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What Type of Campsite is Best for You?

When choosing a campsite there are three main options that you’ll be faced with…reserving a campsite ahead of time in an established campground, “walking up” to a campsite in an established campground, and “walking up” to a campsite in a dispersed campground. To help you identify what option might be best for you, let’s go through the differences, pros, and cons of each type of campsite.

Reservable Campsites

There’s nothing worse than driving for hours on end only to find out that there aren’t any campsites available in the area you want to camp in. If you want the peace of mind of knowing you have a campsite waiting for you at your camping destination, reserving a campsite ahead of time is probably the best way for you to go (particularly if your camping destination is a long drive from your home).

Most reservable campsites can be booked online or over the phone with most national parks running their campsite reservations through and state and county parks departments running their own similar reservation sites. All reservable campsites require you to pay a nightly fee (usually $15.00 to $35.00/night depending on the campground) which is paid in advance when making your reservation and credit/debit cards can be used for payment. When reserving a campsite online, you’re basically competing with other campers to snatch up the best spots so make sure to do your research of what area of the campground you want to stay in (looking for proximity to restrooms, potable water, and potentially noisy roads) and give yourself plenty of time before your trip to book your campsite. Most campgrounds open reservations on a rolling basis for dates six months in advance and seasoned campers know when reservation availability opens up for their favorite campgrounds and snatch up campsites quickly, so plan your trip and book your site as early as possible before you actually leave for your trip.

Aside from the peace of mind provided by having your ever so precious campsite reservation in hand, reservable campgrounds tend to have more amenities (i.e. toilets, potable water spigots, firewood for sale, or even showers) than your typical dispersed campsite. These added comforts usually make it a no-brainer for most campers, however, you may have to deal with more crowded camping since more people tend to gravitate towards the convenience and comfort of a reservable campsite. Best of all, if you reserve a campsite in one of the campgrounds we service and book a Campsite Outfitting camping gear rental package with us, we’ll bring the gear to your site, set it all up, and break it all down effectively eliminating another camping worry.

Walk-Up Campsites

Maybe there aren’t any reservable campsites remaining in the campground that you want to camp at or maybe you just feel like throwing caution to the wind with a last-minute camping trip, in these cases walk-up campsites (also known as “first come first served” campsites) might be the option for you.

A walk-up campsite is one that doesn’t require a reservation in advance and, like the name implies, you can just walk up to the un-occupied site and claim it as your own. Most campgrounds that have reservable campsites hold a section of sites back from being reservable and classify them as walk-up only sites. Additionally any reservable campsite that doesn’t have a reservation attached to it when you arrive at the campground can become a walk-up site that you can claim as well. You’ll still need to pay a nightly fee for walk-up campsites in an established campground since you’ll have access to the campground’s amenities and it’s on a cash-only basis so make sure to bring that cash money with you. This is why, for the purposes of this post, we’ve differentiated walk-up campsites (fee charged) from dispersed campsites (no fee charged).

With walk-up campsites you’re taking a bit of a risk that no sites will be available when you arrive and you still have the potential of dealing with the same crowded camping as reservable campsites but if you want to have the comforts of an established campground when taking a last-minute camping trip, this is the choice for you. Book a self-setup (delivery) camping gear package rental with us and head on out to your walk-up site.

Dispersed Campsites

Wanna get away from it all and really rough it? Then a dispersed campsite might be just what you’re looking for. A dispersed campsite is a campsite that is not part of an established campground and is more loosely ran and maintained by the parks department the campsite might be on (or not maintained at all if the site is very remote). Dispersed campsites are typically more “off the grid” and don’t have water or toilet facilities with varying degrees of minimal amenities provided although usually the most you’re going to get is a fire pit or fire ring.

Since dispersed campsites are walk-up/first-come-first-served campsites as well, you still take the risk of not having a site available for you when arrive at your camping destination however your odds might be better (depending on the area you’re camping in) to find a dispersed campsite rather than a walk-up site within an established campground. However, the best part about dispersed camping is that in most cases there’s no nightly fee for camping.

If you’re down to “rough it” a bit more and aren’t worried about not having a campsite available when you arrive, give dispersed camping a shot. The lack of crowds and easier access to untouched nature might just prove to be worth it. Book a self-setup (delivery) camping gear package rental with us and head on out to your rugged dispersed camping spot.

Regardless of what type of campsite you choose always remember to follow leave no trace principles and leave your campsite better than you found it. Now let’s get camping!

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