Campgrounds Near Me – Best Places to Camp
There are four basic types of campgrounds, each type of location having its pros and cons. When searching for campgrounds near me, I take a few things into consideration before I decide where to camp.
First thing that determines what type of campground I stay at is directly correlated on time and distance. If on a road trip, naturally I find the closest and cheapest campground that doesn’t take me out of the way. Second, if I’m just taking a weekend getaway and only have a few days for adventure, I stay close to home.
When time and distance is not an issue, my camping goals are to relax, enjoy nature, spend time with my family, or fine tune my survival skills.
Four types of legal campgrounds are National Parks, State Parks, Private Parks, and Public Lands.
There are 59 national parks with over 84 million acres of amazing breath taking views. National parks are subsidized by the Federal Government, are the largest, most desired, and better known parks to visit. Their popularity makes them difficult to book last minute, so wanting to camp at a national park will sometimes need to be booked well in advance.
To preserve their beauty and land, national parks are more rigid and offer fewer amenities than state parks or private campgrounds. Other than your basic bath house and dump stations, finding full hook ups or WiFi becomes much more difficult.
National parks can get pricey at around $30 per person to enter the park plus additional fees for staying the night. If planing on visiting a few national parks within the year I recommend getting a season pass. Valid for one year, season passes run for $80 for unlimited entrances to all national parks, and give you a 50% discount for overnight camping.
State parks are like smaller versions of national parks and some of my favorite places to camp. There are over 10,000 state parks in the U.S. and more than 18 million acres of land giving plenty options to choose from. Lesser known than national parks, state parks can be hidden gems just waiting to be explored with fewer visitors.
State parks are run by the local government and can be cheaper and cleaner than low budget private campgrounds. They offer more amenities than national parks and average around $30 a night and usually up to 8 people per site.
Private campgrounds make up more than half the camp sights in the U.S. and vary the most from one to another. Private campgrounds tend to be close to urban areas, have better and more amenities, and offer more recreational activities. From laundry facilities, arcades, cafes, swimming pools, hot tubs, even mini golf. Some private campgrounds can be like luxury resorts, it all depends on how much you are willing to spend, and what kind of stay you are looking for.
Private campgrounds tend to be much smaller and campsites can be right on top of each other giving little privacy. Many sights are on gravel spots with less nature and hiking trails. Some can feel like you are in a parking lot.
Don’t get me wrong I have camped in many private campgrounds for different reasons. Usually because it is a location near a desired attraction such as Disney or Washington DC. Sometimes I chose a private campground such as Ginni Springs in High Springs FL because I love floating down the Santa Fe River.
Coyote camping, wild camping, and my favorite boondocking are some of the many names given to dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is done on public lands such as national forests or national grasslands, they are owned by the people, run by the federal government, and are completely free as long as there is no sign stating that you can not camp. Look for signs that say “Entering Public Land” or “Entering National Forest” they are usually brown signs that can’t be missed.
There will be no amenities such as running water or toilets and you may need a permit to build a fire. You will be on your own away from anyone and everything. Definitely not recommended for a first timer or a novice, but if your looking for a remote spot, boondocking is for you.
There are 154 national forests with over 193 million acres to explore. Arizona, Wyoming, California, Colorado, and Utah are some of the states with the most public lands for absolute remote camping.
Now that you know what kind of campground you are looking for, I’ve listed some the most popular and best apps to use when searching for a camp site.
- Park Finder
- Allstays Military Campgrounds
- Allstays Camp and Tent
- Chimani National Parks
- The Back Country Navigator
- U.S. Forest Service