Not every National Park is accessible by RV. But the following are the best national parks for wildlife viewing for RVers…
Jennifer and I have been to dozens of national parks in our beautiful country. In fact, we have been lucky enough to see many of the animals on this list!
As RVers, we might not have easy access to Glacier Bay National Park or other national parks known for their wildlife. However, there are still plenty of RV-friendly national parks that boast unique and stunning wildlife.
Some wildlife you can see nowhere else in the world! Wouldn’t it be incredible for you to see them firsthand? I know it is for Jennifer and me!
10 Best National Parks for Wildlife Viewing for RVers
There are so many great national parks for wildlife viewing, but I have highlighted 6 that I think deserve special mention. I’ve also included a list of 4 more that I highly recommend but don’t have room enough to write about today.
So, based on my personal experiences and research, here are the best national parks for spotting wildlife.
*If you’re an animal lover, be sure to read 10 Animals Unique to North America & Where to Find Them.
1. Grey Wolves in Yellowstone
Yellowstone is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts, and for good reason. You can see American bison, elk, moose, bald eagles, bighorn and pronghorn sheep, and more.
There is, however, an animal that I say stands out above the rest: the grey wolf. The park’s Lamar Valley is famed for being home to a healthy grey wolf population.
Not long ago, I interviewed Deby Dixon, a passionate wolf and wildlife advocate that photographs and writes about Yellowstone full-time.
Mike and Jennifer Wendland's Yellowstone Travel Guide
At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.
Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.
It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.
2. Synchronous Fireflies in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
When you think of spotting wildlife, you probably don’t think of fireflies. But Jennifer and I will never forget our experience watching fireflies in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The flashes of light were a mesmerizing dance that only nature could perfect. It was breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Truly, we couldn’t help but ooh and aah through the entire experience.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennesse. It is home to much more wildlife beyond fireflies. You can spot white-tailed deer, black bears, elk, and more.
3. Grizzly Bears in Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park belongs on any RVer’s bucket list. As you can see above, I dedicated an entire video on Why You Need to Take an RV Photo Trip to Glacier National Park.
This national park is known for lots of wildlife, including much of the same wildlife as Yellowstone. But it is known for one North American beast more than any other…
Glacier National Park has the healthiest grizzly bear population in North America. Here’s a helpful article on where to see grizzly bears in Glacier National Park.
Just be sure to practice bear safety!
4. Alligators in Everglades National Park, Florida
If you follow RV Lifestyle, you know Jennifer and I are big fans of Florida. So, we’d be remiss not to include Everglades National Park.
We have an article on the 7 Best Things to Do at Everglades National Park. I suggest you read the whole article, but you can bet seeing alligators is included!
Everglades National Park is also a must-go destination for birdwatchers. However, there is another bird-watching paradise…
5. Birds in Big Bend National Park, Texas
I know it’s rather generic to say you can see “birds” in Big Bend National Park, but there are simply too many to highlight! In fact, Texas has many rare birds.
You can see hundreds of birds during annual migrations. Plus, according to the park’s foundation document, “Big Bend National Park contains more species of birds, bats, butterflies, scorpions, ants, reptiles, and cacti than any other unit in the National Park Service.”
6. The Big 5 in Denali National Park, Alaska
This national park takes some grit to visit in an RV, but it’s well worth the effort. Denali National
Park is home to the “Big 5 Animals” that people travel from all over the world to see.
The Big 5 animals are moose, bear, Dall sheep, caribou, and wolves.
These are incredible creatures to see firsthand in the wilds of Alaska. If you’re up for the challenge, be sure to read 7 Helpful Alaska Travel Tips for RVers.
Oh, and it’s worth noting that Denali is also one of the most reliable U.S. Destinations to See Northern Lights.
4 More Great National Parks for Seeing Wildlife
There are 4 more great national parks that I highly recommend but don’t have room enough to write about. So, I’ve listed them with helpful links.
- Moose in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
- Big Horn Sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Coral Reefs in Biscayne National Park, Florida
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.
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