Useful Tips

Campsites USA


American campsites are a great place to spend time away from noisy hotels, large crowds and numerous tourist lines. In fact, not many people know about the benefits of such a vacation. It is very convenient, at the same time comfortable and practical. Regardless of transport, timetables and timing, you can enjoy nature, fresh air and see much more. You can not follow a specific route and stop at special campsites and parking lots, which are easy enough to settle in.

First of all, you need to know something about them. In order to settle in the campsite, you need to choose an empty place, among the campsites below, fill out a special envelope, tear off the spine, put the payment in the envelope and put it in a special box. It is worth considering that many of them work seasonally and it is better to find and book a camping site in advance.

Camping can be divided into two types:

- equipped (there is drinking water, showers, washing machines, toilets, supermarkets. Camper refueling and waste disposal services are provided),

- not equipped or deserted (this is a kind of wild vacation). Often there are gas stations near such campsites where you can find everything you need.

All campsites are distributed as hotels by stars. Identify the star amenities that camping offers. America just has to travel and travel on wheels. The whole country, like a web riddled with roads - high ways. On the way, signs such as “RV Welcome” can be found. This means that a special parking space is reserved for transport at this campsite.

Now let's talk in more detail about the most famous and popular campsites in the USA. You can find out about the variety and cost of motor homes, trailers or campsites by clicking on the link.

Wawona Camping in Yosemite National Park. This campsite is located in the back of the reserve and charges about 93 separate areas for tourists. Seats here must be booked in advance, especially during the season from April to October. What the campsite offers: tent place, equipped campfire place, car (trailer) and refrigerator. The cost of such pleasure per day is $ 20. Camping Wawona is considered the most romantic of all, because it is here that the world famous Route 66 runs.

Camping Lodgepole in Sequoia Park. This campsite has about 14 separate campsites, the capacity of the tents is approximately 800. The Americans themselves love this place and call it Redwood Empire, this is due to the fact that there are huge trees (sequoias) from 2 to 4 thousand years old. The main attraction is the Sherman tree - the most gigantic tree in the world, which is 4,000 years old. The cost of living per day is $ 22. The campsite offers showers, toilets, a tent place, an equipped campfire place, only some parking places suggest placing in a trailer, others provide a place for a tent. Nearby is a supermarket where you can find everything you need to relax.

Gpand Canyon National Park. Mather Camping. As you know, the Grand Canyon is a symbol of America and is carefully guarded by local rangers (by the way, they keep order in all campsites). In order to spend the night on the campsite you need 4 months before the local authorities need to send an application. Entrance to the reserve costs $ 25. Depending on the conditions that you expect (overnight in a tent, in a house, in a trailer), the cost starts from $ 18 per day. The campsite offers showers, toilets, a supermarket, a campfire place and willingly hosts travelers all year round.

San Diego Camping KOA. This is a whole network of campsites. So developed that you can use saunas, pools, the Internet, cable TV, not to mention modern showers, toilets and supermarkets. The main attraction of the area is that camping is located on the coast. Prices are completely different, as there are all kinds of accommodation types, even safari towns.

Grant Village. Yellowstone Nature Reserve. It works from June to September. The cost of an overnight stay is $ 26. It is better to book a place for at least a month. There is a road, 230 kilometers. Having passed through it you can see all the attractions of the reserve. The campsite offers laundry facilities, showers, toilets, supermarkets, campfire sites, tents and trailers.

Manzanita lake camping. You need to book a place here at least 4 days before arrival. The cost of an overnight stay is from $ 18. The main attraction of the area is the Lassen Peak volcano. Activities include hiking and fishing. This is a great place to come on a trailer and stay for a few days or weeks. Camping at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters.

Moraine Park. It is located in the Rocky Mountain Nature Reserve. It is here that the continental watershed passes, although the line is conditional, but carries a rich history and significance. Camping is divided into sectors, separately for tents, separately for trailers. Find out About prices, reservations and details. There is a campsite all year round, but already in October there is snow here, so it can be closed due to weather conditions.

StateFlorida. Park Blue Spring. The cost of an overnight stay is $ 24. The campsite is very well equipped, there is electricity, gas, running water and everything necessary for a comfortable stay. They come here in particular for water recreation, as there is the opportunity to go diving, diving and swimming, boating, as well as walking in the fresh air on foot and on bicycles. There are also hot springs, the temperature of which is about 25 degrees. Previously, Indians lived in this territory, now it is a national park.

Malibu California Leo Carrillo SP. Parking day costs $ 12 if booked in advance. $ 45 costs an overnight stay with all the conditions if booked a couple of days before arrival. At the disposal of vacationers are almost 3 kilometers of beautiful beaches, underwater caves, unimaginable reefs. Diving, surfing, windsurfing, swimming and boating are for granted things for camping. Camping is open from June to August.

Flaming Gorge. Utah $ 16 costs one night at this campsite. It is located by the will of the gorge of the same name and is famous for its panoramic views. This is a place of seclusion and tranquility. This is a great place to go rafting and rafting on the river. This is an authentic place, as rumors have it that you can catch 20 kilogram fish in local waters.

All these campsites are equipped. Non-equipped campsites are mainly located in national parks and will cost from $ 5 to $ 10 per day. For greater convenience, you can use the campsite map. There is also a map of interesting routes for your convenience.

There is such a thing as glamping. These are luxury campsites with Persian rugs, spas, air conditioning, cable, Wi-Fi and many other amenities of civilization. In such a place, food and drinks can be delivered directly to the "tent number". Prices, of course, are relevant here, from $ 600 per day.

What else you need to know when stopping at an American campsite. It is strictly forbidden to feed animals that live in the reserve or national park, as well as leftovers and food left behind. Each campsite has trash cans. As for the fire, you can light it only in a specially designated place and only those firewood that is collected. Cutting trees is strictly prohibited. Rangers who keep order at campsites will be happy to sell you an armful of firewood for a fee.

Here are some more useful links about what you need to know when traveling in motor homes: Campers Club, American campsites, USA campsite guide, camping tips. If you need a car to move your thriller, you can go to Car rental website USA.

Free campsites

Remember the definition of "national forest». National forest (NationalForest) Is a territory that belongs to a state (not a state) and federal laws apply in it. Forests are clearly marked on all maps, plus a very noticeable sign will be installed at each entrance, indicating that you have entered the forest. It should be noted that the “forest” here may be the most natural desert with rare bushes, where the density of large trees is one per square kilometer.

Theoretically, you can stay in any national forest, in any place you like. In practice, each forest has its own nuances. For example, spending the night somewhere may be prohibited due to the threat of fires, somewhere you can get up exclusively in specially designated places (campsites or campsites), somewhere just do not physically stop because of the lack of ramps and road fencing.

Almost always there are special information boards at the entrance to the national forest, on which all conditions are detailed. For example, if you can stop only in specially designated places, then on the shield there will be a map with marked places. If it is impossible to burn bonfires, this will also be written.

It is not difficult to find a place near the road - look for the traces of those who have been here before you (traces of cars, trampled areas). Often you can find a fireplace, lined with stones. Be careful - the presence of a bonfire does not mean that you can burn a bonfire. Perhaps specifically at the moment this is prohibited due to the threat of fires (information will be at the entrance to the park), and the fines for violation can be very impressive.

Keep in mind that such places do not imply the availability of toilets and other amenities, including sources of water.

However, free campsites are also quite equipped, but they are located in low-visited places or where you cannot reach by car (only for backpackers).

Most campsites are of course paid. They are completely different: as half-wild with minimal amenities, and equipped with showers, laundries and even houses. You can find them in all national parks, state parks and the same national forests. For convenience, I would divide the campsites into the following types:

  • only for tents (+ place for a car), cost $ 10-30
  • for RV (motor homes) cost $ 10-80
  • mixed (most of these)

In all the paid campsites that we visited, at least there was a table, a flat area for a tent, equipped fire place and a toilet. Often there is water, at least technical, for washing hands and dishes. Sometimes there is drinking.

Some campsites can even take a shower. Usually it is paid ($ 2-5 per person), but sometimes it is included in the cost of camping (usually spending the night there is expensive). In general, if you have a desire to take a shower, but do not plan to check in, then you should watch large campsites for RV on the way, there you can safely put yourself in order for the same $ 2-8.

For RV, additional features are often provided: connection to electricity, water, the ability to drain all "sewage". Often these services are paid separately, but somewhere can be included in the price of an overnight stay.

How to pay for camping

Some campsites can be booked in advance, and some can only be occupied and paid upon arrival (system first-come first-served) The second option can be interpreted as "who first got up, that and slippers."

Camping sites of a mixed type are often found - half of the places in them can be booked in advance, and the rest are for those who cannot plan a trip in advance.

Online payment

With the first option, everything is clear - they reserved a place on the site, immediately paid for it (by credit card, for example). We have never done so, but I don’t think that any difficulties may arise.

However, if you make a reservation by phone or email, do not forget to receive confirmation! Find out all the necessary information immediately: cancellation and refund policies, check about early or late arrival, rules, etc. Please note that in most cases money is written off as a rhinestone.

Self payment (iron ranger)

Many campsites are self-catering. They have a special iron piggy bank at the entrance (that's why this method is called "iron ranger", that is, "iron ranger"), designed just for payment. I tell you how this happens in practice:

  • Arriving at the campsite, there will definitely be information boards at the entrance. If there is no ranger booth, then somewhere near the shield you will see a metal box with a slot and some kind of inscription like “pay here”.
  • Next to the payment box will be another, with envelopes for money. You need to take an envelope and go to choose a suitable place.
  • Each place will have a column with a number. On the same column there will be a clothespin for a piece of paper on which the owner writes his data and stop dates (this piece of paper comes off the envelope). If there is nothing on the clothespin, then the place is free. Or, in not very popular places, an expired piece of paper can hang for several days in a row, if it is not removed by the rangers, so check it out.
  • They chose a place, immediately filled out the necessary fields on the envelope: the number of the car, its make, its name, the number of the chosen place, the date of payment and the number of days (how much you stop). Will have to fill twice - on the spine and on the envelope itself. Then tear off the spine and attach to the column.
  • Put the required amount in the envelope and take it to the entrance, throw it in the box for receiving money. Everything, your place.

I recommend that you always have small money, it can be problematic to exchange money on the spot.

As a rule, rangers come to pay very early in the morning (empty the drawer), but they can also visit in the afternoon to check if everything is in order at the campsite. As we have noticed, in low-camped campsites, rangers can stay out of sight for several days. Some use it and do not pay for their place. However, I would not recommend - firstly, this is unfair, and secondly, the amounts are small and saving ten bucks is not worth the potential problems if you get caught.

Where to look for campsites

List of camping search tools:

  • Campsite booking site
  • The official website of National Park Service parks and not very official
  • Our maps and articles
    All the places where we spent the night, plus many other campsites - everything is marked on the maps posted in articles about parks and housing in them.
  • Google maps
    Just enter "camping" or "campsite" + the name of the park (place) of interest.
  • OSM Cards
    Wonderful offline maps with many different points of interest (POIs), including campsites. To work with these cards, you can, for example, install the OsmAnd program on your smartphone or even upload maps to your GPS.
  • Printed State Maps
    They can be bought on the spot, at any gas station, or purchased in advance, for example, on Ozone. At gas stations, such cards cost, if I am not mistaken, about $ 5-10. You can buy a souvenir.
  • Park Maps
    Issued at the entrance to any park.
  • Travel guides
    For example, Lonely Planet has a lot of campsite information.

Our camping search technique was quite simple: if there is a paper map of the state, see on it, then we look at the data of the OSM card, if nothing was really found (which was extremely rare), we search the Internet and continue searching on other sites.

Often tourists are scared that there are no campsites in some popular parks, so you need to book everything in advance. In fact, we have not seen this. If the place is popular, then there will be not one or even two campsites, so there will probably be a place.

However, if you absolutely do not have time to search for a campsite and do not need any surprises, it is better to book everything in advance. Given that a number of parks are extremely popular among tourists, some campsites in them are fully booked for several months in advance. This must be taken into account - either book in advance, or search on the spot.

When going on a winter trip, keep in mind that for the winter season (November-March), many campsites are closed.

For two months of traveling, we only once faced a lack of places and it was in Zion Park, but there we just had to watch for those departing in the morning. As practice has shown, people at campsites come actively on Friday and many leave on Sunday.

If a miracle happened and you did not have enough space in the campsite where you planned to stay, there is always something else nearby. Near any park somewhere at the entrance, there are usually other campsites. For example, in Capitol Reef we spent several days in one such, and free of charge. In addition, we were the only guests there.

Campfire bonfires

With bonfires, it’s not like in Russia. First, they can only be burned in designated areas. Although, in campsites almost always at each place a special fireplace is equipped for this.

Secondly, you have to buy firewood. Yes, heaps of firewood can roll around, but you cannot collect and burn them, you can only buy. You can do this at most gas stations, in park stores or elsewhere, there are plenty of places. A small bunch of firewood will cost you $ 3-6. I think just warming is enough for one for the evening.

Часто можно встретить уведомления о том, что нежелательно жечь дрова, привезенные из других мест, только те, что выросли здесь же. Вдруг жучок из секвойи переберется на персики и решит основать там колонию? Или семечку какого-нибудь нежелательного в этой местности растения принесете. Как правило, это просто рекомендация, а не жесткое требование.

Тут должен заметить, что бывают исключения. В некоторых бесплатных кемпингах встречали таблички, говорящие о том, что можно собирать сухие дрова и жечь их, но без излишнего энтузиазма. То есть будьте благоразумны, не калечьте живые деревья и не устраивайте пожары.

Рекомендую заранее запастись какими-нибудь сосисками, чтобы вечером пожарить их на костре. Romance, however.

Let me remind you once again - if you didn’t stop at the official campsite, but, for example, found a place in the national forest, carefully examine all the leaves attached to the information boards at the entrance - is there anything to say that you can’t make fires now?

Behavior rules

In all campsites there is such a thing as “quiet hour”. Usually it starts at 10 pm and ends at 5-6 in the morning. At this time, it is not accepted to make noise, otherwise the neighbors will call the ranger, and he will make you an ata.

No need to litter where you live. Take away all garbage, do not leave anything. Nothing at all. After you leave, the place should look like there was no one there for a long time. If you suddenly see the garbage left before you, do not be lazy, remove it. Maybe someone just didn’t notice.

In some campsites, food will have to be cleaned in special iron boxes to protect it from theoretically possible creeping bears. Read more about relationships with clubfoot here.

If the campsite has a toilet, do not pour dirty water near your place (for example, after washing dishes), do it in the toilet. Moreover, if there is water, then there will certainly be a special place for washing dishes and draining dirty water - usually this is a large sink with the inscription "gray water".

The rest remains on your conscience. The main thing is to be a man.

Why stay at campsites rather than hotels

Firstly, this way you will be closer to nature. Deer will not come to your hotel, but camping is easy.

Secondly, it is much cheaper than hotels. Campsites cost around $ 10-20, and hotels in parks and surrounding areas are much more expensive.

Thirdly, you sometimes just have no choice. In some places, hotels can be either crowded, terribly expensive, or they may not be at all. That is, they will be, but tens of kilometers from the place where you might want to meet the dawn.

What you need for camping

We did not see any equipment rental services directly at the campsites, so everything should be its own: a tent, sleeping bags, rugs (for sleeping bags), dishes and, preferably, a burner for cooking. Everything necessary for camping, Sheboldasik described in detail here.

Enjoy your outdoor activities, dear readers!

Sheboldasik and Andryusiks

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Is it worth it to book accommodation for car travel in the USA in advance?

Despite the fact that housing booked elsewhere imposes certain financial obligations and restricts freedom of movement, I in almost all cases FOR pre-booking. And if, moreover, the trip fell during the period of national or local holidays, then a frivolous attitude to the issue of spending the night can lead to depressing consequences even in such a semi-civilized trip as auto-travel. I know what I'm talking about, since this time we ourselves were in an unpleasant situation, with all our experience.

As already mentioned in the introduction to the series of articles “Auto Travel to the USA - 2016”, I didn’t check the American calendar in advance, which ultimately gave a surprise in the form of a holiday, and therefore a universal day off, which he taught in the middle of our trip. Naturally, by the time the truth was discovered, all the places in campsites and hotels were already occupied and I had to get out of the situation by looking for alternative options, which I will discuss later.

An exception to this rule, I would call very long journeys when it is supposed to travel 12 or more hours on a day of pure travel time (i.e. with all stops there will be a couple more hours more). We only encountered this phenomenon in the USA because of the extra long distances between many attractions. And in order to avoid a situation where it is necessary to get to a pre-booked overnight stay, and there is already no strength, we looked for this overnight stay when we felt that the forces were already running out and were starting to get nauseous from the road.

Breakfast in Yellowstone

1) Hotels, guesthouses, B&B, hostels, apartments, motels ...

- the most comfortable, and therefore the most non-budget type of housing. When traveling in Canada / USA, we use it only if there are no other options (physical absence, full occupancy, weather, etc.)

Our experience: for holiday long weekend a nightly attack on a motel in a non-tourist town in Colorado cost us 72 American bucks - the most terrible option in terms of price / quality ratio during the entire tourist career. True, for this money we got clean beds, a warm shower and a coffee maker with a microwave - more than enough for the night, but the price left an unpleasant aftertaste on the soul.

2) Campsites

- our favorite summer option accommodation, which allows you to save money well and have a nice evening by the fire. Of course, there are some inconveniences here, especially when you have to move from place to place and do the same procedure every day: to lay out / put down the tent, mattress, field kitchen, etc. The two main enemies of camping are cold and rain, and when they come together, the mood drops even among optimists like us, so we try to avoid wet seasons. On this, perhaps, all the disadvantages of this type of accommodation for us end, and again and again we return to some forest to decompose our temporary home and make a fire.

Our experience: We spent most of our nights at campsites while traveling in the USA, and therefore we will dwell on them separately.

Ruby’s Inn RV Park & ​​Campground

Primitive campground near Fish Tower. UT - Unequipped Camp

3) National Forests of the USA (National Forests)

It was nice to know that America, an expensive country, offers its most economical guests and residents a completely legal option. free overnight in the forest. As it turned out, all national forests are the property of the state and any person can spend the night on its territory anywhere, unless there are special restrictions. Of course, you will be expected to observe certain rules: do not touch animals, cut only dry woods, use ready-made fires for bonfires, if they exist or do not burn fires at all during a period of increased fire hazard, which will be warned by a sign at the entrance to the forest, well It is advisable not to leave trash behind you.

Our experience: at first it was hard to believe in the possibility of spending free nights in the forest (in Canada this is not, as far as I know), but when we met the ranger and he confirmed the information, all doubts immediately disappeared. All the same brought us into the forest. "long weekend“Because of which all possible types of accommodation were occupied, but even in the forest all the places where you could drive by car turned out to be full. As a result, we spent two hours and a lot of gasoline before we found a suitable option, but got invaluable experience. Now we know that we always have a backup plan - the main thing is to get to the nearest forest, and there we’ll definitely settle in somewhere.

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Sharing : The official map of the US national forests, by the way, in some forests there are equipped campsites without a shower with a primitive toilet for a nominal fee. Information about them can be found on the same site.

Another useful link - A map of free US campsites, including campsites in the woods.

Other free overnight options in the USA

English-speaking tourist sources told me that homeless tourists favorably famous supermarket chain Walmart which officially permits spending the night in its parking lot. The article was about RV (motor homes), but I think little passenger cars will not make an exception. It is recommended to warn store employees about your plans so that they advise where it would be better to park at night. It is clear that this is not an overnight dream, but in life everything happens and it is useful to know about such options.

Another legal way to stay for free is “rest area»- special places with parking spaces, toilets and picnic tables arranged along the most popular highways. As a rule, they are found at the intersection of states. The blue sign of the hut not only informs about the nearest such vacation spot, but also the distance to the next one so that you can evaluate your chances and make the right decision.

Campsites USA

America is a country of campsites, because they are everywhere: in national and provincial parks, in forests, near rivers and lakes, in canyons, mountains, and even in the courtyard of ordinary American residents. So if you do not pull to the last, you can always book yourself the most pleasant places along the route, based on your own needs and conditions: children, dogs, a pool, RV, etc.

Roma and I are unpretentious people, but one requirement for campsites we have is the obligatory presence of a hot showerand what was my surprise when it turned out that most of the US national parks we planned to visit had no showers at campsites. This applies not only to RV-parks, but also tent-only campsites where there are no other options to wash off the dirt, except as an equipped shower, is not mentioned. Then I had to discover the world of private campsites, which turned out to be easy and simple, like everything in the American services sector.

Wahweap RV Park. AZ

What does American camping look like?

In the same way as the Canadian one)) The basic place in the equipped campsite includes a tent place, a car porch, a barbecue and a picnic table with benches. Everywhere where there is a shower, there is also a laundry, working for a penny in the literal sense of the word. By the way, in some campgrounds there is a shower, but you need to pay for it separately by throwing coins into a special device - so a trifle in auto-travel around the USA is not a superfluous thing.

But there are also non-equipped campgrounds in America, there are a lot of them. Such a tourist camp offers only places for a tent and toilet "forest type" - and all this for 5 bucks per night. Payment is made in good faith, by sealing money in an envelope and lowering it into a special box. Water in such a wild camp is not always the case.

Wahweap RV Park. AZ

Firewood at American Campsites

Despite all the comforts of portable gas stoves, an evening at a campfire without a bonfire makes me sad. So in the morning oatmeal is cooked in our small primus stove, and in the evening pickled steaks hiss over hot coals, unless the plans are broken by a bad rain. We often bring our own firewood, we have it from a furniture factory, so we never raised any complaints, but a sawn tree may fall under the ban on the import of firewood from other states, and even more so the country, although I don’t remember anyone paying attention to the view our wood.

If you don’t have your own firewood, you can buy them in parks and at gas stations or chop them on your own near campground. At Yellowstone, we were pleasantly surprised at the possibility of chopping wood in the forest, because in Canadian national parks this is strictly prohibited, although again, I did not see anyone closely watching this.

Canyon Campground. Yellowstone

Issue price

The cheapest equipped camping site on our trip cost us $ 16, and the most expensive one costs $ 30, but there are still options, both cheaper and more expensive. For example, many KOA campsites cost up to 50 bucks a night, but they can have a pool, a large playground, and much more.

On the map, the yellow houses marked the campsites in which we stayed:

That seems to be all that I wanted to tell about the nights during our trip to the USA. If you still have questions - I will be glad to answer them in the comments.