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The USA is home to such a variety of ecosystems, but some of the best national parks, like Death Valley, are near-impossible to visit during the summer due to the extreme climate. The good news is, there are some US National Parks that are even more stunning during the winter! On top of that, by visiting these US National Parks in winter, you’ll be avoiding the crowds. Read on to see the best National Parks in the US to visit during the winter.

1. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Visit Joshua Tree National Park in Winter

Beat the heat by visiting Joshua National Park in winter

Joshua Tree is one of the US National Parks that is best to visit in the winter. For one, you can hike for longer since you won’t have to deal with the sweltering heat. However, keep in mind that you should bring plenty of water with you even in winter, since there is a serious lack of shade in Joshua Tree National Park. Plus, even during the winter with cooler temperatures, there is still a risk of sun exposure and dehydration. While the most popular time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is from March to May, or from October to November, we suggest visiting in winter for a unique experience.

2. Zion National Park, Utah

Zion is one of the most popular US National Parks, but with great popularity comes great hordes of crowds. If you want more solitude in this stunning national park, it’s a good idea to visit this famous National Park during the winter. It can get cold, but having more peace and quiet is a fair trade-off.

As long as you have the proper gear and clothing, you can still get the most out of Zion National Park in the winter months. Just be sure to check the weather forecast before planning your trip. From November until February, the weather can range from clear sunny days to full-on winter storms, dumping a couple of feet of snow, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the weather and stay flexible.

Also, be sure to pay attention to posted signs, since some trails like Angel’s Landing might be closed due to icy conditions. Read more tips about hiking in Zion National Park in Winter here.

3. Death Valley National Park, California

As the world record-holder for the hottest place on earth, it’s a no-brainer that you should avoid visiting Death Valley during the summer months. But in the winter you’ll have more freedom to explore this stunning National Park.

Death Valley is famous for its other-worldly landscape devoid of all life, which will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Mars. Pro-tip, don’t miss sunrise at Dante’s View if you visit Death Valley during the winter.

4. Yosemite National Park, California

Winter is our favorite time to visit Yosemite for so many reasons

Winter is our favorite time to visit Yosemite for so many reasons

Who are we to judge the crowds of tourists who flock to some of the most beautiful places on earth? Yosemite is one of those places that sits at the top of the US National Park for visitors from far and wide. Sadly, that means that Yosemite can feel more like a theme park than a National Park during peak visiting months. Year-round, tour buses are driving in and out of the park, and it has all gotten a bit commercialized.

Nevertheless, with its unique rock faces, stunning waterfalls, and multiple networks of trails, Yosemite National Park still holds a special place in our hearts. To avoid the peak crowds and to connect more with nature, we highly suggest visiting Yosemite in the Winter.

The climate of Yosemite Valley means that you might get snow if you visit during the winter months, but it’s relatively moderate winter weather. And seeing the valley walls dusted in the snow is a good look for Yosemite. You might even get lucky and score a camping spot right in the Valley of the National Park, but even in winter, you’ll have to battle with the waitlist and lottery system.

5. Arches National Park, Utah

Experience Arches National Park during the winter months

Experience Arches National Park during the winter months

Winter is the best time to visit Arches National Park for a variety of reasons. With a climate that is normally scorching, the winter weather makes it possible to enjoy hiking and overnight camping in this stunning National Park.

Plus, you might be able to see the famous arches dusted in a thin layer of snow. Stunning.


Don’t let the colder temperatures deter you from experiencing some of the greatest National Parks. In fact, we hope that you will agree that some of these National Parks are even better during the winter! If you’re feeling even more ambitious, check out our summary of the best places in the USA for a multi-day backpacking trip. Wherever your journey take you, we hope you enjoy!

The USA covers a huge area that is often underestimated. Perhaps because of the vast distance, the country lacks the train and bus infrastructure that is found in many other parts of the world, so the intrepid traveller is usually left with the option of renting a car to get around. Why not go a step beyond and rent portable accommodation as well? By taking an RV across America, you have flexibility, everything you need in a self-contained vehicle, and you will have experiences that wouldn’t be possible by just renting a car. Imagine enjoying the national parks once the daytime tourists have gone home.

Travel the US by RV and enjoy the US National Parks after the crowds go home

Enjoy the US National Parks after the crowds go home

What’s more, the benefits of travelling with an RV across America are not only great for camping and visiting National Parks. Road tripping and city hopping with an RV in the USA is sometimes the most practical way of exploring certain regions.

This article walks you through everything you need to know about RV travel in the USA, as well as some of the greatest road trips in the country.

Driver’s License Requirements for Renting an RV

You do not need a special class of license to rent an RV to travel across America. However, you must be at least 25 years old and your license must be valid for 12 months beyond the date that your rental contract starts.

Renting a Camper for your RV Trip

To rent an RV in the USA, you have a few choices. Cruise America is the most well-known company– if you’ve travelled in the USA you’ve surely seen these vehicles on the road. You can’t miss their branding. There is also a site called RVshare which functions as a sort of Airbnb for RVs. RV owners list their own vehicles for rent, which means you’ll have a large variety, often with cheaper options than renting directly from a large company.

How to Make Reservations for Campsites in the USA

Especially during the summer high season, it’s best to plan your overnight stops as far ahead as possible. In popular national parks, campsites are sometimes reserved a year in advance. If you dream of sleeping overnight in Joshua Tree or Yosemite, plan as far ahead as possible. Nowadays, you can easily book campsites using booking.com. You can filter by amenities, check out reviews from other campers, and reserve most places with free-cancellation policies. Or, you can visit the homepage of the National Park where you’d like to stay.

In the off-season and in the lesser-known national parks you should generally be ok with just showing up.

For city trips, it’s not impossible with an RV but once you get closer to the compact downtown you may have problems finding parking. It’s best to park in the outskirts of the city and then rely on public transportation. You can usually find RV-friendly parking lots like shopping malls or a subway station.

How to Plan your Budget for an RV Across America

Costs during your RV road trip adventure will come down to the RV rental costs, campsite fees, fuel, National Park fees, and food/drink. However, there are some tricks of the trade to keep your expenses low.

  1. Use your RV kitchen! Even when on the road, try to limit your restaurant pit stops.
  2. If you plan to visit at least 3 national parks (entrance fees cost about $30 per car), it’s worth investing in a national park pass. With it, you get a year of access to national parks for $80.
  3. Learn to love ‘dry camping’ aka parking for free wherever it’s legal. You won’t have hookups for water or electricity, but your water tank and generator should be enough for a night. Park on a friend’s property, on National Forest land, or in any Walmart parking lot– they allow parking overnight for free, as long as you ask the store manager’s permission.

4 Itineraries for RVing Across America

USA RV Itinerary #1: California Highlights (plus Las Vegas)

With this RV itinerary, you’ll hit the best national parks and major cities in California, plus take a small detour to Las Vegas. The camping sites along this RV itinerary range from forest sites to beach-side camping. This is a circular route, so you could start from any point.

Highlights: San Francisco – Monterey – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles – San Diego – Joshua Tree – Las Vegas – Yosemite Valley – Lake Tahoe – Napa

USA RV Itinerary #2: Iconic American Southwest

The American Southwest is full of National Parks where red sandstone has been carved by wind, water, and tectonic activity. These are some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the entire world. Even with all the major highlights, this RV route is surprisingly compact — most people choose to combine it with RV Itinerary #1 so that they can do California plus these desert landscapes in one trip.

Highlights: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, The Wave, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park

RV camping near Monument Valley, Arizona, USA

RV camping near Monument Valley, Arizona

USA RV Itinerary #3 New England (plus some Canada)

The states are smaller in the Northeast, which means you can visit some world-famous cities and National Parks all in one trip. Plus, it’s not too far to drive to the French-Canadian cities of Montreal and Quebec City.

During half of this itinerary, you’ll be surrounded by pristine nature, but you can also visit major metropolitan areas like Boston, Manhattan, and Washington D.C.

Rather than navigate the busy cities in your RV, it’s best to park at a Subway station in the outskirts, and take public transportation into the center.

Highlights: Manhattan, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. Niagara Falls, Finger Lakes, Montreal, Quebec, Acadia National Park, Boston

 

USA RV Itinerary #4: The South

Camping in the South is a different type of trip. The focus of this RV itinerary is not national parks, but we think this region is best seen with a road trip. This region of the USA has a uniqueness that some of the larger cities in the rest of the USA have lost long ago. It feels like a completely different country from what you would experience on the West Coast or in New England.

Highlights: New Orleans – Memphis – Nashville – Charlotte – Miami – Key West

So there you have it, the essential information you need to plan your RV across America camping experience, as well as some great itineraries to explore. Last but not least, here are some websites you can use to plan your trip and make reservations online as you go:

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