Cost of camping in the US?
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  1. #1
    Registered User The Muse's Avatar
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    Default Cost of camping in the US?

    Please tell me about camping in the US! I'm brand new to camping and I'm curious about costs, facilities, etc. back home.

    It's about $40/night to camp here in Denmark, including shower facilities and a kitchen area, but no electric hook-up.

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    Registered User josantoro's Avatar
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    I think you will find it is much less in the US, private campgrounds are generally more than public (state parks, etc.). We have not been in a while, used to go tent camping and generally paid around $15 a night.

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    Registered User nodmicks's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about all over but I know the county campground right down the road is only $18 a night. We havent camped much in the last few years but we rarely paid over $20 a night when we did.

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    It varies greatly.

    Dispersed camping on public lands such as BLM land or some Forest Service land is free. I think some state forests have free dispersed camping, too.

    Rustic campgrounds are less expensive than campgrounds with more amenities, generally speaking.

    Public campgrounds (government) are almost always less expensive than private campgrounds. Public campgrounds include national parks and recreation areas, state parks and recreation areas, US Forest Service, state forests, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, and probably some I'm forgetting. All of them have websites that list fees if you're curious about a specific park or area. Many of their websites also offer pictures of their campsites.

    Here in Minnesota, we have an excellent state park system with gorgeous, well-maintained parks. Fees are around $24/night including electricity. There is a day-use fee as well, which is not charged if you have an annual pass (park sticker). Wisconsin is similar. In MN, some of our parks charge lower camping fees to encourage traffic through lesser-used parks. I've never seen pay showers at MN or WI parks, but there is an extra charge for things like ice and firewood. Most MN parks now have small stores which sell souvenirs or things like reference books. Most also offer interpretive talks or demos. I've done several demos to help people learn about Dutch oven camp cooking.

    I'd say most of the time we pay $18-$25 for sites with electricity but no water at the site. Water is always available though, and usually the campground will have flush toilets and showers.

    I think when we stayed at Madison in Yellowstone, fees were under $20. No sites there had power. That cg offered flush toilets but no showers. Some YS cg's offered pay showers, and that varies from place to place too. We installed a shower in our trailer and simply used that.

    Fees seem to be a lot higher in the eastern part of the US. Don't know about the west coast.

    I don't know about private campgrounds. I think we've only stayed at one or two in the past ten years. Generally speaking, public parks have larger, nicer sites so you're not jammed up next to your neighbor, and are less expensive since they're taxpayer funded. (Which in our opinion is an excellent use of tax money.)

    Here are some places we've stayed:
    Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Sites there are wide spots in the road and we hated them, but the price and location were right.


    Keyhole State Park, Moorcroft, Wyoming. Near Devil's Tower. Really nice park.


    Another wide spot in the road at Buffalo Bill State Park, Cody, Wyoming.


    Our tiny site at Madison, Yellowstone, Wyoming. It took us a while to find a way to get our rig to fit.


    We also stayed a night or two at Mammoth Hot Springs in northern Yellowstone, which had huge pull-through sites and a killer mountain view. Gorgeous. We'll be back there again. I don't have that pic handy but it ended up on the cover of a national magazine, it was that pretty.

    Typical site at Lake Wissota State Park, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. We love that park. We drive down and meet our Chicago and Milwaukee friends there. It has an amazing bird population and the bird song around dawn is incredible. Such a variety. Try enjoying that in a hotel room!


    IMO, camping is the best way to travel. It can be expensive depending on the gear or rig you buy, but there are ways to do things on the cheap. I've never figured out why, when all these people write columns about saving money on travel, camping is never mentioned. You save tons over hotel rooms and restaurant meals (if you so choose) and you get to stay at fantastic places. And if you do it right, it's comfortable. We got back into it because we wanted to travel and didn't want to board our dogs. It's worked out really great for us.
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    Registered User Nadders11's Avatar
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    Your pictures are awesome....I need to go camping ASAP! Lol

    Love the new trailer!

    Never went camping in the US, but looking forward to the abundance of great affordable campgrounds.

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I think every state has something to offer for public camping. Some parks are better maintained than others, but so far we haven't found a state yet that we wouldn't go back to their parks. Although the showers at two parks in Oklahoma convinced us we'll never be without our own onboard shower again! Beautiful parks there though.

    We love the new trailer, too. We'll love it even more once we get it modified and organized the way we want it.
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    Registered User josantoro's Avatar
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    nice large tent trailer, Spirit Deer!!

    in my experience a lot of private campsites are 90% filled up with people who bring their RV and rent a site for the whole season. A very different vibe than a campsite with a lot of transients. It is more like a small town, everyone is sitting in their lawn chairs staring at you as you pull in and set up.

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Oh, c'mon, watching people pull in and set up is a time-honored tradition at any campground! Sometimes it's hilarious. Sometimes we're the ones providing the hilarity!

    But I think you're right about seasonal campgrounds vs. non-seasonals.

    Thanks, about our Mustang. We're really going to miss the space in that thing. It really is huge.
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    Michigan has great camping parks and a lot of them. a site here is $18ish. You get electric and water w/ the spot. They have hospitality tents now where you can get hot coffee and they have sign up free events for the kids. Quiet dogs welcome. It is rare that the campground doesn't have a lake,forests,a beach w/ a picnic area and usually boating and fishing facilities,shower facilities. Each site also has a fire pit and picnic table. Rangers patrol and can help for noise disturbances and such. Everyone is required to purchase a park pass for $10. here along w/ the site fees. i really enjoy taking my dogs down to our parks and spending a few hours. I also love camping.

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    Registered User josantoro's Avatar
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    Even when we were tent camping, it was nice to have water and electric right at the site. We used to bring a waffle iron and plug it in and make waffles for breakfast.

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    Registered User valerian's Avatar
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    We backpack deep in the woods in the North Carolina mountains and sleep in a tent which is free! LOL!

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    Josantoro-excellent idea and i can't believe I never have. I bring a griddle (electric) and make pancake,sausage,hamb on it. DH like not to bring appliances but he's not cooking. I always do bucket corn and foil potatoes to please him and oh course marshmallows and hotdogs on a stick. The carving of the stick was a big deal when I was a kid. You had to be a certain age to get to do it. The little kids found it.lol We also used to raid fire pits for wood. ddad was always now make sure someone isn't still camping there.lol Like we would steal it in our excitement.

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    Val-my Ds was just using a sleeping bag up at school. Now they have confirmed a cougar. First one in forever thats wild not a released pet. Add that to the bears and coyote he is reconsidering.lol

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    Registered User josantoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frugalwarrior2 View Post
    Josantoro-excellent idea and i can't believe I never have. I bring a griddle (electric) and make pancake,sausage,hamb on it. DH like not to bring appliances but he's not cooking. I always do bucket corn and foil potatoes to please him and oh course marshmallows and hotdogs on a stick. The carving of the stick was a big deal when I was a kid. You had to be a certain age to get to do it. The little kids found it.lol We also used to raid fire pits for wood. ddad was always now make sure someone isn't still camping there.lol Like we would steal it in our excitement.
    We used to do this too, never bought wood. It was always nice (but rare) when a campground would have a kitchen shelter with tables, for cooking and eating on a rainy day.

    When you're tent camping, if it rains, EVERYTHING is miserable. When it's sunny, EVERYTHING is fine!!!

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    Registered User FrabjousDay's Avatar
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    Most of the campgrounds in my area are around $15/night for a standard electric spot, $10 for non-electric during peak season. Prices drop by about $5 in the off season. Modern restrooms with showers and fire pits are standard. Many campgrounds here have playgrounds, picnic facilities, bike and hiking trails, and water access for swimming, kayaking and boating. To me, our parks are an amazing bargain.

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