Do Campgrounds Need Wi-Fi?

From the April 10th USA Today:
State Parks Blaze Trails for Wireless Internet Service
Outdoor enthusiasts may dislike the idea of a laptop in every tent, but the number of state parks with wireless Internet service is growing rapidly.
State officials say park users want Wi-Fi, so parks are installing it in campgrounds, lodges and visitors centers. Some states, including Tennessee and Kansas, plan to equip every park with it.

The paper found that 28 states have installed Wi-Fi in at least one of their parks. Read the full article to see if yours is one of them.

Then, tell us what you think of this trend. Is it a sign of the outdoor apocalypse, or are state parks simply meeting the needs of more potential outdoor enthusiasts?

Filed under: Places


110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts
April 14, 2008 at 5:53 p.m. (EDT)

Campgrounds aren't what they used to be. Now they're camping "resorts".

Do campgrounds NEED WiFi? Of course not. But one could argue the same about swimming pools, gamerooms, groomed hiking trails, camp stores, sanitary dumpsites, restrooms, dumpsters, trailer and RV parking, patrolled beaches, and that ever popular evil electricity.

One MIGHT argue that any one of the above mentioned modern conveniences have no place in a campsite. As for me, that's exactly why I spend time in the backcountry - away from "Campers".

Bill S
4,419 reviewer rep
6,010 forum posts
April 14, 2008 at 6:33 p.m. (EDT)

Yes, indeed, we need wifi, sat TV, heated chairs around the campfire (air conditioning in summer), and a number of other things in the wilderness. I especially want them to get rid of all those mosquitos.

Sigh! There is some hope, though. I posted an addition to my thread over in Backcountry about the Waldkindergartens (kindergartens in the woods) that are appearing in Europe, with even a couple in the US.

I saw a program on History or Discovery last night about Disney. I hadn't realized so much Florida swampland had been paved over for Disney World/Epcot/etc - that's Ed's territory. He must be glad they got rid of so many gators and skeeters, and trained the "wild" animals to behave so well.

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
848 reviewer rep
3,902 forum posts
April 15, 2008 at 10:32 a.m. (EDT)

It used to surprise me how the term "camping" can mean such different things to different people, even here in Vacationland Maine (which has yet to have wi-fi in any of its state parks).

You can guess where I fall on the camping spectrum.

Tom D
38 reviewer rep
1,902 forum posts
April 15, 2008 at 1:53 p.m. (EDT)

For a lot of people, going somewhere in an RV the size of a tour bus is their idea of camping. I went to a big RV show in Sacramento a few months ago and was amazed at how big RVs and trailers have gotten over the years. The only time I ever rented an RV was in NZ and it was built on a Toyota mini pickup chassis (before Toyotas became the size of a Ford F150). I have to admit, it was handy-transportation and shelter all in one, but I don't think I'd want anything much bigger. I looked for a little one at the RV show to see if they even made them here and even the smallest ones are pretty big.

I don't see the point of taking computers, video games and all that with you on vacation. When I traveled with my folks as a kid, we had a little travel trailer and car-top boat. The idea was to see and enjoy where we were going, not just do the same thing we could do at home while parked somewhere else.

Having a cel phone is handy, especially if you are with other people in a group, but other than that, I don't see the point.

26 reviewer rep
98 forum posts
April 15, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. (EDT)

As someone above already said, campgrounds don't NEED wifi and there are lots of things already in campgrounds that are not needed by all those who visit them. Just because they are there does not mean you have to use them.

The amneities at campgrounds are like the amenities in the backcountry.

There are marked trails, stream crossing aids, privies, trail ladders, and trail registers, all of which aid the backcountry explorer. Unless required by law, you don't have to use them.

There are gps signals and cell phone access. You don't have to use them.

You can bring ul gear - stoves, food, sleeping quarters - but you don't have to.

Until people are ready to go off naked into the unmarked wilderness, the only difference between the ul backpacker and the rv camper is the degree of convenience they choose to camp with.

BTW - the USA Today story is a farce. Cell phone modems have been around for a long time. You could use one to hook up to the internet from anywhere you have cell service. Just another example of the incomplete and usless information the general media puts out.

Bill S
4,419 reviewer rep
6,010 forum posts
April 15, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. (EDT)

nogods said -


Until people are ready to go off naked into the unmarked wilderness, ....

People have been doing that for years. Back when I was in high school, there was a group of naturists who would hike to the top of Whitney, completely bare (except for some wearing sandals). IIRC, the date was a week or two after Labor Day. The rangers posted a warning sign at Whitney Portal, notifying all who might be offended. They hired a horsepacker to haul their tents, sleeping bags, and food up for them (my source for this bit of trivia is National Geographic Magazine, since my high school buddies and my parents would not let us go join them).

Many parks and open space reserves have no rules forbidding going into the wilderness without clothing, as long as it is far enough away or under circumstances to not offend less "free-spirited" people. There used to be a fellow who wandered the Mid-Peninsula Open Space Reserve parks for several years, until the rangers started getting 1 or 2 complaints a month (year around, no less, including the very cold rainy season we typically have Dec through Feb). He reportedly wore a hat and sandals. They arrested him, ordered a court appearance, and he was sentenced to probation ("do not let anyone see you in the parks with no clothing on"). There were a number of defenders writing to the papers ("as long as you are letting women wear tiny bikini tops and bottoms, you can't forbid him to wear nothing", plus someone noticed that the ordnance only forbid going topless, no distinction for men or women - the ordnance has been changed, but still doesn't forbid running around in a bikini).


Cell phone modems have been around for a long time. You could use one to hook up to the internet from anywhere you have cell service.

Two problems for the webaddicts - cell coverage is far from universal (a large part of Yosemite Valley's campgrounds, for example, has no coverage, although the areas around Yosemite Lodge and the Ahwahnee do have cell coverage. Second, the speed of cell modems is far too slow for many of the gamers and dedicated web surfers, especially in popular campground areas.

26 reviewer rep
98 forum posts
April 15, 2008 at 7:08 p.m. (EDT)

"They hired a horsepacker to haul their tents, sleeping bags, and food up for them"

My remark about walking naked into the woods wasn't directed at nudity per se. I was addressing the fact that as long as you pack anything, it is just a matter of degree. People can RV naked

Tom in UK (guest)
April 16, 2008 at 10:42 a.m. (EDT)

What an extraordinary question. Surely the whole idea of camping is to get away from it all, not to take it all with you. Personally, i look forward to my camping trips precisely because i don't have to look at a screen at all, (unless i'm lost and consulting my GPS - ahem). Goodness knows, I spend enough of my life 'connected'; it's a perfectly normal and very healthy thing to do to switch off your mobile (or cell phone as you call them), leave all your connections to the outside world behind, and abandon yourself to nature for a while.
You lucky people have a lot more wilderness than us on our crowded island, so switch off the bloomin' Blackberry, iPod, PC, XBox, pager, Game Boy and PDA and leave them all at home: you may just find it enormously liberating. It sure works for me...

Bill S
4,419 reviewer rep
6,010 forum posts
April 16, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. (EDT)

Well, the Midlands and Scottish Highlands, as well as some places in Wales sure offer a wilderness experience, especially in winter. And it isn't that far to parts of Scandinavia and the Alps that are wilderness, too. But yes, I agree, we do have more wilderness in North America, in part because NA is so much bigger than all of Europe.

a o (guest)

a.k.a. alex o
April 16, 2008 at 9:47 p.m. (EDT)

wow. I guess that is why I backpack to seclusion so I don't here other peoples pleasures that end up annoying me. I am isolated in my very own heaven when I am off the "beaten path". Enjoying the great outdoors the way mother nature made it for us.

0 reviewer rep
6 forum posts
April 20, 2008 at 12:41 a.m. (EDT)

I don't think that campgrounds should have wifi. I love camping, and backpacking because it allows you to enjoy nature, and spend quality time with friends, without distraction. I live for the moments in life where your mind contains nothing but the moment. All I am thinking about is what I am observing at the time. In those moments I am very content, I feel like their is no world beyond my senses reach. All of my responsibilities, and to-do lists at home leave my mind, melt away. There is nothing more relaxing in my mind than heading into the back country with my friends, or my dad; and just ditching civilization for at least several days. Anyone who tries to bring a laptop, speakers, cell phone-ruins the experience for the rest of us. Just my opinion.

T. Axel Jones (guest)
May 13, 2008 at 11:18 a.m. (EDT)

As long as the speakers on the computers stay silent I could care less what other people do.

But honestly, if you're just going to the woods to play video games and chat on paltalk, why not just stay home?

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