Our Fave Campground REVEALED!

Posted In: Blog, Destinations, Dry Camping, Wildlife

We’ve taken our Airstream travel trailer to 49 states, camping in a wide variety of locations. We are often asked the question: “What’s your favorite campground?”

Good question! Tough question. That’s kind of like asking Wilt Chamberlain to choose a favorite female companion (assuming ol’ Wilt was still alive).

It would be easy to hem and haw and dodge the question. But that wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? So today we’re going to give you a specific answer. We’ll tell you our favorite campground, and explain why it’s our favorite.

LOCATION

Sunset in our favorite campground. Ah, life is good.

Sunset in our favorite campground. Ah, life is good. Note the large amounts of space between each site. Also, each site is equipped with picnic table and fire pit.

Our favorite campground is located in the Western United States, in a popular national park. As you might expect, it’s in a rural area. However, there’s a delightful small town mere minutes away. The town is an easy destination for supplies and cultural activities. The campground elevation is rather high at 6237 feet above sea level. This is both a positive and a negative, as we shall see.

AVAILABILITY

We’ve never had any problem getting a campsite in this campground. It’s a large campground with some 350 campsites. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis. Often we just grab an available campsite first, and then complete our paperwork at the front office.  Even during the busy summer season, we’ve always been able to find a spot.

Bison occasionally wander through the campground, although moose are more frequent visitors.

Bison occasionally wander through the campground, although moose are more frequent visitors.

CAMPSITES

Although it’s an older campground, the sites are large enough to accommodate our rig. I can’t vouch for huge motorhomes, though they seem to get along just fine. There’s a healthy amount of space between campsites. Each site has a fire pit and picnic table.

One side of the campground offers partial mountain views, while the opposite side is an easy walk to the nearby river. There’s no fake grass or water fountains or any of that artificial malarkey. The campground is simply filled with native bushes and vegetation which happen to be beautiful.

WEATHER

We visit this place in the summertime, when the weather is mild. During this time of year, we’re guaranteed warm sunny days and pleasant cool nights. Humidity is very low. You’ll probably want a jacket of some sort at night. We love this place because it offers a wonderful respite from the thick summer heat that blankets most of the country. That’s one advantage of the high elevation.

Once autumn arrives, the weather changes dramatically. The campground closes for the season in late September, when (believe it or not) it has been known to snow. It’s impossible to RV camp here in the winter due to the extreme conditions.

LANDSCAPE

This hike is just a few minutes away.

This hike is just a few minutes away.


This area features one of the most spectacular landscapes in North America. It’s dominated by one of the world’s most iconic mountain ranges. The mountains are surrounded by a variety of beautiful lakes and rolling hills, all of which contain fantastic hiking trails to explore. And yes, a river (actually more than one river) runs through it.

The air is always clean and crisp. There’s no light pollution. On a clear night, the canopy of stars hanging overhead is simply staggering.

The stars at night are big and bright (and no, we're not deep in the heart of Texas).

The stars at night are big and bright (and no, we’re not deep in the heart of Texas).

Just up the road a few miles from this place is a sister national park that contains some of the world’s most spectacular geothermal features, along with mountains, canyons, rivers and lakes to explore. Together there are enough hiking trails in this region to keep one busy for a lifetime.

You can go mountain climbing or whitewater rafting. If you enjoy the outdoors, you will never be bored here. The question is not, “What is there to do?” The question is, “How will we ever do it all?”

WILDLIFE

 

Wildlife? You betcha.

Wildlife? You betcha. It’s Moose Central! This photo was taken in the campground.

This place is teeming with wildlife, including moose, antelope, deer, elk, bison, wolf, fox, and bear (of both black and grizzly varieties). There are impressive birds to be seen too, like hawks and the occasional bald eagle. People travel from around the world to this area for the wildlife viewing alone. If you enjoy viewing and photographing wild animals, this location promises some of the most memorable encounters you will ever enjoy.

We’ve had moose (bulls, cows, and calves) stroll right through our campsite on more than one occasion. In fact, it’s a daily occurrence. Despite posted warnings, we’ve never seen bear inside the campground.

Indeed, the spectacular wildlife helps to set this area apart from other destinations. In the lower 48 states, we’ve not seen any other destination that has as much to offer.

FOOD & CULTURE

In town you can get upscale burgers made from free range cattle that were regularly massaged, exfoliated, and pampered with brown sugar scrubs. Snooty and pretentious, but absurdly delicious.

In town you can get upscale burgers made from free range bison that were regularly massaged, exfoliated, and pampered with brown sugar scrubs. Snooty and pretentious? Who cares! It’s delicious!

If you like Western culture you’ll love this place. The nearby small town boasts a wide variety of dining opportunities, ranging from good old fashioned hamburgers to upscale fine dining that’s worthy of any major metropolitan area.

If you just want to wet your whistle at a local watering hole, there’s no shortage of honky tonks. Some of ’em even include saddles at the bar. Many feature live music.

For a town of modest size, the community is brimming with activity. The town is home to many enjoyable live events and festivals, from fun runs to art shows. There are a couple of nice grocery stores. There’s even an excellent public library where those so inclined can get some work done.

COST

All of this must be expensive, right? Nope. This place is one of the most affordable campgrounds we’ve found. During our most recent stay we were paying about $20 a night. Sure, it costs more than boondocking, but as campgrounds go it’s quite reasonable. Alas, the camping price is low for a reason – which I will address in the “Negatives” portion of this article.

Prices in the small town are a little on the higher side. Wine is far too expensive. But that’s not unusual in a tourist destination.

NEGATIVES

Fuji Jerry Can Full

We’re dry camping here. Ration your water, folks!

No place on planet Earth is perfect. Even in this place, our own Shangri-La, there are a few negatives for RV campers. This campground has probably changed little since the 1960s.

The primary negative is that this campground only offers dry camping with no hookups whatsoever. There are no electrical, water, or sewer connections available for RV use. So it’s kind of like boondocking in a campground.

With regard to facilities, there is a dump station, and there are a couple of water spigots for fresh water. There are public bathrooms, but they lack showers.

GIF spit take

PLEASE don’t drink the dump station water, else you will suffer a humiliating spit take like this one. (Not to worry, there are other places to get fresh water.)

When we stay at this campground, water management is critical. We’ve been known to stretch our modest 54-gallon freshwater tank out for 9 straight days of camping. (We have learned many techniques to conserve water, but those will be the subject of a different post.)

We use our generator for electricity (between the hours of 8AM and 8PM), but the high altitude makes for thinner air – so our generator doesn’t deliver quite as much juice as it normally would. Thankfully, we rarely need air-conditioning in this relatively cool climate.

What about cellular coverage? It’s spotty and inconsistent, which is either a plus or a minus depending on your point of view.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you can’t stay at this campground all season on an uninterrupted basis. There’s a 14-day limit on consecutive days allowed at the campground, and a 30-day cap overall.

THE PLACE… REVEALED!

Have you guessed our favorite campground? Most of those who follow our website probably knew it right off the bat.

The place we’ve been describing is (wait for it)…

Gros Ventre Campground in Grand Teton National Park!

The campground next opens on Friday May 2, 2014.

It closes on Friday October 3.

See you there! Just be sure to leave a site for us!

—–

(Hey procrastinators: For the ultimate last-minute gift, check out this deal: FREE 1-DAY SHIPPING on Amazon Gift Cards in a Gift Box! (http://goo.gl/EUzSDo).)


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Essential RV Camping Gear

Scout365 – Our Inflatable Boat!
Counter Assault Bear Spray
Oxygenics shower head
Antisway bar

Inverter generator
LED spotlight
Sean’s Tilley hat
Merrell Jungle Moc shoes
Walkie talkies
Boeshield T-9 lubricant
Weber portable grill
Air-Dryr
OBDII code reader
Water “jerry can”
Eye masks for sleep
Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries
RV water filter
Dry shampoo
The Next Exit book

Airstream Essentials
Trailer Aid tire changing ramp
Britta Bella water pitcher
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