RV Travel Guide Series Part 1: RV Camping Style
RV camping can be a great way to connect with nature or to stay right where the action is. Options can range anywhere from deep woods off-grid boondocking, to RV resorts with pools and activities. In this first post in our RV Travel Guide Series, we will look at 3 different styles of RV camping.
1) Privately-Owned Campgrounds/RV Parks
Let’s start with the option that has the highest amenities but also the highest price tag.
Privately-owned campgrounds are located EVERYWHERE you could ever want to stay. It is easy to find one along your route or near your destination.
You can find resort-level RV parks with loads of activities for kids and adults, restaurants, pools, and mini-golf.
You can also stay in more basic privately owned campgrounds that simply offer campsites, RV hookups, and no amenities.
Most privately-owned campgrounds are open to anyone, while others are part of RV memberships (For example Escapees, and Coast to Coast).
Some private campgrounds are part of a chain and offer a similar experience at each location. A popular large nationwide camping chain is KOA.
We enjoy staying in private campgrounds when we are going to a location for sightseeing and are not as focused on camping itself.
Private campgrounds give us a nice home base to enjoy an area while providing full amenities.
Pros And Cons Of Private Campgrounds
– Often full hookup or at least electric and water with a dump station
– More locations so you can find one near your destination
– Often amenities such as a pool and/or activities
– Can sometimes use camping membership or discounts
– Most expensive type of RV camping
– Often tight RV spaces with no privacy
– Usually not located in nature
– Many rules
– Need to reserve in advance
2) State and National Park Camping
This second option is what we refer to as the sweet spot for camping locations. It provides a more private and natural campsite and puts you right where the action is if you are into nature activities.
This style of camping is what most people probably envision when they think about camping.
State and national park camping don’t offer all the amenities that you will find in private campgrounds, but they sometimes offer unique ranger programs, park activities, and are more scenic.
Other options similar to this style of camping are state forests, Corps of Engineers, and sometimes county parks. RV hookups will vary at each location.
State and national park camping are great when camping and nature are the main attractions, versus just a place to stay while sightseeing in an area.
Pros And Cons Of State And National Park Camping
– Larger more private campsites
– Nature activities and ranger programs
– Less expensive than private parks
– Closer to a true camping experience
3) Dispersed Camping AKA Boondocking
Our final category of RV camping style is boondocking. Boondocking usually refers to camping without RV hookups.
Boondocking can range from overnight in-route parking lot camping to off-grid woods destination camping.
Many people love the freedom that this style of camping provides. There is no need to worry about reservations, lots of rules, or expensive fees.
Overnight boondocking can be a convenient way to stop after a long travel day. Popular parking lot options are Cracker Barrel, Wal-Mart, and Casinos. It is usually the less busy rural locations that allow overnight RVers to stay.
Apps such as AllStays are a great way to find locations that allow overnight parking lot use for RVs. It is still best to call the location ahead of time to verify.
Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts are two inexpensive yearly RV memberships that provide a list of overnight boondocking locations for members. This is a great option to stay in locations like wineries or farms where you can pick up some great local products on your trip.
Fairgrounds are another inexpensive camping option. Some fairgrounds have RV hookups while others offer boondocking.
Many campers also boondock to enjoy private nature camping. Most destination boondocking is found in national forests and on BLM land.
Always check the stay limits for any boondocking location and make sure you park in an allowed area. Sometimes a permit is required to stay.
Pros And Cons Of Dispersed Camping/Boondocking
– Free or Cheap
– Fewer rules, more freedom
– Doesn’t require reservations
– Can often use ATVs
– Can completely immerse yourself in nature
– Off-grid camping can be its own adventure
– Not available in all areas
– There is a learning curve to using RV systems without hookups
– Extra equipment may be needed such as a generator or solar
– Terrain and conditions not maintained, can be rough or muddy
– Some locations are not big rig friendly
– Usually no bathrooms, dump station, or fresh tank fill
Our camping style is a mix between staying in private campgrounds and state park camping.
We love the easy-in easy-out private campground locations to park and explore an area. Private campgrounds are our sightseeing camping.
When we want to actually camp and enjoy nature, we love to camp in state parks. Our big rig doesn’t fit in every state park, but we have found some amazing locations.
We haven’t gotten into boondocking in our travels. We have camped with only electricity, but we don’t have a generator or solar to go completely off-grid.
What is your camping style? Hit REPLY and let us know. We would love to hear about your camping adventures!
Be sure to check out the next posts in our RV Travel Guide Series: How To Find The Perfect RV Campsite: RV Travel Guide Series Part 2
Have you ever wondered if full-time RVing feels like living on vacation? Check out this post: Why Full-Time RVing Is Not Like Living On Vacation
Grab my FREE guide: How To Score Sold-Out Campsites In State And National Parks
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Enjoy your adventure detour!
Scott and Van of The Adventure Detour are travel writers focusing on RV travel, family outdoor travel, national parks travel, and hiking. They have been full-time RV living and traveling across the US since 2015. In 8 years of full-time RVing, they have visited 38 national parks so far with the ultimate goal to see them all. They work as digital nomads while roadschooling their daughter nicknamed Sissy. On the way to all 50 states, they have visited and hiked through 42 states so far. The travel bucket list is forever growing!