Multiple motorhome RVs parked at the best campsite near a beautiful lake.

The Ultimate Guide: How to Find the Best RV Campsites

RVing is an increasingly popular way to explore the great outdoors. It’s an amazing way to travel. We love the open road, the flexibility, and the freedom. However, traveling by RV also means you need to know how to find the best RV campsites. That’s why I wrote this article.

I leaned on my many years of RVing and camping experience to craft the ultimate guide for finding great RV parks.

Trucks and travel trailer RVs parked near trees with yellow fall leaves in front of a mountain while boondocking in Colorado.

Securing that great spot has turned into something of a competitive sport. Before you imagine a Hunger Games-style showdown, don’t worry. Unless you’re trying to get into a popular national park campground during peak summer months, this article will help you find a top notch campsite wherever you are.

Why am I so confident I can help you? I’ve never had campground reservations or advance plans for popular holiday weekends like the Fourth of July.

Yet, I’ve never ended up without a place to stay on those dates. I have a hard time scheduling out my campsites more than a month or so ahead. Some campgrounds even book up a year or more in advance.

The good news for travelers like me is this: you can always find a great campsite for your RV if you know where to look. (It helps if dry camping is an option for you, but more on that later.)

In this post, I’ll share my top tips after 4+ years of full-time RVing. Read on to learn how to size up your camping options based on your RV capabilities and camping style.

I include a list of great apps and software tools to help you find the best campsite for your RV travels.

Ok, let’s go.

First, Understand Your Personal Style of Camping

Before you start searching for a campsite, take the time to identify what kind of campsite you’re looking for.

3 Types of Campsites

In general, campsites fall into three main categories:

  1. Private campgrounds and RV resorts: Developed private campgrounds that almost always have amenities such as water, electric, and sewer.
  2. National, state, or city park campgrounds: Government-run public campgrounds that vary wildly in amenities and accessibility.
  3. Dispersed camping, also known as “boondocking”: Free camping on public lands, sometimes in marked campsites.

Understand Your Campsite Needs

If you aren’t sure yet what kind of campsite you like best, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you prefer secluded spots close to nature, or bustling campgrounds with plenty of amenities like swimming pools and on-site activities?
  • Are you looking for a destination that offers adventure sports or nature trails?
  • Does your RV have high clearance or off-road capability?
  • Are you taking a relaxed family vacation or seeking an adventurous getaway?
  • Does your RV have solar power, a generator, or other ability to get power if not connected to an electrical pedestal?
  • How long can you go without dumping / filling your tanks?
  • How comfortable would you be showing up to an area without reservations?
  • How far ahead are you planning?
  • Are you okay being right next to your neighbors, or do you want more space?

Once you’ve defined your preferred camping style, you can start looking for a campsite that aligns with your preferences.

Here’s a break down of the three campsite categories:

Private Campgrounds and RV Resorts

  • Great for – Families looking for on-site amenities and activities, RVs that do not have off-grid capability, and for RVers wanting to stay close to cities or towns
  • Pros – Campsite reservations available, often includes full hook-up amenities (at least electric/water, and a dump station), laundry facilities, picnic tables, on-site activities such as pickleball, Bingo, or other entertainment
  • Cons – Expensive, reservations are often required well in advance, crowded sites that can be noisy during weekends, holidays and special events in the local area

National, State or City Park Campgrounds

  • Great for – More access to the outdoors and trails for biking and hiking, travelers looking for easy park access, peace and quiet, amazing views of the great outdoors
  • Pros – Can often reserve a campsite in advance, water and dump station usually available (electric often also available), walk out your door to park trails, less expensive than private parks, sites are usually more spaced out, bathhouses or pit toilets usually available.
  • Cons – Usually further out from town, cell service is often spotty, sometimes nightly rate includes no amenities, often no laundry facility

Dispersed Camping or Boondocking

  • Great for – Full access to wild camping in remote locations outdoors.
  • Pros – No reservations required, can find amazing views and fully secluded campsites, and most importantly: FREE campsites
  • Cons – No amenities, access can be difficult for bigger rigs depending on the area, little recourse if neighbors are loud or disruptive (there can be lots of ATVs, loud music, broken glass, and off-leash dogs, depending on the spot you choose and the season)

Size Matters: How Big is Your RV?

Fewer Spots Available for Big Rigs

When it comes to choosing a campsite, the hard truth is that size matters. Whether you’re hoping to get into a busy campground or a nice boondocking spot, bigger rigs have a tougher time finding that perfect camping spot.

By comparison, campervans and smaller trailers have fairly easy access to nearly any site, from city parks to remote areas in national forests.

Of course, RVs of any size can access all three of the categories mentioned above, but the point I’m making is important. No matter where you’re camping, if you’re in a bigger-sized rig (say, 30 feet or longer), you’ll need to do more research before you hit the open road.

Fewer campgrounds (especially national and state park campgrounds) can accommodate that size. For rigs ~35 feet or longer, you may even struggle to find a spot in private campgrounds.

Finding the best campsites takes more time and research for big rigs.

Call ahead, read reviews, and make sure you’re reserving a site that can fit an RV of your size, including tow vehicles, towed vehicles, toys, trailers/boats, etc.

My current RV is on the larger size at 33 feet, so I have to do my research before I arrive anywhere – even developed RV campgrounds.

Related Reading: Benefits of Campervan Living

33 foot RV parked next to picnic table at the best campsite this big rig could find
Advanced research is important before arriving with my 33′ RV | Credit: Sarah Kuiken

Plan Route Carefully

This goes for route planning, too. Tools like RV Life’s RV Trip Wizard or RV-specific GPS can help you avoid low bridges or narrow, curvy roads that your vehicle can’t handle.

Take it from someone who has ended up in many sticky situations at the hands of Google Maps, and investigate your route before hitting the road.

Big Rigs Can Reach Boondocking Sites

You may think that only campervans or car campers can get to the truly great boondocking spots on BLM land. Well, that’s not at all true.

Certain mountainous areas do have limited access for small vehicles only. However, there is a lot of great boondocking on federal lands that’s accessible to RVs of any size.


I recommend using Campendium. It’s a great app with functionality to filter by big rig-friendly spots.

As with anything big rig-related, be extra careful as you travel through narrow or congested areas. Despite all the extra planning, you may agree that the best places are often found when boondocking.

What’s Your Off-Grid Capability?

If you’re a new RVer and haven’t traveled off-grid before, here’s a quick guide for how to assess whether your RV is ready for a boondocking adventure

Related Reading: What Is Boondocking?

  • ENERGY SOURCE. You’ll need some way to generate power to recharge your batteries. This is usually done with solar panels, a generator, or a combination of both. Standard lead acid batteries drain quickly. Moreover, they get damaged if their charge levels fall too low.
  • If you’ll only be out for a day or two between campgrounds, look at your energy usage. Make sure you have enough battery capacity to last the duration of your planned trip.
  • Solar Panels can be pricey to set up but are a sustainable, quiet power source, allowing you to harness the sun’s rays to recharge your batteries.
  • Generators are accessible and pair with just about any kind of RV. Some run on gasoline, some on propane, and some are dual-fuel.

I recall one very memorable occasion before I had solar power or a generator. I was forced to leave a dry camping spot earlier than planned. My battery levels got so low my propane alarm went off and wouldn’t stop until the batteries were recharged.

  • INVERTER. Many of the systems in your RV can run on 12V (battery) power. This includes the lights, furnace, water pump, fans, and usually the refrigerator (on propane mode). But other appliances and systems, including the air conditioner, microwave, and anything you plug into a 110V outlet will require an inverter if you aren’t plugged into shore power.
  • So before you reach for that coffee machine, make sure you have an inverter or a plan to accomplish all your electric-pedestal tasks while you’re off the grid.
  • If you plan to run large appliances like your air conditioner off your batteries, talk to a qualified professional first. You’ll likely need to install a soft start to ease the initial burden on your 12V system. You may also need large battery bank and inverter setup.
  • WATER. Most RVs include some kind of water storage and water pump that runs on 12V power. That said, tank sizes vary.
  • RVers with smaller tanks can bring along a freestanding water bladder or 5-gallon water jugs to refill their fresh water system.
  • Van dwellers might prefer to use the water jugs directly. Either way, fresh water is a precious resource when dry camping, so make sure you have enough for your stay or a way to filter a nearby water source.
RVs boondocking at a great open area campsite in Colorado
An especially beautiful boondocking spot in Colorado | Credit: Sarah Kuiken

Software Tools Can Make Finding RV Campsites a Breeze

We live in an era of ample technology—which is great news for campers. It means you have a wide range of online resources at your fingertips to help you find the perfect RV campsites.

Below are a few of my favorite software apps and tools that are helpful resources for a full-time RV lifestyle.

Campground Locator Apps

These apps are my favorite place to get input from other serious campers on spots I’m considering, from the fanciest private RV park to rugged dispersed campsites and everything in between.

The best part is most of these have great sorting or filtering functionality allowing you to tailor your search to your personal needs. They provide detailed information on various campsites, including amenities, access, and size restrictions. Play around to find your favorite.

As a general rule, if I don’t have a reservation (either I’m boondocking or not sure which town I’ll be pulling into on a given night), I pick 2-3 potential campsites while I still have Wi-Fi or a good cell signal. That way, if I reach a boondocking spot only to find that there’s no space for me, I already know exactly where to try next.

Mapping Tools

This pro tip will change everything. Use the satellite view on Google Maps to preview and plan your route, including accessible spots to pull off and fuel up while you’re on the road, and check out dispersed camping areas to see if they’re a good fit for your rig.


Plugging the geocoordinates of a boondocking spot (available on the locator apps mentioned above) into Google Earth is another great way to check out spots that might fit your rig.

This is a great resource and a crucial step for identifying dead ends vs. roads with turnarounds. You want to know this information in advance in case you don’t find a spot and need to get back out. Map out your turn-by-turn directions to ensure you have a route you can manage in an RV.

Online Communities

Online RV communities and forums are a great place to exchange tips and advice with other RVers. These are the perfect spots to find “secret” campsites that aren’t published on any of the more accessible tools.


Often, you can find locals in these groups who will answer questions about places you haven’t visited yet. An RV Facebook group is perfect for this, as are other social media sites and forums managed by full-time RVers.

Pick an Area and Don’t Give Up

Be Resilient and Flexible

My final tip is this: when searching for a campsite, get more attached to the general area than to a specific campsite or campground. This level of flexibility is why I’ve never failed to find a spot for major holiday weekends, even during peak summer travel season.


If you’re staying at a private RV park, call the parks directly (even if they allow online booking) and don’t be afraid to keep calling around until you get a “yes.” I was laughed at by several Moab-area campgrounds one spring—but I did eventually find a spot for the dates I wanted, so don’t get discouraged by a few early “no”s.

Being flexible and resilient is the main reason I always find an RV campsite.

People cancel or fail to show up for their reservations all the time. If you’re persistent, you have a much better chance of being the one to benefit.

Black and white 25 foot RV parked at campsite
My 25′ trailer could fit almost anywhere | Credit: Sarah Kuiken


For campgrounds at state parks, I’ve had good luck with getting same-day bookings by just showing up at the park. This can be a risky move. I wouldn’t necessarily rely on it as a core strategy. But, if there is a specific campground you prefer and you’re in the area, it’s worth it to stop by in person to check availability.

Some of these campgrounds have an overflow area in the parking lot where you can spend at least one night, if needed. And it’s possible there’s a no-show or other cancellation. Travel delays do happen.

Even if you can only eke out a night or two using this method, it can help you establish a foothold in the area while you look for something more permanent.


When in doubt, spend a night at a Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome. As with the tip above, it can help get you a last-minute campsite within a region of your choice while you continue to look for a permanent stay.

If you’re looking for a boondocking spot, a Harvest Hosts winery could be a perfect place to rest until the next weekday when many campsites will open up.

Are Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome the same?

Yes, and no. Harvest Hosts acquired Boondockers in 2022 and merged the two platforms. Together, they offer RVers more than 7,000 locations within the two networks. However, the programs differ slightly.

With a Harvest Hosts membership plan, you have access to unlimited one-night stays at more than 4,000 wineries, farms, and small independent businesses.

Boondockers Welcome membership allows unlimited overnight stays on private property (up to 5 nights at a single property). There are more than 3,000 locations in the Boondockers program and most offer hookups.

Both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers welcome are annual membership programs. The current annual membership costs are $99 for Harvest Hosts and $169 for Boondockers Welcome.

Conclusion: Finding the Best RV Campsites

Finding the perfect campsite for your RV involves a few key considerations.

  • Understand your personal camping style
  • Acknowledge the size and capabilities of your RV
  • Prepare in advance for off-grid adventures
  • Leverage the searching power of RVing and camping apps as well as other online tools and RV social communities

You don’t have to camp the same way every time—and it’s more fun if you don’t! I personally prefer a healthy mix of state park campgrounds, boondocking, and the occasional private RV park when I’m in the mood to splurge (and do laundry).

However you travel, following these tips will help you find your perfect campsite, every time.

Happy camping!

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