How to Find the Perfect Campsite

Mike and Jennifer's campsite at Indian Lake State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They had electric hookups here but we never plugged in because our batteries had all the power we needed

Beginner and expert campers alike can agree on one thing: nothing beats landing that perfect camping site.

There’s just one thing…that “perfect” spot can have different meanings to everyone. Some people want county parks, trail heads, state forests, commercial campgrounds, and more.

That’s where Adam Longfellow, of AllStays.com, comes in.

For starters, you can go to that AllStays.com website and download the AllStays Camp & RV app (there are Truck & Travel and Hotels versions, too, as well as AllStays Pro for PC/Mac).

But as Longfellow shared with me on a podcast interview a while back, finding the perfect site can come down to addressing a few questions.

See the questions below, along with some of Longfellow's thoughts on the answers.

  1. 1. What type of camping do you want?

Know what kind of site you are looking for, either what makes you happy or what services you might need. Do you reserve or enjoy your journey as you go?

A full service RV Park with lots of amenities and higher cost like KOA and private RV parks.

Or will a county park, state park or forest camp do? Or even a piece of land?

If you want to go free, it could be a store parking lot, a truck stop or boondocking.

No matter what my plans are, I like to look at the map and find a couple of real paid campgrounds within possible range.

Those are my back up plans in case other options fall through or I need services.

I really like county and city parks and public lands near small towns that I might want to visit or explore or maybe they have a good restaurant I wanted to try.

They might be in a location you can walk around town. They might be just a handful of sites in a park and a playground. Great for families.

But if they are close to town yet in remote areas, say less than 10 miles from a small town, I find they can become party spots on weekend nights. This has surprised me a few times at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. These are best for Sunday throughThursday.

Walmarts, based on a consistent pattern of user reports, are more likely to have teens, loud music and parking lot races on weekend nights.

A true campground is often a safe weekend choice but then you have more people, they are possibly full and possibly higher rates.

  1. Once in a location/campground, what are things to consider?

Choose your priorities. Is the site close to restroom, trail or water?

Is it a high traffic site, where people and animals will then be passing through your site?

Avoid sites by trash, dumps, right off turns and speed bumps because people hit the gas.

It's a further walk to “stuff” but I like to be off a ways.

  1. What should I consider when seeking out dispersed or boondocking sites?

Pick an open spot. Find a site that is flat and raised up if anywhere near a river or source of water.
You don't want to float away and that has happened too often lately. Not to mention, bugs and animals are more likely by the water.

  1. What are other safety considerations while finding the “perfect” spot?

Look at the trees. Try to avoid parking near rough looking ones. You don't want a widow-maker to make an attempt on your RV.

Out in the open means more wind and weather.

I like to be out of the wind unless there are bugs. Wind can keep the bugs down.
Most wind comes from the west so keep that in mind when parking.

I like the sun to shine in certain windows in the morning if possible so I look at the direction of a site. I will also consider how my windows face and the light that is given off at night. Do I want to be invisible in the dark or attract attention?

I once was deep in an Oregon forest and found the state park was still closed beyond an opening day in April. So I saw a summer camp nearby, all closed up for months, sticks still in drive way.

I parked my RV in their dirt lot for the night but angled it so my night lights would not be seen from anyone going to or from the state park.

For a complete list of all the products, gear and apps mentioned by Mike and Jennifer on their podcast, YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel and here on the blog, go to http://kit.com/rvlifestyle




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