RV Parks vs Campgrounds: What’s the difference?

Photo of an RV with the stars in the background.

With the rise in interest in camping over the last few years, many people want to discover the type of camping that interests them. You, yourself may be wondering, “What is the Difference Between and RV Park and a Campground?:

The difference between An RV Park and a campground is that an RV park is privately owned, whereas a campground is generally publicly owned. RV parks always have full or partial hookups, whereas a campground may have no hookups, partial hookups, or full hookups. Most RV parks have many amenities that campgrounds don’t have like laundromats and swimming pools. You’ll often find RV parks in cities and campgrounds closer to wilderness locations.

Read on to find out which style of camping is better for you.

RV Parks

Why Do People Go to RV Parks?

Here are some of the top amenities that attract people to RV parks:

  1. Full Hookups
  2. Swimming Pools
  3. Laundry Facilities
  4. On-site Grocery
  5. Wi-Fi
  6. Clean Bathrooms
  7. Hot Tubs
  8. Play Grounds
  9. Dog Parks
  10. Social Activities
  11. Other Amenities

Full Hookups

People who go to RV parks like to have the convenience and amenities that this type of camping provides. One of the most common amenities that you will get while camping at an RV park is full hookups. Full hookups include water, electricity, and sewer disposal provided right there at your campsite. RV parks also have many other conveniences that you may appreciate.

Swimming Pools

Swimming Pool at a KOA
Swimming Pool at a KOA

A clean swimming pool is one of the top reasons people go to RV parks. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is known for having some very nice swimming pools. Depending on the area, pools can be located indoors or outside. The fact is, kids love swimming, making swimming pools one of the reasons families visit RV Parks. And it stands to reason since most people don’t own their own swimming pools. I really enjoy relaxing next to the swimming pool while reading a book or listening to a pod cast. And, isn’t that the reason you go to an RV park anyway, to relax?

Swimming pools do have rules and hours of operation that you will have to abide by. For safety reasons and to schedule cleaning time, each RV park will have hours of operation for the swimming pool. I’ve never been to an RV park where children were allowed in the swimming pool area unattended. Normally, food, glass (and other breakable items), alcohol, and pets are not allowed in the pool area. As a general rule, diapers are not allowed in the pool. Most RV parks do not allow running, jumping or diving in the pool. All these rules are for the safety of campers. Towels are not provided at campground pools, so be sure to bring your own.

Laundry Facilities

When we are on longer camping trips, we always plan an RV park stop on our journey. The main reason for the stop is that RV parks almost always have a laundry facilities. Even if you plan your whole vacation at an RV park, having a laundromat cuts down on the amount of clothes that you need to bring with you on vacation. And, if you or your child spills on the table cloth, on the bed, or on your clothes, it’s nice to know that you have the convenience of a laundromat nearby.

On-site Grocery

Grocery Store at a KOA
KOA Grocery/Convenience Store

It’s fairly common to find an on-site grocery at an RV park. It won’t have everything you might need, but it will have the important basics like hot dogs, potato chips and makings for snores. RV personnel will be happy to direct you to a full-service local grocery store if you need items that they don’t have.


Another reason why people choose RV parks over campgrounds is for the Wi-Fi. One reason is that many people choose to work from their RV. If you can work from home, why not get a head-start on the weekend and a good spot at the RV park by working from your RV. If you have kids, and they are out of school, this is a good way to keep them entertained while you work. For the rest of us, nothing beats the convenience of having Wi-Fi peruse the internet and keep in touch with friends and family.

Wi-Fi signal can vary depending upon signal strength and distance away from the router. My experience is that Wi-Fi is included in the price of your stay, although sometimes you can pay for an upgrade for faster service.

Clean Bathrooms

If you’ve ever been to a disgusting campground bathroom, you’ll understand why this is so important to campers. Hair in the drain and soap on the ledge of the shower are not very inviting. There are many RV parks out there that pride themselves with keeping the restrooms clean. Most restrooms at RV parks are check at least twice daily. Campground ratings keep RV parks on their toes. If you are looking for campground rating, checkout our article on the best camping apps.

Hot Tubs

Hot tubs are often adjacent to swimming pools and are enjoyed by both adults and children alike. You can, however, find an RV park that has adult-only hot tubs. It’s not super common, but they are out there. If you are looking to relax in the hot tub, look for an RV park with adult-only hot tubs. Like pools, hot tubs are kept clean and sanitized. They generally follow the rules of the pool area.

Play Grounds

Nothing will keep your kids busy like the playground. It’s also a great place for kids to make new friends. All kid-friendly campgrounds have a playground. An afternoon at the playground will get your kids wound down and ready for smores and bed time.

Dog Parks

Missoula KOA Holiday

We never want to leave our dog at home, and camping is no exception. Campgrounds often put restrictions on bringing your dog, but RV parks roll out the red carpet for dog owners. Many RV parks offer a special area where your dog can run and do his business. Some even offer dog washing stations! he majority of RV parks have learned that it pays to be dog-friendly.

Social Activities

Social activities, like cookouts and ice cream socials are common at RV parks. In such a relaxed atmosphere, it’s nice to have a way to introduce yourself and make new friends. We have met many people at RV parks – some we are still in contact with today. If you’re shy, consider a round of bocci ball, horseshoes, or mini golf. These are some other social activities that many RV parks offer.

Location, Location, Location

RV parks are often located in larger cities and close to tourist attractions. Fort Wilderness, Disney’s premiere RV park is located adjacent to Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida. There are a plethora of RV parks located outside of National Parks. Plus, you can find an RV park off of most major highways.

Big-Rig Friendly

For people who have larger RVs, RV parks may be the only option for camping as many state and national parks do not accommodate rigs over 35 feet in length.

The Downside to RV Parks

While there are many benefits to RV parks, there are a couple of reasons they might not be for you.


Since RV parks offer an astounding array of amenities, they also cost more. The typical RV park campsite can cost between $50-$100 per night. If you’re looking for camping on the cheap, an RV park might not be for you..


To be efficient, and to make money, RV parks are often crowded. Most RV park sites are very close together and have little to no privacy. If you want to get to know your neighbor, then an RV park might be for you, but it you want some alone time, you’ll be stuck inside your RV. Good RV parks have visual barriers between sites, but my experience is that most do not. Since RV parks provide hookups, its efficient for them to place campsites close together.


As I mentioned, campgrounds are mainly run by government entities. State, local and federal agencies are responsible for creating and running campgrounds. Camping at a campground is a much different experience than camping at an RV park. Campground camping brings us closer to nature and reveals our primal selves.

Why Do People Go to Campgrounds?

Here are some reasons people go to campgrounds instead of RV parks:

  1. Fewer Crowds
  2. Closer to Nature
  3. Unwind and Disconnect
  4. Get Away from Distractions

Fewer Crowds

Unlike RV parks, most campsites at campgrounds either have larger sites, or have a natural barrier from neighboring campers. If you just want to get away from the rat race, then a campground is a better choice than an RV park. I find that I’m more likely to spend time outside at a campground then I would at an RV park since I’m an introvert by nature. And, really, I go camping to spend time with my family, not perfect strangers. Plus, being away from people allows me to soak in the nature.

Closer to Nature

Most campgrounds are located in a park, whether that be a state park, national park or local/county park. These locations provide proximity to nature’s beauty. Along with that, activities at a campground will be much different than an RV park. For example, a campground might give you access to a hiking trail or lake for kayaking. Take Yellowstone National Park for example – at Yellowstone National park you can visit all the wonders that the park has to offer like geysers, lakes and hiking trails. At a campground you can have direct access to things you wouldn’t get at an RV park.

Unwind and Disconnect

Where an RV park has Wi-Fi, campground frequently don’t have any internet access at all. This is something to take into consideration if you are working from your RV or have to be connected to the internet for some other reason. On the flip side, it will give you a chance to unwind and disconnect. We are constantly bombarded by the information that is provided on the internet, whether it be news or social media. Being disconnected from the internet (and media) helps induce sleep, reduces stress, and improves in-person communication. Want to be more connected to your loved ones? Go camping and disconnect. Sit around the fire and talk. Even teenagers will adjust after a few hours.

Get Away from Distractions

Your phone can be a distraction. Being disconnected is one way to get away from distractions, but camping provides other ways as well. Being away from home takes you away from all the distractions at home. When you are at the campground, the bills don’t need to be paid, the lawn doesn’t need to be watered and the house won’t need to be cleaned. We are at our most primal level when we are camping and away from the distractions of our normal, stressful world. If you want to get further off the beaten path, find out why dispersed camping might be fore you.

Downsides of Campgrounds

One of the downsides of camping at campgrounds instead of RV parks is that you may not have hookups. Here in California, most of the state parks do not have any campsite hookups. Some campgrounds have a dump station and some do not. This is also true for many national park campgrounds and local campgrounds.

Another downside to camping at a campground is that you won’t have many amenities. Most campgrounds don’t have swimming pools, miniature golf or a laundromat. At a campground, you’ll get a basic campsite with a fire ring and a picnic table, and not much more. Some campground may have a small store, but not many.


Camping at campgrounds and RV parks both have their pluses and minuses. Which type of camping you will enjoy depends on what you are looking for in a camping experience.

Crystyn Chase

Crystyn enjoys traveling to new locations off the beaten path. She's passionate about RV adventure travel and her desire is to share that love with readers. She is married to Doug and has a playful German Shepherd named Trinity. When not on the road, Crystyn enjoys gardening and food preservation.

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