By Bob Difley
It’s easy to find a campground when traveling, even in unfamiliar territory. You simply pull out your Trailer Life or Woodall’s Campground Directory and find one. You can also use the Campground Owners of America directories to find the fanciest of amenity-filled RV resorts or a near-the-freeway overnight mom-and-pop campgrounds with easy in and quick entry back on the freeway in the morning.
But what do you do if you are on a tighter budget and can’t afford campgrounds that have excess funds to spend on advertising and camper magnets like swimming pools, recreation halls and golf courses? Or you would just like a little more space for yourself and don’t need a bunch of amenities?
There are alternatives. Forest Service (both federal and state) campgrounds usually have overnight fees less than half of what privately owned campgrounds and resorts charge, but don’t expect hook-ups, WiFi or cable TV connections. Go to the Forest Service website to find federal campgrounds along your route of travel, or do a Google search for state forest campgrounds wherever you are.
When traveling on Bureau of Land Management lands, which are spread over the 11 western states, primitive camping (boondocking) is allowed anywhere you can pull safely off the road. Follow a dirt road for a hundred yards or so and you may discover a nice, quiet, desert campsite all to yourself — and its costs you nothing.
When traveling through the countryside of many states, particularly in the Midwest, stop at small town police stations, chambers of commerce, or recreation departments and ask about local or regional campgrounds (almost always for the use of local campers and usually deserted except on weekends) that are never advertised or listed in campground directories.
Also look for camping possibilities when in or near national or state wildlife refuges, fishing access areas, regional or county parks, Indian reservations, national monuments, national grasslands, state fairgrounds, and on public utility lands.
If you use a GPS, log what you find into your waypoints or locations log so you can find them the next time through.
You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.