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About Campgrounds

What is a Campground?

Campgrounds are designated locations that allow for temporary outdoor living, generally involving overnight stays. Campgrounds may be publicly or privately owned.

There are approximately 11,400 public Campgrounds in the United States, which are managed by federal, state, or local government agencies. Most of these Campgrounds are located in state or national forests and parks. Campgrounds on federal lands are usually managed by the National Parks Service, the National Forest Service, or the Bureau of Land Management. Campgrounds on state lands are most often managed by the state's conservation or environmental agency responsible for state parks.

Privately owned Campgrounds can be found in every state. Kampgrounds of America (KOA), for example, owns approximately 500 Campgrounds throughout the U.S. Most private Campgrounds are either Recreational Vehicle Parks or Campground Resorts. Privately owned Campgrounds also include membership-based Campgrounds.

The amenities available at Campgrounds vary greatly and help determine the fees charged for using the facility. In addition to tent sites, many Campgrounds feature cabins or similar structures for visitors, usually at an additional cost. The least developed Campgrounds, sometimes referred to as Primitive Campgrounds, provide little more than space to pitch a tent and outhouses with pit toilets. Additional amenities often include fire pits or grills for cooking, picnic tables, site lighting, garbage cans, potable water, and platforms or pads for tents. Convenience stores and bathrooms with flush toilets and showers are not uncommon at Campgrounds. Some Campgrounds may run programs and activities or provide access to on-site recreational equipment rentals, such as bikes, kayaks, or sporting supplies. Campgrounds in national or state parks and forests often have a Park Ranger on site.

Recreational Vehicle Parks, or RV Parks, have specialized features including concrete pads individually marked off for RVs and campers, water and electricity hookups, and underground waste disposal.

Campground Resorts are privately owned campgrounds that offer numerous additional features not typically found in public Campgrounds. Visitors to Campground Resorts have access to spas, clubhouses, pools, game rooms, and other amenities. Tent sites are rarely offered at Campground Resorts.