Who prefers provincial/state type parks rather than campgrounds?

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by KeatesCamping, May 17, 2019.

  1. KeatesCamping

    KeatesCamping Member

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    14 years ago when I was taking care of my dying mother and I had to have a few days of respite and wanted to get my kids away from the sadness, hubby and I got a tent and went to Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario. I had never really camped before but I fell in love, both with camping and the park itself. Now we try to go there every few years and camp 3 times a summer as of now though now ha we have a PUP we'd love to go a couple of times more.
    We typically camp at Murphy's Point Provincial Park and Charleston Lake. We prefer Ontario Parks over campgrounds because we like being in as much of a wilderness setting as we can without back-country camping. We prefer the quiet, and nature and we end to keep to ourselves most of the time. We don't like lots of lighting, talking and music and being in a close proximity to other campsites. We choose sites that are engulfed by as many trees as possible...lots of privacy.
    Who else prefers to camp this way?
     
  2. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    I think the terms are different in various areas. Out here, there are public campgrounds (federal, state, county, city), private campgrounds (KOA, etc.), and private RV Parks.

    I prefer public campgrounds for the reasons you mention. I mostly do federal - forest service, BLM, and COE. The forest service are the best as they are usually smaller and have very limited amenities (pit or vault toilets, potable water spigots, picnic tables and fire pits). Sites are usually spaced out nicely with foliage separating them. And they let dogs on the trails.

    COE campgrounds are a lot bigger (over a hundred campsites) and may have hookups. As they are down in our foothills, they are very hot in the summer and filled with partyers and boaters. But in the off season, they are much quieter.

    I don't care for RV Parks. Our state parks don't allow dogs anywhere but on roads and in the campground, so you end up stuck in you campsite the entire time.
     
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  3. KeatesCamping

    KeatesCamping Member

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    It's too bad a few bad dog owners can ruin it for the rest of us. We don't go anywhere that doesn't allow our pup to be with us and hiking and/or canoeing.
    There are sites in our Provincial Parks that will have a private hook up for electricity. In the past since we tent camped and didn't want the added possibility of music blaring we didn't book those sites but with a PUP, and my husband just having got a CPAP machine he can't go without, we have to have the hook up because we don't have solar or any other source of power right now.
     
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  4. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    I prefer state and federal parks more than private. Regional parks are ok but I find have less trees, at least here. However sure can’t beat the convenience if your trying to find a place close to home. All of which are public parks so usually have more rules, but it’s those rules I love as it keeps the riff raff out or at least discouraged. So they are quieter and closer to nature, more hiking trails etc. when my little side kick was much younger I did private or more resort campgrounds as they had way more things to keep youngsters entertained. Bigger playgrounds, pools, activity, and more kids their age to play with. They each have their positives, but now the side kick is a teenage she is able to appreciate the small things as long as it has some activities to encourage her off the darn phone.
     
  5. KeatesCamping

    KeatesCamping Member

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    We plan to take a trip to the east coast, hopefully next summer, and we may need to stop at a private campground for location convenience.
    All three of our kids loved hiking and canoeing and just going to the park beach so we were pretty blessed. Now they just like to go on longer excursions and watch their old and out of shape mom and dad huff and puff along the way, lol
     
  6. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    That is the one big plus with a private campground, they also don’t mind single night stays as much. When I was a youngster and my parents took us on a long trip, we stayed at KOAs enroute to our destination and as a kid we loved it. I think it was the pool they usually had that we loved the most. ;) Dad loved it for the pure convenience to the main highway. [suv&pu]
     
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  7. Tulip

    Tulip Member

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    Generally yes we prefer provincial or national parks. However on our Quebec trip a few years ago and on our East coast trip we stayed in some really nice private campgrounds and found some of the provincial or national campgrounds to be overcrowded with little/no privacy. Bay of Fundy national park had sites no larger than my driveway with no privacy. We were very surprised. The first site we were assigned would not even fit our 8 person tent. (Before our PUP days) The provincial campground we stayed at in PEI was essentially just a field with no hiking trails but nice beach access.

    On our BC trip we stayed in all national or provincial parks. A couple in BC and Alberta were what we called transient sites -slightly more than glorified rest stops - just off the highway with limited services or facilities. This was fine with us as they were one night stays and quite cheap.
    And some like Dinosaur Provincial Park in AB has no privacy based on the topography but it's a very cool place to stay.
     
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  8. tdiller

    tdiller Active Member

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    We prefer state parks or here in the states we have Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds. It's usually just my wife and I so we don't need all the fancy swimming pool and playground stuff of places like a KOA. We use the state/coe places as a base for our sightseeing or just sitting around. It's nice if there is a lake or river for some fishing but we don't have to have that either.
     
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  9. Bigantlers

    Bigantlers Member

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    So far I prefer our state parks. I haven't been able to justify the added expense of staying at a KOA for example versus a state park. I don't have enough experience yet as far as placed where we have stayed but some of the "resort" campgrounds I have looked at are surprisingly expensive. I personally want a a more natural setting versus something more manicured, I just want the grass cut, good drainage and clearance for our gear I think. I'm want to know I'm outdoors. Its a tricky balance of comfort and the experience of camping, and "glamping" beyond our PUP just isn't for me right now.
     
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  10. MeaganS

    MeaganS New Member

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    We've stayed almost exclusively in federal campgrounds with the occasional state. Dd has a disability pass that gets her (and us) half off almost all federal campgrounds, making it often no more than $10/night, even with electric. You can't beat that. Plus, they tend to be more rustic, woodsy, and private, which we like.
     
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  11. hammb

    hammb Member

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    Growing up we had a PUP and camped in a mixture of KOA campgrounds and state parks. I'm sure, as a kid, we loved the KOA pool and whatnot, but for some reason my most vivid memories of KOAs were the small size of the sites. I specifically remember staying at KOA in Destin, FL that my dad had to ask our "neighbor" if it was OK to stake our awning down just into their site, because there wasn't room enough to extend the awning (and this was a small starcraft PUP) and have it all be on our own site. That KOA DID have a nice pool which was fun for swimming at night, but of course we preferred the couple block walk to the beach.

    All of my fondest camping memories growing up are from State Parks, and as an adult I've camped almost exclusively at state/national parks. When I'm camping I want to feel like I'm outdoors. I much prefer the campground have access to hiking trails than a swimming pool. There have been times when we were unable to get reservations at a State Park in the area we wanted to go that I've hunted and found decent mom & pop family campgrounds. I'd still rank those ahead of a KOA type place if you find a decent one.

    Even when we were in tents the wife always wanted electricity for charging phones and whatnot, now that we've got the PUP we'll probably always go to places that have power. And with her showers and flush toilets are a must, although I suppose since our PUP has both maybe she'll utilize them and be more open to not having them at the campground.

    Thus far this year we have 3 camping trips planned and are working on a 4th. They're 1 Indiana SP, 1 Ohio SP, and a NP. Thinking about adding another Ohio SP trip. As long as I plan far enough ahead to get reservations in the public campgrounds I cannot see myself ever camping at the fancier ones (other than maybe the occasional Cedar Point trip, although it's ungodly expensive for "camping"). My wife did mention wanting to stay at a Jellystone some time since they have so much for our 3 year old to do, but the one she mentioned was > $70/night, and that only includes the "water park" none of the actual water slides, which cost extra. At that price point, I'd probably just rather find a hotel somewhere (even though I vastly prefer camping). It's not like an unwooded, golf cart riddled campground right off a major highway is going to feel like "camping" to me anyhow...
     
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  12. Rik Peery

    Rik Peery Well-Known Member

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    State/Fed for us, or private property will suffice, got to have a body of water for yakking/fishing if for more than a couple of days...wife is a fan of all electric, me not so much...
     
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  13. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

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    It depends for us. What I prefer is not being packed in tight. So, wherever I am going that provides that experience, that's where I go.

    In Alaska, it's been my experience the only organization that can afford to make campsites that aren't basically as wide as a parking space is the federal government. So, National Park Service, BLM, COE campgrounds are nice for that, but have no services. So, if I want space, I go with public. State facilities are hit and miss. Some actually DO provide spacious sites... Anchor Point comes to mind. Many, however, are literally gravel parking lots.

    So, if I can get some space I would opt for public sites, but if I can't, I'd rather be packed in with power, sewer and water than packed on on the tanks and genny.
     
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  14. KeatesCamping

    KeatesCamping Member

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    This is good information to have!
    One place we stay away from is Sandbanks Provincial Park. Maybe a day trip but we'd never ever stay overnight. I's crowded and the rest rooms are always destroyed. My husband went into a change room and someone had crapped in the middle of the floor and left their underwear over it.
    If you are in Eastern Ontario we recommend one of the ones I mentioned above. Silent Lake is ok too but there isn't anything for kids to do.
    Funny you mentioned down East. When I was looking into planning a trip to Nova Scotia, most of the parks I saw seemed to have their sites out in the open on a grassy hill. No shade which is a big deal breaker for us due to my migraines and a medication my son and I are on.
     
  15. KeatesCamping

    KeatesCamping Member

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    Sounds like a good and busy summer! Electrical sites in Ontario vary from $40-46 a night. Plus you have access to nearby shower and bathroom facilities if you don't want to use one of the outhouses that are dotted around. Some of bathroom/shower buildings have full laundry or just a dryer. Water taps are dotted around as well.
     
  16. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    We generally prefer to camp in public campgrounds. In the SW where we do most of our camping, those are mostly state and national parks and US Forest Service ones. Even those vary a lot, from FHU in concessionaire ones (Trailer Village at South Rim Grand Canyon, we usually dry camp in Mather CG there), to water/electric in AZ state parks, power only to dry camping in campground with water spigots at intervals and vault toilets.
    However, we use private campgrounds, usually KOAs, for certain handy stops - overnights on the way from point A point B, or when I visit friends in Tucson for a few days.
    We don't boondock - camping outside an organized campground of any sort is our definition - by choice.
    It works for us.
     
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  17. Wakita46

    Wakita46 Active Member

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    I have now camped in 99 campgrounds in the US and Canada with my A frame popup but I have boondocked only a few times. I prefer the Federal/National and State/Provincial parks. Some are very nice and are more likely to have trees between sites than the commercial RV parks. On the other hand, showers and electricity are sometimes harder to find in these parks and for long trips (I often go for a month or more) I end up spending time in a variety of options. A laundromat every week or so is very useful. California is the only state I found that has bear boxes. Western British Columbia camp grounds are pretty primitive. Nova Scotia has nice facilities. The western dry states often don't even have water or flush toilets. One disadvantage of primitive camps without electricity is the noise from generators. I find it incredibly annoying. Overall, The best thing to do is to look at camp ground reviews before you go.
     
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  18. Overland

    Overland Active Member

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    Nat'l and state Forests on east coast, add in BLM lands as I head west.

    I have to have dispersed camping privledges..
     
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  19. Fixitup

    Fixitup Active Member

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    Private CG always. We have 4 that we always go to every year. Several times a year at each one. I can reserve our favorite site each time. That cannot be done at COE, etc CG's. Also we prefer full hook up and that is mostly not possible at COE, etc, CG's.
     
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  20. CrystalStarr

    CrystalStarr New Member

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    Very interesting to me this conversation. I see the OP is from Canada. But I've noticed this discrepancy in my experience to people camping in other parts of the states too. My experience with campgrounds owned by the state is that they are not very woodsy or far into the woods. Field sites are common. The sites are small and there is little space between them. This, of course, varies from campground to campground but in general, it holds true. State parks are also the absolute cheapest place to camp. Sometimes they are very neglected. Whenever there is a state budget crisis (every year) the first thing cut is care of the state parks. We do a mix of state parks and privately owned campgrounds.
     
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