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Tips for Choosing RV Parks/Campgrounds

September 10, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

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Choices for RV parks and campgrounds include luxurious RV resorts, activity-filled family destinations, 55+ parks, secluded natural settings, and basic parks conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices also run the gamut.

Campsite at Devil's Garden Campground in Arches National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a variety of campgrounds, each offering different amenities and activities. These include private RV parks; casino camping; membership parks; national, state, and county park campgrounds; Army Corps of Engineers parks; national and state forest campgrounds; and service club facilities.

Consider Your Needs

What are the best tips for choosing a campground and campsite that you and your family will love?

Nothing can make or break your RV trip like choosing a campground not suited to your family’s needs and interests. When selecting a park, think about your camping style and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you camping with a young family?
  • Are you an active couple looking for outdoor adventures?
  • Are you snowbirds who enjoy on-site activities and the opportunity to meet new friends?
  • How large is your RV?
  • What amenities do you require? Full hook-ups? 30- or 50-amp electric service?
  • Are you looking for a rural or urban setting?
  • What is your nightly/weekly/monthly camping budget?
  • Do you travel with pets?

Locating and Researching Campgrounds

Bay Colony RV Resort, Dickinson, Texas (located between Houston and Galveston). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The photos on the RV park website and brochure look amazing. Too bad they didn’t show the busy railroad tracks 50 feet away, the biker club next door, or the “shopping plaza under construction” sign.

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are campgrounds throughout the U.S. and Canada to meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

There are numerous ways to locate and research campgrounds. A good place to begin is a campground directory such as Woodall’s or Trailer Life Directory.

Ratings help you select the appropriate park for your particular needs and interests. Keep in mind that the final ratings are a composite of several different areas of interest.

Woodall’s assigns two ratings to each privately owned campground/RV park. One rating is assigned to the facilities at the park—sites, roads, service buildings, restrooms, and hookups. A separate recreation rating is also assigned. Both facilities and recreation ratings range from 1 W to 5 W with 5 W being the best.

To order a 2011 Woodall’s Directory, visit Woodall’s Online Store.

Trailer Life Directory uses a triple-rating system—completeness of facilities, cleanliness and physical characteristics of restrooms and showers, and visual appearance and environmental quality. All three ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Less than one percent of parks or campgrounds receive a rating of 10. Campgrounds with a 10/10 /10 rating have more facilities, are better maintained, and are more visually appealing than 5/5/5-rated campgrounds.

Contact the Campground

Camping at Catalina State Park, near Tucson, Arizona.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contact the campground and ask specific questions about their policies and their park. Questions to ask include:

  • Rental rates (nightly, weekly, monthly per your needs) including taxes? Any discounts available?
  • Availability of Wi-Fi and cable TV?
  • What is included in the above rate—full hook-ups, 20-30-50-amp electric service, Wi-Fi, cable TV?
  • What are the park’s amenities— club house/activity room, pool, spa, rest room and shower facilities, laundry?
  • Is the park big-rig friendly? Length and width of sites?
  • Are sites relatively level?
  • Do the sites have concrete pads, grass, gravel, or dirt?
  • Will I have difficulty obtaining a satellite TV signal?
  • What is your pet policy? Restrictions on certain dogs breeds?
  • What is your reservation policy? Is a credit card required to hold a site? If so, is it processed immediately?
  • What is your cancelation policy?
  • What are your office hours? Check-in procedure for late arrivals?

Make note of the name of the person you talked to.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Selecting an RV Park/Campground

Part 2: Selecting a Campground/Campsite Checklist

Worth Pondering…

But do not ask me where I am heading,

As I travel in this limitless world
Where every step I take is my home.

—Eihei Dogen

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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.

Comments

3 Responses to “Tips for Choosing RV Parks/Campgrounds”
  1. GK says:

    Another useful research tool is Google Maps, specifically the satellite view. It can show you the railroad tracks 50 ft from the property. If the image is new enough, it can show the mall construction going on right next door. It can also give you some indication of how easy or hard it will be to get the campground in the first place (particularly for those with large rigs that have maneuverability issues). Google Maps certainly isn’t perfect (particularly if the satellite image is an older one) but it can be helpful.

    Even Google itself can sometimes provide extra information that may or may not be in the usual campground guides.

  2. Ben says:

    Google maps is something I neve thought about for my readers, thanks for the info!

  3. Patrick says:

    I have used all three, Woodall’s, Trailer Life Directory and Google Maps. They all offer good information and are improving. I like a campground that has large sites (adjacent campers at least 20 foot away) and great land features. My wife really looks at the bath houses, she wants a large private shower area and separated dressing area so her clothes don‘t get wet. The ratings don’t always give or reflect the information many campers would like.
    It would be nice if they:
    1- Rated public campgrounds.
    2- Give size of camp sites.
    3- Provided information on bath houses.

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