The Important Differences Between RV Parks, Campgrounds, and RV Resorts

By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

The Important Differences Between RV Parks, Campgrounds, and RV Resorts

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

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

Today we’re breaking down the difference between these 3 types of RV camping experiences. Let’s dive in!

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 yourself a few questions:

  • What amenities do you need or want? Consider these: flushing toilet, vault toilet, shower facility, electricity, full hookups, no hookups, cell signal, no signal
  • What’s your goal when RVing? Consider these: adventure, work while enjoying nature, to get away,  to see it all
  • How much are you willing to pay? Consider these: all the money, none of the money, some of the money

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.

And depending on where you are, when you are, and how you are feeling, your choices and answers to those questions will probably be different every time you have to decide where to stay.

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

The Difference Between RV Parks, RV Campgrounds and RV Resorts

RV Parks

RV parks are generally located either in town, or just outside of town proper.  Their pricing can range anywhere from $35 a night to $70 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 people just coming through, but also have space for long-time RV camp spots, some even full time space available. A few RV parks act more like mobile home parks in that there may be only a spot or two for travelers, while the rest are actually mobile homes.

Typically RV parks will have full hook-ups at most sites, but some will offer dry camping for a reduced cost to you.  Most will have laundry facilities on site, WIFI available (but often sketchy), along with showers and restrooms. 

Sites are generally spaced fairly close together, limiting your privacy because you will be parked right next to your neighbors. Many times, it might feel like you are simply parked in a huge parking lot if it wasn’t for the grassy spot and the picnic table that you are calling home for the next couple of nights. With the exception of a few extremely small RV parks, most have ample space for big rigs to access and get in and out of fairly easily.

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 paid for with the basics. RV parks cost less than RV resorts, but not always less than RV campgrounds.

Pro Tip: Here are 5 “don’ts” of RV park camping.

RV Campgrounds

Speaking of RV campgrounds, if you are paying more than an RV park for a nightly stay, what you’re really paying for is the beauty that surrounds you.  That is what you should consider when you’re looking for amenities when staying at RV campgrounds.

Pricing can vary from inexpensive at around $15 per night all the way to $40 or $50 night, depending on the amenities offered or lack thereof.

RV campgrounds are more like what you would get if you’re staying in a State or National Park. Because RV campgrounds are normally located in nature surrounded areas, such as forests, or water, you’ll often have more privacy here than you would in a typical RV park.

The sites are generally a bit 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 RV hookups, oftentimes though, those hookups do not include sewer directly at your site.

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

If you’re near water, the waves can whisper you to sleep.  And, some RV campgrounds will even have campstores and rental places on site giving you that much desired chance to finally learn how to paddleboard.  But don’t count on great cell service. You are, after all, tucked away in a forest of trees.

RV Resorts

Want it all?  Including the cell service, the WIFI, the nature trails, the full hook-ups, the privacy, and the 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 to private dinner clubs and massage therapists, you can get it all.  Of course, you’ll get all the amenities in a typical RV park, but be wary, some RV resorts are billed as RV resorts, when truly they are your typical RV park, maybe with a tree or two more in between spaces.

One drawback of RV resorts may be the many rules and restrictions in place.  Although, that may be the one thing you desire when you choose your RV 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.  These rules could be likened to an HOA. 

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 exactly what you want.

Pro Tip: For maximum luxury, this is a list of the most amazing RV resorts in the USA.

Be Kind to Your Camp Hosts

Yes, but in the end, regardless of whether you are staying at an RV park, an RV campground or an RV resort, be kind to your camp hosts even if you have a complaint.

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

RV Park, RV 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, an RV 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.

Our 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 more with the flow.  From that lesson, your new mantra of living in the moment you’re in and now knowing the differences between RV parks, RV campgrounds, and RV resorts, you’re prepared to know which one is right for you when that moment arises.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

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