How to Start a Campground? Your Ultimate Guide

Dreaming of creating a serene nature retreat where people can escape the chaotic pace of daily life? If so, you’re likely wondering how to start a campground. This ultimate guide is crafted to lead you through each stage of the process, from initial planning to welcoming your first guests. Whether you envision a simple, rustic site or a full-service facility with all the amenities, understanding how to start a campground will ensure your venture is both successful and fulfilling. Dive into our guide and prepare to turn your outdoor hospitality dreams into reality.

Real estate investors Steve Daria and Joleigh have ventured into the outdoor hospitality sector by establishing their campground, transforming their passion for nature into a thriving business. Their expertise in real estate development played a crucial role in selecting the perfect location and designing a campground that meets the needs of modern campers. Steve and Joleigh’s journey is an inspiring example for anyone looking to enter the campground industry.

Understanding the Market for Campgrounds

Before discussing how to start a campground, it’s crucial to understand the market. 

The outdoor recreation industry is booming, with more people seeking escape from urban life. 

According to the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) 2020 North American Camping Report, over 48 million households went camping at least once in 2020. 

This surge in interest presents a golden opportunity for new campground owners.

how to start a campground

Researching Your Competition

Analyze existing campgrounds in your target area. 

What services do they offer? What are their strengths and weaknesses? 

This research will help you single out the gaps in the market and create a campground that stands out.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Determine who your ideal campers are. 

Are they families, solo adventurers, or groups of friends? 

Understanding your audience will guide your decisions on amenities, pricing, and marketing strategies.

1. Selecting the Perfect Location

The first step on how to start a campground is selecting the perfect location. 

When choosing a site, consider the following factors:

Natural Attractions

Proximity to natural attractions like lakes, mountains, or national parks can significantly boost your campground’s appeal. 

Campers often seek picturesque landscapes and outdoor activities.


Ensure your campground is easily accessible by road and has adequate parking facilities. 

Consider how close it is to urban centers, as this can affect the number of visitors.

Land Size and Terrain

The size and terrain of the land will dictate the number and type of campsites you can offer. 

Flat, well-drained land is ideal for tent and RV sites, while wooded areas can provide a more rustic experience.

Get Started: Get Your Cash Offer Below...

We are direct land buyers. There are no commissions or fees and no obligation whatsoever. Start below by sharing where your property is and where we can send your offer...
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

2. Securing Necessary Permits and Licenses

How to start a campground? It involves navigating various legal requirements. 

Check with local authorities to identify the permits and licenses needed.

Zoning Regulations

Ensure the land is zoned for recreational use. 

If not, it might be necessary to process a rezoning, which can be a lengthy process.

Environmental Impact

Perform an environmental impact assessment to identify any potential issues. 

This assessment may be required for obtaining permits and ensuring your campground operates sustainably.

Health and Safety Standards

Comply with health and safety rules, including sanitation and waste disposal requirements. 

These standards protect your guests and ensure a positive experience.

3. Designing Your Campground Layout

A well-designed layout enhances the camper experience and maximizes your site’s potential.

Campsite Types

Offer a variety of campsites to cater to different preferences. Consider including:

  • Tent Sites: Basic plots for traditional camping.
  • RV Sites: Provided with electric, water, and sewer hookups.
  • Cabins: For guests seeking a glamping experience.

Essential Amenities

Provide essential amenities to attract a wide range of campers. These may include:

  • Restrooms and Showers: Clean, well-maintained facilities are a must.
  • Picnic Areas: Tables and grills for outdoor dining.
  • Recreation Facilities: Playgrounds, sports courts, or hiking trails.

Common Areas

Design common areas to foster a sense of community. 

Fire pits, pavilions, and gathering spaces encourage socialization among campers.

how to start campground

4. Setting Up Infrastructure

Investing in quality infrastructure is key to running a successful campground.

  • Utilities: Ensure reliable access to water, electricity, and sewage disposal. Consider renewable energy choices like solar panels to reduce environmental impact.
  • Roadways and Pathways: Build durable roadways and pathways to facilitate easy navigation within the campground. Clear signage is essential for directing guests to their sites and amenities.
  • Waste Management: Set up an efficient waste management system. Provide clearly labeled bins for recycling and regular waste collection services.

5. Pricing and Reservation Systems

Setting competitive prices and offering a seamless reservation process can enhance customer satisfaction.

  • Pricing Strategies: Research competitors’ pricing and consider your campground’s unique features. Offer different pricing tiers for peak and off-peak seasons.
  • Online Reservations: Invest in an online reservation system to streamline bookings. Ensure the platform is user-friendly and offers real-time availability.
  • Discounts and Packages: Attract customers with special offers, such as early bird discounts, group rates, or package deals that include activities or equipment rentals.

6. Marketing Your Campground

Effective marketing is crucial to magnet guests and build a loyal customer base.

  • Building Website: Create a professional website that showcases your campground’s features and amenities. Include high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and a booking system.
  • Social Media Presence: Leverage social media to engage with possible guests. Share updates, photos, and promotions on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Collaborating with Influencers: Partner with travel bloggers and influencers to reach a broader audience. Offer them a free stay in exchange for promotional content.

7. Providing Exceptional Customer Service

Outstanding customer service can set your campground apart from the competition.

  • Staff Training: Staff training includes efficiently handling guest concerns, complaints, and emergencies. Friendly, knowledgeable personnel can enhance the overall experience.
  • Feedback and Improvement: Encourage guests to leave feedback and continuously improve based on their suggestions. Happy campers are more likely to return and recommend your campground.
  • Community Engagement: Cultivate a community spirit by preparing events and activities for your guests. Campfire storytelling, nature walks, and workshops can create memorable experiences.

8. Financial Planning and Management

Sound financial planning is necessary for the long-term success of your campground.

  • Budgeting: Make a detailed budget that includes startup costs, operating expenses, and contingency funds. Track your spending and revenue to ensure financial stability.
  • Funding Options: Explore various funding choices, such as loans, grants, or investors. Present a solid business plan to secure the necessary capital.
  • Revenue Streams: Diversify your revenue streams by offering additional services, including equipment rentals, guided tours, or a campground store.

FAQs About How to Start a Campground

Addressing common questions about how to start a campground can help clarify the process and set realistic expectations.

How much does it cost to start a campground?

Startup costs can vary widely based on location, size, and amenities. 

On average, you may need anywhere from $200,000 to $1 million.

How long does it take to build a campground?

The timeline can range from several months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the project and regulatory approvals.

What are the main challenges of running a campground?

Common challenges include managing maintenance, fluctuating occupancy rates, and ensuring guest satisfaction.


Knowing how to start a campground can prove to be a gratifying pursuit for those passionate about the outdoors and hospitality. By following this comprehensive guide, you’re well on your way to creating a successful and enjoyable camping experience for your guests. Remember, meticulous planning, a customer-centric approach, and continuous improvement are key to thriving in this industry.

**NOTICE:  Please note that the content presented in this post is intended solely for informational and educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal or financial advice or relied upon as a replacement for consultation with a qualified attorney or CPA. For specific guidance on legal or financial matters, readers are encouraged to seek professional assistance from an attorney, CPA, or other appropriate professional regarding the subject matter.

Ready To Sell Your Vacant Land?

Get a fair all cash offer on your unwanted raw land below. We're professional land buyers and can make you a no-hassle no-obligation offer on your property.

Get Started: Get Your Cash Offer Below...

We are direct land buyers. There are no commissions or fees and no obligation whatsoever. Start below by sharing where your property is and where we can send your offer...
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *