A Case for Campgrounds

Okay, it’s not the most glamorous form of adventure.  And it’s not going to win you any points when the adventure stories start flowing around the campfire. But life doesn’t always allow you to do a 2500 mile backcountry trip through South America, or Iceland, or Death Valley, or even a Backroad Discovery Route in your area. The point is, life happens, be it work schedule, lack of pto, lack of funds or you already have a big trip planned and just can’t swing another. We need to get outside. And sometimes campgrounds are the perfect way to escape and find a little adventure.

Sometimes we are just too busy...

Campgrounds are not my favorite place to be. They can be noisy andcrowded and they just seem to lack the sense of adventure that lures me into the backcountry. But often, they work in a pinch. Here me out. We, as humans, have a desire for adventure. It’s a yearning we all have that manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. For many of us, that means getting outside. But for most average working folks, there just isn’t enough time to do the trips we truly desire. If you’re lucky, you get one, maybe two trips per year. That’s just not enough.

Enter the campground, it’s not as glamorous but it has a lot of opportunities for quick weekend adventures without having to spend loads of time on planning and prep. For me, personally, state parks give me that quick fix I need to see me through to my next big adventure. I can book online (Reserve America) and I know that, because I reserved a site, I don’t have to go wandering around looking for a place to park when I roll in at dinner time on Friday and my two kids are dying for something to eat and starting to melt down in the back. Just pull up, check in, drive to the designated site and start camping. Again, not super glamorous, but the camping in this scenario, for me, is not the adventure. Its all the other things campgrounds offer that can satisfy that craving.

We all started somewhere...

Another benefit of campground camping is simply experience.We allstarted somewhere and for many, a week long trip deep in the bush is a bit too intimidating.  This is where I think State Parks and other campgrounds really shine. They have bathrooms and often running water, in case roughing it just isn’t for you. Also, you won’t feel completely alone. I personally thrive on being the only human for miles and miles, but a lot of folks just aren’t ready for that (every twig snap is a grizzly bear outside the tent, right?). Having other folks camping in the area will offer a little comfort. State Parks are also great base camps. You can set up camp and go out for a hike, hit the trails on a bike or find some 4×4 trails, enjoy the educational programs most parks provide, see the points of interest in the area or just relax in camp.

State parks are also a great way to test the waters of off grid camping. Many of them don’t include any kind of power/water hookups and often do not have restrooms. If hiking is your thing, a lot of primitive sites are hike in only (you must hike to them and can not park at them). These are great opportunities to try out new gear or try out off grid camping in a somewhat controlled environment. And you won’t have to listen to the RV’s generator running in the site next door all night long.

Camping is a family affair...

Every kid is different, but one thing almost all kids have in common is a love for the outdoors. Getting a young child out and on a long trip can be tough, if not impossible. Campgrounds aren’t too far from civilization, so if it just isn’t working, you can bail and come back another day. Most campgrounds have playgrounds, beaches and bathrooms. This makes the first few trips with your kids a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong, those first adventures will be tough, but having a few familiar things to do (swing set, slides, swimming) will make the transition a little smoother.

Keep the roadtrip going...

We sometimes travel long distances to get to the launch point of our adventures. Or the long road trip is the adventure. A low cost alternative to hotels is KOA and similar roadside campgrounds. They are usually located short distances off of major routes to be quick and easy to access. Besides, sleeping under the stars just adds an element of adventure to your road trips. And you get the opportunity to use that expensive gear you just HAD to have. It’s quick and easy, like I mentioned before, you can reserve a site ahead of time and don’t need to wander around trying to find a spot to set up for the night.


It’s not the story you want to tell when swapping sagas around a campfire, but the accessibility of campgrounds makes the quick trips more doable. The easier it is to get outside, the more frequent trips will be. And that’s just good for the soul. Find a park, or campground and go sleep under the stars. It will restore you. And give that gear collecting dust in the garage a chance to do more than 1 trip this year. 

Have questions about State Parks and Campgrounds in your area, or in an area you are travelling to? Send us an email. We would love to chat about what will work best for your trip and situation. info@backroadventures.com

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