There are Great Campsites, and then …..
We Campers are a varied bunch of people, but we all have one thing in common and that is, when we pull into a campground we expect our assigned campsite to be a fantastic one that we and our family can enjoy.
But the problem for many of us traveling campers is that most campgrounds will only have a few of those great campsites you were expecting, and often these ideal campsites will most likely already have other campers on them.
If you're a Newbie camper I hate to tell you this, but there will almost always be more campsites that are mediocre, or even a few horrible campsites that will have something that makes them very undesirable, for one reason or another.
We RV traveling souls soon learn that as a camper, it’s really up to you to make sure you do your research and do everything possible to be assigned a site that is one that truly suits your family's needs while you are planning on using that particular campground.
Probably th first thing you need to ask yourself is; just what kind of campsite do you really need?
As a camper who plans to travel and camp regularly, it truly is your job to sit down and take a few minutes with your spouse and family and just have a good conversation about exactly what all of you expect to do while traveling and camping.
In other words, you must define what everyone expects to do that will make their travels fun for everyone.
Some family members like to go out to eat every evening, while others want to stay at their campsite and cook their own meals on their grills.
Some families are Pool people and they will want a nice, clean and large swimming pool in the campground that they can use for hours each day, while others may be Hikers who could care less about whether there is a campground pool or not, and they want to dive out to the nearest scenic hiking trails.
The point here is that people want to have fun, their way, and it is the job of each family to take the time to plan their overall camping experience to provide what each of them will enjoy.
Campgrounds and Ratings
I recommend that every camper join a few camping organizations that provide the amenities that suit your lifestyle, if for no other reason than you can have access to their accumulated ratings for campsites that are affiliated with them.
None of these memberships provided information on every campground in the USA, but there are a few very popular ones that you should join which will have several thousands of affiliated campgrounds that they have spent the time to visit and rate.
You can find Camping World stores and RV service centers all across the USA. And even if you never visit one, you should at least go online and become a member.
They have an excellent catalog that members can get annually and it includes detailed ratings on several thousand campgrounds in the USA and Canada, along with a standard 10% discount on the member campgrounds nightly rates.
Passport America has over a thousand affiliated campgrounds that you can use at a 50% nightly rate discount. Their discounts are usually only for one or two nights, but their system makes them great for overnight stays if you are making a long camping trip.
And often, if the campground isn’t very full, they may extent their Passport America rate for another day or two; so you should always ask.
And, make sure you read the details well, because many campground discounts are only available seasonally or on certain days of the week.
Reserve America is a campground membership company and in addition to private campgrounds, it has responsibility for renting state-owned campgrounds in a number of states such as New Your, Florida and South Carolina to name a few.
They provide a lot of great information on the campgrounds they manage, including a great site map showing each site and whether it is rented or not for the timeframe you are looking for.
Big RV Resort chains.
There are a umber of large RV Resort chains that own and manage hundreds, even thousands of campgrounds. Most of these offer discounted rates to members and consistently clean campsites, bathhouses, and amenities; two standouts are SUN and ENCORE. You just need to check if they have campgrounds where you will prefer to travel.
Then there are the independent campgrounds. I have had great experiences with some of these campgrounds and then again I have been surprised over how poorly managed some of these campgrounds are.
They are a gamble, but then again, I will often stay in one of these for an overnight layover, just for the adventure of it all.
Things to Consider in your “Perfect Campground”
Today, most campers will demand that a campsite at least have the basics available, which are; a level campsite, a clean Water supply, a steady Electrical power system and easy to use Sewage hookups.
But there are other situations that you need to check on about a campground and the site they want to put you on.
Some sites such as mentioned bout Camping World will use past camper’s reports on their stay in a campground including;
- Construction (is there going to be construction going on in the campground when you plan to be there).
- street condition (are the campground’s streets well maintained)
- Bathhouse (is everything in good condition and are they kept clean.
- Pools and other amenities (Pools must be maintained by a professional company, and will it be open when you plan to stay there.
- Staff (are the staff, including the maintenance people, polite, dressed neatly and ready to help people with problems).
Campsite Proximity to Facilities and Amenities
When you call to make your reservation at a campground, you should see if they are going to provide you a certain site number, or will they tell you “we don’t guarantee specific sites to our customers, we just guarantee you a site”.
For the average camper, this may be OK, but for some campers the location of a site an be very important for a number of reasons, often including medical requirements for someone in your family. So, if you can, as about the site’s proximity to the following; Bathhouse, Office and WIFI, Pool, Children’s Play areas, Pet walking areas.
The Physical Campsite
Don’t be afraid to ask if they have a picture that shows the campsite they are planning to put you on. If not, as about the cleanliness of the campsite, as well as just how level it will be.
Check if they allow campfires and even look for a fire pit, both on your site and your neighboring campsites. Campfires can be a lot of fun but the smoke from one can drive you inside on a windless night.
Check for wet ground, especially where your camper will be set up. Sometimes rainwater will drain onto your site and you will be camping in a mud-hole.
Trees can provide some nice shade, but they cam also block your satellite signal. And you should expect falling acorns and small limbs on a windy day.
Sad to say, you absolutely must ask about Party people. Some Campgrounds cater to groups, both small and large that will camp together and party together.
Because of this, you must confirm that they have a Quiet Time, when everyone must keep quiet, and that they enforce this with any campers who are making too much noise at night. Most campgrounds have a Quiet Time between 10PM and 7AM and they will often change the hours on weekends to 11PM to 7AM.
In most states, the campground management has the right to call in the local police when a person or group refuses to quiet down.
All in all, good campgrounds are easy to find and reserve, if you are making your reservations a month or two before your trip.
Do not wait until the last couple days and expect to get a great campsite; in fact, you will usually be lucky to get a campsite reservation at all.
by Don Bobbitt, All Rights Reserved
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Don Bobbitt
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on December 16, 2020:
DW Davis - State Campgrounds are popular and they are surprisingly well maintained. I have found that many of them only have a limited number of campsites, so I tell people who want to see local Nature at its best, to plan their trips well and make sure they have reservations well ahead of the season.
Thanks for the response.
DW Davis from Eastern NC on December 14, 2020:
Another source of great camping in many states are state parks. Here in NC we have several that offer water/electric with dump stations and two very nice campgrounds with some full hook ups. Their rates are reasonable.