You’re looking into campgrounds and the receptionist is on the phone. She explains that there’s multiple Class B Campsites available, but they’ve run out of all their Class A sites? You have no idea what she means and say that will be fine. Pull up in your rig a few weeks later and your entire family is pissed off. Where did you make a mistake? What do all the campsite ratings mean?
What are class A, AA, AAA, and B Campsite Ratings? Camp sites are broken into Trailer/Motorhome sites (Class A, AA, AAA) and tent camping sites (Class B). Class A is the lowest tier site with a driveway, electrical hookups, picnic table and fire ring with access to showers and potable water somewhere in the campground. Class AA sites are medium tier with water/sewer hookups and AAA is premium tier with extra amenities in the park (usually 50 Amp electrical). Class B sites can be used with tents or RVs, but they’re primitive camping sites without driveways, water/sewer, electric, and rarely have bathroom and shower facilities in the park.
Camper jargon is an acquired skillset and even experienced campers can get confused by different terms. I’ll go over each category in detail throughout this post, but most RV/Trailer campers will want to find a Class A, AA, or AAA site.
Tent campers should go with either a Class A or Class B site depending on your bathroom and shower needs. You can usually pay to access a bathroom/shower and get electrical hookup in Class B Sites, but it depends on the campground. Some of them only have porta potties and outhouses so call ahead before making arrangements.
A Trailer or RV can usually get by with a Class B site, but it depends on the driveway and overall site length. Some sites are shorter than a typical trailer plus truck and you never know if you’ll run into a muddy mess. It’s safer to pay the extra money for a Class A or AA site if that’s available.
What Are The Different Campsite Classifications?
Most people don’t understand the different campsite classifications that you find at most campgrounds. Figuring out what a campsite offers can be tough, but there are industry standards that most parks follow. Notice that I said “Most Parks”, because there are a few exceptions to that rule (Illinois State Parks come to mind).
The majority of campgrounds follow a simple classification system ranking their sites Class AAA, AA, A, or B (ranked from best to worst). Some parks also have class C and D sites, which is a further breakdown of Class B with less amenities and further access to showers/bathrooms.
Almost every state/national park uses the same rating system, but it’s not universal. So amenities can vary from one campground to the next. I recommend speaking to the campground manager before making reservations.
I’ll explain each of these categories in detail below, but here’s a quick overview.
- Class C or D: I’ve only ran into parks with Class C and D sites a small handful of times. These classifications are usually found in huge camping areas that can’t support all their sites with bathrooms and showers. Class C/D sites are usually a patch of grass where you can park a car and setup a tent. You may have to pay extra for showers and there’s no running water, sewer, electric, or amenities on the site. If there’s toilets (usually porta potties) and showers available there will be a long walk with Class C being a little bit closer than D.
- Class B: Class-B sites are typically used by tent campers. These sites usually have a gravel driveway and shower/toilet access nearby, but you may have to pay to use the facilities ($2-$4 per night). There won’t be electric, water, sewer, or any of the fancy amenities found in Class A sites. Some RV and Trailer campers use Class B sites with generators and you may be able to pay extra for 15 amp service. You can always fill 5 gallon jugs with water to use the bathroom if if there’s no electricity, but it’s much easier with electricity. Just make sure the campground has a waste pumping service or somewhere to empty your black and gray water tank if you will be using the bathrooms.
- Class A: This is the bare entry point for most trailer and RV campers. Class A sites should always have a driveway, electrical hookup, picnic tables, and fire ring. You won’t have running water/sewer on site, but there will be showers, toilets (sometimes outhouses/porta potties), and potable water available somewhere in the campground. You will most likely have a place to dump gray/black tanks nearby, but call ahead before making reservations.
- Class AA: Class AA is a slight step up from Class A. These sites have everything a Class A site has plus water and sewer hookups. So you will be able to run water, flush toilets, and shower on site. You might still need to use propane to heat up your water depending on the rig, but you should have all the amenities necessary to camp in a travel trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome.
- Class AAA: These are the premium sites meant for expensive RVs. They have a all the benefits of an A or AA site with extra amenities. The main advantage is most AAA campsites have 50 Amp service. So you can run multiple air conditioners, heaters, washer/dryer, tvs, refrigerators, hot water heaters, etc. without blowing a breaker. That can be a huge advantage if you’re camping in a large motorhome or 5th wheel in extreme temperatures. My 5th wheel can’t keep up in the Florida summers without having multiple air conditioners running. I would be constantly blowing breakers without 50 amp service on a hot day.
It can be hard to visualize the differences between each of these classifications so here’s a table to break that down further. I’ll go into further detail on each of these different classifications below.
|Amenities||Class AAA||Class AA||Class A||Class B||Class C/D|
|Vehicular Access||Usually Cement||Usually Cement||Cement/Gravel||Cement/Gravel||Grass or walk In|
|Public Toilets, Showers, Potable Water||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Maybe (Possibly a Fee)|
|OnSite Electric||50 Amp||30 Amp||30 Amp||Maybe For A Fee||No|
What Is A Class A Campsite?
Class-A campsites are the industry standard that most parks try to achieve. Even the cheapest most rundown campgrounds will usually offer some Class A sites. It doesn’t matter if you’re camping in a travel trailer, 5th wheel, motorhome, or tent, a class A site should have most of the creature comforts you need.
Every Class A campsite should have a maintained driveway, electrical hookups, picnic tables, and fire ring. There will also be showers available nearby, toilets, and potable drinking water. Unfortunately, there’s no water/sewer hookup on Class A sites, but there will be public bathrooms and showers nearby.
These sites are usually the best bargain for people that are camping in a motorhome, 5th wheel or travel trailer. There’s electric so you can use lights, appliances, tvs, etc. and use your stored water and gray/black water tanks for the toilets and shower.
Just try not to use a ton of water, because emptying waste water tanks is a pain. You have to either fill up a portable wheeled tank or drive the rig over to a dump station. I usually try to use the public toilets and only use my sink/shower so I don’t have to empty my black tank.
It’s hard to beat a Class A campground if you’re looking for affordable sites with most of the creature comforts. The only drawback is you won’t have running water and sewer hookups. It might be worth paying the extra $10-30 per night for a AA site on short trips.
Here’s what’s offered in most class A sites.
- Vehicular Access: There’s usually a driveway so you can drive up and park right on the site. Just check to see how long the campsites are, because longer rigs might not fit with a vehicle attached. It depends on the park! Some class A sites have short driveways and you have to park your truck in the guest lot. They don’t want vehicles sticking out in the street blocking traffic. It will be a 50/50 guess on whether the driveway is paved or gravel, but at least you have easy access to the site for unloading gear.
- Toilets/Showers: There won’t be running water or sewer on site, but there should be public toilets and showers a short walk away. It depends on the state, but most campgrounds have one public bathroom for every 25-50 campsites so it shouldn’t be more than a 100 yard walk to the nearest one. Make sure you ask if the restrooms are open all year if you’re camping in the winter. Unheated bathrooms will usually be closed from Mid-October through April or May in cold weather states.
- Electricity: All Class A sites have electric hookups for your RV. Whether or not the electric service is good depends on the campground, but you will have usually have 30 amp service. Older campgrounds tend to have 15 amp service and you won’t be able to run electric air conditioners and heaters.
- Other Amenities: You will usually have picnic tables and designated fire rings on the campsite. There may also be firewood deliveries availabe, but you can always buy firewood in the surrounding area. Check at home improvement stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and random houses leading up to popular campgrounds for firewood.
What Is A Class AA Campsite?
Class AA Campsites have all the benefits of a Class A site plus running water and sewer access on site. These sights are usually referred to as Full-Hookup or Full-Service campsite. Nobody likes draining their black/gray water tanks at the end of a camping trip. The smell will make a grown man gag! I think it’s worth spending the extra $10-$30 per night for sewer access so I don’t have to deal with human waste.
The main benefit to a AA site is that you don’t have to ration water and you have easy access to the toilet and shower. Walking to the bathrooms/showers doesn’t bother me, but I’ve tried to camp without sewer access with my kids and it’s not fun. It seems like half the day is spent walking kids to the bathroom. That’s fine in nice weather, but nobody wants to walk 100 yards to a bathroom in the cold/rain.
These sites usually have 30 Amp service so you can run most of your appliances. Just don’t try to run everything at once, because you will blow the breaker. I’ve had issues running my air conditioner in the morning while I have a pot of coffee going at older parks. You go out to flip the breaker and you’ll find 15 or 20 amp service.
- Running Water: Every Class AA Campsite should have potable running water on site. You can shower, flush toilets, and use your sinks, but I like to bring my own drinking water from home. That’s usually not necessary, but there can be poorly maintained water systems in old campgrounds. It’s not unusual for mud and rust to come out of the pipe when you first turn on the spigot.
- Sewer Hookups: Some people are comfortable walking to public bathrooms and going in the woods, but there’s nothing better than having a toilet in your RV. No more late night walks to the bathroom and emptying gray/black water tanks at pump stations. Just hook your RV Sewer Hose (one of these) from your black water tank to the sewer and open the gray tank dump valve so everything flows from one tank to the other. Just make sure you run a lot of water when you flush, run the hose straight, and there’s no vertical jumps in the line that could cause a clog.
What Is A Class AAA Campsite?
Class AAA campsites are top of the line sites meant for new RVs and massive 5th wheels. They will have all the amenities of every other site plus premium features like 50 amp electrical service. So you can run multiple air conditioners and every other random thing in the RV without blowing a breaker.
These sights also tend to be longer so they can accommodate bigger rigs and may offer pull through parking for 5th wheels and travel trailers. It’s almost guaranteed that a AAA site will have a cement driveway and you will be able to park on site.
Most parks that offer the premium tier have other amenities available like cable tv access and guest wifi. You may have to pay extra for high speed wifi if you’re working from camper or want to watch streaming video, but guest access should be good enough for light browsing.
Do I Need To Pay Extra For 50 Amp Service?
You really shouldn’t need to pay extra for 50 amp service, but it’s nice to have if you’re camping in hot or cold weather. Being able to use multiple electric heaters on cold nights or turn on your auxiliary air conditioner on 90 degree days is really nice.
A single air condition won’t be able to keep a big 5th wheel or motorhome cool. Run your AC with refrigerators, tv and a microwave or coffee maker and you’re bound to blow a 20 amp breaker. You won’t have the same issues with 30 amp service, but you still won’t be able to run the auxiliary AC unit.
What Is A Class B Campsite?
Class B campsites are usually meant for tent campers, but you can also use them as a primitive RV site. These sites are usually smaller than A level sites since they will only be getting small travel trailers and pop up campers. You won’t have water, electric, or sewer, but there should be public bathrooms and showers within a short walk.
It’s about 50/50 guess as to whether or not you will be able to park on a Class B site. The site might not be long enough to hold your truck and trailer without sticking into the street. So you may have to park in an offsite guest parking lot.
You can sometimes pay extra for electric hookups, but RVs will probably have to rely on a generator for electric. Just make sure you check with the campground ahead of time, because there may be rules governing generator usage. Most parks make you shut off generators at 10pm and have noise restrictions banning loud models. So you have to pay extra for a silent generator or use the RV without power for a few days.
Some class B are designated as “Walk In” sights so they can only be accessed by foot. You won’t be able to drive up to the site so you won’t be able to haul in a trailer and you’ll have to haul in all your gear. Try to pack light so you don’t have to take multiple trips to the car.
What Is A Class C or D Campsite?
You probably won’t ever run into Class C or Class D campsites, but I might as well explain what they are just in case. Class C and D campsites are the same as Class B sites, but they’re farther back in the park away from toilets, showers, and other amenities.
These are usually found in massive campgrounds where they don’t have enough public bathrooms and showers for everybody. So you can either go in the woods or walk a long distance to the designated restrooms. They may even charge a few dollars per day to have bathroom access.
Don’t expect to have real bathrooms and flushing toilets in Class C or D sites. There will either be an outhouse or row of porta potties to use. I’ve ran into these types of setups at Nascar races, festivals, and busy campgrounds on holiday weekends. They empty out the parking lot and sell the grass parking spaces as designated camp sites.