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There are three different types of camping opportunities in the USA. Recreational Camping for people who want all the comforts of home, primitive camping for those who enjoy closer contact with nature and wilderness camping for the more adventuresome. You can find wide ranges of camping facilities all across the US in each of these categories.

Wilderness Camping © Corel
Wilderness camping is permitted in many national parks, state parks and designated wilderness areas.

Recreational camping is available in thousands of commercial campgrounds across the USA. Most of these facilities include clean toilets, hot showers, laundry facilities and convenience stores. They are typically equipped to support RVs (recreational vehicles) such as camping trailers and mobile homes with electric, water and sewer "hookups". Most of the campers bring all the comforts of home with them such as television, stereo and air-conditioning. You can pitch your tent at such a facility, but it will be expensive since you do not need all the "hookups". Very few tent campers stay at such campgrounds. KOA or Kampgrounds of America offers thousands of upscale recreational campgrounds across the USA. All of their facilities are usually very nice, very clean and well equipped. It cost $20 to $30 a night to stay at a well-equipped campground.

Recreational Camping © Corel
Recreational camping is available in thousands of commercial campgrounds across the United States. Most of the campers bring all the comforts of home with them such as television, cable, internet, stereo and air-conditioning.

Primitive camping facilities are located at the national parks, state parks, local parks and government recreational areas across the US. They normally have campsites with picnic tables, toilets and a supply of drinking water. A few of them may include showers, but they normally do not supply electric or water hookup. Some are located along hiking trails far from the nearest road. You do not see many trailers or mobile homes at primitive campgrounds. Most tent campers prefer these types of facilities. Primitive camping costs $5 to $10 per night. Some places charge nothing.

Wilderness camping is permitted in many national parks, state parks and designated wilderness areas. Usually, no camping facilities are provided, but you are allowed to camp anywhere. In some areas, you may be required to camp only at designated campsites. You must take all of your water and food and shelter in your backpack or on a pack animal. Most of the parks require you to register or obtain a camping permit before entering the wilderness. Sometimes they charge a small fee. The individual areas may have some specific rules concerning campfires, environmental protection or the use of horses and pack animals. Check with the local park office when you apply for a permit.

There are several good camping directories published every year. They list all of the recreational and primitive campgrounds in the USA with indication of the facilities available at each. Backpacking and Hiking guides are a good source of information about wilderness camping. The camping directories and guidebooks are available at any good bookstore or outdoor supply store. The American Automobile Association (AAA) sells a camping directory at a modest price.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: A camp site