7 Best COE Campgrounds in America

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7 Best COE Campgrounds in America

You might not think of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) as being in the campground business, but they are.

Besides building dams and managing lakes and waterways, recreation is a big part of the federal agency’s mission.

Let’s take a look at some of their best campgrounds.

What Is COE Land? 

The COE owns more than 400 pieces of property in 43 states.

Because of restrictions on development, many of these COE campgrounds are in gorgeous, unspoiled natural settings. This means lots of opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing, and even whitewater rafting and snorkeling.

COE facilities are usually well-maintained with basic comforts and paved, level sites. Just don’t expect lots of frills. Some have full hookups, but most have water, electricity, and a dump station.

Otherwise, COE campgrounds have pretty simple amenities but are a fairly big step up from primitive camping. Some COE campgrounds are more popular than others. You can get crowded out of some while others exist quietly and happily under the radar.

Can Anyone Camp at COE Campgrounds? 

There are no restrictions on who can camp at these facilities. Just make a reservation online at recreation.gov in advance and pay the fee upon arrival.

It’s just like staying at other federal campsites such as national parks and Bureau of Land Management lands.

7 Best COE Campgrounds in America 

There are many great COE campgrounds in America, but here are seven that we especially love.

1. Maumelle Campground, Little Rock, Arkansas

Address: 9009 Pinnacle Valley Rd, Little Rock, AR 72223 

About: This relaxing and peaceful COE campground on the scenic Arkansas River has 128 spacious sites with electrical hookups. There are eight large picnic shelters, and amenities include a dump station, showers, a boat ramp, and a playground.

Sites at Maumelle Campground are asphalt and shaded, and there are gravel patios. Hikers will enjoy the Nuttall Trail, and fishers can angle for perch, bream, and bass.

Price: $22-$50/night

Vibes Rating: 9.4/10 

2. Hood Park Campground, Pasco, Washington

Address: 2339 Ice Harbor Rd, Burbank, WA 99323

About: Hood Park is located in eastern Washington on Lake Wallula and has 67 sites, all with electric hookups. Campers can enjoy terrific views under the shade of mature trees.

There’s also a group picnic area. There’s a dump station on-site, along with fire rings, grills, showers, and restrooms. Lake Wallula is great for boating or swimming and has salmon and steelhead trout.

Price: $24-$110/night

Vibes Rating: 9.3/10

3. Blue Springs Campground, Kansas City, Missouri 

Address: 5400 NE Campground Road, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064

About: Blue Springs is a nice getaway just off Interstate 470 in western Missouri with 81 sites, many with full hookups. The COE manages the lake, and the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department operates the adjacent campground in Fleming Park.

The sites are spacious and have gravel pads, and there’s a small sand beach and six picnic shelters. You’ll find restrooms, showers, and a laundry room. You can purchase firewood and ice.

Price: $29-$47/night

Vibes Rating: 9.1/10

4. McKinney Campground, Acworth, Georgia 

Address: 6659 McKinney Campground Road SE, Acworth, GA 30102

About: Just 30 miles from Atlanta, McKinney Campground has 150 campsites on the popular Allatoona Lake. With its 270 miles of shoreline, the scenic lake attracts about 7 million visitors a year.

Campers can take advantage of a beach for swimming and a dock for fishing and boating. There are electrical and water hookups. Other amenities include picnic areas, fire rings, showers, and flush toilets. The nearby Red Top State Park features 15 miles of hiking trails.

Price: $28-$32/night

Vibes Rating: 9.2/10

5. Seven Points Campground, Hermitage, Tennessee

Address: 1810 Stewarts Ferry Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076

About: Often called an oasis, Seven Points COE Campground is a great place to experience the unique beauty of middle Tennessee. Visitors can enjoy partial hookups as well as a range of recreational opportunities along the 14,000-acre J. Percy Priest Lake.

Canoeing and kayaking are popular, and so are fishing for white perch and several kinds of bass. Along with a boat ramp and swimming beach, there are picnic shelters big enough for large groups.

Price: $30/night

Vibes Rating: 9.1/10

6. Twin Lakes Campground, Pendleton, South Carolina 

Address: 140 Winnebago Trail, Pendleton, SC 29670

About: Near the boundary of Georgia and South Carolina, Twin Lakes offers the best of both worlds. It’s just minutes from Clemson and offers relaxation in a forest setting on Hartwell Lake. The campground has 102 sites, though some of them sit on a fairly steep hill.

There are full hookups here and two dump stations, a boat ramp and dock, and 27 different picnic sites. In addition, you’ll find areas for swimming, as well as hiking and biking along trails.

Price: $26-$56/night

Vibes Rating: 9.2/10

7. W.P. Franklin North Campground, Alva, Florida

Address: 17850 N Franklin Lock Rd, Alva, FL 33920

About: If you enjoy the sunny swamps of southwestern Florida, this could very well be the place for you. It’s just 10 miles east of Fort Myers. There are 29 RV sites with electricity, water, and a dump station.

There’s also a boat ramp and fishing pier for access to Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River. The dockside sites allow boaters to “camp” aboard their boats while enjoying the campground’s amenities.

Price: $30/night

Vibes Rating: 9.6/10

How Long Can You Stay at COE Campgrounds? 

Just like anywhere else, there are some rules you have to follow when staying at COE facilities. One of the big ones is a two-week time limit.

Just like at other government-managed campgrounds, you can’t stay for more than 14 consecutive days in a month. This way, more people can take advantage of these great facilities. Also, people won’t try to move in permanently.

Why We Think You’ll Like COE Campgrounds

These beautiful campgrounds run by the Corps of Engineers are comfortable, but they’re not luxurious. If you’re looking for an RV resort, keep driving. But there are many other reasons to love them.

Running campgrounds is part of the COE’s business model, so these places are run efficiently and kept in good condition. They’re cheaper and located in scenic, natural settings. Many aren’t huge tourist attractions. Instead, they tend to attract like-minded people who love the outdoors.

Have you ever stayed at a COE site?

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! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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