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Picking the Perfect RV Campground

An off-grid campsite can be terrifying for those who get spooked by the remoteness, while the busyness of a luxury campground can annoy those seeking serenity. My family is somewhere in the middle — and chances are, yours might be, too. How do we go about evaluating campgrounds to find the right spot for us? Check out these tips for picking the perfect park for you:

Know Your Style

Know thyself. The ancient Greeks understood that knowing yourself was the first step to finding wisdom. This happens to be great advice for evaluating campsites. Finding the perfect park starts with knowing your own preferences, which vary widely from person to person.

As you travel, pay attention to campsite and campground features and environments, and you’ll begin to notice some patterns in your preferences. 

Shasta trailer in fall setting.

Is the campsite’s size and location suitable for your needs? Photo: Kerri Cox

Here are some elements to consider:

What hookups do you prefer to have? Consider electricity, water, and sewer. What kind of connectivity is important to you? Think about your cell signal and campground wifi. What amenities are desirable? Consider features like pools, playgrounds, laundry facilities, restaurants, comfort stations, and more. What campground environment do you prefer? Descriptors could include rustic, wooded, manicured, luxurious, and etc. Parks that cater to families tend to be busier, while you might never see a neighbor at a national forest campground. What types of campsites do you enjoy? Think about size, furnishings, proximity to amenities, views, and so on. How important are the views? What about your budget? Campsites vary tremendously in cost, particularly depending on location and amenities.

The more you travel, the easier it will become to answer these questions and more.

Pool with an American flag bottom

Do you require a pool at the campground you select? Photo: Kerri Cox

My Camping Style

My family discovered our camping style through trial and error. In the nine years we have been RVing, I learned that electricity and cell signals are a must for us. So far, those are my main dealbreakers. 

Water and sewer are highly preferred. While I can handle some inconveniences while camping, I have found I am the most comfortable if we have hookups. I don’t enjoy monitoring our tank levels or worrying about sanitizing the fresh water. 

In reading campground reviews, if I come across warnings about dirty facilities, rude employees, or unsafe environments, I am not likely to book that park. I prefer campgrounds that are tidy, even if they aren’t plush. Safety, security, and cleanliness are important.

Motorhome in campsite surrounded by tall firs.

Consider your preferences for the environment. Do you seek a campground shaded by trees? Getty Images

While I crave a large site with panoramic views or a cathedral of trees, I’m also perfectly fine in a campground that resembles a parking lot if that location puts us near the attractions we want to see. We enjoy camping as a way to save money while traveling, but I’m also willing to pay higher prices for a desirable location or certain amenities.

Ultimately, if I had to describe my camping style, I would describe myself as “pragmatic.” I consider a lot of factors, including location, amenities, campsite qualities, and more. I look for the right balance, depending on the type of trip and what’s available. 

After taking years to figure out what we want in a campsite, the next problem is finding campsites that match our desires. To do so, I use a variety of online tools.

Locating Potential Campgrounds

To find campgrounds that are a good fit for my family, I first plan our route, overnight destinations, and long-term stays. The Good Sam Trip Planner is a great starting point. It helps me identify campgrounds along our route and near our big destinations.

Once I have a few campgrounds and locations in mind, I go over to the Good Sam campground and RV park search page. It is easy to search directly for specific parks or to search by location. If we are booking an extended stay, I filter my search to Good Sam parks to find campgrounds offering the Good Sam discount.

Each campground listing provides an overview of the park details, including hookups, amenities, website links, discounts, pricing, and more. I appreciate having all of these details in one standardized format instead of scouring campground websites in an attempt to track them down.

Get a campsite with the right amenities. Getty Images

Finding a Good Fit

After I have the basic details, I like to compare park ratings and reviews. On the Good Sam website, parks receive two ratings. One is the Good Sam Rating, and the other comes from user reviews.

Beyond the numerical ratings, I find the personal reviews and photographs to be the most useful. I like to hear directly from other campers about their experiences. These help paint a picture of the park in my mind. When possible, I also track down pictures taken by campers since these are more realistic than the professional promotional photos provided by parks.

When I read campground reviews, I am looking for details about how others describe the campground. Do they report feeling unsafe? Do they complain about the customer service or the park environment? Do they brag about the beauty of the campsites? Do they talk about their favorite amenities?

I also take some complaints with a grain of salt. No single place can please everyone. When I read campground criticisms, I try to think about whether the reviewer is being reasonable and whether that aspect would bother me personally. Again, not every campground is a good fit for every person, so some complaints come from a lack of fit.

Two boys playing a large game of checkers.

Traveling with kids? Make sure the campground has suitable entertainment. Photo: Kerri Cox

Evaluating Campgrounds

I happen to enjoy taking a deep dive into campground selection. Though I am a pragmatic person, I also know the value of finding the perfect campground. When I stay at the right place, I find the true magic of RVing! Staying in the right campgrounds allows us to experience the natural environment of our destinations.

My dream camping trip starts with morning coffee with a view of a natural environment and ends with a pleasant stroll through the park. I have fond memories of my sons playing in campground pools when they were younger. I also laugh looking back on the parks that would have been considered terrible campgrounds if they weren’t located near a city I wanted to explore.

For me, the work of evaluating campgrounds helps get me closer to this optimal experience. However, I am also an overthinker by nature, so sometimes, I have to put the research aside and just get out there and camp. 

Whether you enjoy the deep research or just want to find a quick pick, hopefully, these tips will help you find the perfect campground for you!

The post Picking the Perfect RV Campground appeared first on Good Sam Camping Blog.


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