5 Regrets of RV Camping in a State Park

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A man regrets parking his large motorhome in a small space surrounded by trees.

While people have different camping styles, state park RV camping is one of the most popular. However, despite all that state parks offer, many people have some regrets about choosing a state park. 

Today we’ll take a look at five of the most common regrets RVers experience at state parks. Let’s get started.

State Park RV Camping Can Be Great

Many RVers love the experiences that state park campgrounds provide. They receive government funding and are often well-maintained. You can typically find hiking and other activities to enjoy during peak seasons.

Depending on where you want to camp, many state parks are very affordable. Some states even offer season passes that provide further discounts. 

State parks provide a safe RV camping environment. You will often see park rangers patrolling the area. If another camper causes a disturbance or breaks any rules, park rangers quickly address the situation.

5 Regrets of State Park RV Camping

Although you may have many positive memories of camping in a state park, you may have some regrets. Let’s look at a handful of negative aspects of state park RV camping.

1. Not All State Parks Are Big Rig Friendly

Many state parks have offered camping for decades, meaning many of them can’t accommodate the large RVs we see these days. If you own a large RV, usually over 30 ft, you may have issues squeezing into some spots.

Fitting at the campsite isn’t the only issue. State parks often pride themselves on maintaining a natural environment. This typically means only cutting down trees and vegetation only when necessary. You may have problems navigating a campground or getting into a site. 

If you have a larger rig, you can consult campground reviews and even confirm with the staff to ensure you will fit in your site.

A large RV grazes against the trees as it pulls through a state RV campground.

2. Different States Have Different Fees

Camping fees and amenities differ from park to park and between states. While some states may have relatively inexpensive state park RV camping options, the neighboring state may not.

Many RVers love New Mexico state parks because of their low-cost camping options. Sites typically range from $8 for primitive camping to $18 for a full hook-up site. If you travel west into Arizona, you’re going to find camping fees of $15 to $50 per night.

The inconsistency in pricing adds a layer of difficulty when it comes to planning. Some states offer special discount pricing annual passes, which you can only use in that particular state.

A campground sign with the fees and rules.

3. Weekends at State Parks Can Be Crazy Busy

Many campers wanting to rest and relax in nature flock to the nearest state park on the weekends. State parks that may be empty during the week quickly fill up on the weekends. Some campgrounds offer first-come, first-serve sites, but others require advanced reservations.

Acquiring a reservation can be equally as chaotic for some campgrounds in popular locations. Some state park campgrounds in Michigan and Florida require reservations a year in advance. Some sites often sell out within minutes of being released to the public.

4. Not All State Parks Have Full Hookups

The amenities at campsites will vary from park to park. If you expect full hookups at your site, state parks may not be the best option. While many parks offer a dump station, a good number don’t provide full hookups.

While many of the state parks in the southwest may offer water and electricity, it’s typical for many sites in the plains states not to provide water at each site. In contrast, southwest states don’t typically have to deal with the intense freezing temperatures in the winter months, which would likely cause pipes to burst each winter.

So if you plan to do some state park RV camping, you may want to double-check the amenities for your site. 

A large campsite with trees surrounding for privacy.

5. State Parks Can Be More Expensive Than RV Parks

While some state parks have budget-friendly camping options, not all of them do. You may even discover that some state parks are more expensive than RV parks. We’ve already discussed that Arizona state parks may not be cheap, and Utah follows suit.

For example, Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Utah, is $38 per night before taxes and any booking fees. While many of the sites offer full hook-ups, it’s on the expensive side of camping when it comes to state parks.

Benefits of State Park Camping

While so far we’ve focused on the negative, state park RV camping has many things to love. Let’s take a look.

The Money Helps Fund the Local Parks, Recreation, and Wildlife Department

When you book a reservation at a state park campground, you’re directly funding a larger purpose. The fees typically help support the state’s efforts to protect and maintain wildlife. 

This is often accomplished through educational efforts, paying rangers and other park employees, and maintaining the park system.

State Park Camping Is Great for Nature Lovers

Many campers love state parks because they maintain a natural environment. People enjoy camping directly in nature. You may even get lucky and spot birds, animals, and insects that call the area home.

State parks often include various activities that allow campers to enjoy nature. This can be trail hiking, horse riding, or water recreation activities. If you love to get out and enjoy nature, consider staying in a state park.

A large RV fits into a large campground with tree privacy in a state park campground.

Campsites Are Usually Private and Spacious

State parks often have brush and other vegetation between sites. This serves to provide a more natural environment and a bit of privacy. You won’t have to feel like your neighbors can stare straight into your campsite.

Privacy isn’t all that state parks offer, but space too. RV parks are typically narrow and tight, but it’s not uncommon to find state parks with plenty of space to spread out. If you hope to stretch out and enjoy your time camping, you may enjoy staying here.

Is State Park RV Camping Worth It? 

Though some have regrets about state park RV camping, it has great benefits too. You’ll find amazing campgrounds across the country. You may encounter a state park that isn’t as fulfilling as another, but you’ll have plenty of great camping options. 

Whether you want to save a few bucks or connect with nature, you can find a state park to meet your camping style. What’s your favorite state park for camping?

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3 comments
  1. State parks can offer a lot – usually set on lakes and other scenic locations. And most are reasonably priced.

    However – Oregon charges a 30% surcharge for out of state campers. So no reason to go there any longer when they obviously do not want out of state tourists visiting their state. Lots of other really nice parks in other states to visit instead.

  2. Most state park require months ahead reservations in my experience. However the ones I’ve camped within offered a unique experience.

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