State and National Parks offer some of the most beautiful camping experiences that you will encounter. This type of camping is like no other and allows the public to camp in some of the most breathtaking parts of the country.
It is land that is so beautiful it cannot be bought with monetary value, it is only meant to be shared with the world. With that being said, why would anyone choose any other type of camping? Well like everything in life, beauty comes at a price. However, this type of camping is well worth the cost if you prefer nature over the city life. Let me try and explain some of the good, the bad, and ugly of state park camping.
THE GOOD – As I mentioned above, one the great perks of camping at state parks is the price. Usually this is a cheaper option than camping at a more commercialized campground such as chain operations or KOA’s. I say USUALLY because, this is not ALWAYS true as well as the rest of the statements that make the list, but this is typically a true statement.
We have found privately owned campgrounds that are literally just be a place to park your RV and hookup with no amenities and a weekly or monthly discount that can beat the deal of a state park. We have stayed stayed at these type of campgrounds to fill a specific need we may have such as a desired LOCATION or grabbing a CONVENIENT nights rest, but camping at a state park grants you access to a more outdoorsy type of adventure. Most state parks have trails for hiking and biking, areas to fish or canoe, or just an all around more scenic experience.
State Parks also provide more privacy and tend to be a little more quiet from our experience. No highway noises, no trains, and you have less of a chance for a noisy neighbor. Also, most of these campsites include a picnic table and place to have a cosy campfire. This is not a typical experience in a more commercialized or private own campsite.
If you are looking for a more rustic camping experience with a great view, nature for days, and privacy, this could be the place for you, but before you say “I DO” let me tell you about the bad and the ugly.
THE BAD – Again these are just generalizations and not ALWAYS true in every state park experience, but here are a few “BAD” examples that accompany this type of camping.
State Parks in all their glory might be a little bit of a drive to city life or civilization. This can be categorized as a GOOD depending on the camping experience you enjoy, but in order to get these amazing views and scenic trails it does tend to put you a little further out on the map. We have stayed at some State Parks with great locations followed by only a short drive into the city which is the best of both worlds for us, but be aware this is usually not the case.
If you own a larger RV like us (our is 39 ft), you may run into the problem that not all state parks offer campsites for larger RVs. We knew this dilemma before we bought our RV and because we live in ours, we sacrificed the possibly of not being able to stay in certain parks for the extra square footage in our everyday lives. For those of you who have smaller rigs this might not apply, but this can be an issue for the “Big Boned” RV like ourselves.
On the subject of space, let me also point out some of these state parks are much sought after real estate and some do fill up fast and require a reservation well in advance. This can be a BAD if you are more of the “winging it” type of travelers such as ourselves.
THE UGLY– So the ugly may be deal breakers for you, but before I reveal what they are, keep in mind all the GOOD I listed above and hear me out.
You are probably not going to have any special services such as wifi. I can hear the gasps now. Before the next one you might need to sit down.
It is also a possibility that you might encounter no phone service as well depending on the location of the state park you choose. Keep in mind this could be just the break from society you are needing and in exchange for wifi and a cell tower you will most likely get a pretty AWESOME VIEW.
So although these campsites are more private, they can also be more primative as well. Another potential UGLY is the possibility that sewer is not an included amenity. So for the newbies of camping let me explain what that means. You probably guessed it, but that means when the tanks are full we must dump the tanks ourselves at a dump station.
As you can see, this is for sure the UGLY part of camping but its a way of camper life. Some choose to dump into portable waste tanks on wheels and wheel it to a dump station to be emptied. The other option would be to pack up the RV and go dump the tanks, which can be a real pain and a “crappy” situation. Either way you get the idea.
So there you have it. This is the GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY of state park camping we have experienced thus far. More commercialized camping can have more amenities that State Parks do not offer such as wifi, cable hookups, swimming pools, laundry facilities, full hook up sites, and prime locations, but this is not ALWAYS the case so keep that in mind.
State Parks can be a great way to camp and get the biggest bang for your buck. It just depends on what kind of camping experience you prefer for you and your family, as well as what your budget allows. The most important thing to take away from this is no matter what camping journey you choose, go make some family memories that will last a lifetime.