RV parks and campgrounds are often used interchangeably as a place to either park your RV or pitch your tent. You might notice that searching for either one on the internet will yield very similar results for the area you are searching for. This was something I always wondered about and came to a conclusion once I began to travel to different locations in my camper van.
An RV park and a campground is generally the same thing and both typically provide campsites for RVs or tents. RV parks are built mainly for RVs and some exclusive RV parks or RV resorts only allow motorhomes of a certain size. Campgrounds have a more relaxed, casual feel and an RV park usually has more premium amenities.
Luxury RV parks are often known as RV resorts and offer a premium atmosphere for those traveling in large motorhomes. These are high-end resorts that weed out smaller campers and tents and maintain a list of rules and regulations for those looking for peace and quiet.
With a campground, you are looking at a more relaxed environment where all types of campers may be present. You’ll see motorhomes, trailers, and tents all in one place. It may be a bit noisier as you have different groups of campers sitting around the campfire laughing and having a good time.
At the typical RV park I have visited, most campsites are dedicated to different sizes of RVs. Some of them have a limited number of primitive spots where people can set up a tent or use other small camping solutions.
Some RV parks require that your RV meet some requirements. The main requirement may be that it is not an old, run-down model. This is so that the park doesn’t become cluttered with sketchy looking campers that might be an eyesore for other RV travelers who are looking for a place to camp. They want to keep the place looking clean and up-to-date. This can make it a more attractive place to stay.
RV parks often have amenities such as 30/50 amp electric hookups, water, and sewage hookups, cable TV, wifi, on-site showers and bathrooms, laundry facilities and other amenities.
Difference Between Campgrounds, RV Parks, RV Resorts
Let’s take a look at some of the types of locations that you might visit during an RV or a camping trip. I’ll also give you some examples of each in various locations throughout the United States so that you can see some of the differences between them.
Perhaps the most common of all camping locations are campgrounds. Campgrounds generally have a casual feel to them and offer camping sites to all types of campers. These types of places allow for tent camping as well as RV camping. Many of them may have limitations as to how large of an RV that they can allow.
Campgrounds are often found in state parks as well as privately owned properties throughout the country. These are quite common and chances are, you have stayed at one of these before if you have spent any time camping. The good thing about these is that they are generally easy to find and they are an affordable option no matter what type of camping you are doing.
- They are affordable. You will generally pay an affordable price to stay in a campground.
- They are plentiful. No matter where you are, you can generally find a campground that allows for all types of camping.
- Some have amenities available. Most campgrounds have at least some amenities including bathrooms and electrical and water hookups. This isn’t always the case but it’s becoming more and more common to find campgrounds with these amenities.
- They are not always well maintained. Some campgrounds are not maintained properly and you may discover trash and other things that may turn you off to the location.
- They might be noisy. Many different campers stay in campgrounds and some like to party, sit by the fire and be louder than what you want to hear.
- Rules aren’t always enforced. Some campgrounds are not managed so you may have neighbors that do not know about the rules. This might result in noisy neighbors, barking dogs, and other inconveniences that could ruin your trip.
Examples of campgrounds throughout the United States
|Name||Types Of Campers|
|Mather Campground (Grand Canyon National Park)||Tent & RV, no hookups|
|Jekyll Island Campground (GA)||Tent & RV, full hookups available|
|Greenbrier Campground (Smoky Mountain National Park, TN)||Tent & RV, full hookups available|
RV parks usually are a step above campgrounds and offer campsites mainly for those traveling in an RV. These types of parks are usually set up for large motorhomes and RVs and have availability for larger rigs than what you might find at a campground. Many of the RV parks that I have visited have campsites for even the largest of RVs. They are generally well maintained and managed so that you can experience a quiet and peaceful rest.
- They are set up for RVs. Most campsites will have full hookups including 30 and 50 amp electrical service, water, and sewage. They have campsites for the smallest of RVs as well as the largest. This includes back-in and pull-through sites.
- Amenities. Campsites in RV parks will also tend to have other amenities such as cable hookups, Wi-Fi, showers, bathrooms, community centers, and other useful services for RV travelers.
- Some offer primitive campsites. Although these types of parks are built for RVs, many of them also have primitive campsites for those looking to stay off the grid in a tent or other primitive camping structure.
- Managed and maintained. Most RV parks like this are managed well and maintained to look nice. Rules are generally enforced and you will generally have a quiet time when you are in one.
- More expensive than a campground. You will probably find higher prices in an RV park, especially if you intend to use full hookups. Of course, this will also depend on the popularity of the place and location that you are in.
Examples of RV parks throughout the United States
|Name||Types Of Camping|
|MainStay RV Park (ME)||Self-contained RVs|
|Emerald Beach RV Park (FL)||Registered RVs only, No tent sites|
|KOA Cape Hatteras (NC)||RV & Tent|
RV resorts are usually the cream of the crop when it comes to places to park your RV. These also come with the highest price tag as well as restrictions that might exclude some RV owners. Many of these offer campsites for different types of RVs but some allow only motorhomes that are over a certain length.
Besides rental reservations, campsites can often be purchased so that you own it outright. The following video is a tour of the Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort.
- Premium campsites. An RV resort is usually the highest quality place that you can stay when traveling in your RV. These are often exclusive and may not be available to all RV types.
- They are usually in the best part of town or in a prime location. These resorts usually make the price worth it since they are usually located in prime areas.
- They are usually safe and well-managed. These types of resorts are often gated and have security as well as management that maintains rules and regulations that must be followed.
- All RVs are not welcomed. Many of the RV resorts only allow large class A motorhomes. They often do not allow vans or smaller RVs that are under a certain length.
- They are expensive. These are usually the priciest places for you to stay in an RV. Although they are usually in a nice area with nice views, the price may make it out of reach for some travelers.
- Some only allow campsites for owners. Many resorts only have campsites that must be purchased rather than rented.
Examples of RV resorts throughout the United
|Name||Types Of RVs|
|Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort (SC)||Motorhome Only (Class A, Class C, and Super B motorcoaches with a minimum length of 18 feet)|
|Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort (OR)||Class A and Class C Motor Coaches, 25 feet or greater in length and in “Like New” condition|
|Mountain Valley RV Resort (UT)||Only well-kept RVs allowed (Motorhomes, Trailers, Truck Campers|
Unless you are talking about RV resorts, the difference between campgrounds and RV parks usually comes down to the language itself. There really is no difference in many instances and RV parks are often no different than campgrounds may be. I have been to RV parks and other places that referred to themselves as campgrounds yet they both seemed about the same to me.
However, I have also noticed the common theme in the differences as outlined above. Just think of a campground as being a place for any type of camper including an RV or a tent. An RV park is generally designed with RV parking in mind first but most also allow for those who are camping in tents.
The only real difference will be the RV resorts and other exclusive places where only certain types of RVs are allowed. As for campgrounds and RV Parks, these are often the same thing but just named differently.