We've found a single Internet site that may help alleviate some of the trouble. The web site, ultimatecampgrounds.com largely focuses on public lands, be they state, federal, county, or even municipal. Not only are there thousands of listings for the United States, you'll also find scads of entries for Canada, too.
For example, as of today, in an area running north from Bakersfield, California, up toward Fresno, then veering east, you'll find a region that contains 363 camping locations. Zoom in closer by clicking on that circled "363," and the number is broken into more circles. We clicked on a circle near Bakersfield and immediately got markers for several different site managers – county (both parks and a fairgrounds), U.S. Forest Service, and one operated by a utility company. Click on the marker and you'll get detailed information about location, costs, and "warnings." In our Bakersfield search, two of the campgrounds weren't suitable for RVs – glad to know that before we'd head out for those! In some cases, telephone contact information is included as well.
The ultimatecampgrounds.com site does not provide information on privately held RV parks. You will find information on state parks, as well as a host of other entities. If your trip planning takes you near any of the nation's big rivers, you can be sure you'll find info on Army Corps of Engineer parks.
So how is all this financed? The great thing about the map system is that it's free. If you want detailed data on POIs (points of interest) to enter into your GPS system, you can pay a $6.95 sign-up fee and download regularly updated POI listings. Those are updated on a monthly basis, and the subscription is good for a year. The site also graciously accepts donations from users who don't need the POI lists, but find the service useful.
In practice, we found that trip planning is better suited on a PC than on a portable device. While the system works on a device, it's a bit clumsier and can be a little frustrating to manipulate. For less than $4 you can download an app for your devices – we'll try it out and report back.
Like anybody else, we immediately started tracing out some of our more "familiar" routes to see if the site, "got it right." We found the system knew most of our favorite spots, and others we'd driven past before but weren't aware were there. We'll be field testing this system in the next few months and will report back with our field-findings.
Hear more from Russ and Tiña De Maris on their weekly podcasts on YourRVPodcast.com.