There are times when you will be ready to stop for the night, but you will not have reservations at an RV park in the vicinity. Illness or mechanical problems are among the situations that may throw the best planning off schedule. These can be the times when you end up finding either the campground from hell or an undiscovered gem.
Local and state tourist agencies are a goldmine of information on places to stay in the area. Even if you have reservations at a campsite, you may find a backup or an alternative for future trips.
Many fine campsites have small advertising budgets, especially those in areas with limited seasons. Some well-placed brochures will often garner more business, especially repeat business, if the brochure is followed up with a great camping experience.
Talk to the staff and volunteers in the tourist stops if they are staffed. They can often be a great source of information on camping areas. Ask if there are any downsides to a camp you are considering. The brochure you pick up will not show the train tracks that sit right next to the campground, ferrying miles-long freight trains every night, but a volunteer who lives in the area may be able to give you a warning about this type of situation.
State tourist agencies are also a great source for up-to-date maps. You may have to pay a small fee for these maps, but they are generally well worth the cost. Look also for information on local attractions that may not get national attention. If you enjoy crafts or quilting, cars, or county fairs, you will find information at the local tourist agency kiosk.
You can often find discount coupons for out-of-the-way campgrounds or services in the free papers you see at rest stops on major highways. These are an inexpensive advertising venue for owners of tourist- and traveler-related businesses.