A campsite is a place used for overnight stay in the out of doors. The term 'campsite' usually means an area where an individual, family, group or military unit might camp. There are two types of campsites:

  • an impromptu area (as one might decide to stop while backpacking or hiking)
  • a dedicated area with improvements and various facilities (see below).

A campground is a group of dedicated campsites with common amenities.


The term "camp" comes from the Latin word campus, meaning field. Therefore, a campsite consists typically of open pieces of ground where a camper can pitch a tent or park a camper. More specifically a campsite is a dedicated area set aside for camping and for which often a user fee is charged. Campsites typically feature a few (but sometimes no) improvements.

Dedicated campsites usually have some amenities. Common amenities include, listed roughly in order from most to least common:

Rental units available

Camping outside a designated campsite is often forbidden by law. It is thought to be a nuisance, harmful to the environment, and is often associated with vagrancy. However some countries have specific laws and/or regulations allowing camping on public lands (see Freedom to roam).

In the US, many national and state parks have dedicated campsites and sometimes also allow impromptu backcountry camping by visitors. U.S. National Forests often have established campsites, but generally allow camping anywhere, except within a certain distance of water sources.

RV parks/caravan parks

In North America many campgrounds have facilities for Recreational Vehicles and are also known as RV parks . Similar facilities in the UK are known as Caravan Parks. The Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is a large chain of commercial campgrounds located throughout the US and Canada. Many travellers prefer to use KOA, or similar campsites, as an alternative to hotels or motels.

Both commercial and governmental campgrounds typically charge a nominal fee for the privilege of camping there, to cover expenses, and in the case of an independent campground, to make a profit.

Trailer parks

Frequently confused with Campsites, Campgrounds and RV Parks, Trailer Parks are made up of long term or semi-permanent residents occupying Mobile Homes, Park Trailers or RVs.

Backcountry camping

In the U.S., backcountry camping is common in National Parks and these areas can only be reached on foot or on horseback. The camping areas are usually established "zones", which have a predetermined maximum number of persons that are allowed to stay in the section per night. Strict regulations are imposed regarding food storage and resource protection, and in most cases, open fires are not permitted and all cooking must be done with small portable stoves. Usually these backcountry campsite zones require a free permit obtainable at visitor centers and ranger stations.

Most National parks do not have as many amenities as the state and private parks.

See also

Movies and documentaries on a campsite

External links


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