A new RV park is opening this summer by the western entrance of Glacier National Park. They will have full-service RV sites and modern cabins just across the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, less than a mile from the entrance gates. The RV park will also be within walking distance to the shops and restaurants in West Glacier Village.
West Glacier RV Park is set to have paved roads and pull-through sites that will fit motorhomes and tow-behinds up to 80 feet long. Each RV site will have full hookups, a picnic table, fire pit, and barbecue.
Their cabins will sleep up to four people and have a full kitchen, queen-size bed, bathroom, and living area with a futon. The park amenities will include free WiFi, coin-operated laundry, a playground, and propane and RV supplies available to purchase.
There will also be a short wooded path that leads from the RV park to West Glacier Village. You can browse the gift shop for souvenirs, mercantile store for camping supplies, and grab a bite to eat from West Glacier Restaurant. They also serve ice cream and espresso to-go and have outdoor tables so you can enjoy your food and drink with a view.
Summer in Glacier National Park means long warm days and cool nights under the big blue Montana sky. Go hiking, fishing, or take a drive on the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road while the full route is open. Keep in mind that the mountain road is very narrow with hairpin turns and vehicles over 21 feet long are not permitted.
West Glacier RV Park will be opening on July 1, 2019. You can learn more about the park and book your site or cabin on their website. Let us know how your experience goes on Campground Reviews.
One of the most accessible natural areas in Alaska is Chugach State Park. This vast park allows visitors to explore the Chugach Mountain Range just minutes from the population centers of downtown Anchorage, Palmer, or Girdwood.
Chugach State Park offers access to all levels of adventure including hiking, biking, fishing, camping, glaciers, gold panning, berry picking, horseback riding, snow machining, and countless scenic areas.
Chugach State Park—the third largest State Park in the US—encompasses 495,000 acres with environments ranging from the coast of Turnagain Arm to the alpine tundra on the high peaks overlooking Anchorage and the Cook Inlet.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Chugach Mountains is that they are over 8,000 feet in elevation from sea level at the Cook Inlet. Bashful Peak is the tallest mountain in the park at 8,005 feet.
Chugach State Park can be broken down into roughly 4 regions to explore.
The Turnagain Arm area is accessed by the scenic Seward Highway along the southern edge of the Park. The park is bounded roughly by Girdwood to the east and Anchorage to the west.
Access to Crow Pass (the historic trail across the Chugach Mountains to Eagle River), Bird Valley, Indian Valley, Falls Creek, and McHugh Creek trailheads are along this stretch of the Seward Highway.
Beluga Point is a popular viewpoint along the Seward Highway. Another good vantage is Bird Point, where you can watch the bore tide come in. The bore tide is created because the tide (the second highest tide in North America) comes in so fast in this location that it produces a linear wave across the Turnagain Arm.
Bore tides happen every day on the Turnagain Arm, most producing modest waves. Sometimes extreme sport surfers and kayakers ride the icy waters of the bore tide wave. You may also see beluga whales after the water gets deeper or harbor seals that sometimes ride the tide in.
Note: NEVER walk out onto the mud flats. People have died after becoming stuck in the thick mud and silt and subsequently drowning in the tide!
The Hillside area has an extensive trail system and can be accessed by the Flattop Mountain Shuttle that provides round-trip transportation between downtown Anchorage and the Glen Alps Trailhead.
Flattop Mountain is one of the more popular peaks for hiking in the state, giving views of the Cook Inlet and the Alaska Range in the distance.
The Eagle River access point gives access to the central portion of the park. Crow Pass connects over to Girdwood, a 28-mile hike with outstanding views of wildlife, several glaciers, and alpine peaks.
The Eagle River Nature Center hosts educational programs and outdoor excursions. Mountain goats and Dall sheep are often seen in this area, as well as moose, black bear, grizzly bear, and numerous birds.
The Arctic Valley area offers extensive trails with light traffic. Views of Rendezvous Peak, Mount Gordon Lyon, Eagle River, the Cook Inlet, and even Denali on clear days as well as the multitude of wildflowers make for excellent photography.
Eklutna Lake and vicinity are access points for the northern part of Chugach State Park. Access up the Lakeside Trail to Eklutna Lake and the Eklutna Glacier can be by foot, bike, ATV, horseback, or snowshoes, skis, or dogsled in the winter.
An estimated 80% of Anchorage’s drinking water comes from the Eklutna Glacier, and the recession of the glacier during the past decades is a source of concern for city planners and scientists.
Small craft boats (non-motorized) are allowed on the lake and bush planes can land at the southern side of the lake on an unpaved airstrip. Thunderbird Falls is a highlight of the area with a short walk through birch and cottonwood trees before finding a 200-foot waterfall.
The State of Alaska operates three RV campgrounds that give access to Chugach State Park. Campgrounds are in wooded areas with fire rings, picnic tables, water and latrine services.
Eklutna Lake Campground does not take reservations and has 50 sites. The Eagle River Campground has 57 sites and a dump station. Bird Creek Campground on Turnagain Arm is also first-come, first-served and has 24 sites and a paved parking lot for overflow camping.
Although the Colorado River has been carving the Grand Canyon for over 6 million years, the Grand Canyon National Park will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2019.
During 2019, the Park will commemorate its past and work to inspire future generations to experience the majesty and resources that the Park provides.
Native American tribes have always known and visited the Grand Canyon area. Spanish explorers led by Hopi guides reached the canyon in the 1540s and were forced to turn back due to the depth and vastness of the canyon.
In 1858, Lt. Joseph Ives’ expedition reported that the canyon would likely not be able to be visited by white settlers due to its seemingly unnavigable size. These initial daunting reports likely kept early explorers from attempting to traverse through the Grand Canyon area.
Teddy Roosevelt is credited with initiating the efforts to keep the Grand Canyon protected for all American people, stating in 1903:
“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison-beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world. Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”
But it wasn’t until February 26, 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson passed the bill to create Grand Canyon National Park to preserve the land for public use. Later, in 1979, the Grand Canyon National Park became a World Heritage Site through UNESCO.
The sheer size of the Grand Canyon is difficult to comprehend through photos or words. Much of the canyon is over a mile deep, 15 miles wide, and 277 miles long, carved through geologic formations that are over 1.7 billion years old.
The vast majority of the Grand Canyon National Park is extremely rugged and remote, and many places are only accessible by pack trail.
The most popular viewpoints, such as the South Rim, are visited by over 90% of the park visitors. Roughly 30 miles of the canyon along the South Rim is accessible by the road. The North Rim, about a 220-mile drive from the South Rim, gives access to the Kaibab Plateau and Bright Angel Point.
The Centennial celebration events will include a historical symposium, a living history week, and an effort to showcase some of the lesser-known sites through social media and other events throughout the year.
Focused ranger-lead talks on the geology, cultural history, and natural resources will be available as well. For a real sense of the canyon, try a guided Trekking Tour.
The best way to celebrate the Grand Canyon on its 100th birthday is to see it for yourself and take in the natural wonders spanning 13,000 years of human life, and eons of time before that.
A full list of the Park’s Centennial Celebration events can be found on their calendar.
There are four developed campgrounds within the National Park (none of the campgrounds operated by the NPS have RV hookups). The Park is very popular, so make reservations well ahead of your visit. The Mather Campground on the South Rim is open year round.
NOTE, despite the Federal Government Shutdown at the time of this article, the Grand Canyon National Park is running at almost 100 percent thanks to the State of Arizona subsidizing partial park operations, volunteers, and local private businesses. The park is open and free during the shutdown.
Mild weather and a variety of activities draw many visitors to the Peach State of Georgia, especially during winter months. On the outskirts of Savannah, for example, RVers can enjoy the splendors of picturesque Skidaway Island State Park and then tee it up at nearby Hunter Golf Club.
Skidaway Island State Park is set on 588 acres and features nearly 90 sites, many with full hookups. Additional amenities include 30/50 amp electrical, water, sewer, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and six miles of easy hiking trails.
Trails wind through maritime forests and past a salt marsh, leading to a boardwalk and observation tower. This tranquil park borders Skidaway Narrows, which is a part of Georgia’s Intracoastal Waterway.
Roughly 10 miles from Skidaway Island State Park is Hunter Army Airfield, home of Hunter Golf Club. This military golf course opened for play in 1967 and is also open to the public.
The par 72, 18-hole track stretches to 6,518 yards from the tips. Hunter Golf Club also offers a clubhouse and driving range and is set among sprawling Spanish Oaks and mature Georgia Pines. Most of the fairways are wide, but not too long. In fact, the longest hole on the course is the par five, 16th that plays to 528 yards. Overall, this is a fun and challenging course and the price is reasonable.
In addition to the history and charm of Savannah proper, a few other attractions worth visiting in the area include the tabby ruins at the Wormsloe State Historic Site. This is one of only about 40 such tabby ruins that stretch from northern Florida up through Charleston, S.C.
Tabby ruins are a concrete mixture of crushed oyster shells, lime, sand, and water, and were used to build noble houses, colonial fortifications, and plantation dwellings in the 1700s and 1800s.
A short drive to Tybee Island should be on everyone’s to-do list. Climb the 154 steps of Georgia’s oldest lighthouse—the historic Tybee Island Lighthouse that dates to 1736. You can also explore the island on a kayak or even a bicycle. Both are available for rent.
There is something special about experiencing the outdoors during the winter. The air is crisp and clear, the stars twinkle brighter, and the snow-covered landscapes twinkle with sunlight or moonlight.
Exploring by snowshoes or cross-country skis is a great way to work up an appetite for a welcome warm hearty meal. As well, during the winter months, there is less worry about fire restrictions for campfires or bears, snakes, or other hibernating animals visiting your campsite.
While many northern RV parks close during the winter season, Manor RV Park (part of the Trout Haven Resorts) in the picturesque town of Estes Park, Colorado remains open to RVs for dry camping. Nestled next to the Big Thompson River on the side of Prospect Mountain, the Manor RV Park offers year-round experiences.
During winter months, guests can enjoy a more quiet stay with campfires, ice fishing or skating on the on-site trout pond, or a jaunt up the road about 2 miles to experience Rocky Mountain National Park to hike, ski, or snowshoe.
Damien Boynton, general manager for the Trout Haven Resorts, says that winter RVing is becoming more and more popular.
Manor RV Park has 20 dry sites (power and WiFi, but no water) available during the winter months, and their bookings are filled or nearly filled most weekends.
Over the past 2-3 years, more people have been coming during the off-season or returning to enjoy the scaled back time of the year.
Originally from Australia, Damien has nearly a decade of experience in the camping and hospitality service, and five years living in Estes Park.
Damien says one of the highlights of winter RVing at Manor RV Park is a more personalized park experience and the ability to see wildlife during a very unique time of the year.
Some things to consider before you RV during the winter months are to look at the weather forecast so you have a good idea what to prepare for and to be cautious of the elements when you are out adventuring. This means dressing for the weather and making sure you have the equipment you need with you (and know how to use it).
Manor RV Park has 110 full hookup sites available during the summer with on-site movie nights, Bingo, and potluck Tuesdays. Manor RV Park is pet-friendly and has an office on the property to assist you with your year-round adventure plans.
Denali State Park borders the much larger Denali National Park on the west side, about 2.75 hours drive north of Anchorage. The campground offers astounding views of the Alaska Range and Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) to the west and the Talkeetna Mountains to the east.
K’esugi Ken is an Athabascan place name, translating to mean “base of the ancient one”. This refers to the southern lobe of K’esugi Ridge that lies between the Susitna and Chulitna Rivers. This ridge has been carved by glaciers and rivers over time.
In clear weather from this location, stunning vistas of the Alaska Range and Denali can be seen. Denali’s summit is at 20,310 feet and is the highest mountain in North America. It stands over 3.5 vertical miles above its base—taller from base to summit than Mt. Everest (29,028 ft elevation).
Denali is tall enough to create its own weather. Wind speeds over 150 miles per hour and temperatures of -93F have been recorded on the north face of Denali.
The K’esugi Ken Campground has 32 RV sites that can accommodate up to 100-foot long RVs with electric hookups, non-potable water pumps, fire pits, picnic tables, and bear-proof food lockers.
There are tent sites available on a separate loop, but no dump station. Users will find the campground well-designed. Three public-use cabins are available as well, including the Denali Cabin that is built to ADA standards for accessibility.
An interpretive pavilion showcases some of the area’s interests with interpretive displays. This area is also available to rent for group events. Future plans include the construction of a new visitor center.
The K’esugi Ken Campground offers impressive trails that offer some of the best views of the Alaska Range in the state. The Moose Flats Interpretive Trail is ADA compliant and covers about a half mile around two ponds.
The Curry Ridge Trail is more challenging with several switchbacks that climb 1100 vertical feet over 3.5 miles (one way) to a beautiful alpine lake at 1787 feet elevation.
Timberline is around 1500 feet, allowing hikers to explore the boreal forest before emerging from the woods into sub-alpine and tundra terrain. Future trails are planned to extend the trail past the lake, deeper into the State Park.
The Denali State Park is often less crowded than its National Park neighbor and offers many of the same wilderness experiences. The State Park encompasses 325,240 acres and a host of recreational opportunities from wilderness exploration to fishing, small craft boating, and wildlife viewing.
Wildlife includes moose, bear, wolverine, wolf and many birds and fish. Most of the park is undeveloped wilderness. The Curry and the K’esugi Ridges form the backbone of the park.
Within Denali State Park is the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial, constructed in 1983. The Memorial is an outdoor facility that honors Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Alaska National Guard veterans from Alaska as well as Alaskans who were awarded the Medal of Honor. The visitor center at the Memorial is open daily during the summer.
Byers Lake Campground, Denali View North Campground, and the Lower Troublesome Creek campground also provide camping experiences in the State Park. You can find out more here.
You can explore Denali State Park and other Alaska State Parks with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources State Park and Trail Map Viewer here.
All parks budgets are squeezed to the max, but free national and state park entry passes are still a relatively easy thing to get. You’ll need to plan your RV trip carefully to do it, but the effort is worthwhile when you save the cash.
3 Tips for Free National And State Park Visits
Before getting started in your search for a free national and state park visit, remember a couple of things. First, you’ll save money with a free entrance pass, but in most cases the savings only apply to the actual park entry fee. Camping and other recreational fees like fishing usually apply once you’re inside the park. Second, those free park days tend to be quite busy, so don’t expect a ton of solitude once you arrive. Aside from those two limitations (and maybe others depending on the specific pass and location), scoring a free visit is pretty easy. Here’s how.
Drive into a national park on one of five annual free entry days and you’ll get a free ride for as long as the usual entry fee is good for (often up to seven days), as long as you never leave the gates. Keep these U.S. National Park Free Days in mind when planning your next adventure:
January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary September 28 – National Public Lands Day November 11 – Veterans Day
Look for Free Days at Your Nearest State Park
Just do an internet search for “(your state) state park free days in (year)” and you might find a list of free park entrance days somewhere you want to camp.
For instance, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is legally required to give residents 12 free Washington state park free entry days per year.
Oftentimes, free days coincide with some sort of state celebration. Places like Vermont and Colorado offer free admission on or around their statehood day celebrations. Other states like South Dakota have an Open House weekend with free admission to state parks. And Nevada offers free state park entry on Nevada Public Lands Days. Thankfully many of these celebrations are during the summer camping season!
Last but not least, most states offer free park entry all year round for military members.
Volunteer at National and State Parks
Perhaps the best way to get free national and state park entrance is to help the park systems with your time and labor. Many states like Georgia offer free days for volunteers on certain days of the year. And the National Park Service gives a free entry pass to volunteers who log 250 or more hours of work with the parks.
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to live in states like Connecticut and New Hampshire, which offer free state park entry to residents with valid car license plates. That’s when an internet search engine can be your best friend to help you find free park entry fees that work with your travel schedule. Good luck and happy camping!
The RV lifestyle can sometimes be deceiving. RVs give us the freedom to go nearly anywhere, but that doesn’t always translate to the ability to do what we want, when we want to do it – if we care about camping and boondocking etiquette. If we don’t care, we are practically guaranteed to annoy campground and RV park neighbors by following these five simple behaviors:
The Five Best Ways to Annoy Campground and RV Park Neighbors
Keep your RV generator running at all hours.
Who needs to hear crickets chirping at dusk, or the silence of nature in the back country? If you keep your generator running all day and all night, you can enjoy life as usual. Watch TV at all hours, run that microwave and keep the A/C going without sacrificing one bit of your own comfort while you’re out in nature. It’s just like staying home.
Don’t turn off your outside lights.
Your RV’s manufacturer wouldn’t have included pretty LED patio lighting on the side of your rig if they didn’t want you to use it, right? But turning patio lights on and off when you need to go outside at night can be such a hassle. So as soon as the sun sets, just keep your patio lights blaring until morning. You never know when you’ll need to walk the dog at 3 am. Besides, your neighbors can use the light too. If it bothers them, they always get a sleep mask or install RV night shades.
Allow your dog or children to run around off-leash and unsupervised.
Kids and dogs can be wild by nature, so when you want your human or furry children to experience the real meaning of freedom, just turn them loose on the campground and see what happens. Don’t interrupt your important binge watching afternoon to go outside and keep an eye on their activities. The neighbor will probably let you know if something is wrong.
Feed local wildlife.
When you’re out in the woods, the last thing you want to spend time doing is tackling household chores like taking out the trash. Go have fun instead and keep your garbage piled up around your campsite until you leave for good. Better yet, just leave garbage for the animals. Ravens, mice and bears will have an easier time finding dinner, especially when they realize there’s more good eats inside your neighbor’s camper.
Smoke outside next to your neighbor’s RV.
In the land of the free, everyone has the right to decide if and what they want to smoke. Forget those studies showing the effects smoking within 30 feet of another person. All the chemicals you inhale with every puff haven’t killed you yet and who knows, they might even invigorate your neighbor’s immune system too! So light up in the campground and if it bothers your neighbor, let them know that respirator masks are cheap.
The tips in this tongue-in-cheek article are not the only behaviors that can annoy campground and RV park neighbors, but will certainly prevent you from making friends during your RV travels. Consideration for other campers is paramount for happier, memorable road trips.
You’ve heard it said, “It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.” Truth be told, with RVing, it’s both.
To enjoy either of those, you need to be able to find an accommodating campsite for your tent, trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome. Whether it’s a quick overnight stop on your way to a National Park, the park itself, or an elaborate full-featured RV resort, the RV Life app will help you get there.
For over a decade, savvy RV veterans have used RV Park Reviews as the definitive source for accurate campground reviews by actual campers. Now, RV Life brings the depth of that exclusive database to your mobile device within the RV Life app.
Unlike other review sources, real RV and camping enthusiasts contribute detailed reviews and photos of campgrounds and park locations they have visited. Over 200,000 unbiased experiences of these travelers are now at your fingertips within the RV Life mobile app.
Find. Review. Stay. Contribute.
Choosing a great campground starts with the excellent filtering capability built into the RV Life app. Tap the Filters button at the top of the map and start narrowing down your campground search. You’ll want to subscribe to the RV Life app to enable the Premium filters such as Park Types and Affiliations.
Work your way down the list and check those features you can’t live without. Whether you choose pets, pools, and pull-throughs or water and Wi-Fi, there is a filter for you. Perhaps you’ll choose to skip the niceties and select the BLM locations and go off-the-grid. The RV Life app lets you do it all.
Now that your choices are more refined you can review the sites that interest you. Tapping a green camper icon on the map reveals a banner at the bottom of the screen with the name of the campground, distance from your current location, and its RV Park Reviews rating.
Tap the banner for a detailed review of the campground, photos, maps, directions and much more. You can even switch to satellite view on the map and zoom in for a closer look to check for ease of access, or get a bird’s-eye view of the park or campground.
Tens of thousands of campers have taken the time to pass on information and opinions of the campgrounds you are interested in. Along with reviews and photos, many reviewers offer sage advice in the Tips for Campers section.
Notes about hosts, the roads, local attractions, and eateries are all found here. You can even use the Questions and Answers feature to find additional information. Tap the Ask a Question button and an anonymous request will go out to others that have stayed in the campground that might be able to provide the answer.
When you return from your trip, take a few minutes to reminisce and open the RV Life app on your mobile device and share your valuable opinions about the campgrounds you visited.
While you’re at it, save the campgrounds you enjoyed the most by tapping the Favorite button. Those favorites will then be identified by a heart icon on the map and listed in the Account section in the RV Life app.
With RV Life, you become a part of the RVing community. The RV Park Reviews integration in the RV Life mobile app ensures that you can have the easiest, most comprehensive way to find, review, stay, and contribute.
If your travels take you through Glendive, Montana in the eastern part of the state, take some time to explore this geographically diverse area of the country.
Located about 40 minutes from the North Dakota border off of Interstate 94, Glendive will appeal to hikers, photographers, history buffs, and golfers, too.
You’ll have to endure a few days of dry camping if you stay at Makoshika State Park, but it is well worth the minor inconvenience. There are 15 sites available at Makoshika, which is the largest of Montana’s 55 state parks.
Featuring incredible badlands formations and the fossil remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops, history and paleontology buffs can spend weeks exploring this picturesque area. You can find the visitor’s center at the entrance to the park; kids will enjoy the interpretive exhibits. Before venturing out into the park, this is a great place to get some background details and history about the park.
If after visiting Makoshika State Park and you still haven’t had enough dinosaurs, head to the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum. Featuring 24 full-size dinosaurs and numerous singular fossils, Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum is impressive in its authenticity.
The Frontier Gateway Museum in Glendive also gives a great overview of life as it was and is. The museum covers prehistoric times right on through to the 21st century. Major displays in the main building include fossils, Native American artifacts, homesteaders, cattlemen, settlers, and the railroad.
Opened in 1962, the 9-hole, par 36 Cottonwood Country Club in Glendive measures 3,163 yards from the tips. Available to members and the general public, Cottonwood is always in immaculate shape and features mature cottonwood trees, challenging elevation changes, and undulating greens.
In addition to the golf course, facilities include a driving range, practice green, pro shop, patio for dining and viewing the course, and a fully-stocked lounge.