Iowa - Madrid - Ledges State Park by Dave Hileman

We were attending Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Ames two years ago and stayed in the campground at Ledges about 15 miles from the campus where the competition was held. You will note I did not think to take a photo of the site. The camping area was Ok. They had electric at most sites and they were reasonably level. Some of them were challenging to back into because of poorly placed signs and narrow rutted road in places. Water was available at a few spots around the campground. Cost was under $20 then. I just read that they are renovating the campground and it needed a bit of refresh. The park and the area are quite nice. Lots to see and do. The Cliff Swallows were building nests at a furious pace in along the canyon walls in the park. We would definitely stay here again (along with the many Cliff Swallows!) http://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Iowa-State-Parks/ParkDetails/ParkID/610148

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Florida - Orlando -Disney Fort Wilderness (The Review) by Dave Hileman

Lets begin with Disney is expensive. Across the board. However, while it may cost more there is also a value there. People would love a day at the theme park to be $50 but each park is full at twice that, so people perceive value for their money. Fort Wilderness Campground is two or three times what we would normally pay for a KOA type campground. So what is the value? First, everything works and works well, everything is clean, and your space is landscaped and level. You plug in the power and whatever your power need it is there, the water does not leak (and has been certified safe) and the sewer connection is contained so that a small spill does not make a mess and there is a rinse hose already hooked up on site. The pad is large enough, the edges of the pad are bordered with a sandy edge to keep things clean, you get a table that you can really use and on and on. Plus you have access to all Disney transportation, clean restrooms, nice places to walk, a beach, pools; it is a value. It is still expensive, we could not stay there a month but three or five days and you feel like you are somewhere special. Disney magic extends to the campground as well as the castle. 

 How much more can it cost to build a great site like this?

How much more can it cost to build a great site like this?

Florida - Pensacola, Gulf Islands National Seashore - Fort Pickens Campground by Dave Hileman

A very nice place to stay. You are a very short walk to either the bay or the Gulf side, wide white, soft sand beaches, lots of neat birds, hiking, presumably fishing as well, and water and electric at each site. Restrooms looked newish, there was some shade (none on our spot) and three or four loops of sites. The days we were here were cold and rainy. We reserved about 2 months ago and there were not too many spots left when we did. Place seemed full each night. We were here for three nights, I think. Under $30 a night for a peaceful and beautiful location is hard to beat. We would go back and in fact might be making plans to do so. Don't neglect seeing the old fort on the island and the Naval Air Museum on the mainland, excellent. 

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Mississippi - Gautier - Santa Maria RV Park by Dave Hileman

Some days you just want a plug. We were traveling toward New Orleans after spending much of the day in Tuskegee at two National Park sites. It rained all day and the day before and we spent the previous night at a Walmart. So I wanted to get a full charge plus our inverter that was to have been fixed would not run the coffee pot. Ugh! I found this place in the Alstays app that had power, water, sewer and internet for only $28. So calling ahead for a reservation I also checked about a late arrival, they accommodated us easily. As you can see from the photo there were few nods toward making things look good but they delivered on the promise of pull-through space and everything worked. Somedays that is all you need. And note the sun came out that morning, but it was rather cold. Right off the interstate and run by nice folks I would stay there again overnight. (PS They did have a pool that looked rather new.)

www.santamariarvpark.com

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Tennessee - Savannah - Pickwick Landing State Park by Dave Hileman

I was not keeping track of sites when we first started camping in the Oliver. And this was our first night after Hohenwald where they set you up close by and then come in the morning to see how you did. This was near Shiloh National Battlefield which is why we were camped here. Very nice place, with electric and water hookups on site at a very reasonable cost, I think we paid $20. 

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California - Malibu - Leo Carillo State Park (two photos) by Dave Hileman

This was a perfect place to stay for us. We went into LA one day and to the Channel Islands National Park the next. It was easy to access both areas. Traffic is a mess anywhere, so you don't miss out on the true LA experience. We had a pull-through space (L127) that had a picnic table and fire ring. Neither was in great shape. It did have electric hookups. We were close to the camp road but it was not too noisy, may be different on a weekend. The park could use some maintenance and some clean up but was acceptable. We did not use the restrooms or the pay showers. Cost for the night was around $48. We would stay here again but only because the alternatives that we could find were even less desirable. Bonus Question: who was Leo Carillo? Answer next camping post!

 Looking down from the trail

Looking down from the trail

 Looking west from the trail

Looking west from the trail

New Hampshire - Franconia - Fransted Family by Dave Hileman

Extensive activity type campgrounds are not where we usually stay. But we needed to plug in this night in October and we wanted to be close to a pancake house for breakfast, Sad, I know. But wait until I showcase the pancake place later this week!. Anyway, we found this campground just a couple of days before they were closing for the season. So, it was quiet and not too "activity-ish." Our site was number 8 and was flat and easy to access. You may note that the trailer is actually missing. I took the site just past ours for the color but never shot the actual site we had. Sorry. We also took a wonderful hike along a stream for a couple of miles right from the campground and in the middle of the woods along the path was a sign that the first ski jump in the US was built nearby. Cool. Fransted Family Campground at https://franstedcampground.com/index.html

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California - King's Canyon - Azalea Campground by Dave Hileman

Not too much to say about the camping area here, beautiful as you would expect in a National Park. There were tight spaces and confusing water source. I thought you could get water at various spigots but for filling the trailer it was only at the check-in station. Of course, the National Park is a wonderful place to stay, would not want to miss it for a place with more services. Azalea is a "no reservation" campground but our friends arrived earlier and got us a spot. It was full the first night we were there. 

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Tennessee - Natchez Trace Parkway - Meriwether Lewis Park by Dave Hileman

This was a wonderful place to camp. First it was free. Second, it was free and beautiful. We did a long hike along a stream that led to a  river and then back across the woodland to the camp area, about 3 miles. You can also visit the replica cabin where Lewis died. It is not known for certain if he was murdered or if he took his own life but the latter seems to be the current favored theory. Highly recommended if you are doing the Natchez Trace. 

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Tennessee - Memphis - Meeman-Shelby Forest SP by Dave Hileman

Meehan Shelby is located just a short distance north of downtown Memphis we found this to be an ideal spot to visit the area (http://tnstateparks.com/parks/campground/meeman-shelby). We liked the quiet locale, hikes in the forest and neat drive along the Mississippi. Easy access to Memphis as well. Our site, #14, had water and electric service and was paved. Any of the sites on the middle loop are nice with lots of shade. Not that we needed shade that day. It was my second time to back in and it took a few tries so the large bus pictured on site 14 on the web page now must be a mirage. Rate was about $22 in spring of 16. The directions to the park were not the easiest to follow and there are several entrances as well. Wifi could be had at night by driving to the welcome station and sitting in the car. We visited Graceland (of course) Sun Studio (http://www.sunstudio.com)- the highlight of the trip for me, great tour and Beale Street. Oh, and the giant pyramid Bass Pro store. Amazing space. 

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Indiana - Crawfordsville by Dave Hileman

Yes, we are at a Walmart. We have stayed overnight in 6 or 8 of these stores. One of them was a bit dicey (Springfield - Mass) and most are not memorable. They are free and we feel reasonably safe. We always shop in the store. It is not a destination but if we want to travel late and get going early it is a good option. This one was very nice. We were alone on the automotive side, WIFI worked in the lot, there were birds singing in the AM and there was a custard stand in the front lot. Perfect. 

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Kentucky - Carter Caves State Resort Park by Dave Hileman

We just stopped here for one night on the way back from a trip to Iowa. The campground was a bit off the Interstate but not too far to make the stop worthwhile. We were able to take a nice hike and enjoy a walk around the lake. We were in site 55 with electric. Water was available but a central locations. I don't recall any wifi. The site was level and easy to access. The rate we paid was about $20. We were headed down a road to the lake when I took this photo.

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California - Yosemite by Dave Hileman

We stayed in North Pines campground on site 531. We were there this spring in early May and the water was rushing, the falls overflowing and some sites pretty soggy. Not ours. We were across the road from the river and from a rest room but there was no noise or traffic. We could see Half-Dome over the trees. Loved it. I think the regular rate was $30 a night and remember no hookups. 

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Pennsylvania - Philadelphia by Dave Hileman

No mountain views, no serene lakes, no grass! We loved this camping space at the Campus Park and Ride. It is super safe, well run, has power, water and wifi and free shuttle service to the transportation hub at a hospital complex. From the hub you can get anywhere in Philly. The cost was a very reasonable $30 a night, for small trailers like ours and $13 for any vehicle you have. The staff were very helpful and cheerfully met you anytime on weekends with the shuttle - during the week they have regular and frequent runs. Great way to visit the historical treasures of the city. 

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Oklahoma - Washita (Western edge) by Dave Hileman

What a super place. We were here in April of 17 after touring Washita National Memorial we drove a few miles to this site by the poorly named Upper Washita Pond Number 32! It is off highway 47 and then a couple of miles on a paved road and one more well marked turn into the camping area. I don't recall how many sites, maybe 15 or 20, but we were nearly alone that night as there was only one other unit near the entrance. We camped for $0 dollars with nice sunset and the sound of coyotes over the hills. There was water available and restrooms as well. It is located in the Black Kettle National Grasslands.

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California - Joshua Tree by Dave Hileman

We stayed at Joshua Tree for three days in April 2017. The Blackrock campground provides easy access to the most interesting portion of the park, in my opinion. We stayed in site #45 and it was very nice, located on the side of a hill (slight) and close to a couple of trails. The iconic trees dot the campground. There is water available but no hookups. Cost was a very reasonable $20 a night. We also reserved in advance.  

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Maryland - Frederick by Dave Hileman

We stayed two nights at Gambrill State Park just outside of Frederick, Maryland. Our site was #20 with 30 amp power and water, flat landing pad, fire ring and couple of other touches. We paid under $30 a night in August of 2017. There are not many sites with power. We liked our site but 22 may have been a bit larger. It was screened and rather private. There were helpful camp hosts. We did miss the turn off into the park, it was dark. I would not recommend missing that turn as you go up, way up and then need to turn around on a narrow two-lane road in the dark. But if you have Josh the ranger on duty, you will be fine. Nice and super helpful guy. Easy access to historic areas and even DC is just 45 miles away. 

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