We have a long list of campgrounds we’ve stayed at as a family. If you followed our journey in 2019, you know we went from one side of the country to the other (mostly in the south). Some of the places we stayed were actual campgrounds, some were RV parks, one was at someone’s house, and many were boondocking spots. Here’s a look at our top 5 favorite campgrounds of 2019.
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- Travel Arizona: Saddle Mountain BLM Dispersed Camping
- Travel Arizona: Boondocking at Apache Trail
- Travel Arizona: Boondocking in Quartzsite
- Travel California: Anaheim Harbor RV Park
- Travel California: Boondocking at Joshua Tree National Park
- Travel Colorado: Base Camp Family Campground
- Travel Colorado: Standley Lake Regional Park
- Travel Disney: Our Love Affair with Fort Wilderness Campground
- Travel Nevada: Boondocking at Lake Mead
- Travel South Dakota: Boondocking Near Badlands National Park
- Travel South Dakota: Holy Smoke Resort
- Travel Tennessee: Cherokee Dam Campground
- Travel Tennessee: Douglas Dam Campground
- Travel Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Cosby Campground
- Travel Tennessee: Overnighting at the Fairgrounds Nashville
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We’ve decided to collaborate on this post with three other Fulltime Families to bring you 20 family approved campgrounds. First, we’ll give you our top 5 (one from each of our 5 family members), and then at the end, we’ll share links to the others from our friends. You’re sure to find a place that’s right for your family’s next RV adventure.
Table of Contents
Favorite Campgrounds #1: Saddle Mountain BLM
Saddle Mountain BLM in Tonopah, AZ is Peyton’s pick. Actually, if you ask him next week, it will be different. We’ve asked him this question before, and it’s always wherever we are currently. It just so happens that we are at Saddle Mountain at the time I am writing this, but we did visit the area in 2019 as well.
There are three reasons this was his favorite campground in 2019. First, he got to climb the mountain. And since we’ve been here this time, he’s been up there quite a few times again. Second, he liked being here to play with Ben. Ben is a friend he made at our first Fulltime Families rally at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. They were our neighbors there, and we’ve met up with his family numerous times since we’ve been traveling. Third, he got to meet new friends. Anytime there are other friends to play with, he deems it the best place to be.
Camping here is free. It is on BLM land just west of Phoenix, AZ. Sites are first-come, first-served…but there are PLENTY of areas to set up. The flies were horrendous in 2019, but they don’t seem to be nearly as bad this year. This is a great place for boondocking, hiking/climbing, and friends.
Favorite Campgrounds #2: Shady Grove Campground
Shady Grove Campground in Cumming, GA is Abi’s pick. She loved the beauty of all the trees in this campground. It was also the first place that we broke out our kayak. They have an amazing lake great for boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking. And there’s a playground as well as a volleyball court where the kids had some fun.
She also loved this campground because of a bird. Yes…a bird. There was a bird in the tree behind our camper that kept seeing his reflection in our back window. Either he was trying to play with this bird he thinks he saw, he was trying to scare it away, or he was just a little dumb. Who knows?! She’s got a twisted little mind…and it amused her to watch him bang himself up against the window all.day.long.
This campground was $28/night and had electric and water hookups. There was a dump station but no sewer hookups at the campsite. Some sites are waterfront, and while ours wasn’t, we did have a really large site. The bathhouse was very clean and also had a laundry room with $1 washing machines and $1 dryers. We love doing laundry on the cheap!
Favorite Campgrounds #3: Fort Wilderness Campground
Surprise, surprise! Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is Allison’s pick. I can’t say that I blame her though. This is one of the nicest campgrounds you will EVER stay at. I mean, their bathrooms and showers are better than the master bathroom in our sticks and bricks home.
She said there are three reasons this is her favorite. 1) It’s at Disney. 2) It’s at Disney. 3) It’s at Disney. So there you have it! Disney is all the things to this girl. Everything at this campground from activities to food to television stations revolves around the whole Disney experience.
Sites are full hookups and can range from $60/night for pop-up campers to $120/night for large RVs. While that is on the expensive side for campgrounds, it’s the least expensive option for staying on Disney property. Check out our post about our love of Fort Wilderness for more information about this amazing campground!
Favorite Campgrounds #4: Joshua Tree South BLM
Joshua Tree South BLM is Kristi’s pick. We love boondocking because of the amazing views and wide-open spaces. Not to mention we love to save money where we can. The skies here are beautiful, it’s located right outside the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, and it’s not far from city life.
Because this is boondocking, campsites are first-come, first-served and there is no cost for camping. There’s easy access to this area off I-10 on a paved road, but as you turn onto the BLM land you encounter dirt roads that are quite bumpy. Basically you pull off the dirt roads into any spot you can get into.
Be sure to plan at least a week for this area. Spend a few days exploring Joshua Tree National Park, take a drive over to Palm Springs for some shopping, or head up to Twentynine Palms just north of the national park for some art and culture. If you have kids, be sure to check out our post about things do around Joshua Tree with kids.
Favorite Campgrounds #5: Government Wash
Government Wash at Lake Mead is Brent’s pick. He loves a bit of a challenge, and though getting to Government Wash is fairly easy, finding a spot during a busy time of year and navigating some of the sites further along the road with a 39′ fifth wheel takes it up a notch. I think we maneuvered 3 or 4 times before we got set up just how we wanted in our campsite.
This is a boondocking/dry camping area, so there’s no fee for camping. However, there is a $25 per vehicle fee to get into the national recreation area. There’s also a $45 annual pass for the area if you’ll be around a lot longer, or if you have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass, you can get into this area for free.
There are quite a few things to do around Lake Mead. Brent loves the history and engineering of the Hoover Dam, so being close to the Dam made it a great choice. There are also tons of hiking/biking trails around Lake Mead, including one that takes you through old train tunnels. And if you love the gambling scene, or just love all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, you’re not too far away to spend a day or two on the Las Vegas Strip.
For more family approved favorite campgrounds, check out these posts from our friends: