There are hundreds of campgrounds in the United States, but they are not made equal. There are outright bad campgrounds with the only benefit of cheapness. There are mediocre and good campgrounds that can offer some comfort and safety for not so much money. And lastly, there are great campgrounds that can make your camping trip truly enjoyable.
But how do you find those great campgrounds among the multitude of sites available across the United States?
Well, that isn’t that difficult. You just need to know a couple of criteria, which we are now going to share with you!
We think that the number one attribute of a great campground is well-kept facilities. If it’s got it trash cans full, bathrooms devoid of toilet paper and dirty, the fire rings full of ash and garbage, and its campground quarters covered with sticks and mud, then you probably won’t like spending time at it that much.
A great campground always keeps its facilities clean and ready for their visitors.
Possibly the most important attribute of a great campground is its safety means. Even more so if you are going to bring along your children and pets.
The main thing that a campground needs to have is fire rings. If there are no fire rings, you shouldn’t be building fires at the site.
Another thing that could contribute to the fire safety is the overall cleanness of the camping grounds. If there is a lot of garbage and sticks lying around, the fire could spread around quickly if you are not careful.
The safety at the campground also depends on you, so make sure to be responsible and not put other campers at risk.
Accessible all year round
As long as you are prepared for camping in the winter, camping in the snow can certainly be an experience. Not that many campgrounds actually are open all year round, but you should be able to find a good couple of them that are.
And besides, people mostly don’t camp in the winter, so you’ll be able to have the same fun that you would in the summer but with no one else around. But keep in mind that camping in winter is as challenging as it is fun, so you should be prepared for it!
Realistically, you shouldn’t expect privacy while camping. Mediocre campgrounds, let alone great campgrounds get crowded quite a bit, leaving you only to dream about solitude, unless you are willing to get far into the wilderness.
Fortunately, there are expansive camping grounds out there that allow for adequate privacy. There are two main factors that contribute to the privacy at a campground.
The first one is size. If the camping sites are huge and if they are far apart, then you’ll get a good chance of seclusion.
The other factor is the layout of the campground. Tree cover, forests, and other similar features could allow you to find secluded areas that aren’t that far away in the wilderness.
And in general, a good idea would be doing some research beforehand to see which sites are far from popular attractions.
Accessible attractions and activities
A great campground should be close to attractions like hiking trails, water bodies for swimming, kayaking, or fishing, as well as picnic areas. Overall, the campground should have as many attractions and activities as possible, but you probably should look for those attractions that are interesting to you.
The ground surface of the area you will be putting your tent onto is quite an important factor, yet it is overlooked by many people.
First of all, make sure that you set your tent on a flat and slightly inclined area. In case it rains, the water will just run down the ground without forming puddles near your tent.
Besides, the ground surface should be free of sharp objects that could harm you and your tent in and around the site. This shouldn’t be a problem though if you will be going to a well-kept campground.
Staying away from the sun is a good idea, especially in summer. The UV rays are harmful to both your health and equipment, so adequate shade is another attribute of a great campground.
In general, you should choose an area that has a good amount of trees and vegetation. However, you would need to make sure not to put your tent right beneath a tree: you’ll not like it in case of a thunderstorm.
In winter, things would be the other way around. Many people prefer to stay out in the open to get some heat from the sun.
Adequate water sources
While you should have some water supplies on you, you probably wouldn’t want to carry lots of water jugs around. The packaging is wasteful, first of all. And besides, the water containers will be taking valuable vehicle storage area.
So, another attribute of a good campground is the availability of easily accessible potable water. Some camping grounds even have hot water options for those who need to hot shower.
Bathroom and shower facilities
Fee-based campgrounds usually have restrooms that are certainly much more convenient than a pit toilet. Besides, if there are no bathroom facilities at the campground, you would have to create your own space.
Some bathrooms are cleaner and more usable than the others, so it would be a good idea to do some research and read reviews beforehand.
While a bathroom is pretty much a must in a great campground, shower facilities aren’t that necessary. A shower could make your weekend camping trips more pleasant though. After a long hike or swimming in a river, a shower would come in handy.
Possibly the most overlooked attribute of a great campground is the availability of information. If there’s information available online, you’ll be able to do all the planning and research beforehand pretty easily.
Besides, some campgrounds have information booths and activity brochures at the site that would be useful if you don’t find any info online and happen to live near the campsite.
Photo by peyri