During a camper trip you will spend the night at campsites. There are various types of campsites with different facilities. We have listed practical information below for you. Did you know that you can also camp during a car trip?
Read further? Read our blog about camping in America
What kind of campsites are there?
We distinguish between campsites within national parks and state parks (“nature camping sites”) and outside national parks (“commercial campsites”). At commercial campsites there are usually more facilities than at nature campsites, but they often cost a lot more. Finally, there are trailer parks: campsites where only campers are allowed to stand. People often live here permanently. Campsites in America and Canada are completely set up for campers. The places are often spacious and equipped with a picnic table.
Camping chains: Sometimes you can book complete trips with campsites. This seems very useful, but there is a big disadvantage. You often camp on campsites of large chains, which are located far from the city or a national park. That is a shame, because there are often many campsites in national parks and cities. You can easily reserve these yourself. That saves you a lot of unnecessary miles (kilometers) and valuable vacation time.
What is a Military Park?
At different places in America there are ‘Military Parks’ or ‘Military Campgrounds’, also referred to as ‘FamCamp’. These are campsites that are only accessible to people who are or were in the army, reservists and their guests.
What is a KOA campsite?
KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America. KOA has about five hundred campsites spread across America. KOA campsites are very suitable for motorhomes and are subjected to strict inspections. The camping pitches all have the same facilities, such as a water dump, water supply, electricity, picnic benches and fire pits. A swimming pool can be found on some KOA’s.
What facilities do campsites have?
On campsites outside national parks, your camper usually has connections to water, electricity and sewerage. Often there are extra facilities such as a swimming pool, laundry, camping shop and wifi. These are often the most expensive campsites. Campsites that are situated in the middle of nature (often in national parks) have fewer facilities, but are also cheaper. There is often a fill and dump station, where you can discharge wastewater and add fresh water. Sometimes there are toilet blocks (sometimes with showers) and washbasins on nature campsites.
How do I find campsites?
In this camping database you will find a lot of campsites in different places in America. Travelers have also provided many campsites with a review! This site would be happy to advise you on beautiful overnight places and the booking of campsites.
What does a campsite cost?
Campsites in national parks cost on average between $ 15 and $ 30 per night per pitch. There is usually no hook-up available here, but there are toilets, sinks and sometimes showers. Commercial campsites cost on average between $ 35 and $ 60, depending on location and facilities. These campsites usually have places with hook-up, shower buildings and often a swimming pool.
Do I have to reserve campsites?
Campsites in national parks: Campsites in national parks such as Yosemite and Grand Canyon can always be reserved. Campsites are sometimes fully booked months in advance during the summer holidays and weekends. But even in high season, campsites in national parks become fully booked. Reserving campsites in national parks can often be booked six months in advance. In our blogs you can read more about this and we explain step by step how reservations work in national parks.
Reserve campsites in America: Commercial campgrounds: If you are traveling in high season (May-September) we advise you to book all campsites in advance. Do you not want to record everything? If so, book campsites at major cities, in national parks and campsites where you stay overnight during weekends. If you want to be sure of a campsite in a certain place, it is best to always book in advance. View this camping database with reviews for an overview of campsites in America.
What is first-come, first-served?
Some campsites can not be reserved. There is then a first-come, first-served system. The first person to arrive at the campsite first gets a spot. This often goes like this: you drive up the campsite and search for an empty place. Look at the pole next to the camping spot if there is a note. If this is not the case, then the place is free. You then pick up an envelope at the entrance, put the amount due into it and answer the questions on the envelope. You throw this in the mailbox at the entrance. You can attach the tear-off strip of the envelope, filled in and out, to the post next to your camping spot: it is now yours! For first-come, first-served you have to be quick, around 11:00 they are often all already occupied.
What is hook-up?
Almost all commercial campsites offer hook-up places. There is a distinction in full hook-up and limited hook-up:
Full hook-up: Your camper has connection to water, electricity (110 volts), sewerage and sometimes cable TV.
Limited hook-up: Your camper only has a connection to electricity (110 volts) and water.
Hook-up is usually not available at state or nature campsites, there are fill and dump stations where you can replenish your water supply and discharge the waste water. You can make use of the lighting in the camper on these campsites. This then works on the (extra) battery. The refrigerator will also continue to do so; it automatically switches to propane. The heating also works as long as the auxiliary battery has power. If you do not have a connection to electricity, the microwave and air conditioning do not work.
Which amperage (ampere) should I choose?
Often you have to choose an amp for the electricity connection at a camping reservation, for example 15 ampere. Here the lowest is sufficient.
What is a generator?
Many campers have a generator. If you use this, you can use the microwave and electrical sockets in the camper, even if you do not have a hook-up place (place with electricity). On most campsites it is not allowed to run the generator (at certain times). Moreover, it costs money, it makes noise and it produces bad smell.
What are back-in and pull-thru?
On campsites you can often choose from two types of camping sites: back-in and pull-thru. A pull-thru means that you can drive the motor forward and leave the place via the back. So you do not have to make complicated driving maneuvers. In case of a back-in you have to park the camper: you drive backwards into or out of the place.
Can I wash clothes on the way?
Yes, launderettes are available at most commercial campsites where you can wash your clothes for a fee. This is not the case on state or nature campsites.
Can I rent garden furniture?
At most landlords you can rent seats and / or a table on the spot (if available). This can usually not be ordered in advance. If renting is not possible, you can often purchase relatively cheap garden furniture from local stores (such as a Walmart). On campsites you often have a picnic table at your disposal, but at a stop along the way a chair and tables can come in handy.
Can I camp with a tent?
There are plenty of campsites in America where you can go with a tent. Especially the state or nature campsites are suitable for this. There is no place for this on so-called trailer parks (where many people live permanently in their motor home). Look for this on this website of campsites you want to visit.
Read more about camping with a tent (coming soon)
What are cabins?
A cabin is a simple type of bungalow that is suitable for four people. Cabins can be rented on some campsites, especially on KOA campsites. Some people choose to stay in a cabin because camping in high season can be very hot, and a cabin often has air conditioning. Do you want to stay in a cabin, it is wise to book in advance.
What should I do if it is freezing?
Camping with (severe) frost requires special measures. If it is freezing and freezing for a long time, you have to empty all the water tanks of your motorhome, for example, because otherwise they can freeze. Let yourself be informed about this by the landlord! You can also read tips about camping with frost in the manual provided by each landlord.
Is there air conditioning in the camper?
In the majority of the campers there is a roof airco that you can use during camping. Unfortunately, we can not guarantee its presence. In some places in America it can get very hot, in Death Valley 40-50 degrees is not uncommon. Do you not have a roof airco or are you not good at the heat? Then know that there are campsites just outside Death Valley, where it is usually a lot less hotter! In the summer months it is so hot in Death Valley that most motorhome owners forbid to enter this area.