than 120,000 campsites.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Snowbirds have been spending their winters in Florida for decades but now it’s not just retirees who are coming here but working people with mobile jobs who are discovering they don’t have to wait until they’re retired to enjoy the winter in Florida,” Cornwell added.

The additional campsites don’t even include the addition of 2,100 RV sites that took place between 2017 and 2020. That’s when 14 other parks expanded and seven new parks were added. Several RV parks are also making significant improvements to their sites as well.

Sonoran Desert RV Park, Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New RV parks opened in 2022

Camp Margaritaville, Auburndale, Florida: Camp Margaritaville is a new RV resort (opened January 2022) in Auburndale, Florida where you can choose to stay in your RV in a well-appointed RV site or in a Margaritaville cabin. Camp Margaritaville has 400 RV sites plus 75 cabins. Amenities include full hookups, 110/30/50-amp breakers, free Wi-Fi and cable, picnic table, outdoor kitchen, outdoor TV, Adirondack chairs and hammocks. The 66-acre, island-themed resort also offers a pool complex with a waterslide, a pawsome dog park, a dog grooming station, a golf course, and even a pizzeria.

Related: 6 Casino RV Resorts Where You Can Stay and Play

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pine Mountain RV Resort, Pine Mountain, Georgia: Located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, Pine Mountain RV Resort boasts 225 RV sites plus cabins and glamping tents. The park just opened in January 2022 and has already earned many positive reviews from guests. Amenities include a swimming pool, a playground, and a dog park for the furry glampers. The owners of Pine Mountain RV Resort are RVC Outdoor Destinations, a well-known name in the luxury RV resort business with RV parks in 10 states.

The MotorCoach Resort, Chandler, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Red Coach Resort, Toney, Alabama: Located 15 minutes northwest of Huntsville, Alabama, Red Coach Resort opened in early 2022. At the outset, the park has 47 sites that include 17 full-hookup RV sites and 30 “primitive” sites. At full buildout, the 60-acre RV park in Toney is destined to have 177 sites. Another 20 acres will be reserved for a horse farm accommodating those who travel with horses. The park stretches along a half mile of riverfront where park visitors will be able to swim, raft, and kayak. Additional acres being maintained as a nature preserve overlooking the river may within the next couple years host glamping cabins.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona

Gulf Shores RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama: Opened this summer Gulf Shores RV Resort’s first 175 RV-level full hook-up sites encircle a quartet of stocked fishing ponds. Five rental cottages that can sleep up to six guests also came online in Phase I. In addition to amenities considered standard at upscale resorts, Gulf Shores RV Resort will feature a pool and hot tub as well as fishing ponds, bike rentals, hiking paths, a dog park, and a pair of pickleball courts. Developed by Memphis-based RVC Outdoor Destinations, this Alabama park has the capacity to be expanded by as many as 500 sites.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

River Ridge Retreat, Gunterville, Alabama: Unveiled last fall, River Ridge Retreat sits on over 670 acres of beautiful property that boasts both mountainside views and over a mile of waterfront on Guntersville Lake, Alabama’s largest lake. Miles of hiking and bike riding are available on the property. You can enjoy fishing from their banks or large pier. The property is home to abundant wildlife such as whitetail deer and bald eagles. The park currently offers 12 modern tiny house cabins and 54 full hookup 30/50 amp RV sites as well as a unique wedding chapel. All sites include a grill and fire ring, RV sites include a picnic table as well. The next developmental stages include a swimming pool, boat ramp/docks, and more RV sites.

Related: Highly Rated Snowbird Resorts, According To RVers

Katy Lake RV Resort, Katy, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Wilds in Ohio, Cumberland, Ohio: Construction of a new 59-acre RV park has begun in The Wilds in Ohio. This park will connect visitors with the great outdoors and provide a unique camping experience. The Wilds is a safari park and conservation center that is spread across more than 9,000 acres. It includes multiple conservation areas and is managed by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The park was opened in 1984, and it has continued to evolve and grow over the years. The upcoming park doesn’t currently have a name, but some details and plans for future amenities have been released. It will span across 59 acres and include 46 RV sites and 27 tent sites. A majority of this campground space will be devoted to the preservation of natural areas.

Worth Pondering…

Shoot for the moon, Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

—Les Brown

Camping the Shoulder Season

Welcome to one of the best seasons, shoulder season—that moment when minimal tourists occupy your favorite spot

It’s that time of year again! There’s a shift in the temperature, the sun is setting a little earlier, and the leaves are turning from their vibrant green to rich autumn color. For many RVers, this change in the season and the back-to-school grind ignites a longing for evenings around the campfire, cool weather hikes, and s’mores.

Whether you’re looking for a seasonal spot to explore over fall break or a shorter weekend getaway, there are epic destinations located all over the US to scratch that camping itch! Here are a few of my favorites:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

If you’re in the eastern United States, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a great area to explore. The park is within driving distance of several eastern US cities which makes it doable if you only have a weekend to get away.

Clingman Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This park is situated on the border of east Tennessee and western North Carolina and offers beautiful hikes, history, and scenery. When visiting this park be sure to check out Clingman Dome for epic views, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail where you can find historic log cabins as well as spot a black bear or two, and Cades Cove with countless waterfalls off this loop.

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you have a little more time on your hands, you can either begin or end your drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway when visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. One more thing to do while you’re visiting is hike seventy-one miles of the famed Appalachian Trail. Make it a point to add part of that trail to your bucket list!

Nearby RV parks and campgrounds:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park campgrounds
  • Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge
  • Two Rivers Landing RV Resort

Get more tips for visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park, Utah

Fall camping season is the perfect time to visit Zion National Park. October and early November not only offer small crowds but also days that are still warm enough to enjoy hiking through the water of The Narrows and cool enough to hike the iconic Angels Landing.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV camping is located within the park or outside the national park gates. It’s recommended that you utilize the shuttle system in this park so be prepared for that. Or, if you own an e-bike this park is the perfect place to enjoy a bike ride without car-populated roads.

If you’re pressed for time make sure to hike The Narrows trail to at least Wall Street, Angels Landing to at least Scout Lookout, and Emerald Ponds. These three trails will deliver a great experience while visiting this park.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearby RV parks and campgrounds:

  • South Campground and Watchman Campground (Zion National Park)
  • Zion River Resort RV Park & Campground
  • Sand Hollow RV Resort

Get more tips for visiting Zion National Park

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It’s the state’s largest and first state park named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and covers an area measuring 71,000 acres. Also operating as a wildlife reserve, the area is famous for its bison herds and abundance of other species including whitetail and mule deer, pronghorns, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, wild burros, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, and prairie dogs. Mountain lions and bobcats have also been spotted during the night.

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park is home to stunning landscapes including pristine lakes, streams, and granite spires. As such visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities including camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearby RV parks and campgrounds:

  • Custer State Park campgrounds
  • Rushmore Shadows Resort
  • Rafter J Bar Ranch Camping Resort

Get more tips for visiting Custer State Park

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arches National Park

One of the most recognizable and well-photographed natural areas in the country, Arches National Park encompasses just over 100 square miles of eastern Utah and boasts more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Positioned over a massive subterranean salt bed these graceful rock formations are the result of thousands of years of erosion and geological activity. The unique and variable landscape of Arches offers an array of outdoor recreational opportunities, from hiking and horseback riding to climbing.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fall is the perfect time for visiting Arches National Park. The temperatures during the day range from 60 degrees to 80 degrees. The lows will dip down into the 30s to the 50s. 

When hiking at Arches in the fall it’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun: pack water bottles, wear sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearby RV parks and campgrounds:

  • Devils Garden Campground (Arches National Park)
  • Sun Outdoors Arches Gateway
  • Spanish Trails RV Park

Get more tips for visiting Arches National Park

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park is an adventurous West Texas destination for kayakers, hikers, and mountain bikers. The 801,000-acre park at the U.S.-Mexican border was named after a bend in the Rio Grande River which separates the two countries. The terrain includes, of course, the majestic river but also mountains, canyons, deserts, and several thermal hot springs. The highest point is Emory Peak located 7,832 feet above sea level in the Chisos Mountains.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Because it is one of the most remote national parks in the continental U.S. only a few small towns surround Big Bend including Lajitas, Study Butte, and an actual ghost town called Terlingua. With a population of 430, the village of Marathon is the biggest nearby “city” although it’s about a 40-minute drive from the park’s entrance.

Inside the park, the National Park Service also offers a wide variety of programs for visitors including guided walks from rangers. Those who prefer self-guided activities can enjoy bird-watching, hiking, bicycling, fishing, and horseback riding. And for a truly unique experience don’t forget about stargazing.

Big Bend National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nearby RV parks and campgrounds:

  • Rio Grande Village RV Park (Big Bend National Park)
  • Rio Grande Village Campground (Big Bend National Park)
  • Maverick Ranch RV Park at Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa

Get more tips for visiting Big Bend National Park

More shoulder season camping destinations

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A few other shoulder season camping spots perfect for exploring in the fall are:

Heading to any of these destinations during the fall camping season provides a chance to see these beautiful spots with fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and one last chance to soak in the outdoors before the cold, dreary winter months set in.

Now the biggest question you have to answer is how will you choose where to go?

Worth Pondering…

Autumn brings a longing to get away from the unreal things of life, out into the forest at night with a campfire and the rustling leaves.

—Margaret Elizabeth Sangster, poet

Tips for Reserving a National Park Campsite

Some of the best places to go camping are America’s national parks

More people are leaping into the RV lifestyle every year. They’re exploring national parks in comfort but all that extra traffic makes spontaneous road trips to the parks largely a thing of the past, at least during the busy summer season. With more rigs on the road than campsites to accommodate them, RVers are constantly competing for a scant number of RV-friendly campsites.

Potwisha Campground, Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The mobile lifestyle exploded during the 2020 pandemic year and it hasn’t slowed down yet. In 2021, the RV industry saw a record 11.2 million households buying into RV ownership. That’s a 26 percent jump since 2011 when 8.9 million people bought their first rig. These figures don’t include the millions of pre-owned motorhomes, truck campers, travel trailers, toy haulers, and camper vans streaming into national parks all year long.

Pinnacles National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite this era of rising fuel prices and inflation, there’s no telling when or if RVing’s popularity will slow down. But as prices for other methods of travel increase, too, more people will likely buy into the relatively low cost of vacationing and living in RVs. Finding RV-friendly campsites at national parks is only going to get tougher but there are some steps you can take to enhance your odds of landing one.

Devils Garden Campground, Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First, know your RV measurements. Starting this year, RVers at Gulf Islands National Seashore are discovering that size is everything when camping in national parks. Those RVers who ignore campsite length and height limits and trample vegetation and terrain with their rig will pay a price as park rangers are now enforcing maximum RV size limits to protect natural resources.

Related: National Park Campgrounds by the Numbers

Wahweep Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The restrictions are in place for all campsites in the Fort Pickens Campground in Florida and the Davis Bayou Campground in Mississippi. Visitors can verify the campsite length on recreation.gov. Reservations for vehicles exceeding the campsite size limits will be canceled by campground staff on-site.

Created in 1971, the national seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitats.

Cottonwood Campground, Canyon de Chelly National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Unfortunately for many RV owners, the average length of campsites in national park campgrounds is around 30-feet long. This figure comprises the entire RV unit from end to end, including a tow or towed vehicle. New RVers tend to learn the hard way that many national park campsites just can’t accommodate newer, bigger motorhome and travel and fifth wheel trailer models rolling off RV assembly lines. 

Twin Peaks Camping, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even a couple of feet make a huge difference in where an RV can go. Smaller is just better for exploring national parks. From the front bumper to the rear bike rack, rooftop A/C to where the rubber meets the road, if you own an RV and you want to camp in national parks, here’s what you need to do for a successful experience:

  • Gather all of your RV unit’s measurements from end-to-end and top-to-bottom
  • Find your desired national park campground and look for the amenities you want (Hint: most national park campgrounds do not have utility hookups)
  • Check for road restrictions to the campground (many national parks prohibit longer RVs from traveling certain roads with a tight turning radius)
  • Look for campsites that can accommodate the type of rig you own
  • Pinpoint the earliest dates you can reserve a spot, reserve it online, or call to book your stay
Devil’s Garden Campground, Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If your RV exceeds the biggest campsite length where you want to go, don’t give up. In many campgrounds, guests can detach the trailer and park their tow vehicle elsewhere. When in doubt, call the reservations agency to confirm that the entire RV can be accommodated.

Related: Choose Your National Park Campground Carefully

Wahweep Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, research the campground facilities. Most national park websites don’t make it easy to find helpful trip planning logistics. From ADA-accessible sites to mandatory reservation seasons, much of the important information needed for RV trip planning to national parks is buried deep inside each campground’s park profile.

Twin Peaks Camping, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As an RV owner, I need a certain amount of information before I feel confident reserving a campsite. For example, I work online and have a long list of questions I need to be answered, such as: 

  • Does the campground have drinking water to fill my tanks?
  • Will there be dump station access or should I plan on emptying holding tanks outside the park?
  • What does cellular connectivity look like in and outside of the park boundaries?
  • Is Wi-Fi available?
Devil’s Garden Campground, Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Everyone has different considerations for RV camping in national parks. National Park Traveler is currently developing a traveler’s directory that will make it easy to scan national park campground information pertinent to RVers and find key details that will help make your trip a success. I will provide additional information as more details become available.

Wahweep Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many campgrounds are in the National Park System? How many are needed? If you’ve struggled with making a campsite reservation on recreation.gov, these questions might have come to mind. Here are some answers.

Related: Reservations and Permits Required at Some National Parks in 2022

According to the National Park Service, there were 1,421 campgrounds in the park system with 27,513 campsites. Filter that done a bit more and there are 502 front-country campgrounds with 16,648 sites (another 494 campgrounds don’t have front- or backcountry designations), according to the Park Service. 

Devil’s Garden Campground, Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That 16,648 number might explain why it is such a struggle to reserve a campsite. After all, Yellowstone National Park has more than 2,000 front-country campsites alone, Yosemite National Park has nearly 1,500, Glacier National Park has more than 1,000, Grand Teton National Park has more than 1,100, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon combined have just a bit more than 1,200 sites. Do the math and you’ll see that those six parks alone hold 40 percent of those 16,648 campsites.

Cottonwood Campground, Canyon de Chelley National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many other parks that are highly desirable with campers, meanwhile, have considerably fewer sites. Canyonlands National Park has fewer than 40, Arches National Park has 50, Rocky Mountain National Park has around 571, Acadia National Park has a few more than 600, and Shenandoah National Park has 472.

Of course, if you’re looking for RV campsites, they are even more scarce.

Wahweep Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Finally, don’t leave your trip to chance. My wife and I started snowbird RVing in 1997. We were recently retired and few working-age people were long-term RVers back then. But today, we are surrounded by RVers of all ages. It’s great seeing people enjoy this lifestyle before (and after) retirement but the consequence is a loss of spontaneous road trips to national parks or most anywhere else. Impromptu decisions usually lead to disappointment in all but the most remote parks. Those who arrive without reservations usually get turned away. So forget spontaneity. Like it or not, this is a new era of planned camping trips to America’s most beloved natural gems.

Related: Yes, You Can Avoid Crowds in the National Parks & Here is How

Devil’s Garden Campground, Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When there’s a park you want to visit, do your homework, and book your spot as early as possible. Persistence and flexibility pay off in the never-ending game of national parks camping reservations.

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

National Plan for Vacation Day

Plan the perfect RV trip on National Plan for Vacation Day

The fundamental freedom to travel is one of the aspects of our lives that have been most profoundly changed by the pandemic. We can all do ourselves a favor by looking ahead and planning travel.

Of course, there is no better way to travel the country than by taking a road trip in an RV! 

Road trip on Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the US Travel Association, National Plan for Vacation Day celebrated on the last Tuesday in January, is a day to encourage Americans to plan their vacation days for the WHOLE year at the START of the year—and inspire them to use those days to travel to and within the U.S. This year’s National Plan For Vacation Day will fall on Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

Road trip on Bush Highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since 2015, when the travel industry and partners began tracking American vacation usage, survey findings have shown that vacation days are not being used, negatively affecting mental health, personal relationships, and job performance.

Scenic byway through Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Plan for Vacation Day helps highlight the importance of taking time off to travel for our personal health and wellbeing. It’s also meant to highlight the importance of vacation planning and how much it can help our mental health, as studies have shown that trip planning makes us happier.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Summer Road Trip

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping many people at home, it’s a great time to get a head start on planning your next road trips and adventures. In fact, research has even shown that vacationers are happier from planning a trip and looking forward to it more than when they return from their travels.

The study, published in Applied Research in Quality of Life (ARQOL), consisted of over 1,500 respondents and compared several variables including the length of stay, days passed since their return, and how much stress they experienced on the trip.

Along Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Statistically, the most dramatic difference was between pre-trip happiness and post-trip happiness, indicating that there is more happiness from looking forward to a vacation rather than when you get back into the same old routine. Essentially, people who anticipate a vacation feel better off than non-vacationers, and once the trip is over, that post-trip happiness does not last long.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning vacations reduce burnout. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of workers feel at least moderately burned out and 13 percent are extremely burned out. Avoiding burnout was the top-rated motivator to book a trip in the next six months—ranked even higher than travel discounts/deals.

Of course, there is no better way to travel the country than by taking a road trip in an RV! 

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be planning my summer road trip right now rather than staying glued to the latest news on COVID-related lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Get a head start on your trip planning with Rex Talks RVing TODAY and enjoy the happiness and anticipation of later travels during a much-needed time.

Lake George, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After two years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are feeling burned out and ready for a change of scenery. More than half (53 percent) of remote workers are working MORE hours now than they were in the office and 61 percent now find it more difficult to unplug from work.

Related Article: Epic Road Trips for this Summer and Beyond

Camping Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

However, Americans and Canadians are still not using all of their vacation days. Workers left an average of more than four days or 29 percent of their paid time off on the table last year but 64 percent say they desperately need a vacation.
Nearly six in 10 (59 percent) agree that travel is more important than ever and 61 percent plan to make travel a top budget priority in 2022. 81 percent of Americans are excited to plan a vacation in the next six months.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, there is no better way to travel the country than by taking a road trip in an RV! 

Planning an RV trip ahead of time is always a great idea. You’ll know exactly which routes to take and what roads are safe for your RV. You don’t want to get stuck driving down a road that is too narrow or down a highway with an overpass that is too low for your rig.

Camping at Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Searching for that perfect camping experience? Not all campgrounds and RV parks are created equal. You’ll want to read campground reviews to see if your destination will be right for you. Maybe you want specific amenities like a pool and sauna, pickleball courts, or reliable Wi-Fi.

Distant Drums RV Resort, Camp Verde, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good Sam has released its newly minted list of top-rated RV parks and resorts for 2022. In a review of their 157 top-rated parks, I detailed my list of the Top 20 RV Parks and Resorts for 2021 in two categories: My Top RV Parks that Received a Perfect Rating by Good Sam and My Top RV Parks Not Receiving a Perfect Rating by Good Sam.

While you’re planning your travels on National Plan for Vacation Day, you will also likely be running some numbers and working out your budget. Here are six ways to save money and cut down on expenses on an RV road trip.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan on visiting national parks in the next year? Writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called national parks America’s “best idea.” Turns out they’re also among the best ideas for an affordable RV vacation thanks to hundreds of drivable destinations throughout the country, free or inexpensive admission, camping, picnicking opportunities, and tons of cheap activities.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your National Park Vacation

Here are five reasons national parks make a great low-budget getaway.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To save even more obtain an America The Beautiful Pass. They cost $80 and are good for the full year. With some parks charging $35 in entrance fees, the pass will pay for itself after just a few visits. America The Beautiful Pass is especially great if Utah is in your travel plans.

Myakka River State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

State parks are wonderful places to visit on an RV family vacation. They usually have campgrounds and plenty to do.

Plan to eat in your RV as much as possible. Though it’s always fun to try the local restaurants in the areas you’re visiting, the cost of eating out can add up quickly, especially for traveling families. According to Journey Foods, the average price per serving of home-cooked meals is $4.31 while the average cost of eating out is $20.37.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Save money on fuel. Get a fuel discount card or check GasBuddy.com to find the cheapest gas in the areas you’re traveling.

Related Article: 6 Ways to Save Money on an RV Road Trip

Search online for coupon codes. Whether you’re buying something from a major department store or tickets for a local attraction, you never know if there is a code available that could give you a discount. Additionally, you may want the free Honey browser extension (joinhoney.com)  to scan for coupon codes.

Mississippi Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit the local Visitor Center, Chamber of Commerce, or Tourist Center. There are always free things to do and visit like museums, hiking, birding, and local parks. Ask about discounts for major attractions.

Texas Travel Information Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is no doubt that RVing is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel. No crowded planes or questionable hotel rooms are required—an RV gives you the freedom to explore and the peace of mind of having your own space.

Worth Pondering…

The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.

—Marie de Vichy-Chamrond

Campgrounds and RV Resorts Can’t-Wait To Go Back To

Can’t wait to go back to and enjoy these campgrounds and RV parks and resorts

2020 was a wash for the travel world. Entire segments of the industry were temporarily shut down. Airlines faltered. Hotels and restaurants closed their doors for months at a time (many shuttered permanently). It was, in a word, bleak.

While the travel industry will be fundamentally different in the future, there is hope on the horizon. We’re not totally out of the woods but it feels good to start eyeing that “where I want to travel next” list as we move into the summer of 2021.

One of the key aspects of any adventure—whether on a road trip, closer to home, or at a far-flung locale—is where to stay. Campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts often reveal something about the place, thereby becoming integral to the trip itself. A good RV park is a nice place to park your RV; a great RV resort is an experience that sticks with you.

Following are ten of my favorite campgrounds and RV parks and resorts around the US that I can’t wait to get back to when we make plans to travel again. Let’s get to it!

Usery Mountain Regional Park campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa Arizona

Usery Mountain Regional Park is set at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. The park contains a large variety of plants and animals that call the lower Sonoran Desert home. Along with the most popular feature of the park, the Wind Cave Trail, water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support the hanging gardens of Rock Daisy. The Wind Cave is formed at the boundary between the volcanic tuff and granite on Pass Mountain. Breathtaking views from this 2,840-foot elevation are offered to all visitors. The park offers a campground with 73 individual sites. Each site has a large parking area to accommodate up to a 45-foot RV and is a developed site with water and electric service, a dump station, a picnic table, a barbecue grill, and a fire ring. The park provides restrooms with flush toilets and hot water showers.

Cajun Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana

New in 2009 with paved streets, Cajun Palms offers long pull-through sites that range in length from 55 to 75 feet. Not to be ignored are the back-ins to the lake in the 55-60 foot range. Pull through and back-in sites have 20 feet of space between each concrete pad. A full-service resort, Cajun Palms features numerous traditional as well as high-tech amenities. Accommodations consist of over 300 deluxe RV sites and 25 cabins. RV sites have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. Easy-on, easy-off Interstate 10 (Exit 115) at Henderson (near Breaux Bridge).

Pala Casino RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pala Casino RV Resort, Pala, California

A new facility, Pala Casino RV Resort offers 100 full-service sites with grass lawns and picnic tables. Site selection includes 30 feet x 55 feet back-in sites, 30 feet x 60 feet luxury sites with barbecue grills, and 30 feet x 70 feet pull-through sites. Amenities include 20/30/50 amp power, water, and sewer hook-ups, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, restrooms and showers, heated swimming pool, two spas, fenced dog park, and 24-hour security patrol. Pala Casino RV Resort received top marks from Good Sam in every category including facilities, restrooms and showers, and visual appearance. The resort is located on SR-76, 6 miles east of I-15.

CreekFire RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

CreekFire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia

About 20 minutes west of Historic Savannah, Creek Fire is a new RV resort conveniently located ½ mile west of Interstate 95 at Exit 94. The park offers 105 RV sites, all suitable for big rigs. Site options include back-in and pull-through, gravel, and concrete. Interior roads are asphalt. Each site offers 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, and sewer centrally located. The park is adding 100+ new sites, two new pool features, a rally building, a pool bar, and restaurant, a market, and a gym. Resort amenities include canoe, kayak, and boat rentals; 1-mile nature trail around the lake, tennis/pickleball court, bocce ball, and full shower and laundry facilities.

Jamaica Beach RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jamaica Beach RV Resort, Galveston, Texas

Jamaica Beach RV Resort is across the street from the beach on Galveston Island with wide-open views of the Gulf. The park offers 181 pull-through sites with full hookups, concrete pads, a picnic table at every site, and all-inclusive amenities like a 700-foot-long lazy river. Other park amenities include a relaxing beach pool, family pool, indoor infinity hot tub, outdoor hot tub, splash pad, three laundry facilities, three shower houses, and pickleball courts.

Hollywood Casino RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hollywood Casino RV Park, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Hollywood Casino RV Park offers tranquil beauty of the outdoors with waterfront views and on-site shuttle service to the casino with three restaurants. The park is big-rig friendly featuring 80 back-in sites and 14 back-to-back pull-through sites. Our site backs to a treed area on a bayou and is in the 55-60 foot range with 50/30-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV. All interior roads and sites are concrete. Site amenities include metal picnic table and BBQ grill on concrete slab and garbage canister.

Wind Creek at Atmore RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wind Creek at Atmore RV Park, Atmore, Alabama

Wind Creek at Atmore RV Park is a new RV park conveniently located on the casino property. All 28 sites are 75-foot pull-through RV stations with 30 and 50 amp power, water, and sewer. Wi-Fi service is available at the site. Clubhouse amenities include restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. Shuttle service is provided to and from the casino resort with access to gaming floor, bowling alley, movie theater, arcade, pool/hot tub, spa, fitness center, and six dining options. The casino and RV park are conveniently located off I-65 at Exit 21.

Eagle’s Landing RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Eagle’s Landing RV Park, Holt, Florida

Big rig friendly with 100 foot long pull-through sites and utilities centrally located.  This 5-star park is easy-on, easy-off, a pleasant place to stop for a night, a week, or longer. It’s a great place to stop while traveling east or west on I-10 (Exit 45) or visiting northwestern Florida.

Barnyard RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina

Barnyard RV Park offers 129 level and grassy sites with paved interior roads. All sites include water, sewer, electric (30 and 50 amp), and cable TV. Most sites are pull-through and can accommodate large units including a tow car. Amenities include bath and laundry facilities, Wi-Fi available at the site, and a dog park. Barnyard RV Park is located 8 miles from downtown Columbia. From Interstate 20, take Exit 111 west on US-1 to the park. On weekends, experience Southern hospitality at the huge Barnyard Flea Market. The RV Park is located behind the Flea Market.

Wahweep RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wahweep RV Park and Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Page, Arizona

Centrally located at Wahweap Marina, the campsites are about one-quarter mile from the shore of Lake Powell. Wahweap offers plenty of fun with a wide variety of powerboats and water toys. You can also enjoy the restaurant, lounge, and gift shop at the Lake Powell Resort. This RV park/campground is a great place to enjoy the off-season solitude of Lake Powell. The campground offers 139 sites with 30 and 50 amp service, water, and sewer. Sites accommodate up to 45 feet. The season is an ideal time to visit nearby attractions including Rainbow Bridge, Antelope Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, and Horseshoe Bend. 

Worth Pondering…

For all of us have our loved places; all of us have laid claim to parts of the earth; and all of us, whether we know it or not, are in some measure the products of our sense of place.

—Alan Gussow

10 Best Campgrounds with Lakes

With summer in full swing these lakefront parks provide the perfect places to camp by the water

There is something about being near water that tends to induce a sense of calm and well-being, and one marine biologist says living close to a lake, river, sea, or ocean actually promotes happiness. Biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols wrote a book called Blue Mind which details how living near a body of water can increase a person’s overall mental health. Nichols asserts that water actually “lowers stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts.

Of course, as RVers, we have known this for quite some time. There is something very calming about spending a few days near the sounds and sights of a beautiful lake, river, or ocean.

There are numerous RV parks and campgrounds that take advantage of this psychological benefit. In today’s post, I will discuss 10 of the best RV parks and campgrounds with lakes. These locations not only have quick access to some of the nation’s most beautiful lakes but also great amenities and water activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming.

Quail Creek State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quail Creek State Park, Utah

Boasting some of the warmest waters in the state and a mild winter climate, Quail Creek lures campers, hikers, boaters, and anglers year-round. The maximum depth of Quail Creek can reach 120 feet so it is cold enough to sustain the stocked rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, and crappie. Largemouth bass and bluegill thrive in the warmer, upper layers of the reservoir.

Patagonia Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Patagonia Lake State Park, Arizona

Tucked away in the rolling hills of southeastern Arizona, Patagonia Lake State Park is a hidden treasure. The park offers a campground, beach, picnic area with ramadas, tables and grills, a creek trail, boat ramps, and a marina. The campground overlooks the lake where anglers catch crappie, bass, bluegill, catfish, and trout. The park is popular for water skiing, fishing, camping, picnicking, and hiking. 105 developed campsites with a picnic table and fire ring/grill. Select sites also have a ramada. Sites offer 20/30-amp and 50-amp electric service. Campsite lengths vary but most can accommodate any size RV.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico

Enjoy camping, fishing, and boating at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico’s largest state park. The lake can accommodate watercraft of many styles and sizes including kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, sailboats, ski boats, cruisers, and houseboats. Besides sandy beaches, the park offers developed camping sites with electric and water hook-ups for RVs.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah

With its warm, blue waters and red sandstone landscape, one of Utah’s newer state parks is also one of its most popular. Boat, fish, and dive at Sand Hollow Reservoir, explore and ride the dunes of Sand Mountain on an off-highway vehicle, RV or tent camp in a campground on the beach. Boating and fishing on its warm blue waters is the most popular activity in the warmer months but visitors can also go off-roading amidst wild red sandstone dunes in the park’s Sand Mountain area.

Glen Canyon National Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wahweep RV Park and Campground, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona

Centrally located at Wahweap Marina, the campsites are about one-quarter mile from the shore of Lake Powell. Wahweap offers plenty of fun with a wide variety of powerboats and water toys. You can also enjoy the restaurant, lounge, and gift shop at the Lake Powell Resort. This RV park/campground is a great place to enjoy the off-season solitude of Lake Powell. The campground offers 139 sites with 30 and 50 amp service, water, and sewer. Sites accommodate up to 45 feet. The season is an ideal time to visit nearby attractions including Rainbow Bridge, Antelope Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, and Horseshoe Bend. 

Lackawanna State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania

Offering gorgeous vistas of fall foliage, the 1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park is in northeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles north of Scranton. The centerpiece of the park, the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake, is surrounded by picnic areas and about 15 miles of multi-use trails winding through the forest. Boating, camping, fishing, mountain biking, and swimming are popular recreation activities. The campground is within walking distance of the lake and swimming pool and features forested sites with electric hook-ups and walk-in tent sites.

Roosevelt State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi

Conveniently located between Meridian and Jackson, Roosevelt State Park is known for gorgeous scenery thanks to its close proximity to Bienville National Forest. The park offers an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities in a picturesque setting. The gently sloping landscape is particularly striking in autumn when the forest is bright with fiery colors. The park offers 109 RV campsites, primitive tent sites, 15 vacation cabins, a motel, and a group camp facility. These facilities are located in wooded areas with views of Shadow Lake.

Utah Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah Lake State Park, Utah

Utah Lake is unique in that it is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the West and yet it lies in an arid area that receives only about 15 inches of rainfall a year. Utah’s largest freshwater lake at roughly 148 square miles, Utah Lake provides a variety of recreation activities. With an average water temperature of 75 degrees, Utah Lake provides an excellent outlet for swimming, boating, paddleboarding, and fishing. The RV campground consists of 31 sites, complete with water and electric hookups.

Alamo Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona

If you love the desert and want some year-round lake views, check out the Alamo Lake State Park campground. With six loops, this large campground has both full hookups and dry camping sites. The park also has cabins for rent with views of the water. Lake Alamo is nicely remote. It’s located about two hours from Parker and the RV-centric town of Quartzsite.

Vogel State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vogel State Park, Georgia

Vogel State Park, located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest, is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks. With miles of easy hiking paths, a 22-acre lake, a mountain-view beach, cottages, campsites, and primitive backpacking sites this much-loved park has something for everyone. Of particular interest during the fall is the drive from the south through Neel Gap.

Worth Pondering…

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye, looking into which, the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

—Henry David Thoreau

Red Sand Meets Blue Waters at Sand Hollow State Park

Red rock and red sand meet warm, blue waters at Sand Hollow, one of the most visited locations in the Utah State Park system

Sand Hollow Reservoir is the closest you will come to feeling like you are at Lake Powell, just on a smaller scale. Located near Saint George, Utah in Hurricane with the red sandstone rocks and amazing clear blue waters, Sand Hollow reservoir is a can’t-miss getaway. Sand Hollow offers activities for everyone including camping, fishing, boating, lake tours, and water sport lessons.  Enjoy Sand Hollow reservoir year-round.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located just 15 miles east of St. George, Sand Hollow State Park offers a wide range of recreation opportunities. With its warm, blue waters and red sandstone landscape, it is one of the most popular parks because it has so much to offer. Boat and fish on Sand Hollow Reservoir, explore and ride the dunes of Sand Mountain Recreation Area on an off-highway vehicle, RV, or tent camp in the modern campground.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This park is perfect for having a picnic and spending the day in the water. A favorite for swimming, the 1,322-acre reservoir is warm and offers rentals for water activities including boating, standup paddleboarding, water sports, fishing, and more. Enjoy the surrounding sand dune areas for ATV riding, hiking, and biking.

A popular destination for nearly every recreational activity—from boaters to bikers and from off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders to equestrians—Sand Hollow State Park sprawls across 20,000-acres. Sand Mountain provides 15,000 acres of perfectly sculpted dunes. The red sand is an incredible backdrop for Sand Hollow reservoir.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At nearly twice the size of the nearby Quail Creek Reservoir, Sand Hollow State Park offers boating, fishing, kayaking, sailboat racing, and other water recreation in a spectacular desert setting. Anglers let their lines out into the water in the search for bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One popular event seeing increased growth and interest has been the annual Winter 4×4 Jamboree hosted by the DesertRATS (Desert Roads and Trails Society). A premier off-road event that attracts close to 400 vehicles, the jamboree encourages all who enjoy the OHV lifestyle to join in taking advantage of the unique and stellar Utah landscape. The Winter 4×4 Jamboree is a non-competitive trail run event for high clearance 4×4 vehicles. Drivers can choose between over 20 trails, featuring rock climbing obstacles, petroglyph sites, and sand dunes.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Groups of participants are led on rated trails by experienced trail leaders and helpers. Trails are rated on a 10-point scale where a rating of 1 would be for graded roads that may be easily traveled by most cars and a rating of 10 is for purpose-built vehicles (buggies) with sophisticated suspensions and drivetrains operated by expert drivers. The number of vehicles on each trail is limited to ensure participants have an enjoyable experience.

An upcoming Winter 4×4 Jamboree is scheduled for Wednesday, January 12 to Saturday, January 15, 2022. On-line registration begins November 7, 2021 at 10:00 am.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two campgrounds suit everyone from those who want only a basic campsite to those who want it all. Both campgrounds have restrooms with showers. The West Campground offers 50 spacious sites with full hookups, covered picnic tables, and fire rings. Some sites have views of the reservoir. ATVs are not allowed in this campground except on a trailer.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

ATVs are allowed at the Sandpit Campground which is near the OHV staging area at the dunes. This campground offers 19 basic dry camping sites, six sites with electricity, and five group sites. All sites have a fire ring and picnic table. If you really like to get away from it all, Sand Hollow also offers primitive beach camping. Although there is no camping charge, you pay a day-use fee. Please note that the state park will not tow you out if you get stuck in the sand, so beware. Enter only where there are signs beckoning you to try beach camping. Be aware that some side roads can be very sandy.

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sand Hollow State Park is located approximately 15 miles east of St. George and seven miles east of the Interstate 15 Hurricane exit. Visitors should take exit 16 (Utah State Route 9), travel east for about four miles and turn right on Sand Hollow Road, travel south for about three miles, and turn left at the park entrance.

Tucked up against red sandstone cliffs and straddling Quail Creek, the Red Cliffs Recreation Area is a pleasant surprise for most visitors. The backdrop of the looming cliffs and the riparian habitat is an unexpected and welcome relief in the desert. 

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fact Box

Size: 20,000 acres

Date Established: 2003

Location: Southwest Utah

Park Elevation: 3,000 feet

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Surface Water: 1,322 acres

Sand Mountain OHV: 6,000 acres

Park Entrance Fee: $10-$20

Campsite Rates: $25-$35

Sand Hollow State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Recreational visits in 2020: 393,907

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden

The 15 Best State Parks for RV Camping

These 15 state parks across the U.S. have campgrounds that you really need to add to your travel list

While national parks are at the top of many RV travel bucket lists, state parks often offer more camping amenities than national parks. State park campgrounds are located in areas that feature natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and historic significance. Some state parks are smaller and may only feature a visitor center and day-use area. Some areas are large as a national park and feature several campgrounds and access to lakes, trails, and nearby towns.

Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Spanning more than 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is California’s largest park and one of the best places for camping. A diverse desert landscape the park encompassing 12 wilderness areas rich with flora and fauna. Enjoy incredible hikes, crimson sunsets, and starlit nights, and view metal dragons, dinosaurs, and giant grasshoppers. Set up camp at Borrego Palm Canyon or Tamarisk Grove Campground. Amenities include drinking water, fire pits, picnic tables, RV sites, and restrooms.

Buccaneer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi

Located on the beach in Waveland, Buccaneer is in a natural setting of large moss-draped oaks, marshlands, and the Gulf of Mexico. Use of this land was first recorded in history in the late 1700s when Jean Lafitte was active in smuggling and pirating along the Gulf Coast. Buccaneer State Park offers Buccaneer Bay, a 4.5-acre waterpark, Pirate’s Alley Nature Trail, playground, Jackson’s Ridge Disc Golf, activity building, camp-store, and Castaway Cove pool. Buccaneer has 206 premium campsites with full amenities including sewer. In addition, Buccaneer has 70 campsites that are set on a grassy field overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Catalina State Park, Arizona

The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams invite camping, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 150 species of birds call the park home. The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails that wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest. The park is located within minutes of the Tucson metropolitan area. Bring along your curiosity and your sense of adventure as you take in the beautiful mountain backdrop, desert wildflowers, cacti, and wildlife. The campground offers 120 electric and water sites with picnic tables and BBQ grills.

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park covers 71,000-acres of the Black Hills in South Dakota. This sprawling park of wildlife is made up of granite peaks and rolling plains, lush valleys, and crystal clear waters. Visitors of the park enjoy outdoor activities such as RV and tent camping, fishing, hiking, biking, and swimming. The park also hosts community events throughout the year as well as educational programs at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. Custer State Park also features a visitor center that highlights the iconic prairie bison. The Wildlife Station Visitor Center provides guests with unobstructed views of the rolling hills and prairie located on the Wildlife Loop Road.

Dead Horse Point State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

The name of this stunning state park may seem less appealing but the history behind it is interesting. Back in the days of the old west, cowboys used the area as a place to corral wild mustangs. Trapping the horses at the edge of the cliff, they would round up the desired horses and take them back to be tamed. Usually, the remaining horses were set free. However, legend has it that one time the remaining horses remained at the edge of the cliff and died of thirst. Today, Dead Horse Point provides a beautiful mesa where you can look 2,000 feet down to the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The Intrepid Trail System offers 16.6 miles of hiking and biking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. The campground offers 64 RV and tent sites including 44 with partial hookups.

Goose Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goose Island State Park, Texas

Brown pelicans, whooping cranes, camping, fishing, and the waters of Aransas, Copano, and St. Charles bays draw visitors here. The CCC built Goose Island, Texas’ first coastal state park. It sits on the southern tip of the Lamar Peninsula. Dramatic wind-sculpted trees dominate the park. The “Big Tree,” a massive coastal live oak estimated to be centuries old is one of the natural wonders of Texas.

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park, Alabama

Gulf State Park has two miles of beaches, a spacious campground, and a new Lodge and Conference Center. Lake Shelby, a 900-acre freshwater lake is one of the closest to saltwater along the Gulf of Mexico. The park has a multitude of activities to participate in that includes hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, exploring, geocaching, and paddling. Reconstruction of The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel, is complete and new hostel-style accommodations are available nearby as well. The park offers a 496-site improved campground including 11 modern bathhouses, pull-through sites, back-in sites, waterfront campsites, and ADA accessible sites. The paved camping pads fit large RVs and provide full hookups with water, sewer, electricity, a picnic table, and a pedestal grill.

Lackawanna State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania

The 1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park is in northeastern Pennsylvania ten miles north of Scranton. The centerpiece of the park, the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake is surrounded by picnic areas and multi-use trails winding through the forest. Boating, camping, fishing, mountain biking, and swimming are popular recreation activities. A series of looping trails limited to foot traffic wander through the campground and day-use areas of the park. Additional multi-use trails explore forests, fields, lakeshore areas, and woodland streams. The campground is within walking distance of the lake and swimming pool and features forested sites with electric hook-ups and walk-in tent sites.

Laura S. Walker State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia

Located near the northern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp, this park is home to fascinating creatures and plants, including alligators and carnivorous pitcher plants. Walking along the lake’s edge and nature trail, visitors may spot the shy gopher tortoise, saw palmettos, yellow-shafted flickers, warblers, owls, and great blue herons. The park’s lake offers opportunities for fishing, swimming, and boating, and kayaks and bicycles are available for rent. The Lakes 18-hole golf course features a clubhouse, golf pro, and junior/senior rates. Each fairway and landing area is defined with gentle, links-style mounds that accent the course’s three lakes. The park’s campground offers 44 RV campsites with electricity utilities.

Lost Dutchman State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

Named after the fabled lost gold mine, the park is located in the Sonoran Desert at an elevation of 2,000 feet. In the late 1800s, Jacob Waltz emerged from this area with gold. When he died in 1891, he was found with 24 pounds of high-quality gold ore under his bed. Purportedly, before he died he left clues to the mine’s location. Needless to say, it is a haven for treasure hunters today. The Park also offers a variety of hiking trails, nature trails, 35 campsites, picnic facilities, and special programs throughout the year.

Meaher State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meaher State Park, Alabama

This 1,327-acre park is situated in the wetlands of north Mobile Bay and is a scenic park with a day-use area and modern camping hook-ups. A self-guided walk on the boardwalk offers an up-close view of the beautiful Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Formed by the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is a complex network of tidally influenced rivers, creeks, bays, lakes, wetlands, and bayous. The park offers a 300-foot pier with a 200-foot “T”. Meaher’s campground offers 61 RV campsites with 20-, 30- and 50-amp electrical connections as well as water and sewer hook-ups. Four bay-side cabins (1 is handicap accessible) overlook Ducker Bay. The campground features a modern bathhouse with laundry facilities.

Monahans Sandhills State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas

Mon­a­hans Sandhills State Park offers a Texas-sized sand­box for kids of all ages as well as a close-up view of a unique desert environment. The park is only a small portion of a dune field that extends about 200 miles from south of Mona­hans westward and north into New Mexico. Bring a picnic and spend the day exploring on foot or horse­back. The park does not have marked trails; you are free to ex­plore at will. Rent sand disks and surf the dunes. Learn about the park and its natural and cultural history at the Dunagan Vis­i­tors Center. Set up camp and witness spec­tac­ular sun­sets.The park offers 26 campsites with water and electricity and a shade shelter.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Kentucky

The farm that inspired the imagery in Stephen Collins Foster’s famous song, “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!” is Kentucky’s most famous and beloved historic site. Built between 1812 and 1818, the three-story house originally named, “Federal Hill,” by its first owner Judge John Rowan became Kentucky’s first historic shrine on July 4th, 1923. Located near Bardstown the mansion and farm had been the home of the Rowan family for three generations spanning a period of 120 years. In 1922 Madge Rowan Frost, the last Rowan family descendant sold her ancestral home and 235-acres to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The golf course is open year-round. Admire the beautiful grounds of My Old Kentucky Home State Park in the 39-site campground near Bardstown. Convenience is guaranteed with utility hookups, a central service building housing showers and restrooms, and a dump station.

Picacho Peak State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona

Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak and often in the spring overlook a sea of wildflowers. The park and surrounding area are known for its unique geological significance, outstanding and varied desert growth, and historical importance. The unique shape has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. The park offers a visitor center with exhibits and a park store, a playground, historical markers, a campground and picnic areas. The campground has a total of 85 electric sites suitable for RV and tent camping. No water or sewer hookups are available. Enjoy the beauty of the desert and the amazing views.

Roosevelt State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi

Roosevelt State Park offers an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities in a picturesque setting. The park’s scenic overlook provides a panoramic view of the Bienville National Forest. The gently sloping landscape is particularly striking during the fall when the forest is bright with autumn colors.A variety of recreational activities and facilities are available at Roosevelt including a visitor center, banquet hall, meeting rooms, game room, performing arts and media center, picnic area, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, disc golf, softball field, swimming pool and water slide, tennis courts, and nature trails. Fishing, boating, and water skiing are available on Shadow Lake, a 150 acre fresh water lake.The park offers 109 RV campsites, primitive tent sites, 15 vacation cabins, motel, and a group camp facility. These facilities are located in wooded areas with views of Shadow Lake. 27 campsites include electricity and water hook-ups. 82 sites have electricity, water, and sewer hook-ups.

Worth Pondering…

However one reaches the parks, the main thing is to slow down and absorb the natural wonders at leisure.

—Michael Frome