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Five Least Visited National Parks with RV Camping

Published on February 1st, 2022 by Contributor, Let's RV

RVing is more popular than ever. But an uncrowded national parks camping experience is totally possible at these five least visited national parks with RV camping (free and low cost).

Uncrowded camping still exists in these beautiful places:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Pinnacles National Park, California

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia

Get out and enjoy these least visited national parks from west to east.

RV travel exploded when the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020. Millions of people decided that safer, social distancing by RV camping was the best way to get away from it all. The only problem? Popular national park campgrounds got slammed with visitors. Even the most undiscovered national parks visitation rates skyrocketed.

It might seem like a hopeless task to find uncrowded national parks with RV camping, but don’t give up. Most RVers are birds-of-a-feather. Regardless of a park’s popularity, they flock to the same national park destinations again and again. But if your RV camping style is the opposite, and you prefer solitude over mobs of people, you can still find those undiscovered national park gems. It will take more time, driving, and money to visit them, but the effort is worth it.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Teddy Roosevelt is one of the least visited national parks in America.
Drive to North Dakota’s Teddy Roosevelt National Park for stunning scenery like this.

North Dakota can be a long way from anywhere. But that’s exactly why RV camping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota is worth the drive. This year-round national park camping destination seems quite popular, but with 600,000 annual visitors each year, it pales in comparison to more well-known destinations like the 2.9 million annual visitors that visit Grand Canyon National Park.

The park is comprised of 70,446.89 acres and 29,920 acres are designated Wilderness Area that bans motorized transportation. It’s easy to drive through the park and marvel at the former president’s favorite bison hunting spots, but foot travel gives you an in-depth experience into the vast prairie ecosystem. Bison, wild horses, elk and nearly 200 kinds of birds will be your neighbors as you get to know life in the badlands.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park campgrounds include two RV-friendly campgrounds without hookups, and a special one for campers with horse trailers too. National park camping reservations are not required, but highly advised during summer.

Pinnacles National Park, California

Yes, you can still find uncrowded national park camping in Calfornia’s Pinnacles National Park.

If you’ve ever tried finding uncrowded RV camping in California, you know it’s a frustrating experience. But not at Pinnacles National Park. In 2020, the park only saw 165,740 visitors, a dramatic difference from the 2,268,313 who went to nearby Yosemite. Located in the rugged volcanic region south of Hollister, Pinnacles is a favorite of rock climbers and stargazers. The park’s moonscape features, stunning arid landscape and dark, starry nights make it a fantastic getaway any time of year.

Pinnacles National Park campground is made for RV camping. Enjoy year-round water, dump station and many sites with electric hookups. Reservations not required but advised since it is California, after all.

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Like it’s neighbor to the north, Wind Cave National Park visitation figures are a fraction of the most popular national parks with RV camping. At just 448,405 visits in 2020, only the most determined RVers and other campers made the trek. This South Dakota RV destination is one of the best national parks for quiet contemplation and recreation. Founded over a century ago, Wind Cave is dedicated to preserving a mind-blowing cave system and disappearing mixed-grass prairie habitat.

Wind Cave National Park camping is located at Elk Mountain Campground. Enjoy roughing it at old-school first-come, first-served campsites with RV-friendly spots for rigs up to 40-feet long (including trailers).

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

enjoy uncrowded camping in Texas
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is as immense at Texas itself.

You won’t find a more quiet national park camping destination in the west than Guadalupe Mountains National Park. In 2020 a scant 151,256 hearty souls made the trek to the middle of nowhere. Why? Other than dark, starry skies and sweeping desert vistas, it’s the only place in Texas where you can tackle the state’s tallest mountain at 8,751-feet tall. Explore 86,416 acres at your leisure, because you won’t have much company on your heels.

RV camping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in three RV-friendly campgrounds. Some campsites as big as Texas can fit rigs up to 50′-feet long. Amenities feature year round water, flush toiles, and wheelchair-friendly features.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park is a series of locations along this West Virginia river.

There’s a reason you’ve never heard of this uncrowded national parks in the East. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a baby in the National Parks System. Born in 1978 as a national river but re-designated as a national park unit in 2020, only 1,054,374 visitors discovered this hidden gem. For some perspective, Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosted 12,095,720 people in the same year. This unusual national park highlights the rugged terrain of the New River Gorge, hosting outdoor activities from rafting to rock climbing and everything in-between.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve RV camping features a rare find in Eastern states: free campsites! Sure, they’re rugged, primitive, and not always able to accommodate larger RVs over 30-feet. But they also get you closer to the Gorge for only the cost of getting there. No reservations are accepted, so plan your trip wisely and avoid busy holiday weekends for the most uncrowded national parks camping destination in the East.

Conclusion on Least Visited National Parks in the US

It’s hard to believe that uncrowded national parks camping still exists. These epic locations are out there, because most people avoid quiet national parks that don’t have amenities, cell phone service, or other quick conveniences. But their loss is your gain. As you can see from our five least visited national parks from west to east, it’s not impossible to find solitude on your next RV trip.

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

5 thoughts on “Five Least Visited National Parks with RV Camping”

  1. This is a newer national park and it is no longer a secret. Reservations are scare and the park may look empty in July/August because the days are life-threateningly hot and people didn’t show or bailed on their reservation (don’t be that guy, pinky promise? )
    Silicon Valley families, with their new campers, have discovered the park since (it was added to the NPS in 2013).
    It blew up with word of mouth and spring 2022 saw long lines to enter the park and no reservable campsites. I tried, first hand experience!
    The San Jose Mercury News reported on the numbers February 17, 2022 noting attendance in 2020 was up 97% over 2019. Attendance in 2021 was up 111% over 2020. No numbers for 2022, but I recall a television station showing those lines in late March/April while temperatures were still bearable. I gave up hope of visiting until late Fall.
    I also host for Boondockers Welcome and had two German families with plans to see Pinnacles. One was May and one planning a trip for October.
    Some German travel writers have discovered the park too!
    There was a nice Hip Camp listing site just outside the park that I considered, no amenities, but that’s how I roll.
    Be safe and ever mindful of the fire danger, have a plan and a meeting place at every California stop.

    Reply
  2. I’d really like to see a feature highlighting & listing ADA accessible RV camping. My mother at age 97 has mobility limitations, but she still enjoys getting out into nature when we travel & camp together.

    Reply

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