Thursday, June 10, 2010

Campground Selection

I have been doing some research on different campgrounds for a possible trip.  My searches have been fairly limited because we normally just use State Parks.  I am just realizing that there are a lot of other options.

Howard Payne from RV-Dreams website did a very complete article Here.  He went into great detail on his process for selecting campgrounds.  They like the same kind of campgrounds that we like, so I felt this was a good place to start.  I am putting these links all together on my site for my own quick reference.

We are very particular in the type of campground we choose.  We like natural settings, verses paved campsites in paved parking lot type "resorts."  We like lots of trees and woods, rivers, lakes, beaches, but we don't care about swimming pools or game rooms. We want to be sitting at our campsite and looking at something pretty....not the 12 rv's next door.  I'm sure this will change somewhat when we go full time and are looking to stay in a particular area for a while.

The first place I look is the website for the State Park for the particular state we are interested in.  I am learning though that there are a lot of other places that give you the "State Park" feel.

We also learned that many of these Federal parks offer the "Senior Pass", which gives you a 50% discount if you are over 62 years old.  Guess who's turning 62 in November?  NO, NOT me, but Al is :)  Bring on that 50% discount.
Here is the link  Recreation.Gov for the Federal parks.
I did a quick search on a few campgrounds and nowhere did I find anything that said they honor the 50% discount for the Senior Pass.  I guess when we actually are planning a visit, we will have to call the campground to confirm they honor the senior pass.  I'm not sure all of them do, as there was some talk last winter of them canceling this discount altogether.  Al hasn't quite "qualified" for this discount yet but you can bet on his birthday, we are going to get the pass.   You have to go to a park, pay your money, and show your ID.  Fortunately St Marks National Wildlife Refuge is near us, so we'll head down there.

Find a Park  is from the National Park Service Website and allows you enter a
state and see what is available.  It lists all the national parks and not all of them have campgrounds, but it's a good site to find out places to see in your area as well as campgrounds if they are available.  It would be a good place to find a place to visit while in a particular area.

Another site Howard and Linda use is the  US Forest Service website.  I have added it here, but found it very difficult to find an area that had camping.  You have to dig a while to find camping sites.  It appears that they MAY honor the Senior Pass. 

The Corp of Engineer website has some good information, but again, it will require some digging to actually find what you are looking for.  The main advantage that I see is you at least know what is around.  It appears they can offer the Senior Pass, but again, will need to check with each CG first.

Another valuable resource is Rv Park Reviews.  There is a pretty good list of campgrounds listed by state.  It is a good place to get an idea of the park, however other people like different kind of campgrounds than we do, so you have to read the reviews to see if it is something that fits your needs.

If we ever are able (and brave enough to cross mountains) the Bureau of Land Management will be a good place to search for places to camp and boondock.  I know there are a lot more free places out west, and it would be something we will definitely be interested in.  I particularly want to go to is Gooseneck State Park.  Howard and Linda boondocked there and had that wonderful view right from their 5th wheel!

Another website Howard and Linda use is Forest Camping.  The site also has host positions available.  Nice!

Of course there are some hidden gems that are county run campgrounds.  You just need to know the name of the county you will be in and do an online search there.  One county campground that comes to mind is a favorite of ours in St Petersburg, Florida.  Fort Desoto  It's a great campground but a little on the pricey side!  We went there often when we lived in Tampa and just spent the day.  It's the best place I've ever been to for watching the sunset and sunrise!  The way it's situated you can see both and the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge makes a beautiful backdrop.  Here are a few pictures...see what I mean?

It's too bad there is not one link for campgrounds for all the counties in the US!

I think when we start fulltiming that we will join Passport America.  I believe it costs $44 annually and you can get some a 50% discount for one or two nights during the week.  I don't know how much we would use it, but for the price, it might be worthwhile.

We previously were members of Escapees, but have let it lapse because we just weren't using it.  It is $70 for new members and $60 for renewals.  This is really a good deal as the campground rates are VERY reasonable.  The cg's I have looked at aren't really our dream location, but they will serve the purpose and save money.  There are a few around Tampa and we may take a trip there with the MH and spend some time with my Mom and brother. 

Another campground finder is on the Rv-net Campgrounds page.  It's part of Rv-Net Forum which is a great source of information on anything remotely related to Rv'ing. 

There are more places to search online for campsites and I will add them as I find them. 


  1. Don't forget and there is a new one that may improve over time.

    We have gotten our money out of Escapees because we stayed at The Ranch and would have done even better if we had stayed at others that were along the lower US. I don't know if we will rejoin them next year though. We will definitely keep Passport America and Good Sam - have used them the most on this trip.

    How long is your MH? I like State Parks but trees are not our friends with this 40 footer.

    Not all National Parks will honor the Sr. Pass for entrance or camping - you are right, call ahead to be sure.

    So far, the best deals for us have been county parks and fairgrounds.

    Do you read the Warner's blog? They post expenses and budget $25 a day for RV park average. In their first year they are running $700+ over budget on average.

    Like your new header photos! Also, I think my Verizon gets updated each time I start it up. The real problem is being so far out in the boonies right now I guess. Our next RV park is supposed to have excellent wi-fi - time will tell, but I'm ready for it. Also, we have no local RV channels here.

  2. Ah yes, you like campgrounds like we do... looking out at trees, a lake, a pretty meadow, anything other than the siding of the next camper parked 10 feet away. ACK!

    We love the National Forest campgrounds in Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. They are remote, rustic (no hookups) and range in the $10-14 a night. We don't have any COE parks on this side of the state, but have stayed at one on the western side of the state that is very nice and reasonable, but also has electric hookups for those that need them.

    Thanks for you post with all the information on various campsites!

    Karen and Steve
    (our blog)

  3. great info!! We went to Crooked River SP in St Marys, and I actually thought of you and yalls kayaks!! or maybe b/c my husband wants a kayak and kept saying how this would be a great place to go.!!


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