Can You Drink Alcohol at Campgrounds?

Beer bottles near the campfire

You’ve just parked your RV, van, or pitched your tent, maybe even gotten a campfire going, ready to wind down with a few beers. It may sound like the most natural thing to do when you’re out camping, but are you actually allowed to bring or consume alcohol at campgrounds?

Most campgrounds have restrictions on alcohol consumption while many state-regulated campgrounds prohibit it altogether. Some may allow alcohol consumption within your own campsite, inside your RV, or in designated areas only. Most family campgrounds prohibit alcohol consumption in common areas.

Camping is a fun experience and you have to remember that many families enjoy this type of adventure. There are often adults and children of all ages within a campground. It’s best to be courteous and keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum and within your own private campsite area to avoid any problems.

Still unsure whether you should be bringing beer or wine to camp? Further in this article, we will talk about whether you are allowed to drink alcohol at some of the popular campgrounds, including KOA campgrounds, as well as typical rules on alcohol consumption while camping.

Can You Drink Alcohol at KOA Campgrounds?

Most KOA campgrounds prohibit alcohol in common areas and ask that you only consume alcohol within your own designated campsite. Therefore, it’s best to keep your beer cans or wine bottles inside your RV if you already have them, or not to bring any alcoholic drinks at all.

These campgrounds typically cater to families and pride themselves on having a safe environment for all to enjoy without disruption from unruly campers. You may only intend to drink a beer or two and call it a night and this is usually not a problem if done within your own designated camping area.

Holding beer bottle while sitting near campfire

I have been to numerous KOA campgrounds and I occasionally have a beer in the evening with dinner or just to wind down. You can often find a few beers in my fridge at any given time. However, I usually do my eating and drinking within my rig and never bother anyone.

Just make sure that you aren’t walking through the campgrounds with a beer in your hand. This behavior could get you in some trouble depending on the specific campground policies and the mood of the enforcement officers.

While this is typically the case for KOA campgrounds, not all of them are alike. While some are extremely strict on prohibiting alcoholic beverages, some may be a little looser on their policies. Some campgrounds even have stores where you can buy alcoholic drinks. In such sites, there are usually rules on where these drinks may be consumed and until what time of the day.

To avoid any problems altogether, you should always stick to the following practices when camping in a family campground like a KOA.

  • Consume alcohol inside the privacy of your RV. It’s a sure way that you won’t cause any problems and no one will ever know. What goes on inside your RV, stays inside your RV (unless you are causing trouble).
  • Consume alcohol within your designated campsite. Campsites, usually have a picnic table and fire pit. Drinking alcohol within these areas inside your campsite should not cause any problems unless you have one too many and become loud and obnoxious.
  • Read the policies of the specific campground you are at. Each one may have different rules so be sure you understand the rules of the one you are at.
  • Be respectful of others. Drinking a beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day is different from getting sloshed! Drinking too much can lead to behavior that could make other people’s stay less fun. Be courteous to others who are trying to enjoy their stay.

If in doubt, all you have to do is ask the campground staff. You’ll probably be given a brochure with rules and other campground information in it upon check-in. Alcohol consumption rules are usually outlined within this literature so be sure you read them and adhere to them in order to avoid any problems.

It’s always best to simply follow campground rules, especially if you are camping at a state or national park, a reserve, or any government-regulated site, as these tend to have stricter policies. And besides, rules are in place to make sure that every camper has a pleasant experience.

Common Rules on Alcohol Consumption While Camping

Not all camp rules are the same. They depend on who’s managing the campsite, whether it’s a public or private area, and what amenities you’re looking to use (like a kayak or boat). But there are rules on alcohol consumption that are usually in place at campsites.

Here are some typical rules on alcohol consumption while camping:

  • Many state-regulated sites prohibit alcohol consumption
  • Drinking may be permitted in designated areas only
  • Underage drinking is not allowed
  • Alcohol is usually prohibited at boating sites
  • You could potentially be fined or asked to leave for unruly behavior

Let’s discuss each below:

Many State-Regulated Sites Prohibit Alcohol Consumption

State or national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, reserves, and the like may prohibit alcohol consumption in many areas, including campgrounds. Often, this is for the benefit of other people visiting the sites as much as to ensure a minimum human impact on these areas. Below, you’ll find a few examples of the different rules in place for various state parks and campgrounds.

  • Kentucky – Drinking alcoholic beverages is prohibited in most areas. In campgrounds, alcoholic beverages are not to be publicly displayed.
  • California – Alcohol is prohibited in all-day use areas and only allowed in overnight campsites.
  • Washington – Permitted only in designated campground areas.
  • Wyoming – Wyoming state parks has restrictions on how much alcohol you can have as well as where it can be consumed.
  • North Carolina – Prohibited, except in certain areas.
  • Illinois – Numerous restrictions and prohibitions on various campgrounds and day-use areas.

You should always check the state’s website or ask before assuming you are okay to crack open an alcoholic beverage.

It’s harder to impose rules on no littering or keeping quiet so as not to disturb wildlife when people are intoxicated. So campgrounds that have experienced frequent disturbance from campers are stricter than others when it comes to prohibiting alcoholic drinks.

However, as you can see from the examples above, not all state parks prohibit alcohol completely. Some may allow drinking only until a certain time of the day. Some are more explicit than others when warning about unruly or drunken behavior.

Regardless of whether there are warnings or not, though, remember to be a responsible drinker and avoid any unruly behavior.

And since rules may differ for every campground, best be on the safe side and refrain from bringing out any alcoholic drinks on campgrounds where you see signs saying that alcohol is not allowed.

National parks may have different policies from state parks and will also differ depending on the park you are at. National parks usually allow alcohol consumption within your private campsite but prohibit it in parking areas, pull-outs, and trailheads.

Drinking May Be Permitted in Designated Areas Only

Some campgrounds have stores where you can buy alcoholic drinks. These sites usually also have designated areas where you will be allowed to drink. Some may also allow you to drink where you’ve parked your rig or pitched your tent.

This may mean that you are not allowed to walk around campgrounds with an open drink in hand. So to be safe, it’s best to ask someone at the store what other limitations may be in place. Or better yet, find out what the rules are before you even head out on your camping trip.

Also, you can expect stricter policies on holidays or peak camping seasons.

Underage Drinking Is Not Allowed

If you are going to buy alcohol at a campsite store, you will most likely be asked to show your ID to prove that you are 21 years old or older, in compliance with the minimum legal drinking age in the US. If you can’t show proof that you’re legally allowed to buy alcohol, you shouldn’t be able to buy a drink.

Alcohol Is Usually Prohibited at Boating Sites

You should definitely not drink and drive–and that same principle applies when you’re going boating. There usually are signs of alcohol restrictions at boating access sites, but where there aren’t any, it’s safe to assume that you are not allowed to bring or drink any alcoholic beverages in the area.

You Could Potentially Be Fined or Asked To Leave for Unruly Behavior

And lastly, campgrounds are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable places for everyone. This means that anyone who disrupts the peace and quiet by being unruly, loud, or bothersome to others could be fined and asked to leave the campsite. This will depend on the campground rules and the small print that you agreed to when signing the rental agreement.

If you are going to enjoy your wine, beer, or other drink, then make sure that you know how much you can handle and not drink too much. Besides, you’re out to have a great camping experience, so don’t ruin it for yourself or anyone else!


If you want to enjoy a few beers while camping, it’s important that you know what the campground rules are before you go. Especially because not all campsite rules are the same.

Moreover, if you end up going somewhere where alcohol consumption is allowed, remember to take note of how much alcohol you can handle and drink only in areas where it’s allowed.

After all the places I have traveled, I have found that drinking alcohol is never a problem as long as I do it within the confines of my van. Having a beer in my van while eating dinner or enjoying a relaxing evening doesn’t bother anyone and no one even knows. As long as there are no alcohol restrictions or bans, you should be good to drink responsibly within your private campsite.

Just use your head and be sure and check the rules before you decide to stay at a campground. This information should be easy to find on the campground website or posted at the campground itself.

Dan Collins

I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast. I love to travel and go to places that most people don't get a chance to go. I want to see it all and live life to the fullest while I'm alive. My camper van is helping me to do just that. I write about my experiences to help inspire others to do the same.

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