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Decoding Campground Symbols in US Parks

January 02, 2020

camping symbols

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When you plan a camping adventure, one of the first things you would do is research about your camping destination. Once you have finalized your destination about the location, the next step would be finding the best campground camping spot, how far is it from the lake, will there be electricity, restrooms and other necessities. But more often than not, you will come across various camping symbols that can help you navigate the camping area in the duration of your stay.

The symbols can get a little confusing especially if it’s your first time to camp. Unfamiliar icons and symbols may appear next to each other such as images of dogs, lightning bolts, plugs, then there’s map of the campground with tiny tens, trailers, motorhomes, showers, faucets, etc. Therefore it’s important to be able to decipher these symbols because the last thing you need is to pull up a camping spot only to discover that there’s no power, no restroom and you accidentally reserved a tent site with no parking for your trailer.

Importance of Campground Symbols

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Camping, like many other outdoor activities, comes with its own challenges. Most of the time. it is not as simple as bringing your things, pitching a tent, setting out a fire, and expecting an easy couple of days in the open wilderness. Campgrounds across the United States have some ground rules that campers are required to follow, and even individual campgrounds themselves also sometimes have exclusive rules of their own. These rules are often defined by what are called campground symbols, and as a camper, it is vital that you learn to decode the campground symbols in US parks.

Campsite Feature Symbols

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As mentioned before, knowing the details of the campsite you choose before you get to the location, or even book a campsite, is extremely essential. So, here are some common symbols used by campgrounds to signify what they have to offer:

Campsite Type

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One of the main campground symbols you will come across in campgrounds would be those that signify the type of campsites available in the campground and the various material comforts you will get to use in each of those campsites. The most common types of campsites are:

  • Standard Campsite: These campsites are widely available across America and usually come with some standard comforts like a paved drive, picnic table, fire ring, etc.
  • Primitive Campsite: These campsites do not offer comforts of any sort and are meant for those campers who enjoy being one with nature.
  • Premium Campsite: As the name suggests, these campsites come with more material comforts than standard ones, which also include electricity, water and sewer. Some primitive campgrounds also have convenience stores and laundry facilities.

Campsite Number

These refer to the number of a specific camping plot, making it easy for campers to choose one when booking and identify theirs when at the campsite.

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Number of People

This refers to the maximum number of people that can accommodate one campsite, and this number usually varies depending on the size of the plot.


If you have been camping in campgrounds, you would be aware that most of the roads tend to be narrow. Therefore, in order to ensure uninterrupted transit, campsites are often organized on single loops, and these loops have names or numbers for identification. The loop campground symbols give you an idea of the number of loops present in every campsite road, and those with only a single loop do not have a name or number.

Campground Amenities

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These campground symbols make it easier for campers to learn about the type of campsite to book in order to enjoy their camping experience as they desire. Some of the main campground amenities symbols are as follows:

Wheelchair Accessible

Used everywhere, this symbol indicates that the campground has campsites that are wheelchair accessible.


Campgrounds with these symbols happen to be pet-friendly and allow you to bring your dog along for your camping trip.

No Pets Allowed

These symbols signify that pets are not allowed in the campground.


Campgrounds with these symbols provide access to fishing.

Electric Hookup

Indicated by two lightning bolts, these symbols indicate the availability of an electric hookup in the campsite.


Campgrounds with Group icons signify that they have large campsites available to accommodate big camping groups.

Hiking Trails

These campgrounds have hiking trails that campers can hike as part of their outdoor activities.

In addition to these common symbols, there are a lot more you will come across, such as: Phone Hookup, Restrooms, Swimming Stream, Tent Camping, Laundry, Water Hookup, Wi-Fi, Boat Ramp, Sewer Hookup, and more.

Campsite Map

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Campsite maps always carry various camping signs to make it easier for campers to gain detailed knowledge about the campground’s layout easily and effectively. Gaining this knowledge will help you find all the necessary areas and amenities in the campsite easily. Some of the most common symbols you will come across on a campsite map are as follows:

  • Playground: The areas on the campsite map with this symbol indicate the availability of playgrounds for kids to enjoy different games.
  • Snack Bar: Some campgrounds have snack bars located across their campsites for the convenience of campers.
  • Picnic Area: Parts of the campsite with these symbols have several picnic tables, making the spot ideal for picnics.
  • Biking Trail: One of the most vital signs to know on a campsite map, these signs indicate the parts of the campground available exclusively for biking enthusiasts to enjoy biking.

Park Maps

Park map symbols are highly similar to campsite map symbols and serve the same purpose as well. In addition to the common symbols such as Snack Bar, Laundry, Showers, Restrooms, Playground, Fishing, Bike Trail, Picnic Area, etc., you will also find symbols like the following:

  • Points of Interest: These represent areas with interesting views, landmarks, etc.
  • Dumping Station: These areas are made available for RVs to dispose their sewage waste.
  • Firewood Store: You can purchase firewood from these stores for your camping.
  • Amphitheatre: You can find these symbols in those campgrounds that organize shows or events to take place.
  • Trailhead: This will be your starting point for a hike.

Other Symbols

Some of the other general campground symbols to know about are:

  • Stay on Trail: Indicating campers to not step off the trail in specific areas.
  • Pets on Leash: These represent areas where you should have your pets on leash.
  • Pit or Vault Toilet: These indicate the availability of non-flushing toilets in specific areas of the campground.
  • Uneven Walkways: You could find this phrase in some areas of the campground, where you need to be careful while walking in order to avoid accidents.
  • Season: Represents the time of the year when the campground is open.
  • Low Vision Access: These symbols will be present in areas where you may experience problems with your vision, thus requiring you to be careful.

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Decoding campground symbols will make your whole camping experience enjoyable and convenient. Therefore, learn the maps of the campground you choose and gather as much information as possible before heading for your trip.

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