Ten percent of the U.S. population visits an Army Corps of Engineers recreation site every year. With more than 370 million visits annually, it's no surprise. It's even less surprising when you consider that nearly all of their campsites are located on the water thanks to a project that started nearly 50 years ago.
With enactment of the 1944 Flood Control Act, "We were authorized by congress under public law to construct and manage and operate recreation on our federal lands and waters," according to Pep Persio, the Recreation Program Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps saw an opportunity to offer this space to the public and now, 70 years later, they're the largest federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the country.
For campers, this means afternoons on a boat, lakeside campsites, and family picnics on the beach. But that's not all; learn more before you book your next visit.
For Water Lovers
The sites run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are home to 54,879 miles of shoreline. "All of our recreation is developed along our lakes and reservoirs and rivers, so water is the primary draw for the folks," says Persio. There are now 92,844 campsites available within 4,248 recreation areas.
Better than access to water for the weekend, is direct access from your campsite. "In many cases, the campsites are located immediately adjacent to the water, so there are quite a few that have lakefront campsites," explains Persio.
For Military Members
If you're an active duty member of the military, take your family to one of these Corps managed recreation areas, where fees will be waived for you to use of the boat launches and swimming areas. Though there are eligibility requirements, the Military Pass, which is free, may be obtained in person at U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facilities. Find additional information on the Federal Recreation Pass Program here.
Come on Veterans Day, and all day use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members and their families will be waived. One caveat: you can't camp for free.
There are exceptions, however. "If an active duty service member is in a a hostile fire zone, and they are home on leave, they can come to our campgrounds with their mid- or post-deployment (reintegration) leave orders and camping fees are waved." says Persio.