There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling into a campsite and discovering it’s completely off-kilter. If you’re tired of parking on crooked parking aprons, try visiting any of the 450-plus Army Corps of Engineers RV Campgrounds around the U.S. this summer. Here’s why they’re among the best you’ll find on the road.
“We’ve never been to one that wasn’t very clean, very spacious, often water-front sites,” says iRV2 member bamaboy473. The U.S. Army Corps know how to build a great campground. After all, these are the engineers who plan, design, build and maintain most of our nation’s major public works projects like locks and dams, flood control waterways, hydro-electric power systems and more.
The Corps of Engineers (COE) has a long history. It dates back to 1779 and in addition to the long list of public works projects it oversees, the COE is the biggest outdoor recreation provider in the U.S. Each year the Corps’ projects have more than 368 million visits to 4,485 sites at 423 different facilities, including 383 major lakes and reservoirs.
If you fish, boat or just enjoy camping near water, you’ll love COE RV campgrounds. “Almost all of them are on large bodies of water. In my opinion, they are extremely well maintained with large campsites,” says iRV2 member Mr. Nice Guy. He’s right. COE RV campgrounds are mostly dust-free because they’re built with paved roads and concrete parking pads. You won’t find full-hookups at most campsites, but basic amenities usually include water and electricity hookups.
“We LOVE COE parks. In fact, we are in one right now. And we were in one last week. And we will be in a different one in a couple of weeks,” says COE enthusiast chindog in a Corps of Engineers iRV2 Forums Discussion.
How to find COE campgrounds
You’ll need to dig to get info about COE RV campsites, but the rewards are worth the effort. “We are retired, and have the senior pass card. We normally pay anywhere from $6-$15 per night, usually around $10-12,” chindog says.
Kick off your RV trip planning research by doing the following:
Choose your Army Corps of Engineers District. Click on any of the seven North American districts to choose your destination. Then select the green “Parks and Recreation” icon on the right side of your page for details about public campgrounds managed by the COE.
Go to Recreation.gov, which features the largest inventory of federal land in America. You can search several ways including state names, zip codes, and facility. You’ll find a comprehensive list of COE RV campground features like natural features, recreation opportunities, and campground details. Most COE RV campgrounds listed at Recreation.gov also feature great photos to give you a better feel for the location.
Purchase the book “Camping With the Corps of Engineers: The Complete Guide to Campgrounds Built and Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” by Don Wright. Billing itself as “the complete guide to campgrounds built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” this Amazon Kindle (or paperback) book has all the details about COE RV campsites around the U.S. You’ll find complete descriptions of facilities, amenities and directions to each campground.
Chances are good that you’re a short drive away from great camping at any of the COE projects around the U.S. You might enjoy camping there so much that you’ll want to volunteer as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workamper.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.