America's Best RV Parks

Hit the Open Road in a Recreational Vehicle

Video: The History of RVs

Learn about the RV's evolution from small auto campers to luxury mobile homes.

VIDEO: History of the RV

The lure of the open road and the comforts of home come together when you're traveling in a recreational vehicle, or RV. But before you hit the road, there are a few things you should understand about RV parks.

Not all RV parks are created equal. Campers can find RV parks in state and national parks as well as privately owned campgrounds. And the quality varies from budget to swanky. Chain campgrounds like KOA and Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Campgrounds operate around the country and offer some continuity from site to site.

RV Road Trip Inspiration

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Completed in 1941, Mount Rushmore is undoubtedly one of the most recognized memorials in South Dakota, and in the US. Each year, more than 3 million visitors come face-to-face with the likeness of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Plan a visit to Mount Rushmore in 2016 when it will celebrate its 75th anniversary. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Located 75 miles east of Rapid City, SD, Badlands National Park spans across 244,000 acres of prairie grassland, and boasts beautiful landscape views of unique and rugged geologic formations. Visitors from around the world visit the Badlands to camp, hike and view wildlife like bison, bighorn sheep and black-footed ferrets roaming throughout the park. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Deadwood, SD

Deadwood, SD

Once home to Wild West legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock, Deadwood, SD, was named a National Historic Landmark in 1961. Located in the northern Black Hills, visitors can experience the rich history of the Wild West at family-friendly museums and attractions, test their luck gambling at one of the casinos, or get a taste of South Dakota at Belle Joli or Schade Winery. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

A short distance from Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial -- the world?s largest mountain carving -- stands as a tribute to Crazy Horse, a Lakota warrior and one of the most important Native American tribal leaders. Construction on the memorial began in 1948, and has been in progress since; once complete, it will stand 563 feet tall. Other attractions located at Crazy Horse Memorial include the Indian Museum of North America, a cultural center, restaurant and gift shop which showcase the culture, tradition and heritage of North American Indians. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Seventy-one thousand acres of breathtakingly beautiful scenery awaits the outdoorsy and adventurous at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. From hiking and mountain biking to fishing and wildlife viewing, the park offers a little bit of everything for everyone. In addition to camping, the park offers a variety of accommodations, including the historic State Game Lodge and Blue Bell dude ranch. 960 1280

AWL Images / Getty Images  

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Each September, thousands of people travel to Custer State Park to experience the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup when a group of cowboys and cowgirls roundup and drive a herd of approximately 1,300 buffalo. After the roundup, grab a small bite to eat at the Dutch Oven or Chili Cook-off then stop by the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival for arts and crafts vendors and entertainment. 960 1280

Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images  

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Named a National Historic Site in 1999, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site stands as an ongoing reminder of the Cold War Era. Learn about the history and significance of the Cold War and nuclear weapons development on a tour throughout the Minuteman Missile Silo launch facility and control room. 960 1280

National Park Service  

Akela Spa of Deadwood

Akela Spa of Deadwood

Designed with luxury and serenity in mind, Akela Spa of Deadwood -- the area?s only destination spa -- uses Native American treatments to calm and soothe its guests. Book the spa?s signature massage, Akela Hante, which uses cedar oil -- a sacred element in the Native American culture -- to purify and heal your mind and body. 960 1280

Greg Valladolid  

The Midnight Star Casino

The Midnight Star Casino

Test your luck at the Midnight Star casino. Situated in the heart of historic Deadwood, this casino is owned by actor Kevin Costner and includes a 2,500-square-foot casino floor with numerous slot machines and game tables. Afterwards, feed your appetite at Jake?s Fine Dining -- one of the best restaurants in South Dakota -- inside the casino. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

I-29 Cultural Corridor

I-29 Cultural Corridor

The I-29 Cultural Corridor in east South Dakota features a variety of attractions including the South Dakota Art Museum, National Music Museum and Children?s Museum of South Dakota.  960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Ingalls Homestead

Ingalls Homestead

Experience life on the prairie with a visit to Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, SD. This is where author Laura Ingalls Wilder once lived, and the inspiration began that sparked her popular Little House books. Travelers of all ages will enjoy an old-fashioned day on the prairie with a covered wagon ride, an authentic 1880s school session, pioneering activities and more. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

The Corn Palace

The Corn Palace

Opened in 1921, the Corn Palace -- the world?s only palace built entirely out of corn -- is a popular attraction visited by more than 500,000 people each year. Some visitors return to see the new theme of the mural on the outside of the palace, which changes annually. In addition to being a tourist attraction, the palace is used for a variety of events, including exhibits, performances and the annual Corn Palace Festival. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

National Music Museum

National Music Museum

It?s music to your ears. The National Music Museum, located at the University of South Dakota, features a collection of more than 15,000 musical instruments from various cultures and centuries. A designated ?Landmark of American Music,? the museum has one of the largest collections of its kind in the world, attracting thousands of visitors each year. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Get ready to hit the pavement at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally -- one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world. Welcoming almost 400,000 bikers and biking enthusiasts each year, the 7-day rally takes place the 1st week of August in Sturgis, SD, and includes scenic drives, concerts, races and more. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Tabor Czech Days

Tabor Czech Days

Experience the rich Czech culture of Tabor, SD, at the annual Tabor Czech Days celebration. The 3-day event includes music entertainment, dancing and traditional Czech cuisine, as well as parades and craft fairs that showcase the town?s heritage. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Children’s Museum of South Dakota

Children’s Museum of South Dakota

You?ll find fun for the whole family at the Children?s Museum of South Dakota, located just off the I-29 corridor in Brookings, SD. Here, children?s minds will run wild as they sing, dance, craft and play throughout the museum?s 21,000-square-foot interactive exhibit space and 1.5-acre outdoor exhibit space. 960 1280

South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park
Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Near the center of Arches National Park you’ll find the Garden of Eden -- so named because its rocky shapes resemble flowers and trees. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

North Window, Arches National Park

North Window, Arches National Park

This 90-foot-wide portal known as the North Window is one of many natural sandstone arches you’ll find at Arches National Park. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The 65-foot Delicate Arch is its most famous. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

In addition to its famed arches, Arches National Park’s colorful geography includes maze-like narrow passages and tall rock columns. You can find this view directly opposite the Delicate Arch. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Hiking at Arches

Hiking at Arches

Two hikers journey back from the Delicate Arch. The 3-mile trail (round-trip) is moderately strenuous, and takes roughly 30 to 45 minutes each way. Bring plenty of water! 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch

Enjoy a shaded rest from the Moab desert sun. This trail at Arches National Park leads through deep sand; a secluded arch, Sand Dune Arch, awaits up ahead. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Wolfe Ranch Cabin

Wolfe Ranch Cabin

In the late 1800s, a Civil War veteran named John Wesley Wolfe and his son built this 1-room cabin in what is now Arches National Park. For more than 10 years, Wolfe lived on this rugged ranch, where the area’s water and desert grassland were enough to sustain a few cattle. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

The Moab area is also home to Canyonlands National Park. Erosion over millions of years produced the many canyons, buttes and mesas here -- including Mesa Arch. 960 1280

Alex Proimos, flickr  

Hell’s Revenge

Hell’s Revenge

Ready to take on Hell’s Revenge? This steep slick rock trail may make your pulse race as you tackle its hair-raising descents on a Razor ride. It’s located in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, a sandstone plateau of slick rock domes, bowls and fins. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Porcupine Rim Trail

Porcupine Rim Trail

A mountain biker tackles Porcupine Rim Trail, one of 2 trails within the Sand Flats Recreation Area. The steep, rocky terrain, which stretches nearly 15 miles, challenges even the most experienced mountain bikers. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Moab Cowboy

Moab Cowboy

Meet the Moab Cowboy -- that's what locals call Kent Green. For more than 20 years, Green served as a deputy sheriff and search-and-rescue commander in the Moab area. Today, he leads off-road adventures. His no. 1 rule: Never travel alone. 960 1280

Lisa Singh   

Moab Dinosaur Footprints

Moab Dinosaur Footprints

Check out these fossilized dinosaur footprints during a Razor ride through the Sand Flats Recreation Area with the Moab Cowboy. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Big Bend Recreation Area

Big Bend Recreation Area

Moab is a rock climber’s dream. Enjoy bouldering at the Big Bend Recreation Area along the Colorado River, northeast of Moab. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Colorado River

Colorado River

Take in the view of the Colorado River from Scenic Byway 128, with awe-inspiring views of red standstone cliffs just beyond. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Fisher Towers, Colorado River

Fisher Towers, Colorado River

River guide Arne Hultquist leads a whitewater rafting trip through the Fishers Tower section of the Colorado River. The area comprises a series of towers made of sandstone; they’re named after a miner who lived in the area in the 1880s. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Matrimony Spring

Matrimony Spring

Fill up at Matrimony Spring, a natural spring along Byway 128. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the spring will continue to return to Moab. The water that issues forth begins its journey as snowmelt from the La Sal Mountains, 20 miles southeast of Moab. 960 1280

Lisa Singh  

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Get ready to say “wow” at Dead Horse Point. The park features a stunning overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The area also served as the final film scene for the 1991 classic Thelma & Louise. 960 1280

Mike Nielsen, flickr  

Gem Hunter's Paradise
Gem Hunter's Paradise

Gem Hunter's Paradise

Covering over 275 square miles, White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is a paradise for stargazers. The park is so remote that light pollution is among the lowest in the entire US. Here, you can clearly see the Milky Way and a shooting star! Visit photographer Nick Parisse’s website to see more of his photos. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Chisos Mountains

Chisos Mountains

High in the Chisos Mountains, a hiker surveys the land as he decides which trail to take. Big Bend is often referred to as “3 parks in one” because of its size and diverse environments -- mountains, desert and river. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Chihuahuan Desert

Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert, one of the wettest in North America, has dense shrubbery that blankets the Chisos Basin. Here, the sun begins to set behind the mountains as a cold front moves in. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Backcountry Critter

Backcountry Critter

A tarantula makes its way across a backcountry trail in Big Bend National Park, TX. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Pinnacles Trail

Pinnacles Trail

Cacti cover a meadow along the Pinnacles trail in Big Bend National Park. Fall temperatures are mild, and colorful flora is still blooming in the winter. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Rio Grande

Rio Grande

A narrow stretch of the Rio Grande acts as a natural border between the US and Mexico. This view from Santa Elena Canyon, located in the southern region of the park, shows the US on the left and Mexico on the right. The Chisos Mountains are also visible in the distance. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Even on an overcast day, the sun still finds a way to illuminate the mountains. This photo was taken on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

The Big Room

The Big Room

A cluster of stalactites hang from the ceiling of “The Big Room” in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Cozy Home for Bats

Cozy Home for Bats

With a little natural light, this is a view from inside Carlsbad Caverns. In the summer months the caverns are home to thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Stunning Stalagmites

Stunning Stalagmites

Light shines on the cavern floor and ceiling, providing visitors with a view of huge stalagmites that can take thousands of years to form. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Scenic Walkway

Scenic Walkway

Visitors get an amazing view of this scenery along a walkway that turns into the entrance of the deepest part of Carlsbad Caverns -- nearly 750 feet deep. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Mineral Deposits

Mineral Deposits

Massive mineral deposits mushroom up from the floor of the caverns. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Natural Cavern Entrance

Natural Cavern Entrance

The natural entrance to the caverns is a paved switchback trail leading visitors underground to discover numerous geological wonders. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Stargazer's Heaven

Stargazer's Heaven

Even the light from a full moon and a few passing clouds couldn’t diminish the clarity of the stars in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, in Salt Flat, TX. Stargazers should add this park to their must-see list. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of America’s least-visited parks. It’s hard to understand why with unobstructed views like this. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Tejas Trail

Tejas Trail

Visible on the left, the sun lights up the switchbacks along the mountainside on Tejas Trail. The strenuous 10-mile, round-trip hike offers visitors some of the most beautiful views in the park. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Devil's Hall Hike

Devil's Hall Hike

The spectacular hike into “Devil’s Hall” brings visitors around mountains and through a dry river channel. In an effort not to unnecessarily detract from the natural views, rock cairns act as trail markers. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Devil's Hall

Devil's Hall

Here’s a view from “Devil’s Hall” as the path narrows. “Hiker’s Staircase” is visible in the foreground. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Epic Mountain View

Epic Mountain View

This is one of many mountain views visitors will encounter while on a backcountry hike through Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument offers visitors several recreational activities, including picnicking, hiking, camping, scenic drives and sledding. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Morning at Monument

Morning at Monument

The sun breaks through the clouds on an early morning in White Sands National Monument. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

Capoeira on a Dune

Capoeira on a Dune

A well-traversed dune is the perfect place for this traveler to occupy his time and practice the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

National Park Camping

National Park Camping

It’s time to pack up camp and move along as the sun rises. White Sands offers backcountry camping for guests who want to sleep under the stars. Visit Nick Parisse’s website to see more of his photos. 960 1280

Nick Parisse  

More rustic campgrounds may offer little more than a parking spot, while other spots offer facilities including water and electricity hook-ups. On the higher end, more luxurious sites offer RV visitors access to pools, restaurants, free WiFi and business facilities.

Intrepid travelers exploring the country in an RV will want to put on the brakes and stay for a while at these parks and campgrounds around the United States.

Generic RV Park

Spaces Images / Getty Images

Durango RV Resort (Red Bluff, California)

The Durango RV Resort is a high-end escape with 174 sites on the Sacramento River. All sites are equipped with Powerhouse Pedestals that provide electricity, high-speed WiFi and cable television. Meet fellow travelers by the pool, in the clubhouses or at the outdoor fireplaces. Pamper your pooch with a run at the 45-acre dog park followed by a scrub down at the self-serve automatic dog-washing station.

Boyd's Key West Campground (Key West, Florida)

Featuring oceanfront campsites located just a few minutes from the action of Key West, Boyd's is a great way to experience this favorite Florida hot spot. Boyd's boasts a pool and beach area as well as conveniences including bathrooms, a marina and free wireless internet. The camp has 250 sites and does get crowded, especially when all sites are reserved. But you can't beat the location which is just a few miles from the fun on Duvall Street and downtown Key West and easily accessible by city bus or cab.

VIDEO: Types of RVs

Video: Types of RVs

Campers, trailers, caravans: what's the difference between RV types?

Horse Thief Lake Campground (Hill City, South Dakota)

Horse Thief Lake is a no-frills, family-owned campground with rustic charm and a convenient location near many of South Dakota's natural wonders. Buffalo roam in nearby Custer State Park and herds of wild mustang run through the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Mt. Rushmore is just 12 miles away while Crazy Horse Mountain and the Mammoth site are a short drive. The campground itself is a quiet respite from the nearby activity and offers fire rings at each site, a shop for basic goods and a small heated pool.

Rivers Edge RV Park  (Fairbanks, Alaska)

Sleep under the midnight sun in this well-appointed RV park in Fairbanks. There are 190 sites, but the resort maintains a peaceful vibe with plenty of room for guests to spread out. There's a network of walking and biking trails to stretch your legs and the resort's restaurant, Chena's, serves 3 square meals a day. When you're ready to explore Fairbanks, there's no need to unhook the RV. Hop on a shuttle bus to nearby attractions including the Riverboat Discovery cruise, Pioneer Park, the Trans Alaska Pipeline and the historic downtown area.

RV in Canyonlands, Utah

Darren Patterson / Getty Images

Zion River Resort (Virgin, Utah)

Just 13 miles from the south entrance to Zion National Park, the Zion River Resort is popular with tourists and snowbirds who put down more permanent roots in the winter. This RV resort has full hook-ups, concrete parking pads, grills and free WiFi. After exploring the red sandstone cliffs at Utah's first national park, you can also use this campground as a base for day-trips to explore Bryce Canyon National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Yosemite Pines RV Park  (Yosemite, California)

While there's RV camping available inside Yosemite National Park, the campgrounds are primitive, with no hook-ups. If you're looking for more amenities, the best option is to set up camp outside of the park. Yosemite Pines RV Park is just 22 miles from the park and offers premium pull-through and back-in sites. This family-friendly resort has a gold mine where kids can pan for gold and a petting farm with alpacas.

The Shady Dell RV Park (Bisbee, Arizona)

Shady Dell is an RV Park with a twist -- if you can't bring your own RV to this corner of southern Arizona, you can find one here. This resort is home to 9 lovingly restored antique trailers. These charming stationary trailers include a 1949 vintage Airstream, a 1947 Tiki bus alongside an outrigger tiki bar and the fancy-pants 1951 Royal Mansion complete with a full-sized bed, breakfast nook, private bathroom and leopard carpet. Dot's Diner is a classic greasy spoon that serves homemade breakfast and lunch. A limited number of spots are available to park your RV if you're on the road and in the mood for some classic kitsch.

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