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.
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
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
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
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.
D – Scenic Park Campground – South Sioux City, NE
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
K – McKinney Falls State Park – Austin, TX
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
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.
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