The first thing you'll do when you arrive at the campground is to stop at the office, register, and get a site assigned. This is your opportunity to ask questions. If you've never camped here before, you want to check things out and get a feel for how the campground is managed before you pay for your site.
Can I check out the campsite before I register?
Many campgrounds preassign campsites. That could be bad news. The site may be too small for your liking. It may be next to the bathrooms where there is a lot of noise and people traffic. It may be out in the open and offer no shade. You're tent camping, and it may be between two RVs. You're RVing, and the site is not level. There are times of the year when campgrounds are booked in advance, and you may not have a choice of campsites. In that case, be sure to ask if you can check out the site before you register. If they won't let you check it out, think twice before you hand them your money. If you have the option, ask if you can drive through the campground to pick out a site.
Can I have a map of the campground?
Not only wll this help you find your campsite, but it will also give you a layout of the campground so you can find the closest bathrooms and showers. A campground map will also show where playgrounds are located, how to get to any trails, where dumpsters are, etc. Often these maps also list the campground rules for easy reference.
Can I pay for just one night?
If you're planning on camping multiple days, and you've never been to this campground before, ask if you can pay for the first night, and then pay for the remainder tomorrow. Usually after spending a night in a campground, you can get a good feel for whether or not you'd like to stay there longer. If you pay in advance for all your days/nights, and after one night you find out that you picked a bad campground, you may have trouble trying to get a refund should you decide to leave early. If the campground attendants won't allow you to do this, think twice before paying for multiple nights.
What are the quiet times and are they enforced?Most campgrounds post quiet times between 10 or 11 pm and 6 or 7 am. This means no loud talking or rowdy behavior during quiet time. Campfires should be dowsed, and everyone should go to bed. It also implies that RVs should run their generators in the daytime and not during quiet time. If pets are allowed in the campground, they should be kept quiet too. Many campgrounds get the reputation of being a party campground. This usually means that quiet times are not enforced. If you've heard that this is a party campground, be forwarned. If the campers next to you get drunk and disorderly, call the local law enforcement. Whether it be park rangers or local police, public intoxification is against the law.
Can I build a campfire?Campgrounds may have varying rules concerning campfires. Sometimes fire rings are provided for such purposes, but fires may be banned because of seasonal fire hazzards. If campfires are allowed, you may have to buy local wood because of borer worm infestations. It's inadvisable to use downed wood from the area surrounding the campground, and never cut live limbs from trees to build a campfire. Ask if they sell firewood at the campground office. When campfires are allowed, keep them small. Bonfires can be dangerous, especially in windy conditions where sparks could fly into neighboring campsites.
Are there any planned activities?Whether you're camping with kids, or not, it's nice to know if the campground is offering things to do besides enjoying their campground. I've been to campgrounds that have outdoor movies on Saturday night, craft centers for kids, guided nature walks, fishing derbies, Sunday pancake breakfast and music festivals. These activities can add a nice benefit to your camping trip. Be sure to ask.
Does the campground sell ice?Even if you're camping for just one night, you'll probably need to replenish the ice in your cooler. It's good to know if it's available at the campground, or if you have to drive into town to get more.
What are the rules for pets?
If you camp with your dog, you need to know in advance if they are allowed at the campground. Once you arrive at the campground, you want to find out if a leash is required, if there are specific areas for walking them, and if they can be kept outside at night. Dog owners should always strive to keep their pet from excessive barking, and they should always pick up after their dog relieves themself. Dogs running rampant at the campground is a no-no under any circumstances. Owners should keep their dog under control at all times (with or without a leash).
Are hot showers free?
Many campgrounds now require you to pay to get hot water from the shower. Usually they have a vending device in the shower stall that costs a quarter for about 5 minutes of hot water. It's good to know that you need to take some quarters with you to shower. I've never seen a charge for using hot water from the sinks, so you may opt for cleaning up there, if you're out of quarters.