So you decided you’re going to rent an RV… Congratulations! But now that you’ve made the big step of deciding to rent an RV, you’ll need to decide where you’re taking it! Are you looking to find a luxury RV resort to park at for a whole week? Or are you planning a cross-country road trip where you’ll stay in a new location every few nights? Whatever kind of RV trip you’re looking to plan, we’re here to help! Before we delve into the different types of campsites for RV camping, be sure you check out our Beginner’s Guide to RV Hook-Ups post. Knowing what type of hook-ups are available for your RV is important because each of the different types of campsites for RV camping we’re about to discuss are all based on the hook-ups available!
Types of Campsites for RV Camping
Private RV Parks and Resorts
There are thousands of private RV parks and resorts across the country. This is where you’re most likely to find sites with full hook-ups. But be aware that not all RV parks are the same. In some RV parks you’ll find yourself packed in a giant parking lot like sardines. Others are more curated to resemble a vacation spot or resort. The big RV resorts can get quite pricey- but many offer amenities like pools, water slides, putt-putt golf, and other activities that can enhance your vacation! If you’re planning to stay at a private RV park or resort, here are a few tips!
- Look at the pictures on the website. This will give you a good idea as to whether this is a well-kept park or not. Not all websites include a lot of pictures, so type in the campgrounds name plus “review” into Google for review sites, as many people post pictures there!
- Read the reviews! A park may look beautiful but have poor reviews on service- or vice versa. Listen to what other campers say about a park.
- Look for “Pull Through” sites if you’re not comfortable backing in the RV.
- Check the rules for things like how many people are allowed at each campsite and quiet hours.
- Compare nightly vs. weekly prices. Many parks offer a weekly rate so if you’re staying for a week, you can snag a deal!
Most National Park campgrounds have no hook-ups. But don’t count them out! National Park campgrounds can be absolutely gorgeous and offer unparalleled access to the parks. Another bonus- National Park campgrounds are often far cheaper than RV parks! Unfortunately, they are also limited in number and fill up fast. If you’re renting an RV to explore national parks, keep these tips in mind!
- Plan your trip as early as possible so you can book your sites early. Some national park campgrounds open their availability 6 or 12 months in advance and they fill up the day availability opens.
- If you miss out, check back frequently for cancellations.
- Be flexible with your dates and length of stay.
- Consider visiting some of the less crowded national parks. The most popular national parks can be nearly impossible to book campsites in, but the lesser visited
People love camping at State Parks because they’re often the best of both worlds! State Parks often have smaller campgrounds so it doesn’t feel like you’re in a parking lot with 500 other RVs. They’re often scenic and beautiful too! Many State Parks have full hook-up sites, or at least water and electric only sites. State Park campgrounds can vary in price. Sites with hook-ups usually cost a little more than camping at a National Park but are usually still far less than at an RV resort. Here are a few tips for booking State Park campsites!
- Read site descriptions clearly! Make sure you know exactly what hook-ups are available at the site you picked and that they are exactly what you want.
- Check the size of the site with the size of your trailer. Some State Park campsites are smaller so you’ll want to make sure you have room!
- Check the rules for generator and quiet hours. If your site doesn’t have electric, you can use a generator (often included in your rental) but most parks only allow them at certain hours of the day.
The most popular website for booking private campsites is Hipcamp. If people own a farm or winery, they might set up a small part of their land for campers. Some spots are just private homes on a big piece of land, with a small area for an RV or two. The upsides of Hipcamp are that they are often much cheaper than a campground and if regular campgrounds in an area are all booked up, you might have more success finding a place here! The downside is that many sites don’t have full-hook ups. Sometimes you’ll find electrical hook-ups with water on site. You can filter your searches for hook ups and amenities- so be sure to use that feature when looking for sites on Hipcamp!
Bureau of Land Management camping isn’t recommended for first time campers. There are no hook-ups available so you have to rely on your water tanks and a generator (or solar power). But if you have some camping experience and are brave enough to give BLM land a try for a few nights- it can be an amazing experience. For one- it’s totally FREE! You don’t have to pay a thing to set up camp! BLM land can also be absolutely beautiful, and it really allows for you to disconnect and be in nature. Many people on longer road trips choose to spend a few nights on BLM land between stops at campgrounds with hook ups, as you can fill and empty your tanks before and after. But those few nights on BLM land can be unbelievably peaceful and gorgeous!
General Tips for Booking Campsites
- Book EARLY! RVs have become incredibly popular this year. More people are renting them, more people are buying them- and everyone is booking campsites all over the country! If you know where you want to go, look for the sites you want and book them as early as possible.
- Be FLEXIBLE! You may not get the exact days or sites you want, but if you’re flexible and creative- you can make something work.
- Think outside the box! The popular National Parks and RV resorts may already be booked up- but think outside the box. Use Hipcamp to find private sites near parks you want to visit, or aim for less crowded parks to snag great spots.
- Always check your hook-ups. Make sure the exact site you are booking as the exact hook-ups you want!
- Check your size. Make sure the site you book is big enough for your RV (and your truck if you are towing a travel trailer). If you’re concerned about parking or backing in, go for a site that far exceeds the size of your RV.
- Aim for pull-through sites. They’re often a little bit more expensive and sometimes a bit harder to book as they tend to fill up first, but a pull-through site means you don’t have to worry about backing in your RV and that’s totally worth it!