Travels with Charley

The cool camping blog. Trying to find gear, supplies, adventure and activities for the 21st century camper.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tips - Finding the Perfect Campground - The Usual Suspects

I'll kick off the series with an introduction to finding a campground. This part will be a basic tutorial and many experienced campers already know most of this, but I thought to include it to be thorough.

So you know where you want to go, geographically. How do you start finding a campground? First, of course, you should know if you want a tent only site, or an RV site. Pull through, electric, water, sewer, concrete pad? Have all of these things in hand as well as a map that shows your area of interest.

What follows is a listing of the major ways to find a campground. Each form of listing will be different but most will tell you the size of the site, what utilities it has and if it's a pull through. There will also typically be a description of what amenities the campground has such as pool, camp store, LP, ect...

Before the internet you might be able to get campground listings from state tourism boards. You also used the Woodall's directory to find campgrounds. The directories still exist in print form and can be gotten at most larger bookstores. They offer a quick way to scan for campgrounds in an area you're looking for. Woodalls also has a website search function that appears to mimic the book. You must register, but if you're looking for campgrounds in a particular area it can be worth it.

Most states have an extensive network of state funded public campgrounds, that can vary in quality, but my experiences in Indiana, Michigan and New York have all been great. I recommend you google the state and "state campgrounds" to get a link to the listing. also has a link to every state's public campgrounds. Some states use a vendor to run the websites and reservations and some are in house. Similarily, you can search for National Parks campgrounds in your area of interest, too.

Some towns and counties have public campgrounds, but can be hard to find, due to variations in how they advertise them. Google would be your best bet here.

If you are intending to visit a major tourist attraction, or region, their websites often have links to local accomodations, including campgrounds. City tourism websites frequently do too.

And finally, if you google the location you're going to by city, state and you type "campground" after it, Google will give you a map with nearby campgrounds.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tips - Finding the Perfect Campground

I have been to enough campgrounds to know you are just as likely to book a dud as you are a gem when reserving site unseen. If the campground has a website, you might at least be able to tell if it's a treeless field, a weedy swamp or a nicely forested glen. Or you might not. Woodall's rates member's campgrounds, but that's only good for private camps. How can you know if the campground you're looking at is the real deal or not?

I'm finally going to kick of a series of posts that explore the different techniques you can use to investigate campgrounds, and the best sites at those campgrounds. I'm going to try to help you (and me for that matter) determine if they are near your destination, have the amenities you want, are clean, secluded, and we'll try to find pictures of the campsites as well.

let's start with a couple of assumptions:
1)You already know the destination you want to be near. E.g. NASCAR race, the Black Hills, Washington DC, or Hell, Michigan.
2)You are looking for an organized campground to stay at. I.e. not a dispursed public land area.

First up: The Usual Suspects.