Tent or RV Camping
You don't need to hike to remote mountain forests normally only accessed by bearded National Geographic Magazine photographers and yellow-bellied marmots to fully enjoy the camping experience. The nation's back roads are sated with wooded camping areas that can accommodate both the rustic adventurer and the leisure-seeking RV owner.
But before you begin slathering on the bug spray, here are some campground options to consider:
Primitive State Forest Campgrounds
If you're more interested in remoteness rather than available on-site facilities grab a Rand McNally Road Atlas and begin scanning for forest green tent triangle symbols. These indicate primitive campsites, best suited for tent campers.
Facilities, if at all, are generally limited to pit toilets with no running water, and bear protective trash containers. Numbered sites are on a first come basis, and generally cost under $12 a night. A self-registration board provides instructions, fee envelopes, and a metal fee deposit tube, which is emptied daily.
Usually these campgrounds are chaperoned by on-site camp hosts, who can be easily spotted by the permanent look of their campsites.
Most of these state Forest Service campgrounds are in remote areas, providing perfect staging grounds for hiking and fishing.
Wander on to the National Forest Service's website for more information.
Again, grab the Rand McNally, and search for the same green triangle tent symbols as described above but with accompanying green pine trees. These indicate state parks with far more amenities.
Here you'll find centrally located bathrooms with flush toilets, sinks, and in some campgrounds, showers. Fresh water spigots are provided, too.
Numbered sites are on a first-come basis with many offering pull-ins for RVs. One night fees generally fall between $12-$20. Some more coveted state parks, however, do charge more. Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys, for example, charges $31.49. Registration and entrance fees are usually collected immediately upon entering at an entrance booth. If you arrive during off-hours you'll be instructed to self-register.
Park rangers maintain the campground and often offer evening campfires and interpretive hikes.
And although state park campsites are often closely bunched together most are divided by walls of trees to provide campers with a semblance of privacy.
National Parks can accommodate both tents and RVs. Bathroom facilities vary between pit toilets and flush toilets and fresh water spigots are available.
Most National Parks allow for advanced reservations through the National Park Reservation Service (NPRS). Reservations start five months in advance on the 15th of the month. So, for example, to reserve a site in July you would need contact the NPRS on February 15th. Most campground sites during summer are filled the first day they become available, so reserve early.
Other National Park campsites are on a first come basis, mandating early arrivals.
Don't expect a peaceful setting, however. Most National Park campsites are sardined together, offering little privacy in between sites.
If you own a tent and want to camp in the backcountry you will need a backcountry permit. Advanced reservations are strongly encouraged. If you're new to this keep in mind that National Parks mandate pack-it-in-pack-it-out policies. You cannot burn or bury your garbage. You must carry it out.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA)
These ubiquitous campgrounds are perfect for the one-night traveler, passing through on a road trip, or for an RV owner who enjoys camping with hotel-like amenities. Bathrooms, showers, electrical hook-ups, swimming pools, and on-site convenience stores are some of the more common KOA features.Other Topics in This Section
- Tent or RV Camping
- How To Pull A Trailer
- Pre-trip Maintenance
- How To Map Your Route
- Planning Your Getaway
- RV Handling & Driving Tips
- Finding a Place to Park Your RV
- Getting Off the Beaten Path
- Roadside Attractions: Stopping Along the Way
- How To Reach Your Destination Safely
- How To Buy a Sailboat
- How To Buy a Power Boat
- Vintage Cars and Rallies
- Should You Join a Car Club?
- Fun with ATVs
- Saving Money on the Road
- How to Plan a Road Trip
- Stocking Your RV
- Top Ten Seasonal Scenic Drives
- Traveling With Your Pet
- National Parks
- Hitting the Slopes
- Preparing An Emergency Kit
- Preparing A First-aid Kit
- Crossing the Border
- Gambling Getaways
- Paper Maps and Online Guides
- Guide to GPS
- Wireless Maps on Cell Phones
- Beach Excursion
- Avoiding Road Construction
- Sample Trip Itineraries