How to start a Camp Ground? (2024)

Written by: Parth Parth
Last Updated: May 16, 2024
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If you’re an outdoors person and want to purchase land to start your own campground or if you just have some land on which you want to start a campground, this article will provide you with the basics of starting your business. From your business, you will provide a place for campers to pitch tents and park their RVs.

Before entering into business, you need to know how to do many things like maintaining a campground, plumbing, accounting, road repairs, electricity management, and so on. While you can outsource pretty much all of those jobs to someone else, doing it yourself is much more cost-efficient.


How big is the campground industry?

This U.S. industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating sites to accommodate campers and their equipment, including tents, tent trailers, travel trailers, and RVs (recreational vehicles). These establishments may provide access to facilities, such as washrooms, laundry rooms, recreation halls and playgrounds, stores, and snack bars.

Although many facilities closed during the pandemic, demand for RVs skyrocketed. Younger customer groups are expanding as camping has increased in popularity. Many RV parks and campgrounds have improved amenities to attract visitors. Volatile and high fuel prices may discourage some people from traveling to campgrounds. High camping interest by baby boomers and millennials will continue driving demand. Operators are expected to expand locations and invest in greater amenities. Strong travel activity throughout most of the period has driven industry demand:

Active camper households in the U.S. in 2020: 86.1 million

Number of households who camped at least once in 2020: 48.2 million

Number of first-time camper households in 2020: 10.1 million

start a campground

What are the costs involved in starting a campground?

  • Land: This is probably going to be your biggest cost. The cost of buying land is going to depend on the location where you want to set up the campground and how big you want it to be. Depending on where you are, land might vary from $1000 per acre in places where land is unusable for pretty much anything to $10,000 per acre if most of the land is flat or it is next to a lake or river or a place with amazing scenery. You might also be able to buy an existing campground and the price for those is in the range of $1,00,000 to over $2 million.
  • Licenses and Permits: You will need a bit of paperwork in order to get your business up and running. You will need things like sales tax registration and occupancy certificates. These fees are Going to depend on the size of your campground, the offerings that you are going to give customers on your campground, and other factors like which state your business is located in.
  • Cost of design: When you buy and plan a business that other people are also going to use and live in, you will need meticulous planning and maybe even regulatory approval. You will have to designate and construct things like campsites, firepits, hiking trails, boat ramps, etc.
  • Cost of building amenities: Depending on what you want to offer your customers, you will need to build things like a pool or a hot tub or jacuzzi, vending machines, a fishing shack, etc. In addition to that, you will necessarily need to build toilets and bathrooms for your guests and keep them up to code. You might also provide a kitchen.

start a campground

You will have ongoing costs when your run your campground. These may include things like

  • Garbage collection and disposal
  • Cleaning and cleaning supplies
  • Employees, wages, and payroll
  • Gas for guests
  • Paving and repaving roads
  • Fixing damages to your fixtures and amenities
  • Utilities
  • Septic tank and human waste disposal
  • And optionally, entertainment

How does a campground make money?

Your customer base will depend on who you are catering to. If you are looking for people that just put up tents, you are going to be earning less per campsite than if you were providing RVs with a space. You can also upcharge for a more scenic location or things like access to a firepit.

You will also make a lot of money off things you sell on your campground. Popular items you can upcharge on include propane and camping gas, firewood, and ice.

Depending on how well-built and located your site is and what amenities you provide, you can rent out your campground from anywhere in the range of $20 to $200. Plain campsites will be cheaper, with amenities like WiFi and pools adding to the cost.

How much profit does a campground make?

Your profit is dependent on many things like how many sites you have, how much you are providing each camper, and how much you charge them. You can use ticketing systems for places like a rec room or so that have a very low ongoing cost and everything you earn from that would be a profit.

It also depends on whether the land is yours, whether you’re still paying it off, or if you’re leasing it. If you are able to keep costs down, your profit will be larger. Before you price your campground, do market research in your area – you will be able to charge more if you are in a location that is close to where people might want to come but far from existing campsites.

start a campground

If you charge different prices at different times of the year, or if you give discounts, you’ll also have to build that into your financial projections.

You can improve the profit you make by adding more sites, sticking to your budget, charging additional for services, and so on.

What paperwork do you need to start a campground?

As with any business, you will need some paperwork to establish a campground. The following is an indicative list of what are things you might need to do before you start your business. Again, check with a lawyer in your area to find out if you’re all set to start.

    • Business License: Registering your business with the state, county, city, etc.
    • Bond: You may need to pay a bond before you can get a license to operate a campground in your area.
    • Sales Tax Registration: Register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes.
    • Local and state licenses: Your county or state might require you to get permits if you’re providing a campground with certain amenities. This might include things like fire licenses and so on.
    • Certificate of Occupancy: Businesses operating in a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations have been met.

It is very necessary to have insurance when you run a moving business. You do not want yourself to be liable for any damages you cause – or at least not pay for all of it. The following are some kinds of insurance you need to worry about.

  • Liability insurance covers any damage you might incur while running your business.
  • Workers’ compensation to cover for injuries to you or others while on the job.

We also recommend that you establish an LLC and do all of your business through it. If you do not, you can be sued for any damages caused and your property can be used to cover any damages you cannot pay. If you’re working through or for an LLC, only the LLC can be sued and only its property can be used to cover the damage.

This is not legal advice – none of it is – definitely talk to a lawyer about all of these topics before starting your own campground.

How to buy a campground?

If you want to just take over an existing campground business, that is possible too! There might not be a lot of businesses for sale in your area, however, due to the large cost of starting and getting off the ground and a large amount of land required. The following are some examples of campgrounds for sale from BizBuySell:

Old Camp Joy

Ore City, TX (Upshur County)

Asking Price: $1,750,00 Cash Flow: N/A
Gross Revenue: N/A Inventory: N/A
EBITDA: N/A Real Estate: N/A
FF&E: $42,000 Established: 2015

Own Award Winning Private Island Glamping Business

St. Simons Island, GA (Glynn County)

Asking Price: $1,350,00 Cash Flow: $100,000
Gross Revenue: $150,000 Inventory: $10,000
EBITDA: N/A Real Estate: $1,000,000
FF&E: $80,000 Established: 2017

Camp Ground And Horseback Riding Business For Sale

Hico, WV (Fayette County)

opening a campground

Asking Price: $890,00 Gross Revenue: N/A
Price/Sq. Ft.: N/A FF&E: $0
NOI: N/A Year Built: N/A
Building SF: N/A

Campground And Retreat Business With Real Estate

Lake County, FL

opening a campground

Asking Price: $3,900,00 Cash Flow: $390,000
Gross Revenue: $2,100,000 Inventory: N/A
EBITDA: N/A Real Estate: $4,700,000
FF&E: $500,000 Established: 1970

While a plain campground with just camping sites is going to cost you in the ballpark of $1 million, if there are additional facilities like a lodge or a lake, the cost of that real estate is also going to be factored into the cost of the campground business that you are looking to buy.

The average price for campgrounds sold on BizBuySell is $1,125,000. The asking price is around 300% of its yearly revenue. – an EBITDA multiple of 3x.


With that, you are all set to start a campground. Remember to do your research, create your models and talk to a couple of campground business owners to figure out how your business is going to operate. You might also want to work or intern at a current campsite to figure out whether or not this is a business you want to explore and work in.

Have a look at businesses that you can start or franchise on VettedBiz.

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