Finding A Campsite – How To Choose a Great Place to Camp

Let’s talk about finding a campsite. The options for places to camp are as varied as types of RVs. The price tag for a night is all over the place as well. You’ll eventually find your favorite type of camping whether it be an upscale campground or boondocking miles from anywhere or anyone.

Finding a Campsite in Private RV Parks

Private RV parks are a popular choice. RV parks vary in many ways. Some have small sites that are close together while others have spacious sites. Amenities also vary in these private parks. There is something for everyone. More high-end parks have beautifully manicured grounds, one or more swimming pools, workout rooms, coffee shops, gift shops, and more. They tend to be very clean with paved sites and walkways.

finding a campsite
Clockwise from the upper left, Ohio Turnpike rest area overnight area, Middle of Texas, Santa Fe, NM, Casino campground just outside Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

The views in private RV parks can be good or not so good. Choose carefully if you’re staying a while. The not-so-good view in the upper-right was just an overnight after a 600 mile driving day.

A private park in North Florida

There are many private parks that cater to families. They tend to have events on holiday weekends geared toward children and teens. Halloween and Christmas in July events are also very popular.

A family-oriented private park in Virginia

Rustic campgrounds are also popular. You get more of that camping feel but still have all the comforts power, sewer, and water hookups provide. These campgrounds are kept more natural with more vegetation and natural surfaces like gravel roads and gravel or dirt sites.

A private park in Oregon

All campgrounds have rules but in my opinion, private campgrounds tend to have more. Some enforce the rules, some don’t. I recently watched a YouTube video of a couple being tossed out of a campground for receiving a FedEx package. No refund was given and they were asked to leave immediately. Extreme to say the least but be aware of the rules.

Public Campgrounds

These campgrounds are usually run by Federal, State, and Local governments. Public campgrounds are a favorite choice among campers. Overall they are more spacious and private than private campgrounds. Some are very modern and have full hookups while others have no hookups at all. The following are all considered public campgrounds.

Salton Sea State Park, California
  • Forest Service
  • National Park
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • State
  • County
  • City
Army Corps of Engineers Campground in Washington

Unexpected Camping Locations

One type of campground I didn’t even know existed is fairgrounds. Many fairgrounds around the US have campsites available to the general public. These campgrounds ordinarily have blackout periods during events held at the fairgrounds. The rest of the year is up for grabs. I’ve stayed in many fairgrounds campgrounds over the years. They are among my favorites. They usually have at least partial hookups, lots of green space, places to walk, and large sites.

Fairgrounds Campground, Blue Earth, Minnesota

Casinos often have campgrounds. If they don’t have an organized campground, most will allow you to dry camp (camping with no hookups) in their parking lots. I often dry camp at no cost, in casino parking lots when I’m traveling through an area and need an overnight spot. Always check with the casino to make sure they allow RV camping, the area you should park in, and patronize their business. Grab some dinner, hit the gift shop, or even play the slots. I look for casino campgrounds at the Casino Camper website. My favorite casino campground even has a dog park and a dog washing station.

Casino camping, St. Ignace, Michigan

Finding a campsite just off a major interstate can be a real bonus on a long, tiring travel day. Rest areas in some states have a designated area for RVs to overnight. The Ohio turnpike even has electric hookups at these sites. I’ve stayed there twice and because it was away from the main traffic area it was fairly quiet.

Rest area camping on the Ohio Turnpike

Boondocking

Boondocking is camping with no hookups in a dispersed area. This is not campground camping. I’ve done a lot of very remote boondocking and have written a guide about it. Aside from how to boondock you will learn about finding a campsite in boondocking locations. You can read that guide here.

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