Types of Campsites – The ULTIMATE Guide to Campsites, Campgrounds & Camping Amenities

Types of Campsites – The ULTIMATE Guide to Campsites, Campgrounds & Camping Amenities

Planning a tenting journey? Do you recognize the place you’re headed?

Choosing the fitting location is vital to an pleasing journey.

But with so many campground and campsite choices out there, choosing the right one could be troublesome.

I’ve been in your footwear, so I do know what I’m speaking about.

And that’s why I’ve made this in-depth overview of all the categories out there as a way to select the very best one to your subsequent tenting journey.

Types of Campgrounds

First issues first, the place to go tenting? There are literally numerous campground choices out there.

State Park Campgrounds

Dead Horse Ranch State Park Sign
Dead Horse Ranch State Park Sign in Cottonwood, AZ

As the title suggests, a state park campground is a chunk of land owned by the state.

There are over 6,000 state parks, so that you’ve bought fairly a little bit of choices to select from.

There are normally various kinds of campsites at state parks, starting from primitive to full-hookup, relying on the situation.

Some may also enable distant tenting on DNR lands with an obtained allow.

Each state park has its personal rules in addition to a reservation system. In most circumstances, you wish to safe the spot prematurely (generally as much as 6 months prematurely or extra).

But some parks, like Nevada’s Valley of Fire are a first-come, first-serve foundation.

When selecting a park, it’s all the time greatest to go to the official web site of a particular state for all the data.

National Park Campgrounds

Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park
Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

These campgrounds are positioned in nationwide parks, that are among the most stunning environment within the nation.

Grand Canyon, Zion, Denali, Yosemite and Yellowstone are only a few nationwide parks recognized worldwide for his or her unbelievably stunning surroundings.

National parks are devoted to preserving the pure magnificence and cultural significance of a sure space, whereas on the identical time offering enjoyment and training to its guests.

For that purpose, tenting in these areas is commonly subjected to totally different restrictions.

Generally, nationwide park campgrounds will provide fewer facilities, so don’t anticipate full hookups.

What’s extra, dispersed tenting could be very restricted and infrequently off the charts altogether.

More usually than not, reservations are required to camp in nationwide parks.

And when you wish to carry your pet tenting, it’s best to know that they’re typically solely allowed past the campground’s car parking zone.

National Forest Campgrounds

Similar to nationwide parks, nationwide forests are federally protected and managed lands with the aim of conservation.

But they’re a lot much less restrictive than nationwide parks, making them appropriate for a lot of campers.

There are at present 154 nationwide forests unfold over 41 totally different states, so you may simply discover one near you.

The U.S. Forest Service web site makes it straightforward to discover a appropriate one, with the interactive map and locator.

Many of them enable RVs, whereas some aren’t appropriate as a result of they don’t provide a paved street to drive in.

Furthermore, full hookups aren’t that frequent in nationwide forest campgrounds.

Within a single campground, you’re allowed to camp for so long as 14 days consecutive. Now, that doesn’t imply it’s essential to go dwelling after that.

As lengthy as you turn to a spot that’s greater than a mile additional away out of your preliminary campground, you’re good to go.

Depending on the scale of the campground, reservations could or might not be required.

Always test the forest service web site or the ranger station for extra details about the specified campground.

Private Campgrounds

A Private Campground near Sedona, AZ
A Private Campground close to Sedona, AZ

Private campgrounds are operated by impartial hosts, be they native residents or personal corporations, so the foundations and facilities can differ loads from one campground to a different.

While personal campgrounds may not provide the out-of-the-world surroundings of nationwide parks, they’ll come fairly shut.

But the great thing about personal campgrounds largely lies within the huge variety of facilities they provide.

And we’re speaking nearly electrical and water hookups and RV parking. Private campgrounds can provide different cool issues as properly, like sports activities courts and swimming pools.

Of course, the extra niceties it presents, the upper the price of a public campground.

That’s one thing to remember when choosing the proper kind of campground to your journey.

Regional Campgrounds

Regional parks are areas underneath the native authorities’s jurisdiction.

Again, the foundations and rules aren’t as strict as in nationwide and state parks.

For that purpose, most regional campgrounds are appropriate for common tenting in addition to RV tenting.

Depending on the scale, sure regional parks could or could not require a reservation.

Always test with the particular regional park for guidelines earlier than heading out.

KOA Campgrounds

KOA is the most important system of personal campgrounds, with greater than 500 campgrounds unfold throughout North America.

KOA presents one thing for everybody, be it a flowery glamping lodging or a family-friendly location.

Furthermore, you may take an RV or no tenting gear in any respect, and with tons of choices out there, you could find appropriate lodging.

KOA makes it straightforward to seek out your perfect possibility by way of their web site, in addition to to make a reservation.

Types of Campsites

Types of Campsites final types of campgrounds

Okay, we’ve lined various kinds of campgrounds on the market and the variations between them.

But what about campsites? Specific campgrounds can provide a number of campsite choices, so let’s see what these are.

Basic Campsite

A basic campsite setup at Lost Dutchman State Park in AZ
A fundamental campsite setup at Lost Dutchman State Park in AZ

A fundamental campsite, because the title suggests, presents elemental facilities, akin to a parking spot and a chosen place for establishing a campfire.

Often, you’ll even have picnic tables out there to you. But aside from that, don’t anticipate a lot.

As for the scale, a fundamental campsite accommodates a household or a bunch of campers with as much as 6 individuals.

There are not any designated tent-pitching spots – wherever you discover a first rate quantity of area on the terrain to pitch your tent, that’s your spot.

Numerous fundamental campsites additionally provide the choice to return together with your RV, however that’s one thing to test earlier than coming there.

But given the truth that you don’t have a hookup out there, the sort of campsite is just not perfect when you’re not into dry tenting.

However, it’s best to take into account that whereas a sure campsite doesn’t provide tons of facilities, that’s not all the time true for the campground as properly.

Standard Campsite

As you may inform, not all campsites use the identical label, so choosing the proper one generally could be troublesome.

This is an efficient instance of that. A regular campsite is fairly much like a fundamental campsite.

A regular campsite sometimes permits a small group of individuals (as much as 6) and presents an area for a tent, driveway, grill setup and picnic desk.

Depending on the campground, an ordinary campsite could or could not enable RVs.

that normally is dependent upon the out there path and whether or not such massive automobiles can arrive on the vacation spot.

Standard campsites sometimes haven’t any electrical hookups.

That is aside from RV-only normal campsites. But in each circumstances, there’s no water or sewer out there.

Individual Campsite

Individual campsites are designed with solo campers in thoughts, but it surely’s not unique to them.

More usually than not, particular person campsites will probably be full of smaller teams of campers or households.

In phrases of quantity, the sort of campsite accommodates as much as 6 campers.

As a class, particular person campsites aren’t precisely standardized. Some campgrounds use the time period interchangeably with a fundamental campsite, others with household campsites, and many others.

But what’s true for all particular person campsites is the variety of campers.

Group Campsite

For teams of campers with greater than 6 people, there are designated “group” campsites.

The most variety of members is dependent upon the scale of the campsite, however most of them are designated for anyplace between 7 and 50 individuals.

So what’s the precise distinction between group and particular person campsites, except for the allowed variety of individuals?

Well, not a lot. But, your entire associates get to be located actually shut to at least one one other, which frequently you may’t discover on smaller campsites.

Furthermore, group campsites normally provide rather more room for parking.

After all, you want extra automobiles for the entire group members to reach, no?

Finally, group campsites could have sufficient picnic tables gathered across the identical grilling spot, so that you simply all can sit and eat collectively.

Family Campsite

Different campgrounds will outline household campsites otherwise.

In some circumstances, the time period is used interchangeably with “individual” campsites, after which in others, it’s fairly much like a “group” campsite.

But as a rule, household campsites are designated to suit as much as 2 tents or automobiles.

RVs are typically not appropriate, as many household campsites don’t provide a full hookup.

And so far as numbers go, household campsites ought to sit between particular person and group campsites, with 8 to 10 individuals allowed.

Standard Double Campsite

In phrases of what facilities it presents, an ordinary double campsite is identical factor as an ordinary counterpart.

The solely factor that’s totally different is the variety of individuals allowed.

As the title suggests, it’s designated for teams of as much as 12 campers.

The tenting spots are additionally larger, to accommodate your group.

Types of Campsites by Access

Getting to the campsite is a nothing much less essential issue when selecting a great location. Here are all of the choices out there.

Drive-In Campsite

types of campgrounds types of campsites
Camping in Quechee State Park, Vermont (Photo Credit: James Willamor)

As the title signifies, a drive-in campsite permits entry by automobiles. And by that, I don’t imply simply getting inside, by really parking subsequent to the bottom of your camp.

This is particularly helpful for individuals who desire retaining a few of their stuff within the automotive.

It’s additionally nice when you have got tons of stuff to unpack from the trunk.

Walk-In Campsite

types of campgrounds
Camping on a river within the North Carolina backcountry (Photo Credit: James Willamor)

Walk-in campsites don’t have car entry per se. This means you may’t simply park proper subsequent to your tent.

But usually, they’ll provide a car parking zone within the approximate neighborhood, the place all of the campers staying on the campsite can depart their automobiles.

Given you could’t get inside with a car, it’s clear that the sort of campsite is for tents solely.

Walk-in campsites are normally positioned in secluded areas, the place you may’t get with wheels anyway.

They’re normally smaller in dimension, for individuals in search of a extra intimate tenting expertise.

And since they don’t normally provide tons of facilities, walk-in campsites are normally extra reasonably priced.

Back-In Campsite

Back-in campsites have a single entry/exit. Usually, the sort of campsite is designated for RVs.

And by backing as much as your spot, you’re putting your RV able in order that hookups are on the fitting facet of the car.

With that being mentioned, you don’t really must again your means into the place.

But when you don’t, you’ll must run the cables beneath the RV, which could be fairly a problem.

Pull-Through Campsite

At a pull-through campsite, you don’t must undergo all that backing in hassle to place your RV.

This kind of campsite presents entrance and exit from each side, so park any means you favor.

As far as facilities go, there isn’t a lot distinction between the back-in and pull-through campsite.

But the latter is commonly barely bigger than the 2. And for that purpose, it may be barely costlier.

Primitive Campsite

A primitive campsite in the National Forest
A primitive/dispersed campsite within the National Forest

Want to completely immerse in nature? Consider tenting on a primitive campsite. More usually than not, the sort of campsite isn’t part of a chosen campground.

For that purpose, it could or could not provide any facilities. No picnic tables, grills or restrooms can be found.

Here, your survival abilities actually come to shine. But relying on the situation, you might also be surrounded by many different tenting teams.

So for that matter, you’re not precisely in a secluded space, simply self-sufficient.

Primitive campsites are sometimes present in shut proximity to many widespread mountain climbing trails.

They’re the right spot for hikers to spend the night time earlier than persevering with with their journey.

In most locations within the USA, primitive campsites are the identical as backcountry campsites.

These websites are typically not discovered inside designated campgrounds they usually don’t have any of the facilities that you simply would possibly discover in a longtime tenting space.

Anyone seeking to camp at a primitive campsite will have to be totally self-sufficient and must have the abilities essential to survive outdoor the place assist is probably going distant.

However, primitive websites provide campers a novel, nature-filled expertise in among the world’s most stunning locations.

Although primitive campsites usually are not, by definition maintained, websites in widespread areas could also be pretty properly impacted by earlier customers.

That’s additionally one thing to remember when contemplating tenting at a primitive campsite. In the case of a very widespread space for campers and hikers, the area could be restricted.

For that purpose, reservations could be required. In much less visited areas, the first-come, first-served foundation applies.

Dispersed Campsite

Dispersed camping in the National Forest
Dispersed tenting within the National Forest (Photo Credit: James Willamor)

Dispersed campsites are similar to primitive campsites. No trash, loos, picnic tables or facilities of any type.

These are principally any location outdoors of a longtime campground, sometimes down forest roads or different backcountry unmarked roads.

Most National Forests and public lands enable dispersed tenting at no cost for as much as 14 to 16 days earlier than requiring you to maneuver to a different location.

You are required to camp not less than 100 toes from any streams or water sources, pack-in and pack-out your trash, and are required to observe all depart no hint ideas and pointers.

It is extremely really useful that you simply obtain any/all offline navigation and mountain climbing maps earlier than making an attempt to camp in a dispersed or primitive campground.

You’ll doubtless not have cell reception and be out by yourself.

Walk-Up Campsite

When we use the time period “walk-up” campsite, we’re not speaking about whether or not you may or can not drive your approach to the campsite.

This time period particularly signifies that the sort of campsite doesn’t provide reservations.

What which means is that you just stroll up and see if there’s sufficient room to your tenting group.

That’s proper – first-come, first-served foundation.

Many campgrounds provide a number of walk-up campsites, in order that campers with out prior planning can have the chance to camp in that location.

In some circumstances, all campsites inside a campground work the identical means, though that’s fairly uncommon.

Accessible Campsite

Unfortunately, not all campsites are accessible to individuals with disabilities and restricted mobility.

That’s fairly a disgrace, on condition that there are roughly 61 million American adults with disabilities.

Accessible campsites are ADA-compliant, which means they’re designated to serve individuals with bodily challenges higher.

One of an important traits of such a campsite is that it’s simpler to get to.

They even have paved paths, permitting individuals with wheelchairs and different mobility units to maneuver round simpler.

Toilets and showering services are additionally located near the parking space, in order that every part is within the close to neighborhood for comfort.

Types of Campsites by Size

As you might have already observed, not all campsites are the identical by way of dimension. There are three classes we will group them into.

Individual Campsite

types of campgrounds
Almost full moon lights up the sky in southwest Oklahoma (Photo Credit: James Willamor)

The title suggests the sort of campsite is designated for a solo camper.

And whilst you can undoubtedly get pleasure from all of the facilities it presents by yourself. This kind of campsite is definitely appropriate for as much as 6 individuals.

Whether it’s simply you or 5 different individuals with you, it doesn’t matter.

What you have got at your disposal is a single tent spot in addition to an area for one car.

Group Campsite


The precise variety of individuals allowed can fluctuate between totally different group campsites, but it surely’s normally anyplace between 12 and 50 campers in a bunch.

Obviously, the sort of campsite has facilities areas in such a fashion that they’re out there for the entire group.

This means a tent and parking spots grouped collectively, a number of picnic tables gathered across the grill space, and many others.

Usually, these campsites are located near the toilet.

Family Campsite

A household campsite falls someplace in between the 2 beforehand talked about sorts.

As far because the variety of individuals goes, that’s between 8 and 12 campers.

Usually, you get two tent and two parking spots, so that you’re shut whereas tenting.

In most circumstances, the sort of campsite is located near loos, picnic tables and grill stations.

Often, you would possibly even see household campsites in a separate space, which is nice when tenting with youngsters.

Campsite Classifications

Unfortunately, there’s no single approach to classify campsites, so many of those phrases we beforehand talked about are used interchangeably with comparable ones.

When it involves state parks, nevertheless, there’s a approach to classify campsites, as nearly all of state parks follow this technique.

Class A Campsite

This is taken into account to be the usual tenting class.

What this implies is that it presents all of the essential facilities, akin to car accessibility, bathe services and even electrical energy.

In most circumstances, bathrooms can be found, though not all A campsites provide flushing bathrooms.

Most A campsites additionally provide picnic tables, grill stations, fireplace pits and different little issues that make the distinction.

Class-A is the right stability between consolation and affordability.

You have every part it’s possible you’ll want to your tenting journey, however nothing luxurious.

Since they’re vehicle-accessible, class-A campsites are appropriate for RVs.

Plus, you have got the electrical hookup out there. Sewer hookup, nevertheless, is just not included.

Class AA Campsite

A category-AA campsite presents every part clas-A does, and one thing further. Most importantly, these items contain sewer hookups.

Often, class-AA campsites could have flushing bathrooms, however that’s not all the time the case.

The foremost purpose for not having flushing bathrooms lies in chilly climate that freezes pipes. The identical factor goes for sinks with operating water.

With the sewer hookup out there, the sort of campsite is a barely higher possibility for RV tenting than the earlier class.

Of course, this additionally means it’s barely costlier.

Class AAA Campsite

Triple-A on the earth of campsites means creme de la creme.

By this, I imply these campsites provide every part you would possibly want for an pleasing tenting journey.

Everything beforehand talked about is included, after which some. Water hookup is a should.

Other belongings you generally see in class-AAA campsites are heated loos, which is superb for chilly climate tenting.

The energy can also be a lot stronger on these campsites.

That means you should utilize far more home equipment than you’ll on different sorts.

Of course, all this explains the excessive value of tenting on class-AAA campsites.

Class B Campsite

This class is a slight downgrade to class-A campsites.

What they provide is car accessibility and electrical hookups, in addition to picnic tables and fireplace pits. But that’s so long as consolation goes.

There are not any showers, sewer or water hookups. So whereas class-B campsites are in a position to accommodate RVs, they’re not the most suitable choice out there for longer tenting journeys.

In truth, the sort of campsite is extra designated for these in search of a spot to sleep for a day or two.

In that case, you may not want greater than a spot to park and a hookup to cost no matter you want earlier than you head out.

Class C Campsite

Class-C campsites aren’t that frequent, so the precise classification can barely fluctuate between locations.

One factor they certainly have is car entry. But as for different facilities, together with showers and electrical hookups, overlook about them.

This kind of campsite could provide bathrooms, however they’re typically not flushable.

Interestingly sufficient, one factor class-C campsites provide is clear water.

And by clear, we really imply water you may drink, in addition to use for bathing.

Class D Campsite

This is the bottom class out there, and the closest you get to a real tenting expertise.

Remember what we mentioned about primitive campsites? Well, that is it.

No car entry, no electrical, water or sewer hookup and no bathe or bathrooms.

You have to go away your automotive at a chosen parking spot and stroll your approach to the campsite.

While so far as facilities go, this may not be probably the most interesting kind of campsite, there are some issues it presents you could’t get at greater courses.

These are affordability, availability and solitude.

These campsites are fairly low-cost and out there year-round, so that you most likely gained’t must make a reservation previous to your journey.

Plus, the space from busy roads and plain wilderness round you actually brings you near nature.

Camping Membership That Can Save You Money on Your Next Trip

If you’re a frequent camper, it can save you fairly a bit of cash in your journeys.

There are literally plenty of memberships out there that may try this for you.

Good Sam

goodsam membership

Good Sam presents some fundamental, however nonetheless cool reductions for members.

Mainly centered on RV campers, Good Sam membership offers common 10% reductions on greater than 2,000 campgrounds within the nation.

It additionally means that you can save a bit of cash on gasoline and when purchasing at sure retail outlets.

The membership begins at $29 a 12 months, however that value lowers while you select a 3-year possibility.

Passport America

passport america

The Passport America program covers greater than 1,500 areas in North America, and it presents as a lot as a 50% low cost on tenting reservations. Now that’s worth!

In phrases of value, a year-long membership prices $44, which has similarities to most tenting applications.

But the low cost it presents is just too good to cross.

The solely factor it’s best to bear in mind is that reductions aren’t all the time relevant at sure areas.

For occasion, holidays and weekends throughout the season are fairly busy, so sure campgrounds may not settle for reductions throughout these intervals.


koa camping membership

As the most important system of personal campgrounds in North America, KOA presents greater than 500 campgrounds throughout the continent.

And with a membership of $33 a 12 months, KOA presents a ten% low cost on tenting reservations.

Of course, you can even gather extra factors with longer stays, which can be utilized on the subsequent journey.

It’s additionally price mentioning that KOA presents one week a 12 months that’s free for members.

This consists of solely KOA areas which can be taking part within the occasion, however there are all the time sufficient choices out there.

Escapees RV Club

esceepes camping memeber

This membership is, because the title suggests, designated for RV campers.

It prices $50 a 12 months and presents reductions at 800 parks, ranging between 15 and 50% of the worth.

Interestingly, when you’re a member of the Escapees RV membership, you additionally get a 50% low cost for becoming a member of the Passport America membership.

With Escapees RV membership, you additionally get reductions with their companions, which vary from automotive dealerships to journey companies.

Escapees RV membership pays further consideration to their group, so additionally they often set up meetups.

Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA)

fmca finally

The FMCA focuses on educating, equipping and empowering RV campers.

You get every part from month-to-month journal editions to evacuation help! This is particularly essential for brand spanking new RV campers, but it surely’s additionally one thing even the specialists may use being a member of.

And for $85 a 12 months, that’s really fairly deal given what it presents.

As far as campground reductions go, this membership doesn’t provide tons of choices just like the beforehand talked about ones.

But the FMCA presents a 2-night keep at their member-only campground in Ohio.

Thousand Trails


This kind of membership is barely totally different from those we simply talked about.

The distinction lies in the truth that Thousand Trails owns about 200 campgrounds all throughout the United States.

And the membership means that you can keep at these campgrounds at no cost, relying in your membership stage.

What this implies is you get what you pay for. The membership begins at $630, and it consists of about 18 to 23 campgrounds in a particular zone.

Then, you should buy extra zones for $70 every.

While it would sound like a lot, the membership pays off for frequent campers.

Just make certain to take a look at areas earlier than selecting the membership plan, so that you simply don’t pay greater than required.

Resources to Find the Best Campsites

Every good tenting journey begins with analysis. Luckily, there are tons of sources out there that may assist you discover the right campsite with the assistance of your laptop.

Here are the web sites you may make use of:

  • Individual Government Agency Websites – It’s all the time greatest to begin with official companies fairly than third events, and for state and nationwide parks. Simply search the park you want to reserve.
  • Campendium – This web site presents every part, be it a nationwide park, nationwide forest, RV parks, parking tons or disperse tenting areas
  • Recreation.gov – Allows you to specify necessities, together with electrical, water, sewage hookups or a flush rest room
  • ReserveAmerica – Offers tons of campgrounds, together with state parks, RV parks, and even some personal choices
  • HipCamp – Private campgrounds out there, primarily class B and C, however appropriate for big teams

Campsite and Campground FAQs

What does stroll in solely imply?

A walk-in campsite is a campsite that doesn’t have car entry. This means it’s a must to depart your automotive at a chosen parking spot and stroll your means as much as the campsite.

What is the distinction between a campsite and a campground?

A campsite is just a chosen a part of a campground. Within a single campground, you might have multiple kind of campsite out there.

Which campsite is greatest for a newbie solo camper?

Individual campsites are designated for solo campers and smaller teams.

As far as classification goes, particular person campsites can vary from class A to D. For a newbie, class A is a superb possibility to begin.

What is the distinction between a primitive and dispersed campsite?

They are one and the identical. Both sorts of campsites are positioned away from official campgrounds, and with none facilities.

However, the time period  “dispersed camping” is utilized by the National Forest and Bureau of Land Management, and each have their very own guidelines related to using a dispersed campsite.

What Is Considered A Full Hookup Campsite?

A full hookup campsite is designated for RV tenting. What which means is it presents water, sewer and electrical hookups, therefore the title.

As far as different facilities go, the time period “full hookup” doesn’t must contain anything.

This means it could or could not provide grill stations and picnic tables.

But usually, you may anticipate to see these facilities on the sort of campsite.

What Is A Back-In Campsite?

By back-in campsite, we imply the kind of campsite with just one entrance/exit level.

In different phrases, it’s essential to again in to park the car or again out when leaving the campsite.

Generally, most smaller and extra reasonably priced campgrounds characteristic the sort of campsite.

To Sum Things Up

There you have got it – an extended listing of all campsite and campground sorts out there.

As you may see, there’s one thing for everybody.

Individuals or massive teams, primitive tenting, or glamping, touring by foot or by RV… Whichever your case is, there’s an acceptable campsite for you.


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