You’ll find three different types of camping opportunities in the USA.
Recreational camping can be found in thousands of commercial campgrounds across the USA. Most of these facilities contain laundry facilities, hot showers, clean toilets and convenience stores. They are typically equipped to support RVs (recreational vehicles) such as camping trailers and mobile homes with electrical, water and sewer “hookups”. You are able to pitch your tent at this type of facility, but it will be pricey since you don’t need all the “hookups”. Hardly any tent campers stay at campgrounds that are such. Their facilities are often quite pleasant, really clean and well equipped. It cost $20 to $30 a night to stay at a well-equipped campground.
Simple camping facilities are located at local parks, state parks, the national parks and authorities recreational areas across the US. They generally have campsites with toilets, picnic tables and a way to obtain drinking water. A couple of them may contain showers, but they generally tend not to supply water or electrical hookup. Some are located along hiking trails much from the closest road. You don’t see many trailers or mobile homes at primitive campgrounds. Most tent campers prefer these kinds of facilities. Primitive camping costs $5 to $10 per night. Some places charge nothing.
Normally, no camping facilities are provided, but you might be permitted to camp anywhere. In some areas, you may well be required to camp only at designated campsites. You must take all your water and food and shelter in your back pack or on a pack animal. Most of the parks require you to register or obtain a camping permit before entering the wilderness. Occasionally a modest fee charge. The individual areas may have some particular rules concerning the use of horses and pack animals, environmental protection or campfires. When you apply for a permit check with the local park office.
There are several good camping directories every year released. They record all of the recreational and primitive campgrounds in the USA with indicator of the facilities offered at each. Hiking and backpacking guides are a great supply of information about wilderness camping. The camping directories and guidebooks can be found at any good bookstore or outdoor supply store.