RV camping combines the best of both worlds–you get all the conveniences of having a home “on wheels” while being close to nature and enjoying the pristine landscape, far from the hustle and bustle of city life.
But to make the most out of your travel, make sure that you choose the “right” campsite based on what you want to experience, its location, the amenities and facilities you need, your budget, and whether you travel with companions (are you traveling alone, or are you with a family or furry company?)
Wherever you decide to camp, a trip to the Eastern Sierras will not disappoint. Here are a few useful pointers to keep in mind when choosing an awesome campsite the next time you plan to go RV camping:
1. Consider the Season / Time of Year
What time of the year are you planning to camp?
If you are planning a trip when the kids get out of school in June or the middle of the summer, you will want to reserve your campsite early. Most of the campsites are open for reservations six months in advance and will often book up within a week of opening for reservations.
If you don’t have a preference and are open to suggestions, plan your trip in the late spring before kids get out of school or in the fall once they go back. Although these times can be cold and the weather may be unpredictable, it can also be very warm during the day without the typical summer crowds.
2. Have an Idea How The Weather Might Be Like
Ask what the weather is normally like where you are thinking about camping. Is it usually windy or shady in the afternoon, or can I expect full sun most of the time? If it is windy, which way does the wind blow? Information like this will help when you are deciding on a specific site. What is the elevation? Some campgrounds have snow even late into the summer months based on the elevation.
Knowing what sort of weather you’d be having will influence what you’ll be bringing along on your trip: clothes, equipment, and even food. It will also let you narrow down your choices as far as activities go when you finally head out RV camping.
3. Gather a Few Choice Recommendations
As far as our clients go, the most popular campgrounds are in and around:
- June Lake
- Lee Vining
- Mammoth Lakes
- and the Lakes Basin
When you ask “What is your favorite campground?” The top two picks are Silver Lake and Twin Lakes in Mammoth Lakes. For many campers, having a lake or stream nearby is a top consideration. Having nearby attractions– close enough for a quick side trip at least– is also a huge plus.
Why do folks love Silver Lake Campground? Not only do you get a magnificent view of Carson Peak in the distance from the shore of Silver Lake, but campsites are also nicely spread out so you can enjoy the serenity and scenery in peace. Quite possibly one of the most in-demand campgrounds in all of the Eastern Sierras, there’s much to do around Silver Lake– walking access to streams, a perfect area for kids to ride bikes, and it’s close to many dining facilities and hiking trails.
Clean, quiet, and centrally located to other Mammoth Lake attractions, The Twin Lakes Campground is also a top pick among our customers. Almost all campsites are within 100 feet of the lakes and there is an abundance of wildlife. Beautiful with lots of trees. Really good fishing and great hiking.
4. Pick Out a Strategic Location
While your ideal RV campsite should provide safety, privacy, and convenience, take note that some RV travelers might prefer to camp near downtown to explore the local cuisine and visit some of the town’s attractions.
Another thing to keep in mind is the proximity of your campsite to the nature destinations or attractions you might want to explore during your stay.
5. Check If Your Campsite Can Accommodate Your RV
Pay attention to the campsite you are booking. Most campsites within the campground accommodate travel trailers or RV’s but some are limited to tents only or so small you would not be able to get a regular-sized trailer or motorhome in the space.
If you are not sure, look at the overall length. Most of the campsites will have the length listed. You generally want something over 30-35 feet in length. This will allow you space for the travel trailer or motorhome and your personal vehicle. Most campgrounds do not offer much extra parking so you’ll want to plan to fit all your vehicles within the one campsite.
If your RV has a length of over 40 feet, it is generally considered a big rig, which means you need a campground where you can maneuver and park your vehicle comfortably.
As a marketing ploy, some campgrounds call themselves “big-rig friendly” even though their site is not enough to accommodate large recreational vehicles, the trees around the campsite and pathways have low-hanging branches that can damage the RV’s roof, and the dirt road makes it difficult to maneuver a “true” big rig.
To make sure that a campground is truly big-rig friendly, ask them about the length of the campsite and the overheight clearance so you won’t damage your RV’s roof.
6. Determine Your Desired Comfort Level
Think about what you want at a campsite.
- Will you need full hookups including water and standard household electricity?
- Will you want showers in addition to what is provided in your trailer?
- Do you plan to have a campfire (camping is not camping without a campfire)?
These are just some of the things to consider and ask about when deciding where to camp.
Full Hookup vs. Dry Camping
A full hookup means RV travelers can have water, electric, and sewer hookups, while a partial hookup often lacks the sewer utility connection (or in some cases, it’s the electricity that’s lacking).
Even if a campsite says it offers full hookups, make sure to clarify because some campgrounds use the term even when they only provide electricity and water hookups just because they have a dump station on site.
Check out our article: “Full hookup vs. partial hookup: What’s the difference?”
Do you need household power to operate an appliance? Most campsites are “dry camping” which means they do not provide any water or electrical source. The travel trailers are equipped with battery power which will operate most of the interior including water pump and lights but you may want to consider reserving a campsite at an RV camping park with full hookups if standard household power is important to your comfort.
Another thing you need to clarify is the specific type of electrical connection they offer. For example, if your RV electrical system runs on 50 amps, make sure that your campsite can accommodate your needs.
Almost all the campsites are close to some sort of bathroom. Some of the bathrooms are flush toilets while some are more primitive pit toilets. Most do not offer showers, but some do. The travel trailers are equipped with both a toilet and shower so you will not necessarily need these at the campsite but depending on how large your family is, it may be a good consideration.
Make sure to ask if you can have a campfire. Just because your campsite has a fire ring does not necessarily mean you can have an open fire. Restrictions may be in place based on the current level of fire danger. It is important to ask local authorities including the US Forest Service. Many campsites allow campfires, even outside developed campgrounds, as long as you obtain a fire permit. Be sure to ask and always use good fire safety when having a campfire.
Does your campsite offer a picnic table? Is it walking distance to town or the lake? Can you have more than one vehicle on the site with you? These are all some additional considerations you might have when choosing a campsite.
7. Figure Out Which Amenities/Facilities You Want
Consider what you will be doing while you are not at the campsite. Will you be walking or hiking from the campground or driving to attractions?
Is having a water source nearby important to you? All travel trailers have water storage, so being secluded may be more important to you than being close to water.
If you’re traveling with your family for long-term RV camping, you may want a campground that offers on-site laundry facilities, which can be a huge convenience because you don’t have to worry about finding a laundry shop just to make sure that you always have clean clothes, towels, and bedding.
And if you’re traveling with kids, you may want to choose a family-friendly campground that has a playground and offers activities for children. (The same thing applies to pet parents traveling with their furry companions.)
It’s also nice to have free Wi-Fi and cable TV, a fire pit, a barbecue grilling station, picnic tables, a docking area (if your campground offers water activities), a swimming pool, and an on-site store and cafeteria.
8. Prioritize Your Needs
What is important to you? Some campsites are located within walking distance of grocery stores and restaurants. Others are secluded in the mountains and trees without anyone else around them.
When choosing a great campsite for RV camping, always prioritize your wants and needs. After all, with over 13,000 campgrounds in California, it’s quite easy to find locations that can meet all or at least most of your expectations.
But sometimes, you need to adjust your expectations. For instance, if you want to be fully immersed in nature but feel safe with bright lights that stay on all night in the campground, you must realize that these “wants” are contradictory.
9. Reserve Early
In general, California state campgrounds accept reservations up to six months in advance, which means during summer months till September, most of them are completely booked. For this reason, your best bet is to make early reservations.
Take note that the state receives over 65.5 million campers/visitors in California State Parks every year.
Meanwhile, even booking for a private campground may also be tricky. After all, in recent years, California has become a popular travel destination for RV travelers, a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years. (FYI, the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted demand even higher).
A Final Word About Choosing a Great Campsite (for RV Camping)
Careful planning is the key to making sure that your RV camping is a fun and happy experience. Planning well in advance will also give you a chance to visit more nature destinations and enjoy more outdoor activities.
Camping with your friends and family should be fun and memorable for everyone. An important part of the experience is the campsite where you spend your vacation. You may make reservations for many of the campsites in the Sierras, but how do you choose with over 2200 campsites in all the different areas? Adventure in Camping can help!
If you want to experience RV camping, Adventure in Camping offers a large trailer fleet that includes over 15 different models. Visit our website or call us at (760) 935-4890 to reserve a camper that we will deliver to the campground of your choice in the Sierras.
We have partnered with dozens of campgrounds in the Sierra mountain range, a place known for its stunning landscape, hiking trails, and nature activities. Reserve now and experience the beauty of our region.