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Campground Review,  RV Trip Planning

Finding COE Camping: Our Favorite Place to Camp!

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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.

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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!

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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. 

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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.

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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!

  1. Mississippi and Ohio river, the shipping and commerce hub it is today
  2. Panama Canal
  3. Washington Monument
  4. Pentagon
  5. Library of Congress
  6. Assembly building at Kennedy Space center: they built the building where spaceships are built!
  7. 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.

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv
  1. Hiking
  2. Boating
  3. Fishing
  4. Hunting
  5. Snorkeling
  6. Windsurfing
  7. Whitewater rafting
  8. Mountain biking
  9. Geocaching
  10. And of course CAMPING

COE by the Numbers

Nationally the COE manages:

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv
  • 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!!

COE Camping

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

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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.

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

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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.

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

USACE Recreation Brochure

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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.

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv
Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

Allstays

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!

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

I recently created a video showing how I use RV Trip Wizard.

Recreation.gov

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.

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

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! 

Finding COE camping, Campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds, full time rv, you, me & the rv

Finding COE Camping Video

Our Favorite COE Camping

Gunter Hill near Montgomery, AL

Ortona South near Labelle, FL

A review of the campground is included in this video.

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.

25 Comments

  • Avatar

    SteveSS

    I’m not sure your statement regarding federal Senior Pass holders getting a 50% discount on COE Annual Passes is relevant. As you correctly stated, the COE Annual Pass covers entrance and day-use fees (but no camping discount). However, federal Senior Passes also cover (100%) entrance and day-use fees at COE sites (plus 50% camping discount!), just like other federal sites (National Parks, US Forest Service, etc). Am I missing something?

    • Avatar

      Cowgirrl

      Steves — You are correct about the Interagency passes. Whether it’s a Senior, Access, Military or a general America the Beautiful pass, it will get you into Army Corps of Engineer day use site without purchasing an additional pass. That’s why it’s call an InterAgency Pass. How do I know? I issue them as part of my job in the recreation field.

  • Avatar

    Norma Peters

    I have been camping at the COE campgrounds on Lake Lanier in Georgia since I moved here in 1983. Just tent camped way back then but it was so cost efficent that I could even camp there often with my son as a single parent when he was growing up. At that time tent camping was $3.00 a night at full price. A few years ago my boyfriend and I bought a travel trailer and our first trip was to Lake Lanier. I had no idea that they had them all over the country but in planning our trips I started seeing them all over. I found the Allstays site back in 2016 and have been using it ever since. We have never stayed in a bad COE campground. The sites are really nice, the staff very nice and friendly and the bathrooms just about spotless. Plus I get half price for camping since I am disabled now. They are so relaxing and peaceful right on the lakes and we have visited lots of them here in Georgia and some of them all over the country. We plan on going to many more on our future travels. Very good article. They are such wonderful campgrounds and you sure can’t beat the price. We even have favorite sites at some of them here in Georgia.

    • Avatar

      Norma Peters

      Yes anyone can stay at them. Reservations are good because in the summers with them being on the lake they get filled up very quickly.

  • Avatar

    James & Violet Earl

    Thanks for sharing on RV Village. I’ve always wanted to try using COE c;ampgrounds, but didn’t know all the links you provided in your video for doing so, nor was aware of getting the 50% off with our senior pass. We also are in a big motorhome and many government parks we have explored are not big or level enough for our rig.

  • Avatar

    Kenda

    This is not a COE but a great campground doing great things for others. Seawind RV Resort in Riviera, TX. While it caters to 65+ in the winter months, they do phenomenal things. They have a wood shop on site that hand makes infant caskets for a local hospital and hand makes urns for unaccompanied service members. They originally sent 20 in to be used for unaccompanied service members, the people were so impressed they asked for double the next time.

  • Avatar

    Jacob Shepherd

    Stayed at Potato Hills Central Campground last year – our first stay in our RV after buying it. My wife and I loved it – enough that not having cellular signal or radio/TV wasn’t an issue. Campground had water and power and a dump site, along with a bath house w/hot showers. As a disabled veteran, we love being able to save money using the Access Pass.

  • Avatar

    Jerry Crisp

    We love Twin Lakes on Lake Hartwell in SC. We started camping as a way to see our son when he was in College. Phil will like that we also started going to al Clemson home football games at the same time. Twin Lakes and Oconee Point, both COE campgrounds and only a few miles apart, and both turn ORANGE during a Clemson home game weekend!! It’s a great time and Phil, tickets are pretty reasonable if it’s a noon game in September. People will have tickets for sale out front for their people that couldn’t show up for whatever reason. (Usually heat. SC summers can be brutal!) Maybe you’ll get to experience our piece of Heaven soon!!

  • Avatar

    Heather Helfer

    Our favorite COE campground is Cottonwood COE on the Missouri River in Yankton SD! Beautiful area, great fishing, huge shade trees, and super clean shower houses!!

  • Avatar

    Brad Headley

    We stayed at Gunter Hill last November for a couple days. Absolutely beautiful campground! Hope to return someday, but with so many other wonderful COE campgrounds to visit, it may be awhile before we can get back.

    Really enjoy your blogs and videos!

  • Avatar

    Sharon Stoops

    In Kentucky, we enjoy Dog Creek–near Mammoth Cave. This last summer we discovered another favorite in Mississippi: Twiltley Branch Camp. Since we are often without phone/internet access, we carry “The Wright Guide to Camping with the Corps of Engineers.”

  • Avatar

    Lorraine A Gehring

    The only way to be sure a CoE park will accept a discount is to look it up at recreation.gov.

    Many of the older CoE campgrounds are no longer run by the Corps. For example, Smithville Lake in the Kansas City area has three Corps RV campgrounds. One is run by the City of Smithville and the other two are run by Clay County. None offer discounts.

    This is indicated on the Corps website by the absence of a red castle logo. Each of these sites has its own reservation system.

    These are still nice campgrounds at reasonable prices. Some are better maintained than others. Some are more expensive. And some are less level than others, especially if your rig is over 30 feet long. Like state parks, these city and county campgrounds have suffered from budget cuts in the past 12 years.

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