Saturday, September 28, 2013

How to find your perfect RV Campground…

Decatur AL 002
Decatur AL 004
One of the comments in the last blog asked a question about how we find the parks to stay in. I assume it is because we often find some reasonably priced parks that are a bit off the beaten path. I thought his would be a good opportunity to detail how we go about finding parks we stay in. What I do to locate our next stay is probably much the same as many others use but we all look for different things when selecting parks. To discus our methodology I'll use our current park, Point Mallard Campground, as an example of how we choose our next location.
Our Search Criteria:
  • Distance to the next park needs to be less than 200 miles and preferably under 150
  • Next I consider the parks within 3 miles of the preferred road we are traveling
  • I also look for areas of interest along the route such as neat towns, scenic places to hike and bike or other areas that will provide a means of distraction during our stay
After we have selected a preferred route next up is to search for parks along the road we plan to take bearing in mind we may have more than one route.  Having multiple routes allows maximum flexibility since we rarely make any advanced reservations.  For example when we were leaving Nashville, TN I had three routes chosen to go south and searched all three routes.
Tools Used to Find Parks:
  • Google Maps using a search for campgrounds sometimes yields a bonus campground not found otherwise
A list of all parks considered will yield some being eliminated based on prior knowledge or a dislike of particular type of parks. For example we tend to avoid KOA’s and Jellystone Parks. We find KOA’s too pricey for the usually very small, tight sites and well, Jellystones simply have way too many children thus are very noisy.
Tools Used to Narrow Down Park List to a few select parks:
Decatur AL 001Once I have used the above tools I usually end up with a list of 3-5 parks in various locations along the route. Then I will read about the park on their web page and also research what is nearby to keep us entertained. This may or may not lead to some parks being eliminated but what it does do is puts them in an order from most preferred to least preferred. The last thing I do is perform a Google search with the park name in double quotes and the word blogspot or wordpress. One search for each word, blogspot or wordpress, will often yield blogs written by other travellers who have written about the park illuminating some precious tidbits about the park such as good restaurants, pubs, breweries, parks etc. nearby. In the case of the park we are in now there is a wildlife refuge nearby, extensive Decatur AL 005hike and bike trails, huge community park, and waterfront access within walking distance. Also close by are larger towns with amenities we like such as Crafted Beer, Colleges, Parks, and other things of interest such as this pedal tavern in Nashville...
Now If nothing stands out as a cool place to stay after all the above work I simply expand the range around our preferred route up to 5 miles, then up to ten until I find a gem, for us!
That is how we found this little gem of a park we are in now in Decatur, Alabama… We like this one so much that we have just extended our stay here for an additional week. Hopefully this information helps some of you looking for your gem of a park to stay in.


  1. We pretty much do the same thing. We do enjoy staying at Elks. The people are always so nice and there is usually something going on.

    1. You have to members of the Elks or at least sponsored by one I believe... we stayed at one Elks in California

  2. What a great suggestion about searching the campground name in quotes and then blogspot. I never thought of that one. I just tried it out and it works great! Thanks for the super good tip.

  3. Your method is much more systematic than mine but I like it. And you sure do come up with great places. Seems like it would take a long time to do those steps for every time you move but also looks like it is well worth it.

  4. Thought you'd like to know, Lane 7 at Port Huron Immigration shows no sign of taking a hit with your mirror.

    Enjoy the week in Decatur. Sounds like a great place to relax.

    1. Check out today's New York Times Magazine. Nice photo essay on staying in Walmart parking lots.

    2. Interesting read and pictorial... although we have yet to stay at a Walmart we certainly are aware of their availability,,

  5. I think you told me once about looking at blog posts with the campground name. I love that idea. You do seem to be an expert at finding gems and we have benefited from your expertise on more than one occasion.

  6. Thanks John, you certainly know how to do it. The park you are in seems really nice.

  7. Thanks for the tip on double quote searches. I learned something today. We've begun relying heavily on rvparksreviews. Our last "resort" had a Trailerlife rating in the 9's, which I can not begin to understand. They have lost credibility with me. Good methodology, thanks for the post.