The United States has set aside 58 lands as national parks. While you’re out enjoying time on the road, you’re bound to run into at least a handful of them! Whether you’re passing through or traveling directly to one of these parks, each promises unrivaled, unforgettable beauty for anyone making the journey. As RVers, we’re in a unique position to be able to see these sights and share them with others. This is a list of some of the things you should do to get the most out of your stay at a national park.
Get a Passport
You’ll be staying in US borders, so you won’t need a government-issued passport. The book we’re talking about is the kind that’s issued by the National Park Service. You can usually pick them up at any souvenir or gift shop at any of the national parks. It’s a fun way to keep track of the places you’ve been and keep pictures of some of the best views in one place. Whether you’re an adult or child, these little books are perfect memory builders for your family.
Golden Age/Access Passports
If you’re over age 62 or disabled, you’re eligible for a discounted rate into the parks. Grandparents, it’ll cost you about $10 for a lifetime pass through any national park with your passport. Those who are disabled will need to fill out an application form for an access pass and pay a one-time $10 processing fee.
Discounted Campsite Stays
Generally speaking, it’s cheap to stay at one of the campsites in the parks (or at least cheaper than staying in nearby privately-owned campsites). If you’re planning to stay in the park, make sure to check in early or make reservations ahead of time. By noon, a lot of these sites are full of campers that have arrived in the morning hours, making it difficult to find an open spot.
Most parks have restrictions on how much noise you can make at the campsite. We suspect it’s probably for the sake of the wildlife (and your neighbors, of course). You wouldn’t want someone coming into your territory and making a ton of noise! This is especially important to remember if you’re planning to run generators during your stay.
National Park Service Programs
Some campsites team up with the National Park Service to bring programs to visitors, like astronomy or entomology. Take the time to enjoy nature in a new way (and usually for a small fee or no cost at all). It’s perfect if you’re traveling with small companions or need to get your nerd on. You never know! When the big Jeopardy question comes, you might be thankful you saw one of these presentations!
There’s Nothing Like It
It’s one thing to go to a national park and spend the day there. It’s another thing entirely to be completely submersed in the environment around you, seeing and experiencing things not found anywhere else. When you stay in the parks, you’ll have more time to explore the things that make it unique without the hassle of making it back to wherever you parked, getting cleaned up and driving to find food. Slow down and take the time to enjoy what’s around you.
Staying in national parks are something that a lot of casual RVers probably overlook as they’re thinking about purchasing their rig. The first things that come to mind are usually camping locally with friends or traveling on vacation, camping along the way. Our national parks are a great tribute to America, and we have gone to significant lengths as a nation to preserve them for our generation and those to come. The next time you think about hitting the open road, be sure to add one of these beautiful sites to your Good Life destination list. You’ll be glad you did.