Let me tell you a little story about finding campsites & campgrounds – especially at National Parks, State Parks, and National forests with our big rig.
First of all, let’s just dispel the myth that you can’t get a campsite for a big rig at National parks. We’ve camped at several National Parks and in National Forest Campgrounds. Our RV is 40 ft in length and we’ve been able to find sites that fit. (However every time we’ve noticed other sites in these campgrounds that would have worked better for our RV that the site we chose…..)
For example, we had a great campsite in Zion National park. And when I say in Zion – I mean IN THE NATIONAL PARK! The views here are breathtaking! The campsite we had at the Watchman Campground is in great proximity to the hiking trails, shuttle stops, and more.
Now, here is where the story comes in. It can be hard to know when you arrive at a campground what the campsite will look like.
Arriving at Zion National Park Campground
When we arrived in Zion, we knew from booking on Recreation.gov the site could fit a 40-foot rig. And we did fit. But it was tight once we added parking our jeep on the campsite. In fact, IF we had been driving anything larger than our Jeep, it would not have fit on the site with the RV.
We did notice, there were other sites in the campground that would have been “better” sites in the sense of more room. But there was NO WAY for us to know that by just looking at the Recreation.gov site to book. All you see when booking a campground are loop numbers with site numbers and a very mediocre photo in some cases.
In fact, most of the time when you look at these types of websites to book camping you see a map of loops with numbers or letters. But it doesn’t always give you the best idea of what the site is like. Or if there will be a big cement casing RIGHT next to the site.
National Forest Campgrounds
Here is another story: we stayed at the Rainbow Point campground in the National Forest near West Yellowstone. Now to get these sites you HAVE to book early! Again, it’s SO HARD to know what these sites really look like unless you’ve been there. Even tools like Google earth don’t do the best job of being able to tell which site is which. PLUS you can’t get a good “street” view angle to know if there is a HUGE rock or tree in or near the campsite.
When we arrived at our campsite at the Rainbow Point Campground, we realized there is a HUGE rock on one side of the campsite. AND a large cement casing on the other side also. We had to be SUPER careful while backing into the site due to the obstacles. Pile on the fact, once we put out our slides two of our storage compartments were inaccessible due to rocks in close proximity. We couldn’t open them UNLESS we pulled the slide back in. Talk about a PAIN IN THE BUTT!
We’ve also had similar issues with other campgrounds where there are bushes, trees, you name it in campsites. Which for another RV of a different size or length, would probably not be an issue. But for our rig, in our application being able to choose the BEST site really helps the overall experience at a campground.
We’ve recently been introduced to campgroundviews.com and we are LOVING this tool for finding campsites.
One more thing we REALLY like about campground views is it’s founded and owned by a fellow Full Time RVer. And hey, the RV Community is all about supporting one another, right?
If you are new to the RV Lifestyle (or even if you’re a seasoned RVer) we love this resource! This website can help you know before you go and enable you to find a site that is easier to park the size and length of your camper.
In this day and age of RV’ing being wildly popular, you MUST plan your camping in advance at some of these popular spots.
Campground Views lets you SEE the sites before you book! It works kind of like a google street view but campsite by the campsite. This allows you to KNOW what the site looks like and if there are large obstacles in or near the site.
Another great reason for this is to be able to find the SHADED spots too! We are now using this tool for our trip planning and we’re LOVING being able to see the sites to know what the BEST sites are in the campground!
(We really wish we’d had this BEFORE this past summer camping season).
What do you think?
Let us know your experience in the comments! Have you booked a site and once you got there felt maybe a little letdown? Or maybe you realized it was going to be a HUGE pain getting in and out of the campsite?