Public or Private Campgrounds?

October 1, 2000
Filed under Travel

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Question: What are accommodations like for today’s RVers?

Answer: Whatever you like. Both public and private RV campgrounds and parks run the gamut from simple parking places with few or no amenities to resorts that match a rich man’s country club. Which is best? Whatever turns you on.

If you are a great lover of nature, simplicity and the spirit of “roughing it,” then probably you will find various governmental facilities — national parks and forests, state and county parks — much to your liking. Actually, public parks vary enormously in their offerings; U.S. Forest Service (USFS) parks generally provide no hookups, just parking spaces, sometimes paved, sometimes not; potable water and rustic toilets (usually pit type). On the plus side, they are generally located in places with a great deal of natural beauty, sometimes beside rivers or lakes, with trees, animals, peace and quiet, and clean air, all for a very low fee. On the other hand, some federal facilities, like many of those administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, offer spaces with hookups. State parks vary enormously, some offering nice spaces with full hookups beside rivers, lakes or other wonderful natural attractions; others with water and toilet facilities only or few, if any, hookups.

Campgrounds provided by counties and cities are rarer than federal and state parks and usually provide only minimum accommodations; however, some offer amenities that match those of the best public campgrounds. Although private facilities also vary in quality, services, amenities and prices, the variations are much greater than for public campgrounds. They range from those that provide only basic hookups and a place off the highway for those who are looking for overnight stops to elegant resorts with every conceivable amenity and the ambiance of fine country clubs — manicured landscapes, elaborate clubhouses, swimming pools, spas, tennis courts, even golf courses, restaurants, gift shops, organized social activies and entertainment, large spaces, paved parking and every kind of hookup, including cable TV and telephone.

Most RV resorts have some special reason for their location and type of development. Some, like Fort Wilderness at Disney World, are associated with man-made attractions. Others take advantage of climate and particular sports, such as
Outdoor Resorts of America/Palm Springs, California, which has its own golf course amid dozens of courses in the immediate vicinity, including PGA West. Other resorts are located in popular fishing areas in Minnesota, Michigan and Arkansas. Some resorts are geared to families; others are limited to adult recreation. As might be expected, fees at resorts closely parallel the number and quality of amenities.

Visit the Trailer Life Campground/RV Park & Services Directory for detailed information about both public campgrounds and private RV parks. For more details about public camping facilities, write to the appropriate government agencies. Those who have the means can play golf, tennis and other activities at an own-your-own-site RV resort, such as this one in Southern California, year-round.

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