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The http://www.recreation.gov/ site nicely lists a lot (all?) camping sites in California. The prices are also listed, however, I can't seem to find if these prices are per camping spot per night, or per person per night.

E.g. If I will be staying one night at the Ponderosa Campground with 2 friends, will it cost us $60 in total or $20 (excluding reservation fees, taxes, etc...).

I've looked through the recration.gov Help&FAQ, but it does not mention anything regarding my question.

  • From experience in California: California camping fees are generally per site and per car, with at least one car included in the fee. Depending on parks the nightly fee is usually between 15 and 35 dollars. An additional car may be 5-10 dollars per night. Maximum people per site is usually 6-8 people. Showers are charged as a coin operated meter. Usually 25 cents per 2 minutes. Some campgrounds will require two coins to start the meter, some will start with only one. – Phil Jul 20 '15 at 22:42
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Recreation.gov lists camping and RV sites at U.S. national parks, forests and other federal land. The nightly fee shown is per site, and you're allowed up to the maximum number of people shown for that site. (I've stayed at quite a few of these campgrounds.)

When you actually go to book your campsite, the web site will tell you the maximum number of people allowed to camp on the campsite. Your fee covers that many people. If you want more people than are covered by a single campsite, you'll need to book an additional campsite.

Note that at this particular campground, all of the sites are designed for RVs and allow up to 8 people. If you were planning to do tent camping, you may find that space for your tent is limited, as these sites are listed as having a gravel surface. If you're RV camping, check the details for each specific site before you book, as some will accommodate longer vehicles and some only shorter vehicles.

In other national parks and forests you'll find tent sites, or a mix of tent and RV sites. A sample listing from Yosemite National Park: A tent site allowing up to 2 vehicles and 6 people.

When you check in, the person who booked the campsite must be present and show photo ID.


Also be aware that sites within National Parks will almost always have a separate entrance fee to enter the park, while most National Forests do not have entrance fees. This is usually around $20 per car but it varies by park. This particular one is in a national forest which doesn't have an entrance fee, but it's something to be aware of. If you plan to visit several national parks you may find buying an $80 Annual Pass is cost effective for covering the entrance fees, and the (senior and disabled) passes also sometimes give you other park services for free or at a discount. You can buy one in advance, or get one "at the door" at the first national park you visit.

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    "When you check in, the person who booked the campsite must be present and show photo ID": In principle this could be required, but I've never had to. On a recent trip to campgrounds like this, I just had to find my site and unpack. I never had to show anything to anyone. – Nate Eldredge Jul 21 '15 at 4:46
  • @NateEldredge I still wouldn't risk it; bringing a photo ID means virtually no extra effort, while not bringing it and being refused your tent site is quite a considerable setback, when camping. – 11684 Jul 21 '15 at 11:40
  • @NateEldredge Last time I was in Shenandoah National Park, the ID was being required. YMMV. – Michael Hampton Jul 21 '15 at 14:28
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Indeed it is not specified but in North America, prices are usually per campsite. Sometimes there are extra fees for extra people (typically over 2), extra vehicles (over 1), or extra tents.

I could not find anything anywhere on the site stating the price is per campsite, but that page mentions the limit of 2 vehicles per campsite, this one the limit of 8 people per campsite and that last page mentions a maximum number of camping units (I suppose the number of tents or RVs) per campsite. Each time, the reference is the campsite, so I suppose any nightly fee is per campsite. I think it would have been made clear otherwise, and you would be surprised with how much stuff North American people tend to camp (often multiple tents including a "kitchen" tent).

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