Campgrounds, RV Parks, and RV Resorts: How Are They Different?

Difference between RV parks, RV resorts, and campgrounds

When you’re looking for a place to set up your RV you may find several different options depending on the location you are planning to stay. You will probably come across three very common terms: campground, RV park, and RV resort. They may raise some questions especially if you are new to RVing.

12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Asking what the difference is between campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts is a bit like asking the difference between a cabin, a condo, and a mansion.

Think about it. They’ll all give you a place to stay. But, similar to the types of houses, the campground, RV park, and resort all offer different amenities. 

Today I’ll break down the difference between these three types of RV camping experiences. Let’s dive right in!

Irvins RV Park, Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to look for in a campsite

What you want in a campsite is highly dependent on personal preference. Something that is an absolute must for one person might be at the bottom of someone else’s list!

The best way to approach this is to ask your self a few questions:

  • What amenities do I need or desire? (Consider: flushing toilet or vault toilet, shower facility or not, full hookups or partial or no hookups, Wi-Fi or no internet)
  • What is my goal when RVing? (Consider: adventure, work while enjoying nature, getting away from it all, and experiences)
  • How much are you willing to pay? (Consider: < $35, $35-$60, >$60)
Roosevelt State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And live by one statement: You will not be able to see everything, do everything, eat or drink everything, or experience everything. So live in the moment, you’re in. Go ahead, repeat that last sentence. I will live in the moment I’m in. You’ll be much happier for that.

Great! You’ve adopted a new life mantra. However, you will still have plenty of choices to make.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And depending on where you are, when you are, and your preferred activities/experiences, your choices and answers to those questions may be different every time you decide where to stay.

Once you have answered those questions, though, it is quite helpful to have a basic understanding of the differences between campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts.

Pro tip: Here is an RVers guide to campground etiquette

Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parks

RV parks are generally located either in a town/city or nearby. Their pricing can range anywhere from $35 a night to $60 a night. Many RV parks also participate in discounted camping programs such as Passport America or Good Sam, making their nightly rates even cheaper.  Many will also offer weekly and monthly rates upon request. 

Most RV parks have space for overnight campers as well accommodations for long-term campers, seasonals, and full-time RVers. Some RV parks have a mix of mobile homes and RV sites.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Typically RV parks will have full hook-ups at most sites but some will offer partial hookups and/or dry camping at a reduced rate. Most RV parks offer laundry facilities, Wi-Fi (but often iffy), showers, and restrooms. 

Sites are generally spaced fairly close together. Except for a few extremely old RV parks, most have available space for big rigs to access and get in and out of fairly easily.

Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In general, RV parks will have the basics that every RV needs, but without all the fancy bells and whistles. You will typically get what you pay for with the basics. RV parks cost less than RV resorts, but not always less than campgrounds.

Pro tip: Here are 10 RV parks across America that are one step above the rest

White Tank Mountains Regional Park Campground, Maricopa County, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds

Speaking of campgrounds, if you are paying more than an RV park for a nightly stay, what you’re really paying for is the natural beauty that surrounds you. Consider this when you’re looking for amenities at a campground. Pricing can vary from about $15 per night to $40 or $50 a night depending on the location and amenities offered or lack thereof.

Campgrounds are more like what you would get if you’re staying in a state park, national park, or county/regional park. Because campgrounds are normally located in nature-surrounded areas such as forests or water, you’ll usually have more privacy here than you would in a typical RV park.

Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The sites are often larger but the maneuverability for big rigs might be more difficult due to dirt roads, narrow roads, and all the trees. Most will have shower facilities and restrooms and partial hookups. Oftentimes the hookups do not include sewer at your site but a dump station is usually provided.

What you may not get in RV amenities, you’ll get back in natural ones. Most campgrounds have hiking and biking trails right outside your door.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And, some campgrounds have campstores and rental places on site allowing you to learn how to canoe or kayak. But don’t count on great cell service. You are, after all, tucked away in a forest of trees.

Pro tip: Explore America’s beauty at these scenic campgrounds from coast to coast

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV resorts

Want it all? Including cell service, Wi-Fi, nature trails, full hook-ups, privacy, and ample space.  RV resorts can give you that and more. With prices ranging anywhere from affordable to well over $100/night, usually you get more if you pay more.

Some RV resorts are truly lavish in their resort style. From hot tubs to swimming pools and golf courses to private dinner clubs and a spa, you can get it all. Of course, you can get all the amenities in a typical RV park, but be wary, some are billed as RV resorts when they resemble a typical RV park, maybe with a tree or two more in between spaces.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One drawback of RV resorts may be the numerous rules and restrictions that are often in place. Although, that may be one thing you desire when choosing your campsite giving you the ambiance you seek. One of those rules may state how new your rig must be and another could be dictating whether you can or cannot have children or pets. And some resorts are restricted to Class A motorhomes

Whether or not you like that type of organizational style is up to you. Maybe all those rules are well worth the fancy amenities. After all, you are spending your well-earned money and you should get the level of luxury you desire.

Pro Tip: For resorts that have it all, here are 10 luxurious RV resorts for summer travel

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV park, campground, and RV resort: Which is right for you? 

So you think you now know your exact needs and wants when it comes time to choose between an RV park, a campground, or an RV resort. Good for you! Hold on to that thought! Your needs and desires may change based upon traveling to scenic destinations or camping in a big city.

Pro Tip: Prioritize your wants and needs when choosing RV parks and campgrounds

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My best advice: Go with what you need and want in that moment. Traveling in an RV has probably made you pretty flexible and has taught you how to go with the flow. From that lesson, your new mantra of living in the moment you’re in and knowing the differences between RV parks, campgrounds, and RV resorts, you’re prepared to know which one is right for you when that moment arises.

Worth Pondering…

Life is like an RV, always moving, always different, and always an adventure.