If you are looking for the best campgrounds around look no farther! The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campgrounds are the best campgrounds around! Finding COE camping is easy. We will show you several ways to find the best campgrounds and how to save money on your reservations.
History of the US Army Corp of Engineers
George Washington appointed the first Engineers on June 16, 1775, during the American revolution, and engineers have served in every war since that appointment. In 1908 the branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was established. During that same period, West Point Military Academy was created, and for many years it was the only engineering school in the country. The appointed superintendent was an engineer for many years.
The Revolutionary war was not the only war in which they made an appearance. They have appeared in every war since the revolution! The USACE was on the beaches of Normandy! Operating under heavy enemy fire, they cleared lanes for landing craft by destroying the mine-bearing steel structures that the Germans had implanted in the intertidal zone and bulldozed roads up the narrow draws through the cliffs lining the beaches. So we salute the COE!
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped to make our country what it is today. Some of their missions included building coastal fortifications, surveying roads and canals, and exploring and mapping the western frontier. These engineers worked tirelessly to create our countries infrastructure.
Today, the USACE works all over the world. At home, they are the lead federal flood control agency, a primary provider of hydroelectric energy, leading environmental preservation, and restoration agency. They also regulate activities in the nation’s wetlands and maintains over 700 waterways and dams.
Abroad the COE has brought relief through many humanitarian missions and assisted other countries in transportation networks such as airports and road construction
Famous COE Projects
Many of our nation’s most prominent structures were planned and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Below are just a few of their masterpieces!
- Mississippi and Ohio river, the shipping and commerce hub it is today
- Panama Canal
- Washington Monument
- Library of Congress
- Assembly building at Kennedy Space center: they built the building where spaceships are built!
- Lincoln Memorial
WHY COE Camping
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the nation’s leading federal providers of outdoor recreation. COE parks offer so many activities for everyone.
- Whitewater rafting
- Mountain biking
- And of course CAMPING
COE by the Numbers
Nationally the COE manages:
- 55,390 miles of shoreline
- 7,856 miles of trails
- 92,588 campsites
- 3,754 boat ramps
Now that sounds like a lot of fun!!
Many of the campgrounds began as temporary housing to the hundreds of thousands of men working on COE projects. You can find COE parks in 43 states on over 400 lakes and river projects such as dams and locks.
Who Can Use COE Campgrounds
EVERYONE! Many people think the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a military facility, and only people associated with the military can use them. This is not true! The COE is open to everyone!
COE Camping & Park Fees
Like many campgrounds, prices will vary by location. So far, we have seen COE campground fees ranging from $18-34 per night. If you want to utilize the activities that COE offers while camping elsewhere, a day-use pass will start at $5.
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COE Passes and Discounts
COE Annual Pass
If you are planning to use COE parks frequently, I recommend an annual pass. The annual pass is for day-use activities, not for camping. The annual pass is $40.
If you have an America the Beautiful Senior Pass, American the Beautiful Access Passes, Golden Age, or Golden Access Passports, you can purchase the annual pass at a 50% discount.
COE Camping and Day Use fees
As mentioned earlier day use fees will vary from park to park based on what activities are available at the park. You can receive 50% off camping and day-use fees with the Americal the Beautiful Senior Pass or Access Pass.
Active duty military may have the day-use fees waived with an America the Beautiful Military pass or an active duty ID card. Active duty may also be eligible for free camping (space available) before or after deployment. Check with your local COE campground for information and space availability. A copy of the orders will be required.
COE Fourth Grade Pass
A great benefit for families of young kids is the Fourth Grade Pass. This pass allows families of fourth-graders entry into any COE park for free and covers some amenity fees. The goal of the Fourth Grade Pass is to get kids excited about the outdoors. The pass is valid for 12 months beginning September of the year the student begins 4th grade.
Finding COE Camping
Corps Lakes Gateway
Corps Lakes Gateway is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer website. It allows you to search for campsites by state. This website provides information on every COE park and what activities they have available. This website also has a ton of other info including items such as traveling throughout the country and tips on safety.
USACE Recreation Brochure
You can download Recreational opportunities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This free pdf booklet that lists all the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer parks according to the state and body of water in which they are located. It also lists all the activities available at each park including camping.
Allstays is another great way to find COE campgrounds. It is usually my first stop when looking for specific types of campgrounds quickly and easily. I prefer the Allstays app but it is not free. It will cost you $9.99. For me, it was well worth the cost because I use it all the time. (We are not affiliated with Allstays and are not paid by them.)
RV Trip Wizard
RV Trip Wizard is hands down my favorite tool for planning trips and keeping track of reservations made along the way. The filters provided by RV Trip Wizard makes it an easy way to find COE parks. The fee for RV Trip Wizard is $39.99 a year and worth every penny!
I recently created a video showing how I use RV Trip Wizard.
Recreation.gov is another great way to find the U.S Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds. It is free and also includes national parks and state forests. You can search for campgrounds by name or by location.
COE Camping Reservations
Reservations for COE campgrounds are made at Recreation.gov. You can choose the phone app or computer version to make your reservation. Be sure to have your Senior Pass or Access Pass handy for your discount!
Our Favorite COE Camping
Gunter Hill near Montgomery, AL
Ortona South near Labelle, FL
Author: Stacy Farley, You, Me & the RV, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2020
Disclosures: Some of the links provided in this blog are affiliate programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. It does not cost you to use any of these links. We currently use every item linked in this blog.