A Campground Blog and Unique Camping Directory for North America

What type of camper are you?  Whether you constantly travel to experience new places for a day, week or more; travel once a year for an annual vacation; or you are a snowbird seeking endless summer, this site can provide interesting perspectives and unique solutions for your campground needs in North America.

We have circumnavigated North America at least 5 times – first in tents, with and without kids, briefly in a tent trailer before upgrading to a hard sided Aliner, and most recently in a fully equipped tow behind RV.  Sometimes we were traveling day by day as North America is a big place!  In those instances, when we weren’t sure where the road would lead us, it was often difficult to find an acceptable campground.  We often traveled on local highways and byways. It turns out that many towns, municipalities, and service organizations, such as Lions Clubs, in the US and Canada, own and operate their own local campgrounds. Most are hard to find as they may be off the interstates or main highways, but close by on the roads less traveled and not listed in the many on-line and printed campground directories! This web site provides a directory of these and other campgrounds.

Please feel free to submit information regarding unique and off  the beaten path campgrounds that would be of interest to other campers.

Currently, there is a map display of town and service organization campgrounds in Canada and a separate map display of town and service organization campgrounds in the US on their respective pages.

In addition to these directories there are articles describing personal adventures worth noting and/or commentary on issues that impact on RVing. Links to scenic drives in selected areas of North America as well as products and services related to RVing are also provided.

Comments and contributions are always welcome.

It Happened on the Way to the Campsite

We have been camping and traveling around North America and the World in excess of 44 years. We have had many adventures and misadventures during that time, mostly in tents. Now, entering our “senior” camping years, we travel North America in our pop up hard sided trailer.

The first thing we learned about pulling an RV was that you have to close and lock the roof vents prior to heading down the highway!! Much to our chagrin, the passengers of the cars passing us waved frantically. Being new RVers and proud of our rig, we would smile and wave back. This was winter time, with all the windows rolled up. Finally, a passing motorist fell into step beside us, rolled down their window and started yelling and pointing at the trailer. At the very top of my inside rear view mirror, I suddenly made out one of the roof vent covers flapping in the wind. The trailer was in folded down, travel mode. I had obviously not locked the cover. The wind was blowing. There was moisture in the air, it was below freezing, and there was very little room to pull off the road. Fortunately, I am a Duct Tape expert. I was able to climb up onto the trailer roof and tape the sucker closed! It was much later that I learned I could reach the cover lock through the trailer door, even in the folded position! I am still trying to get the tape residue off of the vent cover.

The second thing we learned was to be careful when using a coin operated car wash to get rid of an excess of road dirt and grime. Water is the enemy of vent openings for the propane water heater and furnace! It takes a long time to dry out the igniters…

The third thing we learned was to take down the awning when you expect inclement weather. It had rained all day with the temperature in the 8 – 10 C range (45 to 50 F). That night the temperature dropped to -7 C (20 F), and the awning, being wet all day, froze. The next morning, as we were waking up, a big wind gust suddenly appeared, ripping the awning from is connection with the trailer. You would think that we had learned our lesson! Later, while camping in the badlands of South Dakota, we had left the awning up while we went into town. On the return trip to the campsite, we noticed some dark clouds approaching. By the time we returned to the trailer, the wind was blowing fiercely; there was no way the awning could be taken down safely. During the night, a tornado passed through the campsite, ripping the awning support poles from the trailer. I am now very attentive to the weather forecasts where we camp!

As part of our cross continent trip in 2010, we traveled from Glacier National Park to Waterton Lakes National Park. It was a wonderful, hot summer morning on the July 1 – 4 weekend. We decided to take Highway 17, a small 2 lane road. Free range cattle are plentiful on this road. Coming around a blind corner, I was faced with a herd of cattle standing in the road. I was forced to maneuver, and, although I did not hit any cattle, I did run through a large, fresh pile of poop. This mess exploded like a land mine, covering the front of the car, over the windshield and then proceeded to coat the front and top of the trailer. There was nothing I could do but to press on to Waterton. I was able to wash the car and the camper, little realizing that this stuff could insinuate itself into every nook and cranny. It took half a year to track down and clean all of the deposits. The last was the car cabin air filter. Finally, we could stand to use the heater again.

Hopefully, we have learned enough lessons in the art of RVing and all future trips will be without incident. I don’t think so!!

Grasslands, Badlands, Bison, Tornadoes

In the summer of 2010, we embarked on a 1,200 mile journey across the grasslands and badlands of America, heading for the Pacific coast.

After spending some rain soaked days camping in the Amana Colonies, we headed west to a campsite at the Badlands Ranch and Resort, just south east of Interior, South Dakota.

This area is the crossover from Grassland to Badland, so we were able to experience both environments on day tours from our campsite. The Grasslands offered vast expanses of grassed prairie with Bison herds, antelope and wild burros roaming the landscape. The Badlands offered a seemingly impassable landscape with sparse vegetation and multi-colored sand and rocks. Mountain goats, snakes, insects and small furry animals were the main inhabitants.

Out on the grasslands we were quite successful in identifying the lead bull of a bison herd and its direction of grazing. We would then place bets with each other when the herd would reach us.  By then we would be safely in the car. On more than one occasion, the car was surrounded by a passing bison herd. Once, the herd not only surrounded us, but a bison calf was licking the bugs off of the grill of the car, while daddy bison ambled down the length of the car. We were amazed how fast the herd traveled, even though it was continually grazing.

Not far away on I-90 was the tourist town of Wall, famous for the Wall Drug Store, and Sturgis, home of the famous yearly motorcycle rally.

Having come this far, we felt it was necessary to investigate the Town of Wall and Wall Drugs. Here you can get a cup of coffee for 5 cents and good dinner very inexpensively! Main Street, from 5th to 6th is “the strip”, containing the Wall Drug Store, gift shops, bars and restaurants. Lots of free parking is available behind the Chamber of Commerce and it is easy to spend a day exploring the shops, bars and restaurants. Visiting Wall was almost our undoing….

We left Wall in the early evening, with the sun shining. As we had wandered up to Wall on the back roads, we decided to take I90 back to camp. On the horizon, looking toward our camp, we could see what we thought was the evening darkness approaching. After all, we were on the grasslands and could see for miles! As we turned onto SD240 at Cactus Flats, we could see the mounting thunderclouds and the beginning of a pyrotechnic nature display. It seemed far off, so we stopped to observe the lightning play over the grasslands and badlands from the vantage point of a hilly promenade. Suddenly, it started to rain – hard. Then we realized that the storm was on to us and our campsite.

The camper rocked, shook and groaned in the rising wind and rain. Chairs, mats, and barbeque all went flying off to other places. Not so, the empty water bottle on the picnic table! We spent the evening huddled on the floor of the trailer. Just before midnight, a loud crash signaled the demise of our awning. The next morning was spent picking up the pieces. It turns out that we had survived a tornado, which proceeded to Wall airport where some planes were overturned and a hanger was destroyed. In the adjacent KOA campground, a 5th wheel trailer was knocked on its side.

Notwithstanding the tornado, we thoroughly enjoyed the area around Interior and the Badlands/Grasslands. The weather gods smiled on us as we moved on to the town of Custer to explore Custer State Park and the area around Mount Rushmore.

Atlanta, Alligators, Florida

After 44 years camping all over North America in tents, we finally decided to upgrade to an RV. We really only wanted to get our bodies off the ground when we slept….

On a recent visit to Australia, our good friends introduced us to their A’van camper, which is a pop up hard side A frame camper. The North American equivalent is the Aliner or Chalet camper. We purchased a used Aliner Classic in late fall and decided that our maiden trip would be the following winter to Georgia, to explore Savannah and then head to Florida in search of alligators.

The winter was one of the coldest for Georgia and Florida. The trip down Interstate 75 was quite beautiful until we approached Ohio. The Interstate 75 weather forecast prior to leaving indicated that we would experience sunshine most of the time, with the occasional snow flurry. Not wanting to use the trailer until we were in warmer temperatures, we made reservations at the Hampton Inn in Lima, Ohio. As we approached the hotel in the evening, the snow flurries had evolved into a major snow storm with close to zero visibility! The next morning it was necessary to dig the car and trailer out of a snow bank before proceeding down Interstate 75. The only other challenge was the black ice on the road under each of the overpasses. Once into Kentucky, it was smooth sailing into Savannah, Georgia.

We camped in Skidaway State Park on the outskirts of Savannah and although it stayed cold, we enjoyed touring Savannah and Tybee Island. Because of the cold weather there were fewer than normal tourists in Savannah and we opted to take a city tour in an enclosed coach.

Moving inland to the Okefenokee Swamp, we set up beside a small lake with warnings of alligators. Bluebirds were everywhere, great trails to enjoy and ferocious wind. The wind collapsed our awning, ripping apart the hardware. (The ice might have played a part.) On a night stroll around the lake we heard frogs which made us think if they were warm enough the gators were sure to be out soon. The next morning the ranger told us we’d heard gators, not frogs. Good job we didn’t poke at any “logs” in the dark.

We headed down to Florida hoping to catch some warmer weather. Because of the cold and high winds at the coast, we elected to camp inland on the wild Withlacoochee River. We set up in an RV Park where our “doll house” trailer, as the locals called it, looked cute amongst the giant rigs parked for the winter. Being awakened by Pileated woodpeckers excavating a moss draped live oak directly above us, hugging mugs of coffee while watching the mist rise from the river and the egrets leaving their roosts we thought it was a bit of heaven. Gators agreed. Three young ones called ‘our piece of shore’ home. On an air boat ride we saw countless gators while slowly scanning the shore and reedy areas and then had great fun uproariously spinning donuts in the open water, cold spray and all.

Unlike the stormy trip down Interstate 75 the ride home was clear sailing, and the temperatures at home were warmer than Florida. This was a great maiden voyage for our trailer.

Work started immediately on repairs and modifications, in preparation for a cross continent trip.

Why Move Up to an RV

We were old school tent campers! An experiment with a tent camper a few years ago died after one camping season.

It was a beautiful, sunny late September day. After loading the car and roof storage with our favourite camping paraphernalia, we headed out on the seventh cross continent camping trip. First stop was a visit to friends in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada. After a relaxing visit, with the sun shining, we headed west on the northern route around the Great Lakes.

By the time we stopped for gas, the weather had deteriorated significantly. The temperature dropped into the 40’s and it was raining. A cold rain intensifying as we progressed westward. We stopped to admire Kakabeka Falls on the western edge of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The rain was driving sideways and the trails were muddy and slippery. There were no tourists in sight. The people at the information center were buzzing with excitement because, in their opinion, the weather was a precursor to snow and skiing!

The cold, wet weather followed us all the way to the outskirts of Vancouver, British Columbia. Tent camping was a challenge, not only in setting up the equipment, but also convincing ourselves that we were having fun!

Our week in Vancouver, visiting family, was sunny and warm. Of course, we were staying in a house!

From Vancouver, we headed south for a first visit to the Redwoods of California. Once again, the dark clouds gathered and the rain started. We felt we were traveling with Joe Btfsplk, the comic book character who always had a rain cloud over his head.

The rain waxed and waned throughout our trip through Washington and Oregon making tent camping less than ideal. We met a cycling couple who were camping on their trip up the coast. The cold and rain had exacted a toll on them, forcing at least one overnight motel stop and a trip to the doctor.

Although the rain and relative cold weather persisted, the Redwoods were magnificent, including the Roosevelt Elk. One phenomenon we discovered in places was that the Redwood forest canopy over the road periodically blocked the satellite signal to our GPS.

On the return trip, we wanted to visit Yellowstone Park, but all the roads through the mountains were blocked with early snow. We were forced to travel south and take Interstate 80 through Nevada. The cross winds on the high chaparral were brutal, causing a pickup truck in front of us to veer off the road at one point.

Near the end of our trip, the sun came out and the weather turned into a beautiful fall. We decided to pack up the tents for good and look for the perfect RV!

Pitfalls When Visiting North America for a RV Holiday

Vacationers from outside North America who wish to visit Canada or the USA by RV need to understand the distances involved.  It is usually not possible to “see” Canada or the USA by RVing for 2 weeks. For example: Vancouver to Toronto is approximately 2750 miles or 4400 kilometers which translates to about 54 driving hours; Toronto to Saint John, New Brunswick is approximately 940 miles or 1500 kilometers which translates into 17 hours of driving, (it can take another 800 miles or 1300 kilometers with a 6 hour ferry ride to get to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador); Los Angeles to Chicago is approximately 2065 miles or 3300 kilometers, 34 driving hours, and Chicago to New York is approximately 800 miles or 1200 kilometers which is 14 driving hours. All of these times assume interstate driving and none of these times allow for the fact you are driving a RV (maybe for the first time!), rush hour, construction season, or general interest in stopping and seeing the sites.

Its best to focus on a particular region of Canada or the USA, pick the optimal starting point and minimize interstate routing (it may be the fastest way from A to B, but not the optimal way for the whole trip, in order to have a grassroots experience).

As part of your planning, you may want to check out these Canadian scenic drives and US scenic drives.

Happy and Safe Travels!