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Camping In The United States

Camping in the United States is a great way to spend your vacation! No matter what type of camping you enjoy, you'll find unlimited opportunities in every American state.

RV in state park

Types of campgrounds

National Parks and Monuments

National Parks are established by an act of the United States Congress, and administered by the National Park Service.

Many National Parks are located in areas of special geographic or historical significance. In fact, at least 11 of them have been designated as World Heritage Sites.

What to expect at a National Park

  • well-maintained facilities
  • well-run campgrounds
  • lots of people!
  • visitor centers with information about the culture and geography of the area
  • free educational programs

ranger program at National Park

Learn more about US National Parks here.

State Parks

There are state parks in every American state. Each state has its own policies about managing and running the parks. In some states, park management is contracted out to private companies, while in other places the parks are run directly by the state.

Nevertheless, you can count on state parks to have some things in common no matter where you go.

What to expect at a State Park

  • well maintained facilities
  • well-run campgrounds
  • recreational opportunities

grassy campsites

Please note that not all State Parks have campgrounds. Some have day use areas only.

To read more about State Park camping, visit this page.

BLM lands

The Bureau of Land Management administers public lands in the United States.

The mission of the BLM is twofold:

  • to manage the use of public land resources for energy development, timber harvesting, livestock grazing and the like
  • to protect the resources on those lands - not only natural resources but also cultural and historical gems - for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations

The BLM manages more than 400 campgrounds. Most are in the western United States.

family camping in BLM campsite

They include the long-term visitor areas (LTVAs) in California and Arizona, where snowbirds from the north park their RVs for months at at time. (A paid permit is required.)

Most BLM sites have primitive facilities - if they have facilities at all. Bring your own water, and expect to be self-sufficient. Most sites are first-come first-served.

Here's the best part: you can stay at many BLM campsites for free!

For BLM camping information, visit this site.

Private campgrounds

This is a popular option for camping in the United States. A private campground can be anything from a corner of a farmer's field to a member of a well-organized chain of parks like the KOA.

What to expect at a private campground

Since private campgrounds are owned and run by their owners, you'll find just about anything!

campsite with picnic shelter

Many private campgrounds have more amenities than you'll find at publicly owned parks. If you want hot showers, a swimming pool and a mini-golf course, look for a private campground.

The quality of private campgrounds varies widely. You might find a big, private site in a campground with immaculate facilities - or you might have a crowded spot in a park that needs some maintenance. 

tents in private campground

It's a good idea to check reviews before planning a stay at a private campground - especially if you are going to stay for a while.

This site has reviews of hundreds of private campgrounds in every US state.

Camping in the United States - by state

This section includes only the states where I have camped myself - or where my readers have camped. The more camping I do, and the more stories you share, the more complete this section will get - so check back regularly!


Redwood forests, beach camping, deserts and mountains: California has it all! Read about some great California camping sites here.

Tell Us About Your Favorite U.S. Campground!

Where is it? What do you like about it?

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Now that you have some information about camping in the United States, you are ready to plan your trip. Please visit The Camping Family home page for help with packing, meal planning, activities and more.

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