Shabby or Classy? Campground Choices

Spacious and wooded, but no satellite service

Picking a campground is pretty straightforward. Traveling the Red Roads in our RV has landed us in hundreds of campgrounds. I can say with complete confidence that not all of them are created equally. Some campgrounds are spacious, well maintained and run by people who care. Others, pardon the expression, are dumps. These are unattractive places with limited services, dilapidated  trailers that never leave, piles of junk or abandoned equipment. We usually use the Trailer Life Directory software to pick a campground. We trust their descriptions and ratings and usually know what we are getting when we pull in. Sometimes we opt for the known dump.

It may be because the “low-rated” campground is the only place available, given where we are. Take West Virginia, for example.  For some reason there are not a whole lot of RV parks in the State, at least not where we have been. So, if we need a place to park for a night we take what we can get. When we pass through North Carolina, we always stop at a bare bones place behind a run down motel, because we can walk a half a block to Ralph’s BBQ. These shabby places are usually inexpensive, we have our own bathroom and shower on board so we don’t have to use theirs, and, if we close the blinds, we could just as easily be at the Grand Canyon.  After all, it’s only for one night.

Squeezed by the trees in Maine

When we are staying longer  we are choosier. We look for a campground with more services, like free wireless, or a lake to do some fishing, or a location central to the things we want to see. We are also fussier about our site. Here are some of the things we consider in site selection.

How big are the sites and are they pull through or do we have to back in?  This is a major issue in urban areas where real estate is at a premium. We’ve had to shoehorn ourselves into narrow sites and live on top of our neighbors in places like SanDiego, Tucson and Quebec. In your backwoods areas, it’s the trees you need to worry about. Some sites have been so narrow we have had to juggle the RV around to make sure the trees didn’t prevent us from putting out our slides or opening our storage bins.

Where is the satellite signal? We have satellite TV so we look for an unobstructed view of the southern sky. Remember that the tradeoff of no trees and a clear signal may mean little or no shade, but we have an awning that helps with that.

Where is the water? Hubby likes his fishing and likes to be able to get up early and go right down to take some casts. So if the campground is on water we like to be within an easy walk of it. Or, we might request a spot that has easy canoe access.

Where are the bathrooms and showers? Not that we would use them very often but they tend to generate a lot of foot traffic. In one campground we had a steady stream of people cutting through our site because it was next to the bathroom. It’s the same for the playgrounds, group sites and rec halls. We like to be far away from these gathering areas.

Urban camping in San Diego

When I say we “consider” these factors, that’s all we do. We’ll ask about them when we check in and try to find something that meets our needs. If we can’t use the satellite, we make do with cable. If we want to see Quebec, we put up with tightly packed sites. Road travel requires some flexibility. It’s hard to enjoy yourself if you get bent out of shape because there are no sites near the water.

A little cramped, but look at our view

About JudithC99

Wanderer. Writer. Artist. Photographer. Learner. Traveler of the Red Roads


  1. reneesylvie

    Good post, gives us lots to think about for when we get our camper 🙂

  2. Life & Sunshine

    we stayed at a great rv park in McCall Idaho, Northfork Lodge, if youre ever in the area 🙂 spot #75 is the best corner spot overlooking the river and mountains….

  3. Very interesting post. Be well and safe travels, Ann and Jerry

  4. Great info tucked away in the back of my mind for the future! Thanks!

  5. What fun that I found you because someone stopped by my blog so I checked his out… and noticed a comment by you… and well how could I resist your gravatar?! On my bucket list for when I retire is spending at least a full year in an rv roaming hither & yon. Since that won’t be happening for at least 5.5 years I haven’t been actively researching but thought I would keep an eye on you and pick up some stories. I’ll be going alone so do you have any observations about that you could share?

    • Thanks for the complement, MM was always a favorite and Warhol’s depiction of her captured her so well…Checked out your blog and it sounds like you have been busy. Roaming in an RV is a great way to travel and see things up close. There are many women doing it their own. On my resources page are some links that you can start with, one specifically for women RVers. Feel free to follow along and ask what comes to mind.

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