Tips for Choosing Campgrounds

Choices for campgrounds range from luxurious RV resorts to activity-filled family destinations to secluded natural settings to basic places conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices run the gamut as well.

A few tips:

* A good Directory will give you helpful summaries and ratings of public and private parks.

* Discounts are offered by many RV Clubs.   Be sure to take advantage of these easy ways to save.

* Mix it up - try a variety of different park types (public and private) for a more interesting RV experience, and to find out what you like the best.

* Reservations for many state parks can be made through ReserveAmerica.com. In addition to providing a centralized on line reservation service for the public parks, they are adding some privately-owned partners.

* The website at www.recreation.gov is a one-stop reservation service for the USDA Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation outdoor recreation facilities and activities.

* Activities are often offered for free at campgrounds. Why not give them a try?   You may uncover a new interest or meet some interesting people.


Privately-owned Campgrounds:

Thousands of private RV parks dot the map, with natural concentrations in scenic areas, tourist destinations, and places with sunny skies.     The most expensive resorts may include large sites, pools, golf courses, tennis courts, fitness centers, or other luxuries.

More moderately priced parks often include a pool and other recreational activities.   Or you may just need a a place to park and stay a night or two.

So the choices are many. But since there is such a range in quality, it's smart to check out a particular campground ahead of time.

Another way to gauge quality is to look for the designation of a Good Sam Park.   These are independently owned campgrounds that have the endorsement of the Good Sam RV Club.    You get a 10% discount - one of the many Good Sam membership benefits, which include other perks like discounts on fuel and at Camping World. 

Good Sam Club

Another well-known chain is KOA. You can get a free KOA Directory/road atlas, free issue of camping life and 10% off daily registrations with the KOA Value Kard.   The KOA label usually means clean and well-maintained facilities, often offering a variety of family activities in season.

Camping discounts are also available by joining one of the discount or membership RV Clubs. Passport America is the most popular 50% off membership that helps cut costs.     Another discount club,  Happy Camper Club also offers campgrounds at 50% off.   These  common sense programs helps RV travelers save money and helps park owners fill their empty campsites.

Membership programs such as Thousand Trails, provide other ways to manage where you stay and what you spend.

Read more about RV Clubs.


National Parks

Most people think of well-known national parks such as Yellowstone. Additionally, you can find camping spots that fall under the auspices of a variety of U.S. Federal Government agencies, such as the following:

  • National Park Service
  • National Forest Service
  • Army Corp of Engineers
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • Bureau of Land Management

The lands maintained by these organizations include hundreds of parks and forests, with thousands of places to camp.    While many of these may not provide RV hook ups, they offer solitude, and beautiful scenery at reasonable prices.

Be sure to check out limitations on RV lengths in national parks. The www.recreation.gov website will help you find facilities that will fit your needs. Whether you stay in the public parks or nearby - do enjoy their wonders.


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State Parks

Many state parks offer camping, providing another popular choice for RVers. Some state parks have RV hookups, some only offer primitive sites.    The quality and type of facilities vary from state-to-state, and among the individual parks themselves.

Reserve America covers a growing number of state parks. And as you plan your trip, you can find both places to stay and things to do on the state tourism websites.   It is worth looking into the possibilities available at a state level.


More Camping Resources:

Frugal Shunpikers Boondocking Guides :  Take advantage of some of the helpful books for finding free camping spots.   Boondocking means financial savings and adds memorable experiences to your RVing adventures!

Harvest Hosts is the first membership program of its kind in the United States to provide RV owners with FREE overnight stops at wineries and farms across the country.  Similar to the France Passion program we used in Europe.

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