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Our 12 Favorite Campsites of 2013

One of the things we absolutely love about life on the road is that we always get to live in The Perfect Spot.

Whatever that might be at the moment  – a peaceful place, a location close to where we need to be, a million dollar view or a surprise find along the way.

Our 12 favorite stops of 2013

Our 12 favorite stops of 2013

We thought it might be fun to look back and share our favorite campgrounds this past year.

A – Sunset Isle RV Park – Cedar Key, FL

You bet we reserved this same spot for this winter!

We brought the new year with some RVing friends in Cedar Key, FL, staying at Sunset Isle RV Park. We love this park. It’s small, it’s quirky, it’s old school Florida. And despite our general discomfort with tightly spaced campsites, some how – it’s just fine here. Even not converging with friends, this little park brings together a community with an onsite cafe and community center with bluegrass jam sessions.

We love their waterfront spots with dock access, kayak launches and a very affordable price. Sunset Isles ranks high in our hearts.  So much so, we’re also bringing in 2014 there.

Rates: $28 – 39/night, $148-230/week or $380-510/month

B – Lucky Clover Mobile Home & RV – Indian Harbour Beach, FL

Getting cable internet installed!

Getting cable internet installed!

Before I hit the road my parents and I both lived in the Melbourne, Florida area, making it a frequent repeat stop for us. Particularly when my father fell ill we prioritized staying close by to help out and maximize quality time.  We tried out a lot of parks in the area, and Lucky Clover Mobile Home & RV has become a favorite. It’s really a mobile home park with some RV spots – but the spots are well spaced, it’s walking distance to the beach, dining & shopping and has a great little community.

We love that we are able to get cable internet installed at our site – allowing us to bask in unlimited high speed bandwidth!

Rates:  $35/night, $235/week or $675/month

C – Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, FL

Love big, private, wooded sites!

Love big, private, wooded sites!

Having business colleagues and friends just north of Orlando, and a general love of state parks – Wekiva Springs State Park strikes a great balance for us. Huge, wooded and private feeling campsites, while being super close to town and amenities. Which also means, we get great LTE signal here for keeping online. And as long as you’re not needing to head into Orlando itself, the traffic around this area isn’t too awful.

We love their extensive nature trail system, swimming in the beautiful springs and kayaking within the park.

Rates: $24/night

D – Scenic Park Campground – South Sioux City, NE

Casino riverboat & lighthouse view!

Casino riverboat & lighthouse view!

Following the Louis & Clark trail across the country, we found Scenic Park Campground, a delightful city run park along the Missouri River. We arrived on a Friday night, not really expecting to be able to snag a site – and were super pleased we were given a waterfront site with a view of a (fake) lighthouse. Ironic, as we were in the midst of signing our paperwork to volunteer at a lighthouse later in the summer!

We love the spacing of the sites here, the proximity to town, decent WiFi, water views and access to a large hike & bike trail system that runs through the park.

Rates: $15-25/night, weekly discounts (1 night free) or $520/month

E – Snake Creek State Park – Platte, SD

We parked 'backwards' to optimize our view!

We parked ‘backwards’ to optimize our view!

Scenic byways and hiways are so much more interesting than most interstates. Continuing to follow the Missouri River northward, we discovered Snake Creek State Park in South Dakota. We showed up, and were able to snag an incredible private feeling site with a panoramic water view over a bluff. We even had rocking LTE, and our own trial down to the water to a private beach.

We love that most sites within this park were beautiful, and we had eyed several others we would have been super happy with.

Rates: $18/night, plus $6 daily vehicle entrance fee

F – Interstate PowerSystems – Billings, MT

Ahh... the smell of diesel in the morning!

Ahh… the smell of diesel in the morning!

For us, the perfect location is not just about water, trees and mountains. Mechanical things are just as fascinating, so we took the opportunity to camp at Interstate PowerSystems while passing through Montana to fully experience an industrial setting. The campground provided WiFi, water and 15amp electric via a long extension cord – but we had to arrange a pump out service for our sewer.

We love that this campground was private feeling in the evening and there was a cacophony of mechanical sounds to sleep by. Their daily fees included a complete out of frame engine overhaul and apprenticeship under skilled 2-stroke mechanics.

Rates: $530/night (Buy 7-weeks, get an engine rebuild!)

G – Spring Creek Campground & Trout Ranch – Big Timber, MT

Ahhh.... so relaxing!

Ahhh…. so relaxing!

After finally getting our engine’s vroom back – we escaped to the nearest scenic sounding campground we could. The waterfront spot we scored at Spring Creek Campground was just what we needed to recharge after our extended diesel lot experience. We had to pinch ourselves that the roar of the whitewater outside our windows wasn’t a diesel engine running next-door.

We love the history of this campground, how large some of the sites were and how impeccably maintained the entire place is.  And the running river/creek was divine!

Rates: $27.50 – 40/night, weekly discounts (1 night free)

H – Cape Blanco State Park – Port Orford, OR

Beautiful, big, private sites!

Beautiful, big, private sites!

Our engine breakdown required us to cancel our plans to volunteer host at Cape Blanco Lighthouse in July, and we were thrilled that once we got back on the road they needed a host couple for September. It was the perfect experience after an intense year, and Cape Blanco State Park campground just added positively to our time there (as did having some fabulous neighbors).

We love that all of the sites (not just the host sites) are huge and private feeling, the incredible coastal views just steps away and the first-come-first-serve arrival system.

Rates: $20/night (Apr – Sep), $16/night (Oct – Mar), or FREE for hosts

I – Sam’s Family Spa – Desert Hot Springs, CA

The RV sites are not too bad.

The RV sites are not too bad.

Whoever Sam was, I just want to give him a big old hug. It’s genius to combine an RV park with natural mineral hot spring pools in a casual atmosphere. We enjoyed a week of ‘jello-blobbing’ with dear friends at Sam’s Family Spa and soaking away aches and pains. We definitely need to find more gems like this place, because nothing resets us like some quality spa time.

We love that the pool area is beautifully landscaped, there is plenty of hot water soaking, a sauna and steam rooms. You don’t come here for the RV experience, but the spots aren’t half bad.

Rates: $50/night, $300/weekly or $470 – $540/month

J – McDowell Mountain Regional – Fountain Hills, AZ

Yeah, this one doesn't suck.

Yeah, this one doesn’t suck.

We weren’t looking forward to the miles ahead to get to the east coast, so we put a call out to our readers to recommend some great stop over spots to help keep us inspired and recharged. McDowell Mountain Regional outside of Phoenix came highly recommended by several folks and did not disappoint.

We love that this park has ginormous spots – you could shrink the park in half and double the spots (but please don’t!), and it’d still be considered spacious. And the desert surroundings and views? Awe-mazing.

Rates: $25/night

K – McKinney Falls State Park – Austin, TX

We love the huge sites here!

We love the huge sites here!

Austin is a frequent stop over spot for us given it’s my home town and where my brother still lives. Thanksgiving was converging there this year, so we booked online back in the summer to make sure we’d have a spot over a potentially popular holiday weekend. McKinney Falls State Park is one of our two favorites to stay in Austin – the other being Pecan Grove closer to downtown.

We love the huge wide open spots of McKinney Falls, the hiking trails and the park’s proximity to all things south Austin while still be a bit in the country.

Rates: $20-24/night, plus $6 pp daily entrance fee (or state park pass)

L – Grayton Beach State Park – Grayton Beach, FL

Private wooded sites and water access? Oh yeah.

Private wooded sites and water access? Oh yeah.

Way back at the lighthouse, we made some new RVing friends who are based out of Grayton Beach. They recommended we stop in on our way into Florida, and we’re so glad we did. The town of Grayton Beach has a great vibe to it, fantastic live music venues and Grayton Beach State Park is just our style. There’s also other surrounding small towns to explore along 30A, each with its own uniqueness.

We love the big private feeling sites, some with waterfront access to an inter coastal lake with kayak launches.

Rates: $24 – 30/night


So, how’d the numbers come out this year?

It’s been an incredible year with a lot of amazing experiences! And we just love the variety of places we get to live at as we roam.

We consider our campground fees and fuel costs combined to represent our previous stationary rent/mortgage payments… so here’s the daily & monthly totals:

  • Campground Average: $16/day or  $476/month*
  • Fuel Average: $12/day or $350/month
  • Our monthly ‘rent’ for 2013 – $826

* Not including the stay in Billing, MT of course – we consider it a blessing we were able to live onsite during the engine rebuild.

Yeah, of course we could bring the costs down if we integrated in more boondocking, less miles and more volunteer experiences. And our monthly ‘rent’ costs have crept up over the years  – both because we’re more electrically dependent in the bus and need hook-ups more often, and costs of fuel & campsites have increased since we hit the road back in 2006.

But overall? We’re pretty darn happy with the amazing variety of places we get to live at, some with million dollar views we could never afford otherwise.

All for less monthly rent than we’d pay to live stationary most anywhere else we’d choose.

The experiences we have after all .. are priceless.

If you found this article helpful, we’d love to hear your appreciation.

Virtually buy us a thank you drink :


Other ways to say thanks:



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41 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Hi Cherie & Chris, I am so happy I came across your videos & blog today/night! We are in the early stages of maybe picking up & going full time as y’all are. Two years ago my fiancé was left for dead as he & his Harley were run over by a hit & run. After almost losing his leg & almost losing his life it helped us to realize just how short life can truly be. We have to traveled for up to three weeks at a time so far & have loved almost every minute of it! I look forward to reading more of your imformed articles & catching y’all live broadcast. I’ll make sure to buy y’all a drink to show our appreciation. Thank you for sharing your travel adventures and wisdom with us.

  2. Thank you for all the great information and wisdom. Your articles are engaging and help to put my fears to rest. If you are ever around the Savannah Georgia area check our River’s End Campground on Tybee Island.

  3. Thank you both so much for the wonderful comments about our park. We are very happy to have made one of the top 12. We hope to see you back some day!

    Rob & Tammy Brooks

  4. We just spent one night each in D and E (Scenic and Snake) on our way to Rapid City. We are on the move because of Dr appointments next week or we would have stayed longer. Excellent suggestions. BTW, you stayed in site 9 at Scenic and we stayed in site 10. Ours was better. 8^)
    Here at Snake we are in site 18E. It’s on the opposite side of the park from where you were. We came over here because we thought the satellite dish would work better here with a view of the southern sky. We were right. 8^)

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions!

  5. This is as good a time as any to check in and say how much I’ve enjoyed your blog and other media. I stumbled onto your site when you broke down and was so impressed with the way you handled that situation.

    I’m also catching up on the all the new technology and appreciate all your efforts to share what you have learned. The content is great IMO.

    I was going to recommend St Joe also. It was booked when I was there, so we backpacked the wilderness end of the island. We left Florida in the spring of 2007 running along the coast and there are many gems along the way. We ran west to Natchez, Mississippi to do the Natchez highway up to TN. Beautiful, with free campgrounds along the route.

    I imagine that it is a lot of work to produce all that you two do and I hope you know it is appreciated. I look forward to buying that drink in person at some point.

  6. I stumbled upon your website a few weeks ago and just have to let you know how enjoyable your writings are. While you compare your expenses to the stationary boxes we live in, please remember we need to pay taxes and upkeep for the anchors. I suspect you are far ahead in the long run in many more enriching ways than one. Keep up the good life and thanks for allowing the rest of us the opportunity to share. Best wishes for the new year.

  7. I just found you via Rick and JoAnn’s blog. Thanks so much for your list of favorite campgrounds for 2013 … hubby is retiring at end of 2014 and we hope to hit the road, so I will save this for future reference. Grayton Beach is one of our favorite Florida campgrounds … or it was until we found St. Joseph’s Peninsula State Park near Port St. Joe, FL. If you have never been there I highly recommend it! It is a gorgeous, magical place, about as far from the crowded streets of some popular Florida cites (Panama City, Destin, etc.) as you could imagine. At night you can watch deer on the dunes, or you can hike the wilderness at the end of the peninsula. And paddling in the bay is amazing! (http://www.floridastateparks.org/stjoseph/default.cfm)

    I am definitely adding you to my blog list!

    • I was scoping out St. Joseph’s on Google Earth, and it does look like a very cool place. I could easily see spending months just barely beginning to explore the great parks in Florida’s panhandle.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      – Chris

  8. Already adding these to our list when we finally get RVing in 2014. thank You for sharing and also your averages for the year.

  9. Thanks for the list…can’t wait to try them…have a great Holiday….I look forward to reading more of your blogs…

  10. Several things: You are very lucky to have found each other.
    You are fortunate to have the presence of mind to have presence of mind.
    Your engine problems could have occurred anywhere, but it happened where there was a great, ethical, experienced outfit… where you could stay in the lot!
    Cedar Keys looks like Florida’s little secret.
    And of course, you missed some places so you gotta go out again!

  11. Just wanted to thank you for doing this blog, I have been following along for the past few months and really enjoying the read. The combination of daily life and tech articles are very helpful as we consider options for going on the road.

    When I was a kid back in the early 70’s we rode a school bus similar to yours, not sure of the model. I remember it breaking down a lot, usually on the way home! You seem to be doing a lot better even with the engine rebuild.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

    • I don’t think the 4106 was ever commonly used as a school bus. Crown and Blue Bird focused on that market, and I don’t think GM ever did.

      But, you never know… 🙂

      • No this was an ex highway coach that had seen better days. It was a small bus co. That used what they had. We did eventualy get a traditional Blue Bird.

  12. Your comment on “F” Interstate PowerSystems at $535 was the best. I’m sure that they have no idea of the residual business you will bring them because of their expertise with your bus!! I know it really stung the pocketbook, but it is good knowing that you have a great running engine and more knowledge about it too. Happy Motoring

    • Thanks for appreciating our attempt at humor 🙂 We’re pretty sure they got a clear picture of how much social media credibility they’d be getting by doing what they do – treating their customers right.

      While we wish our old engine would have just kept running and running, we had the money tucked away. You kinda have to when you buy a 50 year old machine for $8k – the odds were high we’d need some major work sooner or later. We have no regrets.

  13. Rob and I totally agree with Snake Creek in South Dakota. We spent several days there in late September this year and early October last year. The views were gorgeous and you can tell that they really try to give almost every space some privacy along with several spots overlooking the river.

    We will definitely be back next time we are in South Dakota!

  14. Re: Grayton Beach–their site says 40′ maximum for RV’s but sometimes we find skillful parking can overcome that for our 45′ rig. Now that you’ve been there, do you think 45′ can find a space? We drive a Renegade, which is built on a Freightliner Class 8 Chassis. Thanks!

    • Oh gosh.. our bus is 35′ and we’ve never had to maneuver a 45′ rig. So we’re really not a great judge for that. But I would guess that some of the spots in the newer full hook-up section could actually squeeze in a longer setup. Probably not on the older 30a loop however.

    • Tina, There is another great state park 10 miles west of Grayton Beach called Topsail Hill. They have lots of big rig spaces so you might want to look into that one if you’re in the area.

      • Thank for your responses. We’ll check out Topsail since it is still in the area. We have read good things about it as well.

      • P.S. I just realized you also travel with dogs Jennifer–we travel with 3 rescues, plus my husband who is legally blind is getting his new guide dog in January. His first guide, “Rusty the Wonderdog”passed away in July–we’re still reeling from that one. 🙁

        I’m also very interested in parks that are super dog friendly since our furry kids are all 50-70 pounds–not exactly “stroller” dogs if you know what I mean!

    • As the bus driver – I can chime in to add that there are spaces that I think could probably handle a 45′ rig parked slowly and carefully by a skilled and confident driver, potentially with a lot of back-and-forth.

      But it would require a bit of trial and error to find the sites that can work.

      If you want to try it – call ahead and talk to the ranger for advice.

      Good luck!

      – Chris

      • Thanks Chris–I just might be the woman for the job! Before this rig I drove our Freightliner Sport Chassis, towing a 40′ Fifth Wheel, with our Jeep Rubicon behind that–so I have quite a bit of experience with big rigs. We’ll check it out when we are in that neck of the woods. 🙂

  15. Nice list! Thanks also for posting the costs for each campground and your overall camp and fuel expenses.

    I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing your pics. Happy holidays to you!

  16. Great round-up for the year! For some reason I totally spaced that you had stopped at Snake Creek…that ended up being one of our fav parks our 1st year out too.

    • I loved that when I went to leave my review for the park, yours was there already!

      And I also love that two of our favorites from this year are places we shared with you guys. *Cheers* to many more!

  17. A few years back we stayed for 3 nites at Southern Oregon Diesel,……it also worked out to about $530 a nite. Just glad we didn’t have to stay any longer!!!

  18. Thanks for the list! I’ve added these to my future campgrounds list. Also, the average cost is great to compare to mine. Love it. 🙂

  19. We are going to be in Phoenix area over New Year’s for five days, four nights…and we are staying at McDowell Mountain Regional from reading about what you said about it when you were there. Last year when we drove through in April, we stayed at a RV park in town, and it was the pits…..too many RV’s too close together. It will be worth the extra 15 minutes drive to where our friends live (last year we were nearly 10 minutes away as it was). I appreciate all the information you provide to everyone, great job. –Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  20. Love your list! I will put these on my travel/adventure spreadsheet for us to check out in the future! Thanks

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