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Old 10-27-2015, 05:02 PM   #1
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Off the beaten path

My wife and I fell in love with the idea of RVing. And of course we fell in love with an airstream. We started to look up RV campgrounds around the country and discovered we were pretty naïve. We had no idea they were like minny subdivisions with trailers packed in so tightly. Is there a resource available to find RV campgrounds that are off the beaten path and not so densely populated?
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Old 10-27-2015, 05:49 PM   #2
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Welcome to the AirForums!

Commercial campgrounds are in business to turn a profit, which usually means packing in the customers as close as the terrain allows.

On the other hand, State Parks, National Parks, and Corps of Engineers campgrounds don't need to turn a profit, and they have a vested interest in maintaining some green spaces between campsites.

I'm most familiar with the Corps of Engineers campgrounds. They're located in 44 of our 50 states, typically cost half as much— or less— than nearby commercial campgrounds, and pretty much every single one of them is located along a lake or river. You can look up CoE campgrounds on this website:
http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors/visitors.cfm
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Old 10-27-2015, 05:59 PM   #3
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We try to stay in State Parks as much as possible. As Pro says they have an interest in preserving green space. And generally aren't anywhere near as crowded. However, there are people who want swimming pools and wifi and a place to buy beer. For them the commercial parks fit the bill. I'm sure you can find places you enjoy.
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Old 10-27-2015, 06:14 PM   #4
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I'm right there with you! It's discouraging that we have RVs to enjoy the great outdoors then find ourselves with 25 feet of another camper.

We gravitate toward county parks, state parks and national parks. However, even though these entities may not need to make a profit in the same fashion as a commercial campground they still have cost burdens to deal with so they seem to cram as many campsites into a given area as possible to minimize the utilities they need to install. Some are better than others. National Forest campgrounds can sometimes be a breath of fresh air when it comes to offering a little more space between campsites.

Many times we've found government campgrounds with equestrian oriented camping areas to be less crowded than other areas in the same campground.

Avoid major holidays - almost all campgrounds are crowded during those times.

Start looking at information on this forum and other internet sites that discuss boondocking, off-the-grid camping, Bureau of Land Management camping, and other free-form camping opportunities.

Good luck!
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Old 10-27-2015, 06:38 PM   #5
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I avoid anything but an overnight stay in a commercial campground for precisly the reason you mention.

You can generalize campgrounds on a spectrum. At one end are the commercial, high density campgrounds with a full range of services, full hookups, stores, pools, etc. At the other end is "boondocking" (there is a forum on this site dedicated to this style of camping) with no services and no one else in sight. Developed campgrounds in National Forests, National Parks, Corp of Engineers, State Parks and County Parks typically fall somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum.

When looking for a campground I usually go to the website for the Natl Park or Forest, State or County. Most will have a layout of the campground and let you know what sites if any have hookups. I then go to google maps to get a good look at how close the sites are to each other. Many of the campgrounds in the federal system can be reserved through www.recreation.gov. A lot of people like to use allstays.com to locate campgrounds.
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Old 10-28-2015, 11:37 AM   #6
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Staying in First Landing SP, Va over TG, crowded???
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Old 10-28-2015, 11:44 AM   #7
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Even state parks and COE campgrounds are not all equal.
Some look like Walmart parking lot on Black Friday.
Others have nice green space between the trailers.
It takes some trial and error.
You can actually view campgrounds and campsite photos online to get an idea.
Even Google maps can give you an idea.
Our favorite campgrounds don't feel crowded even when they are full due to the generous spacing between sites.
Season has a lot to do with it, too. Camp in the off-season and the campground will be like a ghost town. We do a lot of that.
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:11 PM   #8
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There are great State Park campgrounds. Some States are better than others. Some States that I know are really good are Ohio, Indiana, Iowa Wisconsin Georgia, Florida, Wyoming, Idaho South Dakota Nebraska. The Corp of Engineers are really good. Some of the Federal Parks are having a problem. Funding has been cut for federal parks. The safest bet is to use reserveamerica.com and recreation.gov to research. Also when you find one you like look it up on Google and even use Google maps. In other words check the State parks web site. Believe me the States are doing a great job.
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:28 PM   #9
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Old 10-28-2015, 07:14 PM   #10
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Pretty cool site BoldAdventure!

Thanks!
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Old 10-28-2015, 07:39 PM   #11
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We have camped just this (our first) season. 1 commercial campground in a rural area, and others were state parks or corps of engineer parks. So we haven't gone on a long enough trip to go to a large commercial campground yet.

I would mention something we noticed that we found surprising.

The more wooded campgrounds with lots of shade trees seem to hold the noise in. You will hear every dog bark and 3 year old squeal.

Less treed campgrounds, in particular those around a lake, have less shade of course. But this open-ness seems to allow the sounds of the neighbors to float into space. They seem like you have more privacy, even if the sites are technically the same distance apart.

We also really like using google maps to select our sites. It also helps you to have a sense of where you will be in relation to bathrooms and dump stations and main roads as well.
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Old 10-28-2015, 08:12 PM   #12
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It's odd to me.
Some people actually prefer the hustle and bustle of a busy campground. I don't get it, but they seem to like endless golf cart, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic so thick it is hard to drive through in a car- a mass of humanity so thick it's like Walmart on Black Friday-
I want slow, easy, peaceful, and quiet.


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Old 10-28-2015, 08:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m.hony View Post
It's odd to me.
Some people actually prefer the hustle and bustle of a busy campground. I don't get it, but they seem to like endless golf cart, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic so thick it is hard to drive through in a car- a mass of humanity so thick it's like Walmart on Black Friday-
I want slow, easy, peaceful, and quiet.
Ditto, we're leaving Sedona this weekend, because in the middle of the flipping national forest there is a car driving by every 10 minutes, people turning around in our camp site and jeep tours every 15 mins. And town is 33 mins away.
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:54 PM   #14
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There's an amazing variety of camping experiences to be had. We've stopped in Spokane, WA three times now on our way to here or there, because my wife's mother lives in Spokane. I've always stayed at one of the local KOA's, which is neat, clean, and we don't feel like sardines in a can. Still, it's not a place where I'd like to spend much time, and there are no really good areas to walk/run the dog. So I looked around and found a regional park nearby with miles and miles of trails. I went over there to walk the dog and lo and behold there were three Airstreams camped in a campground I didn't know existed. With plenty of space around them. Guess where I'm going to go next time I'm in Spokane. I think there are more gems like this waiting to be found than we imagine, and we just have to go out and find them!


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