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What the Great American Outdoors Act Means for RVers [GOOD NEWS!]

| Updated Aug 11, 2020

The Great American Outdoors Act is good news for RVers because it will bring a long-needed massive overhaul of the often crumbling National Parks system infrastructure.

In a rare bipartisan move, the Great American Outdoors Act passed both houses of Congress and was just signed into law by President Trump.


What’s in the Great American Outdoors Act?

The act will bring about maintenance overhaul to roads, campgrounds and services by infusing $9.5 billion into the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management.  Interior Secretary David Bernhardt stated that this is the cornerstone of the future of the National Park system. 

The funds will be used to conserve lands and upgrade infrastructure.  It is a breath of fresh air into the 100- year- old system. 

How will the funds be spent or spread across 419 national parks?

The National Park system will receive $6.5 billion over 5 years —1.3 billion a year to fix infrastructure, purchase private lands, and provide entry to hard-to-access land.  This has been an embarrassing issue for years and we've aggressively reported on the problems.

CLICK HERE to access one of our RV Podcasts that talked about how America's National Parks were in crisis

The US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish & Wildlife Service will receive $3 Billion. 

If you are an RVer who enjoys the National Park system or boondocks on BLM land, I probably just got your attention.

Today’s National Park RV Experience

Hiking trail photo typical pf trails to be repaoired with money from the Great Amrian Outdoors Att
This is one of the many trails at Glacier National Park that can expect new maintenance funds under the Great American Outdoors Act.

The National Park System greets over 325 million visitors a year.   If you have recently visited a National Park, you may have a few stories—both the good and the bad. 

You may have arrived to find some of the historic buildings closed for lack of repair.  Or roads and bridges barely passable.  Visitor’s Centers closed—and that is before you even reach your campsite.

Once at your National Park RV site, you find disrepair.  Many of the National Park campgrounds were built in the 1950s and '60s and do not meet today's RVs' needs.  During your camping experience, you realize that the National Parks’ entry and camping fees are probably not enough funds to maintain the park—and you were right. 

The National Parks overhaul from the Great Outdoors Act will begin the process of fixing the negative experience of deferred maintenance.  

An Example: Two Favorite Parks for RVers

Many media reviews of the Great American Outdoors Act mention two specific National Parks—Yosemite and Glacier National Parks.  It is no doubt that both parks are favorites for RVers.

CLICK HERE to read an account of why we so love Glacier National Park

The media highlighted both Yosemite and Glacier because they are at the top of the NPS deferred maintenance list of those parks and campgrounds that need immediate assistance.   They are parks that greet millions of visitors and often have booked-out campsites, but funds have not been available to correct problems that have troubled campers for years.

If you have recently visited, you may have noticed that both parks are in dire need of repair.  They each have a long list that includes closed roads and trails, outdated facilities, and long-neglected campsites.  It is estimated that Yosemite National Park needs $118 Million in repairs, including wastewater treatment, rehabilitation of roads, and yes…campgrounds.  Glacier needs $100 Million.  

The Great Outdoors Act will also help National Forest and BLM Land  

With an infusion of $3 Billion in funding, the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will also be able to repair similar issues on the public lands they administer.

The National Forest System hosts 170 million visitors a year.  The Great American Outdoors Act will bring new trails, education opportunities, and adventure options to the 193 million acres of public lands. 

Visitor's centers will be repaired or built, trails will be fixed, and water and electrical systems will be upgraded.  Transportation systems will be updated or built.

The Community Impact of the Great American Outdoors Act

As an RVer, you know that the towns and communities around a National Park often prosper from park visitation.  If you can not book an RV site within the park, you often look to private campgrounds in the surrounding community.  You shop and often enjoy local food in area restaurants. 

It is forecasted that the Great American Outdoors Act will bring additional visitors to the improved areas, an increase in revenue, and jobs.  It will lift the local economy and improve your overall experience too.

Future Expectations from the National Parks overhaul

How long will it take for funding to arrive and improvements to begin?  Interior Secretary Bernhardt stated that visitors may start to see improvements as early as October 2020. 

The first step is to get estimates and hire contractors to begin projects.  Until then, the funds will gain interest in government accounts.  The Great American Outdoors Act could be just the beginning of new support for our public lands and park systems.  As an RVer and outdoor enthusiast, you can help too.  

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has fostered 147,000 messages to Congress members over the past two years.   If you have a love for the National Parks system, check out their site and find ways to help.  Additional bills are waiting at the House of Representatives that can also contain funding for our beautiful parks and public lands.

As RVers, we will witness the re-building of America’s great National Parks and public lands.

Stay tuned!












Mike Wendland

Published on 2020-08-11

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

3 Responses to “What the Great American Outdoors Act Means for RVers [GOOD NEWS!]”

January 13, 2021at11:38 pm, Lou said:

here in Alberta Canada the Provincial government is destroying our parks by allowing idustrieal coal mining and closing alot of our parks.So much for consultation with the public.

August 11, 2020at3:21 pm, Jay G. said:

This is only a drop in the bucket of what is needed. But a little is better than none. But if it helps to increase the number of visitors and RVers, I see this as a determent since we have far too many visitors to our national parks.

August 11, 2020at1:18 pm, Ellen Wilson said:

I hope the money goes to actually help preserve the park build new roads, make more parking lots, make more campgrounds more useful for the people that use it. Too many of the national parks have put all their money into new visitor centers Administration buildings and the roads are going to Pieces, Yellowstone for example, can’t even get into a lot of the areas where there is no place to park I hope they use the money wisely. thank you

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