Catherine Hiles
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3 Things to Keep in Mind if You’re RVing to a National Park This Summer

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If you’re one of the 56 million Americans planning an RV vacation this summer, you’re likely to run into some crowded areas along the way. That’s especially true if you plan on visiting one of the nation’s 423 national park sites. According to AARP, national parks around the country are reporting an increased number of visitors and, in some cases, long lines for entry.

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Here’s what you’re likely to come up against if you’re planning an RV road trip to a national park this summer.

Increased wait times

In Utah, Zion National Park reported a wait time of five hours to access certain popular trails over the Memorial Day weekend. And in California, Yosemite National Park set a new record in April with close to 1.2 million visitors (compared to 800,000 on average in the month of April).

Required reservations

Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Photo: Jean-Christophe BENOIST via CC

In order to manage this increased visitor load, some national parks are requiring reservations, so it’s important to plan ahead for your RV trip rather than just winging it. If you’re proactive in your planning, you can score reservations for popular hiking areas that are less busy than they otherwise would be without the reservation system, which means a better experience for you.

It goes without saying that you should absolutely make reservations for a camping spot for your RV. With so many camping this summer, the sooner you can reserve your spot, the better.

Flexibility is key

The most important thing to be on your RV trip is flexible. While you might always have dreamed of visiting a popular park like Yellowstone, maybe this isn’t the year for that and you should consider a less-visited park like Isle Royale in Michigan or Big Bend in Texas. There are so many beautiful national parks around the country, so don’t stick to the best-known.

You also may have trouble getting RV reservations at national park campsites. Instead, look at campsites that are outside the park’s borders but still close. You may find it easier to score a reservation at one of these campsites than at an official national park one.

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If you’re planning to take an RV trip to a national park this year, how are you planning for it?