How to Choose a Campground

How to Choose a Campground
There are many things to consider when choosing a campground, such as amenities, location, cost, type and size. Determining your preferences and effectively researching a suitable campground will make the camping experience more enjoyable for you and your party. There are a variety of books and Web sites that offer detailed information on campgrounds throughout the United States.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Choose a camping vacation destination. Additionally, consider the people who may join you and their interests, and the vacation's purpose -- i.e., romantic weekend or family vacation. Once initial plans are in motion, set a vacation budget and brainstorm regional excursions and the campground amenities that are desired. Planning will help you choose the best and most suitable campground for your vacation.
Step 2
Seek out campground recommendations. While word-of-mouth experience can be a valuable resource for choosing a campground, it may be difficult to find friends or relatives who have stayed at the desired destination. Call the campground directly, and ask what type of groups (families, couples, large groups) they are geared toward. Check online resources -- such as camping reviews on -- before booking the campsite. Look into national, state and privately owned campgrounds (see Resources). Books like "Frommer's Family Vacations in National Parks" also provide valuable information about campgrounds.
Step 3
Choose a campground with the amenities that you'll need. If you're driving an RV, you may want a campground that has hook-ups for electricity. If you plan to park your car and pitch a tent, a more primitive facility might work for you.
Step 4
Locate the campground on a map. Study the layout of the facility, noting that higher-quantity, more densely populated sites promote a louder (and more social) camping experience. Additionally, see if the campground is near busy roads or railroad tracks, as this may increase the noise level during your stay.
Step 5
Consider the campground extras that you'd like if they're available. If you are camping with children, you may want plentiful on-site activities, like a playground or game room. Couples may enjoy secluded camping environments with fewer sites spread further apart. Many campgrounds offer fire pits, laundry services, electricity, restrooms with shower facilities, water hook-ups and cable. Bear in mind that amenities are often directly related to the campground fees.
Step 6
Research both on-site and nearby local attractions. Does the campground have a lake for swimming, boating, fishing and kayaking? Are there plentiful excursions in the area, such as hiking trails, playgrounds, skate parks or mountain-biking paths? Determine the activities that you'd like to have close by, and choose a campground that offers the greatest access to them.
Step 7
Evaluate campground pricing. Staying at an older, more rustic campground can cost as little as $10 a night, while newer facilities with first-rate amenities can cost as much as $100 a night. Determine the budget that is appropriate for you and your family (and stick to it).
Step 8
Reserve a campsite well ahead of time, if the campground will allow it. Some campgrounds are first-come, first-serve. Campgrounds fill up quickly during the peak season and on holiday weekends. Check with the campground beforehand to find out if they allow advance reservations, and study the site map online before make a choice. While having a reservation will eliminate the stress of seeing a "No Vacancy" sign, it's best to choose a campsite yourself (rather than have one assigned to you).
Step 9
If you're picking a campsite upon arrival, loop the entire campground to view each available spot before making a choice. Keep your party's needs in mind -- children may require close proximity to the restroom, while couples may prefer more isolated sites.

Tips & Warnings

Look for great camping deals that become available during the destination's off-season.
Abide by all campground rules and regulations. Follow campground etiquette to promote a pleasant experience for everyone on-site. Promote camping safety, especially around campfires.
Abide by all campground rules and regulations.
Follow campground etiquette to promote a pleasant experience for everyone on-site.
Promote camping safety, especially around campfires.

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