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How do you choose/scope out a camp ground?

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  • How do you choose/scope out a camp ground?

    We just got back from our very first (car-)camping trip. I'm thrilled that my wife and son loved the whole tent/under the stars/around the camp fire thing. Honestly, their enjoyment kind of caught me by surprise. But while I'm glad because that means we'll be going again, I'm now wondering how to choose future camping locations.

    We probably will have to work our way up to camping in the wild. The facilities available in state parks seems good for now: clean running water, a flushing toilet, a dumpster and shower, and even just the nicely laid-out camp site with fire pit and picnic table. But even in our really short trip, some state parks worked for us and others didn't. We were in a Penn. state park--Pine Grove Furnace--for two nights. We loved it. Then we drove to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. When we saw the actual site we'd reserved, we decided to skip our night there and drive another 4 hrs through the night to head on home.

    We like the setting in Pine Grove Furnace: trees and such around each camp site. You could still see other sites and hear muffled voices and such from those around you, but we didn't feel like we were right on top of other folks or on display for them.

    Hocking Hills struck us as kind of a big parking lot (for RVs) where you could pitch a tent on the grass around the edges. There was just a dozen or so feet of lawn between each campsite.

    I'm wondering how to spot the kinds of features we like and don't like before we pull up to the camp site. The pics/info on the two parks' websites didn't give a ton of info, though looking back at them after the trip I could see the openness of Hocking Hills and the trees etc. of Pine Grove. But that didn't leap out at me beforehand.

    Do people post about state parks and such on YouTube or on camping forums, or is it more a word of mouth thing?

    Thanks for any suggestions. I'll probably be looking over this particular part of the forum more, now, to get ideas for future trips. We enjoyed the trip but already have a lot of ideas for how to do things better next time--and ideas of what things we'd like to do better in future trips.

    A chuck box may be in our future.
    Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.

  • #2
    Your next step is National Parks!

    Camping is still word of mouth, like you stated. I am finding more and more state campgrounds that I didn't even know existed just because a buddy points them out. Then I'm like YEAH! I was wondering about that place....

    The east coast has a few national forests, they might be a drive from where you are, I would look into them though. They are worth it! Head south to the George Washington on the northern Appalachian or west to the Allegheny, both are awesome areas.

    I would even consider hiking a little of the Appalachian trail....AMAZING up in your area.

    Not too many wild areas over there. BLM land is non-existent over on the right coast, which is too bad. They are great areas to wild camp. Yeah, I wouldn't take the wife and kid without amenities, at least to start with.

    I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


    • #3
      There is a label that used to be very specific for a type of 4x4 camping. "Overlanding" It used to mean a super rugged vehicle driving a rough trail (like the Rubicon). But has evolved to pretty much include most car camping. If you find an Overlanding group on social media, they will be a huge source of information for all kinds of things like gear, locations, and costs.
      "Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I've come to realize that you can't have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland"

      "The constitution does not guarantee our safety, only our liberty!" Robert Steed before congress 3/2013

      Skills Beats Stuff


      • #4
        One thing to remember with any camp site is there is a time to use and a time to stay away. I.E. use these sites in the off season. You do not want to travel to a national park where you have to await to check in for four hours or more. So use it over a long weekend during the non-tourists months (June-August). Try camping in winter it takes careful preparation but can be fun.


        • #5
          Thanks for the tips! It's great to have a way to try out items I bought in order to be somewhat prepared for difficult times--but to use them for just a fun time. Every time I try out something, I'm SO glad, even if it's just a small bit of convenience that comes from the experience. I have a collapsable/folding bucket that I now know will stand up when full of water...for about 3-5 min., and THEN collapse and dump the water out. Glad I found that out when it didn't really matter.

          But also, and more so, getting out away from screens and under the stars... :-)

          Thanks a lot for the input on how to do that.
          Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.


          • #6
            Glad you enjoyed PA. We're blessed to have a load of state parks and many of them don't get overloaded anytime of the year. Like you said, all the ones I've been in are very similar to what you found at PGF. On occasion I've seen where RV site areas are more open barren but I think that's precaution for people not smashing their rigs.

            I recommend checking out a states various Park/ DCNR websites. Almost all of them have a main state park website, also do a general search of the region on google for campgrounds. You can find some nice lower cost ones but also a wealth of info on the areas. Also, check out an areas tourism office/ groups for questions on camps or place to see on your travels. If you're curious about a specific state or fed park, call their offices and talk with them. That's what they're there for. Oh also if you have it sometimes AAA can have info or offer help. If you're in an area and looking for a place, I've found outdoor shops, gun shops, local diner, road side fruit or veg stands, small local general stores and similar places can be a great place to ask around about a great place to stay. That's often how my friends and I find places when we're out on our motorcycle trips.

            Might be a great topic for a stand alone thread here. Something like Campground/ Park Reviews. It could be a place to let us all post about a place we've visited or stayed in recently and tell our experiences, likes, dislikes, recommendations, etc... and even post up some pics.
            Last edited by CountryGuy; 08-30-2017, 08:54 PM.
            I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


            • #7
              glad yall had a good camping for finding other campgrounds. you took the 1st step on that by. asking which im sure others here has camped out as well..unless you and your family plan on going to Tennessee or texas.the campgrounds id suggest is to far for might do web search for camping forums.check out any you might find before joining.
              be prepared,be worried,be careful..and watch your 6


              • #8
                Don’t overlook wilderness camping opportunities as well. Wilderness or unimproved camp spots can be relaxing and enjoyable. This doesn’t mean you need a 4x4 to get to them. Just make sure you know the rules for the area you camp in, are fires allowed, etc.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dorobuta View Post
                  Don’t overlook wilderness camping opportunities as well. Wilderness or unimproved camp spots can be relaxing and enjoyable. This doesn’t mean you need a 4x4 to get to them. Just make sure you know the rules for the area you camp in, are fires allowed, etc.
                  Camping is one of the most relaxing ways to spend time we know of. We started with a tent; next was a popup. It was her favorite except for the narrow path to the lug-a-loo with two large Pitt bulls sleeping between her and nature calling.
                  After we purchased the land; we camped here on weekends. After we retired, we spent more time here and enjoyed it so much we built here. .


                  • #10
                    Never wild-camped, but did read up on precautions.

                    Not too near water, lest it rise in night. Not on flat, lest pond in rain. Not too steep lest sheet-flow & slip. Shun exposed ridges due lightning. Beware wonky trees and avalanche gulleys etc etc...

                    Invoked rules once: When drive/camping across Europe, passed up several really nice 'pitches' as, IMHO, too near low river-bank. Yes, around midnight, a thunderstorm in catchment made that 'pretty river' into a torrent, submerged those pitches. Fortunately, the site 'Ranger' got the people out in time...


                    • #11
                      A while back, we went primitive to see the lights at Brown Mountain, NC.
                      To long to explain, so here are some links.



                      Yes, we saw something, but what.


                      • #12
                        IIRC, there's a similar effect in part of Scandinavia that 'kicks off' when earth-currents flow...


                        Care: 'Telluric Currents' are very real, but attract more than their fair share of 'Woosters'...


                        • #13
                          Thanks Nix, That was interesting.
                          WWV at Fort Collins, CO, broadcasts on 2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz.
                          As a Ham operator the "Geophysical Alerts" comes in handy as it covers NOAA Space Weather Scales, Geomagnetic Storm Levels, Solar Radiation Storm Levels, and Radio Blackouts. The reports are 18 minutes after the hour..


                          • #14
                            Back to siting: Take a close look at footage of current flash-floods in Tennessee, as several of the swamped locations looked 'safe enough'. Provided you have a secure retreat route, camping / bivvy would be okay as you'd have time to flee.

                            But wave good-bye to any cache, clamp-top drums washed out and floating away....

                            Anchoring them like yachties' buoys might seem a bit excessive, but is a thought...


                            • #15
                              We camped for a few years, first with a popup; later a 29'-6" camper. We had so many good and great experiences and one real horrible one. The horrible one came about in a campground we stayed at for 2 years. The great neighbors moved on.
                              My point is simple as campgrounds are transient, there is no way to know who will stay, who will go and what will replace them.

                              AFA, flooding is nature. Hurricanes flood the campgrounds at the beach sites. Heavy rains flood sites near streams.
                              Where we live there is one road in or out. After 8" of heavy rain, it flooded.
                              Once after a hurricane dumped here; the FD brought a boat to evacuate those who live here. Mother Nature can close a secure escape route in less than a few hours.

                              As a local example:
                              The dam had been there for many years and the college had many escape routes; however, no one had a chance to use them. Unexpected disasters happen in a heartbeat and no one can prepare for it.