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The Worst States For Camping, According To A Data Analysis

Published on May 1st, 2023 by Jennifer Jennings
This post was updated on June 24th, 2023

RV on highway, featured image for worst states for camping data analysis

Lawn Love’s Shocking Study: The Worst States for Camping

People often recommend states such as California and Colorado as the top destinations for camping. However, which states should one avoid when it comes to camping?

Well, thanks to data analysis, now we can tell you scientifically which states are the worst for camping. Let’s take a closer look at the study, then we’ll show you the top five states to avoid for your next camping trip.

About the study

Our friends over at Lawn Love did an in-depth comparison of all 50 states based on 25 separate metrics. They then put these metrics into five categories to define the ranking:

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  • Access measures things like the number of campsites, the acreage of parks and campgrounds, the number of activities, and a few other details.
  • Quality takes into account things like consumer ratings of campgrounds, as well as the number of campgrounds with toilets and water.
  • Supply looks at only two things: the number of camping supply stores and the number of RV rental offers in the state.
  • Safety takes into account park deaths from 2010 to 2020, the FEMA national risk index for the area, and cell phone coverage.
  • Affordability measures things like average nightly campground rates, average RV rental cost, national park entrance prices, and a few other details. 

Each state is individually ranked for each of these categories from 1 to 50. Then, the ranks are averaged out across the five categories to give the final score. 

Now that we understand the data, let’s take a look at the five worst states to go camping in, according to the folks at Lawn Love. 

5. Mississippi

Mississippi often ends up at the bottom of almost any ranking, so it’s not a surprise to see them at number five on our list. 

Few campgrounds and activities mean Mississippi ends up near the bottom for access at number 42. The state ranks a bit better in the quality and supplies categories at 34th and 37th respectively, but still not much to write home about.

Mississippi also does poorly in safety at number 42, likely in no small part due to the risk of natural hazards. Severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even earthquakes are all possible.

Finally, Mississippi comes in at 40th for affordability, meaning it’s one of the most expensive states to camp in. Considering the poor rankings in other categories, you’re paying extra for a less-than-stellar camping experience.

4. Nevada

Coming in at number 4 is Nevada. While many western states are camping meccas, Nevada doesn’t make the cut. Why so?

For one, Nevada ranks 43rd in access. That means there’s stiff competition for the campsites and activities available. It ranks at a dismal 49th in quality, so Nevada campsites are some of the worst-rated in the nation.

Nevada does somewhat better in the supplies category at number 28. The ranking might not be as good as in some states, but you can still find supplies and RV rentals.

Safety is another category where Nevada does poorly, coming in at 43rd. This is likely due in part to Lake Mead, considered the nation’s deadliest national park site.

Thankfully, Nevada does rank well in one category: affordability. At number 10, it’s one of the most affordable states for camping. So, while it may be one of the worst states for camping, at least you can save some money there.

Lake Mead
Lake Mead’s status as the nation’s deadliest park helps put it on the list of worst states for camping.

3. Louisiana

Louisiana comes in at number 3 on the list of worst states to camp, largely because of poor access and quality, plus mediocre performance in other categories.

The state comes in at 47th for access. Compared to other states, Louisiana is seriously lacking in campsites and activities. It’s also 47th in quality, meaning those few campsites are also poorly rated on average.

Louisiana does alright in the supplies category at 34th. It’s not the easiest state to find camping supplies and RV rentals… but it’s not the worst either.

The story is similar in the safety category, with Louisiana landing at 38th. This is likely due to the hurricane and flooding risk. Among all the coastal states, Louisiana gets hit the hardest by natural disasters.

Louisiana also has a middling affordability ranking at number 33. All these factors together help make Louisiana one of the worst states for camping.

2. Rhode Island

At only a hair over 1,200 square miles, it’s probably no shocker that tiny Rhode Island is one of the worst states to camp. The state ranks 48th for access and 50th for quality. So, you’ll have trouble finding a campground, and it’s likely to be a poor quality one at that.

Rhode Island does better in the supplies category, but not by much at number 43. While you can find supplies, you’ll have to do some searching.

Things aren’t as bad in the safety and affordability categories, at 29th and 30th respectively. Rhode Island has little risk of natural disasters, although intense storms are possible. Plus, the state is close to the middle of the pack for affordability, so you can camp there without breaking the bank.

Road in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a beautiful state, but if you’re looking to camp, consider going elsewhere.

1. North Dakota

The dubious honor of “worst state for camping” goes to North Dakota, which ranks near dead last in almost every category.

North Dakota ranks 50th for access, 48th for quality, 47th for supplies, and 50th for affordability. Boiled down, that means a perfect storm of hard-to-find, low-quality, expensive campsites, with few supplies available.

However, there is one place where North Dakota shines: safety. The state comes in at number 1, so you’re at a very low risk of danger there.

So, while North Dakota might be the worst state for camping, it does still have a silver lining. If you can deal with the other factors, the safety of North Dakota might make it worth a visit.

North Dakota welcome sign
North Dakota comes in near last in almost every category, making it the absolute worst state for camping.

Plan an RV-safe trip

Camping trips are exciting, but they can take a bit of planning. The last thing you want after planning a camping trip is to end up at a bad or expensive campsite, or not be able to find supplies. Thankfully, with our list of the worst states for camping, you know where to avoid for your next trip.

For all of your camping and trip planning needs, look no further than RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard. Campground Reviews is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.

Been to a campground lately? Don’t forget to leave a review! Reviews help other RVers like yourself, and they help the campground. Leave a campground review today!

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33 thoughts on “The Worst States For Camping, According To A Data Analysis”

  1. North Dakota is a mile away from where I live, I mostly camp and fish Minnesota. There are some decent camping COE campgrounds in North Dakota. Wind is a major factor when camping in ND. The best thing about camping in ND is if your dog runs off you can still see him running for at least a day, it’s that flat.

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  2. I read data like this with a grain of salt.

    To have *some* meaning or relevance, the metrics have to assume things people value. Of course, none of us value the same things in the same priority and same seasons so the report is merely an opinion using the criteria given.

    I love to boondock in Nevada when I want solitude, scenery and simplicity. It’s not so great if you’re seeking a dozen full hookup options next to a creek in Goldfield, Sun Valley or Pahrump.

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  3. Camped in Biloxi once, visiting nephew in the USAF at Keesler AFB. Also stayed overnight at Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg. Both we decent. And we have family in Dickinson, ND who we have visited. Camped at the local (town/county park), nice, $15 a night with elec & water (dump station for sewer). Lousiana we stayed at a campground in the NOLA area, it was decent and fairly inexpensive. We also visit Shreveport/Bossier a lot and have 2 different family member we can mooch-dock with.

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  4. They definitely misjudged the Nevada state parks which we found to be exceptionally clean with raked sites, spacious individual camp spaces, free firewood, regularly cleaned bathrooms, free hot showers, quiet, respectful neighbors, and plenty of first come first serve sites available for selection each night in May 2023! The high desert parks were great! We camped for two weeks with no advance reservations in Eastern Nevada and paid a nominal entrance/ camping fee of $30 to $40 per night. A deal in our book! The Great Basin National Park close by was totally booked out for weeks and comparable CA parks were already full or closed due to heavy snow. ! We were thrilled and delighted with our trip! It was like camping used to be! And why is safety such an issue in Bevads when these parks were basically empty? Don’t understand why??? You have never been there clearly! Great news that you rated Nevada so low on your list! We loved it there and this will keep all the inexperienced campers away from this great place! We have been camping for over 70 years and use maps and our own criteria to evaluate and determine where to travel next.

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    • Agreed! Nevada is pretty wonderful. You often have a whole valley or mountain to yourself, and the several state parks we have stayed at have been great. If you are looking for someplace to go for peace and quiet, then Nevada is the place!

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  5. It’s been a long while since I’ve camped (in a pop-up trailer). We’ve roughed to the max and had wonderful experiences just about everywhere we went. Now in our 70’s we are planning a camping trip here in Georgia. I found out we have to have reservations at every site. Real camping sites are slim to none. The real sad part is the cost, OMG! Camping used to run about 5-10/night. Not anymore it’s $250.00 for 5 days! Gag me! This is state parks!

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  6. I am happy that this study came out listing Nevada as number 2. Now the camping wannabes will by-pass us. There is more to this state than Lake Mead. Sounds like the kind of crap you read from an author hanging out in Mexico.

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  7. Supply means nothing if you aren’t also factoring in demand. So there aren’t many campsites in North Dakota. That’s not really a problem if no one goes camping there is it? Just another nonsense ranking with no purpose other than clickbait.

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  8. I have to call BS on this one. The Corps of Engineers have campgrounds in Mississippi. All of the ones we frequent are $24 a night for full hookups and 50 amp service. As for the bugs, I thought bugs were bad here, until I went to the U. P. of Michigan. Their bugs were much worse. I wonder if the author has ever set foot in Mississippi.

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    • Agree with you Rob, just passed through Mississippi last week and stayed at a great COE campground, DeWayne Hayes, on the Tombigbee river. No problem getting reservation and the park was great.

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  9. We have camped in Mississippi, Louisiana and Rhode Island. Mississippi was great! Louisiana was fair (actually live in Louisiana), and Rhode Island was ok once we found a campground.

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  10. Ok so in NV now and so far not super impressed with the state parks I have been too. For out of state $20/night for no hookups and no fresh water anywhere in the facility seems high cost. Been finding more No Trespassing signs than access to BLM (I usually boondock).

    I did have one wonderful weekend in RI a week before state “parking area” closed for the season but it was total boondocking for $20 a night and no services nor even outhouse. Have to say though hanging on the beach under October moon was pretty cool

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  11. I can appreciate wanting RVs supply stores because things break as we all know. And I can appreciate wanting distractions from camping with things to do. But seriously, California number one for accessibility but number 50 for safety? That rating put a low premium on our safety, suggesting we are happy to buy spare parts as needed in exchange for putting our lives and property at risk on a routine basis. the list has some merit but to call some of these places the worst? Very hard to take this list too seriously. It’s ok for informational purposes but I view it with a very critical eye on the weighting of the metrics the author assigned as it reflects some personal bias over empirical data. Somewhat useful, but hardly the last word on the subject.

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  12. If you bring your house with you. You are not camping. Do you call living in a trailer park camping? Do you call a hotel camping? I sleep in my car in parking lots on occasion. It’s not camping. Stop it. Signed all of us who like to go camping.

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  13. I call BS on your rating for North Dakota. We have many state parks and corp of engineers campgrounds that are very nice and spacious. Did i forget to mention that most sites spacious and rates are reasonable.

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    • We LOVE camping in ND. We have a big rig and never have a problem finding a place to camp. We especially love the Devils Lake area, $250 a month for full hook up. Can’t beat that and the weather is beautiful. These surveys all depend on a persons point of view and what they like to do.

      Reply
  14. I beg to differ on Louisiana. One of the friendliest states we have camped in. The state parks were terrific, very affordable (65 gets a great discount) and rangers very accommodating. Loved our stay in Louisiana.

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  15. Yeahhhhh…. but are they really? Can you nail down “camping” even with 50 metrics or find the right metrics that fits the industry in whole. From $20 tents to $650K Motor Coaches how do you fit worse states into one category “camping”
    My wife and I, newly retired, started camping in 2018 to practice for retirement in 2023; we’d never camped before. We started in a gently used 15 yr old 33 ft motorhome as we thought we’d do a motorcoach: we HATED it! In 15 months we found ourself in our pre-pandmic retirement special order 5th Wheel and F350. The motorhome taught us we are not big on Walmart Parking lots and A seasonal lot and vacations taught us we Hate parks with gravel roads and the dust they create inside. My wife can live without campfires although we love the flavor of food cooked over real wood. We’ve traveled to 42 states before retirement and hitting the road last July, so we know we like cities, live plays, philharmonic, museum, history, and retired ships, heated pools, hot tubs, and lazy rivers like Galvistons KOA (7 stars).
    My wife introduces us not as Campers, she’s even dropped Glampers, she now introduces us as “Travelers”.
    So, how do you rate the camping world today, it’s as diverse as all of us doing it, full time like us, with no home or those with homes.
    Just want to also mention, our home state, where 95% of RVs are built, Indiana; I rank absolutely poor for parks. Have not found 1 within 50 miles of Fort Wayne or Indy with paved roads! Go figure, home of RV manufacturing has lousy parks, from one couples perspective. LOL

    Reply
  16. Wow, camped in most and love the list…more space for us if people take this article to heart and avoid these states…we found them all to be great for camping…except Rhode Island, because we have never camped there.

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    • RI has really great camping. I was shocked to see it on the list. They’ve must have never camped at the Fisherman’s Memorial Campground with tennis courts, basketball courts, on the salt marsh and across the street from the beach. Then there is the Bree,eway, right on the water. Burlingame Campground is big but it is set up in sections that feel smaller. Also a mile from the beach but it has a g
      Huge pond to fish and swim in. Nope people have not camped in RI to say that.

      Reply

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