Choosing a campsite is an art. I did not know this when I left Arizona. I figured that one cold, hard spot was the same as any other. By the time you have rolled around in the dirt and bathed in campfire smoke, we all look pretty much the same, too. How wrong I was.
My first foray into camping was in Guadalupe National Park and so mistakes are to be expected. I left Tucson later than I wanted and then I spent all day driving against the wind. My progress was slow. As dusk set in, I was in a full blown panic that I would be in the middle of West Texas searching for a place to park in the dark. So relieved to finally find the parking lot that served as an RV campground, I was happy to plop down in the middle. Over the next to days, I slowly realized that there were better parking spots than others, just like any other parking lot. Those near the edges were scooped up quickly. Any spot that could lay claim to a nearby picnic table was also coveted. No one challenged me for my spot in the middle with no grass, no picnic table and no privacy.
Now a veteran of multiple campgrounds, I can say that there is serious strategy. First on arrival circle the campground, over and over if necessary. I am like a dog now, looking for the perfect spot to squat. There could always be a better spot. Like any good piece of real estate, corner property and end of a cul-de-sac are always premium. Of course, water property and views are trump cards. However, I do suggest landing on the third round though because by lap four, people assume you are lost, indecisive or a pedophile.
Step two, evaluate the distance to the bathroom. It is important to note if they are a simple out house or flushing toilets. If an outhouse, keep your distance and stay up wind. Keep flush toilets within a manageable walk because there is no sense in flushing your own water down the drain when you could use it to take a shower instead.
Next determine how big of a spot you need. This is a test of integrity. The giant behemoths that some people insist on driving will generally give up their first born for a pull through parking spot instead of wedging Free Willy into a spot. Snatching up these spots with a tiny trailer does not promote good will in the campground. After the wife has spent an hour giving directions to her husband that had no intention of listening to her in the first place, you will likely get snide comments about how tiny the trailer is and how easy it must be to back in. Just like kindergarten, take only what you need.
Also consider how level the parking spot is. While it is possible to level a teardrop, it takes both time and effort. I am generally short on effort. I am also not an engineer. It turns out my tolerance for living on an unlevel platform is incredibly high. My father would disown me.
Perhaps most important are picking your neighbors. Considering how long I have shared a wall with my neighbors, you wouldn’t think this would matter so much to me but when there are no walls, it is a real game changer. Whenever possible, park next to Canadians. They are quiet, friendly and generous with their liquor. I have been fortunate to be caught up in their northern migration and come to the conclusion there is a reason no one invades Canada. Canadians would put out the welcome mat and hand them a drink. By the time the night was over, no one would remember why they came. Just recently a walk to the showers past a Canadian RV ended up taking an hour and a half and two gin and tonics. I still need a shower. God bless our Northern neighbors, safe travels and come back soon!