To keep the blog rolling we are going to try to post about once a month (don’t hold us to it) we thought we would try and share some of our experiences , preferences and general info that others might find useful..
This month is Campgrounds.
Why we prefer State and City Parks over private campgrounds.
There are lots of and lots of campgrounds out there ranging from free to over $100 a night . We started off with private campgrounds at the start of our trip, as we really didn’t know any better. Don’t get us wrong, some of them are very good and some are just appalling, so how do you know. Research ! There are a number of apps out there that are very useful. In particular we used Allstays, Campendium, and Park Advisor. They all post prices, facilities but more importantly reviews by other campers . We have to say they were pretty accurate too.
We also joined Good Sam and KOA, but we have not renewed our membership to either of them. KOA just reminded us of Butlins (if you are a brit you understand, if not Google.). Great for families, but not us. They have lots of facilities, swimming pools, stores, BBQ pits and recreation rooms, all of which you pay for in the cost per night. They also tend to be in built up areas , we prefer more rural locations.
National Parks , not all of them have camping with full hook up , but in general are good campgrounds, well maintained and good prices. Do not be put off by hearsay that they are booked months in advance and you have no chance of getting a spot. Just be persistent, phone ahead and keep trying because there are always cancellations or no shows. We did Yellowstone in July with no prior bookings and stayed in 3 different sites over a 7 day period. Yes, we had to get up early and be waiting at the next campground by 7am in order to secure a walkup spot or befriended rangers or were very persistent on the phone. The upside of moving very early in the morning is the parks are quiet and the wild life abundant, you really get to see the very best sights, especially at Yellowstone.
Just an FYI, often private campgrounds near major attractions are over priced and poorly maintained. Anyone that has ever stayed at Carlsbad Caverns will know this !
State Parks range in price from $10 – $25/night. Most have electric and water hook up with a dump site. But always research ahead of time, so you know what to expect. They are generally very quiet sites and the best views/surroundings. All of them have something worth going to see.
City Parks, we had never heard of these until probably about 1⁄2 way though our trip, boy that was a mistake. These can range from full hook up to nothing. Again, full hook up generally cost around $25 (compared to KOA etc which charge upwards of $50) but there are some free ones too. Research is the key word. As the name suggests they are always in towns and cities, rarely anything spectacular but generally in a nice area in a park or by a river.
Free Camping, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Cracker Barrel and Casino’s (most) allow free overnight parking in their carparks, just check with the store as it changes from State to State. We stayed in a few of these, but always asked permission, purchased goods from the stores and one night only. Just don’t abuse it. You can also stay in some rest areas but again check.
Harvest Hosts. This is a membership group for $40 /yr. But worth every penny of it. Hosts of Vineyards, Farms, Museums etc allow you to camp on their property. Most of the time you will be the only one there and they are generally very pretty. But normally no hook ups. Again don’t abuse the privilege and always talk to the owners and if possible purchase some produce. We stayed on Vineyards, an Alpaca Farm and a Cider Brewery.
Another good source of info is Facebook. There are several RV/Camping pages on there with a fountain of knowledge.
Love,Peace and Equality