Solstice has come and gone, summer vacation is in full swing, and the time to start enjoying some well-earned time off is now! There are countless types of vacations to choose from but naturally, at 1st Choice RV, we are partial to the summer road trip. California is a state ripe for big highway adventures, and there are so many different directions in which to take yours. From coastal exploration to mountain getaways you can’t go wrong with any California road trip itinerary you choose. What follows is just a sample itinerary of what a summer on the road in The Golden State could look like – a 21 day, 2,000 mile, 38 hour road trip visiting all nine of California’s national parks. Whether that much of a commitment fits into your schedule or not, at least pencil in a few stops to some of this state’s most iconic and beautiful natural wonders.
You will be putting in a lot of hours behind the wheel and seeing much of the beautiful state of California on this road trip, but the first leg is actually quite short. It is just over an hour from Los Angeles to Ventura, where you will catch a ferry to Channel Islands National Park. This short drive will allow you the chance to get used to driving a bigger rig, and the park itself is well worth a visit. There are five islands that make up this park, each boasting great opportunities to hike, snorkel, dive, kayak, surf, explore tide pools, and/or view wildlife. All in all, this is the ideal slow and remote start to your 2,000 mile road trip.
When you return to the mainland from the Channel Islands, hop back into your motorhome and start working your way the 3.75 hours north to Pinnacles National Park. While the landscape and unique hiking, climbing, and wildlife viewing opportunities of Pinnacles are worth the visit, the drive up the Pacific Coast is worthy of a road trip all itself. Be sure to take your time and soak up the beautiful Pacific Views as you head north!
At 7.5 hours from Pinnacles to Redwoods National Park, this is the longest drive between parks on this road trip itinerary. However, it is also one of the most beautiful and fun stretches of highway. Continue north up the Pacific Coast enjoying the coastal mountains and ocean views as you drive through and past San Francisco to some of the largest trees in the country. The redwoods and the surrounding landscape is an iconic part of the American landscape and certainly a sight to behold. But don’t skimp on the drive up! Enjoy every minute of time on the road and don’t shy away from stopping for a night at any number of magical places along the way.
After enjoying a couple of days at the furthest north national park in California, turn your RV around and head southeast 4.25 hours to Lassen Volcanic National Park – home to volcanoes, alpine lakes, steaming fumaroles, and the perfect transition into the mountainous middle leg of this epic road trip.
From Lassen National Park, you will point your RV south through the Sierras, past Lake Tahoe, and to the granddaddy of California’s parks – Yosemite National Park. Similar to driving the coast, the route to Yosemite is riddled with beautiful places to stop so don’t let a tight itinerary hold you down. The beauty of the road trip is freedom to shoot from the hip and adjust your travel plans accordingly, and you should feel empowered to do just that! That said, Yosemite National Park is a spectacle and certainly worth a few days of your time. From massive mountains and breathtaking waterfalls, there are enough places to explore in Yosemite to keep you occupied for a lifetime.
When you’ve seen enough of Yosemite, or at least decided that you need to come back to see the rest, continue south through the Sierra for 4.75 hours to the duo of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Similar to Yosemite, these parks are home to great hiking, awe-inspiring mountains, and remarkable wildlife. These parks have the bonus of being home to more ancient giants in incredible old growth stands of Sequoia trees.
The second longest point to point drive on this itinerary – 7 hours – will take you out of the mountains and into the otherworldly desert environment of Death Valley National Park. Don’t let the name fool you. Death Valley is a spectacular natural wonder and the largest national park in the contiguous U.S. It also happens to be the hottest, driest, and lowest of all the parks and boasts the second lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. Spend a few days exploring this park, learning about the desert environment, and drinking plenty of water!
From Death Valley, it is a 4 hour drive to the final park on your itinerary – Joshua Tree National Park. This drive, of course, could be much longer if your final days in Death Valley are spent on the opposite end of one of country’s largest national parks. That said, the drive itself is beautiful and the final destination is one of our favorites. It is unbelievable that a landscape as unique and beautiful as Joshua Tree is located in the backyard of such a major urban environment. This park, like all the others, could be explored for weeks, months, or a lifetime and after just one visit you will soon discover why. The rock formations, mountains, trees, and desert ecology make J-Tree the perfect place to wrap up an epic 21 day national park adventure.
At this point, you have likely covered 2,000 miles on the road and have driven for more than 35 hours. You’ve seen 9 national parks and countless ecosystems. From ocean tide pools to redwood forests, alpine meadows to desert oases, you have experienced much of the best California has to offer, and it is time to make the final 2 hour drive west to Los Angeles to return your motorhome rental. What a trip!
California is a state full of countless natural wonders, and there is no better way to experience them than via the highway system. And, if you are planning a road trip, why not do it in maximum comfort and style with an 1st Choice RV rental? The itinerary above is just an example of how you could spend 21 days on the road, but there is no right or wrong way to do it. Take your time, stop where you want, and enjoy all of the freedom that the open road has to offer. One thing is for sure – it will be a summer vacation you won’t soon forget!
In today’s day and age, it is getting increasingly hard to tune out and leave the world behind for awhile. Whether you are working remotely or feel the draw to stay connected to news, social media, family, or friends it can be hard to forget the Internet and relax unconnected on vacation. If this sounds like you, and as you begin to make plans for your upcoming motorhome trip, consider the best options for RV wifi while on the road. While disconnecting for a period of time can be healthy and rewarding, staying connected may also be a necessity. If you are hoping for RV wifi on your next road trip, consider one of these popular options.
Oftentimes the best and simplest ways to get Internet or RV wifi will be public wi-fi, and thankfully in 2019 this can be pretty easy to come by. Most privately owned campgrounds will have free Internet, and even some public campgrounds in the parks will as well. Of course, you will be sharing the Internet with other campers so it may not always be the fastest. If you need to speed things up, try stepping out of your RV which can block the signal or physically moving closer to the router itself.
Wi-Fi range extenders and signal boosters can make an Internet connection stronger which in turn will provide better RV wifi for you and your family. If the Internet you are using is part of a strong network, a range extender can take the signal and make it even better. There is a variety of technology that can do this, and ultimately it is up to you to choose the best investment for your needs. Nowadays many RV companies are developing range extenders and signal boosters specifically for those using motorhomes and, like any piece of tech, they range from relatively cheap to fairly expensive.
Portable hotspots are great for those RV travelers with an unknown or not fully developed itinerary. If you are unsure if you will have internet at your next destination, a portable hotspot can alleviate that stress of the unknown. With this piece of technology you can travel nearly anywhere and still have some semblance of Internet access, and these are especially great for those heading south into Mexico. If nothing else, portable hotspots are a formidable piece of communication insurance as you embark on your RV road trip.
Lastly, and likely familiar to nearly all motorhome travelers at this point, is cellular data. Most carriers have excellent data coverage across the states, and you can simply use your personal devices to access the Internet so long as you are in range. Depending on where you plan to travel, it may be a good idea to check your provider’s coverage map to see if you will be in their signal range.
At Expedition Motorhomes, we completely understand the need to stay connected as well as the desire to get out and explore! While the above are all great options, accessing Internet on the road is simply not something you will have to worry about with our vehicles. 1st Choice RV provides WiFi in all of our RVs for rent – giving you one less thing to worry about as you prepare for your upcoming RV road trip.
The motorhome road trip is experiencing a bit of a renaissance – and for good reason. Whether you own an RV or are utilizing an RV rental service, there are few better ways to see the country, spend quality time with people you care about, and enjoy maximum comfort and freedom while on vacation. There is something special about sitting behind the wheel of an RV and either following an itinerary you built yourself or shooting from the hip and building an adventure as you go. Either way, the world is your oyster and an RV rental can be the perfect pearl. If you have never rented a motorhome before, however, it can seem daunting. What follows are a handful of tips that we have picked up over the years to help make your first RV rental experience go as enjoyably as it should.
Before walking into Expedition Motorhomes to ask for an RV, put in some solid groundwork planning. Researching the type of RV that is best for your needs and your group size will help you make the most of your trip. Additionally, take some time to map out an itinerary – either a rough draft or fully complete – so you are not totally overwhelmed with options when you hit the road.
For those who haven’t traveled via RV before, building a budget can go a long way. Motorhomes do not get great gas mileage, but what you spend in fuel you can make up in lodging fees and cooking meals for yourself. As you develop your road trip budget, don’t forget campground expenses (and extra RV fees), park passes, activities, and meals. You can manage all of these easily, but having something to aim for going into your road trip will help you formulate an itinerary that meets all of your needs.
Everyone is looking for something a little different out of their vacation, and RVs provide the perfect vehicle to accommodate for these varying needs. From all-encompassing RV parks with swimming pools, activity halls, and full hook-ups to more rustic campgrounds with the bare minimum, there is something for everyone. As you build your itinerary or start your road trip, be sure to communicate with your travel companions about expectations and desires!
While this may seem obvious, it takes a little bit of time to get used to driving an RV. Parking, backing up, a wide turning radius and getting blown around by the wind are just some motorhome variables that you won’t experience in your sedan. Before taking off on an ambitious road trip, you should take the time to get comfortable behind the wheel of a big RV. Test driving at a dealership or rental outfit is a great way to feel it out.
Simply put, RV rental road trips are some of the best vacations one can take in North America. Nothing quite beats seeing the country from the highway, pulling over when you feel like it to explore something a little bit closer, and enjoying home cooked meals and a comfortable bed at the end of a long day. While it may seem intimidating to the first time renter, it shouldn’t be. With the proper preparation and a little bit of help from the pros at 1st Choice RV you, too, will soon find out why the RV road trip can be the vacation of a lifetime!
You can’t put a price on quality time spent in the great outdoors. Whether you are going solo or spending time with friends and family, a little bit of adventure and exploration goes a long way! Nature-based vacations can range from extremely rustic to incredibly posh, and somewhere in the middle lies the RV road trip. Perfect for folks who want to get out and explore but don’t want to leave all of the comforts of home at home, experiencing the world via motorhome provides the ideal balance. As you prepare for your upcoming RV trip, consider adding these bits of RV tech and travel tech gadgets to your packing list if you really want to feel at home.
A little music goes a long way in making your campsite feel like home and of all the tech gadgets we’ve seen, portable speakers seem to be getting increasingly more popular. There is an incredible variety in this RV tech and buyers can explore countless different options that vary in terms of size, audio output, battery life, water resistance, etc. Whether you are sitting around the picnic table for lunch, relaxing around the campfire in the evening or enjoying a big view at the end of a long hike, this little bit of travel tech can add a lot to your RV vacation.
While your RV does have electric capabilities, your itinerary will dictate how readily available electricity is. If you find yourself parking at more rustic or remote campgrounds without hookups, or intend on embarking on multi-day hikes into the backcountry, portable chargers are a bit of travel tech that you simply cannot live without. There is nothing more infuriating than lining up to take the perfect photo of that unforgettable sunset and having your phone or camera die. With lightweight, efficient, and affordable portable chargers flooding the RV tech market, that never has to be a concern again. This is a piece of travel tech that you will soon wonder how you ever lived without.
It is simply incredible how far technology has come in such a short period of time. With a portable WiFi hot-spot, you’ll virtually never have to be without internet again. These tech gadgets are perfect for those with unknown or not fully developed itineraries, those planning to work from the road, or road trippers heading down into Mexico. Don’t be caught out of communication. Add a WiFi hot-spot to your tech shopping list today!
Heading out on a road trip, exploring California’s beautiful countryside, and soaking up nature is the perfect summertime activity, but at Expedition Motorhomes we understand the apprehension that comes with leaving the “real world” behind. Now, however, that no longer needs to be a concern. Build your tech gadget packing list for your upcoming RV road trip with 1st Choice RV and, aside from the wheels underneath your bed, it’ll feel like you never left home!
If the day to day of urban life is getting you down, it is time to leave the crowds and the traffic behind and head out on a one week RV trip in California. You will find that RV travel is the cure for what ails you after just a few short hours on the road.
The itinerary of this RV trip will keep you cruising around the southern part of the state, but don’t worry! You will get plenty of desert, beach, and national park with a little bit of city sprinkled on top. The daily driving hours will be kept to a minimum to ensure that you get as much activity time as possible.
Once you pick up your vehicle from 1st Choice RV, you can head to the beautiful city of San Diego. While you could easily spend your whole seven days hanging out here, it is best to hit a few highlights and then continuing your RV trip.
One of those highlights that shouldn’t be missed is the San Diego Zoo which is home to more than 3,000 animals including giant pandas. You can spend most of your day visiting the zoo as it has over 100 acres to explore.
Next stop on your 7 day trip around California should be the Anza Borrego State Park which is two hours away from San Diego. Head out here in the morning of day two, and you can spend some time exploring this UNESCO heritage site and hiking the trails. Dress appropriately because the weather can be extreme in this part of the desert.
If you can pull yourself away from the unique beauty of the Anza Borrego State Park, you can spend the afternoon on your second day in the Joshua Tree National Park. The fee to get into the park is $30, and you need to make sure that you have fully stocked your RV with water and snacks because you won’t find any in the park itself. Enjoy the sunset, and then get to sleep early because day three is going to be full of exploring.
Wake up bright and early on day three, and you can spend some of your RV trip out of the RV! There are plenty of trails to hike in the Joshua Tree National Park, and you can learn a lot about the history of the park if you opt for a ranger-guided tour.
Remember to stay hydrated while you are roaming the park. You may want to get a good hydration backpack to take with you. The desert can be a dangerous place if you do not have enough water on hand.
This will mostly be an RV travel day as you head up to Los Angeles. However, you won’t have to spend the entire time on the road because there are plenty of little stop-offs to enjoy. Such as a wild horse rescue center or the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.
Even with a few stops, you should hit LA by the evening, just in time for dinner!
You should definitely spend the fifth day of your trip enjoying some of the finer points of Los Angeles. There is something for everyone in this city no matter what your interests. Head to the Chinese Theater and look at the celebrity handprints if you are a movie buff, shoppers may enjoy a trip down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and there is always the La Brea Tar Pits as well. Science buffs may enjoy a visit to the Griffith Observatory.
After a solid day of city exploration, you will likely be ready to get back to your RV travel plan. You are going to be making your way back to San Diego today, but this time you will be using the Pacific Coast Highway. You will want to stay on route 1 south to make the most of your drive time. The views are much more scenic.
Make a pit stop at the Santa Monica Pier after you head out of LA. You can ride the iconic amusement park rides, and spend a few hours munching on carnival food before continuing on towards San Diego.
If you are ready for a little more sun and surf, you can make another stop at Huntington Beach before heading on to Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Beach. Spend the night in Laguna watching the sunset.
Before ending your one-week RV trip in California and returning your vehicle. Spend a few hours in the botanical gardens once you get back to San Diego. It is actually one of the largest in the country and well worth the visit.
As you can see, there is plenty to do on a seven day RV trip through southern California. Expedition Motor Homes can help you enjoy all the fun. Head to the contact page to make your reservation today.
There’s an incredible number of places to explore in California, from Yosemite to Kings Canyon National Park to Lake Tahoe. However, the state is justly famous for its amazing coastline. There are thousands of miles of coast to explore, from the border with Oregon to the warm waters down near Baja, Mexico. Owning an RV puts you in a prime position to explore those areas, but you’ll need to know where to stay while you’re soaking up the sun and exploring the beaches. Below, we’ll explore some of the best waterfront campgrounds in the state.
We’ll start our list in sunny SoCal not far from San Diego. Blessed with balmy weather, abundant sunshine, and warm ocean waters, this area is a haven for snowbirds and regular vacationers alike. If you’ll be driving through on your way north (or south toward Baja!), make a stop at the Chula Vista RV Resort. What will you find?
This park has roughly 200 sites with varying prices depending on the amenities offered. There are both 30 and 50 AMP sites and full hookups, too. If you prefer to pull your RV through, there are pull-through sites, as well as standard back-in sites. Showers, a pool and hot tub, and property-wide Wi-Fi are all on offer here. There’s also a waterfront restaurant, a boat ramp, access to the beach, and a tiki bar to name just a handful of the amenities.
A short drive north of Chula Vista gets you in the proximity of Los Angeles and Malibu. The Malibu Beach RV Park is one of the best options here, not just because it’s right on the water, but because of the wide range of amenities, you’ll find.
There are pull through and back-in sites available, and the prices range depending on the features of the site you choose. Both 30 and 50 AMP sites are on offer, and there are showers available, too. Note that there are also other benefits, including an on-site convenience store, limited Wi-Fi, a dishwashing station, and a TV and game room. This is also a pet-friendly RV park.
This is another RV park located in Malibu, not far from the Malibu Beach RV Park. It’s an ideal option for anyone visiting Santa Monica (28 miles away), but is also worth a stop in its own right. There are limited full hookups, but both 30 and 50 AMP sites are offered. There are showers, and pets are allowed. Both back-in and pull-through sites are available but note that the maximum length allowed is 31 feet.
Why come here? Access to the Pacific with swimming, fishing, scuba, and snorkeling being some of the most popular activities.
Malibu is technically farther north than Anaheim, but we’re going to go on the assumption that you want to enjoy some waterfront access before heading to the Magic Kingdom (perhaps the most common reason to visit Anaheim, actually). Anaheim RV Park is the place to stay while you’re in town to visit Mickey and friends.
You’ll find over 200 sites, both back in and pull through. Full hookups are offered, and you’ll find that pets are allowed. Both 30 and 50 AMP sites are available, and the park also has a café and clubhouse, as well as a free shuttle to Disney if you don’t have your own toad or prefer not to get yours out and about.
Head north from Anaheim and through Sacramento, and you’ll find the Durango RV Resort. It’s technically located in Red Bluff, which is north of Sacramento by a bit. It offers almost 200 sites, both pull-through and back-in on offer. 30 and 50 AMP sites are available, and there are full hookups, too.
For amenities, you’ll find property-wide Wi-Fi, a fitness room, tennis courts, and even a dog run. Massage services are available, too. This is truly a resort, rather than just another RV park.
Head south from Durango or west from Sacramento and you’ll hit San Francisco. Go a bit further and you’ll find the Los Padres National Forest. The Kirk Creek Campground is located right in the heart of the forest, situated on a cliff just above Big Sur.
There’s no Internet, no pool, no hot tub, no showers, and no electricity, either. Why do you want to come here, then? Simply put, it’s one of the most dramatic views you’ll find, although the accommodations are a bit rustic.
As you can see, there are plenty of waterfront campgrounds in California for your RVing pleasure – gas up your RV and hit the road!
Warmer weather is finally here and it’s time to hit the road. Southern California is always a popular destination, and whether you’re a local looking to explore your options or you’re headed to the coast from somewhere else, finding the right campgrounds in Los Angeles is important. Not sure what your choices are or how they compare to one another? We’ll take a closer look and help you decide where to make your home away from home.
For some, Los Angeles is synonymous with urban sprawl. For others, it’s the proximity to Hollywood. However, did you know that the city is also located right on the Pacific Ocean, with some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation? It is, and there are two top choices when it comes to campgrounds if you want to stay right on the beach.
Golden Shore RV Resort – Ok, so this one is actually in Long Beach, but that’s an easy drive. It’s actually right on the water, too, so you can step out of your trailer or RV and hit the waves in seconds. However, note that while the resort welcomes those with a trailer, as well as motorhomes, they do not cater to tent camping.
Dockweiler Beach: Located in the heart of Los Angeles, actually just below LAX, this campground offers beachfront accommodations for those with an RV or trailer. It consistently ranks highly with RVing enthusiasts who appreciate the beauty of the setting. However, like Golden Shore RV Resort, this campground does not allow tent camping – campers, trailers and motorhomes only.
Heading down toward LA from San Francisco or from Tahoe? If you’ll be coming in from the north, there are plenty of campgrounds to consider just above Los Angeles proper.
Walnut RV Park – You’ll find this park in Northridge, with easy access to Disney, as well as Universal.
Balboa RV Park – In the same general area (but actually in Van Nuys), Balboa RV Park offers lots of perks, including Internet access for a fee, a laundry room, and full hookups for your RV.
Valencia Travel Village – One of the largest RV parks on this list, Valencia offers more than 350 spots, plenty of amenities, and a central location from which to explore the LA area. Oh, there are two pools you can cool off in during your downtime, too.
Not headed to the coast itself? If you’ll be stopping east of Los Angeles proper, then you have quite a few options when it comes to campgrounds.
Pomona Fairplex KOA – You’ll find Pomona northeast of Los Angeles proper, but within easy reach of all that LA has to offer. If you’re familiar with the KOA brand, then this campground probably needs no introduction. There are plenty of spaces for your camper, trailer, or RV. They also rent cabins, and they are happy to accept tents.
East Shore RV Park – East of Los Angeles, you’ll find San Dimas, as well as Puddingstone Lake. The shore of the lake is home to the East Shore RV Park. It’s within easy reach of LA if you want to venture downtown, but there’s plenty to see and do in the area itself. Most of the spots here are designed for trailers and motorhomes, but the park does accept limited tent campers, as well.
While LA is on the coast, it is possible to go further west. That’s where you’ll find Malibu. There are quite a few campgrounds here that you might want to consider.
Malibu Creek State Park – If you’re a fan of national and state parks, then Malibu Creek State Park is a great choice. There are spots for your trailer or RV, and they also accommodate tent camping. Take a stroll around the park and you’ll find some familiar scenery – the area has been heavily used for filming TV shows and movies.
Point Mogu State Park – Another excellent state park, this one is right on the beach, although some spots are across the highway from the water. This option offers lots of natural beauty, proximity to the ocean, and spots for a trailer, motorhomes, and some tent camping.
Other campgrounds of note in Malibu include Malibu Beach RV Park – quite spacious with over 100 sites – as well as Leo Carillo State Beach.
These are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to campgrounds in and around Los Angeles. Whether you’re helming a massive Class A RV, or you’re towing a pop-up, there’s something on offer to fit your needs.
There’s something undeniably freeing about living the RV life. You pack up, hit the road, and go where you want, when you want. You’re on no one’s timetable but your own, and there are so many things to see and do. Of course, there are barriers that need to be overcome before you can enjoy that life, and one of the most challenging is deciding between motor homes. Renting an RV is a good way to test the waters, but what type do you want to gravitate toward?
When choosing between rental motor homes, one of the primary questions you will need to answer is what sort of comfort you expect. Do you want something barebones and basic? That might be a great choice for a couple or family that wants an experience more akin to camping. In this case, a small, basic pop-up camper might be enough. However, if you want a bit more comfort, you’ll need to upgrade to something larger, like an RV.
Generally speaking, motor homes will offer the most comfort and the most home-like experience with all the perks. They come in sizes that range from near van-like to monstrously huge vehicles that have enough storage room for a subcompact car.
Briefly, we need to touch on the available types of motor homes. These are Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A – These are the largest RVs on the road, with price tags that may reach $1 million, and they max out at 50 feet in length. For the ultimate in luxury, this is your RV. Most Class A motor homes will have a minimum of one slide-out, and they sleep four or more people.
Class B – Class B motor homes max out around 25 feet and generally cost up to $125,000. If you’re looking for a good tradeoff in size versus maneuverability without sacrificing comfort, this is your choice. Note that these are actually the smallest options available, and sleep two to four people.
Class C – Class C motor homes can be up to 35 feet long and cost up to $120,000. These are your typical loft-over-cab design, usually have only a single air conditioner, and operate on 30 AMP power. They can sleep four or more people in relative comfort, and are actually larger than Class B motor homes.
Next, you have trailers – these are about the same size as an RV, but they must be towed. That means you need a vehicle capable of towing a trailer of that size and weight. You may hear these called travel trailers, and so-called fifth wheel trailers also fall into this category.
At the bottom of the range, you have basic campers. These are usually pretty small, although they can be quite comfortable for shorter trips or with only a couple of people. You’ll find rigid-frame trailers, ultralight trailers designed to be towed by smaller vehicles, teardrop-shaped trailers, and even pop-up campers in this range.
The next item on the agenda will be determining your preferred destinations. Are you looking forward to exploring Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks? Heading up to Sequoia National Park, or over to Kings Canyon? The US boasts an incredible wealth of natural beauty that can be accessed right through our national park system, but you might find it a bit challenging with a Class A motor home or trailer. Why?
Simply put, you’ll find that most of the parks are geared more for those who want to go tent camping, or those with smaller travel trailers. So, if you’re intent on exploring each park, you might want to consider motor homes that are a little on the smaller side. How small? The recommendation is around 32 feet in length, but no more than 35 feet. Check out our RV sizes & National Park article for more details.
However, if you want to explore the country and stay in actual RV parks, then you can go as large as you want. These facilities are specifically designed to handle even larger motor homes, although you may still find turning and parking a bit tight with the largest options.
Remember the golden rule – smaller motor homes and campers are easier to maneuver, but they’re limited on comfort. Larger ones offer much better comfort, but are challenging to move and park.
Ultimately, you need to decide how much comfort you want and whether or not your desire for comfort should be balanced against maneuverability. Of course, your budget plays a role here, as does what you want to do with the vehicle. Happy RVing!
There’s absolutely nothing quite like hitting the road in your RV. You have the entire nation ahead of you, ripe for exploration and enjoyment. For many RV owners, America’s national parks beckon. From the Smoky Mountains in the east to Yosemite in the west and tons more in the middle, you’ll find everything from mountains to beaches to desert on offer within the 58 national parks in the US.
However, if you’re going RVing, you do need to know a few things, particularly when it comes to camping in a national park with your RV. One thing that might surprise you is that some parks have very strict length limits. What’s the maximum? What else should you know?
Generally speaking, owners of RVs and travel trailers, including fifth wheels, need to be concerned about this requirement. If you have a smaller ultralight, a pop-up, or a compact camper, then you should be fine. For everyone else, there are length limits you need to know.
The simple, but slightly confusing answer here is that, no, there is no maximum length limit that applies to all national parks. It varies from park to park. One park might allow RVs up to 40 feet in length, while another might cut off at 25 feet.
While park limits vary, there is an average that applies. It’s 27 feet. That doesn’t sound like much, and it’s not, particularly when you understand some of the rules that apply to length, which we’ll discuss shortly. However, while 27 feet might be the average, it does not apply in all instances. We’ll need to look beyond that median and determine length limits in another way.
For large RV owners, those over 41 feet in length, you can expect to be excluded from 93% of national parks in the US. If your RV is 40 feet in length, you will be able to access 53% of the country’s national parks. If your RV is 37 feet long, you’ll fit within 60% of the parks, and if it is 35 feet, you’ll fit in 73% of US national parks. For RVs 32 feet long, expect to have access to 81% of the park system, and for 29 footers, that rises to 84%. If your RV is shorter – 25 feet, for instance – you’ll be able to access 93% of the park system, and if your RV is 19 feet, then you’ll be welcome in 98% of US national parks.
|Size of RV||% of parks you can access|
|over 41 feet||7%|
Ok, here’s where things start to get a little confusing. Many parks list the maximum length of RVs they will accept as a number that includes the towing vehicle and anything being towed behind the camper/trailer.
So, a motor home of 29 feet would be counted as one vehicle, but so would a 2.5-ton pickup truck towing a trailer with an attached toad (towed car). What that means is you need to know exactly how long everything you’re trying to fit into the camping spot will be. If you have a motorhome, you’re pretty golden (but not perfect). If you’re towing a trailer, get to measuring.
For motorhome owners, you also need to break out the tape measure. The reason for this is that the manufacturer probably didn’t list the length all that accurately. They tend to round down on those numbers. Chances are good that if you get out there with a tape measure, you’ll find that it’s longer than what you had anticipated.
The length requirements can throw a wrench in your travel plans, certainly. However, it doesn’t need to derail your excursion. There are a couple of things that you can do.
First, if you’re just now shopping for an RV or a trailer and you’re sure that visiting the country’s national parks is how you intend to spend the majority of your time, buy one that’s 35 feet long or less. That will help ensure that you can get into the majority of our national parks.
If you already own an RV or a trailer, your best bet is to check the website for any national park that you’re thinking about visiting. Most parks have their RV and trailer length limits posted. In the case that they’re not, you can call ahead to verify.
Finally, if you have a setup that’s just too large, your best option is going to be to camp outside the park and drive in on a day trip. You’ll find that a lot of national parks have RV parks nearby for just this situation.
California is home to an incredible range of attractions. There are urban centers – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego to name only three. There are vaunted areas like the Napa Valley and the coastline around Carmel. However, did you know that California is also home to nine national parks? And that’s not counting the number of national monuments, state parks, and other attractions on offer. It’s a great state to live in or visit with your RV, that’s for sure. Of course, you’ll need to know how to plan your trip. Which of those national parks are most worth your time? What should you know about each?
We’ll begin with what is probably the most popular national park in the state of California – Yosemite. From Bridal Veil Falls to Half Dome to the thousands of miles of hiking trails and wilderness areas, Yosemite is an incredible place and one that you absolutely must experience in person. When it comes to visiting, try to avoid peak tourist season, though. The lines to get into the park can be hours long in and of themselves. Instead, visit in spring or fall, rather than summer. There are even things to do during the winter.
For this one, we move far north in the state. This entry actually combines two different parks, but they operate as a single entity. In fact, one gate admission gets you access to both of them. Why head up north to this area? The giant sequoias are definitely a compelling reason – they’re the largest trees on the planet. In fact, they are so large that seeing really is believing. Head over to Kings Canyon National Park and you’ll find General Grant (the tree), as well as beautiful hiking along the Kings River.
Head south from Kings Canyon toward Santa Barbara, and then out into the Pacific and you’ll find a string of islands floating in the azure waters. These are the Channel Islands, and they form most of the Channel Islands National Park. Here, you’ll find unique plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. In fact, there are 150 different species only found here. There are lots to see and do in this park, but watching seals and sea lions are one of the most common pastimes.
For this one, we head back north, all the way to the Oregon border. Redwood National Park is another park that is focused all around the flora. In this case, it’s the giant redwood trees. While the sequoias are the largest trees in the world, the redwoods are the tallest living things on the planet. Again, they must be seen to truly be believed. Take time to hike through the ancient forest and explore the rivers and coastline.
From one extreme to the other, we move from lush, verdant forest to barren desert. Death Valley is the lowest spot in the continental US. It is also the hottest and driest spot in North America. Attractions here include sand formations, moving rocks, and the sight of snow-capped mountains in the distance as heat shimmers off the valley floor. Dress appropriately and limit your sun exposure.
The national park responsible for moving California’s total from eight to nine, Pinnacles is one of the newest parks in the country. Featuring craggy, volcanic rock formations, rock climbing is one of the most popular activities here. However, the altitude, combined with the drop in nighttime temperatures, makes it a great place for stargazing while you camp, as well. There are also caves that can be explored if you’re into spelunking.
If desert vistas are your thing, then make time to visit Joshua Tree National Park. Here, you’ll find that oldest trees on the planet, as well as some of the most rugged landscapes in North America. Interestingly, live music performances are quite popular at the park, so make time to check out the schedule of events.
Another destination worth visiting here is Lassen Volcanic National Park. Less famous than many of the other parks in the state, it is no less beautiful. It even offers a mini-preview of Yellowstone thanks to the hot springs and mud pools that dot the rugged landscape.
Whether you want to go for a day or a month, RVing through California’s national parks is an amazing experience that should not be missed.