Do you remember, before the Internet and apps, when the only way to find a campground or RV park was to use a printed directory? The most popular were those from Woodall’s and Trailer Life (which still exists, now called The Good Sam Campground & Coupon Guide). Woodall’s even published regional guides — West, East, etc.
There were others, too, including directories of National Forest campgrounds (published by Coleman) and free campgrounds. Our friends at Roundabout Publications still publish three guides — to campgrounds in State Parks, National Parks and in recreation areas operated by the Corps of Engineers.
But beginning about a dozen years ago, printed campground directories began going out of print. And today, most are gone, replaced by dozens of online guides, most of which are far more comprehensive about a particular location than a brief description in a printed guidebook.
But the question is, who uses printed directories anymore? Do you? Let’s find out in this poll.
Two recently published guides to free campgrounds
Discover thousands of designated camping areas in the West and in America’s Heartland – real places – not big box store parking lots. Included are areas managed by various agencies — federal, state, local, etc. Learn more about the West edition or Heartland edition.
I’ve tried to use Good Sam’s book but I found it to be poorly organized with the print too small and close together. I found the KOA books much easier to use.
The only times we’ve used books in the last 5 years is the “Milepost” when going to Alaska.
I hate to say it, because I love books, but the internet is much better.
I start with Google Maps, my wife still starts with the Good Sam Directory.
I use RV Tripwizard whether I’m home or on the road traveling. Also Harvest hosts app if I only need to stay one night. There’s other backups if need be but never use printed info anymore.
When we first got our Class A (12 years ago) we got the Good Sams directory when we joined the ‘Presidents Club’. Used it twice. We use campgroundreviews.com when planning our trips, and the Truckers Path and ParkAdvisor apps if something comes up on the road. There are very few places where you can’t get a mobile network signal, but we still have that old printed directory stashed in the board game cabinet – just in case.
Printed directories are used after the on line services are exhausted.
Made me realize how long it’s been since I used my old directories. Still have old copies of Good Sam, Woodalls, and Coleman N.F. won’t part with them, but these days mostly RVParky and Google.
Using the internet is fine until you are in western Nebraska (or most any less populated great camping area) looking for a place to stay and cell service is poor or non-existent or you’re out of data. We only camp in campgrounds, so no Walmart stops for us. Not everything can be planned ahead of time. Printed directories are very helpful in those situations.
I am so OCD that I have my phone, tablet, and hard copy all going at the same time. This applies to both maps and campgrounds. Drives my husband bananas.😄
We use hard copy maps and directories, as well as internet info and phone apps to plan trips. We carry directories (KOA and Good Sam) even if we have reservations – plans can change. Apps tend to be difficult to find things down the road, on our route. In many of the places we go, cell service is spotty, so having the directories gives us a head start on searching for a campground once we find service.
I learned this the hard way a few years back, on a cross country trip with reservations all along the way, for overnight stops. I was delayed by almost half a day by tire issues. I didn’t really want to drive to my intended stop at that point. However, I had left the directories at home, and with slow internet, and many campgrounds closed for the season, I finally gave up and drove far later than I would have liked to in order to make my next overnight stop.
Have an iphone, ipad, GPS & many apps, but will go to the Good Sam or KOA directory first, most of the time. If I’m looking at different places I can bookmark, make notes or flip back & forth looking at info to compare. We did a lot of touring whole US & Canada & a visit to Mexico in our younger days, when you didn’t have to worry about reservations & we didn’t have all the technology. So use to the book. In the past few years we have destinations in winter & late spring & August, so we know where we are going. The trips out are pretty defined. Book reservations ahead,at same CG’s, to be on safe side. Trips home we wing it. Even though, prior to increase in RV’ers & Covid, we sometimes had issues with booked CG’s (seemed to more because of workers in the area) we were always able to find something & be able to add days if we wanted to explore. We are a little nervous about trip back from FL to CA (home) beginning of March.
We used to have a membership to Good Sam and used their book occasionally. Easy enough to go on the internet. When booking a Good Sam site we would tell them we were members and they said the discount is in the published price. So we dropped them.
We have a couple of printed road atlases, but have never had a printed campground directory. All of our research has been by interweb or recon as we travel.Sometimes recommendations from friends
GPS’s are tools, they are fallible, your phone even more so. Having a printed tried and true map (campground atlas) is a must have. Lots of information in there instead of what someone else said, actual real reviews by people who are trained in the industry. You may love your tablet/phone, just when you need it the most, it will fail on you.
We decide on a basic direction and destination. My husband then sits in his recliner and watches Gunsmoke while I start with the dependable Rand McNally road atlas. After a basic mapping I look for places along the way starting with Thousand Trails which we belong to, then fill in the gaps using RV Parky ap and Harvest Hosts ap and Good Sams and the Passport America books. At that point I pull out the National Parks guide, the Corp of Engineers book and our Guide to State Parks. Then I google the places and check the Truck Drivers atlas for steep grades and low bridges. It takes it all! It’s stressful but it takes all this. I miss the days of just driving til we get tired and stop somewhere and stay overnight or if it’s a good place spend several days! Then I look over at my husband calmly watching season 1 episode 1,000,000 of Gunsmoke …we might just go to Dodge City!
With you here. I get it all mapped out with a general idea of where we’ll stop, and then the hubs turns off Gunsmoke and says he wants to go another route. Good grief! It was so much easier back when we started RVing a few decades ago.
Google Maps and Google Earth provide excellent information. You can pick your route via Google Maps and in most cases you can type in the address of the RV Park and Google Maps will find it for you.
Google Earth will give you a BIRDS EYE view of the destination and will help you determine if it is a place you want to stay!
The problem with google is their drivers are driving small economy cars when mapping a route, I’m driving a 38′ class A motorhome. I can’t depend on them to tell me if there is a 10′ clearance ahead or a hairpin turn, so I carry a truck drivers atlas also.
We are full timers and find campgrounds online using various apps. Online allows us to read reviews, current pricing, and conditions/features of the campground. It also provides campground owners an avenue to provide up to date information.
I spread out a map of where I’m going, look at selected driving distances along the route, then look for campgrounds.
GPS gets the data later.
Yup. That’s how we do it too. That, and the “Ultimate Public Campground” app for finding boondock sites,