These are the 15 Most Popular Public Lands for RVers

Data From Recreation.gov Reveals Where We’re Parking Our Motorhomes

Image Caption: Image Courtesy of jose1983/Getty

Americans have always had a love affair with the country’s public lands, including national parks, forests, and other places. From Acadia to Zion, millions flock to these spectacular outdoor settings annually to explore the landscapes and reconnect with nature. But have you ever wondered which of those destinations was the most popular with RVers? Thanks to a deep dive into data gathered from Recreation.gov, we now know the answer.

RV rental site Outdoorsy analyzed a wealth of statistics provided by the government’s Recreation Information Database and came away with some fascinating insights. For instance, the website saw more than 130,000 RV reservations in 2020 alone. That number represents a 10% increase over 2019 and is nearly three times the number of reservations made through the site in 2008.

The data also revealed which national and state public lands had the most overnight reservations booked by RVers in 2020. That list contains some popular and well-known destinations—like Yosemite and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks—as well as a few surprises. There are even a handful of locations that may not be on the radar for some RVers, although they have a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts.

chuck sams national park service

Image Courtesy of Kraig Becker

According to Recreation.gov, this is the list of the top 15 locations, along with the total number of RV nights booked in 2020.

1.        Waco Lake (Texas) – 32,424 RV nights booked
2.        Lake O’ the Pines (Texas) – 28,255 RV nights booked
3.        Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – 18,436 RV nights booked
4.        Acadia National Park (Maine) – 14,364 RV nights booked
5.        Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina/Tennessee) – 11,698 RV nights booked
6.        Bryce Canyon (Utah) – 11,542 RV nights booked
7.        Grenada Lake (Mississippi) – 10,872 RV nights booked
8.        Sequoia National Forest (California) – 10,482 RV nights booked
9.        Yosemite National Park (California) – 10,038 nights booked[KG2] 10.     San Bernardino National Forest (California) – 9065 RV nights booked
11.     Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Arizona) – 8838 RV nights booked
12.     Pinnacles National Park (California) – 8516 RV nights booked
13.     Canyon Lake (Texas) – 8339 RV nights booked
14.     National Forest in North Carolina (North Carolina) – 8219 RV nights booked
15.     Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina/Virginia) – 8114 RV nights booked

Public lands in CaliforniaTexas, and North Carolina dominate the list, occupying 10 of the 15 spots. The prominence of those places reflects the popularity of those three states with local and out-of-state RVers. It is a testament to the quality of the public lands available at those locations, which continually draw in so many visitors.

camping on public lands

Image Courtesy of Larry Crain/Getty

The list also indicates where many RVers are camping and explains why it can be so difficult to book a spot at one of these sites. Fortunately, there are usually some good alternative campgrounds located nearby where finding occupancy isn’t quite as challenging.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to leave busy campsites behind, the Recreation Information Database reveals the least visited locations too. The bottom five include the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in OklahomaHuron-Manistee National Forest in Michigan, the Buffalo National River in ArkansasJ. Strom Thurmond Lake in South Carolina, and the Greenbelt Park in Maryland. Each of those locations saw fewer than 80 nights booked by RVers throughout 2020.

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