Entrance Fee-Free Days at the National Parks

Whether you’ve already got a national parks passport chock full of stickers and stamps or you’re just getting ready to take your first Grand Circle tour, the national parks are some of the most popular destination for RVers and campers of all stripes — and for good reason. These landscapes are so undeniably moving that we as people have made a dedicated effort to set them aside, to consecrate and preserve them for future generations. As someone who’s visited about a dozen, I think it’s safe to say you want to see as many of them as you possibly can.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the limited number of fee-free days the National Park Service offers each year to encourage people to get outdoors and spend time with their friends and family.

 Here’s what you need to know about the fee-free days at the National Parks in 2019, as well as some more general tips and guidelines to help you make the most of your national park RV camping adventure.

National Park Fees

First things first: what are the national park fees in the first place, and which parks assess them? How much might you expect to pay at the entryway to, say, Arches National Park or Yellowstone National Park?

Well, each park’s entry fee varies, ranging from absolutely nothing, as at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, all the way up to $35 per vehicle or more in places like Glacier National Park. What’s more, the exact cost to you will depend on what sort of vehicle you’re bringing into the park as well as how long you wish to visit; you might be charged a lower fee if you arrive by motorcycle, or pay more for a pass that’s good for three or seven days.

Because there’s so much variability when it comes to specific national park entry fees, the best way to figure out how much your target park costs to enter is to check out this comprehensive and up-to-date list, managed by the National Park Service itself. Keep in mind that these fees might not cover additional services or activities, like cave tours or camping costs.

How to Get Free Entry to the National Parks

Now that you know what you’ll pay to get in on most days of the year, let’s talk about those special ones where you don’t have to pay anything. Each year, the National Park Service hosts a few specific days where entry fees are waived to encourage more people to get outside and explore these unique landscapes. These change on an annual basis, but here are the official national park fee-free days in 2019, per the National Park Service.

  • Monday, January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Saturday, April 20 – Start of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
  • Sunday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
  • Saturday, September 28 – National Public Lands Day
  • Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

As you can see, while one of these dates has already passed (and one is soon approaching), you still have ample opportunities to take advantage of this offer and gain free entry to national parks across the country. (That said, always be sure to double check that your destination park is participating if you don’t want to face an unpleasant surprise when you arrive at the gates!)

National Park Annual Pass

Can’t make any of those dates for your national park trip this year?

No worries. There are lots of other ways to save money on your excursion in the great outdoors — such as investing in an annual park pass (or taking advantage of a free or discounted one, if you fall into certain demographics!)

The National Park Service offers its America the Beautiful Pass, which gets you into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country, for a standard fee of $80 per year. The pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or up to four adults at sites that charge per person. (Children age 15 or under are admitted for free!)

If you have a permanent disability, or you’re a current active duty military member, you can get one of these annual passes for free, as can students for the duration of their 4th grade school year. And seniors aged 62 or older can get a lifelong annual pass for the same $80 the rest of us pay for a single year — or choose to pay $20 yearly instead.

These annual passes are invaluable for those who spend lots of time traveling around between multiple national parks, such as full-time RVers. But if you tend to stay in a single area and revisit the same park again and again, you could also purchase a park-specific annual pass, which usually runs more along the order of $50 or so.

It’s also important to note that many very famous parks and attractions are not actually managed by the National Park Service, but are rather privately owned, and thus may charge you for entrance on an entirely different fee schedule. For instance, Monument Valley Park is actually tribally owned, as is Meteor Crater, which lies just outside of Winslow, Arizona. That means that your annual national parks pass won’t get you entry to either of these locations — you’ll still have to pay the regular entry fee!

National Park Camping

Camping inside the national parks is a travel bucket list item for many RVers, and it’s a great way to get front-row access to all the action without sacrificing convenience or comfort. Of course, because this way of experiencing the parks is so popular, the national park campgrounds do tend to fill up quickly, so it’s a good idea to make your reservations well in advance. Furthermore, some parks don’t actually offer reservations and must simply be utilized on a first-come, first-served basis. If that’s the case at your destination park, be sure to arrive early!

If you’re bringing an RV to the national parks, it’s important to understand that the entry fee doesn’t necessarily cover the cost of your campsite. What’s more, that campsite may or may not have modern amenities like water and electrical hookups. Each national park has its own array of campgrounds to select from, some of which include services and some of which are primitive only. You may have to pay a nightly campsite fee ranging from about $5 to $25, or you may be able to boondock for free. It all depends on the individual park! So again, be sure to check out the information available directly from the Park Service (or one of our helpful National Park Guides!) to get the full details about the camping options at your destination.

National Parks Near Me

Although we often tend to think of the national parks as being mostly concentrated in the wide-open west, no matter what part of our beautiful country you call home, chances are, you’ve got a federal recreation site in your area. Along with actual National Parks, there are also National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Battlefields, and lots of other amazing landscapes and attractions to discover.

Post originally seen on RVShare.com

Experience the Best℠ at Lichtsinn RV, the #1 Winnebago Dealer in North America for the last four consecutive years. Lichtsinn RV is located 1 mile north of Winnebago Industries in Forest City, IA and we proudly sell new Winnebago motorhomes and pre-owned RVs from various manufacturers. While at Lichtsinn RV, you can expect no delivery miles on new RVs, a complimentary half-day educational orientation of your RVexcellent guest reviews, an assigned support team from sales, parts, service and the business officesuperior accommodationsno-hassle pricing and competitive financing. See our extensive new and used inventory here.

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Camping in Canada

RV your way across Canada and enjoy the comforts of home!

Learn about RVing in each province – even just getting there will be an adventure in itself. Make the whole journey a learning experience and stop at museums, historical sites, and attractions along the way. Check for dates of festivals, music, and other events during the summer months as well as local foods and specialty dishes you can try, and always enjoy the comforts of your RV!

Read Lichtsinn RV’s FAQ page on RVing in Canada here.

Alberta rv-camping-vacation-705x319

Alberta’s rugged and spectacular scenery attracts visitors from all over the world. It’s the only place in North America where the prairie, boreal forest and mountain ecosystems collide.

British Columbiarv-camping-bc-705x319

British Columbia is Canada’s westernmost province. It’s one of the only places where you can stand on the top of a mountain one day and soak in the warmth of a desert another.

Manitoba rv-camping-manitoba-705x319

Manitoba’s rivers, Arctic coastline, lakes and forests are home to 500 species of birds, moose, elk and black bear. Discover the wildlife of Manitoba for yourself as you explore the province in your RV.

New Brunswick new-brunswick-hopewell-rocks-705x319

New Brunswick is famous for the world’s highest tides that rise and fall the height of a four-storey building. Discover the spectacular scenery of New Brunswick for yourself as you explore the province in your RV.

Newfoundland & Labrador newfoundland-rv-rental-vacations-705x319

Your RV can take you to a breathtaking dream world of icebergs, whales, and quiet coastal villages.

Northwest Territories northwest-territories-rv-vacation-705x319

The Northwest Territories is known for its endless arctic sky where the northern lights dance and the midnight sun shines.

Nova Scotia rv-vacation-nova-scotia-705x319

Nova Scotia’s maritime culture includes dramatic seas, landscapes, Celtic music and friendly people. Discover the most spectacular scenery of Nova Scotia for yourself as you explore the province in your RV.

Ontario RV Camping  ontario-rv-camping-vacations-705x319

Sculpted islands, endless waters and some of the best RV camping the country has to offer right here in Ontario.

Prince Edward Island  camping-in-pei-705x319

Prince Edward Island is surrounded by miles of sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs and sized just right for touring. Discover the sights and tastes of the island for yourself as you explore in your RV.

Quebec Quebec-rv-vacations-705x319

Québec is unique for its geography, its history and its culture which together have forged its identity. Discover the “joie de vivre” of Quebec for yourself!

Saskatchewan  saskatchewan-rv-travel-vacation-705x319

Saskatchewan has that endless big sky, the waving fields of wheat, shimmering horizons and brilliant sunsets. Discover the amazing scenery of Saskatchewan for yourself as you explore the province in your RV.

Yukon  yukon-rv-vacations-705x319

Yukon is home to Canada’s highest peak, the world’s largest non-polar ice fields, several Canadian Heritage Rivers and healthy, abundant wildlife.

Read Lichtsinn RV’s FAQ page on RVing in Canada here.  

Lichtsinn RV is America’s closest RV dealer to Winnebago and Winnebago Touring Coach, located just one mile north of the Winnebago and Winnebago Touring Coach factory in Forest City, Iowa.

We have been named by Winnebago Industries named Top North American Winnebago Dealer for the last four consecutive years. We proudly sell New RVs manufactured by Winnebago Industries as well as Used RVs. Lichtsinn RV is also one of the few Iowa RV Dealers that offers these top brand-name RVs like Winnebago as RV Rentals. Being the closest dealer to the Winnebago factory affords us the opportunity to provide you with speedy delivery of parts from our warehouse and Winnebago. We offer Winnebago, Itasca, Winnebago Touring Coach and Workhorse parts at competitive discounts and we offer fair shipping quotes, and you can avoid sales tax on out-of-state shipments! We have RVIA-certified technicians to service your motor home, travel trailer or fifth wheel. Our Circle of Excellence customer satisfaction index scores rank in the best of class for Winnebago and Itasca dealers! See our interactive map of Lichtsinn RV Motor Home Owners from around the world


Save Money Owning an RV Compared to Other Vacations

Article originally seen on RVNews.com

A new study conducted by CBRE Hotels Advisory Group has found that RV vacations cost much less than other types of vacation travel, even when factoring in fuel prices and the cost of RV ownership. According to the study, commissioned by Go RVing and the RV Industry Association, there are cost savings of 21 to 64 percent for a four-person travel party, while a two-person travel party saves 8 percent to 53 percent, depending on factors such as the type of RV and type of vacation.

“The study reaffirms that RVs are a great way to save on family travel, and it’s equally important to remember that RV ownership provides benefits that go well beyond affordability,” says RV Industry Association president Frank Hugelmeyer. “To take an RV trip is to experience togetherness with family and friends, along with the flexibility to travel whenever and wherever you want.”

The CBRE study analyzes vacation costs using two sets of hypothetical travel groups: a four-person travel party of two adults and two children, and a two-person travel party of two adults. CBRE analyzed major costs these hypothetical travelers incur traveling to nine popular vacation destinations. For each destination, researchers analyzed vacations lasting 3, 7 and 14 days.

The study compared different methods of travel, including a folding camping trailer; a lightweight travel trailer; a compact motorhome; a type C motorhome; a type A motorhome; traveling in a personal car, staying at hotels/motels, and eating meals in a restaurant; traveling by airline, renting a car at the destination, staying at hotels/motels, and eating meals in restaurants; and traveling in a personal car or airline (as appropriate), staying at a rental house/condominium, and eating the majority of meals in the rental unit. The type A motorhome, typically the largest and most luxurious RV, was compared to travel options such as flying first class, renting a premium car, staying in upscale hotels/resorts, and eating meals in restaurants.

RV vacations show a clear family budget benefit over other forms of travel, regardless of the RV type. According to the CBRE study, a four-person travel party can expect to save (by unit type):

Folding camping trailer: 50-64%
Lightweight travel trailer: 31-50%
Compact motorhome: 31-50%
Type C motorhome: 21-43%
Type A motorhome: 41%

A two-person travel party saved, according to the CBRE analysis:

Folding camping trailer: 43-53%
Lightweight travel trailer: 20-34%
Compact motorhome: 20-34%
Type C motorhome: 8-24%
Type A motorhome – 19%

The study included analysis of how fluctuations in fuel prices could affect the economic advantages of RV travel. Researchers found that for a four-person travel party it would take a rise in fuel prices to nearly $13 per gallon for a Type C motorhome vacation to be more expensive than the least expensive non-RV vacation. None of the fuel increase scenarios for a four-person travel party resulted in other RV vacation types being more expensive than the least expensive non-RV vacation.

For a two-person travel party, fuel prices would still need to rise significantly (from $5.50 to more than $13 per gallon) from current levels for RVing to lose its economic advantage.

“While fuel costs are a component of the overall vacation cost, it isn’t significant enough to materially affect the outcome of our analysis,” says Kannan Sankaran, managing director of CBRE’s Advisory Services, and lead researcher.

Research by Go RVing and the RV Industry Association shows that when fuel prices are higher, RVers save on fuel costs by driving fewer miles, taking trips closer to home, and staying longer in one destination.

CBRE Hotels Advisory was commissioned by Go RVing to provide an objective comparison between the cost of a summer vacation using recreation vehicles (RVs) and the cost of other types of vacations during that same timeframe. CBRE factored in an estimated cost of ownership of the applicable RV equipment that was based upon published data regarding average ownership periods, residual values, annual days of utilization, insurance, and other costs of ownership, as well as any applicable tax benefits.

CBRE Hotels Advisory is a division of the CBRE Group, Inc., the largest full service real estate and investment organization in the world with more than 70,000 employees located in more than 400 offices worldwide. CBRE Hotels Advisory is a leading advisory group to hospitality and real estate industry professionals.

With offices in Reston, VA and Elkhart, IN, the RV Industry Association is the leading trade voice representing the $50 billion RV industry. RVIA represents approximately 400 manufacturers and component suppliers producing 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

Formed in 1994, Go RVing is a partnership between America’s RV manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and campgrounds to provide the public and media with information about the benefits of RV travel, and to cultivate a positive RV experience for all consumers.

GoRVing Survey Predicts RV Use to Soar this Summer

RVDailyReport.com — More than 5.8 million American RV used their RV during the Memorial Day Weekend, according to Go RVing’s 2018 RV Owners Insights survey, conducted by Go RVing, the RV Industry Association, and Inquisium.

As the summer travel season shifts into high gear, 92 percent of RV owners say they expect to use their RVs as much as or more than they did in 2017. A record 25 million people are expected to vacation in an RV this year.

RVers say they’re going to use their RVs to get outdoors and enjoy nature (65 percent), take more mini-vacations (64 percent), and spend more quality time with family (50 percent).

“The RV lifestyle has come to be embraced by a wide cross-section of Americans who work hard and want to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the RV Industry Association. “RVers enjoy the convenience, comfort and flexibility RVs offer, as well as the savings RVs provide.”

While fuel prices remain unpredictable from year-to-year, 81 percent of RV owners say this year’s fuel prices will not affect their travel plans. In fact, 80 percent of survey respondents in this year’s study say RV vacations cost less even when fuel prices are higher, with 77 percent saying they save 25 percent or more; and 55 percent saving 35 percent or more.

Over the past three years in the US, RV shipments from manufacturers to dealers have spiked to record levels, and consumer purchases from RV dealer lots have risen steadily. According to the survey, recent buyers were motivated by a desire to see America (90 percent), the travel advantages offered by RVing (83 percent), and innovative features and designs on new RVs (74 percent).

Two-thirds of RV owner respondents (67 percent) said an RV is the “most affordable way to travel.” These findings were echoed by research conducted by CBRE Hotels Advisory, which found savings of 21-64 percent for a four-person travel party, and 8-53 percent for a two-person travel party, depending on factors such as the type of RV and the type of vacation.

While 63 percent of 2018 RV owner respondents cite the “escape of everyday stress and pressure” as a “top benefit of RVing, these same RV owners want to stay connected while on the road — 89 percent bring their smartphone, 69 percent their laptop and 62 percent their tablet PC. The most-used campground amenity is wifi (84 percent).

RV owners are staying connected and active. Favorite activities include:

  • Sightseeing: 72 percent;
  • Visiting state and national parks: 71 percent;
  • Grilling/cookouts: 69 percent;
  • Visiting historic sites: 66 percent;
  • Hiking: 58 percent; and
  • Fishing: 42 percent.

More than 70 percent of RVers say they’re more physically active when vacationing in an RV than on other types of vacations, and 81 percent say their kids are more active.

Another important benefit of RV travel: bringing the family pet. More than 65 percent bring a four-legged family member on their RV excursions. Dogs dominate at 93 percent with cats next at 8 percent. The 101 percent total means that some RV owners bring both, yet another reason why RV owners love the “controls” that RVs offer.

The Go RVing 2018 RV Owners Insights survey included 562 respondents and has a 4 percent margin of error.