When It Comes to Camping, These Sites Are Spot On
Despite all of the recent innovations and advancements in the way we travel and experience the world, a decidedly old-school method of vacationing has exploded in the last two years.
Camping was already on the rise before the pandemic hit, but since early 2020, interest in "getting off the grid" has spiked. A diverse mix of travelers—young and old, families and couples, city dwellers and country folk—are giving camping a go, whether that means pitching a tent, renting a cabin, sampling glamping or riding the roads in an RV.
With so many more campers planning trips, the competition for prime campsites can be fierce. It helps to know where to start.
Enter Campspot. This website grew out of the technology that many campgrounds use to power their reservation systems, and has experienced rocket-ship growth in just the last few years. With access to more than 1,200 private campgrounds and over 140,000 campsites from coast to coast, it's a one-stop shop to research, discover and instantly reserve your camping stay. And you'll get the lowest prices from premier campgrounds across North America—all without a costly membership.
Here's a look at just a few of the campgrounds you can book through Campspot, including several winners of the first annual Campspot Awards—chosen by a panel of outdoors experts. Use this list, along with our tips, to get started on planning a camping vacation in 2022.
All of the Awesome, Less of the Hassle
Due to the pandemic, everyone wants to be outside, and America's national and state parks saw record visitation numbers in 2021. Expect more of the same in 2022.
But choosing where to stay can be a challenge, even for experienced travelers. Hotels (or motels) near national parks often leave a lot to be desired in terms of amenities (and are often overpriced). Campsites within the parks themselves can be tricky to book.
For example, the campsites that can be reserved online for Yosemite open on the 15th of each month for dates five months in advance, and are often completely booked within minutes of being released. (Or you can risk the first-come, first-served sites, which are often full by noon throughout the summer.)
Staying at a private campground may save you a lot of headache (and a good chunk of change). About 10% of the campgrounds available via Campspot are within 50 miles of a National Park, including Yellowstone Hot Springs near Yellowstone, Zion Glamping Adventures close to Zion, Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort by Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Elkamp Eastcreek at the foot of Mount Rainier.
Through Campspot, you can book everything from a pull-through RV site with full electricity, sewer and water hookups to a quiet camping spot set amid towering redwoods. You can pick the exact location and reserve it in a matter of minutes (pro tip: midweek reservations are easier to get and often cheaper). Once booked, you can manage your reservation online or through the Campspot app in the days before your visit.
It's the Quintessential Family Vacation
When travelers were asked why they choose camping as their travel preference in a recent survey, the top answer given was "family vacation time." Not a surprising response, given all the benefits of taking your family on a camping trip.
One, it's often more affordable—no resort fees or extra charges at checkout for things like Wi-Fi or moving something in the mini-bar fridge. In addition to national or state parks, you can stay near popular vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach (Carolina Pines RV Resort), San Diego (Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay), Asheville (Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park: Golden Valley) or California Wine Country (Cava Robles RV Resort).
Two, while you can absolutely rough it with your sleeping bags in a tent, many campgrounds offer cabins, treehouses or yurts that rival hotels for comfort. Many cabins resemble the tiny homes that have been all the rage with HGTV viewers, with ingenious use of space that can easily accommodate six or more travelers in the same square footage as the average hotel room.
Three, the amenities and activities available in many campgrounds can stand up to those offered at any 5-star resort. This is especially true at the 43 Yogi Bear's Jellystone Parks Camp-Resorts available on Campspot, where waterparks, swimming pools, sports courts, jump pads and planned activities provide plenty of diversions to keep little campers entertained from sun-up to sun-down.
Finally, camping is an ideal vacation solution for families that don't fit neatly into the two double beds, 20x20 hotel room scenario. That can include larger groups traveling together, or those that like to travel with their pets. Campgrounds are notoriously pet-friendly, and many even have dedicated dog parks to make sure four-legged family members are also happy campers.
Million-Dollar Views (for a Lot Less)
If you read "campground" and immediately think of a place somewhere in the backwoods, think again. Many campsites come with amazing backdrops; almost half of the campgrounds (46%) available on Campspot have beach, waterfront or boating features.
You could be looking for dolphins swimming in the Santa Rosa Sound in Florida (The Hideaway Retreat) or walking the shores of Lake Superior near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Woodland Park Campground) or having a coastal campfire coffee on the Oregon oceanfront (Oceanside RV Resort & Campground).
Then there the truly jaw-dropping spots, including several set in the American Southwest. Consider the Dark Sky RV Campground in southern Utah, which may look like it's in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sagebrush and red rocks.
But that's exactly the appeal. Campers are treated to incredible sunrises and sunsets, as well as a starry night sky that is breathtaking in its beauty. And despite the remote location, you're within 90 minutes of Zion National Park, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon's North Rim and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. No wonder it was one of the Top Campground winners in the 2022 Campspot Awards.
Your Vacation Story Just Got More Interesting
Let's be honest. Whether it's a conscious decision or not, one of the reasons we all travel is so we can brag about our experience to friends, co-workers and family when we get home. And the best stories don't usually come from your stay at a 3-star branded hotel near the interstate.
Instead, the best stories come from bunking up in a restored Rock Island Railroad caboose not far from Mount Rushmore, pitching a tent in an apple orchard in Colorado, taking your horse camping in Arizona or staying at a Civil War-era fort in Portland's Canco Bay Harbor in Maine.