Ever booked a campsite that sounded great when you read the description only to be very disappointed once you arrive?
OK, good, so we’re not alone.
Thankfully, we have a solution that gives you a very good chance at greatly reducing the risk of disappointment.
It’s called CampgroundViews.com, a free website that lets users find and tour RV parks across the country meaning the ability to see photos and videos of sites before your book or hit the road.
I recently connected with Mark Koep, founder and CEO of CampgroundViews.com, to learn all about it and how RVers can benefit for this great service.
He started by telling me that the main sources — Google, Instagram, and other news sources, for example — are not always the best places to find sites.
“The reality is, while those are good for information, they’re not good for campgrounds and RV parks,” Koep said. “They don’t show you what’s around.”
He pointed to Yellowstone as a good example.
“A lot of folks, in their mind they think, if I want to go to Yellowstone in July and August, there’s nowhere to camp. It all booked up and I should just not go,” Koep said. “And that’s actually a false presumption, because the reality is, there’s hundreds of campgrounds in and around Yellowstone that provide different options.
“If you have the right information at your fingertips, you’ll go there. It goes to this underlying problem that we are trying to address for the industry. It’s summed up by one word, and that one word is uncertainty. People are uncertain about what they’re about to get into, and so they go to sources that they trust or that they think they trust or think they know.”
Koep said CampgroundViews.com is trying to “short circuit” that train of thought, and show people what places look like BEFORE it’s too late.
“So they may not be able to know about it, but we have video, we have pictures, we have 360 tours that allows them to physically see a campground or RV park and be able to know, hey, that’s perfect for us. We’ll stay there.”
So how does CampgroundViews.com work?
Simply put, it provides all the information you want to know about campgrounds and campsites.
It has a lot of info and is growing. Last check, there were more than 3,100 videos, nearly 34,000 photos with information from more than 16,000 parks (including national and private parks).
Using the site is easy: head to the website and enter your location and (ideally) you’ll see info about area campgrounds. That info consists of address, phone number, website, and directions.
And then there are the pictures.
“These aren’t of people barbecuing or whatnot — they’re pictures of the sites, the roads, the area, what do the amenities look like?” Koep said. “They’re not exciting pictures, but if they’re looking to go camping, they’re very important, because now you know what the place looks like.”
There are also the videos.
“They’re pan (video shots) of the campground amenities, the roads, all the stuff that as a camper Rver you want to see before you make a decision to go there. Can my RV fit there? Will there be a satellite signal? Are the trees encroaching on the site? What do the neighbors look like? All those type of questions answered with those videos.”
It’s a great service but it got me wondering…how can CampgroundViews.com offer such useful information and make money?
In short, by selling advertising space to the companies and organizations glad to get their respective products and services in front of the website’s 200,000+ monthly visitors.
“The second part is we provide marketing services to the campgrounds. You’ve traveled around enough to know that the vast majority of campgrounds have terrible websites, terrible information, bad pictures, all that stuff that you’re going to look for as a traveler, they don’t have it.
“So what we do is we help these parks reach the right guests. Because if you have the right guest, if you’re the right guest for a park, and you end up at that right park, you’re going to go back, you’re going to have a good time, you leave good reviews, all that type of stuff, all that happy stuff,” Koep said.
However, Koep said CampgroundViews.com isn’t willing to “sell out” or compromise its integrity in the name of money.
“If the place is a dump, we’ll actually say it’s a dump on our listing,” he said. “We’ll directly tell you that, and we’ll actually show it to you, but there’s also a lot of parks that maybe five years ago were dumps, but if you give them a second look, there’s a new owner whose cleaning it up and fixing it up.”
That’s even more reason to check it out.
You can find the CampgroundViews.com by clicking the direct link here. You can also watch a video of my interview with Koep below.
And don’t forget about other options for finding information about campgrounds, including AllStays.com.