One question we get asked quite often is, “How much do campgrounds cost?” This answer depends on several different factors. In this article, we’ll discuss the main considerations of campground pricing and provide several different examples of campground fees. We’ll break up the costs by pubic campgrounds and private campgrounds with the least we’ve paid to the highest.
Enjoy the video or read the article below to learn how much campgrounds cost.
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page for terminology.
Hook-Ups: Full, Partial or None
Full hook-ups campsites have water, power and sewer connections right at your site. Typically the electricity at full hook-up sites includes two options: 50 amp or 30 amp. The great thing about full hook-up campsites is that you can enjoy all the features of your RV without having to worry about managing your batteries or water holding tanks. I like to call our fifth wheel a rolling condo and full hook-up sites are really what allow it to be a home away from home.
Note: Most campgrounds that offer full hook-up sites will also have other amenities such as cabe, wifi, swimming pools, and even scheduled activities. However, these are not always included in the nightly fee. Be sure to check for additional costs before booking your stay.
This is exactly what it sounds like, partial, meaning you will be giving up something and it typically sewer. Most partial hook-up campsites offer only water and electricity. Also the electricity may only be 30 amp. Be sure to read the campsite description to know what you are getting. We have stayed at a campground that only had 30 amp electricity, no water or sewer. Many campgrounds that don’t offer water or sewer at your site will have a bath house and dump station that are free for campground guests to use, but don’t assume they will be there. Always check first.
We find partial hook-up campsites most often in publicly owned campgrounds like national or state parks. In our experience most of the publicly owned campgrounds are partial hook-ups. When we come across one with full hook-ups we enjoy it as a rare find.
These are also referred to as primitive or dry camping sites and they have no hook-ups at all. I’m not talking about boondocking here because to me boondocking implies no campground at all. Many National Forest campgrounds offer dry camping sites.
This category of campgrounds includes national parks, national forests, Corps of Engineers, state parks, and even city or county parks. Below I’ve picked a range of some of our favorites beginning with the least expensive to the most expensive ranging from $18.00 to $33.00 per night.
O’Leno State Park – North Central Florida
The 2020 rate is $18.00 per night for spacious sites with partial hook-ups (water, electricity). The campground is located along the banks of the scenic Santa Fe River, a tributary of the Suwannee River, and features sinkholes, hardwood hammocks, and river swamps. It is not near the beach or any tourist attractions, which is why it is one of the lower-priced campgrounds in the Florida State Park system.
Gunter Hill Corps of Engineer Campground – Montgomery, Alabama
Corps of Engineers (COE) campgrounds are owned by the federal government. You can find them on Recreation.gov, just as you can find national parks and national forest campgrounds. The COE parks are found on bodies of water like lakes, reservoirs, and rivers.
Gunter Hill Campground is situated on Catoma Creek, a tributary of the Alabama River. It has 142 sites, with 75 of them boasting full hook-ups. The regular nightly rate in 2020 was $26.00 for the full hook-up sites.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park – Southeastern Florida
This is the largest state park in southeastern Florida and has two campgrounds. One is partial hook-ups with much smaller sites, and the other has large full hook-up sites. The 2020 rate for the full hook-up side was $26.00 per night. Jonathan Dickson State Park is about a 10-drive from the Atlantic coast beaches, but it has the tranquil Loxahatchie River running through it. We also enjoyed the history on site: including a secret World War II training camp, the story of the shipwrecked Quaker merchant who is the park’s namesake, and Trapper Nelson, the legendary Wild Man of the Loxahatchee.
Assateague National Seashore – Maryland Coast
There are two campgrounds on Assateague Island: Assateague National Seashore (run by the national park service) and Assateague State Park. The national park campground does not have any hook-ups and is $30.00 per night. The state park only has electricity in one loop. The rest of the sites have no hook-ups and cost $28.00 per night. You might wonder why they are so expensive for no hook-ups. The answer is location, location, location, and wild ponies.
We did learn one very hard lesson. I normally check the cancellation policy very closely. Most state and national parks have very generous policies where you get all your money back except the reservation fee, which is typically around $10. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that Maryland State Parks don’t have such a lenient policy. We had to cancel our stay two days before our trip and ended up losing the entire pre-paid 5-night stay. For that reason, when we plan a return trip, it will be to the national seashore campground.
Cape Henlopen State Park – Delaware Coast
This was my favorite campground of 2020. The regular rate was $33.00 per night for water and electricity. They also have a few pull-thru sites that are $40.00 a night. This state park has miles of bike trails and is surrounded by water on 3 sides (Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay). It was a World War II coastal defense site, and we were able to take a tour of a historic battery and learn more about Fort Miles and the role it played during the war.
This category of campgrounds includes small mom & pop businesses as well as large franchises and even Disney. Below you’ll see a range of some of our favorites beginning with the least expensive to the most expensive ranging from FREE to $129.00 per night.
Chiriaco Summit Campground – California Desert
This campground has a handful of fairly level sand sites with fire pits (and that’s it). There are no hook-ups, no dump station, no water fill station, no trash can, no laundry, or anything else. But the price is right. You can stay for FREE for up to seven nights. The location is fabulous too. It is right behind the General Patton Museum and one exit from the south entrance of Joshua Tree.
Wagon Circle Campground – Heber Springs, Arkansas
This was a wonderful example of a locally owned small campground. The owner was very friendly and lived on-site. The land was previously a farm, and he said when he acquired it, he had no interest in farming so he created a campground. For $30.00 a night we got full hook-ups and terrific wifi. The campground also had a small playground, laundry room, and fishing dock on the beautiful Little Red River.
Tucson Lazy Days KOA – Tucson, Arizona
This was a fabulous destination RV resort for us. We stayed here for over three months on two different occasions in 2019. The 2020 winter rate for the basic back-in sites with a patio and full hook-ups is $42.95 per night. The Tucson Lazy Days KOA have many other site types with different prices, some are pull-thru and some even have their own private fenced-in doggy yard. Regardless of your site type, you get free wifi and cable, as well as access to a fitness room, bar & restaurant, and two swimming pools with hot tubs.
Redwoods KOA – Crescent City, California
This wonderful KOA is located within minutes of the Redwoods National Forest. The Crescent City Redwoods KOA actually has redwoods of its own right on the property with nature trails winding through them. The rate for a full hook-up pull-thru site is $55.50 per night. The campground had free wifi, cable, and a game room.
Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World – Orlando Florida
As you can imagine, this is a pricey campground. Nothing at Disney is inexpensive. The 2020 rate for a Preferred Site (full hook-ups near the marina) in November is $129.00 per night. If you are gasping for air right now, we were too when we first saw the price.
However, we decided to stay a couple of years ago and fell in love with it. In our opinion, there’s no better way to spend your vacation at the “happiest place on earth” than to camp in Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground! It is located on Disney property and is considered an official WDW resort. That means you get all the perks like extra magic hours, fast pass access 60 days before your trip, and all the resort discounts. You’ll also be able to ride a boat from the campground directly to WDW’s ticket and transportation center — no driving during your Disney vacation!
Saving Money on Campground Stays
We love to stay at the different types of campgrounds. Sometimes we want to be surrounded by nature and sometimes we want the bells & whistles. Over the many years of our RV travels, we’ve learned a lot of tricks to saving money on campgrounds. One of them is just to plan ahead. The farther out you book, the more likely you are to find a deal or secure one of the less expensive sites in a larger campground.
If you’d like to see more of our tips and tricks for saving money on RV travel, check out the Budgeting Module of our program Full-Time RV Finance.
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