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How to Choose the Best RV Campgrounds for Your Camping Style

Stephanie, her hubby, and their two cats enjoy living and traveling full-time in their RV, often camping off-grid to stretch their budget.

A beautiful and spacious campground: Honey Hill Campground, South Carolina

A beautiful and spacious campground: Honey Hill Campground, South Carolina

What Campground Features Fit Your Camping Style?

When RVers look for a campground, they have certain criteria in mind that influence their decisions, and they may be willing to compromise on certain amenities in order to have other more important features.

1. Campground Features for Luxury Campers

Those RVers who drive a large, luxuriously appointed rig typically want all the luxuries of home while camping. The features of the best campground for these comfort-loving RVers will include:

  1. Hookups: Full hookups at each campsite are required; WIFI and cable TV should be available.
  2. Campground amenities: Level parking areas with cement pads and level cement patios for picnic tables, nice landscaping; BBQ grill or campfire ring may not be important, but nice outdoor seating area for socializing is important. A clubhouse with games and activities, an exercise room, a pool or swimming beach and a place to walk comfortably are necessary.
  3. Campground Location: Would like to be near restaurants, stores and local attractions.
  4. Price: Flexible on price. Would be willing to pay more if all criteria are met.
  5. Other features: Nice views and convenience to restaurants and local attractions are a plus. The price might not be a big consideration if they can have it all.

Recommendations for Luxury Oriented Campers

Check out the larger private camping resorts for beautiful full-service campsites with all the amenities. Look for resorts that have day and evening programs, happy hours and community dinners. Some will even offer trips to nearby attractions and casinos.

A perfect off-the-grid campsite at Zion National Park with beautiful rock formations in the background.

A perfect off-the-grid campsite at Zion National Park with beautiful rock formations in the background.

2. Campground Features for Off-the-Grid Campers

RVers who enjoy long-term camping off the grid will have their own solar panels, generators or windmills for power, and might even carry a satellite dish for TV and computer access. They might be bird watchers, rock hounds, hikers or just nature lovers.

  1. Hookups: They can forgo the usual electric hookups and would be willing to give up water and sewer hookups in order to have more private and spacious sites. Off-the-grid RVers will often be prepared with a satellite dish or broadband modems that provide their own TV and computer service, or they are prepared to live without these amenities.
  2. Campground Amenities: A fire ring for campfires, a campsite with sun to warm their rig in the cool mornings and shade to keep cool in the afternoons and a level area to set up outdoor living area for long-term stays are all important. Dump stations and water stations should be available.
  3. Campground Location: Easy access to hiking trails or 4X4 roads, nearby areas to watch birds or wildlife. Easy driving distance to groceries and laundry facilities.
  4. Price: Off-the-grid RVers are looking for free or very inexpensive camping in National Forests, National Parks, BLM lands or other public lands.
  5. Other features: Private, spacious campsites with beautiful scenic views.

Recommendations for Off-the-Grid Campers

Look for off-the-grid camping in national forests and on BLM land. Some national parks have more remote camping. These places also usually have wonderful bird watching and places to view wildlife.

3. Campground Features for Family Vacation Campers

Vacationing camping families come with kids of all shapes and sizes, and often arrive in several rigs that they like to park close together. Campground features that vacationing families would look for include:

  1. Hookups: Generally would like electricity and water, but sometimes prefer more primitive sites. Depending on the family, they may not care about TV or computer while on vacation because they concentrate on family-oriented outdoor games and activities.
  2. Campground Amenities: A fire ring for campfires is a must. The campsite should have a picnic table, a place for an outdoor grill and a level area where an outdoor living area can be set up. The family needs a little space between other campsites so that children and adults have room for outdoor games. Convenient dump stations and water stations are a necessity. Clean, convenient restrooms are a must. A playground, swimming area and hiking trails are attractive to this group.
  3. Campground Location: Off the beaten path, but with access to a grocery store or camp store. Local, family-oriented attractions may entice families to stay longer than a few days.
  4. Price: Looking for reasonably priced camping, and prefer not to pay for many luxuries that they won't use.
  5. Other features: Private, spacious campsites, areas to observe nature and wildlife.

Recommendations for Vacationing Family Campers:

Look for state parks that offer hiking trails, playgrounds, water sports or group activities. Look for private parks that have kids' programs and playgrounds. Check to see if campfires are allowed and if reservations must be made in advance.

Whether you are an RVer camping in a luxury RV, an off-the-grid camper roughing it in the wilderness or an RVer on vacation with your family, there are certain things that you will look for when selecting the best campground. Here are some of the most common features of the best RV campgrounds:

Lake Seminole, Florida. Spacious lakeside campsite.

Lake Seminole, Florida. Spacious lakeside campsite.

Spacious Campsites and Beautiful Views

While "spacious" may mean different things to different people, at the minimum a campsite should have enough room between you and your neighbor so that you have room to put out your awning, have a picnic area or seating area on the grass and park your tow vehicle off the road. In my opinion, a campsite should have enough room for a picnic table and fire ring, room to park your tow vehicle, room to put out at least four chairs. You should not feel hemmed in, nor should you be able to look directly into your neighbors windows.

Personally, my ideal campsite would have 50 or more feet between campsites without back-to-back parking.

A campsite with space and a beautiful view is ideal for a longer term stay. With some research, you can find campsites with ocean or water views, beautiful mountain views, or secluded woodland views.

This campsite was far from perfect! Sites are too close, no privacy or shade provided. This could be blistering hot in the summer!

This campsite was far from perfect! Sites are too close, no privacy or shade provided. This could be blistering hot in the summer!

Shade and Sun

Depending on the season, shade and sun are both important in a campsite. In the winter months, campsites facing east or south will get full sunlight to warm their rigs in the cool mornings and will make the interior sunny a bright. In the warmer months, a campsite with a shady area to sit outdoors is important. In the hot summer, a campsite that will shade the bedroom area of the RV from the afternoon sun will keep it cooler and be easier on the air conditioner if you use one. A combination of sunny and shady spots in the campsite is usually ideal.

There are places, like some of our favorite desert areas, where there are no trees. In this case, park so that your awing will shade the RV from the afternoon sun as it helps tremendously in keeping it cool, and will give you a shady spot to sit outdoors.

One note for people who travel with satellite dishes: You will need a place to set up your dish so that it faces in the right direction without obstruction. This may mean that your idea campsite is in full sun away from trees. When making telephone reservations, you should be sure to ask about shade trees if you plan to set up a satellite dish.

Beautiful woodland campground at Santee State Park in South Carolina.

Beautiful woodland campground at Santee State Park in South Carolina.

Privacy and Quiet

The ideal campsite is one that has some level of privacy. Even when campsites are situated close together, a good campground is designed so that the RV's are staggered and not facing directly into each others windows.

Trees or bushes planted between campsites help buffer voices from carrying and provide a visual barrier for privacy. Sites that are arranged side-by-side or that are located back to back will provide very little privacy.

Campgrounds that enforce rules about quiet times and noise levels improve everyone's level of enjoyment. An ideal campground is one that has rules about quiet times and enforces them. Where campgrounds do not have hookups, regulated generator hours will cut down on noise levels so that you can enjoy the quiet of the mornings and evenings without hearing motors running.

A well-appointed campground clubhouse at Rainbow Plantations, Summerdale, Alabama.  With free jam sessions, potluck dinners and craft classes, the perfect place for a winter stay.

A well-appointed campground clubhouse at Rainbow Plantations, Summerdale, Alabama. With free jam sessions, potluck dinners and craft classes, the perfect place for a winter stay.

Activities and Things to Do

While overnight campers might not care about anything other than a place to park, anyone who is camping in an area for several days or weeks will want to have something to do. The ideal private campground would have some planned, free activities where campers can get together to socialize. This might include pot luck dinners, craft classes, jam sessions, exercise classes, travel lectures or an afternoon happy hour. A library, puzzle room, video and book exchange is also a plus!

A place to walk or hike is great, and helpful campgrounds have lists of nearby attractions for their campers.

Hookups, Dumpstations, Restrooms and Water

RVers have different camping styles, and full hookups (water, electricity and sewer) are more necessary to some than to others. Generally, if a campground has full hookups, you will find that the campsites are a little closer together because the sewer, water and electricity lines are easier and cheaper to install in a smaller area. Ideally, a full hookup site would still have a modicum of privacy and space.

In our case, we are perfectly happy to camp without hookups as we carry our own water and our holding tanks will allow us to camp for about 7-10 days without dumping if we're careful. Our solar panels run our lights and TV. Our idea campground without individual hookups would have a free dump station, a place to get water, and restrooms with hot showers. An on-site laundry would be a real plus!

Selecting a Campground Sight Unseen

Selecting a campground, sight unseen, is always a bit of a gamble. The descriptions on a website or in a directory can sometimes be deceiving and are often incomplete. Here are a few things you may want to consider before selecting your campground:

  • How large are the sites? Will my rig fit comfortably?
  • Is the access road suitable for my size RV?
  • Are the sites pull-through or back-in sites?
  • Are any discounts offered? (AAA, Good Sam Club, Senior discounts, etc.)
  • How full is the campground? Do I need to guarantee my site with a reservation?
  • Is there shade on the site? or can we choose our own site upon arrival?
  • Is there a charge for dumping (if not at a full hookup site)?
  • Are there hot showers?
  • Is there an on-site laundry?
  • Generator hours (if you will be running a generator).
  • Pet restrictions if you travel with pets.
  • Check out time if you are only staying overnight.
  • Is Wi-Fi available and is there a charge?

How to Find the Best RV Campground

You can find suitable campgrounds by checking out some of the excellent campground directories listed here:

Full Time RVing Camping Books, Field Guides and Directories. Here you will find some of the most commonly used campground directories for private and public campgrounds. Unfortunately, there is no one directory that has it all, so you may need a couple of directories to get complete information.

RV Park Reviews Website. Reviews posted on this website are by people who have actually camped at these locations. Keep in mind that some of the reviews are a couple of years old, and things may have changed.

The website below will allow you to search for campgrounds on federal and public lands.

In addition to the above resources, you may wish to join a camping club that provides a directory of associated campgrounds and which usually gives hefty discounts.

This desert campsite had no hookups, but made up for it with beautiful views of the sunsets and sunrises.

This desert campsite had no hookups, but made up for it with beautiful views of the sunsets and sunrises.

First-Time Campers or Experienced RVers

Whether you are novice campers renting an RV for a family vacation or experienced RVers, your camping trip is sure to be an adventure. Selecting a campground that is right for you will be an important factor in the level of enjoyment you get from your trip.

I hope that this has helped you to clarify your needs and expectations when selecting the perfect campground. Just remember that flexibility is a key to enjoying a camping vacation. When you are in an RV, your hotel room is on wheels - you can easily pack it up and more to a different spot if your campsite isn't perfect.

Happy Trails!

A Great Article on How to Prepare Your RV for a Trip

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where did you camp during your visit to Florida?

Answer: We stayed at Flamingo Campground when we were in the Everglades. On the Keys, we stayed at a private campground on Key Largo and explored from there; sorry, I don't remember the name. We would have stayed at the State Park, but couldn't because we travel with our cats. At the time, pets were not allowed.

Question: Do you have any recommendations for a short visit to Everglades and the Keys?

Answer: In Everglades National Park, be sure to take some of the ranger walks to view wildlife. Early mornings are best, or late afternoon even. Be sure to cover arms and legs and take mosquito repellent! If you're camping, you'll want lots of it! We also enjoyed the boat ride through the Everglades. I think the highlight of our Florida Keys visit was a snorkeling trip. We loved it so much; we did it twice! You might want to go to Key West while you're there. It's a fun place to visit, and you'll be at the Southernmost point of the US.


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 01, 2014:

velzipmur - Many people like to keep their homes to come back to after traveling. We now have a home base where we spend about a third of our time, but still love to hit the road for six to eight months. Glad you're enjoying my articles...thanks for stopping in to read and for your comments.

Shelly Wyatt from Maryland on November 30, 2014:

Stephanie, your hubs are great and I have enjoyed them. My husband and I have an RV but I don't know that we will ever do it full time. Your articles give me more insight on the full time life

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 30, 2014:

Velzipmur - I'm glad you found this hub to be useful and interesting. Choosing a campground that fits your needs and camping style will make your experience so much more enjoyable. Thanks for stopping in and for your UP votes!

Shelly Wyatt from Maryland on November 30, 2014:

This was a useful and interesting hub, I voted up. Great work here.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 23, 2012:

Hi Don,

It did take a few disasters to learn how to choose a the best campground for our camping style. It seems like we still learn something new each year! Thanks for your kind comments and the seal of approval from an experienced camper!

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on March 23, 2012:

Voted UP! Great Article Stephanie. A lot of great info that many of us and our fellow campers had to learn the hard way.

Anyone new to camping should save this as a must read.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 23, 2012:

Hi Sunshine,

Well, it would sure be fun to sit around a campfire with you someday! Maybe you should buy an RV... :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 23, 2012:

Parsetio - Thanks for your encouragement! Maybe one day we'll take a trip in the EleMMent Palazzo! :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 23, 2012:

Hi Denise - When we travel and see RVs going in the another direction, I always wonder where they're going, and what they'll see. That wanderlust must be kicking in as the weather gets nicer and there are more RVs on the road! As always, thanks for your encouraging comments!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 23, 2012:

You are such an amazing tour guide! If I had an RV I would visit all of these campgrounds. Heck, you could probably convince me to buy an RV!:)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 23, 2012:

RTalloni - I know that just writing about different campgrounds and looking at my photos made me want to go RVing! :) Thanks for your comments!

RTalloni on March 22, 2012:

This is a great overview on choosing and RV campground--just in time for spring/summer! :)

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on March 22, 2012:

Stephanie-your hubs just keep on the little dividers there between your categories. I enjoyed the information you provided-always useful. Funny, as I was driving home from Greenville this eve I saw a van/camper driving behind me and started imagining myself taking a road trip in it, hahaha

Take care and great job here.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 22, 2012:

Hi, Stephanie. Thanks for coming to my hub and share your comment about EleMMent Palazzo. I hope we can always exchange of information. Keep on writing. God bless you!

Love and peace,

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 22, 2012:

Prasetio - There are people who like to travel in luxury, even when camping, but I don't think there are many like the luxury RV you wrote about! Thank you for your comments and votes! I'm glad you enjoyed my hub!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 22, 2012:

Very interesting hub. You remind me about my previous hub about the most luxurious RV. You have done a great job by introduce several types of RV with us. I wish I could have one of these RV, maybe I'm dreaming now. Beautiful presentation with wonderful pictures. Thank you very much. Rated up and pushing all buttons here, except funny. Have a nice day :-)


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 22, 2012:

Hi Peggy W - Just doing this hub made me wish we were full-time RVing again! There are certainly many choices of campgrounds for every camping style. Thanks for your comment and votes!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 21, 2012:

Hi Stephanie,

With your experience in traveling the RV lifestyle, there is probably no one better to answer this question. Voted useful and up.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Hi Gail,

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments! Time to plan some lovely spring getaways!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Hi Ruby H Rose,

This wonderful spring weather sure makes me want to get in the RV and take off for some beautiful secluded place in a National Forest! Thanks for stopping by to comment! Happy Trails!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on March 20, 2012:

Wonderful comprehensive hub about the different types of RV campgrounds. You answered the question beautifully.

Voted up, useful and interesting.

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on March 20, 2012:

Let's go! Spring is here, time to pack up my camping gear. I too, like LOTS of space around me when I camp! Awesome hub, thanks for all the different places to check out. LOVE it!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Hello Nadelma,

There are so many choices that it's sometimes difficult to decide where to travel next. I'm glad to hear that you're planning more RV travel this year, though I know it's difficult when you have caregiving responsibilities.

I'm impressed that you have so many hubs started - it's so much easier to write when you have several ideas for inspiration. Good luck with your writing!

Happy travels, too, and thanks for sharing your comments!

nadelma from NEW ADDRESS: Melbourne, Florida on March 20, 2012:

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for all the great information. It is time to start looking to see what direction we want to go to this year.

We only used the RV twice last year but hopefully we will get out more this year. I have a 91 year old dad that is not doing well and an 86 year old mother in law the same way, so we are limited on how far we will go.

I haven't written any hubs in a long time as I am on webanswers. I am so close to my first check and I am trying to get that asap.

I have about 15 hub titles I plan on getting started on as soon as I reach goal on webans.

I do read some hubs every so often.

If you go to any real nice campgrounds on the eastern side of the us, let me know.

Thanks again for a great hub. I voted up and more also.


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Kashmir56 - Each RVer has their own style of travel, from luxurious to primitive, so each will have different views on what is "best." I'm glad that you found this hub on features of the best RV campgrounds useful! Thanks for your comments and your vote!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on March 20, 2012:

Thanks for all this great and informative information within this well written review of RV campgrounds .

Vote up and more !!!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Hi Carmen,

When the time is right, I know you'll love RVing. Meanwhile, hope you join me on some armchair RVing adventures! Thanks for stopping by to comment!

Carmen Beth on March 20, 2012:

Very informative and the checklist of things to consider is really helpful, especially for one like me who has never traveled by RV before. An RV adventure has always interest me but I simply can't find the time for that yet(sigh)- perhaps after college : )

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Diogenes - It does sound like RVing opportunities in the UK is more limited by space and weather, but I've read some of the RVing forum postings from the UK, and there seems to still be a lot of enthusiasm.

Like you, I love the desert and find that it's the perfect place to spend the winter months in an RV. Your 23 foot RV sounds just right for trekking out west!

Thanks for visiting... Toodlepip? New one for me! :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2012:

Sgbrown - I'm so glad that you found my hub on features of the best RV campgrounds useful. There are so many great places to camp throughout the U.S. whether you prefer private campgrounds or more primitive destinations - you'll have many choices! Thanks for commenting and the votes and bookmark!

diogenes from UK and Mexico on March 20, 2012:

Comprehensive hub for those who like to carry their lodging around with them.

It makes little sense at all in Britain to do practically anything outdoors for 8 months of the year, unless you are of the oilskins and welly brigade.

I am a desert lover myself and RV's are ideal in that situation.

They are roundly condemned by motorists in the UK, headed by idiot Clarkson.

I used to have a 23 foot Open Road once - in the US.



Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 19, 2012:

Wonderful hub! Great information and plenty of it! I plan to doing some RVing this year and you have given me some great ideas. Voted up and useful and bookmarking! Have a great day! :)