National Parks

Domenick

New member
I have a Citation 24SA. I am planning to take it west next year to visit some of the national parks. It is small enough that I can get it just about anywhere a large pickup truck can go. I am told by some RVers that I should get a tow car. Do I really need one to get around in some of the national parks? Will I not be able to get around? Will I miss out on anything?

If anyone has traveled to some of these parks in a small RV I would appreciate your input.

Thanks,
Domenick
 

Surly Biker

New member
Well I'll chip in here since nobody else has so far. I just finished a 4000 mile bicycle tour through western USA and Canada this summer (8 states and provinces) which included many of the great national parks. I fail to see how towing a car along could improve the quality of the experience. Where traffic is bad, it won't make it any better. It seems like if you're in a class B sized rig already, you'll be able to move around and find camping spots and see the sites. Personally, I'd be more inclined to take a bike or e-bike along to increase mobility. The NP experience is 100X better if you can get a few hundred meters offf the road.

Peak season is getting crazy crowded at many of the parks, "shoulder" seasons are cooler but more reasonable crowds. Also, the national forest or wilderness adjacent to the parks are often far less crowded.
 

NBB

Active member
With a pair of shoes and a willingness to hike, you won't miss a thing! Caged up in a vehicle, stopping at overlooks and food stands - you'll miss a lot! I'd definitely recommend a bike over a tow car for the Parks. Google info on parking, traffic jams, shuttles and bike paths in Zion and Yosemite, for example. Also Google camping reservations, you'll need to make them 3-5 mos in advance for Yosemite...
 

DougE

Member
It will be a little more awkward than a regular car or pickup. You don't really fit in normal parking spaces - especially length. If you're a solo traveler a small gas-engine scooter on a rear carrier is a good option. It must be less than 400# though. (I do a Honda Big Ruckus on my Sprinter but there are scooters that have smaller engines, don't require a license and are easier to load.) If you have a co-pilot a really small car set up to tow 4 down is a good option but you won't be able to back up. (I pulled a Suzuki Sidekick with a Class A for a number of years.) It kind of kills the gas mileage though.
 

OldWest

2004 T1N Westfalia
1. No Toad

Generally, can see most mainland natl parks with a small RV. You should be able to get to just about every natl park via driving a small RV (except island ones and several Alaska ones) and drive to.and stay in campgrounds in the natl parks.

There are some parts of various natl parks where a smaller vehicle would be better or where even a small RV would be inadvisable BUT you have options of public tours (natl parks are trying to reduce traffic in parks so may have free shuttles) or rent a small vehicle or 4x4 if necessary for that park if absolutely must see something.

Zion shuts down the main road to all traffic during peak season except for their shuttles and bicycles (and hotel traffic). Yosemite has free shuttle bus in valley and (double check) a small RV should make it to the Toulm Meadows (tour buses do but windy road and tunnels). Grand Canyon has shuttles.

Issues are height restrictions (usually tunnels or bridges), width, and dirt roads. For example, Zion has a tunnel which requires driving down the middle, Glacier has a windy mountain road to the sun, etc. Death Valley has certain sites accessible via dirt roads only.

Can research beforehand by checking each park's website, getting Natl Geo Natl Park Guide, and getting info at each park's Visitor Center (advisable for info on road restrictions, closures, hiking areas closed off for bear activity, etc.).

The main attractions of most natl parks are usually easily accessible by a small RV. If you prefer more remote areas, then check with each park for that remote area and then decide whether worth it.

Note: Bicycles are a nice choice for many natl parks. Can often rent in the parks as well.

2. Planning

Check RV caravan tour catalogs for ideas re itinerary for natl parks (e.g., the natl park loop in the western states). Helpful for timing. The Natl Geo Natl Parks Guide is helpful to decide how many days to stay in each park and what to do for number of days. For example:

http://adventurecaravans.com/tour/grand-circle-the-great-western-national-parks-tour/

Also, trip routing:

http://www.randalolson.com/2016/07/30/the-optimal-u-s-national-parks-centennial-road-trip/

Should reserve campground sites way in advance as natl parks campground sites fill up way in advance. Look for nearby alternatives, including Allstays.com (app), PassportAmerica, etc.

Natl Parks vary as to available hookups in campgrounds

3. Pass

Get Senior (best deal ever) or Annual Pass.
 
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nutterbutter

2004 LTV Free Spirit T1N
Yellowstone: You should be able to just about everywhere, but during busy season the extra width of your RV is going to be liability when pulling off the road to view wildlife. Often you are just driving, and you see an area with wildlife and parked cars. The extra width will make it harder to pull over. (We just got back from Yellowstone, but it was end of season and not busy)

Yellowstone had one road that was closed to vehicles over... 5 tons? It's short and scenic, but you could walk it if you really wanted to.

Utah: There are a lot of interesting dirt roads on the edges of the National Parks, whether state park, national forest, etc. We dry camped some days outside of Bryce. The smooth dirt roads are fine for your camper if you are up for it, but a few of the entrances to parking lots off the dirt roads are sketchy. Might depend on how good the closures on your cabinets are, and if you like everything vibrating around. There's 2 amazing dirt drives though....

Dual rear wheels can be a liability in the rocky terrain, but I saw plenty of dual rear wheel truck campers out there.
 

slvmart

New member
We just bought a Siesta 24 SR. Previously, we owned a 27' long 5th wheel and towed it with a crew cab F350. Prior to that a 29' long Class C. We managed to camp in many State Parks and just about any National Park, we traveled to. The combination F350/5th wheel, being 40'+ long combined, definitely was a challenge at, for example, Yellowstone. We haven't often needed a separate vehicle plus we are lucky that often our friends travel along with us, with their Outback and pop up.

But to the point. The Sprinter based RV's are definitely narrower, not sure about 100% of the cases, than a standard Class C. And they are also typically shorter. I don't believe that it would be wrong to claim that if I could park my F350 in a spot, then the Sprinter would not be more of a challenge. We are definitely happy with it's maneuverability and floor plan.
 

chromisdesigns

New member
I have a Citation 24SA. I am planning to take it west next year to visit some of the national parks. It is small enough that I can get it just about anywhere a large pickup truck can go. I am told by some RVers that I should get a tow car. Do I really need one to get around in some of the national parks? Will I not be able to get around? Will I miss out on anything?

If anyone has traveled to some of these parks in a small RV I would appreciate your input.

Thanks,
Domenick
Nah you will be fine. I visit them all the time in my 26 ft rig
 

Rock Doc

Active member
The only limitation you may run into is that some National Parks have a 21-foot limitation for driving on some of their roads. (Going To The Sun Road in Glacier NP and the road between Kings Canyon and Sequoia NPs come to mind.) Otherwise, many of the parks these days have free shuttle services to go among their sites, and this avoids the whole issue of having to search for parking, etc.

I have seen virtually all the campground limitations as 30', and you'll be totally fine with that.

Rock Doc
 

awaywego

2008 NCV3 2500
I want to add a bit of info specific to Glacier National Park.
The main attraction is Going to the Sun Road.
Vehicles longer than 21ft and wider than 8ft are not permitted.
When the road is open during the season, the park runs a shuttle every 20 minutes so you won't miss out, but you won't have the luxury of taking your RV on the Going to the Sun Road.
 

calbiker

Well-known member
I've seen a Winnebago Sprinter (24 ft) "sneak" over the pass.

You can take your bike on the shuttle and bike down. Way more fun!

Zion is also a fun place to shuttle up and bike down.

Vehicles longer than 21ft and wider than 8ft are not permitted.
 

terra_firma

New member
Hey just did this tour around a lot of those places

It seems like a sprinter rv would be fine almost anywhere except it was noted at a few places that said "no rvs/trailers beyond this point". Since i jusr have a cargo van i learned that im allowed to practically drive anywhere a car is allowed. In Zion i got through the tunnel no problem, but for rvs over a certain width you have to pay for a $15 permit i think. also, the shuttles are awesome.
 

slvmart

New member
Another place to be aware of, with clearance problems, is in the Blackhills. Many years back I remember someone towing a AirStream, looked new to me, getting stuck in one of the narrow and low tunnels. Didn't stick around to find out how that turned out. Likely not very well and very costly.

Bottom line would seem to be to do some research before heading out to know what is and what isn't practical.
 

DougE

Member
Re: Glacier National Park

Take note that going into Zion from the east passes through tunnels. Some vehicles are too tall to make it and stay on their side of the center line. In those cases a ranger vehicle will escort the RV. Some places are more accommodating than others!
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Re: Glacier National Park

Take note that going into Zion from the east passes through tunnels. Some vehicles are too tall to make it and stay on their side of the center line. In those cases a ranger vehicle will escort the RV. Some places are more accommodating than others!
:thumbup:

I believe that the Zion literature which I recently reviewed stated that there is specific prior scheduling and a $15.00(?) fee involved per crossing.

vic
 

hkpierce

'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
CBS report on proposal to double some National Park entrance fees

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/grand-canyon-other-popular-national-parks-may-double-fees/

The National Park Service is considering a steep increase in entrance fees at 17 of its most popular parks, mostly in the U.S. West, to address a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects.

Visitors to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and other national parks would be charged $70 per vehicle, up from the fee of $30 for a weekly pass. At others, the hike is nearly triple, from $25 to $70.

A 30-day public comment period opened Tuesday. The Park Service says it expects to raise $70 million a year with the proposal at a time when national parks repeatedly have been breaking visitation records and putting a strain on park resources. Nearly 6 million people visited the Grand Canyon last year.

The proposal applies to Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah; Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Joshua Tree in California; Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming; Mount Rainier and Olympic in Washington; Shenandoah in Virginia; Acadia in Maine; Rocky Mountain in Colorado; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Denali in Alaska.​
 

Carolina Pistol

New member
CBS report on proposal to double some National Park entrance fees

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/grand-canyon-other-popular-national-parks-may-double-fees/

The National Park Service is considering a steep increase in entrance fees at 17 of its most popular parks, mostly in the U.S. West, to address a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects.

Visitors to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and other national parks would be charged $70 per vehicle, up from the fee of $30 for a weekly pass. At others, the hike is nearly triple, from $25 to $70.

A 30-day public comment period opened Tuesday. The Park Service says it expects to raise $70 million a year with the proposal at a time when national parks repeatedly have been breaking visitation records and putting a strain on park resources. Nearly 6 million people visited the Grand Canyon last year.

The proposal applies to Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah; Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Joshua Tree in California; Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming; Mount Rainier and Olympic in Washington; Shenandoah in Virginia; Acadia in Maine; Rocky Mountain in Colorado; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Denali in Alaska.​
Any idea if any of the above affects current lifetime pass holders for seniors and veterans?
 

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