Are you looking for a once-in-a-lifetime summer adventure? Then look no further than an RV trip to some of America’s best national parks. With over 84 million acres of mountains, deserts, wetlands, and more, our expansive country has something to offer any outdoor lover.
Grab your s’mores supplies, make sure there’s gas in your RV, and hit the road. We’ve got the perfect list of top destinations that are guaranteed to make memories that will last a lifetime. Get ready for summer fun with our rundown of the best national parks for a summer RV trip!
Guest Post by The Adventure Detour
Why Summer Is A Great Time To Take A National Park Trip
Summer is a great time to hit the road in your RV. The weather is amazing, and the kids are out of school. There’s no better time for a family adventure.
Did you know that many of the US national parks aren’t fully open until the summer season? It’s true! Snow in the upper elevations keeps some national parks partially closed until the summer season. With a short season, the parks that made our list are the best to visit in the summertime. The areas of the parks only open in summer are worth the short season to view all that the parks have to offer.
National Parks Best To Visit During The Summer
These national parks are fully open only in the summer season. Read on to learn what makes these parks special and why they are perfect for your summer RV trip.
RV Lassen National Park
Lassen National Park is a bit of a hidden gem in the national park system. Located in rural northern California, this park is one of the least visited and least crowded national parks.
It is also a must-see destination. Its stunning geothermal features are only second to Yellowstone National Park. In fact, many people choose to visit Lassen over Yellowstone to skip the crowds and still enjoy the beauty.
Lassen is full of volcanic steam vents and bubbling mud pots that smell of sulfur as they pop and sizzle. It is truly a one-of-a-kind destination.
The problem is that it is also a hard-to-access destination. Its elevation gives the visitor incredible mountain views. However, it also gives travelers road closures late into the season from heavily packed snowfall.
The national park road that connects both entrances through the middle of the park is often only open for six to eight summer weeks during some operating years. It is truly a short window to enjoy this scenic beauty.
We visited this park over Memorial Weekend at the end of May, and the road was still closed during our visit. The road didn’t open fully until mid-July that year. We were able to enter each park entrance and get to both visitor centers, but not able to go any farther. National park hiking was available to travel farther on the closed road.
The beauty we got from just entering a few miles into the park from each side blew us away. The park features beautiful snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes, amazing hikes, and geothermal features.
Planning an RV trip to visit Lassen during the short summer season is worth it. Definitely add it to your travel bucket list!
RV Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is amazing to visit any time of the year. Even with a national park visit in the middle of the winter, you can find mild weather in the valley and unique recreational opportunities like ice skating in Curry Village.
The higher elevations of Yosemite are amazingly beautiful but also incredibly snow packed late into the season. To visit the park when all the roads and areas are open, you have to visit in the summer season.
One of our family’s favorite areas of Yosemite is Glacier Point. This incredible spot overlooks the entire Yosemite Valley with views of Half Dome and the other stunning granite formations.
Glacier Point is especially scenic at sunset as the sun kisses the tops of the granite domes, and the valley sinks into darkness for the evening. It’s a great place to enjoy a dinner picnic or beverage as you toast the end of another amazing national park day of adventure.
The problem? Glacier Point is at a high elevation in the park and stays packed with snowfall late into the season. The road to this must-visit area of Yosemite usually doesn’t open until late May.
During our Yosemite National Park visit, the road to Glacier Point finally opened the week before the Memorial Day holiday. We were thrilled to be able to see it right before our trip was over.
This area is so stunning that it is worth waiting to visit Yosemite until the summer season when Glacier Point is open. Another part of the park that is only open in the summer months is Tioga Road which traverses the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the scenic Tioga Pass.
Tioga Road is a 64-mile breathtaking scenic byway. It takes about an hour and a half to drive without stops, but it is so incredible that you will want to stop for photos. This road often doesn’t open until mid-June. Although the season is short to enjoy all of Yosemite, planning your summer RV trip to this park is worth it.
RV Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is a high-elevation mountain park with snow-capped peaks all year. Its beautiful mountain streams, waterfalls, and wildflower meadows make you feel like you are visiting a scene straight out of the Sound Of Music movie. It’s simply stunning!
The problem is that the elevation of this park keeps the park roads in snowpack until the summer season. In fact, there is so much snow in this park that tire chains are still required to be carried in your vehicle when visiting the park until May 1st. Even if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you are required to bring tire chains.
Most of the national park roads are closed during the winter season, and roads begin to open as the snow clears. Many of the park roads are typically open in June, and waiting until summer for your visit may be worth it. That way, you can enjoy the entire park.
Don’t miss heading up to the Paradise area of the park and checking out the historic park lodge Paradise Inn. It’s really a beautiful and historic area. Plus, you can’t beat the views from this part of the park.
RV Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is a stunning glacial lake surrounded by mountains that looks like something straight out of a postcard. You really have to see this lake to comprehend its intense blue color. Pictures don’t do this park justice.
As beautiful as Crater Lake is, it’s tough to access and explore fully except during the summer months. The high elevation of this park causes the park roads to stay snow packed late into the season. The snowfall amounts are different every year, but some years you can’t access the park road around Crater Lake until July.
We visited this national park in mid-June, and the snow was still so high that it was up to the top of the visitor center roof! It was mind-blowing to see that much snow so late in June. Since the road around the lake was still closed from the snow, we could only view Crater Lake from the visitor center.
Don’t miss a visit to the historic lodge down the road from the park visitor center. The back porch is filled with rocking chairs with an incredible lake view. We enjoyed some time sipping hot cocoa and admiring the stunning blue water while freezing in June.
Although the season is very short in this park, it would be worth a summer visit to drive all the way around the lake and fully experience the park. It really is worth the short-season trip in your RV.
Thinking of taking a summer RV trip this year? I hope this post inspired you to check out one of our nation’s most special places, the national parks. While these national parks are stunning year-round, they are only fully open, with access to all park areas in the summer season. It’s worth waiting for the perfect time to enjoy these parks. So pack up the RV and hit the road for your summer adventure!
Looking for the perfect RV for summer fun? La Mesa has the selection to meet all of your needs. Stop by today and find your perfect RV!
Scott, his wife Van, and their 13-year-old daughter have traveled full-time in their RV for 8 years. They have worked and homeschooled on the road through 42 states so far. They blog about RVing tips, travel destinations, jobs for RVing, and the full-time RV lifestyle on their blogs, theadventuredetour and rvnomadjobs. They are also RV content creators @theadventuredetour on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube. They love connecting with RVers, so be sure to reach out to them and say hi!