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National Parks in the South for RVers with Kids

Kara Williams-profile-image
Kara Williams
February 25, 2021

TL;DR: Southern national parks offer family-friendly RV adventures with trails, water activities, and campgrounds. Top parks include Shenandoah, Big Bend, Great Smoky Mountains, and New River Gorge, each with unique natural beauty and activities. Nearby Harvest Hosts locations add to the experience.

National Parks in the South for RVers with Kids

With their sweeping mountain views, rushing rivers, and rugged canyons, the national parks in the southern states beckon families not only with a myriad of beautiful landscapes, but also plenty of gentle hiking trails, water-based activities, and camping fun for children. Here’s a peek at some top national parks in the south for RVers with kids, plus some suggestions for where to camp. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Skyline Drive stretches more than 100 miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains through Shenandoah National Park, whose visitor entrance is just 75 miles from Washington, D.C. You can travel the entire length of the road, or just bits and pieces, depending on your time frame. Note: Marys Rock Tunnel, at mile marker 22.2, has a clearance of just 12 feet 8 inches, so be aware if you’re road tripping with a big rig! More than 500 miles of hiking trails wind their way through rocky crags, towering forest, and open meadows — most leading to stellar viewpoints and some to cascading waterfalls. For little legs, consider these hikes for kids that are under 2 miles round trip. There are five main campgrounds at Shenandoah, with a mix of reservable and first come, first serve sites available. Sites are wonderfully wooded, with some backing right up to hiking trails.

Nearby Harvest Host: Backroom Brewery is in Middletown, Virginia, not too far from Front Royal, which is where you’ll find the park’s North Entrance Station. There are over 100 Harvest Hosts RV Camping in Virginia opportunities! Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park, so named for its location at the curve of the Rio Grande River, is a BIG park. Experts suggest that if you’re not planning to camp in the area for long, you might bite off just a bit of the park to explore; consider this one-day itinerary that can include a kid-friendly, short hike or a jaunt to a fossil exhibit. There are four developed campgrounds at Big Bend: three operated by the National Park Service and one from an outside vendor. At this time reservations are required at all of them. This park has enjoyed unprecedented popularity in the past year, so if the in-park sites are all booked, consider camping in neighboring towns — just make sure you have a reservation before you pull into the area or you may be shut out. Be prepared for crowds, especially from November to April.

Nearby Harvest Host: Get Lost Tours, in Terlingua, Texas, offers personalized tours of the area. (Note: RVs need to be 24 feet or less to park here overnight.) Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee

America’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles two states. It is deeply forested, but has a couple wide-open spots for wildlife viewing. Keep your eyes out for bear, deer, elk, racoon, and wild turkeys. Horseback riding and fishing ...fishing to whitewater rafting. We bet this park will be wildly popular not only this summer, but for many summers to come. There are no developed campgrounds in the park itself, but there are several in the surrounding communities. Check out the RV sites at Adventures on the Gorge, through which you can also book whitewater rafting excursions, as well at New River Campground, Green Acres Campground, and Eagle’s Nest Campground.

Nearby Harvest Host: Princeton Railroad Museum is south of the New River Gorge, in Princeton, West Virginia. Have you taken a family RV trip to one of these national parks in the South? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

About Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is a unique RV camping membership that offers self-contained RVers unlimited overnight stays at over 8000 small businesses across North America with no camping fees. Boondock at farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other one-of-a-kind destinations throughout North America, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that a safe place to stay is always nearby!
Kara Williams-profile-image
Kara Williams
Kara Williams RV traveller and blogger on Life Here and There: https://lifehereandthere.com/