If you are thinking of camping this summer, you are hopefully in the process of planning it now as campgrounds do fill up quickly. There are many options when selecting a campground, lots to think about in terms of what you are looking for in a campground for your camping adventure.
How to Pick A Campground
First off, are you looking for a wilderness experience or to use your site as a base while you do the tourist thing?
If it’s wilderness camping you want Provincial or State campground parks are your best option, you can choose the level of comfort you want. Many campgrounds offer amenities such as washrooms & electrical or water hook ups but you can also opt for less amentities (often at a lower price) if you are looking to rough it.
Provincial parks are not often located in big cities, or necessarily near tourist attractions, but they offer an abundance of things to do in the campground park itself. Many have well maintained hiking trails, water access for swimming or boating (check with your park for safety regulations/water current information) and offer a relaxing break from city life.
If you are looking to stay closer to a city and be able to use your camp site as a base for sight seeing there are many options to suit your needs.
Most large cities do have a campground or two on the outskirts of the city centre. Often too far to walk from the campground to most attractions but it’s always worth google mapping and check with the campground as many also offer shuttles to popular local destinations.
When choosing a campground tent site, there are several options to consider. You can opt for water & power access at the site (sometimes you can opt for one or the other as well).
If you are planning to camp for more than a night or two you may want to opt for water & power as it would make life easier. If it’s just a day or two you are going to stay you might be able to do without. If cost is an issue, sites with no services are often a few dollars cheaper.
Trees Vs Open Field Camping
In addition to services it’s also worth considering whether you want a site in the trees or in an open field. Depending on the campground you chose there may be additional costs to be in the trees. The advantages to being in the trees are privacy, being able to string up a tarp as well as a little more shelter from the elements.
Open fields don’t offer much protection from the elements, sun and wind and rain. I prefer to camp in wooded campground campsites where there is some privacy and protection from the sun, wind and rain.
Camping With Pets or Children
If you are camping with kids or pets, it also worth checking out the campground options for entertaining and keeping them safe. Not all campgrounds permit pets, so check first if you plan to bring Fido along.
Look for a campground with a swimming pool, playground and community hall, especially if you are bringing teenage children. They love to have somewhere to go and meet others their own age.
There are many campgrounds that offer theme weeks and special events throughout the summer giving you a little more value for your money if you are travelling with kids. Some family campgrounds have a Christmas in July weekend, dances, parties and events for both young and old.
If there is a pool find out if it is lifeguarded? Are there playground facilities and what condition are they in? What events will be running while you are there? Is there an extra charge depending on how many kids you have?
If you are camping alone, or as a couple without children, it is also worth determining how child friendly the park is. If you are going to be the only people without kids, or if all the events are focused on the under 12 crowd you may not enjoy yourself. Many campgrounds offer a balance between family friendly and adult only activities, just be sure to find out before you find yourself pitching a tent in kiddie land!
Tents Vs RV’s
Other things to consider:
What security is offered throughout the campground? Is there a store in the park or nearby in case you forget any necessitites? Is there a shuttle to local attractions you are interested in? What are the washrooms like? Are the showers & laundry facilities included or available at an extra cost? Is their a restaurant or lunch counter? What time is “lights-out” or “Quiet Time”?
It is worth it to check out reviews online and to call and speak to a representative at the campground. I would recommend calling even if you are going to book online as you can communicate special requests over the phone, ask any questions and get a feel for what the staff are like.
In addition, many provincial and state campground and tourist associations provide some form of “ranking” for campgrounds and their facilities etc. Look for campgrounds with a minimum of 4/5 stars.
If you are prepared and know what you are getting into, camping can be a great experience for couples and families alike. Do your homework and know what you are looking for to avoid disappointment!