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Old 01-09-2013, 03:54 PM   #1
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What does the perfect campground look like to you?

We've had our Airstream for about 3 months now and since the purchase have slept on campgrounds each weekend. We've been camping in and around Austin (TX), southern New Mexico and southern Arizona so far.

It's remarkable to us the variety of RV campgrounds that's out there: from the full hookup campgrounds next to a busy road, to the no hookups campgrounds in state / national parks, to the campgrounds that offer lots of amenities (reflected in the nightly price).

One of my dreams later in life is to open an RV campground, preferable in a mountain area. The big setback there is the winter freeze, so the campground might need to be closed from late fall through early Spring (which really eats into the revenue of course).

If you don't mind sharing: what does the perfect campground look like to you?
- easy to reach versus privacy: would you rather stay next to an interstate or do you prefer driving to a secluded campground?
- do you prefer paying extra for amenities like a swimming pool, laundry area, ... ?
- what do you expect to pay for an RV campground with full hookups?
- what amenities can you not live without? Electrical, water, sewer, cable TV, ... ?
- now that I'm asking these questions: any specific area you wish that had a (good) RV campground?

Thanks!

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Old 01-09-2013, 04:04 PM   #2
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These campgrounds fall into the almost perfect campground category for us:
Oliver Lee State Park in Southeastern NM
Valley of Fires BLM Recreation Area, also in SE NM.
Gilbert Ray Campground SE of Tucson

No, they don't have swimming pools, but they all have spacious sites and hookups, and you can't hear the traffic from any of them.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:12 PM   #3
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I grew up camping in a pop up and our favourite park was McGregor Point Provincial Park in the Bruce Peninsula. It has a beach, great activities for kids, hiking trails and the sites are very rustic and private.

Now that I have my Airstream and no kids yet, I prefer parks with full hookups for any more than a weekend, but I still like rustic and private sites.

We've been staying in KOA's alot recently as they have full hookups available and are always clean, although the sites are not always private. One park we've stayed at should have had 1/2 the sites, we were so close to our neighbours that we shared a campfire rather than have two that close together.

I like to be away from the highway, but its nice to have a good road to the campground.

Our biggest compaint with any park is usually either noisy neighbours or dirty campsites and washrooms. Park staff need to be ready to deal with noisy trouble makers, and washrooms require monitoring, not just a daily scheduled cleaning.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jornvango View Post
If you don't mind sharing: what does the perfect campground look like to you?
- easy to reach versus privacy: would you rather stay next to an interstate or do you prefer driving to a secluded campground?
- do you prefer paying extra for amenities like a swimming pool, laundry area, ... ?
- what do you expect to pay for an RV campground with full hookups?
- what amenities can you not live without? Electrical, water, sewer, cable TV, ... ?
- now that I'm asking these questions: any specific area you wish that had a (good) RV campground?
A campground shouldn't be just a place to park your rig. I prefer one that has easy access to hiking trails and/or maountain biking trails. Not the really technical trails, but trails that aren't particularly difficult for people who are not too athletic. Easy access to someplace where you can launch and retrieve a canoe or kayak (preferably a waterbody too small for big fast powerboats or personal watercraft).

Good tree cover for the scorching summer months. Water and electric hookups preferred, 50/50 between sewer hookups and dump stations, with the full hookups on the far end from the dump station (full hookups closer to the dump station makes no sense, but I've seen it that way more than once already).

Public restrooms with showers, if the showers have real doors and latches, and not just a curtain for privacy.

Decent spacing between campsites (four sites per acre is about the maximum, IF you've got at least a few trees between), with plenty of wiggle room to back in for the biggest trailer that will fit in the space, and arranged so your patio side doesn't have a perfect view of your neighbor's hookups.

WiFi with decent connection speeds.

Fire rings with grills, covered picnic tables.

Far enough off the highway that you don't have to listen to traffic noise during quiet hours.

Non-dangerous wildlife that's only a nuissance if you leave food out. No alligators, bears, coyotes, or cougars.

No chigger infestations!

A small store where you can buy stuff you forgot to pack (paper towels are the item I forget the most often) without leaving the campground.

Sounds like I'm describing a high-quality State Park or Corps of Engineers campground.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:48 PM   #5
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State park campgrounds in Texas, Virginia and Florida. Sorry, no help there.
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:20 PM   #6
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Of course, it is more challenging to run a campground during the winter in the mountains. There are several obstacles:

1. You really need to be near some amenity that folks with RVs would want to visit in the middle of the winter. Many RVers wouldn't be caught dead in the mountains in the middle of the winter, but there are some out there that are not so inclinded. (In our case, it's a ski resort, the base of which is about 2.5 miles from here.)

2. You have to have a campground whose physical setup is such that it can be run in the winter. That means all pipes buried to depth (six feet, in our case), and adequate instructions for winter RVers on how to use the system.

3. You have to be prepared to keep the place open, no matter what kind of weather hits you in the middle of winter. That takes snow removal equipment and the youth and gumption to use it.

There's a bit of an implicit contract: You promise to do what it takes to stay open during the winter, and the skiers come. Back when we were younger and more fit, we did make this commitment, and were able to fill most of the park with skiers.

Assuming that you have this set-up and ability, you can have two seasons, summer and winter. Up here, there is a somewhat slow fall season, too, with hunters and leap peepers. Spring is probably the slowest.


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Old 01-09-2013, 05:23 PM   #7
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Oh, and if your dream is to do a campground in the mountains, deep-six the swimming pool and other such freeze-prone stuff! The lows during the winter in the mounains are such that these kinds of amenities become almost impossible unless you have a very large mountain of money to spend!

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Old 01-09-2013, 05:59 PM   #8
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Different for different uses

Good topic for discussion as I have never put down on paper what I would like in a campground. Part of the planning would be dependent on what type of facility you would like to have. My wants and needs depend on whether it is a destination campground or a passing through for just one night campground. Having said that, though, some things seem requisite in either type. I like privacy on reasonably sized lots, CLEAN bathrooms, friendly knowledgeable help(you can't be there 24/7/365) and some growth to help provide the privacy, or at least the illusion of privacy. One of my complaints in most KOAs is it seems like the first thing they do is clear-cut the property. It does make it easier to maneuver into the space but that is not the only consideration most of us have.
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:12 PM   #9
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full hookups closer to the dump station makes no sense,
Well it does make some sense.

The sewer lines often have to go to the same place, so cheaper to have them together.

Also dumping can be smelly whether at the dump station or your site so if you can't dump at your site it can be good to be away from the dump station and the full hookups.
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:16 PM   #10
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Ultimately, it boils down to the money you're wanting to spend. Of course, there is the initial investment in real estate: Ultra-large sites mean ultra-large property, and that cause cause your initial outlay (and your taxes) to go way up for popular areas.

Then come the utilities. Again, depending on where you build, these may be rather shallow or very deep, again hitting the pocketbook. (Just as an example, a few years ago we paid close to $40K to lay a single 6" pipe across about half of the five-acre property at a min of six feet. That line does not service sites; it's a feeder line only. The price tag does not include the additional $40K that the village required to make the main line available at the street.)

Sewage generally drains via gravity. Assume, say, 20 acres on relatively flat ground to accommodate a relatively small number of ultra-large sites. Ah, that means the depth of your sewer line will be way down there at the back and quite shallow at the front. The alternative is a system of underground holding tanks and automated sewage pumps, raising your investment some more.

The money makes you dizzy after a while. It's no wonder that prices for existing RV parks in resort area are higher than a kite! If you're interested, I'd recommend the site linked below so that you can get a feel for prices on existing parks. You'll discover almost immediately that prices vary principally by location, location, location.

The Best Place to Buy, Sell, and Learn about RV Parks and Campground Investing


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Old 01-09-2013, 06:24 PM   #11
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Well it does make some sense.

The sewer lines often have to go to the same place, so cheaper to have them together.

Also dumping can be smelly whether at the dump station or your site so if you can't dump at your site it can be good to be away from the dump station and the full hookups.
It makes sense to the campground owner who has to pay for the sewer lines. Doesn't make sense to the guy who has to wheel his blue tote that much farther to dump his black tank without moving the trailer. Moreso if he has to make the same trip again with his graywater because the campground doesn't allow direct discharge of graywater.

Possibly the best compromise is, if you have some full hookups and some electricity and water only, put the dump station in between the two, where it's accessible to the guy wheeling a full 20-pound blue tote, and still close to the full hookups for the shortest sewer line.
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:28 PM   #12
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stinch ...

Kind of depends on the age of the infrastructure! Modern ones built by compentent builders have a trap below dump sites to capture the stinch. That's quite different from the site I had last summer during my stay away from here. To keep prices in check in an otherwise very expensive city, I stayed at an old site. And, to my amazement, it had no trap. Sewer gases came up through the pipe, along my sewer line, up through the gray water system, and out the roof vent. The stinch was absolutely amazing -- until I figured out that looping my sewer hose to create a mini-trap of sorts would (and did) stop the whole problem.

Lynn

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...Also dumping can be smelly whether at the dump station or your site so if you can't dump at your site it can be good to be away from the dump station and the full hookups.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:04 PM   #13
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Okay, for me, some decent privacy at your site is essential. Nothing worse than being packed in next to your neighbor like sardines! It ruins the stargazing by the campfire.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:53 PM   #14
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Of all the camp grounds we have stayed in during our tent camping days till now in our Airstream days this one is the absolute best we have ever stayed in. Beavers Bend state park north of Broken Bow Oklahoma.
Most of the park is open year round. Most of the rv sites are electric and water only but most have dump carts. There are sites closer together for cheaper, then there are some spaced wider apart for a premium. These pictures are from this last Fall.
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