"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, January 22, 2018

Best Campgrounds of 2017 and 2018 Plans

Placerville, CA
Storm Valley Ranch

While I'm not sure anything can match SW Colorado of 2016, we did have some campsites that stood out.  Our trip last year was about specific places we needed to be to hike the High Points of each state.  We knew there would be much less boondocking available and that did prove to be the case. Since we were stuck in CA until late March due to the storms, there were over 2 months of additional boondocking at my brothers that would've been partially at paying parks.  It was also no surprise that campgrounds in the East are much more expensive than the rest of the US.  So if you're passing through these areas, they might be worth looking into. Our favorite spots from 2017 are below and at the bottom our plans for 2018.

Here are our favorite camping spots of 2017 (in no particular order):

 1.  Boondocking at Schreiner City Park, Junction, TX     
      This little city park is conveniently located off Hwy 10. FREE.  FCFS spots, no services, flat with easy access.  No Verizon service. Clean and quiet, beautiful spot right along the river.  Great for a night or two.
Right alongside the Llano River
2. Palmetto Island State Park, Abbeville, LA   
    Another favorite that we'll always come back to when we're anywhere near this area.  $25 W/E with large, private sites and free laundry.  Plenty of hiking and kayaking within the park.  Great Verizon.  The town of Abbeville is cute and walkable and there are fantastic places to eat!!!  Avery Island, home of Tabasco Sauce, is nearby.   
 Such a beautiful park.
3. Old Cowhide Cove COE, Murphreesboro, AR
    Gorgeous campground with many waterside sites on Lake Greeson. $20 W/E. Great Verizon, fishing and kayaking.  Close to Crater of Diamonds and the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum. Plenty of large sites. We stayed in the best site, #45 which was on a small peninsula.
 Water on 3 sides.  Launch right from your site.
 4. Green Lakes State park, Fayetteville, NY
     This has been a favorite of ours since we lived in NY.  Green Lakes is a huge park with many amenities including 2 gorgeous lakes with a walking path around them, hiking, frisbee golf and swimming.  $29 for W/E. Many large sites. Verizon was great. There are much nicer sites than the one we had this time (below).
 Beautiful colored lakes with nice trails around them.

5. St. Joe State Park, Park Hills, MO
    For $21 we had water and electric on some of the largest pull through sites we've seen.  Ours was over 100 feet.  There is nice grassy separation between sites with a nice large pad too.  $21 W/E and great Verizon.  There is much to do in the area: Mining Museum, cute towns, Elephant Rocks park, hiking and the MO High Point.
 Over 100 ft long, some of the largest drive through spots.  Nicely laid out park.
6. Pamell State Park, Winterset, IA
    This is another nice, small park with plenty to do to keep you busy for a few days.  It's $18 W/E.  Sites 9 & 10 are the best with a large grassy area.  There are several covered bridges here and the John Wayne Museum.
Loved all the grass!

7. Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ
    Beautiful, sparkling clean campsites, nicely spaced with a spectacular view of the Superstition Mountains and great hiking!  $30 to camp, some spots have electric and water.  This is an all-time favorite and will probably always be on our list!
So much hiking!

8. Sam Robinson Memorial Park, Sibley, IA
  This pretty little park is run by the city and includes a golf course, park, city pool and picnic facilities and sits on a lovely pond.  Normally it's $10 to camp with water and electric, free when the season is over.  Great Verizon.  We had a waterside site. Great for a night or two.

9. Oliver's State Park Recreation Area, Kimball, NE
    This is a great park right off the Hwy 30.  It is donation only.  There were no services.  Many sites right on the lake.  There is a train nearby that runs quite often but it was fairly quiet at night.  Not too much out here but a great place to stay for a couple of nights. Site #20 was fantastic! No one around.

--An Honorable Mention: Desoto Caverns Park, Childersburg, AL
   This was one of the strangest, quirky campgrounds we've been to.  It is in the middle of a small family amusement park.  It was very clean, pretty and quiet once the park closed around 7p.  During the day amusement piped music is playing.  $25 Passport America, Full Hookups and WIFI.  There is a cavern tour on the grounds for a fee.  Many lakes nearby and Talladega for the race fans.

Only 2 were boondocking for free.  We had good internet in most of these places.   When looking for campsites, we look for privacy, easy access, gorgeous views, on or very near water for fishing or kayaking, nearby hiking and biking trails, not too far from towns for amenities, entertainment, good food and water/dump.  We also love areas with history, breweries and other fun things.

For those that might be interested, here's a breakdown of all of the places we stayed, and the costs:

                                      Stays                 Nights                     Total              AVG (per night cost)
Private Parks                   11                       28                      $967.00             $34.54
National Forest                 1                          4                      $128.00             $32.00
Fairgrounds                       5                        14                      $391.00             $27.93                     
State Parks                      23                        77                   $2034.50             $26.42
County Parks                    9                        28                       $720.00             $25.71
Cabela's*                          2                           3                         $50.00             $25.00
COE                                  5                         31                       $738.00            $23.80
Casinos                             1                           2                          $44.00            $22.00
National Park                   1                           2                          $40.00            $20.00
Boondocking**              12                      170                             $0                   $0
Walmart                            4                           4                             $0                   $0
State Rec. Area***          1                           1                             $0                   $0
Welcome Center              1                           1                             $0                   $0
Forest Service                   0                          0                             $0                   $0
BLM                                   0                          0                             $0                   $0
National Rec. Area            0                          0                             $0                   $0

*We stayed at 3 different Cabela's.  Only 1 charged because it was a full hookup RV Park.
** Boondocking was at family, friends and a repair shop.
***There was no charge for this SRA.

Yearly Comparison
2014 - (need to add)
2015 - (need to add)
2016 - Yearly Campsite Total: $3494.50
            Daily Average: $9.55
2017 - Yearly Campsite Total: $5090.50
            Daily Average: $13.95

What was different?
There was much less boondocking in the east and the campground prices were much more expensive.  We had to travel quicker than we wanted to get to Maine by a certain time due to the bad weather in CA which gave us a delayed departure.  We also had to rush back faster to get to Arizona due to Steve's Dad's ailing health/passing.

Plans for 2018:
After wintering in Arizona we will visit Nevada, spend a couple of weeks in Placerville in April then wander through Oregon and Washington through the fall.  We will return to California in November.


  1. Great recap of your stays Debbie! We'll definately be using it for reference when we head that way.

    1. Thanks guys. I had a few more things to put in but blogger was fighting with me last night and winning :-(

  2. You guys find some very nice campgrounds. However I would like a more detailed 2018 travel plan so we know where not to be. Thanks in advance.

    1. We may let Lisa know, but we're going to keep you on your toes. Ya never know where we may pop up!

  3. Looks like a pretty good year! You need to come up to Canada. Expand your horizons a little bit... :-)

    1. We have a big trip planned there but it will have to wait a few more years when my husband retires as we want to spend most of the year there. Hopefully we'll get to BC this summer. We were hoping to take the rig over but we'll have to see how our budget goes :-)

  4. You always find the best places to camp. Next year, I think we'll try that park in Junction on our way to the Gulf. Look forward to seeing what you find in the PNW.

    1. That's a nice little stop. It is in the "Dead Zone" of I-10 so there no cell service. Good BBQ though!

  5. We have stayed at two of the parks you mentioned (#1 and #2). In fact #2 is where we first met you guys!

    You say Cabela's was only $25/night. Does that include the amount of money you spent there as well? If it is, you guys got out of there pretty cheap!

    1. We were looking for chairs but I think we only bought new grips for the kayak paddles. I'll be watching to see if you guys find some good boondocking sites in Oregon.

  6. Thanks for the top 10. We do agree on a number of them. We will keep reviewing your blog this year as we head east.

    1. Enjoy your trip east. So many great places along that route. We'll have to redo it one day.

  7. Fantastic Job Deb...really love that layout and thanks for sharing these with us. Adding them to my spreadsheet!!

    1. Thanks. Short and sweet. Just like me ;-) HA!

  8. Excellent recap of y'alls travel...taking notes on these!😆😉

  9. We finally have reservations at Lost Dutchman and can't wait!! I really need to go back and do a review our favorites, some we've already been back to a couple times.

    1. Nice! We're at LD now. Wish it could be longer than a week but we had to rearrange the schedule. When will you be here?

  10. Nice recap of your travels for the year. I'll have to save this one for future ideas. I've made reservations for our trip to Missouri in June. Then we'll go a bit further east to visit Ron's folks in Winston-Salem, NC and our daughter. Not sure where she'll be in June because of her husband's schooling. He's currently interviewing at different medical colleges. I'd like to camp with you someday-you find the most scenic spots!!

  11. Debbie, I added a few potential stops to our list based on your top sites for 2017. Thanks for that.


    1. Your welcome. Blog's are a great resource for campsites. We get a lot of ideas from others too.

  12. Good article. I definitely appreciate this website. Thanks!


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