Monday, October 6, 2014

Looking for a Needle in a Haystack....Locating Low Cost Camping Options

Everyone has their own method for locating camping spots when on the road.  While no one source seems to put together a resource that pulls together all options available campsite resorts I have relied on a few great resources to help me find campsites that worked pretty well last summer. 

Odessa Tourist Camp (Cost- Free!!)  Found on

I am a visual person so I like to get an overall picture of the area that I am going to.  So the atlas is often the first place I start when looking for a new camp.  I draw an imaginary circle around an area that I am going near and then begin looking for more detail.  A good camp needs to be close to the attractions in the area that you want to participate in or you spend the campground savings on gas going to the places you want to see.  Just like in a sticks and bricks, it is all about location, location, location.  Here are some of my favorite resources when hunting done the perfect camp.

1.   National Geographic Atlas - My go to atlas.

This well used atlas, shows state campgrounds but also show National Forests and marks National Campgrounds which are often very low costs and of course many participate in the 50% off camping fees for seniors.  It is spiral bound with a heavy duty, plastic coated cover and has held up well under constant use. (it has held up far better than my Benchmark or Delorme Atlases.)

2.  Two web sites that have provided camps that aren't always on maps or Atlases


Generally basic campsites but the ones I have used have been in areas that do not have a great number of low cost campsites so are valuable in a pinch.

3.  Pinterest - My on the Road Virtual Filing Cabinet

Pinterest is an on line bulletin Board of filing cabinet.   I have used Pinterest as my on line filing cabinet for years and have been collecting places I want to go and campgrounds, hikes, tips for camping and even good camp cooking.  I have found all kinds of useful (and useless) information to store in my files. When I read blogs, I often follow folks that camp in similar ways.... low cost and like to hike and enjoy the outdoors. Then I save pictures and locations oft heir campsand hikes that locate me near the outdoor activities that I enjoy.  When I am ready to go into a new area, I consult my file for that state and I review the camps and activities I have saved for ideas.
                                                               It works great for me.



Allstays is an app that s available for use on phones or computers that could quickly become my new best friend.   Within its search engines are all kinds of information that will help the travelers as they move into unfamiliar territory.

Within the Allstays program, on the campgrounds page are located links to campgrounds and more links to list Walmarts and other businesses that allow overnight parking, that allow overnight parking, casino's, rest stops, truck stops and rv dump areas.  

5.  Bench Mark Maps

I also use BenchMark maps that show recreation areas, listing campgrounds, RV parks and recreational areas.  There are also topographical maps showing terrain and road maps that show roads in greater detail.   I may choose to stay in a campground for a night and scout some of the local roads without the trailer.  Many of the forested roads may not have turnaround areas large enough for a full sized truck and trailer.  Dropping the trailer to search out spur roads in a national forest takes a while.... but far less aggravating than trying to do a turn around in close quarters. (I have learned this little tip.....the hard way.)      :(
                  I have spent many hours pouring over maps getting a lay of the land. 

6.  Chat with locals, Visitor Centers and other Rv'ers along the way

Additional places that are not always located on maps are marinas and county or local parks that allow overnight stays. It is amazing what you learn by sharing a few words

Staying at Cap Sante Marina offered dry camping with a view.....

At $20 a night it is nearly $20 savings over the price price of a state park.

Check out the View!!

This beautiful camp was found by talking with other campers

I haven't paid for membership at campgrounds or Fraternal Orders campsites or the Escapees and their magically Boondocking lists...... and am not eligible to stay at the military camps.   Nor am I particularly fond of camping in RV Parks or resorts but I have discovered that some of the private campgrounds are actually cheaper than state parks when using the weekly rates.  When traveling on the East Coast,  I certainly will have to develop some new travel planning strategies to cope with the high cost of overnight stays.

What are your special strategies for finding those low cost campsites? 

Share all....Inquiring minds want to know!!




  1. After all the years I've spent on the computer and online, I've never checked out Pinterest. That sounds like a good idea you have, instead of bookmarking that same information into folders and then any photos in a different software. I'll have take a look at that. Nice pictures of Anacortes Wa.

  2. Hey, neighbor! I sure would love to be back in that Anacortes parking lot right about now, how 'bout you?? I have put your Nat Geo recommendation on my wish list. I use most of the other options. Couldn't be without my AllStays. But still, I think my greatest abundance of ideas has come from the blogosphere!

    Hope things are running smoothly for you -- Suzanne

  3. This is my favorite. We bought the iPad app and it is a great resource that works amazingly well.

  4. All really good sites to keep handy

  5. Love this comprehensive post...just the stuff I wanted to know...thanks. Now I have to get computer savvy enough to find and save all these sites. I think I can handle it, as I don't have one of those fancy phones. Ha!

  6. Something else we have in common...vintage bag lady...vintage rolling stone...too funny! I like yours better.