The words “National Park” might conjure up images of the mountains of Colorado, the redwoods of California, or the arches in Utah. Although these sights are beautiful in their own right, there are nine National Parks right here in the midwest perfect for a family RV road trip. When many campers voyage out to faraway parks, you will most likely find solitude in these close-to-home havens.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
A staple of many midwestern road trips, the Badlands can be more than a drive-through visit on your way to see Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. Known as the “Land of Stone and Light,” the park consists of a multitude of wildlife such as prairie dogs, bison, and bighorn sheep. Enjoy pointing out the colorful rock formations as you hike up the log ladder on the notch trail. Listen to the kids point out the prairie dogs in Robert’s Prairie Dog Town. Surrender under the night sky while having a bonfire at the Cedar Pass RV Park and Campground, located within the park. For more detailed information on this park, visit While We Were Wandering.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
While many talk about the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and the Black Hills, few discuss the wonder that is Wind Cave National Park. Cave tours have been suspended indefinitely since 2019, but you can still view the vast prairies on over 30 miles of hiking trails. There is a campground in the park for either tenting or RV camping. If you are exploring around the hustle and bustle of Keystone and Custer, make time to find solace in this seldom-explored park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Pay homage to the man who fought to conserve our nation’s land at this park. With similar rock views to the Badlands, this park also offers lush greenery and wild horses. Take the north or south scenic drive, stopping to hike or view wildlife along the way. Park your RV at Cottonwood Campground, located in the park.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Near Cleveland and Akron, this park contains a 60-foot waterfall that can be accessed both by boardwalk or a more challenging hike for thrill-seekers. To beat the rush, visit this spot in the early morning before embarking on one of the park’s many hiking trails. Pets are allowed on all hiking trails in this park which is rare for a National Park. Although camping is not allowed in the park, there are three nearby state parks that have campgrounds. For more detailed information on this park, visit The National Parks Experience.
Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri
If you are looking for a more urban road trip, St. Louis’s Gateway Arch is the place for you. Take the tram ride to the top of the arch to see unmatched views of the St. Louis area. Aching to get on the water? Take the Mississippi riverboat cruise! There are a few RV parks in the area, but St. Louis RV Park has the best reviews and boasts they are the “only RV park in downtown St. Louis”.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Another urban park makes the list in the midwest. The name of this park is a bit deceiving if you are looking to soak in the springs. You can either view the thermal pools outdoors or experience them indoors on Bathhouse Row. A great bonus to this park is filling up bottles of the natural spring water to take home. Pets are allowed in the park and there is no fee for visiting! You can stay right in the park at Gulpha Gorge Campground.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, this park promises “sand and solitude”. The park consists of 14 hiking trails, 8 beaches, 6 biking trails, and much more. Pack a picnic and view hawks during migration or saddle up for some horseback riding through the Glenwood Dunes Trails. There are four nearby campgrounds available with different amenities to suit your needs.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
This park is an island on Lake Superior, so unless you want to tent it for a few nights, you will need to park your RV elsewhere and take a day-trip into this park. After taking either a boat or sea-plane to the park, you can embark on one of the day trips around the island to explore. You might be lucky enough to spot one of the island’s moose or wolves lurking in the woods. For those looking for a unique experience, the park also offers scuba diving.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
If your family loves boating, kayaking, or canoeing, Voyageurs National Park is the place for you. Bring your own watercraft to explore the waterways, or rent a houseboat to sleep under the stars and possibly catch the northern lights. Although you cannot park your RV here, Headquarters RV Park is located an hour from the entrance to the park.
The National Park Service website provided much of the information in this article. If you are wanting to know more about any of the parks, visit their website.