Location, location, location! Whether you're going to be camping on private property or national campgrounds such as Yosemite or Yellowstone National Park, you'll need to find a campsite with features that will suit your individual needs. Some campers look for natural beauty in the environment, others are more concerned with modern facilities such as toilets, sinks and showers. It's not easy to find the ideal campsite, so walk around and become familiar with the area if possible, before making a decision.
First, you should decide what activities and sports you'll be participating in. For example, fishing and swimming enthusiasts will need to be near a stream or lake, and hikers and backpackers will need some trails and paths. If you're taking a camper or RV, ask for electric and water hookups to run appliances and provide water. Campsites can have seasonal restrictions to some areas, so ask about this when making reservations.
Look for friendly terrain to pitch a tent. Avoid areas with holes, large rocks, and generally things you can trip over. Trees will shelter you from the wind and provide shade from the sun on hot days. On the downside, they also harbor insects, bugs and ticks. There is no perfect place to set up camp but you should be able to find campgrounds that fit your needs and budget.
Typically, the more goodies you get, the more you'll have to pay. Those offering the least conveniences are cheaper and sometimes free. The quality of the campsite will depend not necessarily on the fee, but the care other campers and the owners take in keeping it clean and natural. Some upscale campgrounds also rent out camping, skiing and hiking gear, as well as boats and canoes for fishing. Rentals are usually cheaper in the off-season, or when you book for multiple nights, so ask about sales and discounts when making your reservations.
Ask for printed rules and regulations for the campgrounds. You'll need to know many things, such as where to store garbage, when checkout time is, and whether or not they allow pets. Get a map of the campgrounds and trails so you can easily find your way around. Try arriving as early as possible to familiarize yourself with the area before it gets dark.