America’s National Parks and RVs go together like summer and sunshine, like road trips and family sing-a-longs, like dads and cheesy jokes.
What we’re saying is that national parks make for a great get-away, particularly when you’re in an RV that offers you the freedom to go where you want when you want.
If you’re looking for an adventure this summer, here are five tips for exploring the country’s most beautiful spaces.
Know your RV
First and foremost, you should know your RV in and out. If you already have your vehicle, review the owner’s manual. If you’re still shopping, there are a few extra steps.
Start by finding out what model you want and what credit score you need to buy an RV. Work with your preferred financial institution to get an affordable loan, and then start reading your owner’s manual.
The National Park Service works hard to conserve preserved areas of land, and that means you will occasionally face a low tunnel made of stone or a rough dirt road. The NPS is also good about labeling these areas and marking who should or shouldn’t go near them.
Learn your vehicle’s heights, measurements and weight before you leave so you can trek without fear of knocking your roof off or damaging National Park property.
Every National Park is a guaranteed good time — it’s also a guaranteed no-service zone.
Take the stress out of exploring, activities and detours by planning ahead. You don’t need to plan your days down to the minute, but knowing how to get into the park, where the hotspots you don’t want to miss are and how to get out will save you a lot of time and energy.
You should also plan and book your camping spots as soon as possible. They fill up fast during the summer, and not all will have the space or hookups your RV requires. Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask which camping zones are best suited for you and your family.
Take advantage of free entrance days
The National Park Service offers free entry to all parks a few days each year. While you’ll certainly be joined by plenty of other travelers, taking advantage of these days will save you some significant cash on your road trip.
In 2019, free entry days include:
- January 21: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 20: First day of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 28: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Wake up early
A National Park is always beautiful, but the scenery can easily be enhanced in the early morning sunlight. Plus, getting an early start will ensure a shorter wait time at entrance gates and less crowds for the best trails.
Try to get to sleep at a reasonable time, set the coffee pot in advance and rise with the sun. We promise you won’t regret it.
Finally, our biggest tip is to stay safe. Follow the rules, lock up your food at night, stay on the trails and, when in need, contact emergency services. Get to know the park rangers and ask them for tips.