Brand New to RVing. What parks should I look for? What Apps

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Tiercel

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Jul 20, 2021
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155
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Pennsylvania
This is about as basic as it gets. I have never stayed at a commercial RV park. I have seen signs for KOA but know nothing about them or any or RV park. Are there chains? What to avoid, what to look for? Where can I find out more? Should I have a good app for finding parks? Maybe it is in my GPS. I never looked.
 

Tom55555

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Jan 1, 2018
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973
Regarding KOA, they vary; most are pretty good. Just Google RV parks.

I personally prefer state and national parks but have found some really great private RV parks.

It's like Forest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. LOL.
 

richclover

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Jan 26, 2019
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275
Location
WY
This is about as basic as it gets. I have never stayed at a commercial RV park. I have seen signs for KOA but know nothing about them or any or RV park. Are there chains? What to avoid, what to look for? Where can I find out more? Should I have a good app for finding parks? Maybe it is in my GPS. I never looked.
I use the RVParky app for trip planning. You’ll see RV parks there along with reviews. Good Sam is another place to check park listings. The KOA site is worth a look. I have a membership and the reservation system, on line, has proven useful. I’ve been in some very nice KOA’s and a few not so nice. Other folks will make more suggestions.

Happy Trails!
 

bzerull

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May 20, 2019
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69
RV Parky and Allstays are both very good apps for planning trips and finding RV parks. RV Parky is free Allstays if I remember correctly is about $10. Welcome and enjoy your new RV!
 

Larry N.

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May 26, 2010
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Westminster, Colorado
Are there chains?
I'm not sure what that would refer to, or perhaps you mean a national or regional chain of parks such as KOA. There aren't many chains -- KOA is the only one I can think of, though many RV parks are Good Sam members or Passport America members (both offer discounts). There also are membership-only parks, but I know little about them

But generally, at a commercial park, you pull in to the campground and there's normally a parking area next to the office (it often is marked lanes on the road in) where you stop, get out and go in to the office. After going through the check in procedure, many parks will have someone in a golf cart lead you to the site, though some will give you a park map and indicate where to go to get to your site.

And I agree with the above that Allstays Camp & RV and RVParky are good apps, listing almost everything available, including state and national parks, COE, BLM, city parks and more, in addition to all the commercial parks.
 

Great Horned Owl

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Lake County, Illinois
Before you even start selecting an RV park, You need to decide how you want to use it. There are RV resorts, where some people can spend days, without ever leaving the park. At the other end of the spectrum, where an RV park is a place to park your RV to sleep at night.

The resort type has lots of variations. You need to do your research. If you just need a place to park and sleep for a night (or even longer), then most any RV park will suite your needs.

Joel
 

ziplock

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Dec 3, 2017
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645
Use google maps and poke in campgrounds.

Then campgrounds pop up on the map. All kinds of campgrounds.
 

JudyJB

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Ditto on using Google maps. Often, the map and even the photos included on the website for a commercial campground is misleading. For example, the sites may be smaller and closer together than you would expect based on the map. In addition, there may be more or fewer trees than when the photos were taken, which is important if you want to use satellite TV or want shade.

I also use campgroundreviews.com for comments made by previous campers. Do be aware that a rating, however, may be based on things you don't use or care about. For example, do you care about having a large pool or friendly check-in process??
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
I may be a little late to this one but in general I use a mix of google maps, campgroundreviews.com, ultimate campground guide (web site or app), passport America (discount camping membership club) and perhaps one or two others to find a rv site / campground. Even with all these tools there are many times that I will drive by a seemingly nice looking commercial RV park along the route that did not show up in my research.

Generally speaking I use google maps for finding potential commercial campgrounds, then check out the reviews at campgroundreviews.com if looking for public camping options I will often use ultimate campground guide, as it tends to include not only the usual federal and state operated public campgrounds, but even municipal and utility operated campgrounds.

As to your question about chain operations, KOA is probably the biggest one, though be aware they come in multiple tiers with the KOA Journey parks being the lowest tier. KOA is sort of the Holiday Inn / Holiday Inn Express of RV parks, some are nicer than others, but you know you will nearly always be in a certain luxury range, though often with prices 20% higher than their surrounding non chain competition with similar amenities. As I see it their one big advantage is an online reservation system, we occasionally stay at KOA parks..

The are other chains like the Yogi Bear's Jellystone RV parks with over 75 locations according to their web site, I have never stayed at one of these, about all I know of them is the cater to being family friendly.
 

donn

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Nov 8, 2009
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If you have outdoor acrivities in mind go for state parks, NF camp grounds. Heck even some counties will have small out of the way parks with tons of things to do outside. Avoid places like KOA unless you really like being so close to your neighbors you can hear them having sex at night
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
Commercial RV parks are all about packing in as many RV's in as little space as possible in order to optimize the profit margin, this is not only about land value, but also cost to run electrical / water / sewer to each site, cost to build loop roads, etc. By contrast public campgrounds often try to be park areas first, and RV sites second. This has trade offs both ways with public campgrounds you tend to get more space between sites, though often the sites are water and electric only with no sewer, and group buildings are often limited to being just restrooms, sometimes with shower rooms and possibly laundry rooms, maybe an outdoor pavilion, but not much else, and usually these are rather spartan. By contrast commercial RV parks, particularly the nicer ones often have more on site amenities, like nicer laundry rooms, often a small store with essential items (toilet paper, water hoses, ice cream, etc.), they will often also have swimming pools, nicer shower facilities / laundry rooms, sometimes on site cafes, game rooms, exercise rooms, club house facilities, etc.

p.s. I have never heard neighbors at an RV park having sex, though I have heard hooping and hollaring while they are 10-15 feet away watching sports on their outdoor TV until nearly midnight while I was trying to sleep.
 

Alan_Hepburn

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Nov 14, 2020
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San Jose, Ca USA
Haven't seen this mentioned yet, but for an all-in-one solution you can try RV Trip Wizard. It's a web-based trip planning tool that includes a database of over 20,000 parks of all types - this database is actually the campgroundreviews.com database so you don't need to refer to CGR separately, just click a button. It also includes an app for your mobile device that provides RV-friendly GPS routing capability.
 

Matt_C

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Mar 4, 2019
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SE - Mich
Has anybody mentioned Campground Reviews? That is my personal favorite. There are many to choose from - Apps I mean - use two and see if they agree. Always read the reviews not just the rating. One park we quite like (we also rarely stay in parks), got a bad review because their cable TV was poor.....
Matt
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
Really what it comes down to with all of these sites / apps is missing content, there are just too many mom and pop / new commercial RV parks, and even some public ones that don't advertise. I stayed at a nice little commercial RV park with about 30 sites (mostly snow birds) a couple of years ago in east Texas, and went to post a review of it on campground reviews just to find it was not listed even though it had been open for nearly 10 years at the time. Out of curiosity I just went and checked to see if anyone else had reviewed it since I posted my initial submission and review in early 2018, and yes there are 2 more reviews, one giving it 3 stars unfortunately they are not reviewing the same RV park I stayed at as both refer to lake views, and this park was 4 miles from the lake even though it has the lake name in its name.
 

JudyJB

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A lot of selection is in your own personal preference, and after a few good and bad experiences, you will get the hang of choosing what you will end up liking. For example, I like privacy and quietness, plus the opportunity to have wildlife around. I have no interest in a pool or hot tub, or group activities, but then again, I am not going to stay somewhere longer than a week or two. And I really don't care about how friendly the person checking me in is or that I got escorted to my site. I most remember experiences like waking up one morning and having a small group of wild horses in my site or stepping out of my door and seeing a bunny hoping I might have food for it. I also like views, so a place like the Watchman Campground at Zion National Park with deer wandering through and the views of the tall cliffs is perfect for me.

The important thing is to decide what YOU want in a campground and look for it!! Then read the reviews carefully and use Google maps.

(Note: Never heard next-door sex, but I once spent several months so close to my neighbor that I could hear his small dogs running back and forth in his trailer. That was for medical treatment, so I was glad to be out of there when treatment was over.)
 

JudyJB

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Then once you have a general idea of where you want to go, check the federal (COE), state, and county campgrounds along your route. I try to not drive more than 200 miles per day so I can stop if I see something interesting. Then I check the campgrounds that I might want to stay at using Campgroundreviews.com. Finally, I check Google maps to get a more accurate idea of what the place really looks like. If I am still unsure, I see if CampsitePhotos.com - Campsite Photos and Camping Information has photos of the specific campsites I am thinking about.

After 9 years, obviously, I have some favorites, but I always add a new campground or two on my way. Sometimes I am positively surprised and sometimes negatively surprised, but that is what makes this lifestyle an adventure. Most of my favorites, obviously, have a terrific view and lots of wildlife. For example, I like Grand Canyon for the bike paths and the elk in Trailer Village. And, I had a great experience watching an old bighorn sheep guarding the leaking campground faucet he won in a head-butting contest in Valley of Fire this past January. Check out my blog, below.
 

Old_Crow

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Nov 20, 2016
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2,524
Location
Mammoth Lakes, California
Hey Judy,
I snapped this pic one afternoon in a crowded USFS campground at Convict Lake in California. 88 sites and it was plumb full that day. Still had nature come to the door.
 

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