Rig Roundup: RVs Perfect for National Park Camping

Jan 10, 2022 | Rigs

Rig Roundup: RVs Perfect for National Park Camping

From length and height to gear storage and off-grid capabilities, these national park-friendly RVs will help give you the best access to your favorite camping destinations.

By Kerri Cox

Photo courtesy of Airstream

You may have heard that you should never buy an RV longer than 30 feet in length if you plan to camp in national parks. Is that true? Like many rumors you hear, there’s some truth to the statement, but it’s not an absolute rule.

Many national park campgrounds were developed decades ago when smaller rigs were more common. Campsites may not be long enough to accommodate today’s behemoth rigs, and many parks have narrow, winding roadways. Because of this, you’ll often hear about the 30-foot “rule” at national park campgrounds.

The National Park Service (NPS) operates more than 130 campgrounds. While some are rustic, others were built—or renovated in recent years—to host longer, larger modern RVs, up to 40 or 50 feet, meaning it’s possible to camp in a national park with an RV that’s longer than 30 feet. Before booking any national park campsite, check with the individual campground to see what size is permitted. This information is generally posted on the National Park Service and Recreation.gov websites. If you can’t find an appropriate NPS campsite, you’ll often find numerous private parks outside the entrance gates.

What to Know About RV Camping in National Parks

What size RV is best for national parks?

If you’re purchasing an RV and want to ensure the broadest access to national park campgrounds, you should purchase a rig that’s under 30 feet, though parks may accommodate up to 40 feet or more. Also, be sure to note that campsite selection will be more limited the longer your rig is. Aim for 20 to 25 feet—or less—if you want the best access.

Here are the RV length restrictions from some popular national parks:

  • Yosemite National Park: 24 feet for trailers and 35 feet for motorhomes, though a handful of sites in Yosemite Valley can accommodate longer rigs.
  • Yellowstone National Park: Fishing Bridge Campground is capped at 40 feet for a combined trailer and tow vehicle. Other campgrounds state a 30-feet maximum length.
  •  Rocky Mountain National Park: Campgrounds vary; several can accommodate RVs between 35 and 40 feet in length.

The NPS often posts different lengths for trailers and motorhomes (which the agency refers to as RVs). Tow vehicles pulling travel trailers require a wider turning radius, especially for back-in sites. Remember that the roads, not just the campsites, need to be able to accommodate your rig. Also, make sure your campsite provides room to park your tow vehicle.

Are Class A motorhomes allowed in national parks?

Class A motorhomes are allowed in national parks and at NPS campgrounds, as long as they fit within the length requirements.

Can you drive an RV into a national park?

You can drive and pull RVs into national parks. Certain roads or portions of the park may be limited, and finding a parking spot while touring may be the biggest challenge.

Do national park campgrounds have full hookups?

Hookups vary at national park campgrounds, so it’s important to always do your research. You’re less likely to find full hookups at NPS campsites than at private campgrounds.

Important Features to Look for in RVs for Frequent National Park Travel

  • Gear storage: If you have a sport or hobby that you enjoy while visiting national parks, make sure your rig has adequate storage for your gear and equipment, especially if you want to carry bulkier items like kayaks and bikes.
  • Off-grid capabilities: Since hookups may be limited in national park campgrounds, a rig with a generator or solar power system is desirable. Also, consider the size of your holding tanks if you’re camping without hookups.
  • Hard-sided versus soft-sided: Some national park campgrounds recommend or require hard-sided trailers instead of pop-up or hybrid campers with canvas sides due to wildlife. If you camp in a soft-sided trailer in some parks, you may be required to use a bear locker to store foods and scented hygiene products.

Rigs We Love for National Park Camping

The following rigs are the best RVs for national park camping because of their lengths and features.


Travel trailer parked near a lake with a kayak, chairs, and fire pit set up nearby.
Photo courtesy KZ RV

KZ Escape E17 HATCH

KZ’s HATCH lineup features a rear door that lifts, providing easy access for storing gear, much like a toy hauler. While these trailers don’t have the cargo capacity to carry heavy toys, they can handle bikes, kayaks, and more, without the bulky length or width of traditional toy haulers. Plus, the rear door opens for unparalleled views of the national park scenery around you. The E14 features a versatile lounge area, full-sized bed, kitchen, and bath—coming in at less than 19 feet in length.

SPECS
UVW 3,260 pounds
GVWR 4,000 pounds
Hitch Weight 520 pounds
Exterior Length 22 feet
Exterior Height 9 feet, 4 inches (without A/C)
Fresh Water Tank 20 gallons
Black Tank 30 gallons
Gray Tank 30 gallons
MSRP $26,675
Interior floor plans of the KZ Hatch RV
Photo courtesy of KZ RV

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

The off-grid package adds solar power, a tongue bike rack, and heated holding tanks. Plus, the higher ground clearance and beefier tires make it easier to go off the beaten path.

More information on this national park-friendly RV can be found here.


Exterior image of the Winnebago Hike RV
Photo courtesy of Winnebago

Winnebago Hike H210RB

Winnebago’s Hike lineup is designed for those who seek adventures in the outdoors. The exterior exoskeleton can be used to secure bikes, kayaks, and more. The H210RB features a convertible murphy bed, which opens up the floor space while keeping the trailer length in check.

SPECS
UVW 4,360 pounds
GVWR 6,000 pounds
Hitch Weight 560 pounds
Exterior Length 25 feet
Exterior Height 10 feet, 2 inches
Fresh Water Tank 37 gallons
Black Tank 25 gallons
Gray Tank 43 gallons
MSRP $44,542
RV floor plan for Winnebago Hike
Photo courtesy of Winnebago

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

The Explorer Package, which comes standard, adds roof-mounted solar power system prep, larger tires, robust fenders for off-roading, WiFi prep, and more. More information on this national park-friendly RV can be found here.


No Boundaries interior image with kitchen, dinette, and couch area
Photo courtesy of Forest River

Forest River No Boundaries NB19.8

You don’t have to leave the kids behind just because you want a smaller trailer and big adventures. Forest River’s No Boundaries lineup offers lightweight trailers and tons of features geared toward outdoor recreation. The NB19.8 is one of two bunkhouse models and includes a dedicated queen-sized bed and a dinette—or optional sofa.

SPECS
UVW 3,789 pounds
GVWR 4,795 pounds
Hitch Weight 395 pounds
Exterior Length 22 feet, 8 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 11 inches
Fresh Water Tank 30 gallons
Black Tank 30 gallons
Gray Tank 30 gallons
MSRP $38,911
Interior floor plan of a No Boundaries RV.
Photo courtesy of Forest River

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Add optional solar Rhino Racks for kayaks, snowboards, bikes, fishing rods, and more. A central vac is included, making it easy to clean up after messy adventures.

More information on this RV can be found here.


Exterior image of a large Class B van
Photo courtesy of Thor Motorcoach

Thor Motorcoach Tellaro 20A

Class B vans are perfect for national park camping thanks to their diminutive size. Plus, you can easily unhook and explore the park. Thor’s Tellaro 20A is a standout thanks to its generous features, including a pull-out, king-sized bed, a Thule bike rack and roof ladder, and a Truma hydronic furnace and water heater.

SPECS
GCWR 11,500 pounds
GVWR 9,350 pounds
Hitch Weight Rating 3,500 pounds
Fuel Type Gasoline
Chassis RAM Promaster
Fuel Capacity 24 gallons
Exterior Length 21 feet, 1 inch
Exterior Height 9 feet, 5 inches
Fresh Water Tank 27 gallons
Black Tank 4.75 gallons
Gray Tank 20 gallons
MSRP $124,880
Interior floor plans of the Thor Tellaro Class B van.
Photo courtesy of Thor Motorcoach

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Bring the outdoors in and double your sleeping space with the optional SkyBunk Sleeping Area, which adds a retractable rooftop tent bed.

More information on this national park-friendly RV can be found here.


Exterior profile of the Basecamp RV by Airstream
Photo courtesy of Airstream

Airstream Basecamp 20

If you want the luxury of an Airstream in a shorter package that you can haul practically anywhere, the Basecamp 20 is for you. Airstream designed this rig with adventure in mind. The front wraparound windows give you picturesque views of the surrounding national park landscapes, and the rear hatch door opens up for gear storage.

SPECS
UVW 3,400 pounds
GVWR 4,000 pounds
Hitch Weight 500 pounds
Exterior Length 20 feet, 2 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 1.5 inches
Fresh Water Tank 23 gallons
Black Tank 21 gallons
Gray Tank 28 gallons
MSRP $50,700
Front to back interior of Airstream Basecamp
Photo courtesy of Airstream

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Gain as much as 120 extra square feet by adding the attachable inflatable tube tent to take the living space outside.

More information on this national park-friendly RV can be found here.


Venture Sonic X SN220VRBX

Exterior side profile of a travel trailer with an extended awning
Photo courtesy of Venture RV

Venture’s Sonic X lineup made a splash when it debuted in 2019, winning awards before it even went into production. Built from the ground up with off-grid travel in mind, the SN220VRBX comes standard with a roof-mounted solar package, two fresh water tanks, weather-shield protection, hidden storage, and an innovative gear garage. Select from a convertible murphy bed with a sofa or a dedicated bed.

SPECS
UVW 5,610 pounds
GVWR 7,285 pounds
Hitch Weight 570 pounds
Exterior Length 27 feet, 6 inches
Exterior Height 10 feet, 4 inches
Fresh Water Tank 78 gallons
Black Tank 30 gallons
Gray Tank 30 gallons
MSRP TBA
Interior floor plan of a Sonic X RV travel trailer
Photo courtesy of Venture RV

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

If you plan to boondock for extended periods, add the optional Xtreme water filtration system and 12V 8-cubic-foot refrigerator.

More information on this national park-friendly RV can be found here.


Togo RV is part of a joint venture, partially owned by Thor Industries, Inc., of which Airstream, KZ RV, Venture RV, and Thor Motorcoach are subsidiaries.

National ParksRig RoundupRV CampingRV Travel

Kerri Cox

Kerri is a teacher and freelance writer. The decision to buy a travel trailer (christened Birdy) in 2015 changed her life for the better. You can follow her journeys at Travels with Birdy. She lives in Missouri with her husband and teenage sons.

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