Choose Your National Park Campground Carefully

How to find a suitable camping site in a National Park?

The rustic accommodations of national park campsites get us closer to nature than private campgrounds outside the park. But opting for that primitive experience often puts RVers in the middle of that classic Goldilocks conundrum.

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

Without good planning, you just don’t know if a campground can accommodate your home on wheels. If you can count the number of times you have spent an entire afternoon jumping from one site to another, trying to find one that fits, you’re not alone.

Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the owner of a 38-foot motorhome, I’m somewhat envious of truck campers, camping vans, and small motorhomes able to tuck themselves in a cozy gem of a campsite that could never accommodate our rig. The truth is, bigger is not better when it comes to RVing in national parks. The smaller your rig, the more campsite choices you have, including some amazing backcountry campsites where large rigs could never tread.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona/Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many owners of RVs larger than ours are successful at squeezing into the pint-sized campsites at national parks, but we prefer to avoid being the afternoon entertainment when we arrive somewhere. 

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best RV type for national parks is a unit that’s 30-feet or less including the toad (or tow) vehicle. The short, narrow parking sites in most national park campgrounds make navigation difficult in anything larger. That’s not to say your 40-foot motorhome won’t ever be able to camp in national parks, it just means that you’ll need to work harder to find a suitable campsite.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to find the best national park campsite for your RV

If you’re one of America’s nine million RV owners and desire a national park experience, reserve a spot as far in advance as possible at Recreation.gov. Wherever you roam in the national park system, the RV-friendly spots are always the first to go. Spontaneous travel offers some amazing benefits, but showing up at a national park’s campground without a reservation is a recipe for disappointment.

From Joshua Tree to Arches and beyond, planning pays off for national park RV camping and it’s easier when you know the answers to these questions:

Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Will the campground accommodate my needs?

If your RV is self-contained with holding tanks, toilet facilities, and perhaps solar panels, you can go just about anywhere. But if you’re in a more basic rig without them, a designated campground with water and bathroom facilities is pretty much a necessity. And if you rely on generator power, you’ll need a campground that allows their use. Not all do in the national park system, so always verify that the one you want to visit has generator hours and other creature comforts you desire.

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the length of my RV?

Don’t rely on the RV manufacturer’s sticker to tell you the length of your rig. That number usually only factors in the interior length dimension of the RV rather than the exterior measurement from front to back bumper. Your toad, or tow vehicle, adds additional length that impacts where you can camp.

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

To find out your actual length, measure your RV. You want to know the total number of feet for your RV and secondary vehicle, if any. Measure from the front bumper of the first vehicle to the back bumper of the second one. If you have bicycles or a cargo box hitched to the rear, add those in too. Also measure the height from the highest point on your roof, and total width with slides extended, if applicable. Many campsites have thick tree canopies with limited clearance for high profile vehicles.

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

What is the maximum RV length for the campsite I want?

You’ll see that number for every campsite on Recreation.gov, but it only refers to the vehicle being parked at the site. You may or may not be able to fit a second vehicle on the parking site. Before reserving a spot, contact the park to get a better idea of the campground’s ease of use for an RV like yours.

Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do parking hazards exist?

Even when site dimensions look acceptable, natural obstacles may prevent you from maneuvering into the site. If there’s any question about fitting into a site, look carefully at Recreation.gov photos or download a Google Earth map to confirm that you can navigate that space without scraping a tree or boulder.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re already at the campground, observe and note if the rig’s back end will hang over the parking site or encroach on your neighbor’s landscaping.

Many RVers will say that a small rig is best for one location while super-sized RV owners may say they don’t have a problem accessing that same spot. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

Worth Pondering…

Our wish to you is this: drive a little slower, take the backroads sometimes, and stay a little longer. Enjoy, learn, relax, and then…plan your next RV journey.

6 of the Best RV Parks in Louisiana

Your guide to the best RV parks and campgrounds in Louisiana

Few states can match the charm, culture, and soul of the Pelican State. This zest for life makes Louisiana an excellent state to bring the RV. To help you on the journey to the bayou, here are six of the top RV parks and campgrounds in Louisiana.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson

Cajun Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Cajun Palms RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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).

Frog City RV Park, Duson

Frog City RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Frog City RV Park opened in 2006. The park is located just off I-10 in Duson, a small town 10 miles west of Lafayette and deep in the beautiful Cajun countryside. With 62 spacious RV sites, Frog City offers Wi-Fi, cable TV, pull-through sites, swimming pool, coin-operated laundry, and private hot showers that are sparkling clean.

Frog City RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Paved interior roads for EZ-in and EZ-out and dog walk areas. The park offers convenient adjacent facilities including Roady’s Truck Stop with excellent fuel prices and great Cajun food (be sure to try their boudin).

Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge 

Poche’s RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The appeal is all in the name, fish and camp in the heart of Louisiana. Poche’s RV Park has highly rated facilities, 88 Pull-through sites equipped with 30/50-amp electric service, sewer, and water. The park also features a clubhouse, showers, laundry, dog walk, playground and more.

Poche’s RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’re guaranteed to reel the big one at Poche’s, the park boasts fifty acres of well-maintained ponds stocked with largemouth bass, bream, and catfish. No license is required and you can keep the fish you catch for a delicious fish fry. Try heading to Poche’s in early May when Breaux Bridge hosts their annual crawfish festival. 

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston

Riverside RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Easy-on, easy-off, Lakeside RV Park is big-rig friendly with 127 sites. Back-in sites are in the 55-60 foot range and spacious pull-through sites in the 65-70 foot range; 50/30-amp electric service, water, and sewer are centrally located.

Riverside RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No cable TV (Baton Rouge and New Orleans channels available on antenna). Wi-Fi (Tengo) works well; no problem locating satellite. All interior roads and sites are concrete. Site amenities include picnic table and fire pit.

Reunion Lake RV Resort, Ponchatoula

Reunion Lake RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reunion Lake RV Resort is a gated resort with top-rated facilities and service. Built around a scenic lake the park offers an adult pool with swim-up pool, poolside cabanas, a lazy river, giant hot tub, fitness center, and family pool.

Reunion Lake RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Our Premium pull-through site will accommodate any size rig. With the utilities located toward rear of site one must unhook the toad and locate the motorhome at the rear of the site to access the sewer.

A+ Motel & RV Park, Sulphur

A+ Motel and RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This park is named as it gets an A-plus in our book. A+ Motel and RV Park have everything an RV wants and needs. There are plenty of bathhouses, showers, and laundry facilities to take care of all things dirty along with picnic tables, BBQ pits, a dog run and more, all under 24-hour security. 

A+ Motel and RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We stayed at A+ Motel and RV Park in 2013 and again 2019. Sites have been added since our initial stay and now offer 118 pull-through and back-in sites. Big rig friendly our pull-through site has ample length to accommodate large RVs. Since utilities are located near the rear of the site one must unhook the toad and locate the motorhome at the rear of the site to access the sewer.

A+ Motel and RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Throw your line out at their private fishing pond, take the boat out or relax in the adults-only heated pool. Just choose which body of water you want to relax or get around on, Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River are nearby. You’re also right next to the great flora and fauna of the Creole Nature Trail

We selected this list of Louisiana RV parks and resorts from parks personally visited.

Worth Pondering…

Goodbye joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, well have good fun on the bayou

—Hank Williams, Sr.

Consider Your Needs When Choosing RV Parks and Campgrounds

Prioritize your wants and needs

Nothing can make or break your RV trip like choosing a campground not suited to your family’s needs and interests. When selecting a park, think about your camping style and ask yourself the following questions:

Palm Creek Golf and RV Park, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you camping with a young family, are you an active couple looking for outdoor adventures, or are you a snowbird who enjoys on-site activities and the opportunity to meet new friends?

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How large is your RV and what amenities do you require? Full hook-ups? 30- or 50-amp electric service? Are you looking for a rural or urban setting and do you travel with pets?

Creekfire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When researching campgrounds we normally contact the campground office and ask specific questions about their policies and their park. Questions to ask include:

  • Rental rates (nightly, weekly, monthly per your needs) including taxes? Any discounts available?
  • Availability of Wi-Fi and cable TV?
  • What is included in the above rate—full hook-ups, 20/30-50-amp electric service, Wi-Fi, cable TV?
  • Is the park big-rig friendly? Length and width of sites? Are sites relatively level? Do the sites have concrete pads, grass, gravel, or dirt?
  • Will I have difficulty obtaining a satellite TV signal?
  • What are the park’s amenities—club house/activity room, pool, spa, rest room and shower facilities, laundry?
  • What is your pet policy? Restrictions on certain dogs breeds?
  • What is your reservation policy? Is a credit card required to hold a site? If so, is it processed immediately? What is your cancellation policy?

Make note of the name of the person you talked to.

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

The “perfect” campsite is likely to vary from person to person. Think about what you want to do as well as what those in your group want to do and choose accordingly. Although there may be some variations of what you are looking for, you may want to take some of the factors mentioned below into consideration, when choosing the “perfect campsite”.

Terre Haute RV Park, Terre Haute, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do I have a preference for a pull-through or back-in site?

What are your electric requirements? 20, 30, or 50-amp service?

Is the breaker box in reasonable condition and does the polarity check out?

Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you require a sewer site?

Is the site long enough?

Is the site wide enough?

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is the site relatively level?

Is the site in a high-traffic area? Near a dumpster? Dump station?

Are there low-hanging branches?

Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Will I be able to extend all slides?

Will I be able to extend the awning?

Will I be able to open all bins?

New Green Acres RV Park, Walterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Will I be able to obtain a TV satellite signal?

Do I want the afternoon or morning sun?

Where are the utilities located?

Where is the closest Wi-Fi tower?

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

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are campgrounds that meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

But do not ask me where I am heading,

As I travel in this limitless world

Where every step I take is my home.

—Eihei Dogen

4 Pacific Northwest RV Travel Gems

The Pacific Northwest possesses an abundance of natural wonders. Here are four completely unique places you don’t want to miss.

Owning a recreational vehicle is the greatest way to explore all of the natural beauty, unique architecture, and diverse culture that exists throughout this magnificent world of ours. It’s a freedom unlike anything other, providing you and your family with countless opportunities for learning and growth.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Still, after several years of traveling, it can be difficult to branch out and identify new roads you’ve yet to discover. That’s why RVing with Rex is posting a series of blog articles—each one focusing on a different region or state. 

In today’s post we’ll focus on four favorite “lesser-known” travel locations in the Pacific Northwest including recommended RV parks. All selected parks have been personally visited.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Toutle River Bridge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the largest landslide in recorded history, sweeping through the Toutle River Valley and removing 1,306 feet from the top of the volcano.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The powerful lava flow, savage winds, and deadly heat destroyed much of the previous landscape. What the mountain left behind is the history of a violent eruption that shook the surrounding region on the tumultuous day of May 18, 1980.

Where to Stay: Toutle River RV Resort, Castle Rock

Toutle River RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Toutle River RV Resort is a 5-star resort built in 2009. The utility hookups are centrally located with 80-90 foot sites and adequate Wi-Fi. No large trees to obstruct satellite. The only negative is the park is located near train tracks and trains run all day and night. Toutle River RV Resort is located off I-5 at Exit 52, easy-on, easy-off.

La Conner, Washington

La Conner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Conner is one of those places that people love to visit—time and time again. The reasons are many, but one that stands out is that there are so many things to do in—and around—La Conner. A waterfront village in northwestern Washington, La Conner is nestled beside the Swinomish Channel near the mouth of the Skagit River.

La Conner © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

La Conner is a unique combination of fishing village, artists’ colony, eclectic shops, historic buildings, and tourist destination. Relax by the water, enjoy fine restaurants, browse through unique shops and art galleries, and visit the beautiful tulip fields of Skagit Valley.

Where to Stay: Mount Vernon RV Park

Mount Vernon RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Full-service RV park with 30/50-amp electric service. 81 spaces including 8 pull-through sites.

Salem, Oregon

Willamette Valley Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the state capital, Salem is steeped in history—from the Capitol building itself to stately homes with storied pasts. Set in the fertile Willamette Valley, Salem is surrounded by world-class wineries as well as countless natural areas.

Willamette Valley Cheese Company © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to dozens of wine tasting rooms, the Salem area is also home to Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. This off the beaten path stop is a great place to sample nearly 30 varieties of handcrafted cheeses and then take some back to your RV.

Where to Stay: Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort

Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New in 2006, Hee Hee Illahee RV Resort is situated about a mile east of I-5 (Exit 258). The name literally means “A Fun Place to Be”. Big rig friendly with fairly wide paved streets, long /pull-through paved sites in the 75-foot range, and conveniently located 30/50-amp electric service, water, two sewer connections, and cable TV (69 channels).

Jacksonville, Oregon

Jacksonville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jacksonville has been called “One of America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns” by Frommers. Jacksonville got its start as a gold rush town. Gold was first discovered at Rich Gulch in 1851. 

Jacksonville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With over 100 structures included in the National Register of Historic Places most of Jacksonville is now a National Historic District. The boom was mostly over in 1884 when the railroad bypassed the town. The shops, boutiques, and restaurants are housed in the commercial buildings and historic home that comprise the historic district.

This quaint, historic gold rush region is the gateway to the Applegate Wine Trail’s 18 vineyards.

Where to Stay: Jack’s Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass

Jack’s Landing RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New in 2002, Jack’s Landing RV Resort is big rig friendly with pull-through sites in the 70-75 foot range (also back-in sites) and conveniently located 30/50-amp electric service, water, and sewer connections, and cable TV (22 channels). Paved sites and fairly wide paved streets.

Worth Pondering…

America is laced with nooks and crannies, good places that go undiscovered by many mainstream travelers.

What to Look For in an RV Campground?

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds

Plans for your next RV road trip is mostly complete. You’re excited to hit the open road with your family, but haven’t given much thought to where you’re camping. Obviously, you know your destination. But, you aren’t sure how far you want to drive the first day, and whether you want to make some stops along the way. You’ll just Google the nearest campground when you feel the time is right to set up camp for the night.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But before you hit the road, you should be aware that not all RV campgrounds are created equal and no one park is perfect for everyone. Campers can find RV parks in state parks and national parks as well as privately owned campgrounds. And the quality varies from budget to high end resorts.

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds.

Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re thinking that all campgrounds are the same, think again. Every campground has its own set of rules and regulations, as well as different amenities. If you aren’t looking for full hookups, you can be less picky about what campground you choose for your stay. But if you’re looking for all the amenities including electric, water, sewer, cable TV, and Wi-Fi, there are several things you should look for before making your decision.

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together.

Before leaving home, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choices for RV parks and campgrounds include luxurious RV resorts, activity-filled family destinations, 55+ parks, secluded natural settings, and basic parks conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices also run the gamut.

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

There is a variety of campgrounds, each offering different amenities and activities. These include private RV parks; casino camping; national, state, and county park campgrounds; Army Corps of Engineers parks; and service club facilities.

Harvest Moon RV Resort, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are the best tips for choosing a campground and campsite that you and your family will love?

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

Nothing can make or break your RV vacation like choosing a campground not suited to your family’s needs and interests. When selecting a park, think about your camping style and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you camping with a young family?
  • Are you an active couple looking for outdoor adventures?
  • Are you snowbirds who enjoy on-site activities and the opportunity to meet new friends?
  • How large is your RV?
  • Consider your needs when choosing an RV park.
  • What amenities do you require? Full hook-ups? 30- or 50-amp electric service?
  • Are you looking for a rural or urban setting?
  • What is your nightly/weekly/monthly camping budget?
  • Do you travel with pets?
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are campgrounds throughout the U.S. and Canada to meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be aware that RV parks and campgrounds have varied rules for check in and check out. Although some parks have 24 hour check in, most have set times that you must check in and check out. Some parks do not permit check ins prior to noon. If you plan to stop after hours call ahead to make the necessary arrangements.

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