Differences between private and public campgrounds
FaithBaptist, a member of the camping forum, recently asked: "What extra things do I want to consider taking on my camping trip? I usually go camping at a private campground (Fort Whaley) in Ocean City, MD and now I am going camping at a NPS campground (Elkmont) in the Great Smokies."
To which I answered: Elkmont is a great place to camp in the Smokies. It may get crowded, but there's plenty of open park land just outside the campground. The campground has restrooms with cold running water and flush toilets, but there are no showers or electrical or water hookups in the park. There used to be a small park store at the entrance, otherwise you can stock up on groceries in Gatlinburg or Townsend. When checking in to your campsite, ask the ranger if there are any fire restrictions and if bears have been a problem lately.
If you are an RVer, run your generator in the day time and you'll be friends with the many tent campers who stay here.
And whether you're an RVer or a tent camper please observe campground regulations and quiet hours. You won't find amenities here like you'll find in a private campground (no pool, no rec room, no restaurant, no phones, no computer hookups, etc.), but you will find hiking trails, streams to swim in, beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife viewing, star gazing at night, wooded campsites, and the Smoky Mountains. Be sure to also ask the rangers about any nature programs going on while you're there. They could range from guided nature walks to evening campfire talks. I think that the National Parks offer some of the most memorable camping experiences available to us.
There can be a great difference between expectations when camping at private campgrounds versus camping at public campgrounds (campgrounds in national park, state parks, national forests). Private campgrounds may offer amenities not found in public campgrounds - swimming pools, rec rooms, stores, restaurants, laundry rooms, etc. On the other hand, public campgrounds are cheaper, usually more spacious, near outdoor recreation, and offer simple restroom and shower facilities. Flush toilets and hot water are often considered luxuries. Most private campgrounds cater to RVers with electric, water, and/or sewer hookups. Public campgrounds tend to cater more towards tent campers, and RVers may or may not find hookups. If you're a tent camper, ask upon check-in if there is a tent-only or primitive campsite available. If so, take it because you'll be further away from the noise of RV air-conditioners and generators.
Whatever type of camper you are, while planning your next camping trip be sure to weigh your wants and needs against the amenities being offered when considering a campground.
From David Sweet.