DULUTH -- Some people go back to the same campsite year after year, sometimes weekend after weekend, and love their experience of familiarity and the friendships made.
But other folks who tent or trailer or camper their summer free time away like to explore, and the new book “Where Should We Camp Next? A 50-State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and Other Unique Accommodations,’’ (paperback, Sourcebooks $12.99) is made for them.
It’s a travel guide of sorts for campers not afraid to hit the road and try new territory.
Written by longtime RV camping gurus Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi, the new book came out in March with more than 300 campground destinations detailed. It follows their similar book on the basics of family camping (not location specific) published in 2020, “See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors,’’ and tilts toward the glamping side of camping — places accessible by the family RV or SUV and suitable for all levels of camping experience.
Don’t have an RV, camper or tent? There are ample entries of unique places with cabins, yurts and even treehouses and covered wagons to rent in the woods or on the prairie.
The authors say they did extensive homework to track down the best camping spots in each state. They also have been to many of the locations in person as part of their road trips for their podcasts “RV Atlas,” and “Campground of the Week’’ that have run hundreds of episodes.
“There are a few camping directories here and there, but most of them are focused on certain types of campgrounds – and most of them are just glorified phone books with basic information about amenities and facilities,” the authors said about their book. “We wanted to write a book that covered the great diversity of the American campground experience right now. We wanted a book that reviewed rustic campgrounds and flashy RV resorts.”
- Where to camp in the Duluth area
- Check out our summer series "Minnesota's Backyard" showcasing the state parks
- Read more outdoors recreation stories in Northland Outdoors
“Where Should We Camp Next?” starts with an 18-page overview of the modern American camping experience, with information on public and private campgrounds, RV resorts, Hipcamp.com, Harvest Hosts, Tentrr and glamping experiences like Under Canvas and Collective Retreats.
The intro also asks you to pick your category of camping personality — from newbie to wilderness tenter to RV aficionado — and then pick your campgrounds based on your own tastes and preferences.
The states are divided by region and each state has 5-11 campground reviews. The reviews are broken into two categories: “Best in State” and “Also Great.” Sometimes the slimmest of margins separated the two, the authors note, and sometimes a campground made “Best in State” because it has a wider appeal than a comparable one in the “Also Great” category. (They didn’t rate the campgrounds, as some guidebooks do, instead picking only ones they liked and excluding those entirely that they did not like.)
Be warned, however, that because the authors liked these campgrounds, other folks probably do, too. And that means many may already be filled for prime weekends and midsummer weeks for 2021. In the days of COVID-crazed campground crowding, it may be best to use the book as a planner for 2022, or at least later this fall after kids are (hopefully) back in school. (For example, both Minnesota State Parks mentioned by the authors are already full for many weeks this summer, as are most of the sites already at Voyageurs National Park.)
The book also has more than 100 sidebars to accompany the campground reviews with travel tips, regional highlights, culinary highlights and historical tidbits.
For Minnesota’s “Best in State” category, the authors picked:
The Pines of Kabetogama Resort — with RV sites, RV rental, cabins and even a house to rent on beautiful Lake Kabetogama. (thepineskab.com)
Bearhead Lake State Park near Ely for its natural beauty and seclusion, access to great fishing and the quintessential Minnesota northwoods feel with RV access. (dnr.state.mn.us)
Baker Park Campground/Three Rivers Park District near Maple Plain, just 30 minutes west of Minneapolis. Not exactly northwoods, but social and family-friendly, with camper cabins to rent. (threeriversparks.org)
For Minnesota's “Also Great’’ picks:
Lambs Resort & Campground near Schroeder, a very popular North Shore destination. Still family-owned and with a half mile of Lake Superior beach, the campground offers both RV amenities and a North Shore feel. Log cabins to rent, too. (lambsresort.com)
Itasca State Park, Minnesota’s first and oldest at the head of the Mississippi River near Park Rapids, the authors say the park has “top-notch’’ lodging in addition to wooded campsites on 32,000 acres with more than 100 lakes. (dnr.state.mn.us)
Lebanon Hills Regional Park Campground, just outside St. Paul, is close to both Twin Cities downtowns, the Mall of America and all of that — but also has lakes, trails for hiking and biking and a swimming beach. (co.dakota.mn.us)
The authors also spend a page describing Voyageurs National Park, with more than 150 individual (remote) boat-to (or canoe or kayak-to) campsites. (nps.gov)
For North Dakota’s “Best in State’’ category, the authors picked:
Cottonwood Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, near Medora, with world-class wildlife watching in the Badlands, this campground sits along the banks of the Little Missouri River. Simple sites, half reservable and half on a first-come, first-served basis. (nps.gov)
Cross Ranch State Park, near Center, along a wild stretch of the Missouri River with ample space for hiking and mountain biking. Spacious RV sites and rental yurts. (parkrec.nd.gov)
Fort Ransom State Park, near Fort Ransom, with what the authors described as super-cool yurts and covered wagon camping rentals. Many RV sites and a section dedicated to campers who bring their own horses with. (parkrec.nd.gov)
For South Dakota’s “Best in State’’ category, the authors picked:
Rafter J Bar Ranch, Hill City in the Black Hills, which the authors call “one of the best campgrounds in the country.” Spacious sites with beautiful views of the Black Hills. Heated pools and just 15 minutes from Mount Rushmore. (rafterj.com)
Blue Bell Campground, Custer State Park, near Custer, within the scenic park loaded with wildlife, a beautiful campground with Blue Bell Lodge within walking distance. (gfp.sd.gov)
Cedar Pass Campground and Cedar Pass Lodge, Badlands National Park, near Interior, with less-than-spectacular campsites but in an astonishingly beautiful part of the Badlands with unparalleled views. “The best hikes in the park are nearby,’’ the authors note. (nps.gov)
Elk Mountain Campground, Wind Cave National Park, doesn’t accept reservations, so have a backup plan if you don't get one of 61 sites in this beautiful campground with great nightly interpretive programs. (nps.gov)
For Wisconsin's “Best in State” category, the authors picked:
All campgrounds in the southern part of the state, including Devils Lake and Mirror Lake state parks near Wisconsin Dells and Jellystone Park Camp-Resort near Milwaukee.