Campgrounds Outside National Parks

Trip Planning

Camping Outside National Parks 2023

Jeff Crider shares great campgrounds outside of national parks to use as basecamps this year.

RVers traveling to Rocky Mountain National Park during the peak summer travel season may be surprised to learn that they need to obtain a timed entry permit from prior to entering the park.

The National Park Service is requiring travelers to obtain timed entry permits to control traffic in the most popular parks during the summer season. So, it’s worthwhile to check the websites of the national parks of interest to you as well as to determine whether a timed entry permit will be required during the time of your intended visit.

Of course, it’s challenging to reserve a campsite inside the most popular national parks because they often sell out months in advance. Fortunately for RVers, there are plenty of independently owned and operated campgrounds just outside many national park boundaries.

So even if you find that campsites are sold out at Rocky Mountain National Park, there are several other campgrounds just outside the park, including the Grand Lake / Rocky Mountain KOA Journey and Winding River Resort, both in Grand Lake, and the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort and the Estes Park KOA Holiday, both in Estes Park.

Here’s a sampling of other independently owned and operated campgrounds outside some of the nation’s most popular national parks:

Acadia National Park in Maine

Narrow Too Camping Resort in Trenton: In addition to RV sites and park model rentals, this park offers ice cream socials, community potlucks, magic shows and community campfire socials.

Smuggler's Den Campground in Southwest Harbor: This campground offers RV sites as well as a variety of RV and cabin rentals.

Wild Acadia Camping Resort in Bar Harbor: This campground complements its RV sites and rental accommodations with a rock climbing wall, a swimming pool and a waterzone with a dumping bucket and interactive spray features as well as Maine’s largest waterslides. This campground also has a Water Wars game, a Jump Shot game and a miniature golf course.

Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in Utah

Moab KOA Holiday in Moab: this campground offers RV and tent sites and cabin rentals. Amenities include a hot tub and sauna, a new playground and a bike wash and repair station.

Portal RV Resort in Moab: Located on the south side of the Colorado River, Portal is only a few minutes from downtown Moab and a 5-minute drive to Arches National Park. Portal has two RV sections to choose from. Its North Side is open to all registered RV’s and the South Side offers premium sites and ownership sites.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Crater Lake Resort in Fort Klamath: This resort, roughly 30 miles from Crater Lake, features RV and tent sites as well as park model rentals and other accommodations. Nearby attractions include the Crater Lake Zipline, the longest in Oregon with over 8,000 feet of cable, and Train Mountain Museum, which features the world’s largest private caboose collection and the world’s largest model railroad.

— Lemolo Lake / Crater Lake North KOA Holiday in idleyld Park, Oregon: This campground is next to a 540-acre lake and features a boat launch as well as kayak, canoe, fishing and pontoon boat rentals. The campground also has access to a recently completed 10-mile-long hiking and biking trail that goes around the lake. The campground is 30 miles from Crater Lake.

Everglades National Park in Florida

Palm Garden RV Park in Homestead: This gated, pet-friendly resort features a swimming pool and clubhouse as well as petanque and shuffleboard courts.

Sun Outdoors Key Largo in Key Largo: This resort has a private sand beach and marina.

Glacier National Park in Montana

Mountain Meadow RV Park in Hungry Horse: Located nine miles from Glacier National Park, this campground offers RV sites and RV rentals as well as rental accommodations.

West Glacier KOA Resort in West Glacier: This campground features RV and tent sites and furnished park models. Amenities include the Lazy Bear Cafe, which provides hot breakfasts, pastries and an espresso bar, and the Fireside Grill, which has a dinner menu and bar. The campground also has an ice cream shop.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

— Kaibab Camper Village in Jacob Lake: This remote campground features RV and tent sites. The campground is 45 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

— Flagstaff KOA Holiday in Flagstaff: This campground offers RV and tent sites as well as park model rentals. Amenities include barrel train rides, banana bicycle rentals and an onsite breakfast cafe. This campground is about a 1.5-hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams: This campground is located next to the train station that offers entertaining day trips to the South Rim on train cars that include live musical entertainment and Western-style holdups.

Village Camp Outdoor Resort in Flagstaff: This brand new campground offers RV sites and park model rentals. New amenities are being added this year, including a swimming pool and spa, a bar and a bistro.

Williams / Circle Pines KOA in Williams: This campground, which is open all year, is about an hour’s drive from Mather Point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The campground has RV and tent sites and park model RV rentals. Onsite amenities include bike rentals and an indoor swimming pool and spa.

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

 Snake River Cabins and RV Village in Jackson: In addition to providing RV and tent sites and park model accommodations, this campground can arrange horseback rides and river rafting trips on the Snake River. The park is 17 miles from Grand Teton National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina

Pigeon Forge Landing RV Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee: This new RVC Outdoor Destinations resort opened in March of 2021 with 149 sites and 10 riverside tent camping sites. An additional 100 RV sites, five park models and two pickleball courts are expected to become available this summer. Amenities include a pool, hot tub, fitness room and sundry store. The campground is 32 miles from Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Townsend / Great Smokies KOA Holiday in Townsend, Tennessee: This campground, which is open all year, features RV and tent sites and park model rentals. Activities include wagon rides, an outdoor movie cinema and planned family activities. The campground is only 14 miles from Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Burney Falls / Hat Creek KOA Holiday in Hat Creek: This campground complements its RV and rental accommodations with craft activities, including wooden art. A Christmas in July event is also scheduled for July 22, 2023 with a Christmas-themed campsite decorating contest, kids crafts and an ice cream social.

Lassen RV Park Campground in McArthur: While this campground is an hour’s drive from Lassen Volcanic National Park, it is located in a quiet area with lots of oaks and pine trees and large campsites. Onsite activities include The Rock Box (a large pea gravel sandbox, horseshoe pits, volleyball, Badminton as well as arts and crafts. The campground can also serve as a base camp to see other nearby parks, including Lava Beds National Monument, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, and remote Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, which is only accessible by boat or kayak.

Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

Dolores River RV Resort in Dolores: This campground, which has frontage along the Dolores River, offers RV and tent sites as well as a 1953 Airstream travel trailer and other rental accommodations.

The Views RV Park and Campground in DoloresThis campground offers RV and tent sites and other rental accommodations. Amenities include a pavilion with barbecue grills and stand up paddle boards for rent.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

The View Hotel and Campground in Monument ValleyThis venue features a hotel, elegantly furnished park model cabins as well as a campground with dry RV sites with excellent views of the rock formations of Monument Valley. Guests can also enjoy an onsite restaurant that serves both American and traditional Navajo cuisine. Guided tours of Monument Valley are also available.

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington

Mounthaven Resort in Ashford: This campground is only half a mile from the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.

Packwood RV Park and Campground in Randle: This campground not only serves as a base camp for trips to Mountain Rainier National Park, but is close to other nearby activities, including horseback riding, golf and swimming.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California

Sequoia Resort and RV Park in Badger: Amenities at this campground include free bicycles, a community fire pit, a tire swing and a horseshoe pit.

Sequoia RV Ranch in Three Rivers: This campground is eight miles from the southern entrance to Sequoia National Park. The campground features riverfront campsites, large campsites and mature trees.

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Endless Caverns in New Market: This campground features a cave that guests can explore. Other amenities include a zero-entry swimming pool and a catch-and-release fishing pond. The campground is a 40-minute drive from Shenandoah National Park.

Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Luray: This campground is only five miles from Shenandoah National Park and features RV and tent sites as well as park model rentals. Attractions include swimming pools, waterslides and splashpads as well as a zipline, miniature golf and laser tag. The park also offers organized family activities and theme weekends with Yogi Bear.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Red Rock RV Park in Island Park, Idaho: This campground is located in a scenic location 30 minutes from West Yellowstone, Montana, and the northwest entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Amenities include foosball and pickleball courts.

Yellowstone Park / West Gate KOA Holiday in West Yellowstone, Montana: This campground is only six miles from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool, miniature golf, and a lounge area. Local Montana wine and beer and fudge are also available.

Yosemite National Park in California

— Thousand Trails Yosemite Lakes in Groveland: 
This campground features RV sites, park models and other rental accommodations. The campground is open year-round and is about 10 minutes from the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park and about an hour’s drive from Yosemite Valley, depending on traffic and weather conditions. The campground has frontage on the South Fork of the Tuolumne River. The campground is also next to a YARTS bus stop. So you can leave your camping equipment at the campground and make day trips into Yosemite Valley. Advance reservations through the YARTS website at are recommended.

 Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging in Groveland: This campground not only has RV and tent sites, but retro brand Silver Beach and White Water travel trailers, which are manufactured to look like vintage trailers. The rental units typically come with refrigerators, microwave ovens, coffee pots and fresh linens. The campground is about an hour and 15 minutes from Yosemite Valley, depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Zion National Park in Utah

Zion River Resort in Virgin: This campground, located 20 minutes from Zion National Park, features RV and tent sites and rental cabins. Amenities include a swimming pool and playground. Educational programs and organized activities are also available. 

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.