RV Campsites: Things You Need to Know

RV Campsites: Things You Need to Know

600 500 Kristi Corder

Are you new to RV travel? Besides knowing the ins and outs of your RV, you’ll need to know what type of camping best suits you. From dry camping to full hookups, there are RV campsites for all types of people and travel styles.

In this article, we’ve teamed up with the Moorhouse Family from Family Adventure for All to give you a description of different types of RV camping and the pros and cons to each.


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Every RVer and RVing family is different, so there’s no perfect type of camping that’s going to work for everyone. We hope as you read through this article, that you will get a general idea of what RV campsites will best suit you.

RV Campsites with No Hookups

There are three different types of camping where you have no hookups. While they do have some overlap, there are a few differences between them. Let me explain.

Dry Camping

What is it?

The term dry camping means camping with no hookups. This can be done at a campground like this one that has a few developed RV campsites, or it can be done outside of a campground with no marked sites at all.

How much does it cost?

The cost of dry camping varies. You can dry camp for free at many places or if you are in a campground like the one I linked to above, there may be a fee. We’ve never dry camped anywhere that cost more than $20/night.

Pros/Cons

Pros – These RV campsites usually have great views, are inexpensive, and spread out from other campers.
Cons – You have no hookups and no amenities.

Boondocking

View from our second Badlands boondocking campsite
Boondocking at Badlands National Park

What is it?

The term boondocking, also known as dispersed camping, is camping without hookups outside of developed campgrounds. Camping can be done out in the wild, on public lands, in a parking lot, or even at rest stops.

How much does it cost? 

Boondocking is almost always free. There may be a few places here and there that will charge you a small fee, but I don’t think we’ve ever had to pay at any of the places we like to boondock.

Pros/Cons

The pros and cons to this type of camping are pretty much the same as the pros and cons of dry camping. I will add that both a pro and a con is that some boondocking areas can be miles away from grocery shopping and entertainment. I guess you can decide if that’s a pro or a con for your style of camping.

Moochdocking

What is it?

Moochdocking, also known as driveway surfing, consists of camping in a friend or family member’s driveway or yard. Always ask before you do this and be sure that they have enough space for your rig. While generally this type of RV campsite has no hookups, you might be allowed to use their water and electricity if you have cords and hoses long enough to reach.

How much does it cost?

Moochdocking is typically free. Afterall, your family and friends have usually invited you to stay there. However, it’s always a good idea to offer them some money, food, or gifts for letting you stay.

Pros/Cons

Pros – You’re close to family, it’s inexpensive, and you’re usually in or close to the city.
Cons – You might not have hookups, you might not have much privacy, and it may inconvenience your friends or family.

How to Find RV Campsites with No Hook-ups

Hackle Road BLM Boondocking campsite
Boondocking at Hackle Road BLM

There are many resources available for finding RV campsites for boondocking or dry camping. We mostly use and love Campendium and on occasion use AllStays. But you can also check with the Bureau of Land Management, Water District, or National Forest Service in the area you are planning to visit and they may be able to give you more information about the sites available for you. And one of the best options is to ask friends. Fulltime Families is one of our favorite groups!

Now, Shelly Moorhouse from Family Adventure for All will share about camping with full and partial hookups. She and her family are full-time RVers as well!

Camping with Full Hook-ups

At Family Adventure For All, camping with full-hook-ups is our favorite type of camping. Some may call it “glamping” because at times camping with full-hook-ups includes lots of cool amenities.

What is Camping with Full Hook-ups?

Full hook-up camping includes a water, electric, and sewer connection. You may see full hook-up abbreviated as “FHU.” On campsite reservation sites, you may also see this noted as “W-S-E.”

Where Can You Find Full Hook-up Campsites?

Southern Utah RV Resort in Washington, Utah | Photo courtesy of Family Adventure for All

This type of campsite can be found all over the country. Look for:

  • Private RV Parks
  • Thousand Trails/Encore Resorts
  • Private Resorts
  • Fairgrounds
  • Regional or county parks
  • (a few) state parks

How Much Does Camping with Full Hook-ups Cost?

The price for this type of campsite can vary depending on the season, the desirability of the location, and what’s included. We have seen prices listed anywhere from $25 a night to $60+ a night for a FHU site. The closer you are to a main attraction, the higher you can expect the nightly rate to be. We use Good Sam Club to help save us money on FHU sites. Become a Good Sam member Today!

What are the Pros to Camping With Full Hook-ups?

  • Amenities: Often these types of campgrounds include fun extras like a laundry room, nice showers and bathrooms, swimming pools, mini-golf, restaurants, movie rental, lodge with wifi, game room, etc. These amenities can be very fun, especially if you’re traveling with kids. That’s why we like them!
  • Quality/Cleanliness: Usually, full hook-up RV parks use the nightly fees you pay to keep their grounds clean and well-manicured. Usually the showers and bathrooms are clean, and some are downright luxurious!
  • Connectivity: We have found that we are likely to have better cell service and Internet connectivity when we are staying in full hook-up campsites. This is not always true, but especially if the park is near a town and they offer free campground wifi, we can usually bet that we’ll have decent service. It’s important for our family to have cell service because we work off our hotspots. Read more about RV Internet options here.
  • Community: Full hook-up campgrounds are usually full of other people. At times, camping near other RVers can be fun. Lots of campgrounds host events for families and kids. It’s also nice to take walks around the park and meet other RVers from all over the country. We have made some great friends this way!

What are the Cons of Camping with Full Hook-ups?

Fairmont RV Park in Anaconda, MT | Photo courtesy of Family Adventure for All
  • Crowding: This is probably the biggest reason why some people do not like camping with full hook-ups. These types of campsites can often be very close to one another, with RVs almost touching. For some people, this is a big reason not to camp in private RV parks and campgrounds with full hook-ups.
  • Noise: With more people comes more noise, and this can make your experience less relaxing. It’s not always noisy, but we’ve definitely stayed in our share of noisy full-hook up campsites. 
  • Cost: Camping with full hook-ups is the most expensive type of camping. You get to enjoy the amenities, but you pay for those benefits in your nightly rate. For families trying to RV in the least expensive way, camping with full hook-ups can become too costly.
  • Rules: Private RV Parks, Thousand Trails/Encore Resorts, Fairgrounds, and RV Resorts usually come with a long list of rules for their guests. These are never an issue for us, but some families desire more freedom to do whatever they want. These types of campgrounds often regulate how you park, how many people you may have in your site, where your kids can play, whether you can have pets, where you can place your outdoor mat, and when you can play your music. For some, this is a turn-off.

Camping with Partial Hook-ups

At Family Adventure For All, we often camp at campgrounds with partial hook-ups.

What is Camping with Partial Hook-ups?

Partial hook-up campsites (PHU) usually include water and electric connections. Some PHU sites will only include electric, but they offer access to water. This means you have the option to fill up your fresh water tank at a potable water station, but your site will not have a water connection. When booking online, look for abbreviations “WE” or “W” to indicate which connections are included.

Where can you Find Partial Hook-up Campsites?

  • state parks
  • (a few) national parks
  • (some) regional or county parks
  • RV parks that are located by a body of water

How Much Does Camping with Partial Hook-ups Cost?

This type of camping can be considerably less expensive because you are not paying for as many connections. Some of our favorite campgrounds have been PHU campgrounds. We have paid anywhere from $18-$30 per night for camping with PHU.

We love state parks! One thing we have noticed is that their nightly rate is low, but they all use the same online booking system, which charges an online booking fee that raises that advertised nightly rate. Keep this in mind when booking sites online.

What are the Pros to Camping with Partial Hook-ups?

  • Lower Cost: Because you are getting less amenities, the price is usually less for partial hook-up sites. This is always a pro for RVers.
  • Natural Beauty: State parks, national parks, county parks, and campgrounds by water, in our experience, are typically very beautiful places to camp. The sites are usually large with a bit more room to spread out. Our most favorite camping experiences have been in PHU sites by a lake, alongside a river, and at the beaches in Florida.
  • Quicker Set-up: Even though it nice to have a sewer connection, sometimes we enjoy pulling in and not having to set it up. After a long day of driving, it makes for a quicker campsite set-up. Keep in mind, you still have to dump your tanks as you leave the campground.
  • Some Amenities: As compared to dry camping and boondocking, PHU camping does offer some amenities. We have found that state, regional, and county parks often offer extras like a laundry facility, playground, walking/biking/hiking paths, or even a nature center! These types of fun campground amenities are nice to have especially when camping with kids.

What are the Cons to Camping with Partial Hook-ups?

  • Using public facilities: Obviously, camping without sewer means your family will need to visit the bathrooms and public showers more often so that your RV’s black and grey tanks don’t fill up too quickly. This can be a con for some RVers, although, we enjoy using the campground showers. As long as they are clean, they’re usually roomier than our RV shower/bathroom.
  • Conserving Water: You will need to be conservative when you wash your hands, brush your teeth, and wash dishes in your RV when camping with partial hook-ups so that your grey tank does not fill up too quickly. Doing dishes can get especially annoying. Many PHU campgrounds have a dish-washing station, or you can set up your own station outside your RV. We use a cheap plastic tub that fits in our sink to catch all grey water, but we have to constantly take it outside to dump it. Note: Some facilities have shared grey water drains available.
  • Stay Limits: Most state, county, national, and regional parks have a 14-day stay limit. Two weeks is normally plenty of time for us to stay in one place, but some RVers may not like having this limitation.
  • Connectivity: Some PHU campgrounds are located in slightly more remote areas. This means cell service may be more limited. This is definitely not true for all PHU sites, though. We have stayed at some state parks that had fantastic cell service!

Shelly, Jeremy, and their daughter Ivelina are from NC. Shelly & Jeremy operate Family Adventure For All, an RV travel blog for families with special needs.

Leave a reply at the bottom of this page and let us know what type of RV campsites you like the best.

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22 comments
  • This is a great comparison of all camping options. We have had 2 campers over the 16 years of marriage. We currently don’t have one but hope to get another one after John retires. I think we would enjoy boon docking but it is one option we have never tried.

  • This is great information on RV sites. We are thinking about renting one next summer so I will need to reference this when we do!

  • I had no idea what all of these RV terms meant. This is a great post about all the things you need to know about RV Campsites!

  • My kids and I would love to rent an RV and take off westward. This is great info for all the different types of RV campsites. Boondocking is something I would love to try. Being out in the wide-open space and not having anyone around is something I would be to experience. We just need to get my husband on board with this adventure.

  • I often wondered what Boondocking meant. I bet you have found some great sites. I had to laugh at moochdocking. All I can think of is the movie Christmas Vacation. LOL!

  • Why do I love the word boondocking so much now? Lol. Definitely want to get an RV at some point in my life.

  • Wow, this is a great description of the different types of RV campsites. Although we’ve looked at campers from time to time, we haven’t purchased one. If we ever decide to, this will be a great resource – thanks!

  • This is the perfect RV Camping: Everything You Need to Know Guide! It’s full of great information that non- or less-experienced campers/glampers like me can benefit from. And now I’ve learned another new word: Moochdocking! Love it! If anyone needs to know about RV camping, you are the go-to person I recommend.

  • I love this! Moochdocking made me LOL. It reminded me of the Vacation movie with the relatives coming with their camper. I am all about the NPS campsites. They are reasonable and I have found they are pretty spread out. And you can get to nearby lakes and hiking. Thanks!

  • Wow! I didn’t know there were so many different types of rv camping! To be honest, this post gave me the itch to try them all! Now I only need an rv! 😉

  • Thanks for sharing all of these different terms and ways of RV Camping. I still tent camp, but we usually go in large groups with other family members and friends who do have RVs. We always stick to the free “boondocking” way of camping in dispersed National Forest areas, but my parents have recently decided to veer more to the campsites with full hook ups after getting a bigger RV that is harder to take up into the forest access dirt roads.

    • Yes, some of the national forest sites are small. We still love trying though. Sometimes we luck out and find one or two spots that we can fit into. It’s some of the best types of camping!

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