How to Scout Your Next Campsite

Name a more iconic way to spend time with family or friends than camping. The question is, where to camp? Ultimate Campgrounds does not offer direct booking, but lists contact information for most sites. National, state, and other public campgrounds are listed as well. Search for your preferred park or locate it on a map (the map features filtering options, including accessibility), and you’ll find an exhaustive trove of information. USCAmpgrounds offers a comparatively small selection of campgrounds (13,000 across the United States and Canada), but that’s because the site individually confirms the existence of each by crosschecking its location against a topographical map. The resulting database contains only human-verified, car-accessible family campgrounds boasting at least four sites. USCAmpgrounds won’t let you reserve through its site, but each campsite on the map links to a custom Google search that should take you to the best booking resource. Also worth mentioning is the $5 Kampnik app for Android and iOS, which uses USCAmpgrounds’ database to power a streamlined mobile interface (much more user-friendly than USCAmpgrounds’ homely-at-best website) that allows users to curate “favorites,” make custom lists, and discover campgrounds based on proximity to any given location. Interestingly, GoCampingAmerica posts regular articles about camping destinations, lifestyle, and other activities, under the “Get Inspired” tab.
Custom-tailor your next foray into the great outdoors

Name a more iconic way to spend time with family or friends than camping. You can’t. Well, maybe you can, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more environmentally conscientious way to get away. According to the 2017 North American Camping Report, sponsored by private campground network Kampgrounds of America, the pastime is on the rise—more numerous, more diverse, and younger campers are pitching tents in parks and forests this year. Those who camp are getting out more often, too: From 2014 to 2016, the number of people camping once a year has fallen 10 percent, while those camping twice or thrice has grown by 12 percent and 36 percent, respectively. So, why not join them? The question is, where to camp? And what kind of al fresco experience do you seek? How do you even know what you want?

These questions can be daunting, but don’t hang up that bedroll just yet—the internet has a broadside of services to help find your place in the great outdoors.

Ultimate Campgrounds offers an unpretty but robust campsite-finding tool. It catalogues information (updated monthly) on noncommercial public and government-owned campgrounds, regularly verifying more than 27,000 in the United States and 4,100 in Canada. Ultimate Campgrounds’ free basic map service boasts a bevy of useful information: drinking water, toilet/shower situations, price tiers, RV sites, months open, etc. If you’re willing to shell out a few dollars, their paid options—available for $3.99 on Android and iOS and $5.99 on macOS—offer filters for elevation, nearby hiking trails, and other criteria. (The Canadian mobile app is $1.99, and the military campground app is free.) The interface won’t win any design awards, but it’s clear that love was put into the service. Virtually gander into the app’s overflow menu and you’ll find a section called “Campground Courtesy,” a near-1,600 word essay on the etiquette of roughing it. Ultimate Campgrounds does not offer direct booking, but lists contact information for most sites.

The antithesis of Ultimate Campgrounds, Hipcamp offers a modern, laid-back, and romantically millennial campsite booking service. The site is marked by spacious use of photography, sans-serif fonts on clean white backgrounds, as well as AirBnb-reminiscent layouts—and M.O. Hipcamp works with private landowners (“hosts”) to facilitate rental arrangements for campers looking to pitch a tent, park…

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