Prior to the advent of the Internet, most campers found places to go camping by mailing away for brochures or campground guides or by word-of-mouth from family and friends. One could usually trust the opinions of others, but the brochures and guides could misrepresent a campground as being more than it is in actuality. Remember, advertisements aren't always what they claim to be. This fact holds true for many ads on the Internet too.
The Internet has grown into a huge billboard sign where anyone anywhere can sell or advertise whatever they want. The amount of information on the Internet is growing at such a rate that it is impossible to keep up with all of it, let alone decipher the good information from the bad. So how does one use the Internet to find reliable campground information? Simple, do your searching on appropriate Web sites. The purpose of this article is to guide you to these Web sites, explain what you can expect to find at each of them, and help you to use them to find campgrounds that meet your criteria.
Campgrounds will fall into two basic categories: public or private. Public campgrounds are usually run by a government agency and include those found in national parks and forests, bureau of land management areas, army corps of engineer projects, and in state parks and forests. Private campgrounds are typically RV parks and campground resorts owned by private citizens or businesses. Both public and private campgrounds are well represented on the Internet.
Public campgrounds offer the largest choice of campground destinations available to us. These campgrounds, mostly funded by tax dollars, are typically found in scenic areas or on lands set aside to preserve some aspect of the natural environment for present and future enjoyment of outdoor recreation. The public campgrounds usually offer the same quality of service and amenities nationwide. If you've ever camped at one national park, you can likely expect the experience to be the same at other national parks. The same can be said of campgrounds in the National Forests, Army Corps of Engineer Projects, Bureau of Land Management Areas, and the State Parks. Although the state park systems vary from state to state, the other public facilities remain somewhat consistent nationwide.
Unfortunately, there is no one Web site that has all the information about every campground available in the US. But there are Web sites that may be considered the definitive source for details about particular types of campgrounds. For the National Parks there's Park Net, for Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) there's Reserve USA, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has their state directory, and for the State Parks there's L.L.Bean and my own directory of state camping destinations, which includes links to every state park homepage.
Public Campground Resources