Our favourite campgrounds

Our favourite campgrounds for RVs, www.marianamcdougall.com. Photo of an RV at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta

During our 9-month RV trip with our 3 children, we did a lot of dry camping—one of the many ways we were able to afford the trip.

We also stayed at some state and national parks, and we chose some private campgrounds as well. Here are our favourite campgrounds from our adventure, in no particular order.

 

We spent 9 months on the road. Here are our favourite Campgrounds. Background photo of RV at a campground

1. Castaic Lake RV Park, Castaic, California

We had so much fun at this campground, we forgot to take pictures 🙂

If I had to pick one single campground that I liked the very best, this one might be my pick. Just minutes to Six Flags Magic Mountain, Castaic Lake RV Park is reasonably priced, considering the area in which it’s located. As of this writing, it costs USD$55 for a pull through, full hookup site

What I loved most about this campground was the heated outdoor pool and hot tub, which were available in the winter months. This made me really, really happy. Both the pool and hot tub were looked after every day and were sparkling clean. There was a nice laundry room full of books and board games to keep the kiddos entertained while the laundry gets done. The playground is small, but it’s right across from the laundry room, which is super convenient.

The staff was very friendly and welcomed us with a little package including a couple of really nice branded pens, a water bottle, and a water bottle holder.

The washrooms were spacious and very clean. Two accessible washrooms/shower combinations are available as well.

 

2. Gulf Coast RV Resort, Beaumont, Texas

Gulf Coast RV Resort, Beaumont, Texas. Photo of washroom and store building.

 

I absolutely loved Gulf Coast RV Resort and would return just to spend time in it (and to visit the awesome Sterling Municipal Library nearby).

There is an outdoor swimming pool, but it is not open in the winter months, so we did not use it. There’s a community room, small exercise room/library, and really clean washrooms at this campground.

They offer a breakfast that’s included in the price of your stay, and it was really nice to hang out and chat with the campground staff and other campers.

There’s a resident cat that makes the rounds at the store.

What I really liked about this campground is that you get an entry card and therefore can access the community room at any time, which means that I was able to work later in the evening/early in the morning.

As of this writing, camping costs USD$45 per night.

3. Jetty Park Campground, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Jetty Park Campground, Cape Canaveral, Florida: picture of playground

 

If I could only pick one place to go back to from our trip, Jetty Park Beach would probably be it. We had such a wonderful time there, and I don’t think I’ve ever smiled a more genuine smile than the one I’m showing int his photo.

Woman smiling at the camera, taking a selfie

 

The campground itself was nice, but it was the location that was the big draw. The campground is right across from Jetty Park Beach, where we boogie boarded to our heart’s content every day we were there. You can have full hookups in the secure campground portion, but if you’re willing to make do with water only (and access to a dumping station as needed), you can park right in front of the beach and have a great view.

Because Jetty Park Beach is on Port Canaveral, you get to see all the big ships leaving and arriving at the dock, and it’s pretty awesome. I work early in the morning, so I got to see the lit-up ships coming in when the sky was dark, and that was a special treat, too.

 

Disney Cruise Ship at Port Canaveral

 

As of this writing, camping costs between USD$27 to USD$39 per night in the summer, and between USD$37 to USD$49 per night in the winter. The rates depend on whether you choose a rustic, water and electric, or full hookup site. Check out full details here.

In addition to the awesome location and access to the beach, Jetty Park Campground also has a nice little store with some seating, games, books, and a TV. As of this writing, the store is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. November 15th through May 15th, and 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. May 16th through November 14th. That’s great news for people like me, who freelance on the road and want a change of pace from working in the rig (or need time away from kiddos to actually get work done).

 

4. The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Family posing with Chip and Dale at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

 

If you had met me two years ago, I’d be the first to tell you that I had zero interest in going to Disney World, and that I could think of a 1,000 other things I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on. But during this trip, we decided that it would be fun to include Disney into our travel plans, because it would be a fun memory for the kids.

I can tell you that I’m a true convert now. I’m no longer a Disney skeptic. Actually, if I could afford it, I’d leave Ontario every winter, rent a site at Fort Wilderness for a whole month (and longer if I could), buy a Disney World season pass, take time completely off work, and just enjoy the place with my hubby and kiddos.

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is amazing, but Fort Wilderness is pretty awesome on its own, too. The campsites are full hookup and pretty nice, and there’s a huge pool and toddler water area on site. Each evening there’s a little show to watch, and you can go to a campfire, too.

The showers and washrooms are very clean and very spacious, and the laundry facilities are clean, conveniently located, and easy to use. You can get into everything with a wristband, which is pretty convenient. There’s a bus and ferry to take you from Fort Wilderness to the parks.

Unfortunately, while staying at the Fort Wilderness Campsites is definitely cheaper than staying at the Disney world hotels, it’s nowhere near cheap. Prices vary from USD$56 to USD$139 per night, depending on the time of year and what kind of campsite you’re looking for (e.g. space for a camper van or full-sized motorhome). The cheapest rates are at the beginning of September during the week. Check out full details here.

5. Camping Municipal de La Pointe de Rivière du Loup, Québec

Riviere du Loup sunset over the St. Lawrence River

 

Camping Municipal de La Pointe de Rivière du Loup was a great campground. It was clean, the staff was super friendly, and it had a nice laundry facility. I don’t recall the washrooms well, but I think they were OK. There was a small playground for the kids to enjoy.

This area is French-speaking, and while the staff speaks both English and French, most people we passed by spoke only French, so it’s worth learning some before you visit.

The campground is a short walk’s distance from the St. Lawrence River, where you can enjoy some amazing sunsets, as shown in the picture above.

As of this writing, camping fees range from CND$27 to CND$44 per night, depending on services. Check full pricing details here.

6. Forillon National Park

Forillon National Park Community Room

 

Forillon National Park in Québec was a gorgeous park—we especially loved the proximity to the beach and all the opportunities for easy hikes with the kids. The campsites were nice, and there was access to this great, very new-looking community room, where there is plenty of seating, as well as access to a sink. There are two campgrounds available that accommodate motorhomes.

Some sites are rustic (no services), while other are electric only, and some have water and electric. There are no full hookups, but a dumping station is available at the entrance to the campgrounds, and water is available at each loop for sites that don’t have a tap. That being said, keep in mind that water is usually not available in the late fall and winter months in most Canadian campgrounds east of B.C. I don’t recall much about the washrooms at this campground, but I think they were nice.

As of this writing, overnight camping costs between CND$25.50 to CND$32.30, depending on services. We generally found camping in Quebec to be quite reasonably priced compared to Ontario.

7. Gateway to the North RV  Park, Deer Lake, Newfoundland

boy waving at the camera at Gateway to the North Campground in Deer Lake, Newfoundland

Gateway to the North Campground in Deer Lake, Newfoundland is a simple campground with not much on site—there’s a little playground and there are washrooms, but they are not open during the time of year we stayed there. What we liked about this campground was the friendliness of the staff and the location—it’s right across from the Newfoundland Insectarium, which was such a fun outing with the kids.

Gateway to the North is open May 20th through September 15th (it gets mighty cold in Newfoundland after this). As of this writing, camping costs CND$38 per night for 30 AMP service, with an extra $5 for 50 amp service. If you stay for 6 nights, you get the 7th free.

 

8. Mill River Resort, PEI

Children playing games at a table in Mill River Resort, Prince Edward Island

 

Mill River Resort was lovely. While I can’t remember much about the campsite itself, I remember that the indoor salt water pool, to which you have access if  you stay at the campground, was a lot of fun. You also have access to this lovely community area (see photo above) if you stay at the campground. The kids enjoyed doing the puzzles and playing the games. 

As of this writing, camping fees range from CND$34 to CND$54 per night, depending on season and services. See full rate details here.

 

9. Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas was lovely. The campsite was nestled between trees, which felt really cozy and sweet. There were a couple of nice playgrounds for the kids, and easy access to various levels of hiking.

Customer Service could use some help—smiling is good! But we enjoyed our stay. Campsites for RVs provide only electricity and as of this writing, cost USD$25 per night.

 

10. Bonita Ranch Campground, Lytle Creek, California (near San Berardino)

Bonita Ranch Campground, San Berardino, California

 

If I have to pick a place to isolate myself from it all and just write, Bonita Ranch Campground in San Berardino, California would be it. I mean, just look at those mountains in the picture above!

This campground is completely surrounded by mountains, and it’s a really peaceful place. Washrooms are OK, but the draw of this place is the setting.

As of this writing, it costs USD$30 per night for RV camping for up to 2 people, with a USD$2.00 charge per additional person over the age of 3. Parking a vehicle costs extra. Check all the rate info here.

11. Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

Dinosaur Provincial Park Campground, Alberta

Dinosaur Provincial Park is a gorgeous place full of interesting hikes. The washrooms were not open during the time we visited, so I can’t comment on that, but the campsites are spacious and a good distance from one another.

There is a nice playground for the kids, and most hikes are within walking distance to the sites. As of this writing, unserviced sites cost CND$26 per night, while powered campsites (no sewer and water here) cost $33 per night, with cheaper prices during the winter season. The price is right and the hikes are pretty incredible, too, so it’s really worth a visit.

We stayed in various campgrounds during our trip, but these were our favourites. What’s your favourite campground?

 

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