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Old 02-25-2012, 11:50 AM   #1
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Looking for a guide

Hello all,
I'm wondering if anyone has a good recommendation for and atlas or guide that is suited for RVers. I'm hoping something exists that shows all State parks/campgrounds, dump sites, etc.
If anyone can recommend a title or even a link to buy an atlas. I've been searching Amazon, but naturally I can't flip through all the books they have available.
Many thanks to you all!
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Old 02-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #2
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Here's my favorite online site:

ALL US AND CANADA CAMPGROUNDS: STATE PARKS NATIONAL PARKS FORESTS MORE california oregon washington new york pennsylvania more

Move the map around to get to your area of interest...then, zoom in on a particular campground, etc...you can then change the map to a Sat View by using the drop-down tab in the upper, RH corner of the map, and look right at the campground itself - really cool!

You can also use their APP for your smart phone to get the same info...Really cool...
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:52 AM   #3
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The problem that I have with some of these guides is that they only include places that pay to be in the book. As a result you could be sitting a mile from a RV park and not know its there, causing you to go way out of the way to find a listed one. This is very frustrating to the book buyer.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:07 AM   #4
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We have used the Trailer Life Guide for years. It has been good for us. Since I do not have a smart phone or internet access from the truck, I also do some pretrip planning using the free guides that are available on line. I use a Road Atlas for directions when I do not have the state maps. I do not have a GPS which most people who travel have.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:16 AM   #5
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Yep, what Mexray directed you to, and ditto to Trailer Life Directory.

We always look for a national park or forest first, preferably with electricity and showers. Always the cheapest option if you have the Golden Age Passport.

Next is Passport America, plenty of places good enough for an inexpensive overnight and many worthy of a several day stay if that's what you are looking for.

Every state offers a brochure of camping available, which may include county/local spots not otherwise advertised---although Trailer Life has just about everything out there, in our experience.


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Old 03-14-2012, 11:18 AM   #6
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Cara,
We've only been RVers for about a year now. If you're tied to the Gutenberg Galaxy, we'd recommend joining Good Sam and getting their directory. When you have (of want) an iPhone or iPad, we've found the AllStays Camp & RV app to be very nice. Good Sam would also allow you to download the RVPark Finder app without being a member I suspect. Not as comprehensive or easy to use (IMHO) as AllStlays, but a good one. Finally, the website rvparkreviews.com is nice way to check on a site or locality to see what others might have said about it. Hard to use on the iPad, but works great on the laptop/desktop computer with any browser. Hope that helps.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:24 AM   #7
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Great recommendations! Keep them coming! I am very interested in reading these-- and also thank you for posting the question, Mrs Mod, as my husband and I use many sources but would love to find a truly comprehensive one which lists ALL options-- the apps are definitely something to look into. We are members of Good Sam but I still have not downloaded that one.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:38 AM   #8
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Yes, thank you to all. These are great suggestions. I think I would really love to have a book in print. You never know where or when you will NOT have cell service. Does Rand Mcnally have such a thing?
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:46 PM   #9
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If you travel by Interstate highway, you'll see Welcome Centers at the first rest area in just about every state you enter. Stop in and browse their collection of brochures. You'll find lots of information about campsites, attractions, state and national parks, etc. You'll probably get a free cup of coffee, too, just for stopping in and saying "Hi!" to the staff.

The Internet version of the same thing would be each state's Department of Tourism website, but without the free coffee.
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:14 PM   #10
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Surprised no one mentioned Woodalls

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Old 03-14-2012, 02:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Surprised no one mentioned Woodalls

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You just did.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:53 PM   #12
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It would be nice to find a one-stop RV guide, digital or analog, but I haven’t found it yet. It also makes a difference whether you’re looking for an extended-stay destination or a transit stop. Over the years, I suppose we’ve all developed our process.

For west coast RVing in unfamiliar areas, I often start with Tom Stienstra’s “West Coast RV Camping”. This book covers CA, OR, & WA, rating various RV parks & campgrounds on a 1-10 scale, along with descriptions of the facilities, and directions; however, I use caution with the ratings since they seem heavily influenced by nearby scenic attractions rather than the features of the RV park/campground per se. In other words, an otherwise mediocre facility in a beautiful area tends to score very high, while a first-class RV “resort”, say, along I-5 would tend to score fairly low. From my perspective, many of his 10-rated parks have a little too much “nature” and not enough “nurture”. Still, it is a good resource to help with the filtration process, more for destinations than for transit stops.

If I need additional information, I prefer Trailer Life to Woodalls because I like their 3-category rating system. I also pay special attention to Good Sam Parks, and my real preference, i.e., nearby state and county parks, and visit their websites in advance or while on the road.

For visiting National Parks, I like Fodors’s “The Complete Guide to The National Parks of the West”. I assume they have similar versions for other sections of the country. The book is well-organized, by individual park, with a consistent format throughout the book describing the various must-sees and facilities in each park. Although the Fodor’s guide doesn’t provide ratings of the campgrounds, it provides descriptions of available facilities and reservation information.

My first online stop for checking out RV parks and camping in unknown (and known) locations is often rvparkreviews.com. It is an extremely well-designed website, easily navigated by state and city without instruction, and it’s full of useful information in a consistent format (including links to the park websites). The “reviews” and ratings are user- generated, meaning there’s no real reference standard, just the collective individual perceptions (the wisdom of the masses, as it were). Some people rate every location a 9 or 10, heavily influenced by how “nice” the operators were, while others rate more harshly, and still others somewhere in between. I find it is helpful to look at an individual user’s ratings of parks that I’ve frequented so that I can somewhat calibrate their individual rating scale. The website covers both commercial RV parks, and local/county/state/national parks if users have generated reviews. Like the other “tools”, ratings are in the eyes of the beholder, and we all have our individual preferences and perceptions. I suppose many of us have seen very high ratings and wondered: “what were they thinking”, or “what am I missing”?

I think it’s also important to visit RV park/campground websites to further understanding of the facilities, both for extended destinations and for transit parks. I like to look at the campsite densities, and the various pictures in their galleries. I want to see pictures of their facilities, roads, campsites, etc., not just a single picture of their best site taken from the best possible vantage point. If there are few pictures of the campground look and feel, and instead multiple pictures of nearby Mount Beautiful, then I tend to draw certain conclusions about their facilities, rightly or wrongly, and look elsewhere.

Another book I find helpful is “The Next Exit”. It’s a good resource for letting you know what facilities are proximate to any given exit off any Interstate. If you’re wondering if there’s a Starbucks off exit #n on I-5, this book will tell you the answer, and whether it’s to the left or right. It’s available online as well.

All in all, this science is nearly all art because the beauty of the surrounding area often colors opinions of the campground per se and our tolerance of its shortcomings; consequently, no matter which approach one uses, the parking lot in Yosemite tends to score higher than a “resort” in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:35 PM   #13
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I've always used the AAA guide books. They seem to have all the information I need and are free for auto club members.
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:48 PM   #14
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Cameron,
I love the picture of your two buddies. Have you seen a silver Lab? It seems appropriate for this forum. If you haven't seen a silver Lab, google it. As soon as I can figure out how to post pics, I'll put up one of our silver Lab, Jet. He's our 6 month old silver stow-a-way.
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