There is nothing worse than arriving at your campsite on a Friday evening, only to discover that you are stuck with a group of wild partiers next door, all weekend long. Fortunately, most campgrounds are very family-friendly places, but to minimize your chance of ending-up at a stinker, here are some things to watch for…and watch out for.
I mention camping local a lot, but local campgrounds can also be a popular destination for the partying crowd. If you are worried about weekend partiers ruining your camping trip – particularly on three-day holiday weekends, then look for campgrounds well away from any population center.
Look for Lakes with Motorboat Restrictions
Partying and boating seem to go hand-in-hand, but you can greatly increase your odds of having a great family camping weekend by picking a lake that does not allow motorized watercraft.
One sure-fire way to ensure that you don’t end-up camped next to a frat house is to find your own camping spot on public land, away from any managed campground. We tend not to do this very often, though, because one of the things that our kids like most about camping is meeting other kids! We usually camp in state and federal parks that are more destination-oriented, rather than the more RV-oriented campgrounds along major thoroughfares. These types of campgrounds always seem to have plenty of other families, which keeps our kids busy all weekend long.
Be Sure to Ask
If you are making family camping plans and you are not sure about the area, call the ranger district and ask them which campgrounds they would recommend most, for a family. They might be hesitant to admit that any of their campgrounds are “party central,” but they will surely steer you in the right direction if you ask them for a recommendation.
Here’s something that’s worked for us the past couple of years, pick a group campground and buy out the whole thing. With a few families, it’s perfect. You don’t have to worry about running into big groups of partiers and conversely you don’t need to worry about your kids running through other peoples’ camps sites. Most of these campgrounds are less than $100 per night, so split amongst a small group it’s even cheaper than camping on our own. Here’s a review of Capps Crossing, one such site. http://bit.ly/aUi736
Oh my goodness! Thanks for this post because this scenario can be a real drag! This is what makes back-country camping more appealing, even though it is more of a pain when you have little ones. Camping off season helps with the noise factor if you don’t mind more chilliness!
Hi Rue! Good to hear from you, hope all is going well 🙂 I love camping in the off season – we camped at Half Moon Bay for Thanksgiving, a few times, and that was a lot of fun.
Good advice! I also find that checking the website for things like quiet time restrictions and whether or not there is one or more playgrounds helps determine how family-friendly a campground is. Lots of times it seems that the State parks around here are less of a party destination than the privately run parks too, but not sure if that could be said nation wide!
You guys have a great park system in Virginia, Melody.
Great advice on letting your kids bring friends–it’s still a family outing and you’ll also afford yourself a bit of time to relax with your hubby or wife. And make sure you have plenty of treats to cook on family camping stoves to keep your kids even happier!
Roy, that’s a very smart idea to call the ranger station first and ask which campgrounds are best for kids. Some campgrounds are major party sites, as I’ve found to my dismay.
It works, John – we called ahead to Arroyo Seco one time and they told us that it was mother’s day weekend and they expected the place to be a zoo. Mother’s Day, who would have thought?
I also noticed that the company of other kids, aka friends, is the most important thing for a good camping trip.
There are also plenty of kids travelling in RV’s during the summmer.
Our 10-year old is cruising the campground for other kids before we get the tent setup 🙂
Not having taking the kids camping before, I wouldn’t have thought to watch out for party sites. Thanks for the tips!
Thanks, Debi – I know you guys are getting close 🙂