A camping trip in an RV can provide you with a lifetime of fond memories.
There aren’t many things more enjoyable than loading up your RV with your loved ones and heading out for the adventure of a lifetime.
But, if you aren’t careful, you may end up spending way more than you bargained for in camping fees on your trip.
Today, we’re going to discuss RV park prices and all the different costs associated with RV camping that you may not have bargained for.
We’ll also share with you some helpful tips that will help you get more while spending less.
Average RV Campgrounds Rates By Type
When it comes to RV camping, there are several types of campsites you’ll come across as you begin to book your trip.
The most common campgrounds are:
- RV Resorts
- Private campgrounds
- State park campgrounds
- National park campgrounds
These four campground types make up the vast majority of options you’ll find on the open road. Each one offers different features and amenities, and their prices can vary significantly.
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the average costs for each camping arrangement.
RV Resorts – Average Prices
RV resorts are the priciest and most luxurious option for camping in an RV.
These sites are loaded with first-class amenities and have more in common with a five-star resort than they do with a bare-bones campground.
RV Resorts are typically in prime locations, and full hookups are often built into the price.
Several factors influence an RV resort’s average cost, such as location, amenities, seasonality, and whether you’re paying for a back-in or pull-through unit.
As a general rule, most RV resorts cost between $50-100 per night.
Resorts in the most desirable areas and those that provide a laundry list of luxury amenities can often be much more expensive, with costs in the $150-200 per night range.
Private Campgrounds – Average Prices
You’ll find plenty of private campgrounds in each state in the U.S., and they run the gamut when it comes to location, amenities, and costs.
Since these spaces are privately maintained, it’s up to the campground owner to set prices for a stay, and those prices will vary widely.
When staying at a private campground, you’ll find plenty of hidden bargains and just as many that are overpriced, so it’s helpful to be vigilant when it comes to private parks.
Campers hoping to avoid any hidden surprises when planning their trip will do well to stay at KOA campgrounds.
KOA, which stands for Kampgrounds of America, is an organization made up of more than 500 privately-owned campgrounds throughout the country.
While each of these campgrounds is unique, you can feel confident that any of the KOA network grounds is affordable and offers solid amenities.
Depending on the amenities and seasonality, an average spot in a private campground costs between $30-50 during the offseason and $50-75 during peak times.
Campgrounds with spectacular views, lots of nearby activities, and high-end amenities will exceed these guidelines and can often command a bit north of $100 per night.
State Park Campgrounds – Average Prices
With well over 10,000 state parks throughout the country, there’s no shortage of opportunities to take advantage of these beautiful and historic parks with a camping trip.
Many state parks don’t allow camping, but there are just as many that do, and they offer a solid value for all campers.
State parks are often a bit more affordable than private campgrounds, especially for state residents.
The camping opportunities in state parks range from bare-bones locations where boondocking is the norm to options that are chock full of all the top amenities.
You’ll want to do your research on each park to see what kind of amenities are on offer.
Most state park campgrounds range in price from $25-40. Those with plenty of amenities or campgrounds in highly desirable parks can cost a bit more.
Even during peak season, almost all the most expensive and well-appointed campgrounds can still be had for $50 or less per night.
Above the cost of your stay, state parks typically charge a reservation fee in the realm of $5-10 that’s non-refundable.
You’ll want to factor this cost into your stay to provide a complete picture of what it costs to stay at a particular park.
National Park Campgrounds – Average Prices
Many RVers consider camping in national parks to be the holy grail of camping since you’ll be able to enjoy some of the most impressive sights, sounds, and activities that nature has to offer as soon as you step out of your RV.
What’s even better, national parks tend to have some of the most affordable RV park prices, and they’re often significantly cheaper than staying at a resort, private campground, or state park.
Depending on location and seasonality, you’ll be able to score a spot in a national park for $15-25 per night. Some parks can even be had for as low as $10 per night.
Many parks offer group campsites that can accompany large groups of up to 40 people. These parks usually charge around $65-75 per night for one of their large group sites.
There is also a $10 reservation fee when booking a spot at a national park.
Before you run to plan a national park road trip, there are some things that you’ll want to consider first.
First, the main reason why camping in a national park is so affordable is that these campgrounds rarely offer the amenities that are common with private campgrounds or resorts.
Most parks have limited hookups or don’t offer them at all. Most national parks offer very few RV camping amenities at all.
You’ll also need to factor in the cost of entry when planning your stay.
All national parks have an entrance fee, except for a few special days each year where there’s no charge to enter the park. Some parks charge per vehicle, while others charge per person.
If you’re only planning on staying for a day or two, entrance fees can dramatically increase the cost of your stay.
Factors That Influence RV Camping Costs
Many factors influence RV park prices, and understanding them can help you make heads or tails of the costs you’re seeing.
Is it a great value, or are you getting taken to the cleaners?
Considering these factors will help you figure that out.
The single most significant influence on campground prices is the amenities that are provided on-site.
For a campground, the amenities they offer represent the most considerable costs the campground will need to shoulder.
Electric, water, and amenities like a clubhouse or on-site bathrooms drive a campground’s cost of doing business, and they need to pass those costs on to their customers.
Not only do the amenities vary between campgrounds, but they can also vary within the campground itself.
Many campgrounds offer some sites with full hookups, others with partial hookups and some with no electric or water hookups at all.
Costs can vary by as much as 50%, depending on whether or not the campground will be providing you with electricity and water.
Another major factor that influences RV park prices is where the campground is located.
You’ll find simple campgrounds that are essentially just large plots of land that don’t offer much in the way of scenery or activities.
You’ll also find campgrounds surrounded by beautiful scenery, with plenty of opportunities to hike, fish, and adventure.
As you’d imagine, campgrounds in less picturesque settings and those that don’t offer much in the way of natural features or activities are typically much more affordable than more beautiful locations that offer plenty of things to do in the area.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in a particular state can dramatically affect how much you’ll pay to stay in the area.
For example, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in New York City is $3,200, while a similar apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina, would cost you under $1,000.
This same phenomenon plays out at campgrounds, too.
A campground in a state with a high living cost will cost considerably more than a campground in a more affordable state.
You should plan on paying a premium whenever you’re staying in a place with a high cost of living, such as New York or California.
Where you’re staying within a campground can also dramatically impact how much your nightly cost will be.
Most campgrounds offer pull-through and back-in spots, and these spots are almost always priced differently.
If you’re an astute driver and you’re able to easily back into a spot, you can save a few bucks by staying in a back-in location.
Pull-through sites will cost you a few extra dollars, but they’re easier to get into and out of, especially if you aren’t confident in backing up.
Duration Of Your Stay
How long you’re staying at a particular campground will impact your cost more than any other factor. The RV park prices we’ve discussed above are all for a single night.
If you’re staying longer than one night, your per night rate could fall significantly.
Most campgrounds offer discounts for extended stays, and the longer you stay, the greater the discount.
A spot in a campground that typically costs $50 a night may only cost $500-1000 if you were to stay for an entire month.
Each campground offers different discounts, and you also may be able to negotiate a special rate for an extended stay.
Time of Year
When you’re traveling also profoundly impacts the cost of your stay.
Like any vacation spot, campgrounds have higher rates during their busy season and lower rates during the year’s slow part.
In states that experience all four seasons, rates are dramatically lower in the winter than in the summertime.
States with gorgeous weather year-round, like Florida, also have different prices depending on the season, although the off-season discounts in locales like this aren’t as steep.
Depending on the state you’re camping in, your reservation may be subject to additional taxes, inflating the cost of a nightly stay.
Beyond any taxes that you may be subject to, some campgrounds also pay high taxes to operate, depending on the state they’re in.
In states with high taxes, you can expect that additional cost to be baked into the price of your stay.
Some campgrounds have relaxed policies, and they’re happy to let you camp with an additional vehicle or several guests without any additional fees.
Most campgrounds, however, do have some extra costs you may be subject to. I
t’s common for a campground to charge a fee for an additional vehicle, especially if it isn’t towed behind your RV.
It also isn’t uncommon for visitors to pay a fee for large groups.
These fees are typically minimal, at around $5-7 per day.
But, they can quickly add up on extended stays, so you’ll want to pay attention to any additional fees that your trip may be subject to before you book.
Tips For Saving Money On Your Stay
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can save serious money on your camping trip without compromising on any of the fun of RV camping.
Consider incorporating a few of these ideas into your next camping trip, and you might be surprised by how much you can save.
Take Advantage Of Local State Parks
One of the best ways to stay cheaply if you’re going to be camping in your home state is to stay in state parks.
Not only do state parks offer a picturesque setting with lots of exciting activities, but many parks offer dirt-cheap rates for county or state residents.
The opposite is true when you’re camping out of state. Depending on the park, the non-resident rate may be quite expensive.
In those cases, avoiding state parks would help you save money.
If you’re not afraid to camp without amenities like electricity or running water, you’ll find a wealth of places you can stay either for free or for very little.
Any land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management as well as designated national forests offers free camping.
Meanwhile, campgrounds that offer sites with no hookups can be had for $15 or less in most places, which is a great value if you can do without the luxuries.
Purchase An Annual Park Pass
If you love staying in our beautiful national parks, an annual pass can be a wise investment that pays for itself after only a few camping trips.
While camping in the national parks is inexpensive, the entrance fees for park access add up quickly.
An annual pass that provides free or discounted admission can be an easy way to save money and keep your camping costs low.
Take Offseason Trips
The single easiest way to save money on RV park rates is to camp in the offseason. Depending on the campground, offseason rates may be 50% cheaper than rates during peak times.
You’ll be able to enjoy the same campground and amenities at a deep discount. Plus, you’re almost guaranteed a quiet and enjoyable stay with plenty of privacy during offseason stays.
Camp During The Week
Another easy way to camp cheaply is to take trips during the week instead of the weekends.
Most campgrounds have a rate for Monday through Friday and another for the weekends.
If you can avoid camping on weekends, you may be able to save 25% or more on your stay.
Stay At A Casino
It may seem like an oddball idea, but you may be surprised to learn that many casinos offer RV campsites on their grounds.
Better still, most of them are happy to provide you with a free stay!
They’re hoping you’ll come in and spend some money at the tables, but you never have to spend a dollar there if you prefer not to.
Join an RV Club
RV club members often enjoy deep discounts on lodging and other camping necessities.
Most clubs are inexpensive to join, and many campgrounds extend special pricing to members of the club.
Joining a club is also a great way to network and share tips and tricks with other campers.
Some of the country’s top options include Passport America, BoonDockers Welcome, Harvest Hosts, and Casino Camper.
Become a KOA Member
With over 500 KOA campgrounds in the U.S., most campers find themselves staying at their locations many times over.
KOA offers an annual membership program that will set you back $30 per year, and it can be a money-saving tool for frequent campers.
KOA members receive a 10% discount on any stay at a KOA campground, and there’s also a rewards program where you can quickly earn free stays or other amenities for being a loyal customer.
RV camping is one of the most fun and relaxing ways to enjoy the great outdoors, and there’s no shortage of excellent campgrounds to explore throughout the country.
Average RV park prices can vary significantly depending on the type of campground, the amenities they have, and when you’re traveling.
Before your trip, a bit of research and planning can help you save lots of money on your stay.
Be sure to take your time to learn about the area you’re going to and the best places to stay before you book your next camping trip.
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