My wife and I are new to RV camping ... we just bought our first travel trailer in Aug. 2011 and just spent last winter travelling from South carolina to Florida and Texas and then back home to Boston.
When possible we tried to stay in State parks or National parks and were very pleased with the facilities in all of our stops mainly because we had full hookups at each stop. We are planing a trip this summer out west through the Rockies via Yellowstone and Glacier to the Pacific Northwest and then back through Nevada and Colorado.
We plan on being out for about 4 months and would like to stay in National Parks when possible. My question is... can we expect to find the same facilities and hookups out west that we found in the South.
A quick look through some camping directories did not look promising
and private campgrounds with full hookups are expensive when you are on the road for 4 months.
We would appreciate any information on ammenities in National Parks out west.
You got an iPhone or Android phone? Then dump those paper directories and get one/several of the apps for camping. I have Woodall's free app, along with the RecGovcamp app that not only tells you all about the National Parks and facilities, but will help you make reservations. It's also free. There are others, but you get the drift.
I have found, in traveling out west that the presence of full hookups varies widely in both national and state parks, and that often during prime season it is a good idea to make reservations early. Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, for example, are very popular, so you need those reservations as early as possible, or you will find yourself sitting at the little booth hoping for cancellations/no-shows.
Also, if either of you is over age 62, you need to get the lifetime pass from any of the national parks that will get you and your carload of passengers free admission and discounts on many fees at National Parks, BLM, and other federal areas that charge fees. The pass is $10, and will pay for itself the first time you go through a National Park entrance gate.
There is only one campground inside Yellowstone with hookups - Fishing Bridge. There are a number of private RV Parks in West Yellowstone with hookups. Also Colter Bay RV Park in Grand Teton NP has hookups. Don't miss the Tetons! There are no campgrounds inside Glacier NP with hookups. There are private campgrounds with hookups on both the east and west sides of Glacier NP.
For specific information on camping in the national parks, do a google search for "park name camping" (without the quotes). For example - Yellowstone Camping.
If you want to save $$, you need to learn to camp without hookups at least some of the time.
California State Parks and National Parks rarely have hookups of any kind. for example, Yosemite has none at all and Yellowstone only has one campground with any hookups. California has less than 1% of its campsites with any kind of hookups.
plus California's prices at their state parks, are as much as many private campgrounds.
Oregon has plenty of campsites with at least W/E hookups and many with full. Washington has less but still has quite a few.
you should be fine finding state parks in Oregon and Washington with hookups.
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Very rarely will you find any type of hookups in National Parks in the west. However staying inside a National Park is a much better experience than staying in a commercial campground so I would suggest that you try dry camping at least for a day or two to see how it goes. You'll have to watch your water and electric usage. It just takes a little practice.
Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier NP. You can't go wrong. We have worked in that area for 8 summers and love the summer climate, wildlife, etc. Generally speaking you will find that the national park campgrounds do not have any hook-ups(water, elec, etc) but most will have a dump station and source of water available. Grand Teton does have a full hook-up area within the park and Yellowstone does have 1 hook-up campground. These will be nearly as expensive as private ones.The regular non-hookup campgrounds run around $20(half price with the senior pass). All of those Parks have private campgrounds near the entrances.
You specifically asked about National Parks. Some national parks have no hook ups available of any kind. Some have limited numbers of hook up sites. I can't think of one National Park that has more hook up sites avaialable than what demand can fill. For the parks that have the limited hook up sites, you'll want to get your reservations in as early as possible. Heck, even the dry sites at Yosemite are gone the first few hours after being released to reserve.
You should visit the web sites for each N.P. to get good campground information. Once you determine what you want, make a phone call to the concessionare that operates the campground for the best info available.
Is there any reason you are not able to dry camp for a few nights at a time?
Like the others have said, Some State Parks in WA and OR have lots of parks with hook ups but reservations will be needed very early to get into the popular parks.
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I can confirm the absense of hookups of any kind in at least the WA National Parks. Lots of sites however.. Some of the older parks do not have the largest of sites or even close to 'level' pads to park on, plus some of the access roads can get pretty tight, as they didn't have 34 foot, 8 and a half foot wide, 12 feet tall RV's back in the day! I do believe that they are 'first come, first server' however..
The majority of the WA State Parks that have hookup sites are usually on a reservation basis between May and Sept. Forget about getting a hookup site on weekends or holidays unless you've reserved WELL in advance.. During the week days, you can probably get in with out a reservation, but you can only pay one day at a time and if your site is reserved for a day and it's not you, you will have to find another site..
Very few Wa State Parks have 'first come, first serve' during the peak season, so if that's when you plan on being in WA state, you'll have to be pretty flexable.
Have a great trip none the less and there's a reason our parks fill up fast in the NW!
*Anything I post is for entertainment purposes only and what usually works for me.. Your Mileage May Vary..